{a strange time to take a moral stance}

The summer before grade six was a big summer for me. My brother was away at summer camp for the first time, leaving me three glorious weeks as an only child. The days were long and hot, filled with adventurous bike rides to the library, the pool, or the village in Oak Bay to spend my allowance. It was the summer of the First Boyfriend (and the First Kiss). My parents were both working full time, so my house was the place to be during the day. We had a trampoline, a kitchen full of snacks, and--best of all--no supervision. We never really got into that much trouble, although we certainly pushed the limits of what was acceptable and what was grounds for discipline. 

Our house in Victoria had two floors, with the main living areas upstairs. The lower level was mostly unused, until my brother was deemed old enough to move into the bedroom down there. The house did not have a traditional play room, which was fine as we spent the majority of our time outside anyways. There was one room that was never really used; it's patio doors served mainly as our entrance to the backyard in the summer months. It was sparsely furnished with a TV and a few beanbag chairs, the custom-built bookcase empty save for a few paperbacks that had been left behind over the years. Covering the floor was a rusty shag carpet, it's pile worn down. The doorknob was on backwards, and if you forgot and closed the door it would lock from the outside. The closet was piled high with toys that we had outgrown but refused to give away, and for some inexplicable reason there was a window in it. Less than meter wide, and painted shut by previous owners, it served little purpose other than a place for my mother to hang yet another flowered valance. 

In the fall, my mother would cover the patio window with a thick plastic sheet that served as insulation over the winter months. Normally it would be removed before school was out for the year, folded up and packed away until the leaves began falling from the trees. The house did not have air conditioning, so fans were placed in every room to keep us cool in the summer. One year, on this particular year, my mother did not remove the plastic. It was to be left in place over the summer, with the intent of sealing the cool air in and keeping the insects out. 

On a day too hot to play outside, Lauren and I spent hours in the room playing. Distracted by our discussions about what grade six would actually be like, we failed to notice that the door had shut behind us; it wasn't until we could hear Lauren's mother calling her to come home that we had realized that we were locked in. Frantically we tried to open the door, banging on it to call attention to our situation. With no parents, and no brother, at home no one was able to hear us. Our only phone in the house was located in the kitchen above us, so it seemed that our only way out was through the sliding glass doors. 

I'll never forget the look of horror on Lauren's face when I told her that we couldn't remove the plastic from the patio doors. She stood in the middle of the room; the locked door on her right, the sealed patio doors to her left. The only exits in the room, and she was unable to use either. At first she was livid with me, then she tried to reason with me. We both thought that it would be reasonable to remove the plastic carefully; surely my mom would not want us dying in this room for the sake of her precious plastic sheeting. But in my mind I heard her voice repeating her mantra: "Under no circumstances are to you ever touch this plastic!". My mother's warning won out over practicality, and the plastic was left untouched. 

I don't know if Lauren really ever forgave me for not immediately ripping down the plastic to get out of the room. My mom let us out when she got home less than a half hour later. That was the last time that Lauren came over to my house during the day, although we still rode our bikes together and played outside. Our friendship endured my strange compulsion to follow the rules, although we are not as close as we used to be;  now, we're just another pair of childhood-turned-Facebook friends.

There are decisions that we make in the course of our lives that, while meaningless at the time, come to define us. Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Ashley, this was the day that I became the person that follows the rules--even when it might make more sense to break them.

For the record, my mom was appalled that I didn't take down the plastic, and told me not to take her rules so seriously. My teenage years? Yeah...those were on you, Mama. 
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Get a Grip



Hormones are the devil, am I right ladies? 

Here is a list of the things that have made me cry over the last week:

  • Spirit in the Sky
  • a Charmin commercial {the part where Papa Bear tells Baby Bear that she only needs two sheets gets me every time}.
  • Running out of hard boiled eggs.
  • My cat knocking the bookmark out of my book. 
  • Forgetting to bring a straw for my can of mango juice. 
  • B {in his sleep} rolling away from me. It woke me up, and for some reason I took it incredibly personally. 
  • Spelling an email address incorrectly and getting a 'delivery failed' receipt. 
  • Gewurztraminer {this one might have been my fault}
  • Not being able to find the match to a certain pair of socks
  • When my cat pulled my clean clothes out of my drawer, and turned them into a her nest at the foot of my bed. 
  • When I tripped over my cat when I got up to get a drink last night. 
  • When my cat left a hairball in my slipper, most likely as retaliation for me tripping over her. 
  • When my cat woke me up for the fifth time this morning, more than an hour before my alarm was set to go off. 
  • When I found out that Outlook didn't send my 165 scheduled emails, and instead trashed them. 
  • Chipping my nail polish within 12 hours of doing my nails.
  • The moment when I realized that while I really, really, really want a dog, my schedule just doesn't allow for one at this point in time. {Damn you, 137km commute. Bonus damn you to me for buying a condo downtown}
What outrageously normal events have made you cry?


What Do You Mean, I'm An Adult?

There are certain things that are expected of adults. Adults hold a steady job and pay their bills on time. They have kids and careers, savings accounts and a balanced budget. They are responsible, contributing members of society. Well...most are, at least. And I can do (most) of those things--I'm looking at you, budget that never balances. These are some things that I am not so good at, however; all of these things are expected of adults.

  • Cleaning the car. I take out the trash regularly, but I usually have various items strewn across the backseat including but not limited to: shoes (adult- and preschool-sized), colouring books (just preschool-style), a few mismatched socks, a tire iron, a few Barbie bits and pieces, and crushed cereal crumbs. 
  • Waking up without hitting snooze ten times. I was told that when you become an adult, you suddenly start waking up at 6am all happy and ready for the day. I'm not sure if this is a lie, or if I'm just not an adult yet...
  • Cooking (and eating!) healthy, balanced meals every day. There are days where we have Ichiban soup with a side of cheese and grapes for dinner, and one time I had apples with caramel dip for lunch and dinner. Note that I do feed Little A healthy foods, I just don't seem to eat them myself.  I don't enjoy cooking (I blame my tiny kitchen, but I don't cook in B's kitchen either), and quite frankly I'm just not very good at it. There are some dishes that I can pull off and have taste magnificent, but those are a select few recipes and most are holiday dishes. 
  • Being on time. Growing up, I was always the last one out of the door. For some reason my brain just assumes that it will take me an hour to get ready, and that I'll need thirty minutes to get somewhere. Those are the default times my brain calculates everything off of, and I can't seem to rewrite the code. Thus, I am perennially late. 
  • Returning books to the library on time. I'm a big fan of public libraries, even though I'd rather own a book myself than borrow one. Maybe it's because of this preference that I tend to just never return them, and then end up buying them from the library in the form of outrageously high overdue fees. I'm told that proper adults bring them back in a timely manner--that's what the librarian tells me, anyways.
  • Working during proper hours. From 9am-5pm, I am distracted. There are unplanned phone calls and emails that come in, people that walk through my door, and so many little things that crop up to distract me from that day's To Do List. My most productive--and inspired--hours are from about 6:30-9:30pm. In those three hours, I can get more finished than I can in an entire eight hour day. As long as I'm not trying to work from home, because then my PVR calls to me like the Sirens called to Odysseus. 
  • Grocery shopping. Y'all, this one I have thrown my hands up in the air over. Under any other circumstance, I am compulsively organized. I create lists, habits and patterns of behaviour in all circumstances. Except grocery shopping. I can never wander through the store in the same pattern, and Lord help me I can't ever stick to my list. This leads to me to feel as if I'm failing, so of course I'm going to avoid the activity all together until we are down to Saltines and old mustard and I am forced to either grocery shop or starve. 


How are you bad at being an adult?


I Have Not Been Exterminated By Daleks, But Thanks For Asking


Props to my bloggy friends that noticed my lack of posting this week and subsequently emailed me to make sure that I hadn't been : eaten by a lion, mauled by a bear, lost in a blizzard, or exterminated by Daleks. You guys rock, FYI. 

Lately, I feel like I've been fighting this epic battle against life in general. And lately? I feel like life is winning. Most of the battle is not for the Internet (sorry!), but I still feel the need to vent. As proof of my continued existence, and as explanation for my absence, I give you the following rants:

  1. What in the actual hell, everybody in the universe that zips their files?! I don't want to pay for WinZip, and my "evaluation trial" is over, so now I can't unzip all of the beautiful fonts that I've found, or ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU PEOPLE SO NICELY SHARED WITH ME IN A ZIP FILE. I hate you, WinZip. Also: free large ad space to whomever can set me up with a free unzipping software.
  2. Why does it take all damn day for an iPad to charge? The amount of anger that I feel towards zombie Steve jobs when my iPad battery goes below 20% is irrational but completely understandable. Did that sentence even make sense?
  3. What is with this relationship segmentation that the world is obsessed with? I'm not married, so I can't hang with married people because it's weird to be the only not married person in the room. But I can't hang with singles, because I'm not on the hunt for a hookup and/or it's awkward being the only couple in a group of singles. So basically I'm destined to hang out with cats, because they don't care what my relationship status is as long as I have food.
  4. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT I CAN'T RANT ABOUT ON THE INTERNET SO INSTEAD I'M GOING TO USE LARGE BOLD CAPS FOR THIS RUN ON SENTENCE TO EXPRESS MY EXTREME FRUSTRATION WITH ALL OF THE THINGS.
  5. I bought new tights last night. Really awesome black tights that had a subtle cheetah print on them. They were amazing, let me tell you. And then I put them on this morning, and there was a small hole in the knee. No big deal, it's tiny. By the time I got to work they had a huge run in them and I had to throw them out. Thanks for selling sub-par products, Winners. I thought that my legs would be covered with tights today, so I did a half-assed job shaving my legs this morning. Moral of this story? Always shave your legs nicely. Always. 

What has been driving you crazy lately?

Unimpressed Cat is My Kindred


Guys, if ever a meme has imitated my life, it is Unimpressed Cat. 

I walk through life set to Unimpressed, so that when something good happens I am pleasantly surprised. 
It also means that when something goes wrong, I can use my Eeyore voice and say "Welp, I saw that coming." without experiencing disappointment. 

Most people don't understand this mindset. 
Most people tell me to get my chin up and slap a smile on my face, because everything is going to be ok

But I'm not an optimist. I will never be an optimist. 
I am a realist. And it works for me. 

Office Dialogue

It is entirely normal to walk into our office and find yourself in the middle of a random conversation. Topically we are all over the map, because we like to keep things interesting. A conversation about documentaries turned into the below exchange. 



*Note: My co-workers are well aware of my neurosis regarding organization and categorization, and they love me for it. Or in spite of it. Either way, they accept me which is why they are so wonderful.*



Me: I loved Shark Week! National Geographic Channel had 24/7 shark shows for the whole week, it was so much better than Discovery Channel. 

(Co-workers stare blankly at me. This is a normal reaction in the course of a conversation with me, I have found.)

Me: Great White sharks were my favourite animal growing up. 

Co-worker #1: (laughing) This explains so much about who you are!

Co-worker #2: I like giraffes. 

Me: Oh me too! That's my favourite land-based animal. 

Co-worker #1: (laughter) Of course you have a division between favourite land- and water-based animals. 

Co-worker #2: (laughter) I'm happy with just giraffes.

Me: (slightly embarrassed) Technically, the giraffe is my favourite Sub-Saharan animal....

Co-workers: (so much laughter)



And with that, a new office meme was born: #ConversationsWithAshley


What is your favourite animal?
(Feel free to include categories and sub-categories. This is a judgement-free zone!)

Life, or Something Like It


Source unknown; found on Pinterest

I am a bit neurotic. I am a compulsive planner. I am obsessively organized, and it will bug me incessantly if I somehow mess it up. Failure is not an option for me, so when I do fail at something I am incredibly hard on myself. Leave me alone for too long in a quiet room, and I will start to go crazy. I constantly overbook myself, because I don't enjoy having nothing to do. In fact, I thrive on action-packed or stressful situations. Or, rather, I will get overwhelmed and cry, but as soon as my cry is over I will thrive. 

If you know me in real life, you will know that these are not startling revelations. 

It isn't always easy to live in harmony with my quirks; instead, I often feel as though I am battling against them. I am uncomfortable with change {if it is sprung on me}, so it tends to make me {more than} a little bit hard to live around. 

I had a plan for my life. I had set goals and deadlines, as well as establishing check-points to ensure that I was on track in order to live up to my plan. Instead of changing the deadline, I would alter the method that I would use to reach my goals. Everything was incrementally mapped out, the way one would lay out the route for a marathon. 

Are you surprised to hear that my life has not gone according to my plan? You shouldn't be. I'm not even that surprised, if I'm completely honest with myself. But that doesn't mean that it is easy to give up The Plan. It means forgiving yourself for not meeting your goals, for taking turns in life that you didn't ever expect yourself to take. It's about letting go of the constant that you had to rely on that is no longer even a remote possibility.

We all have a plan, whether we admit it or not. Those vague ideas that flit around in your head of when you want to get married, have kids, buy a house, or even what job you want to do: those are all part of your plan. Mine was detailed; methodically laid out in a logical sequence complete with concrete deadlines. 

I did not make those deadlines. It's extremely difficult for me to reconcile the fact that I failed, and even harder for me to accept that I have had to change my timeline so drastically from what I had originally envisioned for myself.

The next time I'm having a hard time accepting that my life didn't go according to my plan, remember that I'm happy. I'm so happy with so many aspects of my life that it can be overwhelming at times--but that doesn't stop me from lamenting what I see as failures. 

Are you hard on yourself about anything?

Movin' On Up...with a professional, not made in Paint design!


I have been wanting a new design for rakas kesä for a while now. I have been scouring the blogosphere looking for the person that could not only create what I had in my mind, but that could also put up with my crazy. Somehow, I stumbled across Chelsea. I don't remember who's blog led me to her, but good grief am I glad that I ended up there!

 

One week and 29 emails later, she has made my bloggy dreams come true (possible slight exaggeration, as my real bloggy dream would be to have Wil Wheaton guest post for me). But she managed to take my incoherent ramblings of "I like girly but don't make it girly" and a comment about not wearing pants at work and somehow turn it into exactly what I had envisioned

That, my friends, is talent.