little emily

Dad

Today is my Dad’s birthday.  He sent me an email the day yesterday, with the subject line saying “Last Day Blues” which went on to talk about how “old” 48 was.  I love my dad dearly and he is many things, but old he is not. I hope he’s reading this, where at the end of the day there might copious amounts of comments telling him how NOT old 48 is.

My dad has always been number one in my life.  I remember growing up laughing out loud at all the things he’d say, proud to have such clever and witty genes, hoping that one day, I’d be as well-spoken, fun and entertaining as he was.  We’d go on trips around Europe, he and I basking in the sun by a cool swimming pool, each eating Calippos and drinking Fanta.  One of my more vivid memories is of him sellotaped to a lilo (I don’t know what you call them in north America!) and being thrown in at the deep end, laughing so hard I cried.

I remember my first “work experience” at school – I must’ve been about eleven, and I went with him to British Aerospace.  I learned about planes and missiles and all sorts of things eleven year old girls don’t understand at all, but felt incredibly grown up following him around, proud to be introduced as his daughter as everyone greeted us with an enormous smile. There was always a feeling of respect and appreciation from people around my dad. You could tell they admired him, and that he made working there fun.

I remember Christmases with my dad, helping him cook in the kitchen as he taught me what a sweetcorn fritter was and how they were a staple of holiday dinners.  I remember his patience as well as his jokes as he tried to help a hopeless girl understand the concept of trigonometry. I remember his words of advice and encouragement when I decided to move out for the first time, and his support every time I’ve ever moved. Which, in the last five or six years, has been more than a fair bit.

I remember when my parents separated, that instead of driving us apart, it brought us closer. I broke up with a long-term boyfriend that same November, and I remember sitting on my makeshift couch in a half-empty apartment on Christmas Day with my Dad, eating packet mashed potatoes and microwave turkey, there for each other in our hours of need. He came with me to see the “most unfestive movie we could think of” afterward, too.

We’ve shared everything over the years, the most recent of which have brought us closer than ever. He was there through my breakup from hell, standing up for me to some absolutely awful people, and avenging my ex in a rather… unbloggable, but downright hilarious way! He visited my nan (his mum) in her hour of need this year, bringing together a family that hadn’t spoken in years, which was nothing short of miraculous.  He came back with all sorts of old photographs and stories, nic nacs from aeons ago, reminding me always that what’s happened in the past doesn’t necessarily have to dictate the future. That sometimes, there are more important things in life.  He continues to inspire me to this day.

Happy birthday to my wonderful Dad, my best friend in the whole world. Someone who unconditionally sees the best in people, in situations, and in other people’s intentions. Someone who planted the seeds for a lifelong love of music, who still makes mix CDs for me and cranks up the ones I make for him. Someone who shed a tear when I got my Gaelic tattoo translating to “my father’s daughter”.  Someone who got me up at the crack of dawn on my birthday two years ago and took me on a surprise trip around Paris.  Who put me on a surprise jet plane for my birthday last year. Someone who’s always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to do the right thing, even if sometimes those things are the most difficult.  Happy birthday to the man I couldn’t be prouder to call Dad.  I love you.

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Time Capsule: A Decade in Review

It’s the end of the first decade of a new millennium.  At the end of the year, bloggers usually write some sort of reflection on the year that was.  But I feel like I’ve kind of been doing that continually all year long, so instead of rehashing 2009, I couldn’t think of a better way to end the year (and indeed, the decade) by reflecting on my world of the last decade.  I’ll try and be brief – but here’s my take on the noughties.

2000: This was a big year for me.  Looking back at old picture-stuffed, handwritten diaries, I see my departure from the country I call home.  I see paperbound notebooks, scrawled with messages between friends wishing me luck with boys, with Canada, and with an entirely new life.  I see wonky teeth gone forever and braces finally removed.  I see nervousness, and excitement as I left my life behind and started fresh on an entirely new continent, initial feelings of anxiety quickly surpassed by those of enthusiasm, as I was thrown into high school, and everybody wanted to know the new kid in town.  It seems a million years ago, but we were all still using Napster, Britney Spears was the freshest thing since sliced bread, and Madonna was getting ready to take over the world all over again.

2001: My first proper year in high school.  I started a rigorous advanced program and made two friends I stuck around with for the rest of my high school years, one of which I’m still good friends with today.  I discovered my love of literature and the English language, and decided I wanted to be a teacher.  My first long-term relationship began, with a dark haired Rodrigo Santoro look-alike recently landed from the Ukraine.  Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were still together, the world was taken by a storm of fantasy as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings hit the screens, and elsewhere in the world, three thousand people lost their lives as planes crashed into the twin towers. The world was in mourning.

2002: I discovered I could sing, met some guys in a punk band and got up in front of the school and sang Offspring and No Use for a Name covers. I had my first proper breakup after a year and a half, and started learning about my relationship behaviour, an unfortunate pattern I’d soon become very hurt by, and wouldn’t truly realise for another six years.  I got my first job as a “Language Services Facilitator”, very scared of the working world and grown-up responsibility, but very grateful to not be working at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart like most of my fellow classmates.  The music world mourned the deaths of TLC’s Lisa Lopes, The Who’s John Entwistle, and the legendary Joe Strummer.  My new city of Winnipeg is put on the map as My Big Fat Greek Wedding becomes the most successful independent film ever.

2003: I finished high school and headed to university with every intention of becoming an English teacher.  I took English literature, medieval history, psychology and the history of art, and it was through friends I met here that I met Sweet for the first time. We dated for a month (before he unceremoniously dumped me right before Christmas!), and I also first met my best friend. Myspace and Facebook were launched, and changed the face of communication forever.

2004: At nineteen years old, I decided I was ready to move out.  I left home against all common sense, moved in with my then-boyfriend, an internationally travelling showman, juggler and contortionist, and realised how rubbish I was at being left behind.  I worked part time at the post office, and went to university part time, ultimately dropping out due to lack of money, lack of time, and our eventual breakup.  This year, I worked as a postal clerk!  X Factor mania began its reign of television supremacy, and a tsunami took the lives of hundreds of thousands.  This was the year I discovered the magic of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival , found my love of theatre, and have been back religiously every summer since.

2005: The BBC relaunched Doctor Who, my favourite and, according to the Guinness Book of Records, “longest-running science fiction television show in the world, and as the most successful science fiction series of all time.”  I was hooked for life.  I temporarily moved back into my parents’ house, living out of boxes on a sofa in the basement for a few weeks until I found my first apartment, into which I moved with my very first flatmate.  I discovered the horrors of joint cohabitation, but couldn’t afford to live alone, and so began my string of exasperating roomies.  2005 was also the year I got fired for the first and only time in my life, and I decided to go off to another province to work in a holiday resort for the entire summer.  I soon realised what a relentless homebody I was, and came back after about three weeks.  I took the first job I could find, and began my brief stint in the world of retail.  Elsewhere in the world, the first video is uploaded to YouTube, and within six months, the site was hitting 100 million views per day.

2006: I quit working in retail, and got my  soul back! I landed a job as a graphic designer (and soon after, office manager) at a print shop and though I stopped feeling bad about never finishing my English degree, I still longed to be learning again.  I pursued graphic design, learning on my own and getting better and better, and stayed there for three years.    This was the year I got my beautiful little cat, too, but it was also the year my parents split up.  An extremely close relationship with my dad began, but my relationship with my mother went in the opposite direction.  In 2006 I really got into British music in a big way, and discovered my love of bands like Muse, Kasabian, Keane and the Arctic Monkeys.  Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy takes the world by storm and becomes quite possibly the biggest song of the decade.  Twitter is launched – and it takes another three years before I eventually hop on the bandwagon.

2007: was the beginning of the worst year ever.  I (stupidly) got engaged to someone who started off great, but ultimately wound up lying, stealing money, doing drugs, and becoming abusive.  I lost a lot of my self-confidence  and started questioning the person I was.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons, and I wish I could go back to my 2007 self and give her a slap in the face and tell her to stop being so naive.  But 2007 had lots of good moments too – I visited England, France,  went to the best concert of my life and saw my favourite band of all time.  I had my tonsils out over Christmas of this year – THE most painful experience of my life, and found myself alone, in pain, and completely detached from the real world.  Luckily I reconnected with Kyla, resurrecting a wonderful friendship after years of absence.

2008: I had my first year of really being single and living without a flatmate.  I learned that I didn’t have to take every offer that came my way and just say no and be by myself for a while, and let my heart heal.  I went out dancing every week and threw myself into the indie music scene, staying up until 2:00 on weeknights.  In late spring, Sweet came back into my life after about 5 years not being in it, shortly before another trip back to the UK.  I visited old friends, fell in love with Ireland, and discovered I missed Sweet more than anything, and came back into his arms, where we officially decided to give it another go.  My best friend got married in a beautifully intimate ceremony, and I experienced my first moments of real, true love.  I had to give up my second cat, Chloe, and wept for days.  Heath Ledger passed away and the world was in shock.  I was encouraged to leave my comfy job at the print shop and go for something more, so I took a chance, quit, and spent the end of the year in California.

And now I’m wrapping up the decade with what’s been, so far, the best year of my life.  I started with a goal of escaping the shell of a person I was, taking risks and ending up exactly where I want to be.  I moved in to my first house, had an amazing year with good friends, growing closer with my dad, got a job I absolutely love, got engaged, developed my faith, and met my all-time favourite author in the flesh, a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.  I enjoyed a bunch of amazing music, programmes and movies.  I’m in the final of a national blogging contest and I’ve just started writing for an online music magazine – I’m doing what I love, and being given more and more opportunities to do it.  2009 has been an incredible, life-changing year, and I’m starting the new decade with a spirit of excitement, determination, and gratitude.  Next year already holds a lot of anticipation.  My first trip to the Caribbean, to the biggest city in Canada, to England and to wrap it all up in December, our winter wedding.  I can’t even imagine what I’ll be writing over the next ten years, but I know I can’t wait to share it all with you. 🙂

Happy New Year!!

My Life Story (well, sort of)

Recently, I met a lovely new blog friend by the name of Ashley who was full of lovely comments, lovely writing, and one question: Tell me about you!  Likes, dislikes, where I grew up… the whole thing.  I thought about my content over the last little while, and I realised I hadn’t really talked about my life much.  I’d posted Christmas mixes, reviewed movies , cried a bit about animal welfare and talked about the state of the music industry, but I hadn’t really said a whole lot about me

Maybe because I don’t really make a habit of talking about myself.  I’m a listener – a reader, a supporter, a commenter and a bit of an introvert.  I love to follow stories about other people’s lives – and writing about mine, I guess, kind of seemed a little narcissistic!  But over the last month I’ve been blessed to have made new friends – and my About section kind of sucks – so I thought why not.  Why not introduce myself to everybody properly – without making them dig through my writing of five years ago.  (Please don’t do it, it’s frightfully embarrassing.) 

I guess I’ll start at the beginning. I was born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, a little town a bit north of London.  Most of my childhood was spent with the neighbours’ kids, coordinating talent shows, making up dances, doing stuff for WWF, taking ju-jitsu, swimming and going to stage school on the weekends.  I remember getting my two front teeth knocked out at school, and having them grow in horribly misaligned.  Along came the braces, which carried me through senior school and tranformed me from a stage-loving Spice Girls wannabe into a quiet, studious girl who kept her mouth shut and tried not to get bullied. 

I was twelve when my parents decided they wanted to move to Canada, and fourteen when we landed in Winnipeg.  I went through high school as the Quiet Foreign Girl in a school so drastically different than anything I’d ever known.  I was used to white blouses, navy trousers, elasticated ties and being told to take my second pair of earrings out.  Here there were kids with mohawks, girls with pink hair and every kind of imagined high school stereotype there in front of my eyes.  It was here I had my first boyfriend, my first heartbreak, and made my first attempts at becoming the self-confident girl I’d been before the move.  I walked in a fashion show, sang in a punk rock band, and cut all my hair off for grad. (Look closely, you’ll see the word “REGRET” branded on my forehead.)

I went to university with every intention of becoming an English teacher.  I’d graduated from the International Baccalaureate Program (for nerds) with great marks, and a passion for learning.  I moved out at the end of my first year, certain at the age of nineteen I was ready to be independent.  My parents thought it was a terrible idea, my dad tried to talk about Real Finances, but I was defiant and stubborn and had to do it my way.  Don’t you ever want to go back to your younger self, and give them a good shaking?? 

I moved in with my then-boyfriend, and my scholarly efforts lasted all of two years before a bad breakup, having to move back onto my parents’ sofa in the basement for a few weeks and struggling to make any money at all at my near-minimum wage job.  But those first two years of university taught me valuable life lessons, and was where I first met my best friends, and my husband to be!

 

Sweet and I dated for about a month and a half; we broke up (I was devastated; he was perfect, even then!), Kyla and I had a fight about something lame and we didn’t talk for years.  Those in-between years were full of tough times, naivety, nasty flatmates and dangerous relationships.  It was in those in-between years that my parents split up too; and as a result I gained an enormously close relationship with my father, but lost almost all contact with my mother. 

I was engaged before (not something I like to admit to; it pains me to even think about how horribly different my life could’ve been) to someone who seemed perfect; said all the right things, looked the part, got along with everybody, and who gradually destroyed any sense of self I ever had.  I was young, and desperate not to be alone, so I put everything I had into salvaging the relationship.  I cut out my friends and family so I could fix when things went wrong – including his lies, his drug use, his physical abuse and his arrest.  I was utterly blind to reality, and when he finally ended it (one Christmas after I’d just had throat surgery), I was in the worst place I’d ever been.  I had no support network and was absolutely terrified at the prospect of coming home to an empty apartment, having to fill endless hours of solitude.  I didn’t know how to function. 

Like a miracle, Kyla came back into my life and provided hope and support when I couldn’t see.  Sweet came back into my life and after spending a little time together again, decided (after much pleading on my part) to give it another go, and here I am today in a much better place, with amazing friends, an incredible fiancé, and a wonderful job that’s given me the chance to push myself out of my comfort zone, really find out who I want to be, and give me every opportunity to get there. 

I’ve gone from being a little performer to training in figure skating, swimming and ju-jitsu.  I’ve developed a chronic pain condition over the last few years that’s forced me to say goodbye to sports, as well as social activities like dancing and bowling.  But I’m working on getting better.  I’ve travelled back home, visited the USA once or twice (including a visit to a Star Trek convention in MN!), dyed my hair red, blonde and black, made good decisions and bad decisions.  I’ve dressed up as comic book heroes, Edward Scissorhands, and characters from video games (yes, I was once a WoW nerd!).  I miss being in university but try and learn at every opportunity I can.  I love to read and have self-taught myself graphic design, which has allowed me to work in creative roles I love.  In the last year or two,  I’ve learned the true meaning of friendship, learned how to use bad experiences as opportunities for growth, and can look back at how a tumultuous journey has landed me exactly where I want to be.  I don’t want to go all Rascall Flatts on you, but I just wanted to share a little bit about where I’ve come from. 

Now your turn.  Fire me off an e-mail and tell me your life story.  Who you are, where you’ve been, and how you got to where you are now.  There’s so many of you I’m really enjoying getting to know through your blogs, but I absolutely want to know more about you as people!  What better way to head into a new year than with a wave of wonderful new friends?

Note: I seriously contemplated including picture evidence of a Major Life Trauma – the time I thought it would be a good idea to home-dye my hair from black to blonde.  There’s a really flattering picture of a girl with a bright orange ponytail out there somewhere, which may or may not resurface at a later date.  But not today. 🙂