Rise to Fame
by Karla ° Friday, October 28, 2005
I have often wondered what it would be like to be famous. What would it be like to have people immediately recognize me when I entered a room full of strangers? How would I react if I saw a twinkle of familiarity in someone’s eye as they watched me pass on by, or if I received a friendly wink of recognition or even a warm hearty wave from a stranger expressing their hellos?

As of late, I have had my fare share of fame and recognition from some adoring fans. They smile and wave as they flock to me wondering how they can be of assistance. Ahh yes, there is nothing quite like the selfish, egotistical and self righteous rise to fame.

Not too worry. I have not let this recent increase in notoriety go to my head. I’m quite aware that the circumstances underlying my recent bout of celebutante style fame are somewhat peculiar and out of the ordinary. In fact, many would attribute my rise to stardom as pure luck or complete lack of organization skills, but hey, in this line of work, everyone is a critic.

That being said, I think it is important to publicly address and thank my adoring fans for all of their help and support over the past few weeks.


Ahem…

To all the employees at The Home Depot, thank you. Thank you for helping me understand that I can do it, and that you can help! I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without you.

I know I must look like a crazed fool bumbling around the store with my ragged bed head, tattered paint covered clothes and scary makeup less face, but that is the price you pay for stardom I suppose. The more harried and distraught you look the more eager the lovely people at The Home Depot are to figure out how to help.

It’s like I have found a home away from home. Often times, I find myself there several times a day to relish in my new found fame and recognition. I could make just one trip and not two when venturing out to buy the extra painters tape and paint tray I need, but no, I prefer to go twice, not because I am completely unorganized and a total rookie at home reno stuff and really have no clue what I am doing, but because I like to wave at all the friendly people. Even the breast gawker and I have come to terms with each other and exchange friendly waves when we pass each other.

You may question the credibility of my new found fame. Some wonder whether or not I should be embarrassed that the guy in the baseboard aisle, the guy in the hardwood floor aisle, the kitchen counter top girl, the five paint staff and the bathroom aisle guy all recognize me. You may even wonder if the friendly people at The Home Depot think I am retarded and kinda freaky for visiting the store so frequently.

There is so much to ponder when it comes to figuring out why some of us are famous, and in the few moments of clarity I get when the paint fumes clear at the air at the end of the day, I begin to question my sanity too. However, when the sun rises the next morning, and paint fumes begin to penetrate the air and my nostrils once again, I take a deep breath to acknowledge and accept that I am unemployed and then make the most of my day by terrorizing my home. Of course, the overwhelming urge to return to the Home Depot eventually sets it, not because I am unorganized mind you, but because I really do find it amusing that they wave at me every time they see me.

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Remembering a Gentle Presence
by Karla ° Friday, October 21, 2005

Remembering is about all we can do when faced with the challenges of losing a loved one, but nothing could have prepared me for the memorial service I attended last night.

I knew it would be difficult returning the hospital where Ava was born. Starting with the long walk up University Avenue from the train station, I knew it would take everything in me to keep from breaking down in the streets as my mind willed itself to return to place I have tried to block and forget these past six months.

The memories started flooding back as I began to reminisce waddling my pregnant body the entire 2km (1.3mile) distance to the high risk unit for my weekly checkups. Rain or shine, the two of us would walk whenever we could. Ava got to enjoy the soft swaying my walking offered her as she was held snug and tight inside the warmth of my tummy, while I enjoyed the benefits of walking, trying to be as healthy as I could for her.

Seeing the Hospital for Sick Children was especially painful. As my husband puts it, it is extremely hard not to seethe with anger and resentment at the volume of technology and hope filled children and families in that hospital. Even with their fancy heart doctors, and high tech equipment, no one was able to see what was wrong with our little girl and help our family. Nor will they be able to detect and help prevent this tragedy from happening again. We can’t help but feel desperate for promises of a better tomorrow and feel helplessly defeated at the same time because there is no promise for a better tomorrow.

Returning to the hospital where Ava began her short journey outside my womb was especially difficult. Stepping into the building where she entered this world but was never able to take her first breath or even open her eyes to see her mommy and daddy was incredibly painful. I felt something inside of me gripping my chest, compressing my lungs and making it hard to breathe. I wanted to run away, to leave the place full of so many horrifying memories, but at the same time, I knew I had to face my fears eventually. Running and hiding was not the right answer when looking for closure and peace within. It was important to both my husband and I to attend this memorial service and be a part of remembering our baby along with all of the other parents who had to bury their child this year.

The hospital Chaplain is a dear sweet, empathetic woman who I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for. She knew I enjoyed writing, and asked if I would read a poem or a story about Ava. Happy to share her memory, I agreed.

Once the memorial service began however, I lost all sense of calm and self composure and completely and fell apart. I was a sobbing, tearful mess and couldn’t find it in me to pull myself together and read my poem. The volume of sadness and tears in the room was so overwhelming.

There were so many moms and dads who have been stripped of their hopes and dreams and so many families trying to cope with their loss. I thought I might find comfort in relating to others who have been through similar tragedies in their life, but instead, I found myself even more broken hearted as I tried to put myself in each and every one of their shoes and try and imagine just a fraction of the heartache they are going through. It was absolutely devastating, heart wrenching, upsetting, and disconcerting all at the same time. I shed tears and silently offered my blessings and prayers to each and every mom and dad in that room as a whirlwind of emotions and empathy overcame me and I experienced feelings of sadness and grief that I have never felt before.

At one point in the ceremony, the pediatrician who we met with a few weeks before Ava was born stood in front of the podium. As she spoke my mind started to drift to our last meeting together and I couldn’t help but remember her saying that everything appeared to be normal and fine, but as a precaution, she would be present after Ava was born to do a few tests and make sure everything was ok. Those words kept echoing in my mind as I remembered she was in fact, the doctor who tried to save Ava’s life, and she was also the doctor who delivered the horrible news to my husband. I know it was especially hard for Mark to come face to face with her again.

The memorial service was concluded with a candle lightning ceremony. For every baby’s name that was called, a candle was lit, and a rose was offered to the parent or parents of the little angel who was taken away from them. With every baby name called, and seeing the face of the mom and dad lighting the candle in their memory, I cried harder and harder. It was agonizing to experience and be a part of so much sadness. One mom had lost her child very recently as she was still wearing maternity clothes over her still pregnant looking belly. I remembered how hard it was in the weeks following my delivery looking like I was still with child but feeling so empty on the inside, literally and figuratively. I admired that woman’s strength for showing up to light a candle for her baby when her emotions were still so raw and fresh.

I was hoping to find more closure and inner peace attending that memorial service. Perhaps I will realize that later on, but right now, the intensity, pain and sheer sadness of the families without child, the crushed dreams and the horrifying reality of all the tragedy has consumed me. I am still a quivering pile of tearful goo as I think about each and every parent in that room and what they have all been through. I also can’t help but admire them in reverence for the long road they will continue to walk each and every every day.


So long as we live, our child’s memory will also live on, and they will always be remembered.

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A Weekend Away
by Karla ° Monday, October 17, 2005
There’s nothing like spending a weekend in the middle of absolutely nowhere with amazing friends at a cottage where there is nothing to do but eat, laugh and drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

The first task in realizing such fun is, of course, getting there.

The first issue is realizing such fun is that I am married to a man who, although not directionally challenged, essentially likes to find his way without directions, which basically translates into a painful journey of bickering and nagging.

As a woman imaging the conversation between him and his buddy decidedly planning our weekend, I pictured it to be something like this:

Rich: We’re going to head up to the cottage Friday afternoon and make sure the beers are cold.
Mark: (Thumbs up) Awesome.

Rich: You remember how to get there?

Mark: Yes, I am a male and I don’t need directions to drive down completely pitch black roads into the middle of nowhere for hours and hours where my cell phone won't have service. We’ll be fine, just make sure the beers are cold! I’m sure I will need one after getting lost and listening to my wife incessantly yell, nag and bitch about being lost, but don’t worry, I don't need directions.

And so the fun began....

Although getting from point A to point B seems simple enough, throw in unlit desolate country roads and a bitchy wife who wouldn’t stop nagging about the importance of directions and having to pee, and you’ve got yourself a bicker fest worthy of an Olympic gold medal.

Even after we finally arrived to our destination town, we still had no idea where to go. You would think finding our way would be simple in a town that is so small the liquor store is just a tiny little trailer, but needless to say, we were still lost. Finding a pay phone and requesting an escort to the cottage was all but we could do at this point.

We parked our butts right smack dab in the middle of the town and as we sat in the liquor store parking lot contemplating robbing the trailer and drowning our sorrows in a bottle of fine red vino, I couldn’t help but push one more button and ask Mark how he possibly couldn't know which direction we were supposed to go if he had opted not to get directions. “Something must look farmilliar," I bitched after suggesting heading south and leaving me the car keys on his way way to hell. His response was a loving hand on my knee and a sheepish “I Love You”.

Eventually our friends arrived to rescue us. Above their screeching tires and howls of laughter at our ridiculously retarded journey and how we managed to end it in the parking lot of a liquor store, they still managed to make us howl with laughter right along with them as they screamed out their car window, “Are you guys divorced yet?”

And so our weekend of excessive laughing, eating, drinking, gazing at calm lake waters, colourful fall scenery, the stars and hanging out with some of the best friend’s one could ever hope for began.

If only the light at the end of the dark tunnel we journeyed to get there wasn’t so blinding. I think all of our heads still hurt from the amount of alcohol we consumed.

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For the record, I am a silly Canadian, and I have a silly dialect
by Karla ° Friday, October 7, 2005
Let me enlighten you about some of the various terminology or slang I’ve used that has awarded me my fair share of awkward looks and blank stares while visiting the United States.

When I ask for a pop, please don’t look at me like I have asked you for crack. I am really just looking for coke, you know, of the soda variety.

I had no idea my coffee requests were so foreign. When I ask for a large Double Double first thing in the morning, surely you don’t think I’m looking for gobs and gobs of pink bubble gum to chew do you? Two creams and two sugars is what I am trying to communicate.

The term kitty corner is not where stray mangy cats hang out. It means diagonally opposite corners of an intersection, as in, they should build a Tim Horton’s coffee shop kitty corner to this Dunkin’ Donuts so Americans can drink our great coffee too.

Which leads me to Timbits. These scrumptious little round balls of pastry are the left over dough from the hole of a Tim Hortons donut. You can buy 20 of them for a Toonie.

We carry Loonies and Toonies, not because we are loony and crazy, but because we do not have $1.00 or $2.00 bills.

Please don’t look at me like I have just landed from Mars when I pronounce the letter “Z” as “Zed”.

Homo milk does not mean we employ our gay community at the milk factories. That is what we call Whole (homogenized) Milk.

A Molson Muscle is not a compliment. Molson Canadian is a hugely popular beer and a Molson Muscle is the resulting effect of our love of beer. It is a term we use to describe expanding midsection girth due to over indulgent beer consumption, or better yet, a big fat beer belly.

We have abbreviations for many of our words, particularly when it comes to cities and politics. I’m really not trying to brag about my sex life when I talk about the G-spot. That’s just another name for the city of Guelph, Ontario. I have noticed many an eyebrow raised at the prospect of living in O-town, but to the best of my knowledge, the name has nothing to do with how many orgasms people have in our Nations capital, although people from Ottawa may think differently.

Our Conservative party is often referred to as the Tories. If you are conservative, you are a Tory. For the record, our Tories are blue, not as in sad, just not red like American Republicans.

A Grit is a supporter of the Liberal party. Although they may play dirty politics I’m sure they all bathe.

A Blochead is a member of a political party called the Bloc Québécois. Their heads really aren’t square.

In Canada, our provincial leaders (we have Provinces not States) are called Premiers. Again, I can assure you, I am not referring to the Premiere of a movie, however, if a movie premiere came out about the Premier of Ontario, it would be called “Big Fat Liar” and if a movie premiere hit the Alberta box office about their Premier it would called “Even an alcoholic can run for politics in Canada, get caught drinking and driving and still remain in office” (maybe he drinks but doesn’t swallow?) We do not however, make movies about our provincial leaders, we just complain about them.

Our Canadianisms do sound strange I’m sure, but I’m thinking of taking
Bush’s own advice from a May 24th speech in Greece, NY and “keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda” and help Americans realize that a double double is truly the right way to ask for a coffee, and enlighten them to the truth behind the truly correct pronunciation of the letter “zed.”

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Dinner with Kate
by Karla ° Thursday, October 6, 2005
Mark and I had the most remarkable dinner with Kate last night. I’m still floating on a cloud of excitement about meeting a fellow blogger friend. She is one of the most caring, charming and friendly people I have ever met.

Kate took the time (as she knew about my fussy vegetarian eating habits) to find a whole bunch of great restaurants in the area before sending me a list of all the various options. I couldn’t help but notice and appreciate her forethought. We set a time and place, and all that was left was to show up.

Being the eager beaver that I am (and anal retentive about never being late), we arrived at the restaurant about 20 minutes early. Since we weren’t familiar with the area I decided to ask someone who worked at the restaurant if we were at the right address. Although he didn’t know the actual number address, it appeared that we were at least on the right road. That was enough to appease me so we sunk our enthusiastic buns down on a bench outside and kept an eye out for her car.

Looking like total tourists as we loitered outside the restaurant discussing the volume of SUV’s that seem to dominate the roadways, drooling over all of the virtually unattainable (in Canada) mitsubishi cars we’ve seen and finding it perplexing that we hadn’t seen but one Pontiac on the road, we finally saw Kate drive into the parking lot. I recognized her immediately, smiled and waved, expecting her to pull into one of the empty parking spots. She waved back and much my surprise (and mortification) kept on driving… right past the restaurant…. away from us.

I turned and looked at my husband and jokingly asked if we were THAT scary looking.

Thankfully she just went around the building to find a parking spot and wasn’t having second thoughts about coming in and having dinner with us.

I remember from her pictures that Kate has one of the most sincere and genuine smiles I have ever seen, and meeting her face to face was no different. There was an immediate sense of comfort and ease as she flashed us one of her gorgeous smiles and I knew at that moment that the rest of our evening would be incredible.

We had so much to talk about. All three of us were like chatter boxes all night talking about everything and anything under the sun. Kate is so charming and personable that conversation flowed extremely smoothly and comfortably, like we were old pals that went way back.

Our evening was absolutely delightful and I am so happy I had the opportunity to meet Kate. Something tells me this wont be the last time I am in Delaware, and I can’t wait to come back and shop until I drop at one of the nations largest shopping malls on the east coast in King of Prussia, PA with her.

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Hola from Delaware
by Karla ° Monday, October 3, 2005
As I sit here, legs crossed, in a giant oversized leather chair at a giant oversized mahagoney desk in a sun drenched hotel room, I realized that I have seriously been missing in action in these days, but I have a good excuse.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind past couple of weeks that suddenly have me sitting here in Wilmington, Delaware while my husband is on business. I also can't help but eagerly anticipate our next stop over destination in Washington, DC.

Yesterday was a fantastic 550 miles (885 km) journey to down I-81 through New York and I-476 through Pennsylvania all the way to Delaware. We left early Sunday morning after securing a rental car and made our way to the Hill Island Bridge, cleared customs, and entered into the powerful nation that is the United States of America.

I couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty of my surroundings as part of our drive took us through the stunning rolling scenery of the Appalachian Mountains. I have to admit, part of the fascination with our drive was noticing the differences south of our Canadian border. As a Canadian, I must share with my US friends the various differences that were noteworthy enough to stand out in my canuckle head mind.

Interstate Highways
US Interstate highways are remarkably well maintained.

Toll Highways are a new thing for me. The only pay highway we have in Canada doesn’t operate via tolls. You just simply drive on it, your license plate is photographed, and a bill arrives in the mail (or you buy a transponder to travel on it frequently).

The mileage listed on the Interstates is also interesting. The mile of highway you are driving on is always made available and there are markers that show what point in the mile you are at (2/10th, 5/10th, etc). Even more interesting was the help phones strategically placed every few miles or so along the road. You always knew where you were (i.e. 98 6/10th mile along I-81). What a neat (albeit tedious) idea to build into a highway system.


Getting used to distances being listed in miles was also different. A mile takes a heck of a lot longer to drive than a kilometer (especially when you're travelling hundreds and hundreds of miles).

Gas
Even with the exchange rate, at $3.00/gallon, that’s a steal! Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe, even with the conversion, we're paying about $4.00/gallon in Canada.

Another notable difference with highway driving in the US versus Canada is that we never came across any service stations directly off the highway. To fill up, we had to exit the Interstate and drive off into a nearby community to get gas. In Canada, we have service stations, located conveniently right off the highway, so you don’t have to actually exit the highway for gas.

Food
Unquestionably different. I remember the startling difference when we were in Las Vegas a few years back and have never forgotten. Portion sizes are humungous and much greasier that I am accustomed to. I managed to eat a quarter of my pasta dinner last night. It probably doesn’t help that I am one of the pickiest eaters on the planet, but can anyone explain to me why my dinner roll tasted like a donut?


Billboards and Broadcasting
I was somewhat stunned at the amount of Christian advertising on the radio and billboards. I have to admit, I have never seen a sign that says “Jesus is coming as lightning, are you ready?” I think it is absolutely wonderful that there is such a drive for a Christian community and way of life, but as a resident from one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with over 90 different ethnic groups and religious backgrouds, specific religious advertising just wouldn’t work and is unheard of.


The Best Part of Philadelphia
The major highlight of my trip will be meeting
Kate. Yes, I have the amazing opportunity to meet another blogger. In a million years, I never would have guessed I would be meeting people that I have met through “blogging” in real life. I can’t wait. I am so very excited to meet her.


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