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Our oldest daughter started university this year. She is living in residence. After two weeks’ time, she informed us via facebook, that she got her nose pierced. I thought she was joking. She was not. Of course, we still love her, but my husband and I were disappointed in her decision. No, it’s not as bad as a tattoo, and it can grow over, I know that. But to me, facial piercings scream rebellion, whether she meant it to say that or not. She says not. In the real world, people are judged by appearances whether it’s fair or not.
Regarding our daughter’s nose ring; I’m glad it’s a small stud, and not an actual ring. But she’s a pretty girl, why would she want to have a third nostril? Even if it grows over someday, there will always be a scar. Why mar your face? I’m just surprised at her actions. She always knew how we felt about these things. We allowed double piercings in her ears. She’s out of the house, not two weeks, and this is what she chooses to do for her first independent decision? Can you still see the steam coming out of my ears?
You Know You’ve Been Watching Too Much Soccer When: You can tell which players have had a recent haircut. You can even name the referees. You know useless trivia about hundreds of players. You remember where the players were traded from. You follow more than one league’s seasonal games, as well as championship series. You have standard comments about certain players, teams and situations. You’d rather watch soccer than do almost anything else. You’ve imagined who you would assemble as a “dream team” if you could. Not that I know anyone who fits this description, though. Well, okay, it’s me.
I went to an Oncology conference. I got through two and a half hours of mind numbing molecular biology and slides of cells and research statistics about clinical trials. Even the description is boring, but I assure you the reality is apt to induce narcolepsy. I did see some Doctors nodding off, so I don’t feel so bad for escaping. I stopped at Tim Horton’s for a coffee break, and then I made my way to the World’s Biggest Bookstore for an hour or two of enjoyable book browsing, along with the inevitable book buying. I bought three new books.
Some of my favourite things are: reading near a lake, a nice glass of white wine, browsing through a bookstore, a hot sauna, watching the wake of a cruise ship, hearing the rain, smelling a freshly mowed lawn, eating a meal cooked by someone else, watching a soccer game, getting a foot massage, sitting out on the deck in the summer, having friends over for a barbecue, discussing things with my husband, hearing good preaching, travelling to new places, tasting new foods, writing my stories, Northern blueberry pie with ice cream, reading a good book, and vacationing at the cottage.
Some more of my favourite things: campfires; I even love the smell of smoke on me. Hot dogs are best over an open fire. German Shepherds; I had one when I was young. Watching movies or documentaries about submarines. I know, “Nerd Alert!” Baby back ribs. Technology, like iPods and Facebook. My dishwasher. Soaking up the sun under a palm tree, or rather, near one. Palm trees just say, ‘Tropical getaway’ to me. Going to a TFC soccer game. Getting away with my husband for our anniversary. Jane Austen movies or a similar movie from that period. They’re so romantic.
I’m a nervous flyer. I’ll do it, because it’s the fastest way to get to where I’m going, but I don’t like it. You’d never know to look at me though, because I don’t make a scene. What good would it do? Every time we fly, I inevitably say the same thing to my husband: “I don’t know how this thing stays in the air.” He begins an explanation of the mechanics of flight: air speed, flaps, wings, etc. I reply, “It makes no sense to me. I just hope it stays in the air until it’s time to land.”
Thinking he’s just not explaining it well enough, he approaches it with something I’ll understand: submarines. “It’s like the bow planes and stern planes on a sub.” I say, “That explains how it can rise or descend when it’s in the air, but a plane doesn’t have ballast tanks that can be filled or emptied.” Undaunted, he starts explaining how it’s like putting your hand out of the car window on the highway, and how it’s easier or harder depending on which way you put your hand or how fast you go.” I guess I have been listening, after all.
I protest again, which proves I’m stubborn and unteachable, since we’ll only have this exact conversation again on our next flight. It also proves I have the most patient husband in the world. One of his friends has a float plane he built himself and has offered to fly them inland to fish. My response? “I didn’t nurse you through cancer to have you die in a plane crash.” Don’t I sound like a nag? Am I just transferring my fears onto him? Maybe. But just because I’m irrational doesn’t mean I can’t have my way. How’s that for logic?
My oldest daughter has started university this year. She lives in a dorm. She’s still only seventeen. I moved away from home at age twenty, and I still wasn’t ready, but then, I was a bit of a princess. When I came to live and work in Toronto, my sister said, “And don’t expect me to do everything for you, like Mom does. You’ll have to do your own laundry, cooking and cleaning.” “Do you mean…you won’t wake me up with a back rub and tell me my coffee’s ready?” Yep, it was a different wake up call, altogether.
I don’t worry about the decisions she’ll make. Her character is pretty solid. Although, she’ll make her own mistakes, like we did. I only fear that when she’s off to university, after having had a Christian education and a job at a Christian camp, it will be a culture shock.. We really have sheltered them from the big, bad world out there, and I cringe at the thought of what she’ll encounter. Did I remember everything? I wondered if there were any last minute things I needed to tell her, “Don’t trust guys. They’ll say anything.” You get the idea.
Fishermen often tell stories of the One that got away. They can recall every detail of what it looked like, and can even imagine how it would have tasted. They have regrets, wondering if, had they done even one thing differently, they wouldn’t have lost it. You are the One I let get away. I can still remember what you looked like. I can even imagine how you would have tasted. I live with regrets, wondering if, had I done even one thing differently, I wouldn’t have lost you, and been left to dream about the kiss I’ll never have.
How to Watch Soccer Like a Girl. Disclaimer: I don’t necessarily do this, myself. During international soccer events like World Cup, follow these simple rules for your viewing enjoyment. Step One: Be sure to see the game from beginning to end. As you watch the national anthem being played, scan the players’ faces, to decide who to keep an eye on throughout the game. Step Two: Choose the team with the most good looking guys, and cheer them on. Step Three: Don’t turn off the television until the game is over and the players have exchanged shirts. You know why.
Now, as I said earlier, I don’t necessarily do this myself. I watch soccer because it’s The Beautiful Game. The players don’t fight like they do in hockey. It’s overall, with few exceptions, a gentleman’s sport. The athletes have to be fit to run for ninety minutes. They have amazing skill and it’s exciting to watch. But if I did want to get more out of each game, I would consider implementing the above steps. Oh, don’t be so shocked! Do men watch women’s beach volleyball because they understand the signals the camera zooms in on? I rest my case.
Men and women communicate differently. Most women wish their husbands could read their minds, but men just aren’t that intuitive. I’m generalizing here. I don’t like to sound like a nag, so instead I give hints and hope my husband will pick up on it. I make a statement, and I hope he’ll hear the hidden request in it. Once, when my husband called home, I said, “Oh, I haven’t even taken any meat out the freezer for dinner.” He said, “Let me run that through my husband wife translator…would you like me to pick something up for dinner?”
Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Me: I’m a book addict. (It’s a socially acceptable addiction.) I eat an egg every day. I’m fluent in English and Finnish. I’m afraid of heights and bees. I once took a ride in a submarine. I once stowed away on a ferry between Finland and Sweden. I’m good at target games (archery, laser quest, arcade shooting games), so I won’t miss you if you leave. One day, I hope to go to Papua New Guinea. I’ve had coffee every day since I was five. I’m working on seven inspirational romance stories at once.
Some Jobs I Have Had: Convenience store clerk for three years in highschool. My starting wage was two dollars an hour. Does that make me old? Nurse’s aide in a chronic care hospital during summer throughout college. Very heavy, hard work, but I met my husband there, so it was worth it. (No, he wasn’t a patient…He was in housekeeping throughout university. I always tell people he swept me off my feet. General medical unit as a new registered nurse for five years before I had kids. Good overview of nursing I learned to work hard and get organized.
The chemotherapy day unit was three months of agony; assembly line nursing, with over one hundred thirty patients per day. It was all a blur to me. I even developed heart palpitations because I internalized my stress. I hated to go to work for the first time in my life, so I got out of there as soon as I could. Current job: inpatient oncology. I’ve worked on a unit with autologous bone marrow transplant patients, malignant hematology (leukemia, lymphoma and blood disorders). Now I’m working with surgical, medical and radiation oncology patients. It’s the best job in the world.
How Poor Were We? We caught the drips from our leaky roof into three or four bowls when it rained. We spent summers sleeping in a tent in the backyard because we had no air conditioning and our attic bedroom was unbearably hot. We ate mostly soups and casseroles because we couldn’t afford meat. We rarely had vacations. We had crunchy towels since we had no dryer. We had very few toys and books. We had to wear bread bags over our socks in our winter boots to waterproof them because we couldn’t afford more than one pair per year.
The Pros and Cons of Interracial Marriage: I met my husband at our summer job in a hospital. He is from Jamaica. I was born in Finland. We were attracted to each other right away. The only thing I cared about was whether or not he was a Christian. I think the fact that we both grew up in Canada makes a difference, too, since we have a similar culture. If one of us was a new immigrant, there would be some issues and we would probably approach things differently. We married two years later in the mid nineteen eighties.
Toronto is a multicultural city. Everyone here is from somewhere else. When we were dating, I would say there were only about five incidents; comments, looks, discrimination, etc. Nothing since. In fact, no one bats an eye now. There are so many mixed couples here in Toronto. As a problem, I would say that considering where to travel is an issue. South Florida and the Caribbean are okay for travelling, but my husband is not willing to go to the southern States because of the anticipated reactions we’d just rather avoid. We have the usual conflicts and stresses of marriage
We have several cultures in our family. We eat Jamaican food, Finnish food, and everything else. Our family gatherings are louder with the Jamaican side, more subdued with the Finnish side, and somewhere in between when we’re all together. People often ask what we tell our kids when they ask if they are black or white. We tell them they are mixed. We even gave it a name: Finnaican. When our daughter was young, she used to tell people she was half Finnish, half Jamaican, and half Canadian. So she didn’t understand fractions, at least she knew who she was.
We have two beautiful daughters. They have had to face very little racism ; a great deal less than my husband or his mother had to face when they came to Canada in the early seventies. We have been happily married for over twenty years. We have since had many more interracial marriages within our family. I guess we broke the ice. Our family members don’t seem to have a problem with it. There were adjustments at the beginning of our courtship, but they have since been supportive. I don’t see my husband as a black man, only as a man.
The bartender was a study in frustration. When a server approached with a drink order, he’d perk up and listen expectantly. The sudden dejected look on his face showed it was probably beer or wine. No creativity required. Even mixed drinks were easy, the “recipes” memorized. He was a frustrated artisan, living among Cretans who didn’t recognize who he was. He undoubtedly had a signature drink already created, with an equally artsy moniker attached to it. He longed for someone to challenge him with an unusual drink order, or even to say, “Amaze me.” Instead, he just poured another beer.
When I meet someone for the first time and they ask what I do, I answer, “I’m an oncology nurse.” It’s always the same response. If they know what oncology is, they then tilt their head to the side and say, “Aw, that must be hard.” That’s where I have a hard time knowing how to respond. They’ve already assumed I work at a horrible place, and now I must simple agree with it. But I don’t. How can you say, “No, actually I like it,” without sounding like a heartless woman who enjoys the suffering of others? You can’t.
So then I have to explain myself. “Actually, we’re an active treatment hospital. On my unit they walk in and walk out, because they come for overnight surgery or a day or two or three of chemotherapy. We have very few deaths on our unit. And I like the oncology population. They’re very real. They are dealing with the big issues of life and they usually want to talk about it. Sometimes, they just need to tell their “story”, how they were diagnosed, or how they’re treatment is going. I get a lot of satisfaction when a patient says, “Thanks.”
Did you ever look at someone and try to guess what they did for a living? There’s a man I see in my neighbourhood. This is my guess at his story. What I know: He’s married, and has two young children, maybe three. I guess he’s in the military. My reasons: an SUV with a SUPPORT OUR TROOPS sticker, a GIANT Canadian flag on a pole in front of his house (not typical for a Canadian), a good haircut, a job in which he is home for long stretches. One day I’ll ask him. For now, we’ll just say hello.
Finland is a small country of only five million people. Most people don’t personally know any Finns, since there are so few of us. If you’re unsure of its’location, look up, look way up to the top of the globe, in Northern Europe. From west to east, you’ll see Norway, then Sweden, then Finland, then Russia. If Finns are ever represented in the media, usually the accent is either done in Swedish singsong or Russian harshness. No wonder, since it’s a very difficult accent to do, even for me. Also, most are blonde and blue eyed, but not all.
Finland is the land of the midnight sun in the summer, with a festival in June. Winters are depressing, with Arctic darkness for many hours. Finns are known as the inventors of the sauna (pronounced sowna, not sawna). The sport of biathlon originated in Finland, when, during the Winter War of 1939 when Russia invaded Finland, Finnish snipers would dress in white, ski in, snipe at the Soviets, and ski away. Finland, though left leaning politically, with a social democratic government, is nonetheless an independent democracy, in spite of several invasions by Russia. Finns fought valiantly to defend their homeland.
Finland is a land of forests and lakes, and warm summers, due to the Gulf Stream. Finns are known to be subdued and serious, although I know many exceptions to this stereotype. Finland is the land of the composer, Sibelius, who was able to capture the feeling of winter and the land in his music. An example is Finlandia, which by the way, is NOT the national anthem of Finland, though many feel it should be. Finland is the home of Nokia phones, Linux systems, Fiskars scissors, Rapala lures, Arabia china, Marimekko fabrics, Aarikka jewellery, winter sports and ship building.
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