Boundbytheword Blog

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That first school dance… January 26, 2012

So my son had his first senior dance last night – only grade seven and eight students were allowed to attend – so, sort of a big deal. Last week, when the permission form came home and he gave some resistance, I figured he was nervous about the whole dance/girls/coolness factor. Who better to help him out but me? I might be older, heavier and way less cool than I once was, but I did have my day way back when, and I haven’t forgotten the jitters of attending a school dance.  

Ah yes, . Knowing the boy you liked would be there, watching him watching you, hoping he asks you to dance. Relationships were made and broken at school dances. How I loved those dances.

I wanted my son to be the kind of boy who likes dances too. I never understood boys who said dancing sucked or they just “didn’t wanna”. Huh? It’s dancing! Have fun, be silly, be crazy, maybe we even get a little snuggle while Phil Collins croons away about something in the air. Though I did choose a few stick-in-the-mud-dance  guys in my lifetime, I always preferred the ones willing to dance.  I understand now – wise old woman that I am – that the boys didn’t really hate dancing. They were afraid to look foolish, didn’t know how to do it and were embarrassed to try. Not my son, I decided.

So as dinner broiled one night, I danced around the kitchen with him. Our family has always been kitchen dancers.  I wasn’t worried about him knowing how to boogie-woogie, but thought he might be too shy to ask someone to slow dance. So,  I gave him the “slow dance” demo. This is what every twelve-year-old boy wants to do with his mother, I just know it.

I hear the collective groans.

I’ll just say – that even though he rolled his eyes and my husband thinks I may have scarred him for life, my son danced the whole song with me and was much more confident by the end of it. By the end of Bruno Mars’ love song, my son had taken the lead and was dancing quite nicely. Any teenybopper would be lucky to partner up with him.

Before you send a comment to remind me the word is “mother” not “smother”, I just want to defend myself. Taking the lead in a slow dance is hard – especially the first time. Think I’m exaggerating? Have you ever danced with the spinner – the guy who turned so fast you were dizzy before the chorus? Not good. What about Frankendance? The guy who stomps left, stomps right, and then turns a fraction of an inch at a snail’s pace. Not good either. Then there are the butt grabbers, the clingers, and the guys who want you to lead but won’t admit it so you spend the entire song apologizing for moving or not moving. Dancing is a tough gig for newcomers.

So – my son and I danced, and last night he was prepared and ready to go. He gave me strict instructions not to leave a five-minute radius of the school (in case he needed to call for an escape) and to be there at 5:30 sharp, not at the dance end time of 6 pm. I did as I was told and got there at 5:30. I meandered down the hall to see if I could sneak a peek, and was surprised at the music selection – Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Weird. But every kid in the entire gymnasium was on their feet and bouncing around. Still a hit after all these years – amazing.

I hung out around (behind) the door and watched as my son danced up a storm to Rihanna and Maroon 5 and a string of others that I had no clue about. He was no dud on the dance floor and I was happy for him. A few songs in, one of his friends saw me, and within 30 seconds a gang of kids came over to chat it up with me. Odd, and I could see my son was not impressed at the distraction.  I told them I was early so to go ahead and go dance, which they did, and my son asked me to go get this things (way at the other end of the school…lol) which I did. It was code for “get lost” and I was glad to do it if it meant he was having a blast.

I took my time wandering down and came back  as the final song was on – another classic, and another shock for me at a dance in 2012. Stairway to Heaven by Zeppelin. My first thought? That’s crazy – am I at my grade eight dance or what? My second thought? A flashback to dancing to that song. It put a spring in my step as I almost tore down the halls to get to what I assumed would be make-out central. I just hoped my son remembered the hand-zone we discussed in our kitchen.

I peeked my head into the gym and saw six couples on the dance floor (all hands in appropriate places). My son stood in a group of kids off to the side and saw me immediately. He waved off his friends (now separated into boy/girl sections, who all looked somewhat desperate and disoriented) and bolted over to me, ready to go.

Driving home he talked about how much fun it was, how much he sweat, how crappy the pizza was, who danced with who, and how he didn’t, in fact, know the moves to the Time Warp. (who knew I’d have to teach him that dance?).

I asked if he danced with girls.  “Sure he did”. Any particular girl? “Not so much” (or not so much into telling me). When I asked if he danced any slow ones, it was a clear – “no way”. By the way he bolted out of that gym during the famous make-out song, I believe him.

So I readied my son for his first slow dance, but he wasn’t ready. I’m not going to lie here – that doesn’t make me sad. The years are looming where he’ll live for the slow dance and ignore my hand zone cautions. But until then, I’m just glad he’ll still boogie on the dance floor like nobody’s watching.


Three times is a charm… January 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 1:05 PM

I’ve been a walking disaster this week, but since I’ve rounded my accidents out to a plump three occurrences, I figure I’m done now. Three times is a charm, after all.

The ridiculousness began when I went to load up the wood stove. I threw in two logs, and then tried to cram one last one in when the knuckle of my thumb caught the inside wall. It pinched, but I actually heard the sizzle and smelt it burn before I felt actual pain. At first I thought maybe I just almost touched it because although it was red, it didn’t hurt that much. Lucky me, I thought. But, the pain caught up with me. By the time I got to the bathroom sink to run it under cold water it looked like a hotdog left too long on the grill. For a dime sized burn,  it sure drew attention to itself . I spent the rest of the day with my hand singing with the sting of it.

But carry on you must, and so off I went to the dentist to have a filling replaced. I have no issue with the dentist – never have. Watch a little show while people polish and clean your teeth and make you all sparkly? It’s just never dawned on me to be afraid.

I was seeing a new dentist this visit. She was cheery, welcoming, and had small hands – which I have to admit – I was happy about since she was going to dig around in my mouth. She put lots of numbing gel on before she started with the needle, and when she put the needle in, I thought to myself – wow – I didn’t even feel that. She moved her hand a bit to give me a little more somewhere else and I thought – wow – this might just be the best needle I’ve ever been given, I don’t feel a thing. That’s when the burning began in my eye.

“Ah! That’s burning.” I said th best I oould with a mouthful of hands and needles.

“It’s okay, just breathe.” She said to me.

That’s when she poured the second and larger dose of acid in my eye (or so it feels like) and I yelled louder than I ever have in the dentist office, louder than I think I’ve ever yelled in public. “Burning! Burning! My eye!” My knees curled to my chest, and my hand flew towards my face. It’s in the “I’ll give you a backhand” position, which I’d like to think was me bringing a defensive hand to my face, but which I think the dentist and hygienist took for the backhander by the way they both rolled their chairs back a few inches. Hands and needle went flying and I’m curled up in the chair with them both looking down at me horrified. My eyelid is frozen. The rim of my eye is frozen. My eyeball is frozen.

I need to interject here that I have never even complained at the dentist before. I’ve always been pleasant and relaxed. If perhaps it was one of the dentists that had worked on me before, he would have known I was acting differently therefore clearly in distress. But because this was a new dentist to me (and the hygienist as well), they both were frozen in shock (and what might have been fear) as I freaked out in the chair. And I will admit, I was freaking out. I couldn’t stop feeling my face, I couldn’t stop saying “I can’t feel my eyeball!”

Here’s the thing – I wasn’t in pain, and I could see with no problem, but I have never had a frozen eye before and that combined with the fact that it started out with a searing pain that really did feel like liquid being poured in my eye – it didn’t matter that now it was painless – I was traumatized. So we spent the next few minutes with me freaking out and them watching me in horror, and assuring me that my eye was indeed moving around. When I got myself together, she apologized, explained she must have hit a nerve that ran up to my eye.

She completed the filling, and I went on my way after promising to keep my hands away from my eye so I didn’t damage it somehow. I guess she figured that after I acted like such a spaz in the chair, that I might go home and claw it out or something, I don’t really know. I do know that I felt like a nut job for losing my mind, and a freak show because the whole right side of my face – my eye, my cheek, my nose, and my lips, all drooped like it was melting. I was so glad I still had to go to the bank and the grocery store – I like to be humbled on occasion.

When I got home I felt pretty sorry for myself. Once the freezing wore off, the dull tingle was replaced with a raging migraine that lasted all night and the next day too. When I woke up yesterday, my cheek was swollen and bruised and I was migrainy and dizzy. My  plan was to rest and relax all day. Then I dropped a big log on my big toe. While loading up that damn wood stove again, it tumbled out of my hands and landed right on the nail.

I did whine about my thumb burn and I did freak out with the whole burning/freezing eyeball thing, but I didn’t cry with either of those mishaps. The log to toe thing – I cried. I’m not ashamed to say I cried like a baby. Made such a stink that my dog woke up and nosed himself right at my face and try to stop the madness. But it hurt SO bad. It was instantly purple, and felt like the nail was going to pop right off because of the pressure. Wowza – that was not a pleasant feeling. Today my full toe nail is purple and I have a horrible feeling that I’m going to lose it and have one of those gross nail-less toes. I guess I can be happy it’s not sandal season.

Last night was a rough night. I can’t sleep on my right side because I can’t lay on that side of my face. I can’t sleep on my left side because it puts pressure on my toe and my thumb. So I slept on my back and moped. I know it’s only hump day, but I’m calling it a week. Three times has got to be a charm, right? Right?


Is that rain on my parade? January 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 7:03 PM
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I was in bed not sleeping last night and decided enough was enough. The morning was going to bring a new day, and it was one that was going to include a healthy-living approach to life. No more 2am bedtime, no more chocolate for breakfast, and I was going purge the place of the bad things making me fatter by the day.

And oh yes, I was going back to walking the long walks. Not the cheater walks my golden has been moping about since the Christmas break – the ones where I walk around the property, or pop down to get the mail, or meander for a leisurely 15 minute ramble down the road. No – my golden knows what’s good for me – brisk walks till my legs burn.

Walk me. And enough with the cheater walks.

A real walk means right down the line, all the way to the main road. When we hike it in a good clip with no stopping, there and back takes us a little over an hour. I feel better about myself, he sleeps happy all day, and I actually get some of my best writing done in my head while we walk.

So I was going back to the “real” walks, I decided. Eat right, sleep tight, and walk. That was going to be my bright new day. It didn’t happen for me January 1st, but that was no surprise  – I detest resolutions based on a day because society deems I have to. No – this new day was something I was ready for. Bring on the new day I thought.
I woke up hours later and looked out my window. At first I thought it was a massive snowstorm because it was white everywhere – everything white. Then I realized it was fog, not snow. The day was miserable with rain and mist and wind and fog. Blech.

I know what you’re thinking. You think I used it as an excuse to stay indoors. But you’re wrong. I didn’t. I put on my coat. My boots. My hat and scarf and mitts. I packed extra kleenex and walked out into the fog ready to start my new mission. It rained the whole time.

My cheeks stung with the rain and the wind, and I was as grumpy as one might guess a woman with a mission walking in the rain might be. And I admit – I didn’t do the long, long walk. But I did the middle one   – which didn’t take me all the way to the crossroad, but it took me as far as it could on early morning determination and 7 kleenex. It ended up being a 45 minute walk – but I couldn’t hustle the way I would have liked because of the ice on the roads. They kept threatening to take me down, so I slowed my pace a little – but my legs still burned.

Just not as much as my cheeks and nose.


Those crazy connections… January 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 7:22 PM
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I attended the WCDR breakfast this morning and listened intently as Hilary McMahon – an agent from Westwood Creative Artists – gave a frank talk about the challenges of getting published and landing a literary agent in today’s industry. Tough love – which could either motivate or discourage – but either way, it does open your eyes to the reality of the publishing world.

It’s amazing how many people want to write a book and just assume the penning of the novel will be the hard part. Not so. That’s just the beginning. The writer’s road has been one of the most arduous paths I’ve ever taken. At the same time though – it’s been the most gratifying. I think the same could be said for anyone following their dreams. As my mother says – you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.

Hilary’s advice inspired me to work harder, keep going, keep trying. Tough love works on me it seems. Who knew?

My blogging basics workshop after the breakfast went well too. The room was filled with dynamic writers with so many questions – they really kept me on my toes! It was amazing and I shouldn’t be surprised – after all – these were WCDR members! One thing I talked about in the workshop is building connection with readers. As a blogger that’s my goal – to connect to all of you. Sort of a virtual kitchen table that we sit around discussing stuff that matters and some stuff that doesn’t, and sip hot coffee and eat too much pound cake.  Except there’s no table, coffee or pound cake. But there is talk, and I always hope we can find connection. You can’t necessarily explain why one person connects to another, but there’s something undeniably there.

It’s like how one parenting blog can make you feel like a good parent, a normal parent, or at least not alone. Whereas another parenting blog seems like crazy talk and leaves you feeling like you wear the parental dunce cap. You just don’t connect to that “type” of parent. For whatever reason – you just don’t jive, no connection. You accept the differences. Variety is indeed the spice of life. I believe that whole-heartedly.

As I drove home today in the soon-to-be dark late afternoon, the frigid wind mixed with cold temperatures that reached a low of -14, I saw a man running down the street. Jogging actually, in full running man gear and pushing a running stroller with two wee tots inside. And that moment affirmed that I spoke the truth this afternoon.There are some people you’ll never connect to or understand. Not in a million years. I guess connection doesn’t just have to do with language, and some of what you see and hear is indeed crazy.


Small fish, big pond January 12, 2012

I’ve called Simcoe County my home for over two years now. Time flies. I love the boonies and the move was beneficial in so many ways to me and my family, even to my dog. Because my family and friends are still rooted down there, I visit often, but there are other things in Durham I can’t give up either.

I’m an active member of the Writers Community of Durham Region. WCDR is a large community (350+ members) that holds a monthly meeting where writers of all levels meet to network, break bread, and settle in to listen to a guest speaker. We’ve had best-selling and award-winning authors, agents, editors and other publishing industry speakers that give us tangible advice to find success as writers. We always have an amazing breakfast too (this month – chocolate stuffed french toast is one of the options). The morning always leaves me feeling inspired. You don’t have to be a “writer” to attend either. If you’ve ever thought of writing or if you like one of the speakers we have lined up – you can register and check it out. The amazing thing about being in a room with 150 people – you can always find a new friend or an empty seat with your name on it.

Anyway – this month, directly after the breakfast meeting I’m teaching a mini-workshop – Blogging Basics. I offer this in the Barrie area as well, but I can’t seem to get those workshops off the ground. I need 5 people registered in order to justify the space rental, and I can’t seem to entice that many local writers to sign up. It’s disheartening. It’s discouraging. I keep telling myself I just have to be patient. But that isn’t my strongest character trait.

So back to the WCDR mini-workshop  – I’ve been tweaking and reading over my material this week and decided I better check in to see how many people have registered so I can print off handouts. I’d hoped to get a dozen. A dozen, I told myself and I won’t feel bad. I won’t feel like a dud if I have a dozen registrants. Because here’s the thing – I know it’s not healthy or comforting or smart to put a the value of my worth up against the number of people interested in something I teach, or a party I host, or a event I organize. I know this. But, I’m human and flawed, so I do put that connection together. Twelve, and I’ll be good.

There was a pregnant pause from Theresa on the phone when I called to get the final number registered. I started to panic.  She stammered a bit, said – “Well, here’s the thing,” then stammered again, which was just long enough for me to start to think they were going to cancel the workshop due to lack of numbers. Two WCDR members had tweeted over weekend that they had registered – so I knew the number wasn’t zero, but I began to panic that this would be the first cancelled workshop due to crap response.

Damn. I have to get up and announce the breakfast speaker that same day. It’s an agent. A very reputable literary agent. And at some point she will hear that the workshop is cancelled due to lack of registrants. I picture it in my head. I picture it very vividly. I see the president make the announcement.  I see the entire room look over at me with pity. I see the agent sip her tea and try not to notice she is sitting next to the dud who can’t get five measly registrants to hold the class, let alone the twelve she needs to keep her ego intact.  Surely my writing sucks as much as my ability to form a crowd at the “Blogging Basics” boardroom, and now the whole room knows it.  I simply stink, so I slink under the table and suck my thumb. The room fades to black.

“It’s okay Theresa, just say it. Out with it.” I brace myself.

“So, here’s the thing. We have thirty-nine registered, so we need to change rooms – are you okay with the long narrow room?”

Exsqueeze me? Thirty-nine? Cue the happy-dance music.

After I get off the phone, I have to ask myself how and why I’m still so insecure. I have two amazing parents who love me and nurtured me throughout my childhood, and a sister who is always in my corner. I was blessed to have many friends growing up – many of which are still essential in my life today. I have kids who think I am better than I really am, and a husband who loves me no matter how crazy the day looks, how many pounds I put on, and how much I leave him to manage the home on his own so I can follow my passion of writing. Heck, I’ve even had co-workers, neighbours, acquaintances and even customer service representatives that have made my life easier, better, happier. All in all – it’s a good life.

So why does my instinct go there when it comes to the root of it all?  You’d think after many years of therapy and self-reflection out the ass, I’d be able to conquer that one. I wonder if this ever ends – this feeling of not quite reachable satisfaction with successes. If I get published, will I have a moment of happy and then months or years, or (god forbid) decades of self-doubt? I guess I’ll leave that issue for another day. For today, I’m very happy. There is a “Sold Out” notice on the website under my name for the workshop  – which means the room of 45 seats have been filled. And that reflects how many people want blogging basics and not how many want Noelle Bickle. Logically, I know this. But that little mouse voice – who I affectionately call Sally Fields – she feels validated.

At least until the next workshop I run at the end of the month.


But who’s counting? January 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 8:38 AM

One more weekday, then the weekend – that’s all I have to get through before life goes back to normal. Two weeks of kidlets home with me has taken a toll, I’m not gonna lie. With one official day left in the “off-school days”, we’re well past having friendly family fun. We’re just trying to keep off each other’s last nerve. It didn’t help that we all had a sluggish round of whatever this nasty flu-thing is that went around for the last few weeks. It made us cranky and kept us from doing much visiting with friends, family, or even people outside the house.

We all pulled it together this afternoon and made our way to Barrie for dinner and then Retro-planet for a night out. It was the first time we had been in the van all week. Not that our feet hadn’t touched the snow – but our tires hadn’t moved off tread marks left there from 2011. Sincerely. We’ve been hibernating, and like all bears coming back into the civilized world – we were a little overwhelmed.

Dinner worked out okay – but who can complain when you’re stuffing your gob with Mucho Burrito? But by the time we hit the parking lot of Retro-planet the kids were at odds. This is one of those Chuck. E. Cheese type places with an arcade and laser tag and glow in the dark putt-putt, and it tops my daughter’s list of favourite places to go. My son on the other hand is heading into those teen years where kids screaming and games ringing and people putt-putting is sort of lame-o.

So she can’t wait to get in there and asks if we can stay till midnight. My son wants to be home by 7:00 (and it’s already 7:25). He doesn’t want to play the redemption games and won’t even take a token from the little plastic cup. For those of you who haven’t gotten sucked into the Chuck-culture – you play the game for a token or two, it spits out a few tickets, you feed the tickets into a machine that spits out a slip with your ticket total on it, and then you trade that in for crappy penny toys. Essentially you spend $20 on tokens to get 75 cents of plastic crap or a pixie stick to sugar the kids up for the ride home. All this among many other families with many other fighting siblings and kids jacked up on sugar and stimulation. It’s joyous, really. I get why my son – who is as laid back as an old weather-beaten summer chaise – is growing to despise this type of scene. But still – its family fun night, we haven’t left the house all week – suck it up buttercup and play the damn arcade game.

By the time I talk him into a game of air hockey with me, things are looking up. He forgets he hates the place and decides to focus on the game after I score once on him –  after all, he doesn’t want to get sunk by his mom. (Now that would be lame-o).  So things are going along great until my daughter comes over and wants to join in, which I think is sweet. We watch them play and get along. How nice – isn’t it nice? Life is good. I even get a chance to hug my hubby and challenge him to a water-shooting game. By the time I’ve beat him and am gloating about my nine tickets spat out over his measly three –all  hell had broken loose with the kids. Sam pulverized Lainey in the game – something like 12-2 and she brought the game to a close by “passing” him the puck by picking up and tossing (by her account) or whipping (by his account) the puck. Either way – it hit his finger and caused life threatening injuries to the end of his fingernail. My daughter is a terrible sore loser, and my son is a skilled milker. Combined, it makes for drama.

I ask you this, dear  readers –  can you imagine going to a cool place like that when you were young and acting like such little ingrates?  My parents wouldn’t have stood for it. At least I don’t think they would have, but we didn’t have places like Retro- planet to fight in. When I was a kid, it was a big deal to head to the Ponderosa once in a blue moon and make your way up the cafeteria line for a slab of steak. There was no midway games or other forms of fun for kids there – no – you just ate your dinner somewhere other than your kitchen table at home. Heck – my dad wouldn’t even let me get away with pocketing one of the “diamonds” from the gardens in front of the restaurant. He would have turned that darn bus around and headed home rather than have me steal a simple rock from the family steakhouse. And I didn’t argue about it. I sucked it up, emptied the 42 pieces of limestone from my jeans pockets, and headed inside for some cafeteria meat. And all the while I still felt blessed because we were out on the town. How have things gone so far off the mark?

My mother reads this blog, so maybe I’ll stand to be corrected. Maybe we did fight in public and act like selfish and rude, but I don’t recall it being like that. I really don’t. But then, I was a perfect child, so that might explain it.

The good news is – the kids had to go to bed as soon as we got home, which meant I got some time to myself to read, to write, and to breathe. I guess the night worked out after all. One more weekday, then the weekend. But who’s counting?


Takin’ on a new year… January 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 11:14 AM

Welcome 2012, where have you been my whole life?  My arms are open wide to a brand new year with you and I know you won’t let me down. I hardly know you, but I trust you completely. When I saw you across the room,  I knew you were different. I could tell you were nothing like the others. You were special, you were the one.

I don’t know if it was the way you stood there, confident and calm, not cocky like those other asshole years you call your friends. They didn’t treat me right, no they didn’t. Sure, we had some good times, created some magic along the way, but nothing that lasted. I want the real deal. I want what every girl wants – magic that lasts. Won’t you be that for me 2012?

There’ssomething in the way you moved towards me, staring at me straight on, assuring me that you were the one. We were made for each other, I can feel it.  Have your way with me…I eagarly await it.