Life Lesson #14: You can plan and plan all you want, but sometimes you gotta go with the flow.

Here’s something you might not know about me: I’m not exactly…what’s that word? Ah, right. Easy-going. On the surface, I try to be all, “Oh, sure! Whatevs! I’m not picky! I’m totally fine with changing plans and doing stuff in a different order than I was mentally planning on. Cool. Cool. COOOOOL.” But on the inside? I’m all “OMG, that’s NOT in the script!”


I’m working on it. And kids are helping! We had to move Lily’s birthday party (small though it was) not once but TWICE this year, due to endless kid-sickness. And my plan for a quiet Sunday a couple of weeks ago was totally thrown off when we took Lily to emergency for pneumonia. And then Vivi got sick, and then I got sick and then Karl got sick and for a few days we were just all so miserable and sick that it was…well, it wasn’t anything I had planned for.

So, along with stocking up on enough Purel  to disinfect an elephant, I’m also going to take a trip down memory lane to some plans in my past. Some went off without a hitch, some were somewhat ill-thought-out, and some were just…well, let’s just take a trip back to 1991 and find out what 11-year-old Jess had up her extremely un-stylish sleeve. For some reason, I have several entries about what my plans for various weekends were. Buckle up, kiddos.  Things about to get exciting up in here.

“My plans for the long weekend include:
Friday: Lindsay is coming over ALLLL day. Her mom is at work and her brother is at high school.
Saturday: I’m going to look for that pesky mouse (he was in my room). We don’t have the heart to trap him (he’s just a baby – so cute!)
Sunday: I’m going to my neighbour’s house (unless my dad happens to come home. Not much chance of that happening!)”

Whoa. Slow your roll, pre-teen Jess. Slow. Your. Roll. Best friend Friday, followed by mouse-hunting Saturday and THEN neighbour-visiting Sunday? Girl, you cray. That’s exhausting times, right there. Also, can I just give you a piece of advice from somewhat older-and-wiser Jess?
Here’s how mice work:


So you gotta trap that little bastard, is what I’m saying. (Side note: we had a couple of mice in our basement this year. I didn’t mess around. We had a guy in with traps ASAP and I caulked any and all entry point and we’ve been mouse-free since December. And WE SHALL STAY THAT WAY FOREVER. Because the mouse infestation of 1991-1992 BROKE ME mentally. I’m not even kidding.)

Mice trigger a certain kind of panic and fear that not many other things do. This was basically what happened:

There was  a mouse climbing my sweater in my closet. I was initially so shocked I couldn’t make noise. Then I screamed my brains out and ran from my room, throwing a match behind me and salting the earth so nothing ever could ever grow there again.

I saw a mouse crawling up through my vent. My mother said that was impossible. Dude who came to get rid of mice at our house this year said it was TOTALLY possible, and that’s normally how mice get around.

There was a mouse in my room who literally ran from one end to the other, over and over again all night long. I could hear it running and running…until it found the trap in the hall. Then snap. Oh, God. The humanity.

So I figured I’d move out at age eleven and just start a new life on a mouse-free continent (Antarctica?)

Moving on. Moving on quickly.

“My weekend plans are to work on my bookworm costume (have to have it ready for the dance), Lindsay and I are going to go skating (roller skating/roller blading) and I will wait for my dad to come home. He probably will because it’s Thanksgiving.”

Wow. OK, let’s unpack:

  1. Bookworm costume = appropriate for 3-4 year olds. 5-6 max. But 11? At a DANCE, no less? GURL, WHAT?
  2. Roller skating was totes my life. I loved it. I was good at it. Then I slammed myself backwards on the sidewalk (with no helmet, natch) and hurt my back in a way that still hurts today. So that dampened my spirits *slightly* toward roller skating. As for blading, I sucked at it. I always forgot the brake was on the back and ended up pitching myself forward onto various grassy/non-grassy embankments.
  3. Yeah, my dad traveled a lot. Like, a lot, lot. So whether he was home or not was always a crap shoot. Also, when he was home, he was usually asleep. So…I didn’t really see much of him from about 1985-2005. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but not much.

“This weekend is going to be fun! I’m going to a sale with Mom, then doing homework (not so fun, actually), and on Sunday I’m planning to veg in front of the TV ALL day. Sunday is a day of rest, after all!”

I have follow up questions:

  1. What sale? Car sale? Bake sale? This was in November, so I have to assume it was Christmas-related. But maybe not? Maybe it was on multicoloured stretch pants and matching shoes at Zellers? We will never know.

    I had so many Zellers pants. Don’t be jealous of my mad fashion skillz.
  2. Why do you need to rest? Your life consists of glitter glue, holding meetings for a baby-sitting club that has literally had zero paid jobs, getting your braces tightened and planning hideous themed outfits. Your life will never be this easy again.

Let me tell you what your weekends looked like a few years down the line.

Grade 11: Sew skirts for band with parents/Ms. Hart/other students, plan/edit next week’s newspaper, do homework (dear lord, do your homework), volunteer at information desk (at the hospital), hang out with friends, visit library and take out as many books as you can physically lift.


University, year 4: Plan lessons for first graders, tutor 2 kids, plan volunteer activities for the week (diagnostic kindergarten, preschool, grade 4), finish all papers that are due, read, read, read, contact friends and assure them you’re still alive

First year of work: Answer eighty-billion customer service emails all weekend. Return to work on Monday to regularly scheduled writing job.

Now: Play with children. Clean. Cook. Play with children. Contact family/friends and assure them you’re still alive. Play with children. Write stuff.  Take evening publishing course. Try to make something of publishing business. Collapse in bed at 10:00PM.

So enjoy your freaking youth, kiddo.

Speaking of the hospital (see: grade 11-12), I really ought to devote a whole entry to it. I volunteered there for a couple of years and it was nothing if not very educational, exciting, humbling and super-gross.

Just as an example, here’s a random 1997 summer day of delivering flowers (something I did, along with helping the elderly and, my favourite position of all, info desk biatch).

“Well, delivering flowers was a ton of fun. Three HUGE arrangements were delivered from a funeral home and Shalini and I had to arrange them so they looked moderately presentable. Almost 20 vases later, we had discovered that you shouldn’t take the main elevators to floor five because you’ll end up in a little steel room that you can’t get out of.”

Er, yes. There were all kinds of things like that to remember that I forgot about on the regular. I was not/am not/will never be destined to work at a hospital in a paid capacity, and I have endless admiration for those who do. Nurses/doctors/everyone who does hospital-related work are the bomb-shnizzle.

Also, interesting side-note, so many emergency cases came through the front door, right to the Info Desk, because Centenary’s “Emergency” sign was written in red printing on a dark brown background. Know what’s hard to read from any kind of distance? Red on dark brown. Yes. Not good planning. So I saw many a horrible injury/gross thing during my time.  Which I will detail in a future entry. With a barf bag handy.

Anyway, I got waaaay off topic, but that’s likely because I actually REALLY suck at going with the flow. I’m not sure this is a life lesson I can claim to have learned.  Let’s just call it a life lesson in progress.


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