Friday, 8 June 2012

January 1994

   I climb up onto the window ledge and rub the condensation away with the sleeve of my Johnny-shirt. The floor is quiet. Rooms are still vacant from the holidays. I can hear the CBC evening news anchor on the small black and white set in the nurse’s lounge, murmuring to a disconnected audience in a boring monotone. There was never any real news here. Last May there was a walrus ashore off the northeast coast of the island and it made front page of our small town dailies for three weeks. Then even the walrus found our little corner of the ocean boring and sauntered off to more interesting places.
   Christmas had come and gone. I looked out across the highway and saw neighboring houses clad in multi-colored lights and plastic holiday characters. It’s strange how beautiful and magical all the decorations seem in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Whimsical ornaments and crystal snowflakes hung everywhere boasting ‘Best Wishes!' and 'Happy Holidays!' New Year’s Day arrives abruptly and all of a sudden all the merriment seems tacky and pathetic. Nothing annoys me more than seeing a dejected looking Santa face stapled to a barn in the late weeks of January. Soon the cherished tree would be dethroned and stripped naked of its felt sparkling tree skirt. They would line the sides of the road, tinsel clinging to the pine needles as though stubbornly trying to maintain a shred of their former glory.
   I had been home for exactly eight hours on Christmas day. My parents tried to make it as fun for me as possible, showering me with gifts and joking around, making sure all my favorite things to do over the holidays were achieved in one day. They even put off decorating the tree so I wouldn’t miss our family tradition of drinking eggnog and telling the stories that accompanied the mish mash of ornaments. My little brother, Michael, and I spent the afternoon outside building a snowman and then warmed up in front of the television watching the classic stop motion Rudolph. In the background all day was the succulent aroma of a golden crispy turkey roasting in the oven, plump with stuffing. I could almost taste the tang of the tart cranberry sauce I would mash into my imaginary mountain of potatoes and gravy. 
   While my family sat at the table I sulked in to my room with half a cheery Popsicle and surveyed my gifts. A Little-Mermaid blanket, new nightgowns, books, more books, bubble bath, water colors, and a multi-colored journal with a tiny heart shaped padlock and key (my favorite). No roller-skates. No sled. Nothing that I couldn’t make good use of inside the confines of the pediatric ward. I grabbed my ratty pink bunny rabbit that my father had given to me the day I was born. I was almost 12 now, making me too old to ask for paper dolls and Barbie cars. I tried to convince myself that those things were for kids and I was a ‘young adult’ now according to my age section at the library. But I’d wanted a new stuffed animal, at least, to keep me company. I resigned myself to the notion that now I was too old for new toys. I squeezed Rosie tighter and absent-mindedly rubbed her soft long ear through my index finger and thumb. Just because I don’t get new toys does not mean I’m going to abandon my old ones just yet. Besides Rosie would never be able to sleep at night if she weren’t in her customary residence in the crook of my arm.
   I went back to the kitchen. My little brother looked at me with a cheek full of pumpkin pie and said, “MMMMmmm this is SO good!”
   My mother looked at him sharply and hushed him. I never looked forward to going back to the hospital so much in my life.
   Shuffling to the bathroom at the topmost speed my healing abdomen would allow, I prayed I would make it there in time and not have to succumb to asking the ill-tempered charge nurse to help me wipe the vomit from the tiles for the third time that day. I made it – barely – digging my fingernails around my knees to distract me from the wave of stab wounds being inflicted upon me by the evil tiny trolls that lined the walls of my intestines. They gash deeper and deeper. I know they are there. The bloody damage is evident as they stalk away to rest until next time they spring into action. How could the doctor not have seen them and taken them out? They must look menacing. Or maybe they’re very clever. They do seem to like to torture. It never fails for them to draw their daggers at the most important times. Spiteful bastards. I felt as though I was fighting a battle with little monsters I could not see. 
   On the last day of school before the Christmas holiday Charlie MacLean and I sat on an asphalt corner of the schoolyard. He was telling me who he was in love with that particular week. Every since first grade we’d been inseparable friends. Now that we’re on the older side of the schoolyard, it seems that my Charlie here has become a hot commodity among the Grade Sixes. Not two months ago he confided in me regrettably that Stephanie Meyers told him he’s not allowed to be seen with the scrawny diseased girl because, “Diseases, Charles, are contagious! They shouldn’t even let her at school because she’s so toxic her disease can jump right onto your skin and crawl up your nose without you even knowing!” Their relationship had lasted 4 school days. Charlie started walking with me to school again but he never quite looked at me the same after that. There was almost something obligated about the time he spent with me. I don’t know if it was my imagination or not but from that day on he walked with a little more space between us.
   I remember crying to my mother that I was never setting foot in that school again. It was degrading enough that my desk had become so uncomfortable that my mother had sewn a seat sized Paddington Bear pillow for me to sit on. I wish I could go back now and give that little girl a hug and tell her that none of these people will matter later. Even the hierarchy of the playgrounds is no match for Karma. Stephanie Meyers would become really chunky in high school and during a pep rally cheerleading routine the whole school would see an unmistakable red stain making its way down her tights, and she too would become an outcast having grossed out the male population of the school. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Turn it UP!

Power houses Adele and Florence Welch are always in  my playlist rotation! Here are a few of my other favorite ladies who are sure to have you girl crushing on their sassy sounds and forward fashion!

Kimbra - Cameo Lover - we've all heard her lend vocals to Gotye's runaway hit Somebody That I used to        know, but Kimbra's got major star power on her own!

Lissie - When I'm Alone - Lissie's quirky musicality is sultry and addictive, I couldn't pick just one. Watch "Everywhere I Go" and her amazing cover of Lady GaGa's Bad Romance.

Naked and Famous -  Young Blood - Don't let her size fool you. Lead singer Alisa Xayalith's vocals may not be loud and in your face, but they have major impact.

Lana Del Ray - Kinda Outta Luck - The sexiest voice. EVER. This brazen beauty is the one all the guys want and  all the girls want to be.

Awesome tunes for any summer soundtrack! 

Bath Tub Art!

Hey Moms out there! Or anyone looking to have a fun project with kids! I saw this online and thought it was a great idea. 
 you need:   a muffin baking tray  (or small bowls)
                     a can of men's shaving foam
                      food coloring
                      and a bath :) 

Fill up each muffin cup with shaving foam. Add and mix food coloring to create as many colors as you like! Fill up the tub, pop your kids in and let them loose to finger paint themselves, tub wall, even their favorite bathtub toys! 

Note: The colored shaving foam washes away quick and easy on bathtub walls and tiles. Be sure to keep it away from painted/wallpapered walls as it will stain.
*Warning* - Parents always supervise to make sure the foam doesn't get in kids' eyes! I'd say for age 3 and up.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Laughter Medicine

I look at him sometimes and I have flash backs to laughing at the pink line of the pregnancy test. What    happened?!

I’m a WHAT!? a MOM? Who me? Wasn't I just 15 years old a second ago? Looking for something to wear to school (ladies why did we wear dress pants so much?!) worrying about which guy liked me and probably ignoring the one who did.
That girl in my history class who was pregnant at 15 ended up having a wonderful life. Maybe 20 wasn’t so young? I mean, if I’d have lived 200 years ago I’d have a husband, a farm, a goat, and 14 kids by now. (My uterus is screaming at the mention of it). Now I don’t HAVE a baby. I have a little boy. 
Actually he's the one who has me. "MOM, you think any of the other mothers sing lady gaga at the top of their lungs while vacuuming?”
No, I do not! I thought that was part of my cool-young-mom charm. Like kicking butt with him on mariokart, scaring the heck out of him by jumping into a room. I'm losing my cool I think. But every day my mission is the same. Make him laugh. Make him LAUGH. Gut shaking can't breathe tears running down his face laughing.
I'm happy that my mission is more successful than not. I hate the idea of him looking back on his childhood and thinking it was terrible because he never got to spend
enough time with me. I’m not always able to pick him up at school and sit in the bleachers for soccer, hockey and basketball. Not able to take vacations or run around with him outside because I was in the hospital so much.
My mission is simple: I want him to look back and smile and say; "She was sick. but we laughed. A LOT."

Jane x0

Pink (and purple!) Hair

“I don’t want to look like a rebellious teenager or a squeegie hustler. You wouldn’t let me do this if you didn’t think I could pull it off, right?” “No! I swear - you can. I love it!” my friend Mish assured me as she peeked between folded foil pieces that fanned across the front section of my hair. I was sitting in the hair salon she worked at downtown. The place was just like her - fun and trendy, cool but not intimidating. In fact her entire life was like that. She owned an adorable little condo not far from mine, had the car, the job, the boyfriend, the people-to-know. Last year she had given me a gift certificate for my birthday to come and get a cut & color. Because I was in the hospital for so long,  it’s only now, 15 months later, that I’ve been well enough to motivate my self to come. 
   It almost didn’t even happen today. I’d made an appointment for last Monday and cancelled at the last second. I don’t know why, for some reason the thought of having to be around people made me feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I have been so sick for so many years that the thought of going out in public is scary. Being home, in my comfy clothes, in bed with a book or online, is safe. Just me and my son. My apartment with it’s soft sunny light and cozy quilts is the only place I’d wanted to be when I was finally sent home from the hospital in March and it’s the only place I’ve really been since.
   When it came time to get ready for my hair, I opened up the bathroom cupboard and pulled out my makeup case. I ran my fingers over pencils and brushes, bottles of color and palettes of powder, wondering where to start. It has been so long since I’ve gone through the makeup routine. It seems like eons ago since I’d put on anything more than a spot of concealer here or there if I needed it and some lip balm. I poured liquid foundation on a sponge and went to work on my under eye dark spots. I look so tired you could easily pack enough luggage for a trip to China in the bags under my eyes. When I was finished I picked a shimmery apricot blush and swiped it across the apples of my cheeks. I looked in the mirror. I burst into tears.
“Jesus Jane it’s just MAKEUP! Get it TOGETHER!” 
I felt so lost. I looked ridiculous. My foundation was too dark and my blush too bright. I slid down the bathroom tile and sat on the floor sobbing like a two year old. Why does this feel so hard? I always feel, especially when I go places like a popular salon full of beautiful people, who are so modern and so together, that I stand out like a sore thumb. 
Like if someone walked up to me and said, “Oh I’m sorry, you can’t come in here. Your hair looks like a rat’s nest in that pony-tail and you have yoga pants on that cost under a hundred dollars. This is upper class honey. Nice try but go home.” That I would nod my head, apologize, turn around and leave because I would understand that I didn’t fit in.
“It’s just a fucking hair-cut!” 
   I decided to stick with what I know. After removing the makeup, I started fresh and concealed the redness from crying. I put a touch of soft pink blush, a swipe of mascara and a red tinted lipgloss. Not gorgeous. But simple and pretty enough. I put aside the purple tank dress and wedges I was going to attempt. I decided after the makeup melt down that a simple blue button down, tights and flats were what I felt most me in.
   “Oh wow! That’s so fun! You look so pretty!” One of the other salon stylists said as Mish finished the final touches on my new hairstyle. 
   “I have pink hair!!” I almost couldn’t believe I’d gone for it even as I looked back at my refection.
“No,” Mish smiled at her masterpiece. “You have pink AND purple hair! And it looks hot!”
   I’m not sure as far as hotness goes but do feel pretty. The shaggy long hair that had grown down past my collarbone had been shaped in to a blunt bob that just barely brushed my shoulders. I had worried that my mousey brown would look dull against the shock of the single bright pink layer, but Mish had taken away all the dullness and gave it a glossy sheen. Just under the layer of bangs is where the pink breaks through and under that section, a deep purple.
For the first time in my life I have gotten my hair however I wanted. I didn’t have to worry about my parents getting angry, it not being appropriate for a job or being what a boyfriend likes. I can’t stop looking at it in the mirror. Funny how on the way here I walked down this street with my head down hoping to go unnoticed and on the walk back to my car I kept catching my refection in shop windows. It’s amazing how something as simple as a haircut, a great friend, and a compliment can lift your spirits!

For Pink - or any color! - hair visit
Or drop into the Barrington St. salon.

Friday, 1 June 2012

October 1991

October 1991

    I am eight years old. I’m counting holes in a drop ceiling and pretending not to notice a darker boy sitting across from me staring. He looks to be about twelve and non-imposing. He may as well have been a two hundred pound leather-clad punk with a spike-do judging by how unsettled I felt. I concentrate really hard on disappearing into the waiting room chair, fantasizing for the billionth time that I’m a misunderstood young witch who will one day hone my magical powers and wish this all away. I know what he’s thinking and finally I stare back and fake defiance. He’s trying to figure out if I’m a girl or a boy. My Raggs t-shirt and plaid loose boxer shorts were no help. In the early 90s even the most glamorous of movie star actresses were donning both casual men’s wear and men’s business suits as the latest trend.
   My hair was cut awkwardly short – like the butt of a bad joke. I had begged my mother for a perm for my birthday. Hoping against hope that if I could look even a little like the other girls in my third grade class they may allow me into their circle at recess. To talk about important things like kissing boys and dirty magazines under their big brother’s mattress, whether or not Mrs. Whittier and Mrs. Gallivant were really lesbians or if it was just a rumor passed down from generations long gone. At eight it didn’t really matter to me that two women would kiss each other as much as it grossed me out that two ladies that old were capable of being sexual.
   My mother begrudgingly permed my hair. The medication reacted with the chemicals and it fell out in globs. I surrendered to cutting it all out and being less popular than ever. I think it may have been bitterness on my part but I’m sure mom was secretly triumphant in an “I-told-you-so” sort of way. Both the perm and the aftermath hair-dos became immortalized forever in class photos. The perm paired with a yellow sweater with a black be-dazzled vest, grinning wide in a brief moment of hopeful confidence. The boy cut matched with a vibrant neon flowered jumper in a failed attempt to cancel out my boyish features with the most girlish thing in my closet. The look on my face is apologetic. The smile is forced. Almost as though I’m thinking, “I’m sorry I look like this. I’m sorry I’m not someone else.”
   I shift in my seat and pull out an old Archie comic from my backpack. I used my allowance to get a brand new one every week but secretly loved the softened browning pages of the tethered, dog-eared flea market finds the best. Sometimes I’d come across someone else’s name and address written on an old subscriptions page and imagine I was “Miranda Brown 227 Westwood”. Anyone else. Anywhere but here. Her scrawling script seemed exotic and exciting compared to my chunky print with the bubbled dots over my ‘i’s.
   I remember last week at the Sunday Flea Market and wonder if the boy thinks I’m dying. Maybe that’s why he’s staring. I mull over the incident again thinking to myself that it’s funny how grown-ups are stupid. Maybe it hurts more when they say and do wrong things because we are brought up to trust that they know better. I followed mom through the crowd trying to ignore the pangs of yearning in my tummy as we passed the fudge table on the way to the comics’ section. We aren’t allowed to stop there anymore. I know better than to whine a begging plea to cheat on my restricted diet. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t shake the thought of the creamy brown scratchy sugary cubes melting on my tongue. It’s no surprise I would grow up to have an enormous sweet tooth. I’d been deprived of all the childhood luxuries. Candy. Friends. Fun.
   I heard the big fat jerk ask my mom the question straight out – “Oh, my god. What’s wrong with him? Is he dying!?” Genuine curiosity. Zero compassion. I mean, what if I had been? My poor mother. Later in life I replay that in my head and edit it so that I fake dropping dead right there and my mother screams at him something about being so insensitive that he’d killed me. The guy freaks out and shits himself or something equally as humiliating as how I felt standing there – a little (girl) boy with peaked skin, barely any hair, knobby knees and sunken eyes, bright yellow tubing strung from my ear to my nose pumping in nutritional formula that smelled like how I’m sure dog food tasted. All I’d wanted was three-for-a-dollar comic books. All I’d wanted was to go home and curl up in my sunny room and read until I felt far away. No matter how many times I’d read myself out of my world something brought me back. Crashing pain, or a wave of nausea, or the beeping of the feeding tube’s machine fading battery.
   I lost count in the sea of holes on the drop ceiling long ago. It seemed impossible to count. I could never really be sure if I was doing the same spot twice. I started worrying about going cross-eyed and surveyed the strange hallway instead. This waiting room was a novelty. We’d traveled five hours to the city on the mainland to see specialists. It was an all children’s hospital – colorful and inviting – almost like a sterile day-care centre. I thought it was like putting makeup on a snake. Pretty so you’ll look closer – just to trick you into getting bitten. I didn’t know then that very same foreign concrete building would, over the years, oddly start to feel like home. Doctors, nurses, patients, and events that happened there would shape who I became. I’d spent enough time in hospitals by that young age to know that no matter how fancy the toys were or how gaudy the cartoon painted murals, bad things happened here.
   A door opened down the hallway and my tall handsome doctor stepped out. For a split second it could be the version in my daydreams. Where he smiles down at me from under wispy glossy black hair and tells me how mature I am for my age and whisks me away. Instead reality opens the door and calls my name. The question does eventually need answering after all.

My Name Isn't Jane...

 First of all, I should tell you that my name is not Jane. Jane Spring is the woman I've wanted to be ever since I was 12yrs old. I hate my given name (and my mother hates that I hate it), so when I fell in love with reading and writing I told myself that by the time I was 30 I would be able to walk into a book store and see my invented pen name, "Jane Spring" on the title of a robin's egg blue novel in a simple georgia font and a picture that would make my book say, "pick me up! you'll like me, give me a chance!" 
  I turned 30 two months ago. What I have I been doing all these years? Well, besides becoming pregnant at 20 and raising the best son in the world, (Sorry moms out there, It's a fact. I have the best one, You'll have to settle for almost perfect) I've spent 78 months of the past 10 years in the hospital. Being a young mom was the easy part. Surviving 30 years with a serious illness, and all the loves and friends who broke my heart because of it, that was the hard part. 
  I've been writing all along. It's my outlet. Along the way I've had encouragement from friends and family, and even established authors, editors and publishers. It's when I feel the most in my element. I come from a small town in Canada and since I write mostly from experience it stands to reason that anyone would know who and what I write about, and would have an open window to the real me. And honestly, I chicken out. Every time. That's where Jane comes in. I decided that I would be Jane sometimes. And it's time that I let Jane Spring start writing the story.
    I hope you join me, Jane, on my journey and it reminds you that few things are as important as life, family, love and good times with friends who know you best.
 SO, For an outlet when you need a break from city life. For nights of dancing. For romance and kisses. For fairy tales and happy ever afters . For bad hair days. For great memories, for fun, for friends, for festivals, for birthdays, and for more memories made. For whimsy and silly. For staying true to yourself. For johnny-shirts, for gowns, for sundresses, for goddesses, for your inner child. For the journey we all take and the mistakes we make along the way. 
This is life. 
Here we go.