A very merry 2phatgeeks Christmas and Happiest of New Years.

Let’s face it.


Merry Chersumss. Herp Derp.

2012 sucked, my friends. And I’m not talking just me–oh no–I lurk on your blogs (I’m reading them right now), I visit your facebook profiles and I ogle my Google+ feed. I don’t have the brain function, time, nor elegant words to reply to everything (There are one thousand people following me on Google+. Seriously. WTF. 1000. Half of them have to be daleks, right?) But I do read. And what I have read has made me severely pissed at 2012 let me tell you.  If I could, I would pull that fucking 2012 van over and there would be NO icecream. Ever.

But I can’t.

There are a lot of things in life that do not have a rewind button.  They are horrible things, heart-breaking things, sad things and angry things, they are dispiriting things with a side of haunting, and sometimes, they are just hard things and depression things with a side of not-enough-money things. You can’t really go back…but you can go forward.

Listen, I’m not going to tell you all about resolutions and why you should make them and why you shouldn’t and the good or the bad of all that and blah blah blah blah–I’m just going to say: let’s go forward together.

Let’s just hope.
Even if it’s a silly thing for hope. Like, “Gosh I hope I get extra pickles on my sub today,” or, “I hope that person-I-really-like-and-fall-over-my-face-whenever-they-look-at-me smiles at me today,” or, “I hope I can afford a pack of ramen today because I am so god damn hungry I have been side eye-ballin’ my hamster.” or “I hope that I don’t hurt,” and “I hope I will be okay today.”


Christmas time is a time of puppy torture.

Christmas time is a time of puppy torture.

Hope is a deceptively easy thing to have when you look at it in little increments. Sometimes I think people get bogged down with looking at too big a picture. They look at things like: I WILL WIN THE LOTTERY AND THERE WILL BE PEACE ON EARTH AND BEARS WRESTLING WITH ELVES FIND TRUE LOVE AND MARRY THAT MOTHERFUCKER and REDO THE WHOLE HOUSE or REPAINT ALL THE STEPS or LEARN JAPANESE AND SPANISH AND CHINESE AND FRENCH CANADIAN WHILE BELLY-DANCING TO DUBSTEP and I think: whoa there, dub step? And also that maybe we set ourselves up to fall too far.

Maybe, just maybe, we should hope for the easier things. Take baby steps. Climb our way out of a horrible year and find a reason to smile in the new one.

So here’s a baby step for you, okay?

  • You’re beautiful. I love your face, because it is your face and it’s facing the monitor and it’s reading my shit right now–that is so cool–
  • That also makes you awesome.
  • You made it through today. That’s pretty sweet.
  • Some strange fat lady on the internet is virtually making you awkwardly uncomfortable hugging you into her bosoms right now, okay?
  • Tomorrow, you’ll face another day and you will make it because you can.

So here’s to 2013 my loves. Here’s to us and the little things: ramen noodles and cat purrs and not succumbing to 2012.
I hope. I hope for you, for me, and for all of us.

What my favorite Qing Dynasty historical/fantasy dramas teach me about being female then.

I love anime. I love, also, Koren, Chinese and Japanese historical dramas or dramas set in long in the past with fantasy elements and generous re-writes of the original story. Sometimes the more ridiculous and over dramatic it is the more I love to watch it just because it is that ridiculous. Although they have also been very educating. I have learned these quality lessons from these historical dramas:

  • As a lady of high rank in Qing Dynasty your worth is only measured in how young you are, how pretty, and how many babies you can pop out. And not just any babies–sons. Sons are way, way more important than daughters.
  • If you can’t pop out babies, at least be pretty and murder everyone else’s babies or take them from them.
  • If you can’t pop out babies or are pretty, you’re so fucked.
  • If you can’t pop out babies, aren’t pretty, and old–you are super fucked. And you are probably the villain of the entire series.You should kill everyone younger than you because reasons. And the cat. God damn cat.
  • It doesn’t matter how strong you are as a female/woman in the series. You could have survived a war, killed other men, have the highest martial arts training–the moment your heterosexual love interest grabs your wrist you are 100% powerless to do anything and must be drug along, flailing and whining and looking terribly upset and innocent at the same time. The wrist-man-grab is not block-able  It sucks any will power and feminist strength you may have had on your own until you are powerless to fight the handsome lead pen–male.
  • You will faint constantly. Someone runs in? Faint. Someone runs out? Faint. Did you pass gas? STARTLING. You must faint.
  • Any emotional upset what-so-ever, regardless of your past, will a) make you faint, b) make you ill and fake-cough horribly, c) make you lose a baby, d) make you insane e) turn you evil or f: all of the above. SO DON’T EVER GET UPSET.
  • If people like you, no one will tell you anything. If they hate you, they will go out of their way to tell you things that make you upset.
  • Nobody hugs from the front. Husband going off to war? Lover leaving you for someone else? Love interest going to commit some really ridiculous act in the name of whatever? No front-hugs for you. You have to hug them from behind. And you have to run to them first, to do it, and then you have to soulfully gaze at the back of their head and deliver a soliloquy.
  • Dirt paths/roads/streets/perfectly flat, smooth patches of land will fuck your shit up.  If I were to dramatically run down a path with the male lead following I am going to fall and trip and twist my ankle. Every. Time.  Also, I will fall in super slow motion, possibly cut and rehashed from seven different angles with DWOMP DWOMP music in the background.
  • The male lead will then be ‘forced’ to carry me on his back. Despite he rode behind me on a horse earlier/some sort of litter/had six men around him with horses/screw sense.
  • If you are female and poor, you are innocent and do-gooding. If you are female and rich and innocent and do-gooding you will be poisoned in the first season. If you are female and rich and not do-gooding, you will scheme and plot and subtly kill everyone. Men never do such things and are completely helpess when asked to help with the scheming-plot-evil-rich-lady. Because breasts, that’s why.
  • Spending 66 episodes to build up an amazing, complicated plot with characters that have finally grown with one another and have great chemistry together needs to be ended by killing every. single. person. off. but the main character. In the most ridiculously horrendous, and our idiotic way possible that should leave any sane person mentally scarred for life. Leave no one–and I mean–no one alive. Kill their parents, sisters, brothers, children, and their entire country. Also the best way to do all that is in episode 67.  End series with main character looking soulfully off into the distance. Ignore the million WTFs of fans.

This is going to be so hard to apply to real life. I will have to start with fainting every time the phone rings.

In the midst I think of you, and how it used to be

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

It is the last hour of my 24 blog-a-thon and I struggle to find the words to write. There are some memories (despite what you’ve read here,) that don’t or won’t make sense written. Secret things in the languages of families that only make sense to them, inside jokes with timing that’s only perfected when the one you love who knows you can remember what it stands for and laugh while the rest of the world quirks their eyebrows quizzically at you. My mother and I were a lot like that. We had our own strange language where I parroted a statement or commercial or sound, even, and she would understand what memory or amazingly stupid thing I did in the past and get it.

That doesn’t translate so well on a blog.

My mother was an amazing person. No less than you are amazing and no less than your mother being an amazing person–even if you never knew her, even if she wasn’t in your life, even if she screwed it all up in some way. Each one of us are unique in that we are all the same, struggling to love, live, laugh, learn and survive the day to day side by side, thinking no one understands one another or what they are going through.

A mistake I made with my own mother and parents when I was a teenager and young adult…believing they wouldn’t understand and had never been there, so never talking to them about what I was feeling or doing or thinking.

It’s so strange to look back on my younger self and face the horrible, awful truth that your parents and adults in your life were generally right. They may not have had iphones or ipods or even the internet as we know it; but they were kids once, too. They were and are human beings with the same failings, issues, problems and emotions as we had. They went through puberty, peer pressure, bullying, depression and more, too. They lived just as we did. Only now they are trying to tell us not to follow in their footsteps even as they watch helplessly as we do.

I guess what I am trying to say in closing is: all of those cliches about everything…about time and wishing you could do it all over again, about doing anything to get one minute more as well as about not appreciating what you have until it is gone is true.

I spoke to my mother last sometime in November. She was pale but she always was, I couldn’t tell if it was extra pale or the low quality camera on the laptop she was using. She stopped perming her hair to try and give it volume and thickness, as she had lost so much of it it wasn’t worth harming it anymore. She looked good with straight hair. I told her she looked really good with it and she didn’t believe me. She seemed surprised when I told her.

We talked about small things that didn’t matter. Dad’s loud guitar playing down in the living room. Family. My grandmother. My aunt. I talked about my cats and my birds and I promised her that I would call her again near Christmas and we’d talk on Skype again.

I never got that chance.

I made the mistake many children make. I believed my parents were immortal–grand figures from my childhood that blocked out the sun when it was too bright, carried me when I was too tired, kissed away my sadness when I asked for it, and sung me songs in the cradle of arms as they rocked away nightmares. I thought she would be here forever and that I would have more time to show her–to REALLY show her–that I get it. I got it. And if I could take it all back I would. And that every day is an apology and a hope to grow, to love more, to learn.

The thing is, none of us are immortal. We are little lanterns bobbing along at night. It only takes the slightest breeze or tiniest of waves sometimes to darken that light.

If you can–call your mother today. Call her and tell her you love her. Tell her you thought of her today for no reason and tell her thank you for all the things she’s done.


  • My original goal was to have and to surpass $200 for Step out: Walk to Stop Diabetes. Today we have reached that goal and raised $292.00
  • My goal for my personal tattoo was anything at all. Today we raised $12.00

Much love to Kelly, Deanne, Troy, Kathleen, Sarah, Even, Britanya, Stephanie, Erin, Stephanie again, Lauren B, Elizabeth, Darrell, Hugh, Amy and Shannon.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]

Mommy drinks because you Mel

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Things I did that probably scarred my mother for life & made her question my sanity:

  • Wander into a neighbors yard around four years of age and hand-pull up all of the pretty tulips because some idiot little boy dared me to.
  • Drink an entire bottle of cough syrup.
  • Eat dog treats.
  • Dump out an entire carton of eggs, alphabet cereal, entire bag of milk (Canadian, our milk used to come in bags. Baggie milk, represent’ wutut) and flour in the middle of the chicken floor. When confronted, innocently state, “Feeding Rusty!” (The Dog.)
  • Shave only a part of the dog with my father’s clippers and calmly state Rusty (dog) needed a hair cut.
  • Take shoes off in a neighbor kids’ yard. Forget where they are. RUN AWAY FROM HOME = LOGICAL DEALING COPING MECHANISM.
  • Throw up guts in the middle of the night in the kitchen sink. When asked, “Are you all right?” Reply between hork with a miserable, “yesBLARG.”
  • Sharpen teeth on a car window.
  • Fall face first out of car door, tangled in seat belt. Land in soft ice cream cone. Bawl that it’s ‘NOT FUNNY 🙁 🙁 🙁 STOP LAUGHING MOM. STOOOOP.”
  • Drink watermelon shampoo because it smelled so good.
  • Throw up in the middle of the night but not tell anyone.  SURPRISE?
  • Run outside with first training bra and hike shirt up to my neck to study it’s lacy goodness in the reflection of a car door. Wonder why mother & Aunt are dying of laughter.
  • Tell a french teacher she, ‘fucking sucked,’ at teaching french. Appear surprised when she gets sent to the principle and detention FOREVER.
  • Go through a three week phase of alternatively spiking hair a foot and a half into the air and flashing itty bitty titties for attention.
  • Take an $80 pair of jeans her grandmother bought her and CUT THEM INTO SHORTS.
  • Steal cigarettes
  • Skip school so much she gets suspended. Instead of telling father, Mother was willing to keep it secret. If her brat went out into the yard and hand pulled all the rocks from it. Acres and acres of lawn by the way.
  • Run away from home at 15, refuse to come home and scare her to death.
That and a lot more. And despite all of that (and the more) she never said she didn’t love me. She never said to anyone in family our outside that she hated me for the things that I did or ended up doing. She may have said as well as stated her disappointment; we never did get along before well after my 20’s because I never understood her–(until I grew up. Funny, that.)–it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter what I did, when someone asked her how they weren’t angry with me forever she said she just looked at them funny and asked, “How could I not? She’s my daughter. How could you not love your daughter, no matter what?”You don’t have to get along with family. You don’t even have to like them. There will be days when you won’t like yourself left alone family…I’ll admit there are some crimes as well as acts within family that can be unforgiveable. For the most part, you love family even when you want to kill them.

My mother never stopped loving me when a weaker person might have given up. I am glad she didn’t, otherwise I would have never grown into the woman I am today.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]

And that’s why to this day, f*@cking shoes.

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

As I’ve mentioned before, when I was very little, we used to live on base in Alberta in a lower income area called Tin Town, named creatively due to the fact the buildings were tin roof and tin siding. When it rained in Tin Town, you felt like you were in a drier full of pennies. A very, very big, hollow, drum like dryer.

Our little house had a front door with a little alcove. I want to say that the paneling there like in the living room was dark and faux wood. The alcove for coats and shoes, the right side split off into the kitchen and the left the living room with large front window. One evening, my mother had spent hours and hours curling my hair, dressing me up. I could not have been any older than two and no younger than one and a half. She curled my hair and put little bows in it, put me in a black crushed velveteen dress with frills at the wrists and a pair of warm leotards. Usually, she’d put on my shoes too.

But this evening as my father and father waited by the door, no one bent down to put on my shoes. They were very pretty shoes if I might add. Shiny black with the tiniest of heels and a single snap-together strap. My mother nodded toward them and told me it was time I learned how to put them on myself. I stood there for a long while staring up at my mother as if she just spoke in tongues and spewed pea soup all over me, blinked, waited a bit longer. When neither my father nor my mother were moved to help the innocent, sweet maiden that I was I sighed loudly then trundled over in my curled and girly glory to my little shoes.

Figuring out how to put these one was equivalent to solving the mystery of life. Listen, I was two, when you are two and distracted by the sound of your own voice EVERYTHING is difficult. I hemmed  I hawed, I fiddled and twisted. I pushed the strap this way and that. I struggled and pitched forward, righted myself then sat on my butt on the floor doing my best to figure out the universe of shoes. A decidedly difficult place, filled with triangulation and algebra. Inside me frustration began to grow as my parents shifted back and forth impatiently. My mother was urging me on but it had turned from that goodhearted You can do it honey! sort of tone, to the, oh my god just snap it closed how hard it can be why did I have kids I need to drink more note. My father grew tired of waiting and marched back to the living room to sit. He told my mom to let me know when Her Majesty was finished or whenever my mother was going to help me put my shoes on.

I think that cemented the fact my mother wasn’t going to help at all, actually. She shot my father a glare then turned back to me with an expectant look.
This was all too much for my two-year old self of course. In a fit of impressive bouncey-curled rage I picked up a shoe and hurled it as hard as I could against the wall nearest me and yelled as loud as I could:


My mother’s eyes were wide as saucers for a split second before she wrinkled her mouth up in a sideways S. My father passed by us quickly mumbling, “Uh, I should go warm up the car–” Making noises suspiciously like snickering. My mother sent him a LOOK, a very wifely LOOK and muttered, “I wonder where she got that from?” Before bending down to help me with my shoes and trying–in between snickering–to tell me about language and what was appropriate for a two year old and what wasn’t.

I got my shoes on and I didn’t have to do it. That’s all that mattered.


Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]

This Banana Tastes Like Coma

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

I was a horrible child.

There. I said it.

I know that this comes to a great shock to all of you as my well behaved, mannerly, polite and lady-like posts as well as videos attest but it’s true. I didn’t just have a short phase of child’s curiosity where they rummage through everything in the house and snoop through all the places mother’s say, “Don’t go near that!” I frolicked there. In fact, as a child, I made it my toodler and early years goal to be awake and up well before my mother was with great, snooptastic excitement. My eyes would snap open the moment dawn blearily cracked one eye open between my blinds and LEAP from my bed cackling with delight. What shenanigans could I get into before my mother with her I-know-you-are-up-to-no-good-without-looking-Mom-Super-Power’s kicked in?

The moment I could waddle out of bed, apparently, on fat chubby little toddler legs I was out to pull the kitchen apart in a quest to whiten my mothers hair before her time. (My mother loved telling this story to everyone. Apparently it’s not just my dad that loved to embarrass me on occasion.) We moved to a base in Alberta that had low income and medium to higher income family housing. My mom and Dad, as a new family just married and just moved, were living in the lower income area: basically prefab homes/trailors from the late seventies with tin rooves and tin siding aptly named: Tin Town.  The trailor wasn’t too terribly small for what they needed, three bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and living room.

Severe colds and bronchitis were a usual thing for me when I was small. I was sick with a rattling cough and my doctor had prescribed me a delicious Banana flavored cough medicine.  

So apparently this one morning during my cute-wee destroyer of kitchens phase, I decided that I was going to Go Where Mom Said Never To Go. The great mystical magical place that can only be looked upon from down below…The top of the Fridge–where all that delicious Banana goodness was placed.

The top of the fridge was also the place where my parents put the most amazing things. Things that I could not get to as a kid and thus made it 1000000% more interesting than any place that I could reach. With determination I viewed the great white obstacle in my way and formulated my plan. Somehow, at the tender age of three (maybe four?) I picked up a kitchen chair silently and carried it over to the fridge. Once it was placed with great stategry and forethought, I crawled atop the chair and hooked a foot onto the counter beside the fridge. Climbing from the chair to the cabinet made me tall enough to easily reach everything–a basket full of pens and highlighters, Tylenol, the dogs jerky treats (which I ate one. Hey, it was good enough for the dog…why not me? It tasted awful, by the way.) And lo and behold, shining in all it’s prescription white-bottle glory was the elixir of sweet Banana well within my grubby fingers. It’s white paper taped to its outside the dosage information which at that time, I could not read–I think my mother said it was two teaspoons in the morning and night–and I grabbed that bottle, opened it…And drank all of it.

Every bit.

Now you have to understand children, this was the early 1980’s and child safety caps weren’t really around. The cough medication didn’t have a child safety cap and it was the food of the gods to me: overly sweet and overly flavored to hide the taste of medicine. I chugged that motherfucker like it was 18 year old scotch for two year olds, probably belched, wiped my mouth and climbed down. I left the empty bottle on the kitchen counter and went to go see what else I could destroy.

This is where my memory of events end.

My mother said she woke that morning with a heart-thumping start because it was quiet. Too quiet. Every morning so far in my youthful life I had gotten into something which would take my mother hours to clean up and so I had instilled the Toddler Fear into her early. She knew something was off. She said she rolled out of bed and shuffled to my bedroom but I wasn’t there. She then went to the spare room–nope, not there either–checked the bathroom because sometimes I liked to go through her make up…Nope, not there. She checked the kitchen and noticed that I was laying on the couch, sound asleep with angelic innocence. My mom said she made breakfast for herself, coffee, had her morning cigarette and put all the dishes away thinking that I just needed extra sleep. By the time she was done, she thought to herself that it was unusual for me to sleep in so late–so she went to wake me up. On her way out of the kitchen to the living room she saw it.

An entire empty bottle of cough syrup.

My mother said she was sure she tasted her heart in her throat and it didn’t taste like banana at all. She said she rushed over to the couch and grabbed my shoulders to shake me and yell my name.  I didn’t even flutter an eyelid. My mother said no matter how much she shook or how loud she yelled, she couldn’t get me awake. Frazzled out of her mind, she put on slippers and a coat and off we went to the hospital.

This is where my memory of events start again.

I haven’t a single clue what they did to wake me up but they managed to do so and the first thing that greeted my blurry vision was a hospital-grade standard blue plastic cup. Filled with a dark, thick liquid and a pretty pink straw.
“Drink this–” a man in a white coat said with a smiling lady beside them. My mother, anxious behind then with red rimmed eyes nodded. “–you’ll feel better.”
“Drink it all,” my mother chimed in behind them. Not quite awake and not quiet asleep I took the cup and took a big slurp.

Do you know what charcoal tastes like?
I do.
Charcoal tastes like sadness and poop. Possibly sad poop. Possibly poop pooped from sadness itself.

What ensued was possibly six and a half hours of screaming and crying because nobody wants to drink sad poop. Sad, chalky, gritty poop. But not only did I have to drink it and drink all of the cup I had to drink SIX CUPS OF IT. My mother, the doctor and that nurse worked like it was a hostage situation and they were bargaining for the lives of their hostages. They blackmailed me with promises of apple juice or orange juice if I would just drink one more cup of sad poop. My poor mother by the time it was over and we were driving home looked like someone had picked her up, wrung her out like a facecloth and hung her up to dry wrinkled and worn out.

It was late enough that my father was home when we pulled into the drive. Miserable and seeking sympathy for the obvious torture that my mother and the doctors had put me through, I put on my pout face and flopped dramatically with limp-slappy-arms into our house and sulked my way to my father.  My father, the wonderful, kind man that he was promptly took one look at my mouth and teeth and started belly-laughing. This did not help my mood any and I demanded that he stop laughing because I had just drank oodles of poop . You don’t laugh at that, Dad. You don’t.

He picked my sorry self up and carried me to the bathroom, turned on the light and hoisted me up under the arms to take a good, long look at my mouth. It looked like that I had taken a sharpie-marker to the entirety of the inside of my face. My gums were black, my teeth were black, my cheeks and tongue were completely ink-black. With my father laughing at me behind me I couldn’t help but join in. I did look pretty ridiculous.
He said to me, “I bet you will never do that again.”
He was right of course.

I don’t think my mother was particularly pleased with my fathers reaction–but as I hinted at, I learned a valuable lesson that day.

If you drink too much Banana cough syrup you coma and when you wake up they make you drink the poop of sadness.
My parents learned to hide all medication until I was much older.

I never–as far as I remember–ever had any medication that ever tasted good ever again. Every time I take a spoonful of cough syrup that tastes like ass, I remember the charcoal and suddenly everything tastes like roses and sunshine.

Never got over loving Banana though.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]

Things I learned from my Mother

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Things I learned from my mother:

  •  How to pick out the most expensive thing; be it coffee, food, perfume or makeup without even trying.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again or until you’ve blown $800.
  • If you are going to belch in a diner full of Truckers, go for the gold.
  • Baby shit is not a viable paint.
  •  You don’t have to wear make-up if you don’t want to.
  • Music, especially your favorite music cranked up as loud as it will go, makes everything better.
  • Laugh like no one is watching so they can’t make fun of the snorting you do in between the crying and peeing yourself a little bit while you chortle like a hyena.
  • If you have porkchops, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and butter you can make one of the tastiest fucking pan fried meals, cheap.
  • Beer is okay. Five are better.
  • Friends are meant to fill their bellies in your kitchen after spending the day with you laughing and talking.
  • It’s ALWAYS time for Tim Hortons, bitches
  • Laugh
  • Taking yourself too seriously is never fun
  • It’s okay to indulge yourself if you really need too, especially in times of stress and not feel guilty about it.
  • Keep the small things that are important to you, even if they don’t make sense to anyone else. Material things disappear, memories remain.
  • Ladies do, indeed, fart.
  • Drive an extra mile around the corner: you never know what you will find.
  • If you ask a child under the age of 15, “What are you doing?” And they take a few seconds to reply, “…Nothin’.” DO NOT BELIEVE THAT CHILD. RUN. FIND THEM NOW.
  • Second hand doesn’t mean garbage. There’s no shame in wearing or owning something someone else owned.
  • If you’re a whiny little shithead, the world probably won’t give you what you want and in fact, may just ignore you in a grocery aisle while you scream for chips.
  • Love. Love passionately, love fully, love even when it hurts.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]

Isn’t she a doll

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

My mother told me that when she was very, very little she had a doll. It was one of those very-large, stand-up and walk dolls which quickly became her favorite. She took that doll everywhere with her and everywhere with her went it. I do not recall if her sister, my Aunt made mention of it for sure–but I want to say that anytime the doll is mentioned her sister would tease my mother about it.

I’ve searched everywhere to try and find the doll that  my mother gave to me–a huge stuffed doll in very old fashioned dress with a bonnet and yarn pigtails. The yarn pigtails were a brown/blond and the bonnet might have been beige with flower patterns upon it. I don’t remember what I did with that doll or what happened to it, nor even what I named it. I do know that my mother would tell me that the one she had when she was little looked a lot like it. And that doll she named Melissa.

She told everyone that someday she would have a little girl and if she did, she would name that little girl: Melissa.

On a good day, I cannot recall what I ate two days ago for breakfast, let alone remember what I named my dolls when I was seven now. Occasionally I feel like I might have disappointed my mother when I was younger and so was she–I didn’t really turn out at all like that doll; I don’t really wear dresses that often and make up bothers me. I think however, as we grew older together (and after I was done being a horrible person to her in my teenage years) she began to understand that daughters like dolls, don’t always have to fit the ideal and can still be precious.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]

An Orange and a Needle

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Afternoon sunlight angled in through a glass door at the end of the hallway, spilling light across a spotless black and white tiled floor. It was so clean; not a single tread mark or smudge, not a smidgeon of dust along the molding or under any of the black plastic chairs that littered it. The walls were nothing but white with tastefully non offensive photos or photos of paintings that were scenery: fields and flowers and faceless children near the ocean. There was a distinct smell. It’s the sort of scent that, if you spend a lot of time in a place like this brings up so many emotions and memories and it’s not just the smell of one thing–it’s many all together. The smell in the air is latex gloves, bleach, antiseptic and glass vials, it’s quiet hope and crushed expectations with the faint squeak of white work shoes. It smells like cold stethoscopes, unscented linens that are changed daily and plastic bed mattresses. It smelled like hospitals.

We were seated in a couple of those plastic chairs and my mother stared ahead at a closed wooden door. The plaque had a name in bold brass letters.  I recall staring at the path of sunlight on the ground and then out the door where a tree and few cars were parked. Even in the parking lot, I thought everything seemed so much brighter out there than in here.

This part of the hospital wasn’t for actual sick people. At least, there weren’t wards or beds. This was different–there was the underlying scent of paper, printer ink and perfume here that the other smell couldn’t override but couldn’t smother either.

The door opened and an unassuming lady with a bob cut smiled and called my mothers name. I came in with her and for a while, the woman and my mother spoke about food. They talked about foods my mother couldn’t eat, foods she could. They talked about sugars and glucose and then she led my mother to another room that was less an office, more of a meeting place. A large fold out table in the middle with more plastic chairs around it was the center piece of the room. Along the white walls, posters with the essential food groups, images of the pancreas,  smiling happy people by insulin advertisements, model anatomy in more faded plastic was strewn about. The woman with the bob cut presented my mother with a tiny syringe, a little glass bottle and…an orange.

That’s how my mother practiced giving insulin injections before moving on to finally do them on herself. They gave her an orange. When I asked why an orange, the woman told me that it came close to simulating what it was like to inject yourself.   The woman and my mother talked a little longer, and I thought that I was going to explode in boredom. I wasn’t terribly old then, and I was still in the mind set that if I had to sit anywhere that wasn’t at home or with friends I might up and explode.

When we were walking out, out of the boring room, out of the hallway that smelled of hospitals, on the way to the car I looked up at my mom and asked her all sorts of questions. I asked her about the needles. I asked her about why she needed them. I asked her how many times and what for and why and why couldn’t they just fix whatever was broken then? She answered my questions with the absent-minded way of one not sure either as she drove us home. I am not sure my mother had thought that this was the answer to all those questions she had: like why she was always so tired and shaky and unwell and dizzy and such.

Finally, in the passenger side seat an idea hit me. I looked over to her and asked, “Does it hurt?”
“Does what hurt?”
“Giving yourself the needle.”
“A little.”
“Do you have to do it everyday?”
“How are you going to do it everyday if it hurts?”
She shrugged, her eyes on the road. “I just will.”

My mother lived with Diabetes for roughly 17 years. The type of diabetes that is so severe that pills, insulin, proper diet and weight couldn’t control. The kind of diabetes that ate away at her arteries and heart and kidneys and energy. She had surgeries and hospital stays, tests, needles, pokes, prods and pills. But she did it. She didn’t like any of it and I am sure that my father damn well knew it. She is a Rawding, after all–they are notoriously stubborn, cranky people–but despite that fact it hurt her, she survived for 17 long years.

I don’t know how I will continue surviving without her.
How will I do it everyday if it hurts?

I just will.

Love you mom!

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]

$800 later.

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

You didn’t take my mother to a casino unless you had money. A lot of money. Alot of money that you might not want to see again. In Alberta, there seemed to be a Casino tucked away in just about any corner. Some of them were discreet, windowless buildings with parking lots that went on forever. Others were bright-lights, Las Vegas style squat monsters of flashing colors and bright signs. Couldn’t miss them unless you were blind really. My mother could had a list of favorite ones that she “had good feelings,” about. She often liked to roam around them and I suspected that my mother was a bit like me. She loved the bright lights, the flickering colors,  the loud noises and the low murmur of voices. Slot machines that plinked and bonked and spun bright digital fruits and cards could mesmerize anyone.

I don’t know where this came from. I do know that as soon as my mother could teach herself enough to get onto a computer there were fruit slot machines and random blackjack games and that if she had loose change in her pocket burning a hole my father would say every once in a while she’d get a hankering and pester him to take her along while he went to play poker.

The thing is, my mother was really good at following her instincts when it came to people. When it came to the casino, there were times when my mothers instincts were–ah–less that very good.

When I went up to visit a handful of years ago, before she got really sick, she got to feeling restless and bored one night. She wanted to hit one of the Casinos.

“I’ve got a good feeling,” she said to me. “When was the last time you’d been to one?”
I thought about it with my eyes rolled up to the ceiling. “Uh, when was the last time you took me to one?”
Mom smiled as she started doing her make up.”I don’t remember.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Think it was when I won $200 bucks and that was my first time.”

She nodded and repeated that she had a really good feeling then. So we girls got ourselves dolled up and we got into the car. We hit the Tim Hortons on the way up, of course, because it wasn’t a night out without a cup of it.  We listening to the radio blaring and them made out way through the night. Eventually we pulled up to a parking lot jammed full of cars. Junker cars, sleek, sexy purring cars that cost more than a house–men and women loitering outside to smoke (as laws passed in Canada made it illegal to smoke inside in most places), some of them wore cowboy hats and boots (which never ceased to amuse me because usually the ones in the entire get up, jeans, chaps, spurrs, snakeskin, ten gallon, had never seen a horse in their life let alone ridden one.) There were flashing lights and hand painted murals on the walls, painted to look like some desert with cacti.

We meandered in and were blinded by the multitude of lights. LEDS and little bulbs along side of machines galore. There was this HUGE MONSTEROUS spinning wheel thing that raised, lowered and wobbled with digital interactions and touch screen monitors at the center of the room with a few people around it. They had the crap tables and black jack too, littered with differing faces that showed boredom, typical poker-faces or frustration and happiness.  My mother went straight to the slot quarter slot machines. They were always her favorite and I am not sure why–she felt they were luckier than anything else. She drug me along as we passed by computerized monitors that spun like the old fashioned ones: cherries and diamonds, hearts and bells.  She took the choosing of a machine seriously, we meandered back and forth through several rooms as she squinted at each one. Eventually I wondered if we were ever going to pick one.
“Those two–” she pointed out. So off I went to sit on the leather bound stool beside her as she handed me a $20 bill. “I’ve got a good feeling about tonight, “she repeated.

There’s really not much to slot machines. You feed it money and if you are lucky, you win it back. If you aren’t–you don’t. My mother was wrong about this night however. The time passed and we talked about everything: marriage, kids, life, health, we laughed about the little things and bitched about the things we couldn’t control. We weren’t very successful and my mother insisted we try another machine. The night was wearing on and the place was clearing out.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stop?” I asked, warily trying to think how much we’d already spent as she tugged me along to one of the many convenient ATM machines scattered about the entire place.
“Just one more!” She said, and started giggling (I swear it) like a school girl.
“Mom I don’t think–”
“Just one more!” She insisted. She’s my mother you see. You don’t argue with mothers. Not too often when you get older, at any rate. So she slid a card and punched her PIN and more money that I’ve seen in cash in a long while was spit eagerly out into her waiting hands.

Off we went again to prowl around the machines to find ‘the perfect’ one. Mom found a machine she thought she liked, and tried to hand me some more money. At this point I shook my head.

“No, I don’t think I should help,” I grinned. She smirked and fed the machine.

We were horribly, horrifically, amazingly bad that night. I didn’t really keep track of the money my mother kept putting in the machine but it was so bad that at the end of the night we were both cackling like hyenas anyway at how horrible it was.
“Just one more–” She’d say.
“Mom, I think we should go, I don’t know how much money we’ve blown but I think we should stop before it’s too late.”

Still cackling like a bunch of hyenas however, we agreed. Some of the bouncers gave us quizzicle looks as we passed. They have people that make the quiet rounds along tables and machines even though there are cameras everywhere–no doubt to make sure things are on the up and up. I am pretty sure they were aware that these two ladies just lost a massive amount of money and had never seen anyone hooting and hollaring in laughter about it.

When we got to the car, I finally asked her, “So, how much did we blow?”
“Oooooooooh,” my mom said casually as she slid into the driver side. “Eight hundred dollars.” And then lost it laughing.
“OH MY GOD MOM!” I bellowed. I got into the car quickly because I thought I was going to die. “OH MY GOD. SERIOUSLY?”
My mother was flopped helplessly across the steering wheel losing her shit giggling. She nodded.
“I KN-KN-KN-OWWWWWWWWWWWWWW,” Mom howled, looking totally unconcerned at her death.

We drove home and the entire way we were chortling like madwomen.  Mom and I were doing our best Pissed Off Dad impressions, which sent us convulsing further until by the time we pulled up in the drive way sometime in the early AM, we were barely able to see the road through the tears.

“Okay, okay–Okay–oh jesus–” Mom said, “We’ve gotta go in. If Frank’s awake let me handle it.”
JEEEZUSS CEEEERISSST DARLENE,” I tried in my best Dad-impression, which sent us off again.
“NO! Seriously, okay–okay we can do this. Oh my god, why did you let me spend so much?” As she tried to roll out of the car.
ME?!” I squeaked, having a hard time breathing. “OH NO, nuh-uh you aren’t blaming this on me, I tried to stop you! I tried to be the adult here!”

We made it from the drive way to the door step, spring not yet sprung in Alberta, our breathes were little puffs of clouds as we tittered like teenagers and mom fumbled with her purse to get her keys.
“Frank is going to kill me,” she muttered, and we spent a few more minutes laughing so far we wheezed and collapsed on each other that neither of us could unlock the door.

When we got it open, I marvelled at my mother’s poker face. When she sashayed through the door she knew she was in for some serious shit–but breezed on in with a nonchalant look. I couldn’t follow her. I took my shoes off unsteadily and tried to go hide in the bathroom.  I heard my mother say, “Going to bed, tired.” My father replied with–“How much did you spend at the casino?”

“Oh,” breezily. “Eight hundred dollars,” quickly as I watched her dart for the stairs and I heard my father begin cursing. I ducked into the bathroom like the brave daughter I am.

That was the last time I saw my mother laugh like that–laugh so hard that she cried, laughed until she couldn’t breath. It was the most expensive laugh I have ever had with my mother, but I like to think now that it was worth every penny.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
[box type=”bio”] Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother. [/box]