would i have benefited from being in 4H?


hey anderson,

happy st. paddy’s day! i’m a quarter irish and wearing green today, but with it being monday tomorrow i’m staying home and staying sober.  what fun i am! also, i am pretty exhausted from the day i had yesterday.

the company i work for is a supporter of 4H. are you familiar?  i kinda doubt it, as it is primarily a rural organization and, i believe primarily canadian.  not many people i meet in the city have ever heard of it.  in fact, i’d only read about it books before getting a job that sent me into rural communities.

the first time i went to 4H event, i was blown away.  it was an awards night and kids were getting awards for best raised cow and crazy farm stuff like that.  what really resonated with me was how poised all of the kids were when getting on stage.  then i learned that a strong element of the clubs is public speaking.  at that time i was a terrible public speaker who would throw up, cry and talk at a mile a minute.  when i saw those kids though, i figured i could probably be a bit better.  if only i’d had activities like that when i was a kid!

a little more about raising cows; a lot of the 4H clubs are beef clubs.  one crazy element of being in the clubs is each kid will raise a calf.  they spend a year tracking its growth and activities.  they put together fun reports on all they learned.  and then they send their cow to slaughter.  literally.  i went to one auction and i was traumatized.  the kids parade around their giant cows and the local community and businesses buy the cows. the kids take one last picture with their animal and then they get led onto a truck.  to their deaths.  before i went to the auction i was given strict not to get emotional and freak out because the kids would think i was crazy.  i silently assumed that was an exaggeration and that at least some of the younger girls would be upset.  the only tears were the ones i held back when posing with the cow we bought.  i’m so glad i don’t have a copy of that picture, how macabre.

but i have to ask myself, would i have been tougher, more prepared for death and loss had i bee in 4H?  i’d have to say yes, having known a few adults who were in 4H beef clubs.  years later they were still nonchalant about the whole thing.  where i am still clearly traumatized by the part i played.

so back to yesterday.  our company sent out an email saying judges were needed at a 4H district public speaking competition.  it was being held in a town that i’d visited frequently during my last job so i jumped at the chance to return.  of course, as the date approached i quickly regretted being such a gracious volunteer.  i started to worry mostly about the weather.  i’d been in that area in the snow before, but it had been awhile and i was quickly building mountains out of molehills.  huge, ice covered treacherous mountains.  but, yesterday i woke up at 6 am and got on the road.  mostly because i could not get up the courage to cancel.  not quite perseverance, but it will do in a pinch.

the roads were fine, not great in places, but overall the drive there was uneventful.  when i got to the school where the competition was being held i was getting progressively more anxious.  somehow in my worrying about the drive i had forgotten to worry about having to make small talk.  better late than never i guess.

everyone else there seemed totally prepared for the judging, where i had just skimmed the handbook.  it seemed pretty straightforward.  though when i sat down i realized i had no idea what to do.  luckily the nice man sitting beside me helped me out.  he touched my arm once, but i hope to forgive him any minute.

i was a judge for junior impromptu speeches.  can you imagine?  seriously, that is how several of my nightmares get started.  but these ten kids just marched up, got their topics and and stood in front of us.  now, these weren’t high school debate topics, they were more like my favourite movie or why kids shouldn’t have to go to school on their birthdays.  for the most part the kids were great, one girl froze but still she seemed pretty pulled together. i’m surprised my maniacal grin of support didn’t send her over the edge.  i’m pretty sure i was more freaked out than she was.

with the event done and my rankings submitted we were then told one of us would need to speak to everyone to tell them how the speeches went.  that is when my fight or flight response really kicked in.  before that it was really just on standby.  i told one of the other judges that i had a 2 hour drive home and needed to get going in case the weather got worse.  i pretty much ran out the door after that.  i felt like maybe i should tell someone i was leaving so they didn’t wonder if i was hiding in a locker or something.  so i told the lady who’d greeted me when i arrived.  she told me i could stay for snacks and whatnot but i brushed that craziness aside and left in a flurry of awkward panic.

when i finally got home i still was high on adrenaline but also still glad i went.  as much as i truly hate interacting with the outside world, i know it’s a fact of life so i may as well get used to it and do things i actually enjoy doing.

so yes, i am pretty sure i would have benefited from being in 4H.  every kid i saw yesterday was calm and collected.  they were engaging when they spoke in the hallways just as much as when they were giving their speeches.  and i really do envy that.  the 4H motto is ‘learn by doing’ and i have to admit that’s a pretty great one.



how i fell in love with the olympics


hey anderson,

wow, it has been months since my last letter.  i feel terrible.  i had a busy christmas and then got really sick, and i didn’t think you need to hear me whine!  and since then it’s just been business as usual in my world, and how interesting is that to hear about?  i mean, i like hearing about your world, but it’s ok if you’re not as fascinated in return!

so we’re currently remembering the calgary 1988 winter olympics.  the city is all excited trying to relive that experience.  as a 7 year old it really was the coolest thing to happen.  i remember so much about that time and it started a love affair with the olympics that i still have today.

here are a couple of my calgary 88 best memories

-we had several school assemblies where we got pins that i still have and treasure.  pin collecting is a huge underworld that i got to experience first hand.  i did a couple trades and i still remember how exciting that was!  i don’t collect many pins now, but i did get quite a few when i went to the olympics in vancouver a few years ago.

-we went to one the medal ceremonies one cold night.  that was exciting but what i remember most was after a man talked to my mom he walked away and she said he was a jiggalo.  for some reason i got some sort of explanation as to what that meant.  obviously learning traumatizing information like that in a magical setting leaves some indelible memories!oly2

-heidi and howdy were hands down the best olympic mascots ever.  seriously, other cities shouldn’t even bother trying and should just ask if they can use them.  i loved them so much and still do.  in fact, a couple  of ago after dinner at my boyfriend’s parent’s house he was getting our coats out of their hall closet and there was a pile of old toys.  on top were a perfect set of heidi and howdy dolls.  i almost wept when his mom told me i could have them.  see how cute they are!

– i was just getting into figure skating when the olympics happened so i was totally into everything that was going on.  it was a good year for canadian skaters, so that made things even more exciting.  i remember going to a couple events, one of which was the super boring technical skating component that i think they got rid alltogether.  but the even that was the most amazing was the gala event.  i went to that 25 years ago today.  wow, i am super old.  but i guess if being alive in 1988 meant i got to go to that, then i suppose i’m ok with it.  figure skating galas are the best.  it’s when the top 5 or so from each discipline get to have fun.  that means fun costumes, music with words and backflips.  seriously this was one of the most amazing things i have ever been to.  i’ve been to other galas and the ice capades, but there as nothing quite like the 1988 gala.  elizabeth manley was the belle of the ball with her silver medal and i adore her and well up thinking about her to this day.  look! i saved my ticket!!







when i moved to europe a few years later it was really cool that people knew where i was from because we hosted the olympics.  and when they happened in 1992 and 1994 it was especially fun to cheer for my country while living abroad.  my parents were really supportive of my olympic love, we went to innsbruck and albertville as other former host cities.  and once, we went to greece and made a special trip to Olympia where it all began.  of course, i was a petulant teenager by that point and i actually refused to get out of the car.  i still can’t believe i did that and am quite furious, but it’s also kinda hilarious.  and to be fair, i’ve never really been all that interested in the summer olympics so maybe that’s why i was so disinterested.  let’s give me the benefit of the doubt 🙂

well anderson, sorry my first letter in ages is a rambling collection of memories, but it was nice to share them with you all the same.




Anderson in a war zone


Dear anderson,

I hope you’re safe tonight. I can’t even fathom what your reality is like right now. You are so brave and do such important work. There are only a handful of people in the world who would hop on a plane to an active war zone. I am so thankful to you for telling the stories the world needs to hear.

What makes what you do even more special is your honesty. You do your best to be factual and un-biased which i know can’t be easy. You’re also honest in the way you don’t take crap from people. Following you on twitter during a crisis is amazing because amidst your updates you call people on their idiocy. This exchange just happened. You are amazing.


So my friend, stay safe and stay vocal. I’m thinking about you and the people on all sides of this conflict.


Remembering again


Good morning anderson,

It’s Remembrance Day again. I can’t believe a year has gone by so quickly. Maybe it’s because the topic of remembrance is so close to my heart and i don’t just remember once a year. But before you pat me on the back for my patriotism, gratitude and sincerity you should know that i didn’t go to a ceremony this morning. And i have no excuse. But, i’m hopeful that by not going i can still remember and be thankful.

It may seem trivial to put it this way, but it’s how i’m going to justify myself, so please go with it. Wars have been fought for my freedom. It’s quite likely that my grandfathers didn’t go to war in the hopes that one day their granddaughter could sleep in on a sunday. But, i’m sure they thought about making a world where i was safe. And that they did. So, i’m safe and free and warm in bed still and i wish i could express how much this means to me.

There are no words, but here are a few pictures of the brave men whose legacy i don’t take for granted even if i am a little lazy.

My grandpa Stan on board the HMCS Sackville


My grandparents on board the Sackville


My grandpa Archie who was shot down over germany. This is a locket my grandpa gave me.


Have a great day anderson, i know you’ll be thanking your veterans as well.


from discomfort to comfort



this week was a series of ups and downs for me, anderson. and i’m sure it was for you as well. i heard the disappointing news that your daytime talk show is going to end after this season. i think this is such a shame, and not just because i enjoy spending this time with you, but also because your show was different. alas, that may ultimately have been the show’s downfall. last season, you mixed a super fun blend of interesting topics and silliness and i loved that. this season’s new revamp had a lot more elements of trying to speak to the masses. in trying to entice more viewers, the show wasn’t able to stand out from the crowd and maybe lost some viewers. thank goodness you won’t be gone from tv altogether – but maybe you should think about hosting the mole again!!

over the past week, i attended two very different events. looking back on the week, i have come to a couple of interesting conclusions. before i share my revelations with you, i should tell you about the two events.

last saturday i went to a work party. it was a celebration for a very big project i worked on. i had no intention of going, but a co-worker convinced me it would be fun if we went together. it was definitely critical to have a friend to go with, i would have had an exponentially worse time had i gone alone. but, still, i did not have a good time. as a socially awkward person, i dread things like small talk. i turn into a loud, angry and insane person when someone asks hard hitting questions like ‘how have you been since i last saw you?’ – it’s pretty awesome. also, as you know, stress makes me sick to my stomach. so before the party i had a couple drinks with my stepdad to ease my nerves, and then he dropped me off. it’s like i was a teenager being dropped off at a party. of course, as a teenager there was no way in hell i’d ever go to a party. so obviously, i’ve grown a little bit…

but yeah, the party was kind of a disaster. i insulted the host by making a (hilarious) remark about how old he is. i also tried to pay a lawyer a compliment, and instead was lambasted by their argumentativeness. it was terrifying. luckily, they were serving one of my favourite wines, so i just kept drinking. at one point i said the words ‘that’s my favourite piazza in rome’. you should have seen people’s reactions – only i silence a room with my innocent snobbery.

while the shame and lingering panic from that party was still fresh in my mind, i headed to a 3 day conference. but, looking back i approached this event in a completely different way. i was excited. it was the 6th time i’ve been to this conference, so i knew a lot of people and when i saw each and every one of them i acted totally naturally. i was calm and normal well, my normal anyway. i made small talk, and while i still didn’t always know what to say, it wasn’t painful.
so what made these two events so different? if anything, the party should have been the fun time, and the conference the boring and stiff one. but, for me, i was in my element at the conference – these were my people! a whole room of people who know where i’m coming from just by my attendance, but more than that it was a conference for people who truly believe the adage ‘i may not agree with what you say, but i defend your right to say it’. for the most part, lawyers don’t even listen to what you actually say – they’re already fighting you before you open your mouth. it’s such a stark contrast, and really tells me i know which group i belong with.

when i was talking to my mom before going to the work party, she told me to go and try to determine why i needed to be there. was there an unconscious need or something i needed to learn? i couldn’t come up with anything. it was just an awkward experience, nothing more. but, after getting home from the conference i talked to my mom again. she mentioned that my few facebook status updates about the conference were so positive and full of excitement and i realized maybe that’s what i needed to see. i’m not destined to be a reclusive hermit after all – i just need to be where i belong.

what a great thing for me to learn!


weekly photo challenge: foreign


dear anderson,
another prompt from wordpress has led to another note from me. this time it’s a photo challenge, which is fun. the theme is “foreign”. i’m sure if you were participating you would have some amazing photos to share. i have some great photos from my travels, i’ve been to lots of countries that would be considered by a canadian to be “foreign” but i don’t think any of my pictures really captured the essence of the word. maybe some photos i have an open air market in the desert in isreal, but still i feel those don’t tell enough of my story in them.

and then i remembered i took this picture in the british virgin islands last year.

this is my teddy bear charlotte. my boyfriend bought her for me about 3 christmases ago. at the time, he worked at the department store, the bay. charlotte is a canadian polar bear with a hand warmer in the classic hudson’s bay colours. when we travel, we like to bring her with us because, as a polar bear, she doesn’t know about much beyond snow and seal meat. so far, she has been to las vegas, jamaica, the bvi and mexico. i do treat her as a member of the family, and i love taking pictures of her. especially in tropical settings because she is so out of her element. at least when she was in the bvi, they are also part of the commonwealth, so she at least had one thing in common with everyone!

for me, the word ‘foreign’ has an element of outsiderness to it, and this picture captures it perfectly!


how do you feel about children in adult-oriented places?


dear anderson,

i thought i would send you a quick note after coming across the latest wordpress writing challenge. the topic is whether children should be allowed in adult oriented places. as you know, this is a topic i am quite passionate about. this is because i generally dislike being in the presence of children. i don’t want to appear as though i am a cranky old ogre who hates all kids, but at times that is totally who i am. i think people who have kids are more than welcome to that burden, but why should i be subjected to it as well?

i don’t want to seem unreasonable. i am fully aware of the fact that if parents didn’t brave the outside world they would probably lose their minds and their kids would be socially deprived oddballs. but, that fact does not automatically give parents and kids free reign on said outside world. there have to be limitations. i mean, i don’t get to go hang out in family bathrooms at the mall, so i think it’s only fair that i don’t need to associate with children when i’m out and about. there are choices that families can make, just as there are choices i can make as a childless misanthrope.

for example, when i travel i love going to adults only hotels. this way i know that the only people who are peeing in the pool are drunk dudes, rather than every baby in sight. mostly it’s the sounds of children playing that bother me. they have no concept of how loud they are. i know i only learned this myself at the age of approximately 27, but being startled by kids screaming “cannonball!” is the fastest way to ruin a vacation for me. so i think that by actively planning to avoid children everyone wins, i can swear loudly, be tipsy and relax and children can get excited about a pirate themed pool down the street. but, why do i have to be the one that has to plan?

when i make dinner reservations i think about when best to avoid families, when i go to the mall i do the same thing. but then i can’t help but think to myself, why am i planning my life around children? i don’t have them, nor do i want them but they still have a level of control on my happiness. and i think that’s where my anger and frustrations come from. i certainly don’t want parents to feel agoraphobic , but i don’t think it’s fair that i am more aware of their kids than they are themselves. i know when their kid is playing on their iphone and the sound is too loud, i know when their kid is peering under the door of a bathroom stall and i know when their kid is standing right in the middle of the sidewalk. i don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to expect the parents to be aware as well. i feel sympathy when a baby is crying on an airplane, and i rarely get mad when that happens. what i don’t like is a child standing on their seat looking back at me expecting me to smile and amuse them. i have my own stuff going on, that is not my responsibility. i have found the best way to discourage this particular behaviour is to glare at the child, for the most part they get the message. sometimes the little buggers are persistent though and think we’re playing some sort of face making game. at which point, i have been known to crack a smile. but that smile is always forced.

I do make an exception when it comes to children i know. Generally i like them, but still in relatively small doses. If we are related their chances of positive attention are greatly increased. In fact, i have a calendar of pictures of my cousin’s kids at my desk and i genuinely love opening a new month. I just don’t really like strangers or their children.

i know i’m kinda vehement on the subject and i try to put myself in a frazzled couple’s shoes when they just want a normal life. but, i just don’t think i need to be impacted. so yes, i do feel that there is a time and a place for children, but if they’re well behaved and not demented, screaming dirt balls, i probably won’t get too upset if i encounter them during a nice dinner out. and, if i can’t stand the thought of a child being in my vicinity, i will plan accordingly. And, if i’m seated at a restaurant by a family that leaves a messy disaster zone in their wake, i tip a little extra because they didn’t ask for the burden either.

until next time,

how could bob dylan ever disappoint me?


dear anderson,

sorry it’s been so long. i know, i know, i say that every time. but i do mean it. i guess i feel that because i watch your show so much, i do feel like we’re still in touch. the highlight of the past couple weeks for me was when you and stephen colbert did a trivia contest. if that was a show i could watch every day, i would be so happy. consider it. i can’t be the only one.

anderson, i have a confession. you are not the only famous person in my life. you’re my best friend. justin timberlake is my sometimes husband. and bob dylan is my soul.

i love bob dylan. he is the number one artist on my ipod, most played, most versions of the same song, most songs over 5 minutes long. i can’t get enough of him. i’m not one of those people who hunts for bootlegs, but i see myself doing more of that in the future.

i always really liked bob dylan, but it wasn’t until university that the true love began. i took an english course as an elective called ‘bob dylan and the literature of the sixties’. i picked the class mostly because i could get credit for reading my favourite book, ‘on the road’. but the lasting impression was dyaln. every day we got to listen to a song and discuss the lyrics and the history and politics associated with it. it was like heaven. i never realized what a poet he was. i mean, i’d seen ‘dangerous minds’ with michelle pfiffer so i had an idea, but i never knew what a profound effect his music and words would have on my life.

so, last week bob dylan was in town. i bought tickets a few months ago – second row seats to see the man up close and as personal as he can be. he’s on tour with mark knopfler whom i’ve never seen live so i knew i had to go. when i hit ‘confirm’ on my ticket order i burst into tears. i was just so excited. over the next few months, the excitement ebbed and flowed. but as the day approached i started getting a bit overwhelmed. many people will say that dylan has lost his spark, and that at 71 seeing him live just isn’t worth it. but i will take what i can get. i wasn’t alive when he was the awesome troubadour singing about civil rights, i wasn’t even alive when he turned electric or went all religious. but it’s still him up on that stage and that’s enough for me.

this was the fourth time i was going to see him live, so you would think it would be old hat. but the last time, the show was less than stellar. the kids sitting next to me talked the whole time, the sound was lousy and bob barely moved. so the more i thought about it, the more worried i was that this would be a similar show. but i tried to remain hopeful. i did my usual routine of looking at recent set lists to determine if he would play my favourite song – he played it the first time i saw him a decade ago, and then never again. but i was convinced it was time to play it here again. i read reviews that were very mixed and my excitement started to fluctuate. i was getting worried the show would be a disappointment and that if this really was the end of his never-ending tour?

at work, the whole day leading up to the show i listened to mark knopfler’s new album. i wanted to get prepared for non- dire straits music, and distract myself for bob dylan hysteria. i think knopfler is amazing and actually really like his new stuff. secretly though, all i really wanted to hear him play was the songs from ‘the princess bride’ soundtrack. i love that whole thing, from the instrumental songs to the theme that i once lip synced to at my friend’s tenth birthday party. when preparing myself to see mark, i could be pragmatic. i knew he would be playing songs i didn’t know, but he is a guitar legend so who cares. but with bob i was working myself into a real tizzy.

i left work and decided i had time to sneak in a nap before meeting my stepdad for dinner before the show. i couldn’t find a parking spot near my house and i was getting hysterical, but i finally parked and fell asleep so i thought everything would be fine. i am so naive. the tizzy didn’t stop, but i tried to just get over it. it didn’t work. i was about halfway through my meal when my emotions of the better of me. i don’t know if i’ve told you yet, anderson, but my stomach and i have a really complicated relationship. not only can i not digest milk despite my deep love of cheese, my stomach does not like it when i’m emotional. so here i am, sitting at the restaurant getting more and more excited and then nervous that the show won’t be everything i hoped it would be. i told my stepdad i was feeling a bit ill, and then i cried. thank goodness we were in the corner, but still, sitting on top of that high bar stool i felt so silly. but, that wasn’t my first public cry and it sure won’t be the last. unfortunately, getting some tears out and talking about how things will be great no matter what didn’t help. i sauntered to the bathroom and threw up. i felt better and we headed to the show.

obviously, the show was amazing. possibly the best dylan show of all the ones i’ve been to. mark knopfler was so amazing, and his band was ridiculous! i think those 8 guys played about 60 different kinds of instruments. it was so much fun! and then there was bob. he seemed to be in a great mood and was jamming out on the piano, so what if he played a few wrong notes here and there – he’s bob dylan!! the songs were not how they are on the records, but i’m totally ok with that. this time, they were all still recognizable and distinct. and the best part of all! he played my favourite song. and yes, i totally cried again. like a lot. i may even be crying a bit right now just thinking about it. seriously, i just can’t contain my love for bob dylan.

i know i need to work on not letting my emotions get the best of me – happy or sad and i still throw up. this is not the best way to live. i hope that next time i get worked up and nervous, i remember this bob dylan concert and remind myself that i wasn’t even remotely disappointed despite all of my anxiety. but i do think i may stop going out for dinner when i’m emotional.

until next time,

why i love to cry in my car


dear anderson,

i hope you’re doing well.  i bet you’re excited about the new season of your show starting next week.  i know i am!!

i was just driving to my boyfriend’s house and i had an epiphany.  i cry in my car a lot.  admittedly, i am a crier.  i know it’s hard to believe with this hard candy shell of mine.  but i really need that to contain all the feelings i have.  but tonight i was just driving, no big deal, just listening to music.  then a song from a musical came on and that was it.  the floodgates were open.  i wept for a good 15 blocks.  and it was awesome.  sometimes we just need a good cry.  while i had already cried a few times today (watching endless wedding dress and home reno shows will do that to me) i guess i had a few more tears that wanted to flourish.

once that was done, i realized i really do cry in my car a lot.  and i started to wonder why.  i can think of many times when, after a hard day, i got to my car and just let everything out.  i can also think of times i cried nervously and had to call my sister, mom, step-dad or boyfriend to calm down.  seriously, so many times.  but there have also been times just like tonight where the tears just came out of nowhere. 

i think my car has become a safe haven for me, after having cried so many tears in it. it’s a bit like in ‘anchorman’ when ron burgundy says he is in a glass case of emotion.

i can cry and scream and emote like a crazy person. and the best part is that if someone sees me and thinks i’m insane, i just make a quick right turn and i can lose them and keep crying to my heart’s content!

so yeah, while i cry pretty much anywhere when i need to, today i realized my car is best place to cry. i can’t wait till the next time i need a good cry. maybe i’ll put a sad movie on my ipad and set up shop. if only open having wine in a vehicle wasn’t illegal or i could have the perfect set up! two out of three isn’t too bad though!

take care anderson,