Thinking about death

It is with the utmost sadness of our friends and family to announce the tragic death of our beloved Spicy Tuna Ro, who perished during a routine fly by of Saturn in her handcrafted space vessel, The Meow Machine, when it collided with an asteroid.  She is survived by her two wonderful cats, her partner of 17 years, parents, sibling, and all 1,525 of her Twitter followers. Rochele would like to be remembered for her excellent taste in music, clothing, going to bed early, and her ability to meal plan for an entire week at a time. She will be greatly missed on all social media platforms, but her partner is somewhat relieved that her cookbook collection and wardrobe will cease to expand. In lieu of flowers, please buy flower seeds and plant them everywhere for the bees. – My obituary, probably.

I spend more time thinking about death and dying than anyone else I know, and not in a ‘I want to die’ way but more of a ‘one day I’m going to die but I’ll be ready for it’ kind of thing. For the record, I do not plan to die for a very long time. One of my adult chores this year is to have a proper will done up, but if something should happen before then, here are my wishes:

I want to die as pain-free as possible and I don’t want to die alone. Please hold my hand and play my favourite music.

If I’m permanently incapacitated, brain-dead, or unlikely to ever wake up, let me go. I am a registered organ donor and if it’s possible, harvest anything that can be harvested. I would love nothing more than to give others another opportunity for a better, healthier, and longer life. Donate whatever is left to medical science. I don’t mind being a cadaver for medical students to cut up, sew back together, or even to try their own hand at being a Dr. Frankenstein. But if the hospital absolutely insists on returning whatever is left of me to my loved ones, do whatever is the most eco-friendly. I’m down for an organic burial, but ABSOLUTELY DO NOT EMBALM ME OR SEAL ME UP IN A CASKET. Bury me somewhere nice, like under a rose bush or something, but skip the grave marker, and make sure it’s legal. Or give me a viking burial at sea, surrounded by all my books. Be creative, but again, make sure it’s legal.

Give my phone to Jen. She knows what to do. She’s my designated digital legacy holder. If it’s password protected and you don’t have the password, I still expect my privacy to be maintained. I have zero intention of haunting this realm but God save your soul if you hack into somewhere you’re not supposed to be, I will go full poltergeist on you.

I don’t want a funeral. I want a wake with a life-size cardboard cutout of myself to greet people at the door, and you may select one or two from my fashionable IG account. For those that imbibe, I want whiskey sours, pickle backs, and Pyramid Audacious Apricot Ale to be served. I want balloons, disco lights, some Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston and some Abba. I won’t say no to smoke and lasers or karaoke, I just want people to laugh and dance and enjoy life. I also want a sushi buffet and the after party to be at a pho restaurant. Ask Tiffany, she’ll know where to go. And instead of a guest book, just post your best wishes and memories of me using a witty hashtag like #DeathRo or something on any social media platform of your choosing, except Vero. I would love if you would wear something weird and wonderful to my wake.

If you can’t make it to my wake, how should you honour me? Get up early, drink a green smoothie, pet a cat or dog or both as often as possible, wear something you’re proud of, and love your life as you’re living it.

I’m still giving thought to my belongings and what I want done with them. SproutO, Malroy, mom and dad, you can keep whatever you want. There are mixed CD’s with questionable content on them that you should definitely listen to when you’re missing me, they are eclectic and awkward, just as I am now. I have enough blankets and throws for all immediate family members to take one home, but leave the red fleece ones and the soft white one for the cats.

It’s important to think about what you want and make your wishes well-known. One of my favourite death positive people is Caitlin Doughty, and she has forever changed how I think of my own death and what I want to leave behind. If thinking about this is new to you, check out her YouTube channel and website. And please, please, please consider becoming an organ donor.

 

The no good, very bad day at the office

Picture this:

I am 22 years old and pretty fresh at my new office. I feel smug; getting this job was easy, and the job itself is easy enough, and it is so very nice to work 9-5pm, Monday to Friday, with benefits and paid vacation. Easy!

A few weeks into the new job, I ride the elevator with ten business men. We make small talk, and I say goodbye when we exit the elevator, but they don’t seem to be going into any of the other offices. In fact, they follow me all the way down the corridor to the very last office. My office. Strange, I don’t remember anyone telling me that there was a meeting first thing today? No matter. I will get these fine gentlemen settled and then I will perform my opening duties. But more and more people keep showing up in reception, so before I do anything else I get them seated in the boardroom.

But it turns out that there are two meetings happening, not one. I sheepishly walk down the hall and ask the people for Meeting B to please follow me to our conference room. Very quickly we run out of chairs for both meetings as more and more people show up, and I end up stealing chairs from my coworkers who are out at their own meetings or on vacation.

And then a third group of people arrive. Really? Now what? The board room and the conference rooms are being utilized, the only other meeting space available is… my boss’s office. I ask politely and he’s gracious enough. By now we’re out of coffee and water cups, too, and I have to go steal those from my coworker’s desks when they’re not looking.

And the phones won’t stop ringing. At times, all six lines are flashing and I can’t remember who is on what line and I am so tempted to close my eyes and clear all the lines and start fresh. I take a deep breath and pick up line 1 in time to hear *click.* I pick up line 2 just in time for line 1 to ring again. I transfer line 2 and answer line 1 and they hang up before I can even say hello. I go to line 3 and line 1 starts ringing again. Not wanting to piss off whoever keeps calling and hanging up, I put line 3 on hold again and answer line 1. CLICK. It takes everything in me not to slam the phone down or yell.

And then a fourth group of people show up and I want to cry. Where are we going to put these people?? My other boss is in this meeting and brings them down to her office, and I help her clear drawings and floor samples to make space around her work table. There aren’t enough chairs, so they stand around awkwardly. I don’t offer anyone coffee or water because there are no cups left.

And then I get an email from a partner, asking me to print 52 attached PDF’s. Sure, not a problem. I select all, and hit print. I let the printer do its thing for a while, but when I go to collect the prints, there are about a thousand sheets that say COMMAND ERROR. WHY, GOD, WHY? I can’t get it to stop. I try canceling it from the printer a dozen times, and it just won’t stop spitting out copies of the COMMAND ERROR document. Exasperated, I unplug the machine and the printing finally stops. I wait a moment before plugging it back in. Things are okay for three minutes… and then it goes right back to printing more COMMAND ERROR sheets. At this point I contemplate quitting. I unplug the machine again and put an Out of Order sign on it.

I ask the controller to please phone IT and she informs me that we don’t have IT, he left last month. I wonder how I’m going to push the duplex printer out the window and make it look like an accident.

While I’m away from my desk trying not to kick the printer, a courier arrives and takes it upon himself to find someone to sign for a package. The next thing I know, my boss is escorting him out of her office with a look on her face that very clearly says what the actual fuck, Rochele? and I want to dissolve into the floor in embarrassment. I tell her I’ll handle it from here and I walk him back to reception.

The phone rings from the board room. “Rochele, I need you to order lunch for Meeting A, it’s going to go on for a few more hours I think.” I call a bunch of places and no one will offer delivery on such short notice. The person who usually provides backup for me has already left to taker her lunch break, and it’s far too busy for me to leave my post. I timidly ask another coworker if she will please mind the phones and she barks at me, “I AM AN ARCHITECT, NOT A RECEPTIONIST. I DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE.” I am struggling not cry. Everything sucks. I feel like this job might be too much for me.

I go back to my desk and rehearse how I’m going to say no to buying lunch, but suddenly I see everyone from that meeting walking down the corridor towards the elevator. I AM SAVED! Until next week, when the meeting will continue, apparently.

The partner is hovering and asks me where his prints are, and I sheepishly tell him I’ve broken the printer. He sits me down and shows me how to cancel prints from my computer and how to make batches in Adobe. We plug the printer in again and pages and pages of the most beautiful documents that don’t have the words COMMAND ERROR on them come out warm and freshly pressed. I want to cry for a different reason. It’s just so beautiful.

The meetings end, the phones settle down, and the printer is quiet. The chairs are back in their respective workstations and I even manage to wash a few cups and make a pot of coffee. I realize it’s 4pm and I haven’t eaten my lunch yet, and really, I’m too tired to eat. I take a moment before launching into a slightly irrational, hunger fueled email about the importance of booking meeting spaces. What I really want to do is run off into the sunset and never come back, I start questioning my need to make money at all. Living in the forest far from a ringing phone or demon printer and meetings of any kind sounds a little bit like heaven.

At the end of the day, my boss calls to tell me that I did a great job handling the mayhem. I soften a little bit and put my plans to run away on hold for a while.

 

31

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  1. My favourite colour is blue. It used to be green, but now it’s blue.
  2. I have a toe thumb on my right hand, and I am self conscious about it.
  3. I still own a dress from when I was 15, and I will own it forever, I am pretty sure. The green dress.
  4. I’d rather have a negitoro roll, tuna sashimi, or a spicy avocado roll, over a spicy tuna roll.
  5. I hated rap in the 90’s, but I love 90’s rap now. Nostalgia is weird.
  6. My first kiss was under the stars and that set me up for a lifetime of romanticizing space. I love space so very much.
  7. I have a condition called Congenital Mirror Movement Disorder. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of holding my hand while I fish around in my pocket with my other hand, you’ll know just how little control I have over it. I am incredibly self conscious about it.
  8. I’m getting asked for my ID less and less and I’m starting to realize that I am not immune to the physical process of time and that worries me a little bit.
  9. I don’t know what I am doing with my life, I have no vision for the future. I’m less scared about this than I was five years ago.
  10. I’m not very good at sewing, it usually involves a lot of swearing, but I enjoy doing it.
  11. My fight or flight response is incredible. If someone else needs help- I am there in an instant and I do whatever is needed, but if I need help, I call my mom.
  12. I love to have long bubble baths. The bath cures everything.
  13. I’ve accepted that I am never going to have a firm stomach and that is okay, and that doesn’t mean that I have to keep it covered up, and I can still like the way I look.
  14. Thigh gap was first pointed out to me when I was 18 while working on a marketing project in college, and it has fascinated me ever since that anyone would ever care about this.
  15. I remember the strangest things, like most of my childhood friends’ phone numbers.
  16. I think 12 year old me would be super impressed by 31 year old me, and maybe a little intimidated.
  17. I’m not intimidated very easily.
  18. I have plans to have Ferdinand the Bull tattooed on my body, and part of it will be an homage to my mom, but Ferdinand represents exactly who I am and always have been. Go read The Story of Ferdinand. I’m also a Taurus, so this fits.
  19. I love perfume and lipstick. I used to love nail polish, but I hardly care about it anymore.
  20. I like beverage variety. I like going to specialty food stores and buying four or five new drinks to try.
  21. I love cocktails and alcohol, and once upon a time I was a certified bartender, but I don’t drink a lot or very often anymore.
  22. I would love to start a personal fashion blog and talk about my clothes, if only to inspire people to wear their clothes a little differently and to take more risks.
  23. I have a penchant for British period dramas- Mr. Selfridge, Downton Abbey, and Call the Midwife.
  24. I love a good pun.
  25. I live by two principles: I do what I want and variety is the spice of life.
  26. I have very prominent facial expressions and it’s difficult to mask my true feelings.
  27. I have a tattoo on my forearm which was once accused of being an insult to science. I can laugh about it now, but I was pretty hurt when it was first said.
  28. I cry when your pets die.
  29. I love both of my cats very much, but I like the annoying one just a little bit more. We have a lot in common.
  30. I am strong in my convictions; I stand up for what I believe in and I am unwilling to compromise my values.
  31. Today I turned 31.

Written to my grandma with love

Dear Grandma,

I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately. Every time I look at my drawers of makeup and nail polish, you come to mind.

As a child, your bathroom was like a cave of wonders. You had baskets and containers of the most magical colours and powders. I would sneak a little lip colour or eye shadow from time to time, but you already know that.

You embody the sentiment that variety is the spice of life. It was so great to visit you and try a new shampoo every time I had a shower. Your lotions and potions were a constant fascination, and every wash of the hands was a new opportunity to put another lotion on.

I definitely get my love of makeup, nail polish and body products from you. Mom is starting to become this way, but I’m not sure it’s entirely her choice or because she’s Mallory’s and my mom and getting sucked in might be unavoidable. And no one else I know has delicate trays of perfumes on their bureaus. My Girl Room has become a source of entertainment to my girlfriends.

Actually, I’m a lot like you in many ways. I have a drawer full of socks that I never wear. I don’t like fitted tops or scratchy clothes. And like you and mom, I love to cook and I take pride in what I serve people.

We’re gardeners. We love animals. We’re sensitive souls. Grandma, it took me a long time to notice, but I’m a lot like you. I know I haven’t spent much time with you in my adult years, I do wish we lived closer to one another. I wanted to let you know that you’ve helped shape who I am.

You have always been incredibly generous with your time and your things, and I strive to be that way, too.

I was overwhelmed when you baked cookies and squares for my wedding. I should have known that you were going to show up with 5,000 pieces for a 150 people tea reception. But you’re like that. There is always way too much food and there is always room at your table. No one in your life will ever go hungry.

Grandma, I could go on and on. You’re a beautiful woman, from the inside out. I love you very much, and I don’t and haven’t said it nearly enough.

Also, I’m sorry for trying to steal your pyramid paper weight. That thing is a symbol of Grandma’s House and I hope you never give it away.

All my love,
Rochele xoxo

PS- I love grandpa, too, and I’ll never forget the day he took me to the Dollar Store and let me buy whatever I wanted. He’ll get his own letter one day.

 

Intimate on the I-91

I’m tired. I’ve only had two hours of sleep. I danced until 4am. I watched the sun rise. I trekked around in wet grass in my pajamas. I found my bed when people were getting up.

And yet here I am, in a car full of people that I don’t know very well, but I’ve become quite fond of. I’m the driver and we’re speeding down the I-91. It’s hot, and we’re all tired, and in all fairness, we’re hungover. We’re following a car of people that are guiding us toward a promise of a swimming pool and relaxation. It’s a long drive. Thanks to an upgraded car rental, we’re driving the Hot Passat and we’re listening to CBC Radio 2, which is suggested after listening to terrible R&B from the 90’s. The car is packed with luggage and remnants from the previous day’s wedding, along with my four companions.

Vampire Weekend’s Unbelievers comes on the radio and one of my car mates asks if I will turn it up. I oblige; I also like the song. He hasn’t said much the whole weekend, but he’s singing loud enough that I can hear him from the front. I quietly join. It’s not long before all five of us are singing in some way or another. I can’t help but think in a couple of hours this will all be over. One of us will have to go back to London; one of us is moving to Turkey; one of is returning to Haida Gwaii; only myself and another are going home to Vancouver. I will likely never have these people together in my car again, so I smile and enjoy the moment.

It is a song that will play over and over in my head for weeks to come. Of all the songs, this is the song that defines my summer. It’s unexpected in a time of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. There is nothing about the moment that I would change, it’s perfect for everything that it is.

Reckless Ideas

What would you do if you didn’t need anyone’s approval? What would you do with your life if you weren’t afraid of hurting anyone or letting anyone down? What would you do? Who would you go after? What chances would you take? Where would you go?

I was asked those questions yesterday. I’m not going to share how I answered, but I can honestly say that those questions are consuming me right now. 

Bucket Lists and Resolutions

Hot damn 2012 went by way too fast. What an incredible year.

Stuff I did in 2012:

  • Husband, sister, and I took ourselves on the spring break that we didn’t have growing up. We spent seven days in Florida – two at Universal Studios, and the rest at Disneyworld. That trip fucking rocked.
  • I went on my first roller coaster, ever, while I was in Florida. Cried. Screamed. Gave my husband and sister a panic attack in mid air.
  • Went cottaging with my What’s for Lunch BC partner and friends. So. Much. Fun.
  • I went white water rafting.
  • Co-hosted one hell of a bachelorette party with a life-sized naked Ryan Kesler poster. Marissa, you’re welcome.
  • I registered for school.
  • I went to awesome concerts.
  • I saw Jupiter and Saturn through my very own telescope. AMAZING.
  • Again, this year I met the most incredible people and my heart is so thankful for all of you.
  • I survived three months of bachelorettehood. I’ll have to do it again in 2013, which I always hate, but always manage to live through.

I think 2013 will be less about having fun, and more about getting stuff accomplished. My mantra for 2013 is: Don’t fucking procrastinate. It’s on one of my coffee mugs, so you know it’s serious. So here goes the Bucket List and the Resolutions for a happy, healthy, and productive 2013:

  1. Do well in school. Starting January 8th I’ll be a part-time student. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m ready.
  2. Continue writing and tweeting for WFLBC.
  3. Renovate the bathrooms. We’ve had all the materials for over a year, we just need to start.
  4. Run 10km a week. This may seem like a small amount, but I am laughably slow.
  5. Continue with the Monday evening tradition that has become family dinner with my mom and sister.
  6. Read a book a month for pleasure. Again, no small feat as I’ll be working full time and attending classes 12 hours a week, and then homework.
  7. Go sailing. It’s been years since I was on a boat and I REALLY MISS IT.
  8. Use my yacht club membership. If anything, it’s an excellent place to network and eat lunch.
  9. Try yoga and meditation.
  10. Pay attention to what I am eating- where it comes from, sustainability, GMO free… easier said than done. I’m about to become stupidly busy.
  11. Put $5,000 into savings on top of what is already being saved.
  12. Volunteer my time for an organization dedicated to elevating girls in the world.
  13.  Sing in public. Maybe Rodyltin has a chance after all.
  14. Generally just be a rockstar.
  15. Solidify my love of all things space related with a tattoo.
  16. Be free. Enjoy life. Keep laughing.
  17. Take every opportunity to stare at the stars.
  18. Visit one far-away Twitter friend.
  19. Let go of a couple of vices. Those who know, know.  I think they are bringing me down and preventing me from reaching my potential.
  20. Eat more spinach.

There you have it. I would greatly appreciate if all two of you would check in every now and then and ask how this list is going. I’m more likely to get it done if I have someone to hold me accountable. What are your goals and aspirations for 2013? What did you accomplish last year?