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.

 

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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.

 

I spend too much money and I’m unhappy about it

I have a shopping and money spending addiction. There, I said it. This is a dark spot in my life, and things tend to get out of control very quickly.

Am I going to remember the good times I had using a new makeup primer? No. The one I bought two months ago is fine, and there is a lot of it left.

Oh but I read about double cleansing and I’d like to try that! Cool, but I already have all the stuff I need to try double cleansing, there is no need to buy new products to try a different technique.

In late 2016 I recognized that my makeup purchasing was out of control, so I challenged myself not to buy any more until 2018 unless I ran out of a specific item. I’ve run out of concealer a couple of times, and I did buy two tubes of lipstick after receiving two new lipsticks that I got for my birthday after loving the wear and formula. But I recognize that the joy of four new lipsticks was short-lived. Not too bad, right? Two tubes of lipstick aren’t going to ruin me.

However, I essentially replaced my makeup buying addiction with a skincare buying addiction. I hate myself a little bit. I need to unsubscribe and unfollow all the beauty accounts that I have on social media. Yesterday I found myself on the Kiehl’s website and almost had to slap my hand from buying skincare that I don’t need. Rochele, we have an agreement. When things run out, you can try something new.

This happens with everything in my life. I get excited about something and I go crazy. If you didn’t know, I also sew. Lately I’ve been sewing kimonos, and I went a little nuts ordering fabric and I have enough to make 13 kimonos. I don’t have time to make 13 kimonos. Ugh, I hate myself.

As of right now, I’m expecting a new bike helmet, and two new pairs of glasses (damn you, BOGO.) That’s not terrible except in the last month I’ve bought two new pairs of sandals, a bag, two pairs of sunglasses, three blouses, four pairs of work pants, a pair of flats, a car, dishes, and a couch. Okay, the last three were household purchases and I don’t know if they count, and some of the clothes were for job interviews I went to, and I had a birthday in there and received quite a bit of money. Some of that was okay, but I definitely didn’t need to buy all of it.

I tell myself that I can’t afford a membership for barre classes, but I drop $150 without blinking. I tell myself that I can’t afford to go on a trip, but I have Rouge status at Sephora. I tell myself that it’s okay to buy that necklace because it’s only $65 and I didn’t spend money yesterday. I justify spending money on things because all the bills get paid and I contribute to RRSP’s, TFSA’s, and my spouse and I own a home and there is money left over every month. I am very much a quality over quantity person, but I am still guilty of falling for new things.

Despite attempts to control myself and set limits, I can’t seem to live within them. My spending habits have come under scrutiny many, many times and I have faced harsh judgment. I love makeup, perfume, clothing, and shoes. Yes, I have a lot of it. Yes, I want more. I have a job where I am expected to look my best, and I like to look my best in my private life, too. Although it is NOBODY’S BUSINESS, I am sharing this with the world so that I might be more accountable and begin to restructure my life to be a healthier and happier version of me.

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.

I Don’t Like You and You’re Going to Die and I’m Not Okay

This post was written and published with the consent and input of the survivors referenced below.

A while ago Anne Theriault tweeted something that really struck a chord in me: It’s funny how even the deaths of people that you didn’t respect or like or ever want to think about again can still sting so hard.

It’s in regards to Rob Ford, the infamous former Mayor of Toronto, known for his addictions, scandals, and general disgrace. There is a Rob Ford in my own life, and I’m 99% sure he’ll die before we ever speak to one another ever again.

I think about how I’m going to feel when I get that phone call. My heart hurts for the people that he’ll leave behind and all the wrongs that will never be righted. I’ve accepted that an apology is never coming. I’ve also accepted that I do not have to forgive him, I do not owe that to anyone. It does nothing for me to pretend like what happened to us was okay. It wasn’t okay. To withhold forgiveness holds him responsible for his wrongdoings and trespasses. He hurt me and others and caused irreparable damage that will carry a lifetime of emotional scarring.

He’s going to die one day, and it will be really hard for me. I will be angry, and sad. I’m sad that he ruined his own life over some very selfish decisions, but more so that his pride kept him from being in a loving relationship with his family. The number of times that we tried to help him, pleaded and argued with his family to help us help him, fell on deaf ears until it was too late. They were in denial that there was a problem.

To withhold forgiveness holds him responsible for his wrongdoings and trespasses.

Misogyny played a big part in his wife not receiving the support that she needed. He wasn’t physically abusive; he merely followed her around the house from room to room calling her a cunt and telling her how useless she was for years and he wasn’t an alcoholic because he didn’t slur his words or stagger. There was never any consideration for the children that lived in that house with him.

It’s an old and toxic way of thinking, and I’d like to think that his family would do better for for her if this happened now, but I’m not so sure. I likely won’t be invited to his funeral, which is is fine but I would go to support his only child, who didn’t know her father before he succumbed to addiction and undiagnosed mental illness(es).

This is the only way she ever knew this man, and he terrified her. A trip to Disneyland will not erase the times that he was drunk and made her get in the car with him to blow through stop signs and red lights at speeds greater than 80 km on residential streets. An afternoon music festival won’t smooth over that he packed up her things without warning and left them on his porch in the rain. She will never forget that he kicked her dog in the ribs, or yanked his leash so hard that the dog cried out in pain. He will never know about the tears that she cried and the sleepless nights of anxiety before she had to go to a court appointed visit with him, and to this day he still tells her that his ex wife and her daughter ruined their relationship.

But he will die one day, and he will likely die before she ever gets the chance to tell him that he is a monster, that he scared her, that she feels abandoned. He’ll leave behind enough hurt and betrayal to last a lifetime, there will be no last minute pardon of his wrongdoings. He will never truly know, because he is blind to others suffering. For us, the suffering never ends.

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.

 

November

More often than I care to admit, I stand in the kitchen of my office and have an overwhelming desire to drop one of the water glasses on the stone tile floor and watch it shatter. But I don’t. Mostly because my coworker’s workstation faces the kitchen and I look around and find him watching me. It’s like he knows what’s going on inside of my head. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS, is what I’d like to say. I don’t drop it, instead I put the glass in the dishwasher or fill it up and go back to my desk.

And sometimes I look at my phone and I want to hurl it off the pier at Crab Park. DROWN THE PHONE! Good riddance! Digital detox here I come! That’s not rational. I need my phone to text people. I realize that I don’t know anyone’s phone number anymore and they probably wouldn’t answer my calls anyway. It’s like, “Why are you calling me? Do you hate me or something? DID YOU JUST LEAVE ME A VOICEMAIL? What is wrong with you?” Ugh people, sometimes I hate you. But also, I can’t log into anything without my phone because I have two-step verification enabled. Maybe that’s a win/win situation.

Talk to me about the time I drowned my Blackberry. Unintentional, but exactly what I needed at the time.

It’s dark, wet, cold and it will go right through you. I hate and I love it. It’s so much easier being miserable when you have wet feet and frizzy hair and mascara that’s bled all over the place. Finally, the outside matches the inside.

Daylight sadness, am I right? This too shall pass.