Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Family traditions

The tree, the Nativity scene, the gifts piled up to the ceiling ...

Aren't these the first Christmas traditions that come to mind?

Then there's the MacIsaac household. It wasn't all that different from any Canadian home at Yuletide.

Obnoxious Santas, elves, angels, the Three Wise Men ... all the wonderful confusion of childhood fantasy and Catholic conscience.

And hockey on the TV.

Yep, that's right. Back when Eric Lindros was Jesus, not Sidney Crosby. Remember?

We would huddle around the floor-model tube TV, the same set which still sits in our living room and casts a greenish hue, and watch the World Junior Hockey Championship.

There wouldn't be much said, there never was. Dad didn't like chatter while he watched the game.

Nonetheless, it was a tradition.

All four of us faithfully carry it on each Christmas, I believe. We're all big hockey fans.

It's indelibly stamped on my life since I became immersed in the major junior world during my seven years on the WHL beat in Kamloops.

This year, however, I'm going to miss most of it.

The tourney kicks off Boxing Day with the match that's always one of the best of the round-robin, Canada vs. Russia.

That one, I'll catch.

But the next day, I leave the country for seven days.

Oh sure, for a few days, I'll still be in WHL country, hanging out in the land of the Spokane Chiefs.

I don't yet know, though, if it's broadcast on TV the same way TSN smothers us with WJHC coverage.

And hockey isn't exactly the first thing you see on the TVs when you walk in the bar.

Plus, I've already promised myself I won't be connected during my vacation ... no laptop, no Twitter, no Facebook, no RSS feeds ...

I'll be north of the 49th again on January 3, probably too late for either of the semifinal games but you can be damn sure I'll be planted somewhere serving cold Molson beer for the Wednesday medal games.

Just like tradition dictates.

Go Canada.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Into the darkness

I participate in the odd survey.

There's always one question that makes me chortle just a wee little bit.

How often do you use the internet?

I always scroll right to whichever answer indicates 'heavy user.'

Look, folks, I've been addicted to the internet since 1994. My colleagues in Newfoundland and I were huddled around a little Mac Classic, watching as we downloaded a picture from the Oklahoma City bombing.

On the same freaking day as the tragic event.

Line by line, we watched in awe as this picture come across the tubes. It took almost two hours to download.

Sixteen years later, I use the internet to make a living. Writing the content for the new Shaw web collateral puts Kraft Dinner in my cupboards (and Naughty Monkeys on my feet).

On the side, my amazing friend, Chelsea, subcontracts me to write for her web design business (more shoes!) and I use Twitter to its fullest extent.

Trouble is, some Twitter folks take a lot of liberties. They think they know me better than they do, they cross boundaries with their words that I would not accept from my friends.

It's my fault. I know that.

I put a lot of information out there. I also put a lot of misinformation out there ... just to throw you all off the scent every once in a while.

Tonight, one older fella took it upon himself to send me a DM ... er, direct message for my Luddite friends ... cussing me out for a rather benign Tweet in which I said the Blackhawks-Avalanche game would probably be better hockey to watch than the Flames-Blue Jackets.


(And for what it's worth, I was right. This Flames game is terrible hockey.)

So, I'm issuing myself a new challenge.

I'm going dark.

I'll be out of the country from Dec. 27 to Jan. 3, spending some of the holidays with my Spokane friends. I want to be technology-free, leaving my laptop at home ... and along with it, all of you.

I won't be able to do this on my own. I'll need my friends' assistance ... I'm hoping they keep a close eye on me and take my phone away from me if they see me slipping.

It'll be good for all of us, I swear.

And I'll let you know how it goes when I get back.

Or, maybe not.

Good spot

Why your dog deserves every second of love you can give him:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lost that lovin' feeling

One hundred days ago, I signed on for a personal challenge.

A Shaw colleague had been Tweeting his progress on 750words, a site which challenges individuals to write 750 words every day. I signed up for the first monthly challenge.

By a couple of weeks, I was a bit addicted, using the site to formulate blog posts. I was blogging like a mad woman, churning out copy for three or four different sites.

It wasn't long before I declared myself willing to participate in the 100-day challenge.

Seemed easy enough, right? I can pound out 750 words in 12 minutes, if I put my mind to it.

I would get messages on Twitter from people bowing at my greatness.

"750? I struggle to find 300 words to write some days."

Look, I love writing.

I've been doing it for as long as I can remember. I wrote some of the worst pre-teen poetry you could possibly read.

I wrote a senior thesis in one weekend.

I turned it into a career. I get paid to write.

It's a hoot. I love it.

I write. I'm a writer.

I fucking hate this project.

When I get past this 750 words today, when I meet my 100-day challenge that ultimately means nothing in the grand scheme of things ... zero, zilch, nada ... I will be taking a break.

A good couple of days at least ... barring blog posts that come into my head, that is.

I forced myself to write for four days while I was on a mini-vacation in the States, a break very desperately needed from my web writing job here.

I learned I couldn't use the site to formulate blog posts after a while. I need to think through some ideas or do research when I'm writing on the Flames or shoes or whatever. But the site has an algorithm that counts points ... and some points you receive for being speedy and not taking any breaks or distractions for longer than three minutes.

Knowing there are points? My competitive spirit kicked in. The need to get the words out quickly translated into WIN.

I never got to the top of the points column, though. And yeah, that pisses me off. Even for points that ultimately mean nothing.

But I also gave up using the site to write blog posts.

Instead, I turned random streams of consciousness, just barfing words onto the screen in front of me in a hopeless addiction to reach the 750 words.

Oh, and I tried using the shortest words possible. I tried straying away from contractions. I took to spelling out numbers ... seven hundred fifty, instead of 750 ... going against every grain of my Canadian Press-taught soul.

In fact, I'm trying desperately to come up with 750 words right now just to get to my daily minimum ... I'm forcing it, not allowing this blog post to have a natural flow or denouement.

So I am tired of writing.

No, that's not true. I am tired of this site. I see its blessings, encouraging other individuals who want to write but maybe need a little nudge here and there to get going.

Thank you, 750words, for taking me to this challenge. I have a new one for which I'll be aiming over the Christmas holidays, but I'll let you all know what that is closer to the time. (And it's gonna blow your minds.)

So, dear 750words, it's been an interesting project for me, but if it's all right with you, I won't be back.

Because I love to write and I don't want you to suck that passion out of me.

I write. I'm a writer.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rebel body

I hate my body right now.

It's not for any reason you're accustomed to hearing from most women, like 'my ass is too big' or 'I have a muffin top.'

This has absolutely nothing to do with body image because, frankly, I have a great butt.

I hate my body right now because it forces me to say one of the two phrases I loathe the most in the world.

"I can't."

(The other is 'I don't know' and that's a whole other story of a different kind.)

My body is rebelling against me, in ways I can't control.

I've gone on — ad nauseum, I'm sure — about my injured shoulder. I've told you how I'm relegated to lower-body training at least until I get my MRI on Feb. 4 and the smarter people figure out what's going on in there.

So, I see myself losing definition in my shoulders. And that's hard to accept.

But now my hips are getting in on the action.

Last week, I told you about my new massage therapist, the odd noise he admitted and his statement 'yeah, you are really twisted up down there.'

Meaning my lower back.

Corey referred me to the owner of his clinic, Dr. Ryan Hoover, chiropractor, skilled in Active Release Technique and friend of a friend who recommended him highly.

Yep, Ryan says, your legs are kind of screwed up ...  not in so many words. He was a tad more technical than that.

My left leg is stuck in extension and my right leg is stuck in flexion. Or, vice versa, I can't really remember which.

It causes pain in my lower back. And my left hip flexor, which Ryan says is a result of 'adhesions' caused by the imbalance.

Some things make sense. Like why I have more explosion through my left leg when I'm doing stationary lunges. Or why I feel more load through my right side when I'm doing heavy squats. Or, why I get shin splints on the treadmill.

So, Ryan moved me around with A.R.T., gave me a little crack or two in the lower back and sent me home with instructions to:

A. Sleep with a body pillow so I don't roll onto my stomach and cock up my legs
B. Do a series of stretching exercises
C. Lay on the floor with blocks under my hip and opposing thigh to restore balance

But I haven't been to the gym in a week, due to the ache in my hip flexor.

You know how I love my time at the gym. It's my stress release, my 'me' time, my chance to set hard, realistic goals and achieve them in short time ... things I need more than anything else at this time of year.

Yet, I feel like I can't.

I don't want to exacerbate the problem by falling into bad form to compensate for the imbalances or pain.

I don't want to cause more pain.

I don't want to feel the disappointment of falling short of my numbers, even though I know the longer I stay away, the worse it will get.

Most of all, I don't want to say 'I can't.'

And yet my body is forcing me to say it, reminding me of all the love, blood and sweat I've given to sports in the last 35 years and how little love they've given me back.

I ain't no reindeer

Shep isn't a big fan of Christmas either.

Why not?

Because I do this to him:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sending out an SOS

Sometimes I need help.

Whoooo ... I can't believe I just said that.

It is always one of the hardest things for me to admit.

I need help.

Yep, I certainly do.

My mother raised me from a young age to be independent and self-reliant. She told me to be a career girl, to not get married.

She got her wish.

But here I sit trying to figure out how to get some things done when life just won't stop getting in the way.

So, I have a big project on the go at work. I put in 30-plus hours of overtime in one two-week pay period.

Certain things didn't get done.

Not really my laundry basket
And being a single girl, there isn't anyone else to do them.

If I could just train Shep to carry a load of clothes to the washing machine, drop a glob of detergent in and go back to his regularly scheduled napping, some things would be tickety-boo.

Instead, I have to figure out when to squeeze in the six loads of laundry that accumulate very quickly ... sometimes, I swear that damn basket is bottomless.

Funny thing is, many of those things with which I need help? They're the most menial of tasks ... and because they're mindless and monotonous, I actually enjoy doing them.

They're so monotonous that they require no thinking whatsoever ... just the kind of thing I need after putting in 11- and 12-hour days of writing.

Now that doesn't include walking my dog, reading and going to the gym.

Those are two of the activities I enjoy the most of all and I have to make time to do them.

But where's the time to get the clothes washed, the dog hair swept off the floor, the dishes cleaned, the garbage taken out, the groceries bought, the dinners made ...

Oh Mother Hubbard, my cupboards are bare and I've been eating takeout since Tuesday.

Things should start settling down in about a month, once we get our project completed and move on to the next task.

But in the meantime, I need help.

I can put a spare key in the mailbox in case any of you are interested.