The Stan Smith

Re-posting this blog I wrote four years ago, on Grandpa’s 90th birthday. Today he went up to heaven, where he always really belonged. He was an angel on earth, and we were so lucky to have him with us as long as we did. I was joking with my mom that if there’s a VIP section in heaven, he’s definitely there. đź’› Miss you Gramps.

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WARNING:For those of you expecting a humorous, satirical essay… look away now. This is a sappy, sentimental blog post dedicated to one of the best guys I know…

Stan Smith.

I’m not talking about these awesome sneakers.

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I’m also not talking about this tennis player from the 1970s, although I can understand why you’d think that… (because his name is also Stan Smith).

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I’m talking about this guy…

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Stan Smith.

He’s my Grandpa and he’s turning 90 this week!

He was born in 1924… before World War II, rock n’ roll, the moon landing, and the internet!

Yes, at 90 years YOUNG, he may be considered an “antique”, but he’s still sharp as a tack and has more energy than people half his age!

When people meet my Grandpa they immediately love him. Not only is he friendly, kind, compassionate, warm and incredibly wise… (this list could go on and on and on), he’s got this indescribable brightness in his eyes… I’m pretty sure he’s an angel.

After my Grandfather’s mother passed away in childbirth, his Grandmother Annie stepped in to raise him. Annie was an incredibly strong woman with a gift for poetry. My Grandfather wrote about her life in his book, The Life and Lines of a Pioneer. 

An excerpt from one of her poems, “An Angel Unawares” seems fitting:

As he sat unfolding the scriptures

And told of God’s goodness and grace,

A light of reflected glory

Shone on his dear old face

 

The theme of God’s goodness and mercy

Was the one he loved to record,

No teacher on earth has taught him

But I knew that he walked with the Lord.

Like my Great-Grandmother Annie (and me!), my Grandfather is a writer. He shared his wisdom and experience with several published books, including Coping with Life Victoriously.

I have learned (and continue to learn) so much from my Grandpa Smith. Our weekly phone call is always the highlight of my day, as he continues to be such a great source of advice, encouragement, love, and support.

One of the things I love most about my Grandpa is his laugh… it’s always genuine and generous… kind of like him.

My Grandpa has had a fascinating life… he served for almost twenty years as a pastor before becoming a probation officer. He went on to work as a prison chaplain, before eventually returning to pastoring a church. He devoted his life to others, and continues to bless others wherever he is.

He’s my mentor, my guide, my hero and my friend.

Love you Grandpa! IMG_2864

He’s also an amazing gardener… check out that pumpkin!

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Young Stan and young Elsie with even younger Linda!

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FaceTiming with Gramps!

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My mom and I hugging our special dads.

The Long Story Short

The other day my husband told me a story about his work.

It was a very long story (very long).

We were taking our son for a walk, and as we left the front door my husband began telling me the story. His story included a lot of very specific details like people’s names, locations, and direct quotes. He was very animated in the recounting of his tale. There were even some hand gestures and pauses for contemplation. About 12 minutes later, he said (and I quote), “Long story short…”

I had to stop him right there… “Long story long.”

He rolled his eyes, and reluctantly agreed that I might be right.*

Oh, I was right.

First of all, the story was NOT short…

It was 12 minutes! This was certainly not the shortened, abridged version.

Second of all, he misused the expression… Which implies that the storyteller has cut to the chase and has brought the story to a conclusion in a timely manner.

This did NOT happen.

If anything, it felt like my husband gave me the extended version… My husband is basically the Peter Jackson of storytelling.**

I should note: It wasn’t that it wasn’t a good story… IT MOST CERTAINLY WAS*** and I agree that Doug is totally incompetent and should be forced into early retirement.

It was just really long.

And as we all know, short stories are between 0-4 minutes long, and long stories are between 5-60 minutes long, and very long stories are anything over 60 minutes.

So it can either be:

Long story short.

Or, long story long.

Or, very long story very long.

Just get it right.

Key chain by @waldopancake

 

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* Why must he always be so reluctant when I am almost always right?

** NEVER ask him to tell you the plot of The Hobbit. You have been warned.

*** I have to say that my husband’s oratory skills are unequaled… And it’s not just because I haven’t been with that many other orators. And don’t even get me started on his lingual skills.

 

 

 

The Knowledge

I’m reading a book.

No, not a large magazine.

No, not a large pamphlet.

No, not the subtitles on Housewives. 

An actual book. One that consists of many, many words on many, many pages that have been glued together along one side and bound in a cover.

It’s called A Short History of Nearly Everything, and it’s OVER 543 pages long (it’s 544 pages). It was written (typed) by Bill Bryson.

Contrary to its title, it is not a short history of nearly everything*, it is a short history of a few very large things: the cosmos, the earth, etc.

I will say (type), that I have definitely learned some things.

Here are some of the things:

The human body has 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (seven billion billion) atoms in it. That’s a sh-tload of atoms! 

99% of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. We’re basically made of the same material as a tossed salad.

Our sun is one of about 200 billion stars in our galaxy. It’s also 149.6 million kilometers away from the earth. And you thought your commute was bad. 

The earth is 4.543 billion years old. In my opinion, it doesn’t look a day over 4 billion. 

Before reading this book I had never really spent much time thinking about our universe, the rise of life, cells, or atoms. Now it’s all I can think about.

And that’s a problem… Because I’m spending so much time thinking about quantum mechanics (and molecules, and neutrons, and protons, and electrons, and atoms, and subatomic particles) that I hardly have time to watch television anymore.

The other problem with having more knowledge is that it makes you realize how very little you know. The more you read, learn and think about things – the more you realize there is so f-ing much more out there to read, learn and think about. It can be overwhelming.

And maybe that’s why most of us don’t. It’s much easier not knowing what you don’t know.

If you actually spent any time thinking about our universe and the rise of life and cells and atoms, and the fact that you’re just a bunch of quarks and gluons… You might actually go insane… Or become religious. Or both.

And that’s why I watch Housewives. 

 

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* I’m 157 pages in, and so far there has been nothing about my favourite subject: 1980s sitcoms.

Just a bunch of atoms over here

 

 

 

The Adjustment

The husband and I recently became parents, which has been quite an adjustment.

We now have less time, less freedom, less money, and less “sexual congress” – which is my new favourite term for marital relations (followed closely by “carnal knowledge”).

We were married for almost twelve years before we became parents, so we had a lot of time to do whatever the hell we wanted, whenever the hell we wanted: last-minute vacations, fancy dinners out, loud rock concerts, wild parties at celebrity’s houses, late night trips to Target, and of course, highly inappropriate puppet shows.

We used to do a lot of things.

We no longer do a lot of things.

In fact, we do very few things.

I mean, we do A LOT of things…(a lot)… but they are not the kinds of things that you can get too excited about… Unless you love doing laundry, changing poopy diapers, cleaning bottles and nipples, scrubbing vomit/poo/pee out of carpet, taping books back together, and dispensing formula! (If you do, please come over.)

Remember when you could just toss a toothbrush in your purse, jump on a plane, and throw caution to the wind?* 

THAT LIFE IS NO MORE.

We are parents now.

We can no longer go to any nice restaurant (with or without carpet), we cannot attend any loud events, and ALL of our puppet shows must now be appropriate.

Not to mention (but I will mention it) that everything requires extensive, strategic planning and preparation. There is no winging it or playing it by ear.

Our life used to be free and easy… Now it’s expensive and exhausting.

And yet… It’s still the best.

Because we are parents now.

[Warning: about to get sappy up in here.]

We get to watch this amazing kid grow up! We get to be there as he learns and thinks and plays. We get cuddles and hugs and kisses and giggles and smiles and shrugs and raspberries and spitting baby food on the floor. We get to share our lives with this wonderful little human.

Yes, becoming a parent has been quite an adjustment… but the good is so good, and even the bad is good.

(I would say it’s not all shits and giggles, but a lot of it is shits and giggles.)

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Side note: I am so impressed by parents that still go to loud rock concerts, fancy restaurants, and do whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want. Good for you; not for me. I’m okay with the adjustment.

 

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* I’ve never done this, or anything like this.

 

The Last of the Kimberlys

Kimberly.

It’s not a name you hear anymore.

No one is naming their baby “Kimberly.”

According to Baby Name Wizard (it’s a real thing), Kimberly is #743 in popularity for girl’s names, well behind Esmerelda (#435) and Brynlee (#242).

First of all, who would chose the name Brynlee over Kimberly? “Kimberly” is a name of English origin, meaning, “From the meadow of the royal fortress.” Brynlee” is the name of someone who steals nail polish from the drug store. There’s just no comparison.

And that* is what is wrong with the world today… People are naming their kids badly.

You want your child to grow up and steal nail polish? Go ahead and name her Brynlee. You want your child to grow up and become a doctor? Name her anything else.

The name Kimberly was most popular in 1967, so I have only ever met Kimberlys that were much, much, much older than me.

And I have never met a Kimberly that was younger than me.

Therefore, I think it is safe and 100% accurate to say I am the last of the Kimberlys.

One day Michael Mann will want to make a breathless, escapist, romantic, action-adventure movie about me (based loosely on the book!) starring Daniel Day Lewis (who will agree to come out of retirement to take the part). It will probably win an Oscar (for best sound).

 

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* Not just that… (video games, McDonalds hamburgers, mean girls, mean guys, vape pens, selfies, tweets from the toilet, guns, decaffeinated coffee, man caves, etc. etc.).

 

The Newest Year

I’m going to be honest with you, I cannot believe it’s going to be 2019 tomorrow. I mean, I can believe it because I occasionally check which day it is, and last week was Christmas and then it was Boxing Day and I have a (rocking’) New Year’s Eve thing tonight, so that means there is a new year starting tomorrow.

I just don’t believe it, you know?

Tomorrow is a new year. The newest! There are no newer years than the one you’re about to experience starting tomorrow.

Tomorrow it’s going to be 2019.

WTF.

It seems like only yesterday people (not me) were going wacky bat nuts worried about the year 2000 and Y2K and everybody (not me) thought it was game over and they withdrew their life savings (not me) and built a bunker (not me) and bought 1000 liters of water (not me) and said tearful goodbyes to pets and best friends and some family members (not me) and then everything turned out to be totally fine and then people (not me) were embarrassed about having so much water, and they had no place to store the water, and ended up having to pour it all down the sink (again, not me).

It seems like each new year always sneaks up on me, and then it’s there, and then I’m supposed to do something about it.

Because a new year brings new possibilities, right?

Well, so does every single week. Day! Hour! Second!

(For reference: There are 12 months in a year. 52 weeks. 365 days. 8760 hours. 525600 minutes. 31557600 seconds.)

Every single second brings new possibilities, so why are we so caught up on the new year? You don’t see Ryan Seacrest dropping a ball in Times Square every day. (If you do, please let me know.)

If we’re only taking a hard look at ourselves and evaluating and making resolutions every year, we might forget or lose motivation a few days in and return back to the status quo. Then you might feel like it’s okay to wait until the ball drops in Times Square before you pick it back up again.

So maybe we should drop a giant ball in Times Square every week? Maybe it would remind us to reevaluate our lives more often, and stick to our personal goals, and be the change we want to see in the world? And be better, do better, keep exercising, don’t smoke, eat more vegetables, be nicer, cut back on wine, save some money for retirement, look into volunteer opportunities, look into a course, get a hobby, meditate, and tell people you love that you love them*.

But, not all of us have balls.

Sorry, rephrase.

Most of us don’t have giant Waterford crystal balls that we can drop, or crowds cheering us on, or Ryan Seacrest to count us down.

So how about setting a weekly calendar reminder?

 

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* Just a few possible options.

(Of course we know deep down that time is just an illusion anyway, and that our naive perception of time and its flow doesn’t correspond to physical reality. Reality is just a complex network of events onto which we project sequences of past, present, and future… But because we live in a world where you need to show up at work on time in order to get a paycheck to buy food and pay bills, so I have decided to go along with it... For now.)

 

 

The (First) Noel

I saw this joke in the Daily Mail (a quality newspaper if ever there was one):

Why does Liam Gallagher avoid going to France at Christmas?

Because they keep talking about Noel.

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While it’s true that France celebrates Noel in a way that neither Liam Gallagher or I can fully understand, we must try to understand their position.

Obviously, the country of France has really taken to the English musician. Born on May 29, 1967, Noel Thomas David Gallagher was the lead singer and songwriter of the rock band Oasis. Oasis took the world (and notably, the entire country of France) by storm with their first album, Definitely Maybe (1994).

It is true that Noel is really good-looking in that pale, British, blokey, rough-around-the-edges kind of way, and I do prefer his natural, pleasant modulation over younger brother Liam’s pitchy, whiny intonation.

The hot-headed brothers were notorious for their sibling rivalry, on and off stage. After a particularly heated exchange at the V Festival in August 2009 (which may or may not have included Liam breaking Noel’s guitar – it did), Noel called it quits on the band he formed with his brother, stating that he, “Simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.”

Noel went on to form the band Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, which has not had the mega-success of supergroup Oasis, however France continues to celebrate his life and work.

There are many traditions associated with the celebration of Noel (on Jesus’ birthday, no less). The French gather together to feast and sing carols, they decorate their homes, and they greet one another with the phrase, “Joyeaux Noel”, which can be translated, “Merry Noel.” Perhaps the French know something about the frontman’s personality that the rest of the world does not?

Children in France leave their shoes by the fireplace, hoping that “Father” Noel will fill them with presents. Unfortunately, this year Noel Gallagher will be on tour with his High Flying Birds, so children in France will find their shoes empty. It’s unfortunate – but as Queen (the band, not the monarch) once said, “The show must go on.”

Every year, on December 25, France celebrates Noel and his achievements. I can understand why Liam would feel slighted. Had he been slightly more talented and kind, and less of a cocky argy-bargy, France might be celebrating him. We will never know.

It’s no wonder that Liam avoids going to France around the holidays!

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The Hobbies

I had to fill out a form yesterday. The information I was meant to provide included age (rude), favourite colour (azure), favourite food (I wrote “pizza” and immediately regretted it), and hobbies.

Does “looking at your phone” or “Real Housewives” count as hobbies? (Asking for a friend.)

(At one point in my life, I definitely had hobbies… I remember pretending to be really into art. I would go to galleries and narrow my eyes at the sculptures and paintings, and then put my index finger on my bottom lip and read the ridiculous artist statement… Pretending to care about art is definitely a hobby.)

I looked up from the form and over at my husband. “What are my hobbies?”

Husband: “You’re a mom. You don’t have time for hobbies.”

Me: “What about reading?”

Husband: “Reading what?”

(long pause)

Me: “The phone bill.”

Husband: “Doesn’t count.”

Me: “There are words.”

Husband: *a look*.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t have a hobby.

What’s so great about having a hobby anyway?

Well, according to an article in Psychology Today, hobbies make you interesting! “Hobbies give you something to talk about at parties and around the water cooler. They add layers to your identity, richness to your self-concept. People want to be around those with passions, with a sense of curiosity, with stories to tell. You not only feel more inspired when you have a rich and active life, but you will inspire others as well.”

I literally have NOTHING to talk about at parties, no richness in my self-concept, and I do NOT inspire others… So I should probably get a hobby.

Here’s my problem: there are so many hobbies to choose from… hunting, chess, woodworking, stamp collecting, coin collecting, calligraphy, juggling, decoupage, tapping maple trees, building a ship in a bottle… There are a LOT of fish in the metaphorical hobby sea!

I’m also a new mom so my free time is limited. I can’t spend weeks and weeks woodworking only to realize it’s not for me, and with my best hobbying years behind me!

I think the best way to figure out my ideal leisure pursuit is to speed date hobbies. I’ll give each hobby 5-10 minutes of my time, and see if anything clicks.

Questions I will ask myself while partaking in hobbies: Am I enjoying this? Is there a spark? Would I do it again? Do I feel anything in my body? Is there a future here? Could it be “the one”?*

I shall report my findings. Wish me luck.

 

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* These are also questions you could ask during actual speed dating.

 

 

That Time I Went to a Movie With Ben Stiller

A sister of a friend of a friend once worked for Ben Stiller. The sister of a friend of a friend said that Ben Stiller is the worst.

To illustrate her point she said that one time they were sitting in his private plane on the tarmac in Newark and he wouldn’t let the pilot take off until he got some pumpernickel bagels.

I love pumpernickel bagels as much as the next gal – but I’d never stop a pilot from taking off at the scheduled departure time, thus affecting subsequent flights and hundreds of other passengers.

I mean, unless I had that kind of power. (Let’s be real: I have never had that kind of power and it’s doubtful that I’ll ever have that kind of power. I wouldn’t even know what to do with that kind of power – but if I did have that kind of power, I’d want to test it out a little, you know? I guess one of the ways I might test it out is to demand some pumpernickel bagels while sitting in my private plane and refusing to let the pilot take off until I got my way. Also, champagne. Also, fuzzy slippers.)

So, maybe Ben Stiller isn’t an a$$hole? Maybe he’s just testing his power?

Maybe he’s actually a really wonderful person that just really likes pumpernickel bagels?

I’m not making excuses for Ben Stiller, but I am trying to understand why Ben Stiller would behave in such a way.

(Full disclosure: I have always liked Ben Stiller. From The Ben Stiller Show to Reality Bites to Zoolander. He may not be on my “list,”* but I certainly enjoy his work.)

I digress.

I once went to a movie with Ben Stiller.

No, I did not commit adultery with Ben Stiller. (I can’t believe you would ever think such a thing. I’m actually pretty hurt that you would jump to those kinds of conclusions. You know what they say about jumping to conclusions? Someone is going to get hurt – with all of that jumping – And it’s me. I’m hurt. I love my husband, and I would never commit adultery!**)

We just went to a movie.*** Geez!

And there were other people there. Like hundreds.

It’s not like we held hands. (Do people even hold hands anymore?)

We didn’t even speak. (People hate it when you talk at the movies.)

And! We didn’t sit together. (Like I said, I’m married.)

We did make some serious eye contact. (I don’t mean that our eyes made contact – gross. I mean that we looked into each other’s eyes at least once. He was walking down the aisle to the front of the theatre to get interviewed, and I was sitting at the end of the aisle and I turned around right as he was passing and our eyes definitely met.)

When the movie was over I got up from my seat and left the theatre. I didn’t even say goodbye.

Sometimes going to a movie with Ben Stiller just means going to a movie with Ben Stiller.

 

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* My “list”: Ed Ved, a young Colin Firth, an alive Paul Newman. These gentleman have been approved by my husband for some smooching and hands stuff. He’ll joke and say he didn’t approve this at all, but he’s just joking.

**Just some smooching and hands stuff. No big whoop.

*** Walter Mitty