New York

Hyperfocus on Graduation, Life and Publishing.

So…the child actually graduated which I’m sure you all know by now. The graduation year started with pre-grade 12 parties last summer, a grad sleepover, a boat cruise, a football game (I think), a semi-formal, pre-pre-grad parties, an actual pre-grad party (with parents), the party bus (also with parents, don’t ask), the grad ball, the after-grad party (also with parents…go figure), the post-after-grad (whatever else happened that night that we don’t want to know about), a breakfast, the pre-commencement party, the after-commencement dinner, the after-commencement party that she was too tired to attend, grad kidnapping, grad kidnapping breakfast (shoutout to SMcD for hosting even though her kid was NOT IN TOWN), the last day of school grad sleepout, the actual end of school party, the Canada Day pre-party and then the after party, the July 2nd party (fatefully held at my house-shoutout to my neighbour that called the cops and ended it), the last minute trip to the Pemby festival despite deciding against it…. Sympathy shoutout to all the parents with kids in Grade 12 who are going through this for the first time. You’ll be good by this time next year. And it’ll all be a fuzzy memory. Even fuzzier for the grads. #justsayin’

I remember my graduation summer (1985) and how much we all wanted to do things together—many things, all the time—because THIS WAS IT. High school was over. And we would never see our people again. The was a poignancy to every event as we’d never be together, as a high school class again. Of course we were though. That fall to be exact. People didn’t really go away to school back in the day and I saw ‘my people’ fairly often, except for Ari who ran away to film school in LA and didn’t return for ten years. However we faithfully documented a plethora of ‘last’ events that grad year and summer. And I have a collection of somewhat blurry photographs that do indeed document our Grade 12 year. Those halcyon days…before (sort of) real life.

I totally saw the same thing happening with Karis and her people…that phase where they’re clinging to the ending of one thing because they’re not quite sure they’re ready for the beginning of the next. And it’s different for them as most of them ARE going away to school. Which is terrifying but in reality, university is a bit of a bridge…a kinder, gentler (though ridiculously expensive these days) way to prolong real life. I’d still be at uni if I could possibly justify it financially. Or chronologically, in that I am actually supposed to be an adult and one does have to step up to real life one of these days.

*short lecture* A word of advice though from my very own experience…go to class. Take notes. Do the work even though the professors don’t know your name (and likely wont) and there is literally 300 other people in the class. I remember being very surprised when mid-terms suddenly ‘happened’ as I didn’t really feel I’d gone to class much or really learned anything. These teachers don’t know you, they don’t know that you’re a great kid, that you volunteer, that you do great work that is sometimes a bit late, that your siblings were geniuses and that you’re an amazing athlete. Do the work and don’t get behind. *lecture over*

Anyway, I digress. Back to the poignancy of the grad summer and how it was for ME. Because this blog is about ME and MY adventures raising a teenage daughter (and a Golden Retriever-he’s easier than the teenager just in case you were wondering). So I made an album for Karis’s grad as I wanted to document her journey in a concrete way (as opposed to the digital media of her generation), which seemed like a fun little project at the time. A couple of pages of photos for each year of her life a little blurb noting the highlights of that year. Of course, I underestimated the time. Oh the time. First there were actual photos for the first five years that needed to be scanned as they were taken before I got a digital camera. The remaining years encompassed hundreds, possibly thousands of photos that needed to be reviewed and the most ‘significant’ and ‘meaningful’ ones selected. All these photos needed to be ordered and separated into years. Then, I started doing the writing part. The first few years were easy as I had baby books. But then it got dicey as real life crept in and I forgot to record significant events and milestones. Through a serious and calculated audit of my photos, greeting cards, journals, school records, bills, certificates and daytimers I managed to cobble together enough information for each year. Then came the online creation of the album. The placement of the photos. How many for each page? What order? The fact that there needs to be the same number for each year…madness.

I should NEVER attempt things like this because I cannot control myself and make a book with a few photos and some fun memories. No. It has to be an encyclopedic reference with consistency in both photo number and subject, as well as text and ‘talking points.’ I didn’t keep track of the hours because it would be terrifying and I’m supposed to be looking for contract work and doing the taxes and vacuuming the dog. This folks is a classic example of the ‘hyperfocus’ you experience if you have ADHD and no amount of medication will take that away from me. I like to think of it as an unexplored gift that needs a little harnessing and direction.


Anyway, I finally finished it. Sadly you cannot see it because the file is far too large and it cannot be downloaded or uploaded or accessed from anywhere. Though here it is just in case you want to try.

Fast forward. It’s now October and grad seems like a lifetime ago. My obsession with this album precluded the publication of the adulting book I mentioned in a previous post. Though I did write it. Frantically, every night while I was in New York in August after Karis went home to the model apartment by 10pm. Procrastination is also a symptom of ADHD in case you’re keeping track. I brought all my notes because, of course, the book was almost written, just not online in any sort of publishing program. So I hand-wrote the adulting book. The whole thing. I think this was as much to help her as to help calm the incessant voice inside me listing all the things I have not yet told her. I was channeling all those monks that copied out books by hand before Gutenberg got it together with the printing press. I think their work may have been a tad more formal and less manic than mine though. It was a good visual though that kept me going whilst I laboured on the 15th floor of the Lexington Hotel.

The book is divided into sections with stick-on page dividers and employs the use of highlighters, coloured pencils and mind maps. The contents are somewhat tailored to Karis and her life as a model living in a model apartment but some chapters would be applicable to anyone. Here’s a very brief outline…but of course I can’t really remember all the stuff I wrote. I’m thinking of publishing it when she brings it home at Christmas…though I’m sure I’ll re-read it and think it’s terrible.

  • Finance: ATM secrets, online banking, the mysteries of foreign exchange and the difference between a charge card and a credit card.
  • Travel: don’t lose US visa, email important docs to yourself, take Redoxin before you go and wipe down your seat and tray table with disinfectant wipes.
  • Health & Wellness: sleep, drink green tea & water with lemon, wash your hands,use oil of oregano & sunscreen, get exercise and fresh air daily.
  • Nutrition: “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” Eat mainly vegetables, one raw with each meal, limit sugar but have treats, 80% compliance.
  • Recipes and food ideas: hummus, fish, salad with a protein, soups without cream, eggs, coconut oil, sushi, cottage cheese with fruit or vegetables, tuna.
  • Etiquette: remember names, say thank you, acknowledge help and kindness, apologize sincerely, listen respectfully.
  • Cleaning (communal living): clean up after yourself in the kitchen and bathroom, hang towels and clothes, rinse spit out of sink, flush toilet and take out the garbage.
  • Relationships: avoid gossip, keep your word, cheer others’ success, be kind, talk about ideas not people, speak words that are only kind or helpful.
  • Laundry: follow directions on tags, separate colours, use cold water with appropriate detergent, beware of bleach, if in doubt, ask Mimi.
  • Shopping:
    • FOOD: don’t overbuy as you travel often, avoid processed food (expensive and unhealthy), think of a meal before you shop.
    • TOILETRIES: try Saks off 5th or Marshall’s first as they have great stuff at affordable prices.
    • CLOTHING: see above…don’t overbuy as you have to carry everything everywhere you go, buy quality and make sure it hangs well.
  • Beauty: take off your makeup every night, moisturize, use sunscreen.
  • Time Management: find a tool that works, make time for big items, prioritize daily goals, schedule important items, review tasks weekly to make sure you’re on track.
  • Business: understand how different markets work, keep track of charges and expenses, get statements from each agency.
  • Exercise: find exercises you enjoy, commit to a daily activity, work on core stability regularly, stretch and do yoga.
  • Model Bag: cover-up, band-aids, insoles, allergy pills, snacks and protein bars, Kleenex, tampons, scarf, book, sketchpad, charger plus all the other stuff.
  • Various other chapters that I can’t remember but possibly (in no particular order): Religion, Pets, Vitamins, Interpersonal Relationships, Safety, Transit, What to do if you are sick…..

Stay tuned 😉

She’s in New York. By HERSELF.

Karis with potential costumed pickpockets in NYC.

Karis with potential costumed pickpockets in NYC.

Though I’m not in Tokyo anymore, as evidenced by my earlier posts, I still have lots to say about mothering a teenager—much to her dismay. I’ll have to keep it somewhat impersonal as she will exact hideous revenge if she feels her privacy has been thwarted. She has been known to Tweet things hashtagged with #shitAndreasays or post screenshots of my texts on Instagram.

So…she left for NY on Saturday night despite desperate measures by the gods, the whims of fate or whomever or whatever is in charge of this life we live, to make sure she stayed home. She’s been feeling a tad under the weather and not overly energetic. As have many of her friends. After several doctor visits and one extremely heated exchange with the medical receptionist (Yes, I understand you don’t give test results out over the phone but can you please have a doctor, ANY doctor, call me ASAP!) and two blood tests, we find out—from the lab, not the doctor—that she has mono. (FYI when you get any lab tests you can ask them for an e-health number which allows you to access your results online as soon as they’re processed and not wait until your doctor’s office finds it in their hearts to let you know.) I immediately go into overdrive, researching natural remedies for mono. Karis, somewhat grudgingly, took various nasty supplements; two teaspoons of coconut oil per day; two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and lots of Vitamin C to help shorten the cycle of the virus. She was back at her exercise routine in two days, though I did allow her to skip the last two days of school seeing as the majority of her classmates had left on the rugby trip or their family vacations. So she’s OK, a little more tired, but managing.

Next hurdle. Weird redness and rashes on her face. That’s a problem if you’re a model. We didn’t know if it was an allergic reaction to food, to supplements or a mono thing. By a process of elimination, we came up with mangoes. I’d been feeding her mangoes for breakfast as a treat since she was taking all these nasty supplements. We still don’t really know, but what are the chances…I mean really? The child has been eating mangoes forever. Her skin has always been amazing and clear. The week before NY she’s got redness and rashes.

Friday. One day before NY. She goes to Boxfit as she has been doing for over 6 weeks. Wraps her wrists as usual. BUT as of March 9th you need your own gloves for the class, which we of course, don’t have because I’m not quite that organized right now. She is kindly lent a pair but they’re not the puffy kind she’s used to and she obviously overdoes it somehow. She takes off her wraps in the car and can’t move her wrist. Seriously. It’s getting more swollen and sore as the day goes on so we head to Lions Gate ER at 8:30pm. I’m prepared to wait as I’ve checked the website and it says that the wait will be between 2-3 hours. Probably a good idea as I would likely have been sitting there getting angry as it didn’t seem that busy. I have to say…the ER is highly entertaining on a Friday night. They lost a man named Victor who left his gown and all his clothes on the bed. They paged him for a while. He never came back. A few drunks. One of them quite snappily dressed with very expensive shoes (businessman not a gang banger) who refused to tell the nurse how he mangled his hand…despite her assurances that she didn’t actually care and it wouldn’t be recorded. He refused to tell and she refused to treat him (hospital policy). He left with his mangled hand, slurring about how he was going to his family doctor. At 10:30pm. An older man who approached the desk to tell the nurses, in great detail, that he’d had a bowel movement. The nurses gave him a bag (?) for the next one. Don’t even want to know. I could go on. Anyway, the upshot of the three-hour experience was that her hand is likely not broken, though they can’t say for sure because of her age (growth plates). We’re to come back if it still hurts next week. I will make her a cast from her Hello Kitty duct tape if it still hurts.

Despite ALL of this, we managed to pack on Saturday. Clean clothes. A variety of shoes and boots. A towel (that she didn’t need because it’s a swanky serviced penthouse). A warm coat. Her phone charger. Money. A notarized permission letter. Copies of important documents. Some tea and snacks. We headed out to the airport and made it in record time. I was just asking at the Information Desk where the Cathay check-in was located. It was NOT obvious, as you’d think a flight from YVR-JFK would be in the USA departures. Nope. Every counter was closed. It was in the International section as the flight originates in Hong Kong and just stops in Vancouver. Maybe they could put that on the boarding pass or something next time…as a reminder. I did actually know this in the deep recesses of my mind, as I took this very flight home from Tokyo but I just didn’t think that hard about it. Anyway, Karis’s agent Liz whom she was travelling with, rescued us at the  Information Desk and she and Karis went on their way to their very turbulent flight where no one got any sleep. But they made it to NY.

Karis is now roaming around NY without her mother to micromanage her every move. So far, so good, though I would not have let the costumed pickpockets in Times Square touch my phone to ‘take a picture’…as I’ve heard they sometimes run off with them. So many things I haven’t told her…and next time, just to be safe, I will offer up some Hot Tamales (the candy) to the pig shrine as this is how I got through university successfully.

The Pig Shrine