Monday, September 26, 2011


This weekend I went to a wedding in the mountains and made close friends with a crazed brown mini horse. No big deal.

~sarah p.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In case you're inquiring.

Wednesday, while at work, I had to talk one of our kids down from digging up her father's grave, while the police drove around the graveyard attempting to locate her. Thursday, my credit card number was stolen. Friday, I was late for work because our deaf and senile cat escaped and went on a "catventure" (don't worry, she's home and safe).

...With a week like last, I was so thrilled to meet up with Lebbert on Saturday. We had fancy cocktails at Milk Tiger, and she brought me Lemon Heads and Fruit Stripe gum from the States. We got into deep conversation about eyebrow pencils, walked all over downtown, caught up on all the gossip, danced to all of the good songs, and made fun of sloppy pickup attempts at the bar.
Going out for breakfast on Sunday mornings with Lebbert is an instant hangover cure. One time, we had a mixtape contest. I can always count on her to split a bottle of wine fair and square. We have a faux DJ troop called "Pals and Gals". She wears pretty shoes, and inspires me to wear prettier shoes. We have, together, mastered the art of subtlety. We both hate potlucks.

Great friends like Lebbert are basically priceless, but in case you're inquiring, the going rate is $89,000,000 firm (while still allowing me full visitation rights and weekly catch-up phone calls). Hell of a deal for a BFF for life. She's the best. Really. Call me.

~sarah p.

p.s. MY CREDIT CARD NUMBER WAS STOLEN. Did you read that part? Holy fuck. Metal wallet, here I come.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Positive Steps.

I recently read a statistic that 25% of people are directly, and 100% are indirectly, affected by mental illness. After Colin's post tugged at my lil' heart-strings this morning, I thought I would also share my story.

I tried my first medication for a "mood disorder" when I was seven years old, and days away from starting the third grade. The chemicals in my brain were not working in my favor. I was a sad kid. I had great parents, and did okay in school, and nothing made me happy. Not birthday parties, not cartoons, not even Wacky Wafers. I distinctly recall feeling like everyone else in the world lived their lives like they were in DeBarge's Rhythm of The Night video, and I was stuck behind some invisible fence and couldn't join the fiesta. I would listen to my dad's BeeGees records, Stayin' Alive on repeat, and used to think, "yeah, we'll see about that". At ten years old, I was already positive that I did not want to make it to my eighteenth birthday.

I went on and off of medication through the rest of elementary and junior high. Different kinds of medications. Different combinations of medications. The hurt didn't go away, but sometimes it manifested itself in different ways. Stupid ways. I couldn't get up in the morning. I would burn myself to a crisp in the sun, hoping for skin cancer. I would hit and cut myself. My hair was messy and I wore plaid and stripes together, because I couldn't stand to look in the mirror. It didn't get better when I got into high school. I thought the change of pace would be good, but I just felt inadequate and shy and unhappy every day. I didn't get much of an education throughout those years. I just got more and more scared of myself.

In twelfth grade, I graduated high school. Early. Despite everything that was going on in my head at the time, I finished my classes and got enough credits. In my eyes, I was still a complete failure.
I wanted to leave high school early so that I could be alone. Away from everyone. I thought it would make it easier to disappear in the future. I thought that if I at least graduated from high school, it wouldn't be as hard on my parents when I was gone. At least they would be proud of me for something. Then one day, enough was enough. I was exhausted and couldn't go on any longer. I checked myself into hospital, got new meds, and started a heavy counselling regime. I wanted to snap out of it. I was ready to feel better.

I ran away to France at the age of seventeen, and felt wonderful for a while. I took myself off of medication while I was there, my language skills were not strong enough to go get prescription refills anyway. I turned eighteen by myself on the fourth floor patio of the villa where I was staying. I wrapped myself in a blanket and drank a bottle of wine, smoked a pack of Pink Elephant cigarettes, and dangled my feet over the edge. Part of me was really disheartened. This should've been a monumental occasion, but I felt I shouldn't have made it to this point. I had made a promise to myself. I thought about ending it all that night, but instead I went inside and set a new deadline for myself: I did not want to see my thirtieth birthday. Despite my morbid coming-of-age, I convinced myself I would never have to worry again... I wasn't taking pills. I was still alive... For now. I was "cured".

After I returned to Canada, I moved around a lot. I moved back to Calgary, then Victoria, then Vancouver, and, after a bad breakup, back to Calgary. I was in a bad relationship on the west coast with someone who was also depressed, and I wasn't feeling so great when I got back to town, so I started back on medication. Two weeks later, I was told that my ex-partner had been on a self-prescribed drug holiday, and had thrown himself off the Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver. It was a real wake-up call for me. His mom still secretly checks this blog on a regular basis, and it breaks my heart.

I stopped meds again about six years ago by choice, and have been off ever since. At the current moment, I feel like the skills that I have obtained from years of counselling sessions have given me the ability to want to wake up in the morning, and eat a couple of meals a day, and laugh when something is funny. Like all human beings, I am still a work in progress. I still have my "off days", but I know what I need to do when I feel myself slipping. I take a lot of baths. Speaking to an understanding friend helps a lot. Quiet walks by myself help me organize my thoughts. Sometimes, all I need to feel better is a bag of Tropical Skittles. However, if one day the Skittles cease to work, you can bet I'll be back at the doctor, begging him to drug me up. No need to be bashful. My life is at stake here.

I was worried when, five years ago, I started working with mentally ill youth. I thought that it would, somehow, trigger some of those feelings I'd worked so hard to control. It didn't take long, however, to learn that this was certainly not the case. As I hand a kid a pack of tablets for the first time, I always give them the same speech: "If you had hypertension, you'd take a pill without question. If you were diabetic, you'd take your insulin with no problem..." Mostly, I want to alleviate some of the shame that comes with the diagnosis. There should be no shame involved. It's a medical diagnosis like any other. Working with these kids gave me a purpose I didn't know I had. I am no longer standing here today as Sarah, the saddest girl in the world. I am just regular Sarah. I love music and candy and animals and writing. It can get better, with effort. I'm proof.

It is of note that I work in a fantastic environment where we are encouraged to speak of our own experiences with depression, manic depression, borderline personality disorder, and other mental illnesses. I can't tell you how many times in a week I'm able to nod and let one of the kids know I've been there... Trust me, I've been there.
The only way to overcome society's deep-rooted stigma of mental illness is to talk openly and honestly about it... Open a few minds. If not you, it could be your mother or brother or best friend or neighbour. Mental illness does not discriminate, and nobody should feel alone or hopeless. I'll be thirty years old this year, and I'm not worried about making it to sixty-five. No deadline. No problem. I've got this.

When one person gets up the courage to admit to struggles with emotional disorders, it allows others to feel like it is also okay to share their story. This is how we make progress. Way to be brave, Colin.

~sarah p.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cleaning Out My Closet/Red Pants

I'm not going to lie, I have not worn pants much over the last few months.
It has been a summer full of cutoffs and tailored shorts. It has nothing to do with the warm weather. I guess are shorts are more socially acceptable in the summer, but I'll take any excuse I can get. No, my dear friends, the truth is that shorts make your legs look longer, and, as we all know, I need all the help I can get in that department. I tell most people that I am five feet tall. I am lying to those people. I am almost five feet tall.
Also, recently, I obtained the ability to cut off shorts to the perfect length. After years of accidentally cutting beautiful pairs of pants into the tiniest, ass-bearingest hot shorts, the kind only suitable for 2 Live Crew videos, I have finally gotten to the point where I can wield a pair of sewing scissors with confidence. There is no bigger bummer than looking down at the floor at a pile of shorn fabric that could've been an amazing pair of shorts, if you'd just cut a little straighter, and with less reckless abandon. These moments were so traumatic that I had to learn how to do it the right way. Finally... Fifty pair of pants later.

Right now, my closet is full of a million great pairs of cutoffs, loose tanks, and deck shoes. Jumpers, adorable bathing suits, and leather sandals. By this time of year, I have a full summer wardrobe, ready to go. This would be a dream come true, if it weren't for the fact that we are exactly ten days away from the beginning of fall. I'm saying this through gritted teeth, but it's time for me to clean out my closet, and put on some fucking pants.

I try to start every season with a good closet cleaning. 'Try' being the key word, because I have a really hard time letting go of clothes. I am so anal about avoiding clutter in every other aspect of my life that I have thrown out my healthcare card mid-cleanup three times, and yet check out my closet- it's full of a bunch of old Cosby sweaters from when I was going through a "wacky phase" about five years ago. Any hint of common sense would be telling me to get rid of the sweaters. Give them back to the thrift store from whence they came. They'll never come back into style....
Or would they? I still think they look totally fabulous with high-tops and a thick gold chain around around my neck (truth be told, if I wore this out somewhere, I'm sure my ass would get laughed back to 2005). Who knows, in a year or two I might want to rock the Cos' again. Things come back into style. Sometimes I force things to come back into style. I do what I want.
This is where my resistance to tossing of old clothing grows it's strongest, because it never fails: two weeks after I get rid of a piece of clothing, I am apt to figure out a fine way to wear such piece. Then, I spend an hour scavenging through the house, hoping and praying and wishing that I did not donate donate said piece to charity. It's always too late. I always learn the hard way.

On the positive side, it should be noted that cleaning out a closet is an excellent time to ditch all of the shirts that are stained and full of holes. Normally, I save these clothes for "work shirts", but I think I'm starting to blend in a little too well with the street kids. Mostly, though, I am making room for my new fall wardrobe! Let the shopping begin, fools.

Last weekend, I tried on one million pairs of pants. Maybe one trillion. You see, my body is of the "hard to fit" type. My inseam and waist are roughly the same size. True story. 27 inches. Every pair was too long or too tight or gave me a "pants boner" when I sat down. I was getting pretty upset about the whole thing, and that's when they appeared. Like a mirage in the dessert, a pair of red slacks rose from the racks and saran-wrapped themselves around my legs. I thought they may not be real; perhaps I was dreaming. I wasn't sure a perfect pair of pants existed in the world, but here they were, making me look ten pounds thinner and three inches taller. With heels, I might be able to pull off 5'3"!

At first I was wary; I'm not normally comfortable with the attention that crimson trousers may attract. Painfully shy people should be mindful of bright clothing. It may not surprise you guys to know that I am a bit of a lone wolf... I often show up to things by myself so that I can disappear into the crowd. Hide. Fade away. However, I feel different in these pants. Bolder. Louder. Stronger, I guess. Ready to take on another autumn, no matter how much I wish it was still July. Man, I wish it was still July.

~sarah p.

p.s. Yesterday, I considered, briefly, writing a post with some sort of reference to 9/11 programming "hyjacking" the airwaves. It was cute, it was clever, it was a terrible joke that I feel sort-of bad about ever cultivating in my awful brain. I left it alone, and got a little mad at myself. I guess this new found restraint is some sort of proof that, after almost thirty years, I have acquired some sort of maturity, however minimal. Maybe I should go buy some reading glasses, eat some oatmeal, go to bed at 9PM, read The Financial Post, and stop buying penny candies while I'm still on a roll...

Monday, September 05, 2011

The last to know.

I guess you could say I feel like a total idiot. I'm always the last to know things. For example, I'm pretty sure I'm the last person on the entire planet to learn that Mike Tyson is an avid pigeon enthusiast. I feel like an even bigger dick, because I didn't realize that Spike Lee would be directing a reality television program regarding said fact... It seems so fantastically absurd that it should, somehow, be plainly obvious.

Even more impressive is the courage it takes to be one of Mike Tyson's pigeons. You'd be constantly on edge, worried that ol' Iron Mike was going to fly off the handle and "Holyfield" one of your delicate little wings. The fear of seeing your filthy pigeon feathers sticking out of the mouth of one of boxing's greatest legends would have you wearing little bird diapers and tiptoeing around the coop and keeping the gentle coo-ing to a minimum.
You'd go to bed every night wishing you could be one of those pigeons that hangs out at the subway station and eats cracker crumbs off the sidewalk and does not think twice about shitting on a prominent statue or someone's shoulder.
Instead, you've got Spike Lee yelling in one pigeon ear that your acting is not "believable", and Mike Tyson licking his lips in your other pigeon ear, and you just had to sign the contract to be part of the new Spike Lee joint. Tough break. Tough pigeon break.

~sarah p.

p.s. Is this real? Please let this be real. If this is some kind of joke, I'm going to be very upset.