My Brain in the Pool

IMGP0470Breath, stroke, breath, stroke, the rhythmic splash of the water and the bubbles when I exhale become the focus of my mind. I love swimming. It is relaxing for me and a good example of not sitting in the lotus position to meditate. I completely “fall” into the rush of the water, the curl at the turn and my brain shuts off.

I still have thoughts, don’t get me wrong, but swimming is one of those types of activities that you don’t have to pay attention to your thoughts. You can observe your thoughts and then just feel the waves buoying you around. This can be the same in running, walking and hiking assuming that you are not in a place that requires vigilance. Or, you could sit still or lie down and let your mind relax.

We all need to take some time to turn our brains off. It gives them a break. Observe your thoughts for a while. See what you are thinking without making it important. If the thought came into your mind this time, it will return, no need to focus on it.

As little as ten minutes a day is all it takes to begin to receive the benefits of meditation. Better sleep, better concentration, better health… the list goes on and on. Why not turn your brain off today, if just for a little while?

224

University — Chapter 2

IMG_1090University was my first experience with “salad days”, which denote happy, fun filled days with lots of salads. I always think of BBQ’s where you are asked to bring a salad and there is cole slaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad—all of the ones that are implicated in food outbreaks. I worked hard in university. The classes and labs themselves were a full time job without the study and homework that was required in addition, but I felt like I had purpose and that my time was in my own control.

As I try to write this there is a black bird cawing away in the distance. This is my totem animal. As soon as I wrote that it stopped calling to me, so it must have wanted to be mentioned. I often get “messages” or rather stories that apply to my life from these birds. I don’t know if they are crows or ravens, but I have never known, so there is no advantage to knowing now. Don’t worry, they have never told me to kill anyone, the messages are usually more like, you are supported, or things will work out.

I am sitting on my back deck and it is hot and humid, very hot and humid for 10 a.m. on a Saturday in September, but we’ve experienced hotter than average weather all summer. I have to remember to appreciate this weather this time of year because it will be gone all too soon and it will be too cold to sit out here at all.

My focus in university was on getting into veterinary medicine. I stopped telling people this very early in frosh week, because everyone that I met was trying to get into that program and it became too embarrassing. I just told them that I was in biology, which was true.

I also swam on the varsity team and made a lot of friends. The women in my suite in residence were all very academic and so we seldom went out as a group. I did, however, go out with them a couple of times. As a group of girls will do when they are all living together, we would all cycle together and there would be times when the energy was so strong in our residence we could not help but all go out.

I have read stories about all of the girls in a boarding school getting pregnant on the same night, and although this is likely an exaggeration, it is supported by biology. We would all have the desire to go out at the same time because we influenced each other’s hormonal cycles. Interesting actually.

In second year, I shared a house with three other women. One of them had been in the same suite as me in first year and she had made all of the arrangements with the woman that had rented the place. We all lived together that year but did not get to know each other very well. I had chosen the room in the basement. Initially, the one woman said that she would take it and pay less than everyone else. I jumped at that. I would pay the full one quarter of the rent and stay in the basement. It was perfect for me. I had the basement, my bedroom and a small bathroom with a shower all to myself. I was essentially alone again and it was a great year.

By third year I had a two bedroom apartment that was the main floor of a house on the “good” side of the tracks near downtown. I rented it with a woman that I met at off campus housing. We were both looking for a place and we hit it off. She turned out to be a pretty good roommate. She was taking humanities and did not attend classes on Monday or Friday. She would travel home on Thursday night to work as a waitress in her hometown and would not come back until Tuesday after class. This apartment was about a half hour walk from the school, which turns out to be a perfect amount of exercise for me.

Finances had forced me to get rid of my car after first year. When I calculated how much I would reasonably spend returning home, which was occurring less frequently, buying groceries and going places, it did not make sense to keep insurance on the car. I know that I left the car at my cousin’s place but I do not remember if I sold it to her or if I just gave it to her. It was not worth very much at the time.

So, I walked everywhere, which suited me just fine. The university town was a moderate size and you could walk to the three essential areas: downtown, the mall and the university, in under an hour so there was never any reason to take a bus. I did rent a taxi a few times after doing a large grocery. I could walk there with a roommate and split the cost of a taxi for us and all of our groceries on the way home. That just left buying perishable food occasionally, which was not a big deal to carry home.

I stayed in the two bedroom apartment for over three years and it represented one of the longest times that I had stayed anywhere since I was 15 years of age, but I am getting ahead of myself.

My focus was on getting into veterinary medicine and so my goal in the summer was to get the experience I needed to get accepted. They needed large animal vets. “Large animal vets” are vets that work with farm animals intended for food. So yes, a chicken is considered a large animal and surprisingly, a horse is not. So, they were selecting students bases on their “large animal” experience. After first year, I took a job on a dairy farm.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Second Class Citizen

www.wendypowell.ca

New Friends — Chapter 1

IMG_0570I’m in my office again. We’ve had hot sunny weather for most of July and I’m taking this cool, cloudy day as an opportunity to sit at my computer. The rose of sharon is now in full bloom and bits of the lawn are starting to turn green. We’ve had a little rain and that is helping.

So I started my ninth year stripped of everything that had been important to me personally, except for my immediate family. I was trying to create a new life and the place to start was to go and meet the nine year old girl down the street. I found out what her address was and I walked down the street, entered by the side gate and walked across the back yard to the back door.

My mother had been quite adamant that you never go to someone’s front door. I am still not completely sure what the genesis of this was or why it was considered polite. There is no way to access the back door of my current home and it would be quite disconcerting to see someone that I did not know come across my backyard. It would mean that they had gone down the side of the house, opened the gate, come up onto the deck and then knocked on the door.

I’ve searched for this message in movies and books and the only reference I have ever found to this particular form of etiquette is for delivery people, domestic help and repair technicians, so I’m not sure which one of those she thought I was but it was certainly a lesson that she made sure that I knew.

I knocked on the backdoor and a woman came to answer. I explained to her that I was new on the block and that my family had just bought the house on the corner. I told her that I had heard that she had a daughter that was my age and I had come to introduce myself. She excused herself and a moment later her daughter came to the back door. I re-explained the situation and we got to know each other. She was more or less my best friend for many years.

I say more or less because we really were never as close as I have been with other people that I have called friends. We spent hours and hours together playing hopscotch, reading teen magazines, playing baseball and gossiping about our futures and the other girls.

When I finally went to school in September it was not how I had imagined it would be at all. The grade four class that I was put into had been kept intact for at least the two prior years. Someone had decided that they would split all of the children of a certain age into two groups and just keep them in those groups. This meant that I was the only one that had not been with the group for a long time. I was an outsider. My new neighbour was in my class but clearly had alliances with the other classmates and it became obvious that how she treated me at school would be dictated by how the others found me. This was certainly not the reception that I had anticipated.

In addition to that, I was a physical threat to the established bully. When I say bully here, I mean the female bully. When I was going to public school, the boys and the girls were kept separate in the schoolyard. At the first school, this was accomplished by a line that was drawn down the centre of the schoolyard and patrolled by a teacher. My new school was designed in the shaped of a “T” with the top of the “T” facing the street and the bottom of the “T” acting as a physical divider between the ‘boys’ side of the school yard and the ‘girls’ side.

I was a large child. Not only was I taller than average, being a full three inches taller than the average height for the women of my generation, but I was also athletic. At a very young age I had a strong ability to swim. By five years of age my mother had put me into races and by the time I was nine I was a proud member of an exclusive swimming club that you could only join by invitation. I swam extensively. The training was during the week and the swim meets were on the weekends. We would travel all over southern Ontario to go to city swim meets.

So when I arrived at the new school I caused a power imbalance. I don’t know what prompted the girl to challenge me to a fight, but in hind site I suspect that she was under a lot of pressure to prove that she could still ‘take’ all of the girls in fourth grade. She repeatedly challenged me to a fight and kept trying to entice me. This was simply not part of my nature. I had no desire to fight her, nothing to prove and I found fighting revolting. Ironically, through our shared interest and ability in sports we became fairly good friends, but that would not happen for a few years.

She was relentless. Every day at lunch, after school and at recess she would try to egg me on to fight her. Her insistence became stronger and stronger. At some point, she started to shove me in the shoulder and that crossed some sort of personal boundary for me and I defended myself. I caught her hand with my hand, interlocking all of our fingers giving me a very tight grip on her. Then I twisted her arm in a way that was so painful that she fell. Through the forces of physics, I broke her arm. I remember being called into the office and having a few of the girls telling various sides of the story. I remember her mother shouting at the principal. I do not remember my parents at all.

They may have come to the school. They may not have. I do not recall them being involved. I do not recall what their response was and I do not remember any conversations about the event. This became the most prominent thing about our new home. My parents had vanished.

Keep Reading: The Only Thing Constant is Change

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

 www.wendypowell.ca

University — Chapter 2

IMG_1090University was my first experience with “salad days”, which denote happy, fun filled days with lots of salads. I always think of BBQ’s where you are asked to bring a salad and there is cole slaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad—all of the ones that are implicated in food outbreaks. I worked hard in university. The classes and labs themselves were a full time job without the study and homework that was required in addition, but I felt like I had purpose and that my time was in my own control.

As I try to write this there is a black bird cawing away in the distance. This is my totem animal. As soon as I wrote that it stopped calling to me, so it must have wanted to be mentioned. I often get “messages” or rather stories that apply to my life from these birds. I don’t know if they are crows or ravens, but I have never known, so there is no advantage to knowing now. Don’t worry, they have never told me to kill anyone, the messages are usually more like, you are supported, or things will work out.

I am sitting on my back deck and it is hot and humid, very hot and humid for 10 a.m. on a Saturday in September, but we’ve experienced hotter than average weather all summer. I have to remember to appreciate this weather this time of year because it will be gone all too soon and it will be too cold to sit out here at all.

My focus in university was on getting into veterinary medicine. I stopped telling people this very early in frosh week, because everyone that I met was trying to get into that program and it became too embarrassing. I just told them that I was in biology, which was true.

I also swam on the varsity team and made a lot of friends. The women in my suite in residence were all very academic and so we seldom went out as a group. I did, however, go out with them a couple of times. As a group of girls will do when they are all living together, we would all cycle together and there would be times when the energy was so strong in our residence we could not help but all go out.

I have read stories about all of the girls in a boarding school getting pregnant on the same night, and although this is likely an exaggeration, it is supported by biology. We would all have the desire to go out at the same time because we influenced each other’s hormonal cycles. Interesting actually.

In second year, I shared a house with three other women. One of them had been in the same suite as me in first year and she had made all of the arrangements with the woman that had rented the place. We all lived together that year but did not get to know each other very well. I had chosen the room in the basement. Initially, the one woman said that she would take it and pay less than everyone else. I jumped at that. I would pay the full one quarter of the rent and stay in the basement. It was perfect for me. I had the basement, my bedroom and a small bathroom with a shower all to myself. I was essentially alone again and it was a great year.

By third year I had a two bedroom apartment that was the main floor of a house on the “good” side of the tracks near downtown. I rented it with a woman that I met at off campus housing. We were both looking for a place and we hit it off. She turned out to be a pretty good roommate. She was taking humanities and did not attend classes on Monday or Friday. She would travel home on Thursday night to work as a waitress in her hometown and would not come back until Tuesday after class. This apartment was about a half hour walk from the school, which turns out to be a perfect amount of exercise for me.

Finances had forced me to get rid of my car after first year. When I calculated how much I would reasonably spend returning home, which was occurring less frequently, buying groceries and going places, it did not make sense to keep insurance on the car. I know that I left the car at my cousin’s place but I do not remember if I sold it to her or if I just gave it to her. It was not worth very much at the time.

So, I walked everywhere, which suited me just fine. The university town was a moderate size and you could walk to the three essential areas: downtown, the mall and the university, in under an hour so there was never any reason to take a bus. I did rent a taxi a few times after doing a large grocery. I could walk there with a roommate and split the cost of a taxi for us and all of our groceries on the way home. That just left buying perishable food occasionally, which was not a big deal to carry home.

I stayed in the two bedroom apartment for over three years and it represented one of the longest times that I had stayed anywhere since I was 15 years of age, but I am getting ahead of myself.

My focus was on getting into veterinary medicine and so my goal in the summer was to get the experience I needed to get accepted. They needed large animal vets. “Large animal vets” are vets that work with farm animals intended for food. So yes, a chicken is considered a large animal and surprisingly, a horse is not. So, they were selecting students bases on their “large animal” experience. After first year, I took a job on a dairy farm.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Second Class Citizen

www.wendypowell.ca

New Friends — Chapter 1

IMG_0570I’m in my office again. We’ve had hot sunny weather for most of July and I’m taking this cool, cloudy day as an opportunity to sit at my computer. The rose of sharon is now in full bloom and bits of the lawn are starting to turn green. We’ve had a little rain and that is helping.

So I started my ninth year stripped of everything that had been important to me personally, except for my immediate family. I was trying to create a new life and the place to start was to go and meet the nine year old girl down the street. I found out what her address was and I walked down the street, entered by the side gate and walked across the back yard to the back door.

My mother had been quite adamant that you never go to someone’s front door. I am still not completely sure what the genesis of this was or why it was considered polite. There is no way to access the back door of my current home and it would be quite disconcerting to see someone that I did not know come across my backyard. It would mean that they had gone down the side of the house, opened the gate, come up onto the deck and then knocked on the door.

I’ve searched for this message in movies and books and the only reference I have ever found to this particular form of etiquette is for delivery people, domestic help and repair technicians, so I’m not sure which one of those she thought I was but it was certainly a lesson that she made sure that I knew.

I knocked on the backdoor and a woman came to answer. I explained to her that I was new on the block and that my family had just bought the house on the corner. I told her that I had heard that she had a daughter that was my age and I had come to introduce myself. She excused herself and a moment later her daughter came to the back door. I re-explained the situation and we got to know each other. She was more or less my best friend for many years.

I say more or less because we really were never as close as I have been with other people that I have called friends. We spent hours and hours together playing hopscotch, reading teen magazines, playing baseball and gossiping about our futures and the other girls.

When I finally went to school in September it was not how I had imagined it would be at all. The grade four class that I was put into had been kept intact for at least the two prior years. Someone had decided that they would split all of the children of a certain age into two groups and just keep them in those groups. This meant that I was the only one that had not been with the group for a long time. I was an outsider. My new neighbour was in my class but clearly had alliances with the other classmates and it became obvious that how she treated me at school would be dictated by how the others found me. This was certainly not the reception that I had anticipated.

In addition to that, I was a physical threat to the established bully. When I say bully here, I mean the female bully. When I was going to public school, the boys and the girls were kept separate in the schoolyard. At the first school, this was accomplished by a line that was drawn down the centre of the schoolyard and patrolled by a teacher. My new school was designed in the shaped of a “T” with the top of the “T” facing the street and the bottom of the “T” acting as a physical divider between the ‘boys’ side of the school yard and the ‘girls’ side.

I was a large child. Not only was I taller than average, being a full three inches taller than the average height for the women of my generation, but I was also athletic. At a very young age I had a strong ability to swim. By five years of age my mother had put me into races and by the time I was nine I was a proud member of an exclusive swimming club that you could only join by invitation. I swam extensively. The training was during the week and the swim meets were on the weekends. We would travel all over southern Ontario to go to city swim meets.

So when I arrived at the new school I caused a power imbalance. I don’t know what prompted the girl to challenge me to a fight, but in hind site I suspect that she was under a lot of pressure to prove that she could still ‘take’ all of the girls in fourth grade. She repeatedly challenged me to a fight and kept trying to entice me. This was simply not part of my nature. I had no desire to fight her, nothing to prove and I found fighting revolting. Ironically, through our shared interest and ability in sports we became fairly good friends, but that would not happen for a few years.

She was relentless. Every day at lunch, after school and at recess she would try to egg me on to fight her. Her insistence became stronger and stronger. At some point, she started to shove me in the shoulder and that crossed some sort of personal boundary for me and I defended myself. I caught her hand with my hand, interlocking all of our fingers giving me a very tight grip on her. Then I twisted her arm in a way that was so painful that she fell. Through the forces of physics, I broke her arm. I remember being called into the office and having a few of the girls telling various sides of the story. I remember her mother shouting at the principal. I do not remember my parents at all.

They may have come to the school. They may not have. I do not recall them being involved. I do not recall what their response was and I do not remember any conversations about the event. This became the most prominent thing about our new home. My parents had vanished.

Keep Reading: The Only Thing Constant is Change

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

 www.wendypowell.ca

My Brain in the Pool

IMGP0470Breath, stroke, breath, stroke, the rhythmic splash of the water and the bubbles when I exhale become the focus of my mind. I love swimming. It is relaxing for me and a good example of not sitting in the lotus position to meditate. I completely “fall” into the rush of the water, the curl at the turn and my brain shuts off.

I still have thoughts, don’t get me wrong, but swimming is one of those types of activities that you don’t have to pay attention to your thoughts. You can observe your thoughts and then just feel the waves buoying you around. This can be the same in running, walking and hiking assuming that you are not in a place that requires vigilance. Or, you could sit still or lie down and let your mind relax.

We all need to take some time to turn our brains off. It gives them a break. Observe your thoughts for a while. See what you are thinking without making it important. If the thought came into your mind this time, it will return, no need to focus on it.

As little as ten minutes a day is all it takes to begin to receive the benefits of meditation. Better sleep, better concentration, better health… the list goes on and on. Why not turn your brain off today, if just for a little while?

224

New Friends — Chapter 1

IMG_0570I’m in my office again. We’ve had hot sunny weather for most of July and I’m taking this cool, cloudy day as an opportunity to sit at my computer. The rose of sharon is now in full bloom and bits of the lawn are starting to turn green. We’ve had a little rain and that is helping.

So I started my ninth year stripped of everything that had been important to me personally, except for my immediate family. I was trying to create a new life and the place to start was to go and meet the nine year old girl down the street. I found out what her address was and I walked down the street, entered by the side gate and walked across the back yard to the back door.

My mother had been quite adamant that you never go to someone’s front door. I am still not completely sure what the genesis of this was or why it was considered polite. There is no way to access the back door of my current home and it would be quite disconcerting to see someone that I did not know come across my backyard. It would mean that they had gone down the side of the house, opened the gate, come up onto the deck and then knocked on the door.

I’ve searched for this message in movies and books and the only reference I have ever found to this particular form of etiquette is for delivery people, domestic help and repair technicians, so I’m not sure which one of those she thought I was but it was certainly a lesson that she made sure that I knew.

I knocked on the backdoor and a woman came to answer. I explained to her that I was new on the block and that my family had just bought the house on the corner. I told her that I had heard that she had a daughter that was my age and I had come to introduce myself. She excused herself and a moment later her daughter came to the back door. I re-explained the situation and we got to know each other. She was more or less my best friend for many years.

I say more or less because we really were never as close as I have been with other people that I have called friends. We spent hours and hours together playing hopscotch, reading teen magazines, playing baseball and gossiping about our futures and the other girls.

When I finally went to school in September it was not how I had imagined it would be at all. The grade four class that I was put into had been kept intact for at least the two prior years. Someone had decided that they would split all of the children of a certain age into two groups and just keep them in those groups. This meant that I was the only one that had not been with the group for a long time. I was an outsider. My new neighbour was in my class but clearly had alliances with the other classmates and it became obvious that how she treated me at school would be dictated by how the others found me. This was certainly not the reception that I had anticipated.

In addition to that, I was a physical threat to the established bully. When I say bully here, I mean the female bully. When I was going to public school, the boys and the girls were kept separate in the schoolyard. At the first school, this was accomplished by a line that was drawn down the centre of the schoolyard and patrolled by a teacher. My new school was designed in the shaped of a “T” with the top of the “T” facing the street and the bottom of the “T” acting as a physical divider between the ‘boys’ side of the school yard and the ‘girls’ side.

I was a large child. Not only was I taller than average, being a full three inches taller than the average height for the women of my generation, but I was also athletic. At a very young age I had a strong ability to swim. By five years of age my mother had put me into races and by the time I was nine I was a proud member of an exclusive swimming club that you could only join by invitation. I swam extensively. The training was during the week and the swim meets were on the weekends. We would travel all over southern Ontario to go to city swim meets.

So when I arrived at the new school I caused a power imbalance. I don’t know what prompted the girl to challenge me to a fight, but in hind sight I suspect that she was under a lot of pressure to prove that she could still ‘take’ all of the girls in fourth grade. She repeatedly challenged me to a fight and kept trying to entice me. This was simply not part of my nature. I had no desire to fight her, nothing to prove and I found fighting revolting. Ironically, through our shared interest and ability in sports we became fairly good friends, but that would not happen for a few years.

She was relentless. Every day at lunch, after school and at recess she would try to egg me on to fight her. Her insistence became stronger and stronger. At some point, she started to shove me in the shoulder and that crossed some sort of personal boundary for me and I defended myself. I caught her hand with my hand, interlocking all of our fingers giving me a very tight grip on her. Then I twisted her arm in a way that was so painful that she fell. Through the forces of physics, I broke her arm. I remember being called into the office and having a few of the girls telling various sides of the story. I remember her mother shouting at the principal. I do not remember my parents at all.

They may have come to the school. They may not have. I do not recall them being involved. I do not recall what their response was and I do not remember any conversations about the event. This became the most prominent thing about our new home. My parents had vanished.

Keep Reading:  The Only Thing Constant is Change

Read the entire book.
Read the entire book, now available

 www.wendypowell.ca

University — Chapter 2

IMG_1090University was my first experience with “salad days”, which denote happy, fun filled days with lots of salads. I always think of BBQ’s where you are asked to bring a salad and there is cole slaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad—all of the ones that are implicated in food outbreaks. I worked hard in university. The classes and labs themselves were a full time job without the study and homework that was required in addition, but I felt like I had purpose and that my time was in my own control.

As I try to write this there is a black bird cawing away in the distance. This is my totem animal. As soon as I wrote that it stopped calling to me, so it must have wanted to be mentioned. I often get “messages” or rather stories that apply to my life from these birds. I don’t know if they are crows or ravens, but I have never known, so there is no advantage to knowing now. Don’t worry, they have never told me to kill anyone, the messages are usually more like, you are supported, or things will work out.

I am sitting on my back deck and it is hot and humid, very hot and humid for 10 a.m. on a Saturday in September, but we’ve experienced hotter than average weather all summer. I have to remember to appreciate this weather this time of year because it will be gone all too soon and it will be too cold to sit out here at all.

My focus in university was on getting into veterinary medicine. I stopped telling people this very early in frosh week, because everyone that I met was trying to get into that program and it became too embarrassing. I just told them that I was in biology, which was true.

I also swam on the varsity team and made a lot of friends. The women in my suite in residence were all very academic and so we seldom went out as a group. I did, however, go out with them a couple of times. As a group of girls will do when they are all living together, we would all cycle together and there would be times when the energy was so strong in our residence we could not help but all go out.

I have read stories about all of the girls in a boarding school getting pregnant on the same night, and although this is likely an exaggeration, it is supported by biology. We would all have the desire to go out at the same time because we influenced each other’s hormonal cycles. Interesting actually.

In second year, I shared a house with three other women. One of them had been in the same suite as me in first year and she had made all of the arrangements with the woman that had rented the place. We all lived together that year but did not get to know each other very well. I had chosen the room in the basement. Initially, the one woman said that she would take it and pay less than everyone else. I jumped at that. I would pay the full one quarter of the rent and stay in the basement. It was perfect for me. I had the basement, my bedroom and a small bathroom with a shower all to myself. I was essentially alone again and it was a great year.

By third year I had a two bedroom apartment that was the main floor of a house on the “good” side of the tracks near downtown. I rented it with a woman that I met at off campus housing. We were both looking for a place and we hit it off. She turned out to be a pretty good roommate. She was taking humanities and did not attend classes on Monday or Friday. She would travel home on Thursday night to work as a waitress in her hometown and would not come back until Tuesday after class. This apartment was about a half hour walk from the school, which turns out to be a perfect amount of exercise for me.

Finances had forced me to get rid of my car after first year. When I calculated how much I would reasonably spend returning home, which was occurring less frequently, buying groceries and going places, it did not make sense to keep insurance on the car. I know that I left the car at my cousin’s place but I do not remember if I sold it to her or if I just gave it to her. It was not worth very much at the time.

So, I walked everywhere, which suited me just fine. The university town was a moderate size and you could walk to the three essential areas: downtown, the mall and the university, in under an hour so there was never any reason to take a bus. I did rent a taxi a few times after doing a large grocery. I could walk there with a roommate and split the cost of a taxi for us and all of our groceries on the way home. That just left buying perishable food occasionally, which was not a big deal to carry home.

I stayed in the two bedroom apartment for over three years and it represented one of the longest times that I had stayed anywhere since I was 15 years of age, but I am getting ahead of myself.

My focus was on getting into veterinary medicine and so my goal in the summer was to get the experience I needed to get accepted. They needed large animal vets. “Large animal vets” are vets that work with farm animals intended for food. So yes, a chicken is considered a large animal and surprisingly, a horse is not. So, they were selecting students bases on their “large animal” experience. After first year, I took a job on a dairy farm.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Second Class Citizen

www.wendypowell.ca

New Friends — Chapter 1

IMG_0570I’m in my office again. We’ve had hot sunny weather for most of July and I’m taking this cool, cloudy day as an opportunity to sit at my computer. The rose of sharon is now in full bloom and bits of the lawn are starting to turn green. We’ve had a little rain and that is helping.

So I started my ninth year stripped of everything that had been important to me personally, except for my immediate family. I was trying to create a new life and the place to start was to go and meet the nine year old girl down the street. I found out what her address was and I walked down the street, entered by the side gate and walked across the back yard to the back door.

My mother had been quite adamant that you never go to someone’s front door. I am still not completely sure what the genesis of this was or why it was considered polite. There is no way to access the back door of my current home and it would be quite disconcerting to see someone that I did not know come across my backyard. It would mean that they had gone down the side of the house, opened the gate, come up onto the deck and then knocked on the door.

I’ve searched for this message in movies and books and the only reference I have ever found to this particular form of etiquette is for delivery people, domestic help and repair technicians, so I’m not sure which one of those she thought I was but it was certainly a lesson that she made sure that I knew.

I knocked on the backdoor and a woman came to answer. I explained to her that I was new on the block and that my family had just bought the house on the corner. I told her that I had heard that she had a daughter that was my age and I had come to introduce myself. She excused herself and a moment later her daughter came to the back door. I re-explained the situation and we got to know each other. She was more or less my best friend for many years.

I say more or less because we really were never as close as I have been with other people that I have called friends. We spent hours and hours together playing hopscotch, reading teen magazines, playing baseball and gossiping about our futures and the other girls.

When I finally went to school in September it was not how I had imagined it would be at all. The grade four class that I was put into had been kept intact for at least the two prior years. Someone had decided that they would split all of the children of a certain age into two groups and just keep them in those groups. This meant that I was the only one that had not been with the group for a long time. I was an outsider. My new neighbour was in my class but clearly had alliances with the other classmates and it became obvious that how she treated me at school would be dictated by how the others found me. This was certainly not the reception that I had anticipated.

In addition to that, I was a physical threat to the established bully. When I say bully here, I mean the female bully. When I was going to public school, the boys and the girls were kept separate in the schoolyard. At the first school, this was accomplished by a line that was drawn down the centre of the schoolyard and patrolled by a teacher. My new school was designed in the shaped of a “T” with the top of the “T” facing the street and the bottom of the “T” acting as a physical divider between the ‘boys’ side of the school yard and the ‘girls’ side.

I was a large child. Not only was I taller than average, being a full three inches taller than the average height for the women of my generation, but I was also athletic. At a very young age I had a strong ability to swim. By five years of age my mother had put me into races and by the time I was nine I was a proud member of an exclusive swimming club that you could only join by invitation. I swam extensively. The training was during the week and the swim meets were on the weekends. We would travel all over southern Ontario to go to city swim meets.

So when I arrived at the new school I caused a power imbalance. I don’t know what prompted the girl to challenge me to a fight, but in hind site I suspect that she was under a lot of pressure to prove that she could still ‘take’ all of the girls in fourth grade. She repeatedly challenged me to a fight and kept trying to entice me. This was simply not part of my nature. I had no desire to fight her, nothing to prove and I found fighting revolting. Ironically, through our shared interest and ability in sports we became fairly good friends, but that would not happen for a few years.

She was relentless. Every day at lunch, after school and at recess she would try to egg me on to fight her. Her insistence became stronger and stronger. At some point, she started to shove me in the shoulder and that crossed some sort of personal boundary for me and I defended myself. I caught her hand with my hand, interlocking all of our fingers giving me a very tight grip on her. Then I twisted her arm in a way that was so painful that she fell. Through the forces of physics, I broke her arm. I remember being called into the office and having a few of the girls telling various sides of the story. I remember her mother shouting at the principal. I do not remember my parents at all.

They may have come to the school. They may not have. I do not recall them being involved. I do not recall what their response was and I do not remember any conversations about the event. This became the most prominent thing about our new home. My parents had vanished.

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