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Friday, January 27, 2012

Hibernating brain cells

Too much work and not enough play... call for a little break today as the week is about to finish and blend into an equally busy weekend... most working parents' reality, right? Add to it an unusually big workload in the past few weeks (apparently, the whole world has decided to translate itself to French!) and an upcoming Girl Guide camp I have insanely volunteered to be in charge of... again... (some people just never learn!)... I need to relax a little bit.

I'm not really complaining, though. Nothing beats watching your self-started business, built from scratch, bloom and become successful! As for the girl guide camp, we always have such good times I honestly can't wait to be on my way, backpack and all!

But still, the brain needs a break, which is probably why I took tremendous pleasure in reading one of my recently-turned-eight daughter's new pre-teen books. You probably know the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. In addition to the conventional novels, they've also published a do-it-yourself diary, filled with silly questions and pages to scribble on. I was leisurely flicking through it when I landed on this title: Things to do Before you get Old. Interesting, I thought. Let's see which ones I've already done.

Turns out I've done each and every single one of them. Ouch. Never knew old age would come so fast!

For your benefit, reader, here's the list. I recommend you answer it too, and, why not, add a few more items that appeal to you!

1) Staying up all night

Yep, done that a few times. There was this house party I stayed at until the sun rose, among other examples. Reminds me that before your kids are of age to attend parties where alcohol will be served, please do what my parents did: tell them to never accept a drink from a stranger. There was a guy at this party who was pouring tall glasses of bluish stuff and passing them around. When I had the presence of mind to ask him what it was, he answered "You don't wanna know". I politely refused the drink. He was slightly offended, but I didn't flinch. Later, I learned he had been using 90-something percent alcohol in that thing. Enough to make you go blind. Not to frighten anybody out there, but one of my friends once had a drink (just one!) that came close to put her in a coma. Most likely, someone had put something in it while she was dancing. Lesson number two: never leave your drink unattended.

One additional thing I've learned from all-nighters is that you will feel fine except for around the time you usually go to bed (then as that time passes, your energy comes back) and around 3 in the morning (when the human body is programmed to be in its deepest sleep). It's not that hard staying up all night. The problem is: how will you feel the next day.

2) Try a roller coaster that has at least one full loop

I did, at La Ronde (in Montreal). Fun fact about roller coasters: they bring up your level of arousal (from fear and excitement), but the human neurochemestry does not distinguish between excitement-induced arousal and attraction-induced arousal. So, next time you want to make someone fall in love with you, take him/her on a roller coaster ride (literally) with you! They'll attribute the butterflies in their stomach to your presence and boom! done deal. (If they're particularly scared, they might even find comfort in your arms... an obvious bonus!)

3) Take part in a food fight

We had a few in high school. The most memorable one involved throwing chocolate pudding into a friend's mouth, using a spoon and trying to aim accurately. One smart friend, not quite in the mood for a chocolate facial mask, took a paper bag, cut 2 wholes for the eyes and one whole for the mouth, and put it on her head, to limit the mess. Quite a sight!

4) Ask an autograph from a celebrity

I'm not a big groupie, but I do have a few autographed books from Quebecois and French novelists.

5) Get a hole in one at mini putt

It happens once in a while. Funny how throwing a ball in a hole can induce such feelings of elation! The human mind truly is amazing.

6) Cut your own hair

Only once. Turned out better than you'd imagine given my complete lack of talent when it comes to doing anything manual. The hair did get much shorter than I had envisioned, though (from trying over and over again to make it all equal). I don't recommend it.

7) Find an idea for an invention

Don't know if that counts, but in grade 7 or 8, we had to write a paper on a futuristic invention. I came up with that air cushion super fast train. (Admitted, I wasn't the first one to think about this.) Obsession with traveling faster was on my mind early!

8) Spend three nights in a row away from home

All the time while travelling, and I love it.

9) Send a real letter in a real envelope with a real stamp

Many, many times in my youth as I had multiple pen pals all over the globe. I highly recommend this activity for kids. What a great way to practice reading and writing skills, and to learn about other cultures! I found most of my pen-pals through a Finland-based organization called International Youth Service, which has closed recently due to the lack of interest from kids nowadays. How sad. They were great, except maybe for the time they paired me up with a Peruvian girl who only spoke Spanish (which I didn't), and this other time they paired me with a Moroccan boy who rather quickly asked me to marry him (!!!)

10) Sleep out in the open

Did that at camp. First time when I was about 12. We unrolled our sleeping bags on the grass next to a cute pond. The - summer - night was warm and peaceful. The sky was full of stars. I experienced a moment of bliss... that is, until the girl next to me started screaming about a frog making its way into her sleeping bag!

11) Read a complete book with no pictures

Well, obviously this is frequent. Don't forget this list targets a pre-teen audience!

12) Beat someone who's older than you at a race

Beating an elderly person doesn't count, I'm afraid, but I did beat a few older kids at the 100 m sprint in high school. I actually made it into the track and field team, but quickly got frustrated as I discovered I was irrevocably javelin-challenged: the f-ing thing kept falling on the wrong end!

13) Eat a whole lollipop without biting into it

That's tough, but if I try hard, yes, I can do it.

14) Use a port-a-potty or latrine

Anybody with a minute bladder has to, at least once in a while. Plus, that's what they have at races. And at some Girl Guide camps. So.

15) Score at least once in a team sport

It's still a complete mystery to me why my 6th grade gym teacher decided to put me on the basketball team, since I'm terrible at dribbling, but it must have been because of my ability to throw the ball in the hoop. Might also have to do with the fact that I grew about 10 cm that year, making me - temporarily - one of the tallest kids of the school. Other than that, team sports have always been a disaster: my memories of soccer mostly involve nose bleeds; water-polo was fun until people began trying to make each other drown and made it a habit to rip each other's bathing suits (common things in water-polo, I hear... if it wasn't for the helmet, they'd also rip your ears from you); and nobody will ever want to play volleyball with me, I'm afraid (because, to put it bluntly... I s*** at it). The only team sport I really liked was badminton doubles... until my partner, F, smashed the shuttle on the back of my head. When I reminded him of it, last summer, he said "Yes, and that must have hurt, 'cause I was quite a strong player". Awww. Great times.

Wait, there's one team sport I do love: floor hockey. Anybody wants to start a league?

16) Apply to a casting (e.g. for a play)

Twice, in high school. Got a small part both times. Don't think I'm very talented, but I loved it anyways.

There are so many more things one should do before getting old... Why don't you send me your suggestions?

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