Timing is everything

My life is riddled with coincidences, signs, and nudges. Every other day I find myself exclaiming, “Isn’t it weird how that worked out!?”. My husband just gives me the same look, it’s a look he has customized specifically for situations like this as they happen so frequently. After ten years together, I can confidently say he’s not as firm a believer in ‘signs’ as I am. Nonetheless, these little nudges I’m given, sometimes daily, are now so frequent, every so often I’m able to turn him into a believer.

I’ve always had the attitude that if I just work my butt off for something and really, really want it, I can make it happen. Call me naive,  but it’s working for me, so let’s just roll with it.

Case in point, National Geographic. I’ve been talking about getting published in National Geographic since I was approximately three years old (and no, it still hasn’t happened, but I’m working on it!). This dream is what is fueling me through the long hours of studying, reading, and writing, as I work toward an MA in Anthropology.

A few weeks ago I had a meeting with the professor who I’ve always hoped would supervise my MA. We talked about the Amazon and travelling there to do fieldwork. We discussed thesis questions and started to formulate a game plan for this dream of mine. I came home that night, a little overwhelmed with what it all meant – travelling to the jungle, learning Portuguese and relearning Spanish (why didn’t I continue with it the first time!?!), and a whole lot of competition in a heavily researched field of study. For a few fleeting moments, I started to consider alternate options. I considered doing fieldwork closer to home, taking the easier route on this journey. And road which would undeniably be filled with less anacondas and panthers, but one which would also make me less desirable to that light at the end of the tunnel, National Geographic. I’ve never taken the easy route, but I was so tired and easy was appealing.

A few short hours of sleep later and I was heading out for another day at the University. As is my ritual, I stopped at our local Esso to fill up and grab coffee. While there, my dear friend Randy, told me he had a story for me. He told me his wife was in town shopping and came home with a beautiful coffee table book filled with images by National Geographic photographers. He told her he knew someone who would like a copy so she drove all the way back into the city and bought me a copy! That right there was another one of those signs. National Geographic slapping me in the face and Randy reminding me why I was doing what I was doing. He told me that one day, one of my photos will be in there and I told him that when that day came, I would bring him a copy of the book. I thanked him profusely, but I honestly don’t think they will every know just how much that book means to me.

I cleared a spot on my bookshelf next to my desk where it is sitting on display. I have it there to remind me every single day exactly what I’m fighting for and the dream I’ve been working toward for my entire life. Randy and Myrna, I honestly can’t thank you enough for giving me that nudge at the moment when I needed it most. It truly means the world to me.

Christmas Gift

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It started out as research. Well, that’s what I told my husband. The reality though, was that I have always been interested in taxidermy and skeleton articulation. And, being unwilling to harm an animal in the name of research I had to practise patience, and wait for nature to run it’s course.

Unable to find the right words to properly question my intentions, my husband’s cautious laughter said more than anything he could have spoken. Knowing better than to get between me and my ideas, he stepped aside as I fished a dead bird from our pool. I was upset I hadn’t found my feathered friend early enough to save his life, but I wasn’t going to let the bird’s death go to waste. My husband watched in silence as I buried the frail body in a shallow grave in our backyard. I reassured him the dogs wouldn’t dig there, that they would know better. Foolish promises, surely.

Pleased with my actions, I envisioned the story I would write. A story about a killer who also enjoyed skeleton articulation. I wasn’t sure of the details beyond that, but I figured that instead of taking the critters who had passed on out to the dump, I would give them a new life through my research. I would allow nature to do its work and then articulate their bones. Preserving their beauty instead of disposing of it.

As it turns out, I never gained the nerve required to actually go through with my research, but I found the next best thing. Online shopping has opened up an entire new world. A world that allows one to order ethically sourced animal skeletons from the comfort of their home office. Pants optional. So, with Christmas looming in the near future, I planted the seed in my husband’s ear.

Snow fell, Christmas trees were erected then decorated, and wrapping paper shredded. My husband, who has a flawless gift-giving track record, surprised me with an articulated cat skeleton. It was quite possibly the least romantic gift one could receive, but likely the most excited anyone has ever been to open a package and find a dead animal beneath the festive gift wrap.

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We gathered with friends and family to celebrate the season, eager to share decedent appetizers and the stories of our spoils. My sister sparkled from every appendage as she modelled the jewels she received. We gushed over the beauty of each piece, expressing our jealously of her treasures. Our ‘ooohs’ and ‘ ‘ahhhs’ swam harmoniously on the air as my husband entered the kitchen, questioning what all of excitement was about. My sister did a little spin, her jewels sparkling as brightly as the lights in the trees. My husband let out a loud laugh, turned to me and said, “And all you got was a dead cat!”

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***DISCLAIMER – This is an ethically sourced articulated skeleton.***