Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I just saw a segment on Oprah that discussed a surgical leg stretching procedure to make patients grow a couple inches. They get metal poles screwed into their legs that they regularly adjust to make their bones stretch. Patients typically cannot work or do normal activities for six months minimum. Some take up to a year.

One lady who wanted to undergo the procedure, along with the one year of metal poles screwed into her legs, was 5'3" and wanted to be taller.

I was jealous of her.

I've always jokingly said that my dream height is 5'3". At five foot nothing, it's seemed like the perfect height. Not too short, but not too tall either.

The device used to turn the screws and adjust the length of the bones looks almost exactly (though bigger) like the device I used to adjust my retainer when I was 14. No one questioned it.

Of course we would glue metal and wires onto our teeth to make them straighter.
Of course we'd put bleach and chemicals on our hair to make it the colour we want.
Of course we'd glue plastic to our nails to make them pretty and then layer them with paint and strip them down with solvents to take that paint off.
Of course we'd put creams and lotions on our face to make our zits go away, and then pile on skin-coloured goo to make our faces look perfect.

All of these things make us feel better about ourselves. And no one questions it. But to stretch your leg bones to be inches taller? How is that any different, really?

First of all, I guess I should say, no, I don't want to dish out $10,000 to $40,000 just for a couple inches. But, I also don't want anyone to say "oh well, you can just wear heels."
Why do I have to wear heels? The very fact that people would say that is the reason why bone stretching sounds borderline appealing.

Since I was about fifteen, I was jealous of normal sized people. I didn’t even want to be tall, just tall enough that people would stop saying “wow, you’re really short.”

It would be nice not to have people ask me how old I am, and then look at me like I’m lying to them. Or, to have people stop asking what grade I’m in and then hear them backpedal when I tell them I’m four years into university. Guess what? I don’t care that in 20 years I’ll feel honoured that people still I.D. me. In 20 years, maybe my face will be so wrinkled that they won’t have to. They’re not looking at my face when they wonder how close I am to high school graduation. They’re thinking about my height.

And then there’s the issue of my career. I’m in university to become a high school teacher. I’ve actually had people laugh at me when I tell them that. I’m not going to change what I want to be just because I’m short. If most high school students are going to be taller than me, I guess that means the entire world will be taller than me too. I guess, then, it doesn’t matter what I choose to be, everyone will still be taller that me at that job too.

So, the leg stretching thing comes back to my mind. To look professional, all normal sized people have to do it put on a business suit or a nice shirt. Maybe carry a briefcase. Even in my most professional looking outfit, I’d still be five feet. And from my own experience, it means I don’t get taken seriously. Maybe I should spend a year getting my leg bones stretched out.
Then again, maybe not.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Post #6: Gypsy Attacks!

I’m warm. The fleece blanket covering my entire body is starting to stick to the back of my neck. In my effort to stay as still as possible, I can hear my heart pounding in my ears. From under the blanket, Ashley’s laugh is muffled. “Whitney! She sees you! She’s going to jump!” I make one last effort to keep my body in an unmoving ball, curled up as tightly as I can be, hoping to shield off the attack.

I hear it before I feel it. The thick carpet helps to mask the sound of her paws hitting the floor, but I hear the excited, panting noises getting closer to me. Then, it happens. A weight is dropped on to the middle of my back, forcing hot air out of my lungs and making the small space under the blanket even hotter. Ouch. I feel the claws dig into my shoulder. Her tiny, razor sharp teeth find their way through the thick fleece and into my arms and legs. “Gypsy!! Stop!” I laugh. “Gippy!! Bad dog!!” Her clawing, biting, and jumping are only fuelled by my screams.

Five minutes earlier, my sister and I decided to take turns hiding under a blanket on the floor and letting our golden retriever, Gypsy, jump on us. “Are you sure this is a good idea? She’s crazy! She’ll hurt us!” Ashley clearly needed some persuasion. I guess I had to pull the big sister card. “Oh come on, Ash. Are you scared? I’ll go first! Watch!” Before the game, a blanket always seemed like an appropriate form of protection, but five seconds into Gypsy’s attack, I always questioned my choice of armour.

“Gypsy!!!” I laughingly scold, but, in truth, her tiny puppy teeth really are beginning to hurt. I feel her jump up repeatedly on to my back, her small paws slipping on the soft fleece, and then she jumps up again. My back muscles tighten to protect myself from the oncoming assault, but each time she jumps up again, the wind is forcibly knocked out of my tiny nine year old body.

“Ashley!! She’s starting to hurt me!” I hear Gypsy panting, but it’s nearly drowned out by Ashley’s laughter. Suddenly, I see a sliver of light emerge from the bottom of the blanket. I smell Gypsy’s hot, wet puppy breath as she emerges, nose first under the blanket. She assaults my face with her tongue. “Ewww, Gippy! You’re gross!” In panic, I grasp frantically for the edge of the blanket to block Gypsy back out. The corner of the fleece is slippery and wet from Gypsy’s incessant biting. I finally grab the blanket and, after nudging Gypsy’s face out of the way, I tuck it under my legs, protecting myself once again. I wipe my slobbery hands on to my jeans. Then I remember my backup plan. I reach into my jeans pocket for a piece of a bacon-flavoured treat, hoping it will get Gypsy’s heavy paws off my back long enough for me to stand up.

I ever so carefully lift the edge of the blanket. Gypsy’s teeth aren’t visible yet. I’m safe. I inch my fingertips out from under the blanket and flick my wrist to toss the bacon treat across the carpet. “Gypsy! Do you see that? Go get the treat!” I hear Ashley walk over to where the treat landed, trying to persuade Gypsy to run over to it and abandon her attack. It’s a success! I stand up, now holding the blanket over me like a cape, careful not to get any of the slobbery parts on me.

“Hey!” I call to Ashley. In one quick motion, I toss the blanket, drool-side down, over her body. “This is for laughing instead of rescuing me! You’re next!”

Ashley laughs. “Alright! Go get her another bacon treat while I cover myself!” I walk over to the cupboard where we keep Gypsy’s treats, laughing and checking myself for any scratches or bruises, Gypsy nipping at my heels all the way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Post #5: Is My Heart Broken?

“Oh man, its so cold out!” My best friend Rachel leans over, trying to balance her weight as she lugs the bag of newspapers while we walk along the sidewalk. We both walk quickly, half-hunched over to shield our faces from the misty autumn rain.

“Hopefully we can get these delivered quick!” I stuff my hands into my jacket pocket. Luckily, I’m wearing my heavy raincoat, lined with a thick layer of fleece.

“You know, Whit, you really don’t have to help me deliver these! It’s my paper route, and it’s so cold!”

“Nah, I don’t mind!” I laugh, “Besides, we get to talk about the kinda stuff we can’t talk about at school!”

She breathes an exaggerated sigh of relief, “Ok, good. I don’t like doing this alone!”

Right as we’re about to enter the senior citizen apartment to begin the deliveries, I feel it start without warning.

Uh oh. Please don’t be what I think it is!

Just like that, my heart takes a quick jump inside my chest. I know it’s the telltale sign that it is about to start the freaky rapid beating it has been doing sporadically for the last couple months. And it’s about to start up again.

Don’t start. Pleeeaseee don’t start!

But my heart doesn’t listen to my pleas.

Like I expected, it begins beating so rapidly and forcibly that my chest begins to hurt. It’s like I just finished running a marathon, but I barely just began walking. I hope I can walk it off. Maybe it will stop soon like it always had before.

Rachel and I walk through the hallway of the apartment building as we place the newspapers outside the rooms of subscribers. My heart still hasn’t slowed, and I begin to feel short of breath.

“Rach… uhhh… you know that heart thing I get sometimes? It’s happening again…”

Her eyes dart quickly to meet mine. “Do you think you can walk back home? Your mom is probably home by now, right?”


We walk back outside, once again shielding our faces from the rain. Rachel looks down at her own fleece jacket. She tries to lighten the mood, forcing a laugh.

“Well, Whit, I bet you’re glad you have that nice rain coat! I’m so cold in this!”

“Yeah, it’s thick, right? But I bet you can actually feel my heart pounding through this jacket!”

Rachel takes her hand out of her jacket sleeve and places it on my chest. Her eyes widen in shock.

“Oh my God. I had no clue it was that bad! Maybe you should go to the hospital.”

“I don’t know. Usually it doesn’t last this long.”

I’m scared. I don’t know what is happening to me. Rachel and I walk the short way back to my house, and I see my mom sitting at the kitchen table, coffee mug in hand, reading the newspaper.

“Mom, the heart thing is happening again and it’s lasting really long this time.”

I hurriedly unzip the thick yellow jacket and throw it to the floor as I run to my mom.

“Feel.” I thrust my body towards her, hoping she can somehow make it stop.

“Honey, I should take you to the emergency room.”

* * *

Two days later, I have to wear a heart monitor to school. Circular electrodes are stuck to my chest, connected to wires that hook up to a plastic machine clipped onto my belt. It’s a little scary. And all my friends ask what is going on.

“Well, I get this scary heart thing, so the doctors want to see what my heartbeat is like over a whole day.”


“I guess?”

* * *

I go back to the doctor to find out the results of the heart monitor’s readings. I have supraventricular tachycardia, which I guess is a fancy word for a really rapid heart beat. Duh.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Post #4: Anticipation

The lights go out and suddenly, I can’t hear myself think.


I squeeze my sister’s arm and jump up and down uncontrollably. She’s doing the same. We both scream right into each other’s faces, but both of us can barely hear it anyways. The other sixteen thousand people just erupted into screams too.


My heart pounds.
My thoughts race.
My thoughts stop and the screams begin to take their place.
I’m confused.
I’m excited.
I’m screaming.

Queen’s “We Will Rock You” begins to blast over the speakers into the darkness. It’s loud. I scream again.

Ashley jumps up and down repeatedly. I’m alternating between yelling lines of the song and screaming my throat raw before anything has even happened.

“….gonna be a big man someday! ...aggghhh! got blood on your face…agggh… waving your banner all over the place…aghhhhh!...”

From the seventeenth row on the floor, Ashley and I can see the three balconies all around us, packed with people.
Cameras flash everywhere, taking pictures of the empty stage.
Fans wave glow sticks hysterically in the darkness, creating a sea of lights in the upper tiers that rise around us.
Lights flash from every direction all over the stage. Laser lights move around the entire arena, pointing at the stage, the ceiling, the audience.

All of a sudden, I realize I’ve never been more excited than I have been in this moment. I never once thought that Freddie Mercury’s voice would send me into a euphoric fit. I scream just once more, for good measure, and then continue yelling the lyrics of the song.

The giant circular screen hanging above the stage begins to lower on to the stage. It’s huge. It’s probably at least fifty feet high. If it’s even possible, the screams become louder. My throat is dry. I scream anyways.



Queen stops singing. The song is over. Some non-descript rock music begins to play the same few chords over and over on electric guitar. The screams grow again. The circular screen now hovers directly over the stage, covering it almost entirely so that we can’t see if they’re on stage yet. The screen flashes red and black lights. My voice will be shot before this even starts.

My heart pounds, partly from the lights that are flashing, partly from the thousands of girls screaming in every direction around me, partly from the music that is playing a song I don’t know. But mostly, because I know what is going to happen next. Any second now.

Finally, it happens. The screen lifts back up. There’s a small circular platform that is below the stage, and it's rising and spinning to become level with the rest of the stage. The screams grow. My heart races. My grip on Ashley’s arm tightens. She returns the pressure. We jump higher. We stand on our tiptoes, waiting. Screaming. Staring at the hole in the stage, waiting for it to rise.

The tension and excitement are palpable. Everyone in the arena is staring at that spinning, rising platform. I’m screaming again. So is everyone else. All sixteen thousand of us.


“IT’S JOE!!”

“IT’S KEVIN!!!! … It’s Kevin JONAS!!”


I guess no one at a Jonas Brothers concert should be saying ‘crap,’ but that doesn’t matter. No one at a Jonas Brothers concert who isn’t a chaperone should be over thirteen years old anyways. But we don’t care. No one here is looking at the two university girls screaming and yelling for the curly haired teen heartthrobs rising on to the stage. Everyone else is too preoccupied with their own yelling to notice.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Post #3: How I Got the Scar on My Chin

Just breathe. Stay calm.

The wind burns my face. September isn’t supposed to be this cold.

Stay calm. Everyone else is. You can’t make a fool of yourself already. You just started this school three weeks ago!

Everyone else looks calm.

Don’t look down! Don’t think about falling!

I look down. My stomach lurches.


I look around. Everyone ahead of me looks like they’re riding with ease. I can imagine that everyone behind me is struggling to ride their own bikes at the turtle-like pace I’ve created for them.

Come on, Whitney. You learned to ride when you were 6!

My mind begins playing devil’s advocate with itself.

But… you also haven’t been on a bike in years!

I try to push those negative thoughts out of my head, but they keep wedging their way back in. I feel my hands shaking as they grip the handles with an iron grip. Am I really that cold? Maybe I’m just that nervous.

I’m surrounded by people I just met. If this was last year, in grade six, I could have handled it. I knew those people for eight years, since we were four! Now I’m in a new school and I barely know these people. I can’t make a fool of myself. It’s barely a month into grade seven.

I keep pedaling. We’re on the side of the highway, riding towards the biking trail. It’s supposed to be the ‘beginner’s’ trail that we’re headed to. I can barely pedal straight on the paved shoulder of the road – how am I supposed to navigate through branches, rocks, and dirt?

Without warning, I hear it behind me.

Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don't fall!!

A glossy yellow car zooms past us, barely two feet away from the edge of the road. I can’t move. If I move left, I hit a car. If I move right, I hit the edge of the road – gravel instead of pavement. And then there’s that drop into the wooded area…

The next thing I see isn’t the road. It’s that steady drop I just wasted my time thinking about.

What do I do? I’m falling!

I see the trees. I see the boulders that edge the side of the highway. I’m still on the bike. Is that a good thing?

I open my eyes.

Well, that’s strange. I don’t remember closing my eyes.

Now the trees are in front of me, right at my feet. And so is the bike. How did that get in front of me? I twist my neck up and around to see the people on the top of the hill. The people who didn’t just fall off the highway.


My new friend Mat yells to me. I see him. He’s off his bike and he looks worried. Did everyone see me falling? I remember screaming as soon as I turned off the road. Maybe everyone turned to watch it all play out?


The owner of the camp we’re staying at comes running. “Don’t move your body! Don’t move your neck!”

Oh, she wants to see if I broke my neck. Awesome.

I move.

Good, I guess my neck isn’t broken.

She leaps through the boulders that I just crashed my bike down, coming to rescue me. I’m nearly already on my feet. I know I didn’t break my neck, there’s no need to continue laying there surrounded by rocks and dirt.

“Are you ok? That was a pretty big fall. Good thing you have your helmet on!” She looks worried, but I can tell she’s pretty relieved. She probably didn’t want yet another injury occurring under her watch. My best friend broke her arm when we were camping there last year.

“I’m fine... I’ll be fine.” I don’t even care about the bike. I don’t care about what’s happening. I want everyone else to leave, to continue on their bike ride and stop looking at me – the girl who can’t even pedal a bike straight.

“You’re bleeding. We’ll have to get you bandaged up. Can you walk back to the main cabin with Mrs. Favreau?”


She carries the bike back up to the side of the road, making sure I get a sturdy grip on it before she calls to the rest of the students to continue following her to the biking trail.

I look at the teaching assistant, Mrs. Favreau. She smiles and then removes a Kleenex from her pocket to dab at my chin, which apparently is bleeding quite badly.

First month of grade seven and I’ll have a Band-Aid on my chin. Ugh.

“So, think you can walk the bike back to the cabin?”


I start walking the bike, still looking down in embarrassment. After a few steps, I notice the bike’s front tire is almost knocked off the axle and is now spinning with a noticeable waving motion. I can’t help but crack a smile.

At least the bike is hurt, too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Post #2: On Sibling Relations: My Friend Aooty

“Stop being so stupid. You’re SO DUMB right now.”

“OH. My. God. Shut up or I will seriously hurt you. NOW!” I yell at the top of my lungs.

“Ughhh, just leave! Whitney, you are soo annoying and stupid!” is the sneering reply I receive, which she yells at the top of her lungs, right before I see a door slamming full speed towards my face.

For anyone who has one of these people in their lives, they know what I mean. No, she’s not my mortal enemy. She’s isn’t some girl who tried to steal my boyfriend, or who spread some nasty rumours about me. No. Those types of people never really elicit this type of response. For anyone who has been in this type of situation, you know who she is. She’s my little sister.

She’s the only person who I find myself fighting with one minute, and then the next minute we’re laughing at YouTube videos or having a Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus-fuelled dance party in my room. Other than my parents, she really is the only other person I fight with. Only it happens with her much more, and the reasons are much more trivial. Like being annoyed with the time she takes to get ready, or having to knock one too many times on her bedroom door before she answers, or not allowing her to borrow one of my shirts, or not watching the TV show she wants to, or… well, you probably get the idea. But I think that’s the luxury in having a sister; she’s the only person I know who I can freely, without any type of fear or censorship, tell “You’re being a loser. Stop bugging me.” Of course I would never say that to any of my other friends. But with my sister, it certainly helps clear up the arguments quickly without any awkward tiptoeing around the subject.

Ashley is two years younger than me, and she’s in her second year at Lakehead University. And to top that off, this year, we’re roommates. I’ll admit that I did have some fears about being her roommate, but it surprisingly seems to be going quite well.

A sister is the kind of person you can call silly nicknames (our most recent are Wooty and Aooty), or stay up late with, or take funny pictures with. One night last summer, she brought her blanket and pillow into my room and asked me permission to sleep on my floor.

“Can we have a sleepover tonight?” she asked as I was already lying in bed.

“Yeah. But I have to wake up early. I have to blow dry my hair in here and you’ll still be sleeping.”

“That’s ok. I wanted to get up early anyways.”

“All right, I hope you’re serious. I don’t like how you get in the mornings!” I said wearily.

She rolled her eyes. “I’m going to go downstairs and make food… Do you want any?”

And so began the summer of continuous sleepovers, my bedroom floor covered in sheets and pillows, and gourmet late-night snacks provided by Ashley. She’s worked in a restaurant for the past four years, and she’s picked up a few tips. She also isn’t afraid of experimenting, so she mixes anything to see if it tastes good. It nearly always does.

However, despite the giggles and snacks at night, every morning I was annoyed again.

“UGH. Why do you set your alarm on your iPod if you don’t plan on getting up to it? It wakes me up too, you know!”

“Sorry… I… I don’t know… Ughhh Whitney...” she’d say some other stuff too, but it got muffled as she turned her alarm off and rolled back into her pillow. When I got up to get ready for work in the morning, she was still sleeping, hiding her face under the pile of blankets and pillows and making barely audible sleep sounds that I assumed indicated annoyance.

Sometimes I asked her to leave, to clear her blankets out so I could have a clean room for once. However, it was only a matter of days until she came back into my room. I was 20 and she was 18, but that didn’t stop us from having sleepovers like we did in elementary school with our friends from class. Except now, I know that my sister can be my friend, too, even if sometimes she feels like my only enemy.

Yesterday, I realized that even though she’s the absolute best at annoying me, she’d also do just about anything to help me. There was a big windstorm and the power went out in our townhouse for at least half an hour, just as I was getting ready in the morning.

“Oh no! I was just about to take a shower! It better go back on soon. I don’t want to take a shower in the pitch black,” I said as I sat on the floor outside the bathroom, wearing only my towel.

Walking out of her bedroom, she said, “Well, I could sit outside the shower and hold up a flashlight.” She started laughing, but her facial expression didn’t indicate sarcasm.


She stood outside the bathroom door and waited until I got into the shower. Then, she balanced three flashlights in her hands, varying between holding them straight up to light up the ceiling, and holding them directly up to the frosted translucent shower curtain. Finally, after about five minutes, she whined, “Woooooty, my arm has been held up for five solid minutes! I need to stop!”

We laughed, and I finished up the shower as we provided our own powerless entertainment by singing songs as she waved the flashlights around the bathroom. For reasons like this, I’m glad I have a little sister. For the price of a few fights a week, I get my very own personal chef, flashlight holder, and best friend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Post #1: My Truth about Stories

I’m an English major. Every time I correct someone’s grammar, everyone else laughs and points out “ohh… you just got English-majored!” I guess most of my friends assume being an English major means that I learn about grammar or speaking English or something. But to me, for the most part, being an English major means that I study literature. However, since I was eight years old, I’ve wanted to write. My truth about stories makes me think about how it felt to be in grade two and to be writing stories in class.

I would sit in the classroom and Mrs. McNichol would announce that for Language Arts class that week, we would be writing stories. I could feel my adrenaline start to pump. Well, maybe it wasn’t that extreme, but it provided me with an excitement that dodge ball or math class couldn’t offer. The stories always had a theme that corresponded to the time of year: Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and so on. We would write our rough drafts and it took forever. I remember having some type of page limit, which I always went over. We would fill our page quota with simple plot lines and elementary dialogue, and then struggle equally as much to ‘edit’ the story. In grade two, there were only two steps to writing: rough draft and good copy. There really was no revision or peer-editing. ‘Editing’ essentially meant proofreading or spell-checking the rough draft. Grammar didn’t even enter into our vocabularies yet, so we simply searched through the freshly-written stories to filter out any spelling errors, and to make sure all the capital letters and apostrophes were in the right places. We then nervously stood at Mrs. McNichol’s desk, watching as her red scribbles on the paper loudly announced: WRONG!

Then we took our papers back to our desks, fixed the embarrassing, red-inked mistakes, and proudly marched back to the teacher’s desk to get permission to enter into good copy transcription phase. Because I enjoyed writing, I was usually among the first students to finish writing and editing. Entering into the next step felt like such a milestone had passed, and I was darn proud. I was ceremoniously handed a fancy piece of paper on which to write the final copy of my story. Or, at least it seemed fancy at the time. Usually it was merely an 8 ½” by 14” piece of paper, but sometimes it was a photocopied 8 ½” by 11” with lines and a clip art picture at the bottom which reflected the theme of the story: pumpkins, Mary and Joseph, Santa, the Easter Bunny. It felt so official either way. Either way, it wasn’t a notebook with blue lines spaced way too far apart, divided evenly by a dotted red line that indicated where to cross your lowercase Ts and make the humps of the lowercase Ms and Ns.

I marched back from Mrs. McNichol’s desk holding my official good copy paper, and wearing my official ‘I’m done my rough draft’ facial expression and sat down at my desk. I stared at the paper at least a minute or so before beginning to set a pencil to it. Carefully, I began with the title. Under it, I printed “By: Whitney.” So far, so good. Now came the hard part. We didn’t use computers, so our good copy had to look as good as pencil on paper, with an eight-year-old’s printing, could possibly look. I carefully transcribed every word like I was writing it for the first time ever. If I made any mistakes, my paper would be scarred with a conspicuous eraser mark. After the agonizing transcription process, the story was usually matted onto some colourful construction paper as a backdrop or stapled into a construction paper cover so that we felt like we’d written our very own books. It felt very official.

Now, writing is different. I feel like it has layers, rather than steps. I usually write everything out, really fast, to get words on the page as quickly as I can think them. I use placeholder words or even placeholder sentences to indicate that something better has to go there. It’s not like in grade two (or at midnight the night before its due), when the goal was to write everything perfect the first time. After everything is spilled out onto page or screen, I read it all. I change it, make it better, substitute the placeholders for what I really wanted to say. If I can, I will get someone to revise it and give me feedback. And then I edit and revise some more. I say it’s more about layers than steps because in grade two, it was rough draft and good copy. Now it’s a bunch of drafts before it gets good. Or maybe it sits for a while without even getting looked at or thought about. I still have a lot of goals about my own writing process. I would like to have more peer editing in my work. I would like to stop procrastinating so that my writing can have as many layers of revision as possible. But I do know that the past fourteen years have taught me that writing isn’t always about the end goal. Most of what it is about for me is the process, and that the process takes a lot longer than brainstorming and putting a few red marks on a piece of paper. Grade two helped me realize that writing can be fun, but the years in between have taught me that it’s a lot of work too.