#Last26of26

Alright. I post here and then I don’t post here. It comes and goes, and its in bursts, but I’m back again with another project.

#Last26of26

There are 26 days left in my 26th year on this planet so I thought let’s do this! We’ve been through every day May Amy, what’s next. And the answer is more challenges for myself and pushing the limits of my creativity.

What can you expect? I wish I had a cut throat detailed answer for you, but all I can say is keep an eye on my social media channels. The next 26 days will entail posts across my main platforms:

-A

 

May Amy – #12 – To OK and back

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Dear Amy at 11,

It’s a weird year. Grade six starts off by us declaring that we will run in the race for Grade Six Student Council as Secretary… and that is just odd. Our campaign posters consist of our name, the position, and a comic cut out from various newspapers. We just want to be a part of something and have no real reason for why this is our first attempt. Needless to say we don’t get into office, but politics just isn’t our jam anyway. And it’s just a popularity contest.

There is a day this year when our “enemy,” I say this loosely because enemies are weird at this age, is sick and everyone starts talking to us. It is very surreal when one girl, Ashleigh, tells us that it is because they were told not to talk to us by this main girl. That’s it. The whole reason why you are “uncool” and have less friends is because some random girl has all the power. Don’t worry about it. You’ll try to stand up to her and get in her way at some point… this doesn’t go well. Our crush at the time just grabs us by the collar and pushes us into a wall to get us out of her way. The bump on our head isn’t as bad as our pride and the fact that our crush clearly doesn’t see us in any way. Good news is that we still have C and B around and they are pretty decent friends for the next few years.

The highlight of the year is when we go to the states for the summer. Our father is dating a girl with frizzy blonde hair and crazy nails, but she lives outside of this place in Oklahoma and we get to road trip there. There are storms, lightening, and excitement on the way down, and when we arrive everything changes. Dad’s truck doesn’t have AC and it is so hot that we can fry eggs on rocks. There are turtles, fishing, a restaurant that covers its walls in license plates, we watch Twister all the way through for the first time, get to go in a storm cellar, and blonde streaks turning green. We get along really well with her son, Devon, and we venture with dad to Wichita Falls, Holy City, and other areas.

There are a lot of good memories from that trip, and a chunk of things that don’t really make sense even now. On our way back we drive through Colorado and the weather takes a dark turn, we joke about how a tornado might touch down, but its the hail that scares me enough that I pillow dive. Two made contact with the earth after we had gotten off that stretch of road.

We never go back there after those few months, and eventually we overhear Dad telling a waitress friend that they broke up because she was still seeing her ex-husband… or something like that. Eventually all that is left are endless photos of long horn cattle, us feeding marmots, and us at Holy City. More things to hold onto, but its a great experience of a completely different culture that is practically next door. It also makes for some great creative sparks for non-fiction pieces later on.

– A

May Amy – #11 – Getting there…

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Dear Amy at 10,

My letters are getting a little later and later, but the content still means the same. It’s going to be a somewhat boring year for us… at least compared to last year. This year we get the back half of grade five and the earlier portion of grade six. Good news is that we have more friends by now, but the bad news is we also have an enemy.

Enemy is an odd term. I know I mentioned this before, but enemies in elementary school are pretty fickle things. If anything they are more of bullies than anything else… and sometimes they don’t even realize it. Maybe they will think about their actions later or maybe they won’t – but just know that it is never as bad as it seems.

You’ve learned to climb out your window; pretty impressive considering that we are on the second floor and have to use the electricity box and the fence to get down… not so impressive that we can’t find a way back up so we have to use the front door. The best part about the window is actually the storms. We love storms and rain because they remind us of what we still consider home: Lower Mainland.

We live at the end of the street where the street continues but the city stops. The only thing after that is our friend Alice’s house and a Hutterite colony farther down. It’s a few kilometers out-of-town, but I remember going to Alice’s house and developing a taste for croissants and Ovaltine. We can sit in our window and watch the storms out in the canola fields past the city limits. Thunder clouds roll through and occasionally lightening will strike down to meet the ground. Luckily there were only ever one or two fires, but it is better than the cable TV that we do not have.

Our elementary school will do this weird version of what they call a carnival, but it isn’t really related outside of name. For a few days, the second half of the school day turns into an activity of sorts. Everyone who participates has to bring a certain number of coins before it starts on the first day, and you could opt in to volunteer items to help inventory the event. Some classrooms become shops or activities, and the grade 4, 5, and 6 classes are the employees who run them.

We apply to a few of these shops and we get a “job” face painting which is kind of neat. Mom lent some face paints to the school so we get to use those, but one of our first “customers” is in an automatic wheelchair and runs into our leg. We still have a small scar, but it makes for an interesting-long story. At the end of our shift we spend most of our “earnings” “adopting” a “pet” from the stuffed animal center; everything else went towards the candy shop. Since our brother was in a lower grade, he didn’t get to participate too much so I remember buying him some candy. Kind of a strange thing for a school to do, but at least it was interesting.

-A

 

May Amy – #10 -Welcome to Alberta

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Dear Amy at 9,

We’ve been in Alberta a handful of days before our birthday and they have been interesting. I think the worst part about moving so close to our day of birth, at least at this age, is that even if we could have a birthday party… we wouldn’t know who to invite. This city and province are new to us.

We walk to school through a park by the same name of our school, it’s pretty much a straight line from our house, and on the way to the park is where one of our first friends live. If I am honest… I’m not really sure what happened to her. I know that by grade six we had other friends and I don’t remember her being around much… maybe she moved. Years from now we will get a random thought to Facebook her and she ends up having the same grad dress as one of best friends at that time – some weird fact for the day for you.

We’ll call her KT, and she has a unique family. This is also the first of our friends that really introduce us to the concept of death. We have encountered it with others in our lives, but being at her house and talking to her about her life is how we really experience how death can really effect a family for the first time. The death had taken before we had even moved to the province, but it seems like every decision her family makes is… carried… no… enacted… maybe… with this in mind. Every curfew, every action, every event, every timeline – all impacted.

We had a sleepover once where we were convinced that we were going to marry Backstreet Boys or N*Sync members… I can’t remember which ones exactly. There was something on the TV in her brother’s room, where we were sleeping since he was away and we didn’t want her little brother to bother us. Something knocked on the door, but there was no one there at all. Freaked us out to the point where I think we convinced ourselves that the blinds moved, and she told me that the West side was built on a graveyard.

I remember going to the video store in the strip mall in between our houses and renting video games with her. Playing them on her console because better games were available, like Pokemon Snap (which is still amazing). Eventually the store became “Video Jungle” which was weird… and then it closed. We fought over her chap sticks and CD. She had left them at our house and I couldn’t find them for the longest time. When I returned them, she claimed the disc was too scratched to play. Which doesn’t make any sense because we listened to them and then they were lost when she was packing them up – we didn’t keep them or use them because we didn’t know where they were.

She must have moved… because eventually we just stop hanging out and instead we make friends with a kid who shares the last name with our siblings but isn’t related to us. He likes to say “shit” a lot and it definitely changes how we feel about cuss words. It’s the cool thing – weird for a 9-year-old to think. We also meet Ham and CC and BK. There are others, and a few guys who catch our eyes, but I don’t remember missing KT too much because there was just so much going on. She was a good friend. Hold onto the memories with her, they were fun.

This is also the year that we get to go to Disneyland for the second time. It’s pretty interesting meeting B, who is our cousin through dating… but our age a cousin is a cousin. Nana comes with us and we get way too soaked from the Jurassic Park ride and have to buy shirts just so that we can get on the bus to go back to the hotel. It’s an interesting trip, but a lot of it you will need to experience yourself.

-A

May Amy – #8 -Bird Club

 

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Dear Amy at 7,

With the Bird Club in full swing it was bound to get some enemies… at least the type of enemies that a 7-year-old makes. At this age, everyone will tell you that the boys are picking on you or chasing you around because they like you. Always seemed a bit weird to me that this sort of thing started out so early in life, but if that’s the case then so be it.

There will be a bunch of guys chasing the Bird Club around during lunch and recess. Our headquarters is a big rock with holes in it, which makes it convenient to store things but we never would outside of break. Great big pine trees go around the rock, and some of the branches are shaped in a way that we think they can be pulled down and used like binoculars because of how they round-up into semicircles on each side.

Hellings’ school yard is actually pretty unique. It has the standard sidewalk around the school, but the back area sort of curves downward like a hill that ends with a sort of plateau and then a ditch – albeit a small one. Just on the other side of the ditch is a soccer field… or some sort of sports field. It isn’t used much by us at break. On the opposite side of the back area, from the rock, there is a big blackberry bush in the bottom corner where the ditch connects  to the field. There is a little path through that leads out of the school yard, but the bush on either side is where we can hide from the boys. It’s technically outside of the bounds, but most of the Bird Club isn’t afraid of a few thorns.

At some point we will be playing on the swings in the front area of the school and lose a piece of costume jewelry that is important to us. It will be alright. Last still we will be on the monkey bars and hit our head on one of the bars. A supervisor lady will take us to the office for an ice pack even though Mom is waiting in a car and willing to help. This might make her a bit upset that she wasn’t involved, but it’s just because she is looking out for us and not because she is mad at us.

Only a few more years left before we jet off and move again. Soak in all the memories of Hellings and our friends here. Some of them will move and change, but the ones that stick around and continue to talk with us are important. They will pop back into our lives from time to time, and it is a lesson that we don’t always remember: those who stick around are worth the effort, but those who can’t be bothered aren’t.

-A

May Amy – #7 – Moving

Dear Amy at 6,

Moving to us is almost second nature, but be prepared for another. In fact, you may have already moved again by the time you hit six – that’s at least four or five moves now. One thing that stays constant is the library. Regardless of where we move, now or later, Mom always finds the library and makes sure that we find our way there. Before we used to walk to it, and in Delta this will be the same.

Hellings is an interesting name for a school, and it will be a bit weird at first since this is technically only your second school. You haven’t had to switch before and it feels weird being the “new kid.” You’ll be labelled that for a while… at various schools. I can tell you right now that some of these people will remain your friends for many years. We will meet Annie on day one, and listen to Dr. Harper read about moon face; kind of creepy story when we read it later.

You will form the “Bird Club” and it honestly has nothing to do with birds aside from our nicknames being birds. I think we were an owl, but I could be wrong. Speaking of those, we will attend Sparks in a church and our enrollment involves a slide. Eventually we will move onto brownies, but Sabrina and Maria and Courtney will continue with us. One of my favorite parts about Hellings is that we feel included by everyone. That will go away when we move again, but hold onto the feeling for as long as you can. Everyone needs a bit of light to keep close.

Dad takes us on our first trip to Disneyland this year and we leave around St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t remember the exact date, but I remember feeling the need to wear green! During our flight, Grandpa McElwee passes away from multiple heart attacks. We don’t find out right away because Dad doesn’t want our trip to be effected, but the hold the funeral until we are back in town. From the airport we get on a big Disney bus with Mickey and Minnie on it, but when we get to the hotel Dad’s suitcase is missing. Turns out a lady with the same suitcase got off before us and took his! Our hotel has a big fountain in the lobby and is called a Hilton; it’s pretty fancy to us at the time, but the name will mean more to us later on in life. Rides that scare us: Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Carribean. Things that we love: Tea Cups and Fantasmic. Dad get’s us a little parasol in New Orleans Square and it says “Amy” on it. The purple fades a bit over time, but we still have it… and a few others now.

-A

May Amy – #6 – School time

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Dear Amy at 5,

It’s safe to say that we really started to develop our personality around this time. Sure, we had our spunk before, but when you put us in awkward situations all of our spark shines. It’s also safe to tell you that we do not like being put on the spot, but we do get more used to that as time goes on. In this moment we look normal… but safe to say that soon after it was almost our turn and we freaked out and ran away.

This will happen a few times over the next few years. That’s okay. We’re also very shy, but quick to make friends. Kindergarten is a great time despite being one of the younger kids thanks to our November birthday. Our closest friend is named Jamie and he is pretty swell. Our other friends are Tyler (in the am class) and Damian, who also lives in our co-op and we play on the swings a lot. Jamie is definitely our favorite of the bunch because he will give us an awesome valentine with his picture in it.

Safe to say seems to be the recurring theme in this year, but it’s true that we will keep the photo that was in his valentine for a few years in our “Secret Keepins.” Yes that’s a thing. We definitely do not have the stuffy or the picture anymore, but we do have the old key for it and it is safe. I want to tell you that we stayed friends, but it was hard with us moving around and eventually we lost contact. Years later we will try to find him again, but it doesn’t work.

It isn’t any surprise that our favorite show at this time is Power Rangers. The original, not the weird spinoffs that will come much later. Our favorite is the Power Range who wears black, Mastodon, Zack Taylor. We get some pretty awesome Black Power Ranger gifts too: like gloves that make noises when we pretend to know karate.

Halloween this year consists of a family costume: Mom is a dog, Kenneth is a mouse, and we are a cat. It makes for some cute pictures but I can never find them when I need them. Speaking of getting dressed up – our cousins will come to visit and somehow we convince Colton to wear our favorite black dress with white polka dots. It has different colored buttons and a collar that is reversed. It was pretty funny until he got in trouble, but its a memory that we will hold onto for many years. My eyes are watering thinking about it, but lucky for you that you won’t have to worry about such things for a while.

This is getting too long for someone just learning to read – I still have one of our take home books… oops.

-A

May Amy – #4 – Onward, same height

 

Amy Noelle Stetzl (2)

Dear Amy at 3,

We are quite the interesting individual at this stage in our life. You may be aware that our first word was chocolate, but I want you to know that this does not mean you should consume every piece you get  your hands on.

This year for Halloween you will be a handmade Tinkerbell. It doesn’t look anything similar to Peter Pan’s fairy once you are older and have a better understanding of Disney characters, but there are some great pictures. For instance, there is one where we are proudly standing on a counter in Mama and Papa’s old kitchen with the yellow and puke green wallpaper that should have only existed in the seventies. Speaking of their house, I compel, no… I beg you to spend as much time as possible with/in/around the red shag carpet covered pillars. They will disappear behind a wall one day and you will miss them regardless of how grotesque they really are.

Little baskets from Auntie Marla with goodies inside will be a thing for holidays for a little while, but don’t get too used to them. Also – a man will enter Mom’s life and he will buy you a plastic kitchen – don’t get too attached to this either. In fact, at this age don’t get attached to anything because everything is going to change soon. Some for the better and some for the worse, but what you need to know is that we will be alright. Mom will be alright. The only thing that won’t be alright are those weird pillars that are not seen in any pictures for some reason. Someone really should have thought about finding a way to archive them for posterity sake.

Las thing for now, don’t get ambitious about your height. We are going to be here for a while.

-A

May Amy – #3 – Terrible Twos

Baby Amy & Nana

Dear Amy at 2,

That saying that you will hear often, “the terrible twos,” ya… that was pretty much made for you. I would hesitate to give us that much credit, but my mind knows that as a small child we were boisterous and emotional. Somethings never change but they do get easier to handle.

Do you have a moment of time to talk about night terrors? They are a thing, a real thing, not like in newfangled television shows or books that you will not hear about for years. Night Terrors are easily summed up in two words, and, even though you cannot speak fluently right now, I am sure you know which two words I mean: night and terrors. These will be difficult but not unbearable. The ones we should feel bad for are those in the real world, the ones clinging onto us while desperately trying to wake us up to stop the wailing. But like everything else, they will get easier – you won’t even remember them unless someone mentions it in passing years later.

Other highlights of this time frame that you can prepare for are:

  • Moving into M&Ps basement suite with mom. Cutest little suite in existence, but it will become an equipment room and then another family’s after we leave so enjoy it while it lasts.
  • As you may guess, this also means that our parents are not together but we will be too young to remember this. The separation will never really bother you because we don’t have any memories of all of us together to compare with.
  • You will acquire your first set of Mickey Mouse ears. We will have these for many years so do your best to be gentle. They currently sit in our office waiting to be hung on the wall.

If I can find a suitable picture from this year I will include it – I think we were a nurse for Halloween… we have an odd memory for random things like that.

-A

May Amy – #2 – It’s been a year, so what do you think?

1990 - Amy Stetzl

Dear Amy at 1,

To be honest, I am not even sure if this picture accurately represents us at one. Your math and age skills will probably never get better than they are around now so do not panic. Someone will one day tell you that “math is life” and it is some what true, but don’t stress about it.

As a side note, what you put in your hands is not always edible. Grass, although some types are delicious in certain scenarios, should not be eaten straight from the yard. It’s nice and cool on your skin, but if you pull it out then it will no longer be there for you to play in… and besides you do not know what has touched that stuff.

Other important things to note include:

  • Some blonde hairs will go away and that is okay regardless of what our mother thinks. Not too fond of them later on in life anyway.
  • It hurts to receive teeth, and will later hurt to lose them, but they will open doors to more wondrous tastes. Take them in stride and use them while you can. Also – dentists are your friends and there are tastier things than your thumb.
  • An animal’s hair should not be pulled at… you may learn this the hard way, but they are only a bit scary when you do not pet gently.

I’m sure there are other things but, as you will learn, our memory often fades a little more than we would like. It’s easily combated by utilizing our writing skills though. Words are also your friends.

-A