Thursday, April 24, 2014

Crossing Over

Last week we had a little jaunt down to my favourite place on earth, Manhattan. We take a fair number of trips, and a fair number of those are back to my mecca, good old NYC. It never gets old. And neither does going through the border.

Border agents are a special breed of person. They're not bad, they just have a tough job to do, a job that seems interesting as you're passing through, but is probably a weird mix of stressful and monotonous to actually perform on a daily basis.

Border agents like to ask all kinds of questions, some of them borderline silly, some of them completely 100% silly in an effort to knock you off your game, gauge your reaction, and judge whether you're breezing through guilt-free, or if you'll ever so slightly give away the secret fact that something's hiding in your anus.

Since we never have anything to hide, we tend not to mind the questions. We've encountered everything from the guy who wants to hear the band you're going to see, to the friendly dude who gives out restaurant recommendations, to the gruff lady who wondered why we can't just shop in our own damn country. If we're crossing by car, they always ask my husband who's car he's driving in kind of a judgy way (he's driving my Beatle). Sure they're trying to make you a little nervous, but they aren't trying to ruin your vacation, or even your day. They're just putting in their hours while also kind of defending their country. The friends we traveled with recently had their orange wedges confiscated by an overzealous agent. I realize nobody wants a food-borne illness to jump the border, but this wasn't a dozen cases in the trunk they'd intended to sell in Central Park. It was a baggie of orange sections for a pregnant lady to consume while travelling to hopefully avoid some morning sickness. It was 1 piece of fruit that was very probably grown in Florida to begin with and had possibly passed through the very same border crossing a week prior. But the USA does NOT want that orange back! The offending orange was removed from their possession and they went on their merry way.

It made me realize that we truly must have somehow become the most boring people on the planet because not even border agents want to harass us. Not that we want them to. Not really. I mean, maybe just a little good-natured bullying, or some condescension while fondling their tasers. Just a little something to make us feel relevant. Like we're not completely past our possible-sexy-smugglers prime. Like we maybe, just maybe, could possibly be part of some glamourous international crime ring that will one day be referred to by a snazzy nickname in the press. Like we pose just a fraction more of a threat than my grandparents do. We could be mattress-tag-ripper-offers. Or we might jam up highway toll machines by inserting pesky Canadian coins! Or we may incur lots of roaming charges that we pay only delinquently!

Okay, fine. We're boring. We're going to travel safely and responsibly while dropping lots of tourist dollars. We have travel insurance. We packed our own bandaids but not our own produce. We know how to convert currency and speedometers and colour to color. We're good little travelers. We keep our citrus to ourselves.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Shoe Envy.

I actually don't envy anyone's shoes because I have a quite fabulous shoe collection myself.
My problem is with the people who name the shoes.
Currently, in my "bag" (the little slice of internet where your shoes wait for you to pay for them and supply a shipping address) I have the Cosette and the Enetta. Every shoe must have a name. They can't just be the blue ones, or even the shiny blue ones with the straps and the buckles. They must be named. Proper names. Usually women's names. Some are very specific, depending on the designer. A quick glance at my shoe box collection shows I already own Carries. Ginnies. Oksanas. And Mary Janes, of course.

Designers now have to cast their nets so far and wide that even Samantaa has a shoe. And Lissa. Chantel.
Bonita! Phyllis comes in black and white OR nude and orange! Phyllis!

Of course you've already guessed there aren't any Jamies (and certainly not Jays). I know, I have an ugly name. It's not my fault. I didn't pick it. I've hated it more or less my whole life. I may have made peace with it now, but I'll still insist you call me Jay. So when a designer is devouring the baby name book like a woman with a 16 week old in one hand and a blank birth certificate in the other, and it comes down to Jamie or Phyllis because everything else (and all of their possible alternative spellings) is taken, you know they're not going with Jamie.

In the many, many years of my shoeddiction, I have not once come across a Jamie. Not even a plastic jelly sandal has been a Jamie. And to prove myself right, I've even googled it. And proven myself wrong.

But still mostly right, actually. Because the one Jamie shoe in existence is made by Dr. Scholl.  I mean, better they were dirt rags! Described variously as "laidback", "durable", "airy", and "sensible", they're everything you'd expect from a shoe that comes with a prescription! They're absolutely hideous of course, but get this - you get the convenience of a slide-on shoe with the look of a lace-up! Nurses have given them the thumbs up, as have sons buying them for their be-bunioned elderly mothers.  According to reviews, they are both "comfy" yet still require breaking in. One rave reviewer likened them to "a mound of chubby bunnies", which I have never actually stepped on, and I'm hoping to keep it that way - fingers crossed!

Frankly, my shoes tend to be more "torturous but sexy".  Right after giving me salivating compliments, my coworker likes to characterize them as "likely to induce hemorrhoids" and believe me, she doesn't mean that in the good way.  People often wonder how someone in so much pain can manage to walk around in heels that put me within kissing range of my 6 and a half foot tall husband. And the answer is: when your hand's in the fire, you barely feel the mosquito bite. Sometimes when you feel your worst on the inside, you want to look your best on the outside.

My grandmother, for as long as I knew her anyway, wore orthopedic shoes. Ugly, soul crushing things. Kleenex boxes would have been less obvious. And always in the same hue of "orthotic beige". And, as a terrible sufferer of flat feet, I have sometimes wondered what a pair of plain Janes would do for me as opposed to the Marys that I prefer. Was she a happier person because of her shoes? I doubt it.  Actually it makes me a bit sad. My grandfather would often make pointed remarks about the women he saw in church - well-appointed in a hat and heels. That, to him, was a woman. And that my grandmother could never be.  I'm not sure how necessary orthotics even are to a woman who spent much of her life at the kitchen table peeling potatoes like they were going out of style.  That's not me. I may sacrifice in comfort, but I am a person who strives to make the world a more beautiful place, and if I don't start with myself, from my head down to my toes, then I'm doing it wrong.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Unfashionista.

I can't even fathom what they mean by "structured handbag".
Also, I kind of miss the days when we just called them purses.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Not For Intended Use.

It's labelled for veterinary use and intended for hooves but in my house, it's just another hope and a dream!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Blues Hound

Ottawa Bluesfest has just announced their lineup for this summer and it's got so many of my favourite blues artists I can hardly believe it - Lady Gaga, The Killers, Blake Shelton, Snoop Dogg, Queens of the Stone Age....and some more vintage blues, like Journey, and Third Eye Blind. I mean, it's great that we're bringing in blues for the Glee generation, but Third Eye Blind?  Who knew they still existed? It's about to get all 1997 up in here! It's nice that they've really reached back to what some might consider the real heyday of blues. It was a rocky time - they let Billy Crystal host the Oscars again. Deep Blue won that chess game. Some hick had septuplets. Toyota taunted us with the Prius. No one was sure if Ross and Rachel would ever get together. It was rough,confusing time and so a lot of truly great blues music came out during that era. It hardly compares to the blues of today's youth. I mean, if you have to wear a dress made out of meat just to create conflict worth singing about, you probably don't have a legit case of the blues.

But wow. So many blues greats all on one stage. I mean, if you asked me to choose which among these is my absolute favourite blues artist, well, I just couldn't tell you! I'd be flummoxed . If I'm hard pressed though, I might have to go with the people who gave us some of the greatest blues lyrics every put to music: chickity china, the chinese chicken. That's some pretty hardcore blues shit right there. And if you're a fan, you can catch them here at BluesFest this summer.