Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bad Habit? Why, I'll Give You A Bad Habit!

I was lying in bed almost all morning listening to the torrential rains slapping my bedroom windows. I wondered briefly whether any of our patio furniture remained, but was unable to see past the blur of raindrops into my own backyard. I heard the metallic creak of hinges at the side of the house, and felt sorry for the guy delivering mail on a day like this.

I am just biding my time until darkness falls again, and I am safe for going outside to splash in as many puddles as I can find (which obviously will be fact, I am willing to bet that small creaks and a little river roughly the size and shape of the avenue upon which I live will be available for my puddle pleasure). Playing in the rain is one of my many, MANY bad habits. But seriously, it's like a disease, and I just cannot help myself. I know it will ruin my new suede boots. I know it will wipe out the 35 minutes I spent blow-drying my hair into a non-frizz mess. I know my mascara will run and I'll risk catching my death, but I'm out there anyway because splashing is fun.

The phrase 'bad habit' just has a negative connotation. That's why I move that we round up all of our bad habits (smoking, drinking, eating, etc, etc) and start calling them 'tradition' instead. It means the same basic thing...and it sounds a heck of a lot better. I mean, Christmas dinner is tradition. If I could, I would definitely avoid eating 7lbs of dead bird while trying not to breathe too deeply while telling stinky old aunt Milicent why it is that I am not afraid of burning in hell for living with a boy I am not married to (for the 3rd straight year in a row). Now this situation is truly BAD, and frankly I think that smoking 3 packs a day would be much healthier. But I subject myself to it routinely because it's tradition, and therefore no one hassles me about it. There are no government-sponsored PSAs warning me about the health risks of Grandma's stuffing that is surely just swimming with salmonella. Watching your fat uncle unbutton his pants after dinner while your mother tells the whole room about your inabilities to trap a man into the confines of marriage will induce years worth of intensive therapy, but who tries to prevent it? NO ONE! It's tradition!

Therefore, I move to make the following into tradition, starting today. Feel free to add your own:

1. Matinee martinis.
2. Dancing in the rain, even when it's somewhat dirty or somewhat cold.
3. Wearing a weather-inappropriate outfit because it's cute, even when it's freezing.
4. Not justifying crazy midnight romps.
5. Cigars on girls-night out.
6. Lusting after other men, especially the witty ones.
7. Going down in a movie theatre.
8. Letting boys buy me drinks, even though I'm an old married woman.
9. Telling lies.
10. Letting the milk sit in my cereal bowl in the sink all day long because I couldn't be bothered to rinse it out.
11. Not making my bed. Ever.
12. Hating math.
13. Refusing all invitations to the birthday parties of my friends' snotty-nosed children.
14. Objectifying men.
15. Wearing pjs past noon at least 5 days a week.
16. Overpaying for shoes.
17. Launching sprinklers through various front windows.
18. Being serviced first.
19. Going to Jamaica for Christmas.
20. Not proofreading anything at Kill the Goat.
21. Enjoying herbs.
22. Dancing to Whitney Houston in the shower.
23. Not answering when my mother-in-law is on the call display.
24. Returning the presents Jason lovingly picked out for me for cash.
25. Signing people up to be saved.
26. Taking out foul moods on our husbands.
27. Inspiring fist fights.
28. Being completely self-involved.
29. Getting hopelessly lost at Ikea every single time I go there.
30. Admiring myself in various reflective surfaces.
31. Eating our weight in chocolate.
32. Bucket margaritas.
33. A pack and a half a day.
34. Sex and the City repeats.
35. Hating people for no good reason.
36. Staying up all night to read a book.
37. Eating all the pringles.

"It's not my fault - it's tradition!!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I really don't know clouds at all.

I have unexplained happiness lately. Just, bursting at the seams, skipping down the road like a fool, exclaiming over interesting pieces of lint, laughing like I can't stop, kind of happy, and all for no discernible reason.

I am so happy that I almost broke my hip dancing in the shower to Whitney Houston songs.

I am so happy that even my cries are happy. I burst into tears yesterday; fat plentiful tears that streamed down my face and into my wine. I sobbed from the soles of my feet, and it was delicious. It was one of the best cries of my life.

I am so happy that my pockets are full. Everything in the world seems worth exclaiming over. I went out to lunch with a friend and was so bowled over by the little toothpick in my wrap, the kind with coloured cellophane on top, that I shoved them both in my pocket to bring home for my scrapbook. Then in her car, I found a piece of string that was balled up in the shape of my friend Thomas. As soon as I picked it up it didn't look much like Thomas anymore, but I found it so noteworthy that I put it in my pocket so I could mail it to him later. At the end of every day, I empty my pockets in show-and-tell fashion for Jason. Neither of us can remember ever using pockets before this, for anything.

I am so happy that Jason has gained 5 pounds. I've been roasting turkeys and boiling lobsters, and baking my famous cheesecakes. I send him to work with 7 course lunches. You can smell things cooking from 3 blocks away. I pile his plate high with all of my happiness, and things are so happy that Jason is just 2 steaks away from a happiness coronary.

I am so happy that the house is brimming with my artistic endeavors. I have sketchbooks filled with happiness; canvasses still dripping in it. I am so happy that I sewed up some throw pillows last night, and I don't even know how to sew.

I am so happy that I have a headache. I am a happy person to begin with. I try to live my life with much passion. I live big. I like my days to rate 10 out of 10 on the happiness scale, but somehow my scale has been amplified and I'm experiencing 57s. My head throbs with happy; my heart races with happy; the little hairs on the back up of my neck stand up on end with happy. I have so much happiness that it's falling out my ears and I have to carry tupperware around with me to pick up the excess.

I am so happy that I haven't slept in 4 days. It's been over 100 hours since I last slept. Every time I lay down, happiness brims over and I jump to my feet to be happy some more. I am shaking with happiness, and having hot flashes of happiness.

I am so happy that Jason brought me to the doctor. "She's crazy" he said. "I am not!" I retorted. "I'm just happy." The doctor looked at us both, and said "Actually, she's euphoric. It's the pills." And I was so happy that I kicked her in the shins.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Night At the Movies

There are movies, and then there are movies. These movies I sincerely hope you will see, because they represent the very best in film-making. They are movies that I prefer to call films, because to call them movies and to class them with the likes of such stinkers as Catwoman, or Gigli, seems a crime.

Closer- This movie is not about love. It's not even about lust. It's about infidelity, boredom, dishonesty. It's the itch you can't scratch, and then when you do scratch it, you realize you're scratching the wrong thing, and now you're even itchier. Except, not as lame as that analogy. It's really good, and really frustrating, and really raw. It's painful to watch grownups go through life with so little integrity for themselves, or for others. There is no sense of happiness, or even of calm. It's pathetic to watch, and even more so because it feels so real. It's not that they make the wrong choices, but that they refuse to choose at all. In having everything, anything (every one, anyone), they have nothing. And you know that they never will. In fact, the characters aren't really any closer to anything at all; in fact, they end up further than where they started from. It's compelling, and sad, and needs to be seen.

Directed by Mike Nichols; written by Patrick Marber; starring Julia Robers, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen. Closer is available to rent or own today!

Spanglish - If you could get pneumonia from going from one emotional extreme to another over and over, I would be a phlegmatic mess right now. This movie delighted and surprised me with how good it was. In principle, it is thematically similar to Closer. In execution, it is nothing like it. Yes, it's about infidelity. But it's also about growing up, and having priorities, and being honest, and nurturing sustaining relationships. These characters are heart-breaking in their sincerity. You'll laugh, and then cry, and then laugh, and then cry. And you won't want to throttle the child actors, which is usually a big problem for me. You will ache for the characters who know there is more to life than enjoying the now, and that where children are concerned, there are some risks you cannot afford to take. The maturity will kill you, and then save you in the end. And the luminescence of Paz Vega will almost blind you, and leave you with the distinct feeling that the language barrier has never been more beautiful. James L. Brooks, I salute you for writing such likeable, well-rounded characters.

Directed and written by the funny and talented Mr. James L Brooks; starring Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, Paz Vega and the sweet and endearing Cloris Leachman. Spanglish is available for your viewing pleasure today!

Crash- If the first 2 deserve the title Film, then this one deserves to be classified as Art. It is nothing short of a masterpiece. While Spanglish takes a look at the clash of cultures between one family, this film broadens the scope and puts several situations under the microscope. I can't even begin to tell you what it all means; the truth is, you owe it to yourself to watch, and to find out what it means to you, personally. I believe that it will mean something to you personally. I believe that it is meaningful, and difficult to watch, and Beautiful with a capital B. If there was something bigger than a capital B, I'd give it that too, because it is truly worthy and touching and wonderful. Paul Haggis is nothing short of brilliant. I hope someday to shake his hand and tell him that to his face. In writing about racism, he has written about humanity. As we delve into intimacies with a range of characters, we come to know ourselves a little bit better. We react. We see that the characters are never as bad as we think, nor as good. No one is 100% anything. We see a little bit of every colour; every race, ethnicity, creed, religion, class. We are presented over and over with Them, They, Them, that by the end, Them is Us, because we are all united; we are all the same in our differences. If none of my other pleas have entreatied you, I hope this one does. Everyone needs to see this film, experience it, own it, possess it, admire it often. Like all great Art, it will get under your skin. You will want to talk about it, and in this aspect it accomplishes its greatest stroke of magnificence: the power of discussion.

Directed and written by Paul Haggis; starring the wise and wonderful Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Ryan Phillippe, and the astonishing Micheal Pena, soon to properly famed and acclaimed, among many others. Crash will be released on video next week, September 6th, and should be at the top of your list.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday Fuckfest

This week's fucktard:

Mark Ruffalo. I'm not sure if I spelled that correctly, and I don't care to look it up. My beef with him is that he is boring, just fucking boring as hell, so boring I can't even motivate myself to google him.

He pisses me off with every third-rate movie that he's in because he can't help but be boring old Mark Ruffalo in each and every one of them. The poor guy cannot act to save his life. Look, here's Mark Ruffalo standing beside that annoying chick from Alias. Vomit. And he's only slightly good looking in that 'inoffensive' way that basically means he would be better off being ugly because at least then he'd be interesting.

Now, I might be able to forgive him for being painfully bland....maybe. I mean, I have nothing against him personally, I just hate mediocrity in general. But the thing is, his generic presence is ruining otherwise perfectly good movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The sight of him "dancing" in his tightie whities was embarrassing to me. He was supposed to be high, and yet, he was so stiff and awkward it takes you right out of the scene, and makes you incredibly aware that you are merely watching a white guy pretending he's not hurtling toward being forgotten before he was ever really discovered. Yes, it's that bad. I mean, anyone who can distract me from the retchedness of Kirsten Dunst obviously has some issues. And the only reason I can think of that he continues to be a movie presence (albeit rather slight) is that he comes cheap, which frankly, is not a good reason at all.

Friday's Stupid Conversation:

Inspired by the earlier conversation found shamefully printed word for word, I was ordered to try including other inane conversations in the Friday Fuckfest, and because Julia Said, I'm going to do it. This one sadly took place just this morning...and as you may notice, should hardly even be labeled a conversation....but let's face it: if you've ever been in a relationship for more than 30 seconds, then you know that the things you don't say are often the most important.

Setting the scene: 8 am this morning, in bed

Jamie stirs in bed. She has had a rough night. After heaving for 90 minutes straight (unfortunately, not all of it dry), hot flashes overcame her, and she sat outside in the cool night air until well after 3am trying not to die. She opens one eye, and finds that Jason also has one eye open.

Jamie: Good morning!

Jason: Garumph. In his head, Jason is thinking but not saying: dear god, she cannot be up this early! Fuck fuck fuck! Why did I have to make eye contact?!? Keep calm. Look away. Pretend to fall back asleep immediately.

Beside him, Jamie is sitting up in bed, and stretching.

Jason: with barely concealed panic in his voice, Oh, are you getting up?

Jamie: Yeah, I have to pee. Thinking: hehe, look at the panic in those eyes. I am soooo going to milk this!

For some reason, Jason follows his wife to the bathroom, where she does sit and pee.

Jason: So, um, late night last night, eh? What time did you fall asleep? 3, 4 am?

Jamie: Yeah, something like that. Thinking: Look at that. He's trying to be logical with an irrational woman while she pees! He's so desperate!

When I'm finished, I stand about, hugging on my husband. He looks bewildered.

Jason: So, um, do you think you might try going back to bed?

Jamie: I suppose so.

Jason: Great! He is so relieved his knees actually give out a little, and I have to help him limp back to bed, where is asleep again before his head even hits the pillow.

Not one minute later, I am fiddling with my housecoat again. Jason peaks at me from the corner of his eye.

Jason: Oh, are you getting up again?

Jamie: Yeah, I don't feel well.

Jason sits up. I think he may cry, but he's trying really hard not to.

Jamie: No worries, I'll yell if I need you. Try to get some sleep.

Jason: Oh, well, if you're sure....his puppy dog eyes are pleading with me to be 'sure'.

Jamie: Yes, dear, I am sure. Sleep. But he already is.

Friday's Most Fuckable:

Steve Martin, funny man.

He has this irresistible quality to him, where I would gladly jump his bones, not just because I find him incredibly attractive, but because I'd like to laze around in bed, laughing and enjoying the morning with him afterward.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Peroxide Dependent

Blame the blonde, or the pills, or Jason, but my mind has really been jumpy lately:

Why do Americans always say they're "having BBQ"? That's pretty much the dumbest thing I have ever heard. If you are having steak on the BBQ, then you are having steak. That goes for whatever else you might be having: shrimp, chicken, salmon, kebabs, etc. Barbecues are merely appliances. We don't have "stove" for supper, or "oven" or "crockpot."

Logic, in my opinion, is taking the easy way out. Notice how the "logical" answer is always the easiest. Logic is clearly for the unimaginative.

It has come to my attention recently that my Friday Fuckfests follow a pattern. Oh my. Looking over them, I see that this is true: tall, dark, handsome. Basically Jason, only with more money. This makes me sadly predictable, and shallow, and superficial. Actually, I'm okay with the superficial part, because that gives me the freedom to also add fat wallets, summer villas in Tuscany and a working knowledge of fine wines on my list of Qualities I'd Like In My Second Husband.

Also, I just remembered what is currently most offending me: The Wishbook is here! What the fuck.


The in, the Sears Christmas Catalogue, has landed on our doorstep. This is August, people!!!!! It's not even 'back to school' yet, and the Christmas catalogue is here? Personally,I threw mine right in the trash. Well, right after I checked it out for all the presents I can't wait to get. And made my list. And checked it twice. A coin purse shaped like a watermelon! Superman undies! A pink parka! New jammies! Oh, who am I kidding? I want presents! Gimme gimme gimme.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I Said I Don't Feel Good!!!

Jason, you have to come home. It's an emergency.



Are you bleeding?


Well what kind of emergency are we talking about here? The kind of emergency like you had last week, when you couldn't live without string beans?

No. A real emergency. Today is the worst day of my life.

Oh, hun, I'm sorry. What's wrong?



Well, yeah. I mean, nothing really. I just don't feel good.

Are you sick?

No. Stop asking me questions! I said I don't feel good!

Okay, okay, I'm sorry. It was rude of me to question you.

Oh fuck, don't be so condescending. I won't like you just because you're being falsely apologetic.

You don't sound all that sick....

I said I wasn't sick! Don't you ever listen?!!?!?!? I just don't feel good.

What part doesn't feel good?

Sobbing: Every part! I'm tired and cranky and headachy and no one is taking care of me.

Oh, poor sweetie.

So come home already.

But hun, I'm at work.

I know you're at work. That's why I called you at work. That's why I'm telling you to come home, because you're at work and you shouldn't be. You need to get your damned priorities in order mister! This is the worst day of my life and somebody needs to be here to get me some damned orange juice. Why are you being so obstinate!?!

Jamie, is it the tiniest bit possible that this is your new meds talking?

No! What?

I just mean that your doctor told us you might be a little more...ah, edgy, than usual. And it sounds like your emergency consists mainly of other side effects from the pills, so I just thought maybe...

Well you thought wrong. Sobbing again: I just thought you would be more understanding. I just thought that someone who loves me would be concerned that I am having the worst day ever and would want to make me feel better, but I guess I was wrong. I guess you don't really love me after all.

Don't you think you're being a bit dramatic? I love you very much, and I don't want -

Oh shut up already. I don't feel well and I don't want to be on the phone right now. If you just want to get a divorce, fine, just leave me alone.

With barely restrained laughter in his voice: Jame, slow down. I'll come home if you really need me to.

Oh no, don't bother yourself. I'd hate to inconvenience you!

You're not inconveniencing me. I'll come home right now if you think it will make you feel better.

No. It won't.

But you said...I mean, didn't you call me because you wanted me to come home?

That was before.

Before what?

Before I knew your true feelings! Now I know that you don't really care about my well being and I don't want you around here, poisoning my environment. Probably you'll just make me feel worse.

Jamie, I do care about you. I promise not to make things worse -

I don't believe you! Sobbing again: all I wanted was for someone to rub my back! Is that so much to ask?!?! This is the worst day ever!

Jamie, I'm sorry you're having such a bad day. I'm on my way home right now. Would it cheer you up at all if I picked up a milkshake on my way?

Tiny voice: chocolate?

Of course chocolate! It's your favourite, isn't it?

Tinier voice: yes...

Great. So I'll stop at the bank, get you a milkshake and be home in a jiffy.

Screaming rage again: The bank!?!? I said this was an emergency! You don't run errands when your wife is having an emergency. What the hell is wrong with you?

Sorry, sorry, my mistake. I just had it in my mind that I had to go to the bank, since you asked me to stop there this morning, and -

Well that was this morning!

Yes, right. Sorry. I'll come right home. No stops.

Fuck you.


I said fuck you.

Yeah, I heard you, but why?

You can't just dangle a milkshake in front of me and then take it away like I'm some kind of child.

Jay, of course I'll still get the milkshake. But that's it, I promise, straight home after that.



Yes, fine. Only I might be asleep by the time you get here, so if I am, you may as well go back to work. Leave the milkshake in the fridge.

Okay, hun. See you soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I have never hated Tuesday as much as I hate it today.

I should write. All kinds of potential topics are swirling about in my head, in a mucky whirlpool just waiting to be flushed out onto my blog, including:

1-August is almost over and I can't believe it. And not just in the way that people always say they can't believe it, but in the way that I truly cannot believe it because I barely remember it turning June.

2-The weather was crappy yesterday, so I painted indoors and dripped Royal Purple on the couch. And I can't even flip the cushion, for reasons that I don't care to remind myself.

3-I got this terrible blister on my thumb from mowing the lawn on Sunday. It actually didn't hurt while I was getting it, and only hurt a little once it swelled with fluid but I still used that thumb for raking, whipper-snippering, and sweeping the driveway of my neighbour because I thoughtlessly pointed the mower the wrong way, but then when it popped yesterday, oozing yucky puss everywhere, it suddenly because EXTREMELY SORE. And still is right now.

4-My grandparents got back from their trip to Vancouver B.C. to visit my uncle (their son) and his family, and so I heard the abbreviated summation of events. Which basically means that I tried to understand what the hell my Nanny was talking about. When she tells a story, you have to decipher as you go along, because the words get tangled up in her head. Like for example, when they went to ride the condos up Swizzler's Mountain, by which she of course meant ride gondolas up Whislter Mountain, and so if you're not doing some heavy mental work the entire conversation, you get left behind the dust rather quickly. But generally she leaves you time to catch up, like when she was telling me about the beautiful view out of my uncle's new office, and the room where he makes coffee, and the room where his secretary sits, and the offices for his lawyers - LADY LAWYERS - she corrects herself. Right. And of course, there's the fact that she mixes up names like crazy - mostly she called my uncle by my other uncle's name, and her daughers -in-law were reversed, and she kept calling my cousin Jeremy Jamie, which is me, but she didn't catch herself even though I was right there. This is really my mom's fault for calling me Jamie in the first place, because she named me after my uncle James, whom my Nanny called Jamie up until I was born, at which time he became Jim. Which is confusing for all of us. For years she called my aunt Tammy Pammy. I mean years. And she calls Jason Dave, and calls Dave Kevin, because all the boyfriends get muddled in her head, but it's awfully cute that she tries. But what is there to discourage her? She never knows she's wrong.

5- Betty was interred on Saturday. We didn't go. We didn't go because no one told Jason until Friday night. All of the rest of the family was there; they came in from all around the province. Everyone else knew weeks in advance. We did not know because Jason's dad cannot be bothered to write down our telephone number. We barely found out that his grandmother had died in the first place. Jason's dad is upset at Jason for not magically being able to get the time off. Jason doesn't bother getting upset at his dad, because this is how he is. He was so awful to Jason when Betty died I had to refrain from punching him in the teeth several times.

But actually, I won't write any of that. I have a million words in me today, but no direction. I started new medication. Did I forget to mention that? I started new meds and they're making me crazy because I cannot hold on to a single thought. Side effects: nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, heart palpitations, hot flashes, sheets of cold sweat, feelings of disassociation, agitation, panic attacks, mood swings, irritability. "The first week you'll think you're dying" says my doctor, "but you'll feel much better after that. And if you start to feel like your throat is closing, get to the ER immediately." Meanwhile, I'm making friends with my bathroom floor. I feel like I'm running in a race, and it's vitally important that I win, but everyone else gets to run on pavement while I am running underwater. And we can't tell how many of the side effects I'm really having because I'm generally irritable to begin with. But I did yell awfully loud at the turkey I was roasting yesterday for claiming to be pre-basted, whatever that means. So maybe that's a clue.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Ground Control to Major Tom: Has Anyone Seen Jay?

We accidentally disappeared again. I don't know how we keep getting sucked into the voidy vortex of space, but somehow we manage to disappear for large chunks of time without really meaning to. This weekend, for example, we meant to go camping, or do something productive like catch up on sleep and eat up all the leftovers in the fridge to free up some of the prime pieces of tupperware. But no.

Admittedly, the prime suspect in lost time is my insomnia. I don't think I slept at all this week, although there was this brief time around Tuesday when I believed myself to be Gary Oldman, so you can argue that it was either a vivid dream, or another of my burning delusions. Either way, I was not well rested. Thursday, my system finally crashed. I think I passed out in the driveway again, but Jason located my body eventually, and hauled me in to bed. Or, I assume that's what happened because when I woke up 9 hours later, I wasn't wearing pants and my thighs were covered in hickeys. So let's hope that's what it was.

This brings us to Thursday night. I woke up at about 9pm and was only slightly disoriented. A scalding shower and a few slaps from Jason (in the vein of: what the fuck, woman, soup is not a meal!!) and I was practically conscious, for all intents and purposes. What to do, what to do?

By my calculations, we must have sat and thought about that for approximately 4 hours, because it was 1am before we were in the car with any sort of plan. And bearing in mind that we live in Cornwall, 1am on a Thursday night (Friday morning, if you must) does not leave you with a lot of options. So we drove off toward Casselman, a mere 60km in the distance, where Jason remembered spotting a 24-hour grocery store the last time we drove through.

1:42 am - Jason slams on the breaks on the 138. A deer scampers across the road, mere inches from our car. The deer is blissfully unconcerned.

1:51 am - Since our internal clocks are completely askew, we have decided to gather enough food for a feast, to be made and consumed in the wee hours of the morning. We spend a good deal of the car trip selecting a menu from my various recipe boxes. Jason's stomach growls in anticipation.

1:56 am - Enthusiastically enjoying the playlist, I suddenly find my fist bloodied. In a fit of appreciation for the music (playlist: "Fuck Yeah!") I seem to have fuck-yeahed the rearview mirror (ie, punched the hell out of it).

2:09 am - Arrived in Casselman, we discover that the 24-hour grocery store has since turned into a 17 hour grocery store. We're out of luck.

2:10 am - Back on the highway, but not headed toward home. In mere seconds we seem to have scrapped all previous plans, and are now undertaking the remaining 50km toward Ottawa. When pressed later, neither of us will admit to being the one to propose this crazy plan.

3:15 am - We've been walking around downtown Ottawa. I stare down a small rabbit in Major Hill Park. I think I won, fair and square, but I hear he's been talking smack about me ever since.

3:55 am - We scurry back to the car. My bladder is screaming obscenities at me.

4:22 am - We stop at a coffee house for "a milk", proposed by Jason. While I am relieving myself in cramped quarters, Jason orders "a milk" for me, and coffee for himself.

4:40 am - We drop by my mother-in-law's house for a visit. She is completely and understandably bewildered to see us. She gives us a Texas cookbook from the Cracker Barrel (Texas caviar = black eyed peas) from her recent visit to Waco and tells us about how difficult it is to tell if her boyfriend has shingles because his skin is black.

5:20 am - We drive Nancy (mil) to work, which in her case is Curves, one of those fitness centres for women. Jason has the privilege of being the only man to have ever worked his glutes on the machinery. He works out on the "pec dec" to the groovy sounds of the Beach Boys.

6:13 am - Finally the sun has come up. Jason rustles around in the back of the car for a bag, because he "might throw up, but probably I'm just hungry." Frankly, I don't like those odds.

6:30 am - After an excellent parallel park, Jason and I find ourselves at our old haunt, the Moon Dog. The nostalgia factor is high, but the nostalgia factor fails us in the end, because the pub ain't open yet, and won't be for an hour. Since Jason is feeling pukey, but maybe hungry, we decide the priority is for him to eat, so we take off to find a place that serves breakfast NOW.

7:05 am - Driving alongside the Rideau canal, a putrid smell hits us through the rolled-down windows. "Ugh," I complain immediately, "that smells like B.O."........."I was just going to say that!" shouts Jason, looking greener by the minute. We blame the B.O. on all the joggers.

7:22 am - Seated at the Elgin Street Diner we worry about the parking meter. A loonie bought us only 24 minutes. In Cornwall, you can park for a penny per minute. Making change appears to be beyond our waitress's capabilities, so when the meter runs out, our only defense against a ticket is hope. Scanning the breakfast menu, I realize that this is not the Moon Dog. I sweat looking at all the breakfast options that do not please me in the least. Finally, Jason points out the breakfast club for me, which is oddly printed in a non-breakfast section. Every breakfast item seems to come with a side of baked beans. I insist to the waitress that no bean should come into contact with my plate. I pound my fist for gentle emphasis. Still, I worry about beans for 6 minutes straight, until my plate arrives bean-free. Jason, in a mystifying move, does not finish his breakfast. Now I worry about the obvious wedge that has obviously been driven between us. I do not know this man who cannot finish his breafkast.

8:02 am - No ticket!

8:22 am - Stopped at a pedestrian crossing that isn't a pedestrian crossing, but an "elderly crossing." And indeed, the elderly are crossing. One gentleman grabs our attention: tall and impossibly skinny, he is dressed in track pants and a suit jacket, both of which are tailored to cling to his slim contours. His bushy white beard is so huge it seems disproportionate to the rest of his body; makes him look top-heavy. He runs across the crossing although no one is rushing him, and his running reminds me of a top-heavy really old gazelle. Sort of.

9:06 am - We hit a "super super-market" that was still in construction last time we lived in the city. It's a grocery store that also contains everything else under the sun that you could possibly want, including a diamond jewelry counter, an optician centre, a fitness centre, etc, etc. We browse through the aisles of furniture and other home furnishings. Jason tries in vain to distract me from noticing the totally enviable stand-mixers. Dividing the home furnishings from the food are shoes. Lots and lots of shoes, for the whole family. I have to refrain Jason from browsing the food, feeling that this would be indicative of a whole new low for us. The front of the store warns customers that it has a LOAD CAPACITY OF 2500 but we fail to notice any check system in place.

9:45 am - We hit some stores that we are deprived of in Hicktown, ON. I give Jason armfuls of clothes to try on. I let him choose what stuff to buy. When we exit the store with purchases in tow, he proclaims that he has bought all the wrong things, not the stuff he really wanted at all. I feel like an exasperated mother.

10:00 am - We daringly walk into Ikea, which is already teaming with screaming children and mindless drones pushing massive, creaking shopping carts. Somehow, nothing calls our name. The throw-pillow selection is depressing. Not even the wrapping section cheers me up. "Look, Jamie - generic art!" shouts Jason, hoping that this will snap me out of my disappointed trance. It's usually good for a 20 minute rant at least, but today it sparks nothing. I'm dressed for a car trip to Casselman, not an all-day jaunt in Ottawa. My feet hurt in my stupid sandals. I am turning pouty, and only a nice tall drink of Diet Pepsi can retrieve me from this funk.

10:40 am - I despair at the fact that Margaret Atwood is "bargain fiction" in Chapters. We hit our favourite mom-and-pop bookstores instead, and Jason pleads for permission to buy me the millions of books I crave. Denied.

11 :11 am - I exchange the stuff Jason "mistakenly" bought, and come out of the store with triple the original purchase. We squabble about me spending money on him, but not allowing to spend on me, but our hearts aren't in it because Jason is thrilled with his new clothes, and so am I. "You think I look soooooo hot" he tells me. It's true, I do. Still, our inability to fight even little is jolting: we must be tired!

11:20 am - A small trip to Bulk Barn is unavoidable. No such thing exists in Cornwall: bins and bins and bins filled with candy and other consumables, all to be had for cheap. I load up on chocolate covered pretzels since they exist only in this haven these days. I worry that they won't last the ride home.

11:34 am - We gas up the car. It's damn expensive.

12:10 pm - All this driving is starting to get to Jason. He sets the cruise and does a series of stretches in the driver's seat of the car. It's pretty hilarious. Or, I am so tired that almost everything seems like the funniest thing ever. Either way, I hornked.

12:32 pm - We find ourselves discussing the "merits" of freezing to death. We blame this morbid conversation on the slaughterhouse we passed a few kilometres back, which boasted of "custom killing."

Back in Cornwall, we're both bleary eyed. But we set ourselves the objective of staying up until a "decent" hour, which we arbitrarily set at 8pm. We busy ourselves with some errands, a trip to the library which makes us unwitting witnesses to a house fire. Jason is repulsed by several sets of spandex, and wonders why it is that homeless men so often wear suit jackets. At home, we watch a movie and paint some canvasses. Finally, we lie down to read...and within minutes, I realize that 8pm is not realistic. We turn out the lights at 5:30 pm and sleep soundly. I wake up at 7:14 and cannot for the life of me determine whether it is am or pm. I compromise, and just go back to sleep.

And so we were up early this morning of course, with time for some of our usual antics before I saw Jason off to work. And now, even with every minute of the past few days accounted for, I cannot help but ask: where the hell did our weekend go?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Today I am taking a little stroll down memory lane, which in this case is probably more appropriately termed 'a walk into the bowels of hell', but hey, I'm resilient, you're resilient, we can take it. This little piece of self-indulgence can be credited to Miss 3T herself, who stumbles through life and finds that the third time's the charm. She writes with insight and warmth, sharing the mistakes we all make with such dignity that I can hardly express how proud I am of her strength. She asked: what one event or aspect of your childhood has affected you the most psychologically?

And the answer is....

By the time I was 5 and a half, I had 3 younger sisters. I don't ever remember having a single moment alone with my mother, though I often craved it. The youngest ones always came first, and if I could get a word in of complaint (which was rare), I was told that "you are the oldest, and you should know better."

I ached badly, longing for a mother who was right in front of me the whole time, but always just out of reach. I struggled with this confusion as a kid, and I am at a loss to put it into words even now. I knew I couldn't have her to myself, but I also knew that I never even got a piece of her. Someone else was always holding her hand. Someone else got to help push the grocery cart. Someone else sat beside her at supper. And it's not to say that she was a bad mother, because she wasn't. She did her best as a mother, and as a substitute father. But from a young age, I was acutely aware of not belonging. My sisters formed a trifecta that was always in opposition to me. They vetoed my choice of television shows, restaurants, vacation spots, movie rentals. It was so constant that I didn't really feel outnumbered, I just felt lonely.

I didn't have a bad childhood. I did well in school and had lots of friends. At home, I turned inward. It was easier to sit in a quiet corner of the house reading than to butt heads with the family. But looking back, I just cannot escape this underlying current of separateness that I always felt. When all the hours of a day were spent, there just never seemed enough to get around to me.

Still, it all went rather smoothly until the 4 girls all living in one house started hitting puberty one after the other, all the while our parents were going through one of the worst divorces in history. There was a decisive crack in the foundation of our family, and we all went our separate ways and dealt with it on our own. To keep track of each other, we kept a family log book where we left each other funny messages. We were probably closer than we had been in years through that book. It was easier to pour your thoughts out onto a blank page than it ever was to talk to one another. But that book was also my undoing.

One day, after another bout with my abusive father, I locked myself into the bathroom (the only room in the house where I had any privacy), and I set pen to paper. I penned an angry poem filled with teenage angst and frustration. I wrote until my tears dried and my blood stopped boiling. I left the poem in the log book, where eventually my mother and sisters would come to read it, and leave comments.

When I happened upon the poem a few days later, I found one single comment, left by my mother. It basically said that I should refrain from leaving such "serious" words in the family log book. She made me feel badly for daring to write them. And that was it.

That's still it. That is the one event of my childhood that has had the most profound psychological effect on me. I was crushed at her lack of empathy, her lack of basic understanding of me. I was young, maybe 11 or 12, but already I was winning awards for my writing and starting to think of my words as not just an escape from an unsatisfactory existence, but as a means to an end. Her response crushed me. I would have taken criticism more kindly because even that would have meant acknowledgment.

From that day on, I felt like I hadn't a friend in the family. It was Me against Them. I realize how black and white it sounds, and I know that there must have been a lot of gray in the following years. Certainly we had some good times. I still loved them. But I wasn't part of them. I was separate.

I never felt like my mother didn't love me, but I often felt that her love was more the obligatory kind, like the kind you have for a distant, elderly aunt whom you barely know. Of her 3 younger daughters, she had the clingy one, the cuddly one, and of course, her Baby. That was enough. They kept her busy. I kept myself busy.

My mother and I didn't have a lot to say to each other when I was growing up. In many ways, it was like she was growing up too. She and I would fight over who would take the car out on our date on Friday nights, and then which one of us would get up early Saturday morning to drive the girls to work, or hockey, or a friend's house. She had boyfriends, and I had boyfriends. I didn't like hers, and she didn't like mine. When I told her so, she called me insolent. When she told me so, she forbade me to see them, and grounded me for weeks. We both pretended I didn't sneak out at night. When her boyfriend slept over, we looked the other way. When mine slept over, I became the Bad Daughter.

But I had my eye on the ball: I was moving out. When high school was over, I made sure to pick a long-distance University. I asked for her input, she flatly refused to even look at the brochures. Suddenly, I was made to feel that post-secondary education was just further evidence of my being the Bad Daughter.

I moved out, and on, anyway. She saw me off to university, and on our parting, she pinched my cheek and cried. I sat in my room, void of sisters or mothers, for a long, long time, thinking about what that meant. Why had she cried?

When there was distance between us, there was a growing closeness between us. Eventually, my mother treated me as a contemporary. She talked to me as a friend. She confided in me about her ongoing battles with her ex-husband and my ex-father, and about my sisters as they when through the Terrible Teenage phase too. It was surprising and refreshing to have her back in my life in this capacity, or any capacity, but it didn't last long. In fact, it ended with my marriage.

She didn't like it much when I moved in with Jason. I don't think she cared much for our engagement either, but to her credit, once she accepted it, she launched herself into wedding plans like there was no tomorrow. At times, she seemed genuinely happy for me. I could have sworn it was so. I remember crying myself to sleep for the sheer happiness it brought me to be deep in the bosom of my family.

But once I was married, she backed off. She turned cold. I questioned her, and she told me that she didn't want to "horn in." I quashed her worries, but wondered to myself whether she was being honest. Nothing much had changed; Jason and I had always lived together. She wasn't any more or less of a nuisance post-wedding as pre-. But the chasm grew.

All of my sisters still lived with my mother, and life went on. I had mine, and they had theirs. I thought that given time, they would adjust to having a grown-up family, but to my dismay, they simply counted me out. News from them was sporadic. I heard about them from second and third hand sources. I approached them about it once. I said that I was hurt to be so thoroughly excluded, but I knew that whatever I said, it was pointless. It all goes back to the poem in the book. If I'm upset, I should keep it bottled up. I am not entitled to my own hurts and feelings. The four of them bond together, and have a mob mentality when it comes to outsiders. I am an Outsider.

I suppose it is inevitable to find out that your family is not infallible. Maybe I expected too much. I remember when I was little, my mother used to eschew the cool relationships between the extended family, and it was a point of pride with her that we would never be like that. I guess I believed the hype. But we are like that. If I have a falling out with one of them, I have a falling out with all of them. I will always be a misunderstood poem, AND I'M OKAY.

It is a lucky and rare thing for family and friend to be synonymous. I feel lucky myself, in that my friends have become my family. My husband is my undisputed best friend, and we have an extensive network of friends that now span several cities, and that is where we feel at home.

That one aspect of my childhood has made me who I am today. I am not dependent on family. I choose the people I let into my life. I refuse to repress feelings for fear of the response they'll illicit. My mother has often insisted that if I feel out of place in the family, then I am either jealous, or depressed, or both. I think maybe she's just afraid of what people will think of her family. But you know what? It is my belief, and philosophy in life, that you are poisoned by all the things you keep inside. I don't hold things back. If you were a fly on the wall of my home, your tiny fly ears would ring with all the words exchanged between Jason and I. But I am committed enough in our love to air our differences, and her cares enough to hear me out and take me seriously.

Now I find that whatever relationship I have with my family, I am fine. And better than fine. I am fabulous.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Christine and The String

If you have somehow missed the character that is Christine, here's a refresher: big, hairy, exuberant. Her multiple-diagnosis includes (but is not limited to) autistic tendencies, mental handicaps (emotionally and intellectually, she scores on par of about a 3 year old, despite being over 30) and obsessive-compulsive behaviours. This last disease was never more prominent than with The String.

As mentioned previously, Christine never left the house without her trusty fanny pack. She was particularly proud of it, because tipping the scales at well over 300lbs, it was only due to a recent weight loss to get down to this fighting weight that allowed her to finally squeeze into her already-modified butt-bag. But she always had a back pack on top of the fanny pack for carrying all her actual necessities (necessities for a 30 year old mentally challenged woman: her baton, for all her twirling needs, Oreo crumbs, and a handful of Barbie shoes). So if she had all her important stuff stowed away in the back pack, what could she need the fanny pack for? Why, string of course.

The String was her most prized possession. She took it out on the bus, at the dinner table, basically, everywhere and anywhere, all the time. To my inexperienced eye, it looked actually like several pieces of twine twisted together to form one piece of thin, woolly rope. Christine didn't talk about The String. But it was always there. She would twist it up and then let it untwist, like kids do on tire swings, over and over and over. Then she would dangle it over the surface (table top, bus seat, her lap or mine, when she was in a fix) and scrunch it down until the tip of the string lightly grazed the surface, then she'd jerk it back up, let it hover, and then gently lower it down again. And she watched it, transfixed, as if God himself might somehow appear to her in the string. As far as I know, he never did, but it wasn't for lack of her rapt attention. That string could keep her busy for hours. In fact, it was the only thing in the whole word that could hold her attention for more than 30 seconds.

The string was old and worn from so much use. I began to despair that one day it would just wear away, or worse, she would forget to put it back in the fanny pack for safe keeping and it would be left behind. My mission in life was to keep a sharp eye on The String. Christine, being the manic depressive that she was, would surely produce waterworks of catastrophic proportions if The String ever met its demise. At the very least (and quite selfishly, I admit), I at least hoped it wouldn't happen on my watch. So when Christine and I were out, I'm sure we both looked to be obsessive-compulsive because neither of us could take our eyes off the precious cargo.

I became not only Christine's mentor, but The String's body guard. I took this post quite seriously. Christine, in her lifetime, had already met with such heartache that I knew without really considering it, that I would do anything to prevent her with meeting with more.

Now, I have neglected so far to mention one nifty thing about our girl Christine. You see, Christine had "a gift". The media has made a lot of so-called idiot-savants ever since it was so cleverly illustrated by Rainman. Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) despite (or perhaps because of) autism, is able to do complex mathematical problems. When a boxful of toothpicks fall to the ground, he seemingly instantly calculates how many there are. Obviously, onlookers are dumbfounded. He could count cards at the casino, and yet lacked the ability to dress himself. While this case is of course typical of the hyperbole in Hollywood, it is not uncommon for the mentally challenged to sometimes have a special gift, or one highly developed area of expertise. Christine did not count toothpicks - instead, her head was an infallible calendar. Her mother had supposedly helped Christine learn about keeping a simple count (1, then 2, then 3, then 4) by marking it on a calendar. Somehow, in Christine's mottled brain, this took hold.

The first thing that Christine would do when she meet someone was to ask their birthdate. The second you responded (she always insisted on a year - modesty is unacceptable to the Christines of the world), she would tell you on which day of the week you were born. Many of us do not recall the exact day on which we were born, but no matter what you responded - confirmation, uncertainty, etc - she give a very firm shake of the head. There was no reason to doubt Christine. There was no question. She was always right.

It was uncanny, and there was no limit to this ability. She could regurgitate the date for hundreds of years back. She somehow always accounted for leap years and so forth. It was an amazing thing to see, especially for those of us who knew her and her many diseases. This was Christine's way to shine. We don't know where this knowledge comes from. The knowledge, which is extremely limited (called a splinter skill), is not traceable by modern science. Christine's brain anatomically looks like yours and mine. Her IQ hovers around the 25 point range, which makes her a barely functional human being. And yet, as far as dates and calendars are concerned, she is a savant (savant means learned one in french). Sadly, Christine is not intelligent enough to grasp the concept that her skill is unusual. She knows without understanding. It's hard to accept this trait in the mentally handicapped; often times her mother would have been glad to have traded in this "gift" if only Christine could learn to tie her own shoes, or regulate her food intake. But we don't pick and choose. Christine is who she is.

She swears like a sailor. She can't remember to look both ways before crossing the street. She cannot follow even the simplest directions. She must be constantly supervised. She has the attention span of a flea. And she loves her string.

Once I had been working with Christine for a few months, The String was looking truly pathetic. It was dirty (if you dropped your most prized possession repeatedly on the floor of the bus, it wouldn't look so hot either), it was splayed, and I feared its lifespan was drawing to a close. I literally had heart palpitations thinking about what might happen without The String around to keep Christine company. I thought about setting up a meeting with her support team to discuss the imminent possibilities when one day, out of the blue, Christine granted me the ultimate sign of her respect - I was entrusted with The String.

She handed it over to me gingerly. I remember being quite glad I was wearing mittens that could be washed since The String was beyond grubby. Christine was busy trying on ratty sweatshirts at the local thrift store (Christine believed that Valu Village was the highest end clothing store in the world, and never "shopped" anywhere else), and I waited outside with The String and the fanny pack (gladly - as we know, I could just as easily have been accosted with more nudity). Christine yelled at me through the not-wide-enough-curtain of her dressing room to place The String inside the fanny pack.

I sweated a little at the thought of this important task. I agonized over the possibility of getting it snagged in the zipper, and it being all my fault. I barely managed to muster the courage to break open ye olde fanny pack, but I'm glad I did because I have never before or sense enjoyed such a hearty belly laugh. Inside the fanny pack were dozens of identical pieces of string. It was a plethora of string, an unending supply, a sure source of many more hours of devoted string activities. I was never more relieved and glad than on that dreary afternoon in Valu Village.

Previous Christine found here.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


In April of 2003, Jason and I cashed in our air miles, earned one bottle of tequila at a time, for 2 plane tickets. We wanted to go anywhere, and nowhere in particular. So Jason threw a dart at a map, and we booked our tickets for Phoenix, Arizona. We decided on a random date in July and decided to let the wind take us where it may. We made no hotel reservations. We knew nothing about the area, and we didn't even buy a map. We ticked the days off the calendar.

A month before we were set to leave, I got a phone call. After months of waiting, I had finally made it to the top of the list for my elective knee surgery. I couldn't believe that after a relatively easy procedure requiring only a few short days in the hospital and small, laproscopic incisions, I could actually live a life with 2 fully functional knees. My surgery was scheduled for 2 weeks hence. Nearly every day, I was weepy with the thought of walking, sitting, bending without the pain that had become part of my daily life.

Unfortunately, this marred our vacation plans. There was a good chance I would be mobile in the 2 weeks post-surgery, but there's a big difference between hobbling around on crutches and free to enjoy a much-anticipated vacation.

Four tiny holes were drilled into my knee, and plastic parts made up for where my kneecap was deficient. I was pleased with the results, a model physical therapy patient, but I was completely dependent on demerol and crutches to get me through the day. I was in no condition to go exploring, but we went anyway. We're like that.

The plane ride was actually the worst part. My knee screamed in pain until I took enough demerol to pass out.

Phoenix to my eye looked pretty much like any other big city in any other place, so we didn't stay there long. We forrayed into small, dusty towns and I was delighted to see a real live cactus for the first time in my life. Small town Arizona struck me as one big commercial for ranch salad dressing. There weren't as many fringe-trimmed suede jackets as I had hoped to see, but there plenty of corny cliches walking around to keep a bemused smirk on my face the entire time.

Remembering Arizona for me is like looking at a photo album that's been smeared with vats of vaseline. We sent ourselves postcards from all the nameless towns we passed through, and when we received them back home, my handwriting was unrecognizable and illegible.

One night does stick out in my mind. It was the last night of our 10-day visit. July was drawing to an end, and I sat outside drinking rum and diet pepsi, watching the burning sun set from the balcony of our posh hotel room downtown in Phoenix. Jason was wrapped in sweaty sheets, with no hope of regaining consciousness anytime in the next 10 hours. I slurped up the last dregs of my drink, and I maneuvered myself down to the street, where I found a little bench to sit on.

I sat out there, in the cooling night air, for hours, just thinking. I was so high that thinking must have been quite a challenge, but I don't remember it that way. I remember being quite content to sit on the little bench. It was probably my favourite part of the vacation.

It was maybe midnight when I realized I had been sitting there for a stretch of time. I didn't particularly want to get up, even if I could, which was doubtful since my knee was surely stiff and impossible by this time. But I didn't get up; I was transfixed by the sudden appearance of a not unfriendly companion. He sat on the ground, near me but not too near. He made deep sounds in his throat, and he smiled at me gently. I thought briefly about being afraid of this stranger, but discarded the thought and put out my hand to touch him gently on the shoulder. It sent a thrill through me to have a secret moment out in unfamiliar streets.

"Nice night" I observed.

He nodded.

"I'm from Canada" I proclaimed proudly, if disjointedly. Conversation was not my forte in my overly-medicated and overly-liquored state. He laughed at that, a snorting, surprised laugh. I liked him immensely for it.

He asked me if I believed in God, and if I was happy, and whether I had ever tasted rain. We talked for hours. He told me he liked my magenta hair. I told him I liked his stripes.

He thought about this for a while. "Yeah" he said, "I like them too."

When dawn seemed to be breaking in the spaces between sky scrapers, it was time for him to go. I told him I had never met such a gentle, pensive tiger before, and he was pleased with this remark. We both ambled off in opposite directions.

Jason stirred when crawled into bed with him.

"Where have you been?" he asked.


"Out where?"

"I don't know. Not far. I just sat and talked."

"Talked to who? Was he cute?" suddenly Jason was wide awake.

"No, not cute. He was a tiger."

"A tiger? As in, a real tiger?"


Quiet. The room was saturated in quiet.



"A tiger?"

"Yes, Jason. A tiger."

"Oh hun, we need to get you off these demerols."

And with that, he put a firm arm around me, and fell back to sleep. Eventually, I followed him down into the inky sleep of the heavily drugged.

The next morning, we scurried around trying to pack in haste, late as usual for a plane that would most definitely take off without us. Every once in a while, he would laugh quietly to himself, and mumble something about the tiger.

It was a mistake to tell him, maybe. Some things should stay secrets. I let him track down the socks and shampoos and souvenirs. I sat, nursing my knee, sipping orange juice and eating toast. I read the complimentary newspaper, starting with the funnies, as I always do, and ending up on the front page.

"Tiger Escapes From Local Zoo!" the headline cried. I thought to myself that they needn't be so sensationalist; he's a friendly fellow. I folded the newspaper neatly, and tossed it in the garbage.

"Anything interesting?" Jason asked.

"No. Nothing."

And we turned off the lights, and left Arizona behind us.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday Fuckfest

What's fucking aggravating the hell out of me this week?

Goddamned pantyhose.

Pantyhose: the greatest exercise in female futility and blatant masochism know to humankind.
Runners up: mascara, the thigh master, trying to get a man to pick up his dirty laundry

Yes, they're stupid. And pointless. And sometimes, we have to wear them anyway: your office requires it, or decency requires it, or those gorgeous stilletos that you just had to buy even though they only had them a half size down from what you'd normally wear and now you totally need a buffer to help prevent blisters the size of Bruce Willis's big bald head, requires it.

Why I Hate Pantyhose
An Essay by Me

1. You can never find them when you need them. They get balled up and shoved to the back of your underwear drawer. They cling to the inside of the dryer. They sink to the bottom of the hamper and don't get washed right away, and by the time you fish them out they've grown a strangely hypnotic mould that you don't quite trust but you'd swear reminds you of Mickey Rooney.

2. If you happen to find some, I guarantee they're no good anyway. Either they shrank in the wash (and of course you won't know this until you try to yank them up, and you hop around looking like a bloody idiot for a good portion of your morning), or they stretched in the dryer, or they're the wrong colour, or they're full of holes, or you snag a hole as you're putting them on, or something. Either way, if you need pantyhose, you'll be making a trip to the store.

3. Buying pantyhose: possibly the stupidest thing you will ever do in your life. It's misleading because you go there thinking "all I need is a pair of pantyhose" and you go to the underwear section, and there they are, row upon row, hundreds or thousands of packages featuring creepy long-legged women, and you think to yourself "this is so easy!" But then it's not. Because you have to use the chart. You have to figure out your height and your weight, which for some reason are not measured in metric or standard, but by some obscure system we'll call Not Of This World (NOTW for short). And so you plot your NOTW height and weight and somehow come to graph a letter of the alphabet. So let's say you're a C. You need to find a package that says C. For some reason, this store stocks primarily K and X. You get down on your hands and knees, searching for C, and when you finally find it, you see that it may be C, but it's not the right colour! You want beige, but you can't find beige. They have nude, taupe, night, gray, navy, black...oh, here's beige! Oh crap, it's M. C, beige....okay, things are looking good...oh crap, these are sheer. I need opaque. And then there are issues with control tops and reinforced toes, and the percentage of lycra...and before you know it, you've spent 7 hours of your life that you will never get back crawling around the pantyhose department and all you've got to show for it is a pair of pantyhose that already resented having to buy in the first place.

4. So now you're late. You're rushing to get ready. You go to put on your brand new pair of pantyhose, and suddenly, a cold sweat breaks out on your brow. You didn't shave this morning. Normally you could get away with it, but let's face it: if you even look at pantyhose the wrong way, they'll get a nasty run in no time flat. You do not want to tempt fate with stubble. So you shave like a mad woman, knowing that the blood from all the nicks will dry, and the pantyhose will stick into the wound, and your body will surely absorb some nylon, but you're okay with it, because at least you'll get out of the house. But no. It's not meant to be.

5. You get one foot in okay. You try to get the second one in, and you totter a bit, and realize this is a bad idea, so you hop to the bed to sit down for Attempt #2. You're just getting them up past the ankles when you realize that your quick shaving stint in the shower has left you slightly damp, and the pantyhose are stuck to you like the dickens. The dickens! So you peel them off, ever so carefully, and you towel dry so vigorously you slough off an inch or two of skin, but you're a woman, and you know that for beauty, we must sacrifice. Attempt #3 is looking good until your yappy dog comes barreling through the door...

6. Yes, it's true. Pets of all kinds have a 6th sense about pantyhose. If you are wearing some, or trying to wear some, they and their pesky claws will be very curious. Pantyhose do not do well with dogs. Or cats. Or determined canaries. So you have to scurry to get the pets safely on the other side of the door, and in doing so, you work up a sweat. And we already know you can't get pantyhose on if there's moisture, so you need to wait and cool off. You do your makeup, touch up your nails....

7. Oh shit. Have you ever tried to put pantyhose on when your nails were wet? It's quite the sight. You may as well not have hands at all. But still, wet nails are preferable to long, manicured ones. That's just asking for runs! So you either have to get dressed wearing mittens, or you rely solely on your elbows for any kind of manipulation. And elbows, well, they're okay, but they're not so adept. It's almost guaranteed that you will go through 2 or 3 pairs of pantyhose just while trying to get the damned things on (always buy a few at a time) and if you leave the house without a spare pair in your purse, you are inviting the wrath of God, so don't say I didn't warn you.

8. Okay, so let's give you the benefit of the doubt, and say that you actually got a pair on. Good for you! Sadly, they don't fit, but still, it's quite an accomplishment. We know you've already bled, and if you're being honest, you'll admit you cried quite a bit too. We know it's true. And we also know that no matter what, they don't fit. Oh, you can come home with A-Z and none of them will be right. You will buy a size larger so they'll go on easily, and then you'll be pulling them up all night long, and people will point and laugh at the saggy wrinkled bags around your ankles and knees. But that's still preferable to getting a size too small, because then you end up walking like a penguin, paranoid that the crotch of your hosiery is hanging down lower than the hem of your skirt.

9. Personally, I have the hardest time being a woman of "petite" stature. They do not make pantyhose for Shrimps. They certainly claim to, but still I put on a pair, and the elastic band always comes up to my boobs. I could wear the damn things as a unitard for crumb's sake! Now, if all the clothes in my closet are low-rise, but my pantyhose come up to my armpits, what the hell good is that? It's preposterous.

10. But pantyhose woes don't end there. Next you have the problem of footwear. You cannot wear pantyhose and open-toed shoes. Some women do. These women should be shot. You also cannot wear anklets under your pantyhose. They get all bunched up, will surely snag, and you'll look like you belong on the short bus to boot. These women should also be shot.

11. If you sell a product that requires an invention to aid in the application of said product, you are a moron.

12. The worst is yet to come. Eventually, the pantyhose will come off. Sort of. You'll probably have to get help peeling them off because your natural body heat will have convinced the nylon and lycra to become your second skin during the course of the day. This is not good. Especially since many women choose to forgo the panty route when wearing pantyhose (not only is it redundant and uncomfortable, but you feel like a dowdy dunce). But the result of wearing pantyhose next to your skin all day is what I like to call "Clammy Crotch", because I am a refined lady. But you can imagine what ungoodness is entailed in clammy crotch.

13. If you manage to get them off intact, you deserve a reward. I wish I could reward you with the joy of never having to wear nylons again, but that isn't likely to happen. Sorry. At this point though, you have bigger fish to fry, ie, what to do with your soiled pair of pantyhose? You can toss them in the hamper and forget about them, hoping that the sloughed off skin trapped in the fabric, along with the dried blood and other DNA samples from Clammy Crotch, don't form some sort of warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light heat, electricity, etc, which somehow springs forth an entire universe that may or may not look to you kindly. And we already know that throwing them into the washing machine is a bad choice what with the fate of certain death they are likely to meet there. Your only other option is to hand wash them, and then leave them to dry in some dusty corner of your house. This is not cool. This is 2005. I refuse to wash anything by hand, dammit!

14. And so, in closing, I would like to point out that pantyhose are really only useful to one kind of person:

the bank robber. And even then, not always successfully.


This week's Most Fuckable is courtesy of the randy readers of Kill The Goat...I present to you, Mr. Colin Firth.

He beat out a great gaggle of worthy men (edging out Bill Nye the Science guy by an uncomfortably slim margin) and I would like to postulate that it's the "every man" quality that he has going for him that makes him a panty collector extraordinaire.

Colin Firth, known for roles in The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Pride and Prejudice, Love Actually (highly recommended), and of course, the BJ series, seems to have retained the appealing "affable bloke" attitude that is rare in celebrities of any type. It takes a special kind of person to make the charming Hugh Grant seem like a schmuck in comparison, but Colin has qualities so sweet and humble about him that you cannot help but fall in love.

There is just something about the shy, quiet, bumbling ones that makes a woman want to know more. No, not just more. It makes you want to rip his clothes off and discover that he doesn't kiss like a nice boy at all. Or is that just me?

No abs of steel or frosted tips; none are necessary. He's just a guy with warm eyes and an engaging smile. Heck, I would even call him winsome, if I knew what it meant. But the fact is, even when he's unforgivably rude, and wearing a reindeer jumper, we like him very much. Just as he is.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Trip In The Park

Two spheres, one on top of the other, like a portly snowman in August. The larger of the two spheres is blue while the other, slightly smaller, is more brown. This is one sick snowman.

I went for a walk in the morning, when the sun was weaker and the day was spread vast before me like an unread book, rife with possibility. My purple sketchers bounce across the hot pavement as I go, marking time, marking distance, marking where I've been but not where I'm going.

I snake up and down the friendly avenues, winking at the wilting people who adorn unkempt front lawns. I know they are thinking "How can anyone willingly be puttering around in this heat?" while I am thinking "How can anyone just sit there in this beautiful sunshine?"

When I have walked enough, I duck into the park near my home. I stand, draped across a chain link fence, to watch the 3 year olds take swimming lessons in the kiddie pool. I stand shoulder to shoulder with proud grandmas, each anxious to point out their precious angels to me so that I can admire each one in turn.

I turn to go, scampering down the mild incline shaggy with unmown, emerald green grass. The sun is red and high in the sky, smiling down on the top of my head, cutting my shadow short. My ponytail swings out the back of my hat, keeping rhythm to a dance that is bigger than just me, the park, or the city. And then suddenly, a blip in perfection:

The toe of my right shoe catches in a divot in the lawn. I stumble, but I don't fall. I catch myself in time, and have a small smile of triumph on my lips as I reclaim the foot that is rightly mine. But I am overenthusiastic in doing so; the newly freed foot has so much momentum that it crashes into my left calf. It is such a forceful hit that I kick my leg right from under me. For a split second, I am suspended in the air, no feet on the ground, just long enough to think "Uh oh". And before I can even feel myself drop, I feel the impact. Left elbow and tailbone absorb the hardest blows but I can't think of the pain because the wind has been knocked out of me, and breath is the only thought my mind can form.

I am lying on the grass; green blades tickle my neck as I gasp for air. Finally, when my lungs are restored, I am receptive to the shooting pain in my elbow, but I repress that for a minute more so I can burn with shame and embarrassment. The park is teaming with witnesses to my exercise in dis-grace. I pick myself up, and plaster a too-wide phony grin on my face. I limp home, shaking off clumps of dirt that persist in clinging to me, evidence of my failure to master my own limbs.

The next day I have all but forgotten my accident when I discover the snowman. Upon closer inspection, I see 3 dots right where his buttons should be. But they're not buttons, they're freckles. The freckles shine through the awkward bruise on my calf, a discoloured August snowman sent to remind me of my trip in the park.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Blogging About Blogging - Does This Make Me Postmodern?

Last fall, during the Miss America pageant, Jason started a blog. His first entry was a scathing, if brief, review of the crowning, despite the fact that we didn't even watch it. I teased him mercilessly for weeks for being such a nerd. I had never heard of a blog before, but since it involved Jason hunched over his laptop, I was certain it deserved such a label.

As fate would have it, I would be piqued by the blog bug myself before long, and Kill The Goat was launched in October. Jason's blog didn't last long, but I became strangely addicted to typing up entries and hitting the publish button, often during twilight hours. I have always kept a journal to write in, so I can't say why I started a blog in addition, but I did, and I enjoyed it. In the early days, I had never seen another blog besides mine and Jason's, and I couldn't imagine that very many of them were floating around. I was a closet nerd.

I had also not discovered that you could receive comments on your posts, until one day I must have hit a wrong button, and that same day a stranger came across this small space, and the first comment was left. I had no idea where it came from, or how a stranger had happened upon my silly writings. But, I followed the link back to the originating blog, and suddenly a whole world opened up to me.

I still don't know how it is that people feel compelled to read about the daily misdeeds of complete strangers. Do we find beauty in the mundane? Do we find it comforting that we do not struggle alone? Or is a blog the layperson's version of reality TV, where each of us is laying bear our very lives, with a lot of editing, of course? After all this time, I still haven't figured out the magic of the blog, or why I continue to write here so regularly. But I continue to write down my daily travails, sometimes veering from the bleak to the completely silly in a matter of 24 hours. I have written about thoughts, feelings and opinions, and am delighted to look back into my archives and discover what I was thinking on this day 6 months ago.

In fact, a quick perusal through my archives reveals to me that not much has changed in terms of my writing over the course of this blog. I still write for myself as I did when I received no comments. However, I do get comments now, and I must say that any publisher in any medium would slit throats for this kind of reader feedback. If I was interested in writing to the audience, it could be very easily achieved:

post about the city of Cornwall: 26 comments
post about volunteering with the mentally challenged: 27 comments
post about violence against women: 42 comments
post about men and women's underwear, padded with lots of half-nude pictures: 128 combined comments

These stats are taken from days where equal amounts of people visited; clearly very unequal amounts of people chose to comment. We could all study our stats and come to pretty clear conclusions about pandering to our audience - so why don't we? The people who come here enjoy the silly over the serious...and yet, I still write seriously when it strikes me, and I am not alone. I visit a number of good blogs, and I still find people writing about what feels right to them.

A blog is a web log - an online journal. This is not a news source. I write with a strong bias. I write my personal opinions - whether that opinion is on Tom Cruise, yogurt, or war. And yet invariably I receive emails and comments that range from condemning my opinion to condemning me to hell. Someone recently took the time to write to me that my blog was "nothing remarkable - you write an account of personal activities as though we care."

And this is true. Sorry, but, I will write what I want to write. You may not care, but I do. And each entry, regardless of the number of comments received, is dear to me. I enjoy reading what other people have to say, and at times I have been truly touched at the love and support I have received from what amounts to be a group of strangers with little in common other than a blogger account. But it remains my personal opinion that a blog is a personal forum, emphasis on the personal. If you don't like what I'm saying, you are not compelled to read, and you are certainly not compelled to comment. I have always felt that comments on a blog should be positive, or not at all. If your opinion differs from mine, I respect that. You may go to your own blog and write all about it, and I will happily read about it there. And yet, there is rarely a comment section that has not been infected by any number of spammers, religious zealots, political despots, or fervent Clay Aiken fans. One such commenter, strong in his belief that Coldplay are apparently the new messiah and the cure for all that ails us, asked me what my blog had done for the world lately.

My answer:


Nothing whatsoever, I can only hope. This is the place where I write about the excrutiating minutiae of my day. Whatever my mark on the world will be, it will not be done within the confines of Kill The Goat. This is not a soapbox. This is my journal.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Dingo Ate My Baby

Jason's good friend from work, Joey (and by "good friend" I mean "the only other guy among the 800 or so employees who is not mentally retarded") has recently given his notice as he is about a month away from departing for the wilds of Australia.

What perils await him whilst living among the crocs and the dundees? It's hard to tell. But, in a rallying effort to be my usual, helpful self (hey, no smirks, please), I have compiled all the useful knowledge of Australia that has been playing bumper cars in my brain over the last, oh, 24 years or so, and I am offering them here, in the sincere hopes that you fine people might add to it. Some of you are even from this far off land, and if so, your advice would be invaluable (meaning: I won't pay you for it).

First, I would like to issue a safety warning. Australia has some pretty nasty stuff (no, I'm not just talking about nasty Kylie Minogue dance songs, though they are pretty horrifying), including a whole bunch of animals just waiting to tear you to pieces. Well, not you, Joey, specifically. I'm pretty sure they'll eat any tourist, though I imagine they go for those wearing obnoxious fanny packs first - which brings me to another point. Don't say fanny when you're in Australia! Unless of course, you are referring to a woman's love tunnel, which is what it means in the land of Oz.

Anyhow, back to my harrowing list of animals that could eat you, or at the very least maim you: saltwater crocodiles will reportedly attack even unprovoked. Aw, that kind of reminds me of myself, actually. But then there's box jellyfish (should I call them fanny jellyfish to be PC?) that apparently contain enough poison in their tentacles to take down 3 Joeys, or Joey and 2 friends, or just Joey but three times as dead. Even the dorky platypus will cut you down with his venomous ankle spurs - but don't worry, he's not lethal, just UNBEARABLY PAINFUL. My personal favourite is the cassowary, a big 51/2 foot monster, weighing in at an impressive 130lbs. He will drop kick you if you look at him the wrong way - don't let the fact that it's just an ugly bird throw you; it really does have an ultra-sharp third toe that he kicks, and has been known to kill people with. So don't make friends with him. And while kangaroos may look all cute and innocent, I suggest you stay away from them, or this one at least:

Or at least make him buy you dinner first.

Just don't go out for Australian hamburgers, which for some unknown reason are adorned with beetroot, and be sure to stay away from vegemite altogher. Vegemite seems like a cruel joke perpetrated by the pranksters of Australia - it's a salty food paste made from brewer's yeast. Australians spread it thinly on toast; in everyone else it induces vomiting. Plus, it's brought to you by the good folks at Phillip Morris, who are known for producing tasty treats right? At the very least, you can't say there aren't any good yeast spreads out there. Right.

So where was I? Oh yeah, talking about a horny kangaroo taking Joey out for dinner. Sorry bout that. But it's a safer topic than a certain phone-throwing celebrity from down under who sings in an illustrious band called TOFOG.

Don't worry, Australia, I don't blame him on you (he was born a Kiwi), but I do blame the band on you. I mean come on: 30 Odd Foot of Grunts? Who needs that? Joey, if you happen to catch these guys in concert, do bring a phone to throw at them, the bigger the better. Because in my opinion, the horny kangaroo is a better bet. But you needn't resort to kangaroos while you sojourn in Australia because prostitution is not illegal, baby! But you have to be careful not to solicit near schools, churches, or hospitals. I think you can probably manage that, right? There are massage parlours in New South Wales and licensed brothels in Victoria so you can do quite well for yourself. Just don't take up pimping, because that's still a no-no.

And while we're talking about The Way Things Are in Australia, I should mention the fact that they drive on the other side there. And while driving on the wrong side of the road (well, certainly not the right), you apparently should keep your eyes peeled for skiing kangaroos. All of this can be taxing on someone foreign to the land, especially considering you'll be frantically translating the whole time. Oh sure, Australians speak "English", but let's face it: those hosers wouldn't know proper speak if it hit them in the head, eh? Luckily, you can take a crash course in Australian here, and learn such helpful phrases such as "That man has a large stomach" and "Someone stole my bicycle."

And if bicycle theft turns out to be a big problem, you can always turn to one of Australia's national pastimes, the boomerang. Yes, it seems silly and pointless, but then, all the best sports are. Throwing a stick and waiting for it to come back to you may make you feel a bit doggish, but remember, it's a curved stick. Much more highly evolved. And while not as dangerous as saltwater crocodiles, it is best to be mindful of this warning: "Remember - you are the target!"

And if you should happen to get homesick while you're down there, you can take comfort in their similarly strong tradition in great beer. I totally recommend Foster's to start you off on the right foot. They're not just about cute novelty beer coasters, but I do have a fondness fo them, probably because we don't have coasters up here in Canada. As far as I know, no Canadian has ever put down a beer.

As you can see, I have very limited knowledge of this great country, so I would sincerely appreciate input from all of you. And as they say in Australia, I'm off like a bucket of prawns in the sun....or, g'day, mate.

Monday, August 01, 2005

So we went camping.

That's right. Thanks to another fun bout of insomnia, I was up early on Thursday morning, and my heart being made of pure gold, I woke Jason up too, on his morning off. We hadn't seen actual morning hours in months, and at first we were struck dumb with what to do, when suddenly, Jason had a flash of brilliance: coffee and doughnuts.

True, the Tim's near our house is open 24 hours, but it shouldn't be. Legitimately it should only be open for about 3 of those hours, because at all other times, the doughnut selection is either slim and stale, or non-existent. We have learned from experience at least 3600 times. But 7am is doughnut time, and the little burst of sugar high that Jason got as he bit into his second boston cream was this: go camping!

And so we did. We did a haphazardous stint of groceries, where we threw all kinds of random junk into the cart and then nearly fainted at the bill. We collected ice for the coolers, propane for the stove, and batteries for everything else. We loaded up the car until its ass was dragging on the pavement, and set off knowing that we had surely forgotten at least a dozen essential items.

But wait. Clearly we have neglected the one thing that every good camper needs for a successful trip into the wilderness: booze. Have no worries; we stopped at the good old LCBO and plied ourselves with all kinds of stuff that we would otherwise deem undrinkable, stashed it in some ice, and considered ourselves ready for anything.


We set up camp fairly quickly. We have a lovely little dome tent that sets up easily, unlike the old canvas tents of my childhood that required 3 hours worth of tears and at least a pint of blood shed from tiny fingers, plus 6 yards of duct tape before it would begin to stand erect. All around us we heard grown ups cursing at poles, cursing at instructions, cursing at each other for just not getting it. Oddly enough, Jason and I set up tents without falling into this trap. Don't think about it too hard, we know it makes no sense:

1. I am obstinate
2. I have a short fuse
3. I have the worst and quickest temper known to humankind
4. I believe that I am always right, and that it's my way or the highway
5. Although I love to boss people around, I am loathe to do any actual grunt work

And yet, despite all of this, Jason and I are the only couple on earth that can put together Ikea furniture without mutiny or mention of divorce. Weird, huh?

So as I was saying, we have a little dome tent, which is great, except that there is no graceful way to enter or exit such a little abode. I usually go with the ass-first method, which might be cute if I was 4, but I'm not. Ah well. There are worse things to come.

We divide tasks at the campsite equally: Jason splits the wood, unloads the car, makes the bed (we always bring the mattress from our pull-out couch because I have a bad back and a tendency to whine) and sets the table while I sit and watch. Eventually I get tired from watching so much work get done and insist that we get ourselves to the beach.

The only problem with that is that we are currently dressed in shorts and t-shirts, and we need to magically change into our bathing suits. I say magically, because I think magic would be a more probable way of accomplishing this task than to attempt it in the little dome tent. Did I mention that it's little? It is. Perfect for sleeping. It does fit a queen sized mattress, after all. But you can't stand up in it. So all the changing has to be done flat on your back, which is a struggle. So we both go into the tent, foolishly, and discover that we should have attempted this one at a time. I only elbow Jason in tender places twice before he insists that I sit still while he does his thing, and then I can have my turn. Great. Good stuff.

Our lot is pretty private. I watch out the tent window while Jason changes at the river, which glistens so invitingly. A nice breeze is passing through the open windows, which is good, I can imagine how hot it would get in there with all the twisting and turning around you have to do while getting dressed in the prone position. Eventually it is my turn. I lie down and squirm my hips until I seem to have shed my pants, and then I squirm them again to get the bottom half of my bathing suit on. I almost cry when I realize that I will have to do this again when the bathing suit is wet. And then I sit up to strip off my shirt, and when I do so, I look outside the tent window, hungry for some fresh air, and I find myself starting straight into the eyes of a strange man.

So basically these people (yes, there were 2 of them) had wandered into the back of our lot to look at the river, and found themselves instead looking at my boobies. Not cool. Jason is mortified of course, not because someone has seen my breasts, but because I don't have the good sense to be overly embarrassed or outraged about it.

Finally we get to the beach, which is a good 10 paces away from our site, and we are rewarded with a nice cool dip in the water. We wade around, playing and talking; it's all fun and games until a little boy points to the water near his toes and exclaims "Fishy!" with much glee. Suddenly, the beach has become something else entirely to me, and I don't like it one bit. Oh, I'm okay with fish as long as me and fish are kept firmly separated. But the mere thought of a fish swimming stealthily between my legs, possibly brushing up against my skin or nibbling on my backside is enough to send me into a tailspin. But the water is achingly beautiful and I really don't want to get out just yet, so I order Jason to start kicking his legs around underwater in an effort to deter the fish from becoming acquainted with any part of me. So Jason and I are surrounded by curious, splashy children, but it is he and I who look the fools as we use our limbs to stir up the water and hopefully create a fish-free zone.

"He probably only meant a tadpole" Jason reassures me.

"Tadpole! That totally counts!" I tell him, disgusted with the slimy idea.

Finally all of this manic treading of the water tires us (me) out, and so we face the second great conundrum of camping: we are in the water, our sandals are on the beach. How to get wet feet into clean sandals? Impossible. The walk from water to sandals across beach accrues much sand and mud on feet. You can then put on the sandals, dirtying them, then trudge back down to the water, rinse them and your feet off, but then you still have to cross the beach to the grassy area, and you'll still get full of sand. And you can't just wipe your feet clean in the grass because the grass is full of goose shit. Or at least, it was at this particular beach. So we had to walk sandy-toed back to our site, and then Jason fetched a pail full of water from the river's edge, and I dunked my feet into the pail, and then laughed convulsively when we found out that Jason's feet are too big to fit in a bucket.

Camping is exhausting. There's a lot of work involved in getting out into nature for some rest and relaxation. For example, I decided that a nice read out in the sunshine would be nice. So I got my chair, and I put on my hat, and my sunglasses, and the sunscreen, and then I reached into the cooler for a drink, and then I hopped about trying to restore circulation into my poor frigid hand that had to dive into the ice water to find the drink, and then I struggled to twist the cap off my drink, and then I squinted about to find where the cap landed, somewhere in the billions of blades of grass, and then I stepped on it, and had to dig it out of my heel, and then had to root through the bags for the bandaids, and just as I was ready to sit down, I discovered there was a bug on my chair, so I went to the edge of the bush to get a big stick to poke the bug with, but upon poking said bug, it still didn't move, so then I had to get Jason to come remove the bug for me, and then he demanded payment for bug removal, and by the time I got back to my chair it was no longer in the prime sunny spot, so I moved it all over the site trying to find just the right place where the sun would hit my shoulders equally but not cast strange shadows on my book, and finally I settled in, content to read, when a bird of some sort (pigeon? seagull? what's the difference?) came to squawk at me, and I didn't like the look it was giving me, so I chased it away, and then I worked up such a sweat that I decided just to go swimming again instead. Ugh!

And that's pretty much how the camping carried on. We spent our days lounging, and then hiking about, and then swimming to cool off. We played "guess what animal is caught in the bush behind the tent" and traded the quiet seclusion of our site for the speedo-happy crowd at the beach. We compared bathing suit dilemmas - Jason insisted that his "junk stood out" when he got out of the water sopping wet, and that there was no good way for a guy to adjust. I insisted that women have the same problem, but in the back, and Jason agreed that this was so, but that it was "hot" and that this is why guys always let girls get out first. And then we'd spot another speedo heading toward the water, and we'd run for cover.

The first night, we were in the tent, doing some needlework, when we had to suddenly stop halfway through. "What's wrong?" I asked, because it was hard to make out the look on his face is the growing dusk.

"My knee hurts" he said, and so we inspected the knee, and sure enough, it was sunburned. Just that knee, the right one, a half-moon of bright red.

"Have you ever seen a bee with a sunburned knee down by the bay?" I sang, because I couldn't resist.

Jason had no idea what I was singing about. Jason seems to have missed all kinds of key parts of childhood in my opinion. He obviously has never been to Brownie camp, or else he'd know all of these songs that I start singing involuntarily the minute we arrive at a campsite. But this particular song was from my Fred Penner repertoire, and I fail to see how any Canadian kid could have missed that!

But aside from the one-sided singing, camping is always good. Jason built some very nice fires, and we sat my them nice and toasty well into the night. Jason drank more beer than a human body should hold, and had several of "the greatest pees of his life" and I learned what peeing on auto-pilot meant. He insisted that I should be jealous of his abilities, but the jury's still out on that one.

We ate so much good food that it was criminal, almost. We have standard camping fare, including my famous potato salad, and devilled eggs, and chicken caesar pitas that are good to have around in case it rains (it never did). We made chicken fajitas one night, and our fellow campers gave us strange looks indeed, but boy were they good. Camping really does a doozy on the appetite. I think I must have eaten at least my body weight in grapes alone.

We tossed the frisbee in the grass (Jason taught me to throw, and to try to catch a frisbee only earlier this year). We threw footballs to each other in the river when we had the beach to ourselves, which we often did, until our arms hurt, and then we built sandcastles that were the envy of no one, because we're terrible at it. Jason, being at typical boy, built mostly moats and gun turrets, and I , being a girl, combed the beach for pretty rocks to adorn the castle walls.

But eventually it's time to go home. And you find that somehow, you can't possibly fit everything back into the car even though you have way less stuff because you ate all the food and drank all the booze. But somehow you squeeze it all in, say goodbye to the flattened patch of grass where your tent has sat all this time, and drive away from a small corner of paradise. And you head home with loads and loads of laundry ahead of you, and dreams of taking a hot shower with oodles of soap so you can find grains of sand in all kinds of nooks and crannies, and you know that if at all possible, you'll head back out again in a heartbeat. August is only just beginning, and there's still plenty of trouble left to get into.