Thursday, August 21, 2008

Members Only

Before my hair appointment, I stop to buy three things: a diet pepsi, a pack of gum, and a trashy magazine.

There's no rule stating that you couldn't read, say, The New Yorker, or a well-worn copy of the works of Arthur Miller. It's just that a head full of foils and Cosmo go together like 5-inch heels and crotchless panties. Plus, I don't think it's coincidence that an issue of Cosmo can be read in about 3 hours, which is the average time it takes to cut, colour, highlight, and style a medium length of hair. The world works in mysterious ways.

So I'm sitting there under the big hair dryer wondering if it reads my thoughts as it warms my scalp and I'm trying not to blush over the token "guy with no shirt" and I come across a shocking how-to article: how to surreptitiously measure his package.


Because you'd hate to waste a 5-minute conversation on a guy who wasn't packing at least 6 inches. And now, through the magic of Cosmo, you don't have to!

Imagine talking to a guy, finding out that he's a great person, really smart, funny, kind, then accepting a date from him, letting him pay, basking in his compliments, walking through doors he holds open, dancing in is arms, realizing you have loads in common and that he's practically perfect....except for his average penis.

What a waste!

Now you can bypass all that nonsense, save yourself from getting to know those "great" catches, and skip right to what's important: how big he is in the pants.

Cosmo offers not one but TWO fail-proof methods of sizing up a potential mate:

1. The good old stare-straight-at-his-crotch method. Now, good girls that we are, we wouldn't want to actually get caught checking out his little buddy, so Cosmo coaches us in really great undercover tactics, such as gazing in the general direction of his groin as if you're thinking deeply about something, and tapping your forehead to make it look extra realistic, or using a prop, like a book, and holding it just under the line of sight to his goods so that it looks like you're an intellectual when actually you're a perv.

But wait. It gets better.

2. The tried and tested actually-reach-out-and-touch-it method. It seems to be unsaid but understood that in a perfect world, boys would just line up, perhaps behind a table, and whip them out for close inspection, but since they're a little less forthright than this, we have to help ourselves. Now, to just outright feel someone up is called "molestation" or something like that, but helpfully picking lint off his fly? Well, that's just good citizenry! There's about to be an epidemic of invisible dick-lint, so boys, beware: guard your junk!

This is the crap with which I filled my head that day, and normally I forget about it the minute my hair is looking like it's ready for its Vidal Sassoon moment, but this time I wasn't so lucky.

The very next day, riding the train home after work, I was seated while others were still crowding around, putting a random man's penis right in my eyeline. I tried to look away, I really did. I tried to be interested in the only other scenery available to me at the time: a woman was (ironically, I assume) wearing a track suit stretched precariously over her considerable behind that offered a very obvious VPL (visible panty line) of epic proportions. But I just couldn't help myself. This man actually had lint on his crotch!

Fate was tempting me and it was only a testament to my iron will that I did not succumb...and to the fact that in my experience, men who start out a bit on the smaller side often grow to be bigger than average once erect, which is what's important, after all. So the results of Cosmo's groping tactics were a bit dubious to me.

Plus, call me old-fashioned, but I'm the kind of girl who still thinks that finding out a guy's girth is more of a second-date activity.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our lives are better left to chance.

I mentioned that I had recently moved (again), this time to the lovely city of Ottawa. My bags are unpacked, the boxes have been broken down and recycled, and I have a bump on my head where I used it to break the fall of a bathroom cabinet that I was attempting to screw into the wall.

So, I'm here.

This is not the first time I call Ottawa my home. I lived here many moons ago while I pursued my degree (ie, went to a lot of bars, ate cold cereal like it was a food group, and then showed up one day to collect a piece of paper that said I was a grown-up now, and good luck with that). But it's been five years since I've been anywhere near Ottawa and though I'm no stranger to being alone in a new city, it's still a little intimidating.

The first week I tackled my aloneness with this ingenious strategy: I went to the market, wandered around until I found the busiest, most packed-with-warm-bodies patio that existed, then sat down at the table with the highest ratio of cute boys and said 'Mind if I sit here?'

No one ever said no.

Mind you, when I was talking to my friend K about my system, he told me that only a person with breasts could get away with it. Breasts and balls.

The second week, however, was even better. I was touched when old friends, people I hadn't physically seen in years, began calling me up for drinks and dinners and general going-outness. They probably have no idea (well, other than the fact that I'm posting this on the internet) how much that meant to me, to feel like I have friends here. One friend, a brand-spanking newlywed, has even made herself available to me despite the fact that she's still technically honeymooning.

Another friend and I fell right back into the same easy relationship we'd always shared when I sat down at lunch and ordered the white peach sized. After playing catch-up for a bit and giggling over some of our more embarrassing common history, I interrupted:

I'm too distracted to eat lunch! Your luscious lips are mahhhhvelous. What gloss are you using?

And do you know what? Apparently Ottawa has vastly improved since I've been away, because Ottawa (brace yourselves) has a Sephora now. Youpee!

So the very next night I am at the Rideau Centre, stalker-like, hunting apricot souffle and a piece of chocolate cake (apricot souffle being the not very imaginative name ascribed to the gloss, and a piece of chocolate cake being the one thing my sweet tooth had really been craving). It took me some time to even locate the store, since it's hidden in a corner of the third floor amid stores selling dresses only old ladies could love and hideous shoes only old ladies could afford. But find it I did.

Sephora, if you don't know, is a mecca of makeup. It's thousands of pots and tubes and tiny jars all bearing big price tags containing things to paint faces. So finding one particular shade of lip gloss is like finding a needle in a haystack (and I move that we get rid of that antiquated phrase and replace it henceforth with "like finding a tube of apricot souffle in Sephora"). Anyway. Long story short: I didn't find it.

But against all odds, I did manage to find the hole labelled Apricot Souffle that would normally house the tubes of lipstick if they hadn't already run out of them.

So that was a bust. But all was not lost; there was still the matter of the chocolate cake.

Except clearly this shopping trip was doomed. The market still had wraps. It still had sushi. It still had fruit\yogurt parfaits. But chocolate cake? Get real.

So I was nearly dejected as I made my way from one end of the mall to the other, passing by all the other possibilities because when you're in the mood for chocolate cake, onion rings and ice caps just don't cut it.

But then I stumbled upon something far better than chocolate cake and the perfect shade of lip gloss combined (hard to believe, I know).

What I found was Jamie, my very dear friend (yes, of the same name), who lives in Medicine Hat. The very same Medicine Hat that is normally found in Alberta (which is 3637km away from here, fyi). Just like that!

Now, to tell the truth, my eyes had not been peeled just in case old Albertan friends who happen to go by the same name that I go by. She, not yet aware that I was living in this city, was similarly not exactly looking out for me, or for anyone, since it's safe to say that you don't know many people in a city you don't come from or live anywhere near. But somehow, in one of life's amazing serendipitous moments, we found each other, and were soon hugging and crying and embarrassing ourselves in the lower level food court.

And I realized then that had I found the apricot souffle, I would have stayed to track down the perfect complimentary blush. And on that shopping high, I would have chased down the bronze stilettos that I've been hungering for, and having located them, I imagine eschewing the cake in favour of a post-shop drink or two away from the mall, and away from Jamie.

Had I got what I wanted, it's unlikely that two friends crossing in the night would have ever connected.

You never really know what's out there, what you're about to miss, what you might have experienced had you chosen x over y. Sometimes it's even as trivial as a tube of lip gloss, but life is full of surprises, and minor disappointments can become tearfully joyous reunions in mere moments.

Life is beautiful, and random, and wonderful.
And the next day, a new shipment of apricot souffle arrived.
What more could a girl want?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If it makes you happy.

Last Friday night, I had an incredible first date.

We shared a meal, we talked for hours, we played, we cuddled up to watch a movie, we talked some more (like, 8 hours more). We asked questions like Why? and Why not? and really listened to the answers, discovered our commonalities with excitement, animatedly offered differing opinions, treasured each new tidbit of information.

And then the shift ended and we went home.

Yeah, so it wasn't a date, exactly, but meeting this coworker for the first time was an enriching experience during which a theme cropped up that we apparently share: the pursuit of happiness.

You've heard me harp about happy before. It's important to me to choose happiness on a daily basis, and then spend my days seeking it in whatever mysterious corners it may lurk.

The last time I sat down to try to put it into words, I wrote about happiness par deux and while I still enjoy the certain delights that come by coupling, I find that lately, I not only embrace but crave the joy that comes to me alone.

Today as I was getting ready for work, I found a sweater I hadn't seen in a week, and do you know where it was hiding? On a hook behind the bathroom door. I hadn't closed my bathroom door in a week. I pee with the door wide open! I shower with it open! I let the steam billow out and then rub myself with a great big pink towel in front of windows that haven't any curtains. I sit on my balcony wearing only whatever lotion hasn't soaked in yet, and whatever drops of daiquiri I've sloshed and not licked up. I enjoy the cool breeze on my skin and I just feel luxurious.

I threw out all of my old underwear and bras, and even the socks, and especially the pyjamas. Now I only wear lingerie, and I have a whole bunch that I keep for my eyes only. I make myself feel special the moment I walk in the door.

I put a 63-song playlist on my mp3 player a few weeks ago, and chose myself a happy song. Now whenever The Blood Arm starts asking Do I have your attention? I answer my dancing my pants off, wherever I am, no exceptions. Being a chronic music-listener, I am almost always plugged in when I'm out of the house, so I've thus far danced on a bench along Wellington; at the grocery store in front of the hummus, where I was deciding between garlic, and roasted garlic; while waiting in line at Bridgehead for someone else's coffee; and just today, on the overpass above the 417 at Pinecrest, where I briefly worried about getting some sort of citation for public disturbance. It's the kind of song that causes me to flail my limbs about in abandonment, and after I get over my initial embarrassment, I forget about all the people and just give in to the moment and by the end of the song, my heart is beating with joy. Joy, joy, joy.

I stopped buying meat. Instead, I go down to the farmer's market where they don't look at you strangely for fondling the beautiful fruit and where I can fill my bag with veggies that I feel a connection to. Then I go home and bliss out - zen, for me, is not a tiny sandbox with an even tinier rake, or even motorcycle maintenance; zen, for me, is chopping vegetables. Bell peppers are best, of course, but anything will do. Cantaloupe lets you be creative and zucchini is so satisfying.

When I come home from a run or a workout, I strip. And I don't mean I remove my clothing, because I don't do just that. I turn on the music and literally strip, removing one piece at a time and flinging it because I can and if it's still there the next day then so be it. I am the king of my castle.

And every day I find happiness in these small things, the really absurdly overpriced napkins that make me smile, and the oddly shaped vase I bought because it looks a little like budha, and the perfect shade of purple on my toes, and the yellow shoes that I adore because they match nothing and yet everything, and even the annoying ringtone of my phone because I know it's ringing just for me.

This is what happiness is, to me. It's not a big movie moment, with swelling music and memorable lines and perfect kisses. It's really savouring everyday moments, and feeling connected to the world, and being really present, and getting really excited, and knowing that you made that moment count. Really count.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Watching Him Sleep

Okay, bud, it's been 7 minutes.
Show some sign of life.
I mean, the sex was good, great actually, but if you leave me lying here much longer I'm going to start to wonder whether the scent on your sheets is from a sheet of Bounce in the dryer, or merely a spritz of Febreze before I came over.
Oh, please god let these be new sheets.
All right. Maybe if I clear my throat and sit up, he'll take the hint.
Shit. Nope.
Is he snoring?
Ohgodohgodohgod, please don't let this be a sleepover.
If I call a cab and leave, he'll be mad. Also, I think that's my blouse under his ass.
Yeah, I'm going to have to make a dry-cleaner run this week. I wonder if they're still having that $3.99 special...
Christ on crutches! Great, now I'm trapped. How do I always end up with the cuddlers? Why can't I meet a nice aloof guy for once?
There's no way I'm sleeping here tonight. He doesn't even own curtains for crying out loud. Maybe if I just give him a quick jab in the ribs...
Crap. Apparently that's an invitation to grab my tit.
Jeez I wish my ass wasn't pressed up against the wall. It's cold! But if I scooch over, I'll be in the wet spot, and I don't like to brag, but that's a big fucking wet spot. Maybe I can just curl my knees around it...
Nope. That sure didn't work.
Don't panic.
Maybe I can at least roll him into it, and his body will act as a bridge which I can cross and at least go pee, and - yes! yes, it's working! - now I can just get to the bathroom, have a quick pee, maybe find an old t-shirt I can borrow to get home in, and then....wait.
What am I hearing?
Oh gawd.
I thought he wasn't supposed to be here tonight!
I can't very well run across the hallway naked.
Well, I suppose I could...maybe the roommate is cute. And maybe the roommate drives girls home after sex.
Oh stop it. You're not really that mean, are you?
Don't answer that.
Oh man, I need to get out of here like NOW.
Maybe you write a note, borrow a t-shirt and call a cab once you've made it outside.
If he's mad in the morning, you can tell him that he was saying his ex-girlfriend's name in his sleep again. That'll shut him up.
Now I just have to extricate myself without waking him up...
Okay, he's on my hair.
Not cool.
Then, if I can just wiggle south....
Abort! Abort!
The giant stirs!

"Hey, where do you think you're going?"
"You can't go home."
"I can't?"
"But you were sleeping!"
"Well fuck, you take a lot out of a guy, you know. But now that I'm rested up a bit, I wasn't quite done with you. Think you can stay for a bit?"