Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Adventures in Babysitting

I was a teenage babysitter. Since then, I have been many things to many people: a waitress working for tips one bloody nickel at a time, a starving student, an underpaid & undervalued salesperson, an office scapegoat, a reluctant ambassador to my country, a perfectionist confectionarist, a tired wife, a wordless writer, an unwanted daughter, a counsellor who takes it personally, a wary advocate, a friend who tries her best and often fails, and after all of this, I can tell you only two things for certain:

1. babysitting is the hardest job on earth
2. see #1

There is no glory in babysitting, no fortune to be made, no resume-building, no lunch-breaks, even. In fact, when you are tired and need a break, you have to make lunch for other people, convince bratty kids to sit and eat it, then clean up after them. These may be the joys of motherhood, but they are the bane of every babysitter. Babysitters have lower tolerances for snot and other bodily fluids; those things are only cute to the person who pushed this kid out into exitence. You may wipe his various orifices with nary a second thought, but trust me: I do not. Three New Year's Eves in a row, I cleaned the puke of 3 different boys (and this was before I was a drinker!). Did I get a big cash bonus? No. An employee of the month award? Nada. Not even a preferred parking space.

The real kicker is when the parent asks you to do something that they know very well they've never been able to do. One mother would always remind of the 8:30 bedtime, and when that time rolled around, the kids would invariably kick and scream and raise holy hell, but I would get them to bed for better or worse. That's what a babysitter does, even if it doesn't win you any favours with the kids. But the parents are the boss, and like any boss, they have no qualms about delegating all their dirty work down to you. On the drive home, this mother would ask at what time they had gone to bed, and when I told her 8:30, she would always say "Well, they never do that for me!" Gee I'm shocked. I think she just wanted someone else to fail at parenting her kids for once, so every week she set me up for failure, and every week I showed her that at age 13 I was a more competent caregiver than she was. But impossible bedtimes are the least of your worries when you're babysitting because parents have no shame. They'll ask you to do anything:

-"Oh, did I mention the kids are having a sleepover? You don't mind 3 or 4 extra, do you?"

-"Billy's going to need your help studying for his math test. It's tomorrow and he hasn't started yet."

-"Can you bring over some of your own movies? I didn't have time to rent one. Oh, and no hooters."

-"I need 4 dozen cookies for tomorrow's bake sale, but can you do them after Kaitlyn's gone to bed? I think she's got chicken pox or something."

-"Do you know papier mache? I kind of told the kids you'd help them recreate the first Thanksgiving."

-"Can you give the twins a bath? By the smell of them, it's been 3-4 days and they're starting to crust over."

-"Here's a list of 30 Scout Moms - can you see if one of them will switch Den Mother nights with me this week?"

-"If Chris doesn't eat all his broccoli, make him clean his room and his brother's."

Babysitting can be quite hellacious, you never know what's going to come up. But once you're there, you're committed. Parents try to rush out the door before you can even ask too many questions, and then you're left with over-tired, sugar-high kids (because parents are always generous when the babysitter's coming over!) who start trying to take advantage of you the minute parents are gone("Didn't Mom tell you? We're always allowed chocolate for supper on Saturdays AND we can stay up as late as we want AND we can say swears!").

One of the regular gigs I had when I was 13 was for 2 brothers just a year apart in age, but just a couple years younger than myself and both already much taller and broader than I. We all went to the same elementary school so we would walk to their house together when the bell rang. They lived just down the hill from the school, beside a big fenced-in building we used to call the ______ Institute, a very politically- incorrect term for their cultural/religious sect. During recess, we were terrified of that end of the school yard. If you accidentally kicked a ball over the fence, it was a goner. I don't know that these people were all that bad (probably just misunderstood - remember, we were a bunch of white Catholic kids), but they did sacrifice rabbits in front of our young eyes, and that was enough to keep us scared from pre-k through the 8th grade. The worst offense was to have your shoes stolen and thrown over that fence. You would be walking home barefoot that evening because not even the teachers would go near the fencse.

So, it was enough that this house sat beside the dreaded fence, but it had a second thing going against it too: it was an almost-exact replica of the Bates Motel. It was a big, old house, and the later it got, the louder it got. The floorboards creaked for no reason. Huge elm trees tap-tap-tapped against the windows. Some rooms sat empty, echoey, and dark. I sat up long nights, fully spooked, counting down the hours. I had to work 8 hours to earn $20, and in those days, you couldn't buy anything for less than $20.

Back in the day, I operated under the principle that my mother had taught me: always leave the house as clean or cleaner than you found it. To that end, I spent many nights chasing kids around, picking up after them. When they went to bed, I would do up the dishes. Often, there were already plenty of dirty dishes piled precariously in the sink, and I would do them all. And I did it for $2.50 an hour.

You know what's ridiculous? Making $2.50 an hour, that's what. Oh, we like to make a big fuss about the poor children in other countries toiling away in sweatshops for peanuts, but we look the other way when we're the ones opening up our wallets to the little 12 year old girl who watches our children. We acknowledge that the teenagers wrapping up our sandwiches should make minimum wage, but how about the person who cares for our children? Apparently not. And what does that say about our priorities? Your children's safety and well-being should be worth more to you than $2.50. At any rate, I have always said that if you can't afford the tip, then don't go out to dinner. Similarly, if you can't afford a fair wage for a babysitter, then either stay home, or suck up to the in-laws.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

My Therapist Is My Best Friend

I used to have lots of friends. Really, I did. The kind of friends you hang out with, and talk to, and um, et cetera. Good friends. But here's the thing I noticed about these so-called friends: after the first few hours of tooting my own horn, allowing myself to be flattered, expounding the benefits of being me, and going over the minutiae of my glamourous life with a fine-tooth comb, they would not-so-subtly start to steer the conversation...toward themselves!

The truth about life is that most people are less interesting than me. They do things like go to work, pay bills, tend babies. Stuff that I don't want to hear about. I'm pretty certain the polite thing to do would be to smile and nod at the very least, but the first rule about being my friend is to know that I am just not that nice. Expecting me to care about the boring details of your life, such as that big promotion, or your dumb vacation, or your mother is dying of blah, blah, blah, is just plain selfish of you. You should learn to love me the way I am: self-involved. Gloriously so. Deal with it (but deal with it quietly, cause I sure as hell don't want to hear about it).

So, over the years, I developed a great method to avoid the pitfalls of being a 'friend.' I'm usually good for 2-3 hours worth of Jamie praise, and that's the perfect length of time for a lunch date. My 'friend' will order pasta, and I will order 6 martinis. Every time said 'friend' has a mouth full of food, I launch into another tirade about the merits of slides over mules, and how many pairs of each I have in my closet. I time my breaths and sips when 'friend' is busy dipping into the bread basket, and before you know it, lunch is being cleared away and, finding myself empty of Jamie-prattle, I excuse myself to use the little girl's room, and stealthily use one of many convenient exits that restaurants nowadays provide (they say it's for fire code, but I know's for ditching boring friends). Not only is this a frist-rate way to not hear about "baby's first steps", it's also a great way to skip out on your half of the bill.

Eventually this friend will get the hint, and no more lunch dates will be scheduled. The conscientious ones will continue to invite me to all the big parties where mercifully, I won't be subjected to any boring one-on-one conversations about, well, other people. In fact, it puts me into a room where I can shine rightfully as the center of attention, and it gives me a whole stable of new people to dazzle, mingle, and delight with tales of everyone's favourite subject, me!

However, living in a small town as I presently do, or even in a nice mid-sized one like Ottawa, it's easy to run out of faces to talk to. At best, even wearing the lowest-cut top I own, I can run into the same people only 2-3 times before one of them will be cheeky enough to interrupt my story with "That reminds me of something that happened to ME the other day", the unforgiveable little bastard, and suddenly, nothing matters because the world is no longer revolving around me. Fuck.

Well, friends, there is a remedy to everything. In therapy, everything is about me, all the time. Hell, I can even tell a story twice if I want to, and I don't have to dress like a tart with my tits out to do it. I get 50 minutes just dripping in attention just for being me (and having a cheque book). My therapist never wants to tell me that he has needs to, and he doesn't get huffy if I forget to ask how his week was. I just bask in my own glow, gabbing away, and he gives small encouraging nods to keep me going. And not only does he consistently act interested, he even takes notes! Man, I wish my other friends would take notes. Sometimes, it's like they know nothing about me at all, even when the obvious is staring them in the face. The other day I was lunching with a 'friend' and when the waiter deposited my dirty martini in front of me, she had the audacity to say "Isn't that your 5th?" Uh, no, actually, it's only my 4th, but thanks for counting. Jeez.

Therapists are where it's at. Money cannot buy a truer friend.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Lady In Red.

Well, I did it.

I was booty-shaking, spring cleaning, belting out cheesy 80s lyrics at the top of my lungs when I decided to take the plunge and clean out ye olde closet. Yikes.

I do this more often than you'd think, because I just love purging my house of unnecessary items. Of course, I deem things 'unnecessary' if I haven't personally used them in the last 2 weeks or so. Lots of things get thrown out or given away, especially Jason's things that I have little or no use for.

Still, the closet always has a great yield of things for me to purge because I'm a little sentimental when it comes to clothes. I threw out pants that were completely worn out in the crotch...

a) Why was I hanging on to them anyway?
b) Why do my pants always wear out in the crotch?

I packed up clothes for charity: things I know I'll never wear again, things I bought and never wore, not even once (what the hell was I thinking?), and things of Jason's that I wish he'd never wore, and now he never will again.

I was ruthless (well, at least on Jason's side I was). And then I got to the back of the closet, and my heart fluttered with trepidation. There they were, all 3 of them bunched up together, hanging unused but well-cherished. My dresses: red, pink, and white.

They are the reason I cleaned out my closet in the first place. The Agape Centre is collecting old prom dresses to outfit girls who couldn't afford one otherwise (the Girls and Dreams event). A worthy, wonderful cause. But parting is such sweet sorrow. These dresses recall to me the best of times my teenage years had to offer, and it's hard to close the door on such an important chapter in my life. But I knew that I would never wear those dresses again, no matter what occasions arose. They were "prom-y" and adolescent, and besides, Mummy loves new dresses. And I knew that these dresses would find good homes, and be loved by new owners. But still. It's hard.

I had them dry-cleaned, hung, and I brought them tenderly to the drop-off point in garment bags. I handed them over to a grateful woman: a goldmine of 3 beautiful dresses, none with puffy sleeves or butt-bows or taffeta. And I left them there. I walked away. My heart broke thinking about how I'd never see them again, never feel their luxurious fabric in the back of the closet, hanging with the other naughty silks. Gone forever.

Goodbye Red

This one I wore to my first prom. I bought it while shopping with my mother in the 'petite' section, and I wore it with 4 inch heels. The theme, as I recall, was Tropical Paradise, although most of us refused to sully our expensive dresses with cheap plastic leis. The yearbook says "It was an evening for wine, excitement and 'break dancing Jean', 'The Silver Fox Jesse', and 'Marilyn Monroe Jay'", which I can laugh about to this day. Sure, I felt somewhat glamorous, but let's face it: fancy dress aside, it takes a lot of gumption to wear a red dress with bright orange hair. I think Marilyn would have vetoed that one. And yes, as fate would have it, the cheeky DJ did play 'Lady In Red', whether it was from his own volition, or my silly friends who requested it. We danced, and laughed, and had the time of our lives.

Goodbye White

This one I didn't actually wear to a prom, I wore it just a few months (and a few hair styles) later, to an event that had an open bar. Therefore, I remember the night with much less detail, having spent a great portion of the evening with my good friend Crown Royal. I do, however, remember scoffing at the Macarena dancers, losing my little silver handbag on numerous occasions, and dancing barefoot long into the night.

Goodbye Pink

Pink I remember most fondly. Pink got me voted 'girl with most matchingest hair'. Pink had me waltzing to Stairway to Heaven with a boy I've known since I was 6, both of us wearing our King and Queen crowns. Pink had me getting some love from Melly in the yearbook. Pink had me on the arm of my husband-to-be.

And I gave them up.

But I was wrong about one thing: I did see one of them again. On Saturday, leafing through the paper, I saw Pink on page 2. The coordinator of the program was appealing to the public for more dresses while holding mine up to the camera. It's the end of an era for me, but the beginning of one for Pink and its new owner. May the lucky girls who bring these dresses home have half as much fun as I did in them.

And to any of you who may have old prom or bridesmaid dresses lying around, do donate them to a worthy charity. A dress is meant to be worn and loved, and every girl should go to her prom if she wants to.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


I like:
Warm wind, heated pools, holding hands, brand new jars of mustard, picture frames, the colour pink, cartoons, finding loose change in my pockets

I dislike:
Wet socks, getting shampoo in my eye, quiet arguments, scientific research papers and their footnotes, an unvacuumed carpet, nights without stars, math

I like:
Chipped nail polish, white chocolate, big red lawnmowers, black and white films, red pens, puddles, leprechauns, the smell of candles burning

I dislike:
Computers, schedules, people who complain about my lack of punctuality, my lack of punctuality, buttons, school buses, country music

I like:
Stickers, sunglasses, the taco bell dog, Saturdays, sparkly jewelry, the smell of spring, dill pickle chips, books about the mob, picnics, going to the beach

I dislike:
Sunburns, stubbing my toe, watching the news, burnt toast, the smell of hospitals, fish, too-sappy movies, Coke

I like:
Horoscopes, clean sheets, recycling bins all in a row, clotheslines, white roses, leather interior, straws, reruns of Kids In The Hall, shoe boxes full of memories

I dislike:
Cop shows, toothpaste that bites back, ignorance, being ignorant, 3D puzzles, early mornings, berry punch on my white shirt, bad radio reception

I like:
Glossy lips, 4-day work weeks, stretching, frosted mugs, fresh highlighters, 3-ply toilet paper, personal space, 1% milk, pink gingham

I dislike:
When the hot water runs out, thin-crust pizza, bug bites, wood paneling, radishes, loafers, mini blinds, trench coats, grating cheese

...keep going....

Friday, March 25, 2005


To satiate my love-affair with words, I have often visited the whorehouse that is Chapters. All the pretty books display themselves in window cases, giving you a glimpse of the forbidden fruit that lies within the covers that can be yours for the right price. The overt display entices customers to come in and spend their money, be disloyal to the books sitting at home, waiting to be read, and bypass those they could have had for free just two blocks further at the library.

When the written word is your mistress, you WILL visit the whorehouse. You can choose which one you want to take home with you, which one you'll take to bed or share a bath with, which pages you'll finger tenderly, and because Chapters is the mac daddy of all pimps, you never leave without a date. There's always something available for whatever amount you're willing to pay for love.

But there is one alternative to the whorehouse - there's the friendly neighbourhood escort service, otherwise known as the little book shop around the corner. It may not have the same selection, but it gives the kind of personalized service that I cherish in a lover. Madam shop keeper greets me by name, and hooks me up with my favourite vices. I will gladly pay a little extra for this, because the scent is intoxicating (the smell of words is distinct, of paper and ink, and all those good things, compared to the sterile "clean" smell of Chapters), because when the shop opens her arms to me, it feels like home, and because sometimes an old seasoned pro turns the best tricks.

In that vein, I have been stuck by Low Level Rebel, and will attempt to answer the questions:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

The Bible. I don't know a more controversial, inflammatory, sex-drenched, violence-sodden, scandalous read around.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Michael Corleone, The Godfather (Mario Puzo)

The last book you bought was:

The Iliad and The Odyssey (Homer)

The last book you read was?

Just finished Fall On Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald); thanks Anna.

What are you currently reading?

Love In The Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez). Surprisingly good. Also on my nightstand: Far From the Madding Crowd (Hardy), and I Claudius (Graves).

Five books you'd take to a deserted island?

Dear God: if you grant me only one thing, let it be that I never have to limit myself to just 5 books! But if I can only take 5, I'm going to make the most of them:

1. The Godfather, Mario Puzo. Hands down favourite book since I was 12.
2. Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood. Margaret Atwood is a goddess. Every word is a gem.
3. The Hotel New Hampshire, John Irving. His books are to die for.
4. Fifth Business, Robertson Davies (the whole Deptford Trilogy, if possible).
5. Beloved, Toni Morrison. Beautiful prose and superior story-telling.
5. Vinyl Cafe, Stuart McLean. Funny stuff.
5. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt. Powerful, moving, agonizingly well-written.
5. some Jack Kerouac, D.H. Lawrence, Mordecai Richler, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Judy Bloom, Nabokov, Angelou, etc, etc. I knew I would be bad at this!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Stuff We Could Have Done Without

Old Navy Commercials

I have nothing against the store itself. I've shopped there, made purchases there, worn the damn clothes, BUT. But I hate those damn commercials. Their Christmas jingles made me want to slit some throats. Over the past few years, they have gone from just irritating to obscenely bizarre. Why should Morgan Freeman and a dumb dog make me want to shop at Old Navy? Apparently, they subscribe to the 'it's-so-painful-you'll-definitely-remember-it' theory. I don't appreciate it. They use cheesy graphics, perky music, and B-list celebrities (didn't The Nanny do one?), and frankly, they leave me feeling insulted that they have estimated their audience's IQ to be so bottom of the barrel. I'm not sure if they're deliberately trying (and failing miserably) to be kitschy, or if this is simply another case of marketing director on crack, but the end result has me groping desperately for the remote, and that can't be good for sales. And if I see just one more airhead enthusiastically peddling Bermuda Shorts!, I'll toss my cookies. And that's a promise.

Earring Magic Ken

What is there to say? Frosted two-tone hair, lavender mesh top, purple vinyl vest, man jewelry, and (snicker) sockless loafers! Yet mysteriously, this Ken doll failed to find a market. Little girls weren't buying, and Moms found him only mildly amusing. I applaud the effort. I'm all for these 'alternative lifestyle' dolls, if that's even what he was. Little girls had asked for a cooler Ken back in 1993, and this is what greeted them on the shelves of Barbieland just in time for Christmas. They did fly off the shelves eventually, thanks to an active interest taken by the gay community. Little girls, however, snubbed him completely (and who can blame them?)

Battlefield Earth

Have you seen it? Hoo-eee, it's as good as it looks, let me tell you.
Yes, I have seen it. Someone took me to see it, actually. On a date.
There was no bootay that night, believe you me.
It's one of the worst films ever made. Sitting through it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. It was absurd, illogical, acted by bad wooden puppets who only somewhat resembled John Travolta, and was a colossal waste of time, energy, and money. The only good part of the movie was when the end credits mercifully rolled, and I missed that because I was busy planning my escape route.

New Coke / Pepsi AM

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." That's what my grandfather always said. He was a second generation Canadian, 5th generation farmer, and a man of no formal education, not even the first grade. But he still had better sense than the execs at Coca-Cola, because these guys had the best selling beverage of all-time, and they decided to change it! Today, New Coke is known as the biggest woops in thirst-quenching history. They took away what was distinctive and appealing to Coke drinkers, and effectively, made it more like Pepsi (which was winning taste tests left and right during the 80s). People likened this New Coke to 'furniture polish', 'sewer water', and worst of all, '2 day old Pepsi'. It took a mere 2 months for New Coke to bomb completely, and Coca-Cola had to bring back the old recipe, tails between their legs.

Pepsi has also had many transformations over the years: blue, edge, ONE, wild cherry, twist, crystal, max, vanilla, etc, etc, and for a brief time, there was Pepsi a.m. because the brilliant marketing people thought to themselves, 'Hey, you know what market we've been ignoring? The breakfast market!' Turns out, we don't really need Pepsi with our cereal.

Scented Gasoline

I'll be the first to admit that the scent of gasoline leaves something to be desired, but also the first to question the necessity of 'nice' smelling gas. In fact, maybe there's a very good reason why gas smells so bad, for example, because it's noxious and dangerous, and sniffing it should be discouraged. Bad smell = warning. Well, leave it to the French to frown on stinky gas. Their product, 'Fruity Vanilla Super', was very lovely to smell, by all reports. But it never really took off. Apparently, people just aren't willing to pay extra for their gasoline to have enticing aromas, and since jokes about Frenchmen being fruity and/or smelly are just too easy, I'll leave off here.


These days, we just love foods that are "convenient&easy". We have go-gurt, yogurt for people on the go, because we all know how cumbersome yogurt used to be, right? But this product from Breakaway foods takes the cake- IncrEdibles are a push n' eat treat. They come in a tube, microwavable of course, then you push your stick through the entree, and voila, cheese and eggs. Breakfast for the busybody. It calls itself a 'portable comfort food'. I call it 'disgusting'. Anyone care to disagree?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

An Open Letter of Apology

Dear hair: Yes, I have changed colours again, this time, from black-blue to a strange blend between orange and honey. The blue was frankly probably closer to nature, but I like it, so tough patooties. I do, however, want to apologize for frying you once again. I figure that I have permeated you with noxious chemicals at least 120 times. That's gotta be a hard life. I expect you not to fall out of my scalp, to grow at a reasonable rate, to be shiny and beautiful and luxurious, and meanwhile, I treat you like crap. I assault you with blades, I cut off your oxygen supply with tight elastics, I encourage Jason to yank you from time to time, I suffocate you with goop, and if you make the slightest mistake, I hide you under an itchy hat. I just wanted you to know that I do appreciate your efforts. You've been good to me, hair, and I'm sorry for taking you for granted.

Dear winter: Fuck off. Haha, okay, okay, what I really mean is: I'm sorry for giving you such a bad name. You're just doing your job, and I give you a hard time from October through April, every year. This is probably just a result of my own insecurity: goodness knows I look dumb in hats, and no one looks their best with chapped lips and dry, scaly skin. I know this is not your fault, and I take my anger out unfairly on you. I'll try to ease up off you if you try to stop snowing by Easter, okay?

Dear stranger on the street: You're probably cursing my very existing right now, but I swear that when I gave you those bad directions, I didn't know they were bad. The truth is, I get turned around easily, and though I've lived here all my life, I still don't know street names or mileage estimates, or which way is north. If you were my friend, you would know better than to ask directions of me, but you are just an innocent stranger, and you asked advice from the wrong girl. Next time, take a map.

Dear Tim Horton's: I know you're trying your best, but this promotion is lame. Rrrrollll up the Rim again? Aren't you paying any new marketing people? You are so not getting your money's worth! Sorry to have to tell you this, because usually I'm a loyal customer, but after last year's debacle, I just cannot stand by and let this happen again. There are GM Envoys to win, home theatre systems, cash and food prizes. You claim that 1 in 8 will win, and most people have free donuts and coffees for all of their rolling. Last year, despite having rolled up 2800 rims, I got 0 prizes. You're a big phony Tim Hortons, and I'm sorry, but I am not participating again this year. As a wise man once said: "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, er, um, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Dear Jason: I am sorry for robbing you of your manhood once again. After your recent pummeling in darts, it's official: there is nothing that I can't beat you in.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Things Are Not Always As They Appear

Last week, I wrote a post about The GAP. I had no idea that people's sentiments toward this establishment ran so deeply. Rusty was disgusted with a post on clothes, and wrote that he hoped it was a "metaphor...for something." And without really knowing it, Rusty was right. It was a metaphor.

As my husband says, as a post about clothes, it was pretty crappy. As a post about God, it's more up to your usual standards.

Feel free to reread it and draw your own conclusions.

I grew up in a Catholic family. My mother was a Catholic like her mother before her (whereas GAP was only founded in 1969, which would make it an impossibility for my grandmother to have shopped there). When I was born, there was no question that I would be a Catholic too.. For the first several years of my life, religious decisions were made for me. I was baptized a Catholic before I was even old enough to know what it was, or that there were other choices.

I went to a Catholic school, but for a brief period of time, there was one boy in my class who was different. He was Presbyterian. He was excused from class when read the Bible, learned prayers, or went to confession (did any of you actually read GAP catalogues in class?). He was a mystery to us until the day he left. We whispered to each other about him for weeks: sure, he went to church like did, but a different kind where they didn't take communion or believe in the same things.

When I grew older, the alternatives called my name. There was something more than just Catholicism out there, and I wanted to explore it. I liked what I found. Dogmas that fit me better, beliefs closer to my own, prayers that I could get behind. Catholicism, for me, had always been lacking. In my adolescence, I stopped going to church.

My mother was devastated. Her religion comforted her, reassured her. Catholicism was like a family tradition, and even if she didn't prescribe to every tenent of the Bible, she never expected that I would turn my back on it completely. She did everything she could to bring me back. She left religious pamphlets in my room. She openly criticized other religious systems. She even had a priest call me to tell me what a valued child of God I had been, and that I would be missing out on all the benefits of being a good Christian, like heaven and salvation. All of these things just pushed me further away. I'd never liked the snobby church members, the elitist environment, or those pretentious rituals. I wanted to worship where all parishioners were treated the same, who weren't discriminated for what they believed when they walked in the doors, who weren't turned away for sexual preferences or which meats they eat on Fridays.

Some people love Catholicism, and always will. I'm okay with that. I'm fine with whatever way you pray, as long as your choice was made by an informed decision.

Today I don't believe in organized religion. I believe in God, and I don't need anyone's help to do that. I do it on my own.


Of course, this version is largely metaphor too. My mother didn't actually leave pamphlets. But when it comes to religion, I feel satisfied to write in metaphors because though I may not agree with what the Bible says, I have read it, several times. And Jesus was pretty big on speaking in metaphors too. No mention of The GAP in the Bible though, in case you were wondering.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Rolling With My Homies

On Friday night, I met up with an old friend, and I sucked him dry.

God it was good.

Jamie is back on the sauce and she's had a franken-headache since Saturday to prove it.

Granted, I was never off the sauce, not in the strict sense anyway. I've been drinking like a fish as per usual - Smirnoff Ice, margaritas, daiquiris, bellinis, gin and berry juice,martinis, screwdrivers, fuzzy navels, tequila shots, jello shots, and more wine than you can shake a stick at.

But there's been a thorn in my side since a cool October night in 2000, and it pains me to say this, but it has turned me into a girlie-drinker. I wasn't always like this.

Way, way back, before I was a seasoned alkie, I was a high school student getting drunk with my friends. The first time I drank enough to be drunk, it was on Tornados, a concoction of lemonadish beer that I wouldn't let a dog drink, even if he'd just pissed in my favourite shoes. This stuff was awful, but understand that this was in the days before there were coolers, and we didn't have much choice. We had picked up cases of this stuff from Le Depanneur, literally, The Corner Store, which was a brilliant place that had set up shop just a scooch past the border so that 14 year-olds with 18-year-old IDs could go buy beer. It was like heaven, only with a smaller selection. Those were the early days, when you would drink anything that was wet, and it didn't matter if you liked it because everything tastes gross when you puke it back up, and somehow, that was the point of these excursions.

After ascertaining that I disliked beer in every shape and form it comes in, I moved on to bigger and better stuff, namely, whiskey rye. This is a strange choice for a little 16 year old girl, but I've never been one for going with the crowd. The truth is, I'd gotten hooked on the stuff at a bonfire my mother threw, one of those "I'm cleaning out my liquor cabinet" parties that I wish more people would throw. I contributed my share of dead soldiers that night, and never looked back. And then I spent a summer bartending, and although rye-and-cokes are an old man drink, for my money and taste, there's no better way to get hammered. Everyone else brought beer to house parties; I brought Diet Pepsi and Canadian Club. Once I had refined my palate to the likes of Crown Royal (neat), I veered away from the high school crowd and
spent more time being initiated into the world of hard stuff by a much-older boyfriend and his friend. With each of them on my arms, I breezed right by every bouncer, never being questioned as to my age (I was still a minor).

Hello Amaretto, Scotch, Curacao, Schnapps, Drambuie. Hello hangovers and high tolerance. Hello Goldschlager, even if you did have me momentarily convinced that I had fishies swimming around in my stomach.

By the time I finally reached University (and legal age!), I was a dedicated Crown Royal connoisseur. I drank it while getting ready to go to bars, getting ready to go to parties, getting ready to write finals (I had an original approach, I know...advice: check the alarm twice). But before long, I was moving out of residence, and my friends were throwing me a goodbye party. My poison for the evening: you betcha, good ole Crown Royal.

It was a wild party before I even got there. Our 40-year-old Russian exchange student was off his rocker with a bottle of liquor he kept concealed in his coat pocket. Tracy and Reshma were dancing wildly in each other's boots. Karen and Brian were necking on sofa no one else would sit on, for obvious reasons. As for me, well, I was exhausted. Jason and I had spent the whole day moving into our new apartment. We hadn't even had time to eat, so when I started downing whiskey on an empty stomach, I should have been more wary. I wasn't. I spent a good portion of the party on a bathroom floor, and a small portion of the party flashing my punani at unsuspecting party goers. Fun times.

As legend has it (cause I don't remember), Jason carried me home on his back that night. I have not drunk one sip of whiskey since, nor can I even stand the smell. I have mourned the loss of my good friend CR, but I am a fickle friend, and I replaced him immediately, even if it was with some girly-drinks.

So, on Friday night, we started out in a restaurant bar, and I had a daiquiri (or 4). Good stuff, went down easily, too easily, and then we shifted gears and hit a dive bar. Cool place, limited drink menu. After ascertaining that there were no cocktails, no coolers, no cranberry juice (which I never even asked for), and not much besides beer, I suddenly blurted out "Rye and Coke!" Oh boy.

Well, I got it down. I got two down. I began to feel the familiar buzz.

As is the case with many Friday nights, no one could decide what to do, and is the case with many Friday nights, we all ended up back at our place, blending up and shaking up drinks galore. "Let's do tequila shots!" yells Jason, gamely.

"Jason, if we do tequila shots tonight, I will throw up."

"Is that a promise?"


We shook on it, even.

So, we went home. I made martinis like nobody's business. Jason sliced up some limes while I licked wrists for salting all around.

To recap:

(daiquiris (rum) x 4)


(rye&coke x 2)


(martinis (gin, dry vermouth) x 2)


(tequila shots x 4)


Jamie made good on her promise. Real good.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Infinity is more fingers and toes than you can count.

Infinity is untouched by the grains of sand in an hour glass.

Infinity is intangible but encompassing.

Infinity is that one golden memory that imprinted itself on your brain in a snapshot of an instant, and when recalled brings a smile to your face.

Infinity is the bond between mother and child that may be tried, tested, bent this way and that, but will never break because it transcends time.

Infinity is your first true love, the feeling which will never dim, broken heart or no.

Infinity is in the last strains of beautiful music that cannot be held in the hand but can be appreciated nonetheless as its final notes blow into the wind and into your heart.

Infinity is a measure of love: I love you...I love you more...I love you infinity...I love you infinity plus one.....

Infinity is what happens after you expel your last breath.

Infinity happened to me last night. It was in your touch, in the song you made me sing. Infinity is when you both arrive at the same moment and find that just sharing it is enough.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Nympho Is The State Bird of Ohio

Either that, or it’s the sometimes-blonde woman my husband married, and frankly, I think I’m more comfortable with the bird thing. Who wants to be labeled a sex addict (besides men, I mean)? But men don’t get slapped with the unflattering term nymphomaniac, they get nicknames that have them bursting with pride, like Don Juan, Lothario, Romeo, skirt-chaser, Casanova, lady-killer, and my favourite, playa. Men are expected to love sex, want sex, and even go to extremes to get sex. Women, however, are supposed to loathe the act, to consent only for procreation’s sake (and even then, begrudgingly), and to lie back and think of England until the night’s pounding is over. Well, that used to be the case anyway. I’d like to think that sex is more than just a wifely duty these days. Whispering in the office ladies’ room on a Monday morning tells me this is so. Prime time television tells me this is so. My wobbly bits tell me this is so.

Hello, my name is Jamie, and I’m a nymphomaniac. I have an absurdly high sex drive. I want it, I need it, and I get it, often. I am a woman, and I’m addicted to sex (believe me, it’s one of the nicest addiction to have). And yes, you can be a sex addict and keep it to the confines of your marriage (actually, the addiction is a lot easier fed when you’re married). It takes a lot of work, and a lot of play. My husband has his hands full, but you don’t often hear him complaining. I don’t remember the last day we didn’t have sex; Jason estimates it to be around October. But once a day is a rarity for us, because most days are one fluid sexual act. From the time we wake to the time we sleep again, the day simmers with sexuality, from intentions to actions. We touch constantly, we stay connected, and everything we do or say, no matter how seemingly innocent, has evolved into a form of foreplay. It makes for an interesting life.

For me, it all started when I was about 10. No, not the sex part; my mother called it being 'boy crazy.' I had crushes on just about everyone, from Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains to 3 of the 5 New Kids on the Block. I learned about sex by reading Danielle Steele novels. I waited for my little-girl chest to grow into the 'milky white' breasts I always read about. I didn't know for sure what a 'throbbing manhood' was, but I thought I had an idea (I was wrong). So what happened between my swooning and my sex addiction? When did I veer off the beaten path? It's hard to say.

Not so long ago, nymphomania was a diagnosable mental illness. Women were put away into institutions for being dominated by insatiable sexual needs. Today, the medical community stays away from such disparaging terms. As a major in sexual psychology myself, I can attest that as far as paraphilias are concerned, there are bigger fish to fry. Sexual addiction is not necessarily a bad thing. And if it is a problem, then it is more a problem of morality than of science. Hypersexuality is a subjective judgment based on values. Who is to say how much is too much, or for that matter, who is to say what is normal? Sure we know what the average is, but the average is not necessarily what is right. We know for a fact that the average weight in North America is considered to be unhealthy, so you tell me which is 'normal': the average, or the ideal? And what the hell is ideal? The "average" rate of sexual activity among married couples is 3 times a week (obviously, lower for singles). That may be average, but when asked what their ideal is, some men will say they want more sex, some women will say they want less, and quite quickly we see that while some are happy with the average, many are not. But 'ideal' is a slippery little bugger, because it will vary with every person you ask.

Even if we establish that the average is close enough to 'normal', and assign it a value of 3 times per week, then we also have to decide what is 'abnormal'. Is 4 abnormal? 14? 40? And what about people like me, who don’t have isolated sexual acts? We can’t count orgasms because men are fairly limited in that area, and women are all over the map (some don’t orgasm at all, and some of us would consider a mere 7 orgasms per encounter to be a miserable failure). So what then?

Let’s take a look at the addiction process:

a) preoccupation: Fair enough, but let me ask, isn’t it human nature to think about it? If I’m not lucky enough to be bedded at the moment, then chances are, I’m thinking about it. About where I’d like to be touched, or how hard I want to suck, whether I’ll give or receive, where I’d like it to happen, whether I should put some old sheets on the bed, or switch to a crotchless pair of panties. And don’t try to tell me you don’t think about it too. Julie thinks about blowjobs so much, she's cleverly renamed them dickfests. When you’re stuck in a meeting, or on the bus, or in line at the supermarket, I can’t think of a better way to pass the time.

b) ritualistic behaviours: I don’t slaughter any lambs, and contrary to popular belief, I've never actually killed a goat, but on any given day, I may take part in any number of behaviours that have become a rite of having sex. I shave my legs (or other places), check the status of the goodie drawer, take the phone off the hook, light some candles, raid the fridge for possibilities, put on some mood music. A certain someone I know changes into her Melina underpants. Someone else checks to make sure the dogs haven't eaten all the Astroglide. In other homes, it might be putting the kids to bed early, popping some mints, leaving suggestive notes, donning some lingerie, petting on the sofa, taking a shower, or....well, I won’t give away all the secrets, but I’m willing to bet most of you do something to signal 'It’s sex time.'

c) sexual act: Well after all that work, you bet we’re going to seal the deal! After a day of thinking about something specific, be it your favourite position, or that special curve on your partner’s body, your engine is primed and ready. Then, you go through the motions of setting it up and making your thoughts a reality. If you’re lucky, it’s still a little naughty, no matter how many times you’ve done it before. Some men still hold their breath when they go for that first feelski. Some women still blush when they reveal a teddy underneath the Mom uniform. And then, you get your swerve on. And it’s a lot sloppier than what you see in the movies. In real life, the messier it is, the better it is. Hair does not stay in place. The sheets do not necessarily cover all the floppy bits. There’s bouncing boobs and sweaty brows, and funny noises, and it’s all great. It’s sex (unless of course it's someone else's sex).

d) despair: Whoa, hold the phones. I may have regrets in life. I probably regret ever attempting to write about this subject, but I’ve never, ever regretted sex. I don’t feel depressed afterward, or worthless, or anxious. I feel elated sometimes, and other times, drowsy. If Jason’s lucky, he’ll get a cuddle. Sometimes I’m just raring to go again. But the aftereffects of sex are always positive for me. I’m grateful to have sated my desire. There’s a certain glow that goes along with it, and I’m not just talking about married sex. Even single, I never had sex that I felt bad about the next day. I may have a high sex drive, and I do go to great lengths to satisfy it, but I still make respectable decisions.

What is the difference then, between a woman who adores sex, and a full-fledged nympho? Maybe nothing at all. Maybe it’s all in the name, and how you wear it. And what’s in a name? That which we call a nympho by any other word would still fuck as often. And how.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Kiss Me, I'm Pretending To Be Irish

Last month, throngs of nay-sayers poo-poohed an inoffensive holiday dedicated to love and lust. This month, they'll embrace a holiday dedicated to wearing green and barfing up Guinness because their pansy stomachs can't take it. In short, people are stupid.

So what's up with this holiday? Well, as you may have guessed (and if you didn't, you've got problems), it's an Irish one, and it's in honour of Saint Patrick. That's right, Saint Patrick. Don't forget the Saint part. In Ireland, it actually means something. You may be surprised to learn that today is not simply a day to 'get your drink on'. In Ireland, where they know what they're doing, today is a religious holiday. They stay home from work and go to mass where they pray for missionaries around the world. It's a day for spiritual renewal. In North America, we piss on people's religious holidays like there is no tomorrow. Christmas is offered up to the gods of consumerism. Easter is a tribute to oddly-shaped chocolates. And now we've taken St. Patrick's day, highjacked it from the Irish, only to put on curly green wigs and shout drunken misgivings at parade floats. No, it's not respectful. We don't do respectful around these parts.

Saint Patrick wasn't always a saint. In fact, he wasn't always Irish either. As a young boy, he lived on the British Isles and was kidnapped from there and brought to Ireland where he was forced into slavery for 6 years. Then, he heard the voice of God telling him to escape, and he did. When Patrick came back to Ireland, he brought christianity with him. He went from town to town, preaching the word of God and using the shamrock as a metaphor: its three leaves represent the church's holy trinity (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit). An Irishman who is wearing shamrocks is signifying his closeness to God. I fear that on this side of the water it signifies something closer to "Wee, look at me, I am sooo drunk!"

Then, Saint Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland (although, it is improbable that Ireland ever had any snakes, so snakes are probably a metaphor for pagans). So in a way, Saint Patrick was to Ireland what Billy Graham aspires to be to Australia. Who knows, maybe in a few years Australia will be celebrating St Billy's day, and we'll all get pissed in his memory. Or not.

It is believed that Saint Patrick died on March 17th. His people were devastated. They have taken the day to mourn his death. We have taken the day to torture our livers.

As you know, I'm all for almost any excuse to throw a party and drink to my heart's content. But, I'm not Irish. Nor am I catholic. I don't plan on mourning anyone's death today, but by this evening, I might be enticed to celebrate his life. Or life in general. Green is not just the colour of Ireland, but the colour of spring and new growth. In the spirit of "A Festivus for the Rest of Us", I am accepting suggestions for renaming this holiday more appropriately. 'Happy Drink Day' perhaps, or 'Snake Day' (since I most likely would have been one of the snakes St Pat got rid of).

Meanwhile, the well-intentioned and misintentioned are partying on. Green dye #38 is being consumed in mass quantities, and somewhere in a small room, its inventor is hoping like hell it'll prove to be non-toxic. Irish stews are bubbling on stoves. Blarney stone substitutes are being smooched like crazy. Bar patrons are trying to convince each other that their slurred gibberish is really Gaelic. And the Chicago River is reverting back to its natural colour after its green showing at the parade.

(For 40 years, city officials have dyed the river green. No one else can replicate it. Officials won't divulge the secret, saying it would be like a leprechaun revealing where he buried the pot of gold. The river is dyed the morning of the parade, and is back to its normal colour by the evening's close.)

What kind of shenanigans are you up to tonight? Do tell. And, if you're up for any kind of shindig, then you might want to pop on over to Sweet Jay's, where a great recipe for an Irish brownie topping is currently posted. A word to the wise: if you're one of those pansies who can't hold his Guinness, pass this one up. It'll knock you on your ass.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Grab Bag

I keep seeing commercials for 'blonde Oreos' - instead of chocolate cookie with cream in between, it's vanilla. White, white, white. To which I say: why? What the hell? What's the point? Vanilla is stupid. Vanilla is only tolerable when sandwiched between chocolate. Everyone knows that chocolate is vastly superior. The existence of golden Oreos is annoying and superfluous. The good folks at Nabisco really missed the mark on this one. Damn fools


For Oprah's 51st birthday, she got her ears pierced on national television. In the aftermath, waning respect for her has plummeted to an all-time low. She's a grown woman with a kabillion dollars, and probably more sway than George W., and we had to see her squirming and wriggling away from the poor woman who was just trying to do her job. This bothered me for several reasons:

a) Oprah called in a fucking plastic surgeon to have her ears pierced! A plastic surgeon! My mother had hers done by a friend, using an ice cube to numb, a sewing needle to pierce, and a bar of soap in the back to stop. Oprah got actual numbing cream, plus freezing packs, plus a plastic surgeon, an audience member to hold her hand, and still, she was the biggest wuss ever.

b) I got my ears pierced when I was 3 years old. My Nanny took me. I sat there, resolved to be stoic no matter what. Yes, it hurts your little 3 year old ears, but I would not let the lady see me cry. I sat there and steeled myself for the second click of her gun. My Nanny was traumatized by the determined look on my face, but I was a brave girl. Oprah had tears in her eyes. She was an effing baby about it. Note to Oprah: maybe it's cute when a little girl gets all huffy, but it ain't so cute when you do it. Spare us next time.

c) (and this concerns me most): Have you seen the honking rocks she's been sporting on her ears? Those diamonds are huge, and they were clip-ons!! No backings. No security. Man, if I had known that, I would have quit my job, flown to Chicago, and followed her around. Just one lost earring, and I would have been set for life. Think about it, ladies: how many single earrings do you have in your jewelry box? Probably LOTS. And they're way easier to lose if they're just clips! I mourn for this lost opportunity.

Look at those things! They make cell phones smaller than that!


Jello is the perfect food. Maybe it should be made an honorary food group. It has no obvious nutritive value, but then, if you get the sugar-free, calorie-free kind, you aren't adding much, either. Except for well-disguised horse parts, but who's counting? It just jiggles down your throat so nicely it's easy not to notice. Except when my grandmother starts putting it into a mould along with olives or cucumbers and calling it a "gelatin salad". That's nasty.


Coming clean about my biggest guilty pleasure: Saved By the Bell.

When I wake up in the morning
And the clock lets out a warning,
I don't think I'll ever make it on time.
By the time I get my books and I give myself a look
I'm at the corner just on time to see the bus slide by....

You can't laugh too much, because chances are, you watched it too. Even back when Saved By The Bell had first-run episodes, we knew it was bad. It was cheesy as hell, but we watched anyway. We got sucked into their lives. I wished that my school went on class trips to Maui, and that there was a cool burger place for my friends to hang out in, and that I would have as many good hair days as Kelly had. Saturday mornings were made for the gang of Saved By The Bell, and like all good girls my age
It's all right, cause I'm saved by the bell.

It still creeps me out to see him on NYPD Blue. But anyway, somehow, that geeky, scrawny little kid was a dreamboat. TV sure has gone to hell since I was a kid. Of course, my taste is somewhat suspect, because along all my Zack Morris posters, hung my 90210 posters, one in particular had Luke Perry and Jason Priestly showing off their fab sideburns. WTF? What did I ever see in those guys? My early crushes certainly had no bearing whatsoever on my future taste in men. But, at the time, I had all the paraphenalia:

and, if you can believe it or not, a pair of floral, 90210 Original high-top sneakers. Today they're vintage Converse, but back then, man, they were IT. Apparently they exist now only in my memory. The more I think about it, the surer I am that if I went back in time, I would never be my own friend. What a nerd!


Interesting search engine terms that brought unsuspecting people to my corner of the Internet:

-poems/songs about soft drinks
-chapstick melts in the dryer
uh, no kidding...I sure hope you didn't rely on this information to tell you that!
-bigger then my husband
sorry, no porno here
-congested sniffle sexy
-robbie williams groupie sex gossip
I wish!
see, I'm not the only one after all!
-knee sock faux pas
-nano cream athletic


And finally, an update on the Beck situation. A little while ago, I issued a statement to him regarding his stylist's obvious vision problems. I offered to personally write him a cheque if he couldn't afford to go to the hair dresser's himself, but so far, no word from Beck, or his people. However, donations to the Give Beck A Haircut Foundation have been pouring in from the generous people who inexplicably read all the way to the bottom of these posts, and the money is adding up. Question: should we donate this money to Billy Graham's fight to churchify Australia, or keep it in the kitty for other hairy celebs? Now, I like saving countries just as much as the next guy, but here are some photos that just may have you voting for the second one:


"It is much more comfortable to be mad and know it, than to be sane and have one's doubts."

-G.B. Burgin

Chaos off My Back and Onto the Page

Two looping divinities chase each around a figure-8 race track. Around and around they go, infinitely. There is no space to stop, no time for rest. They will make their perfect circles forever.

The sun and the earth intertwined, confusion and chaos combine, perfect chaos results. Chaos is perfection, I wear it proudly. A tiny speck am I, a fraction of the end result, one dot among many, but a contribution to chaos all the same.


In the beginning, there was chaos, vast and mystical. When darkness was wrapped in darkness, before there was death, before life, before mortality or morality, before there was existence itself, before night or day, before even the idea, there was chaos. Chaos contains the seeds of everything that existed before Order. Chaos precedes everything, even time. Chaos breathed life where there was none before. Chaos gave birth to the universe. Chaos is the mother of all things. Chaos is the gap between heaven and earth. Chaos is brooding and mysterious. Chaos brings creation.

We are the children of chaos.


The man at the counter was big, and white, and hairy. He showed us a picture of his angelic children, tattooed on his thigh. We looked at each other, and wondered what we were getting ourselves into. Gulp. Double gulp.

We were brave that day, or else just out of our minds. We sat in the bookstore across the street, trying to find just the right elephant. The kind of elephant you could live with for a lifetime. We flipped through the pages, giggling nervously, and then made the selection. We marched proudly back to the big hairy man, determined.

She was nervous, I was not, so she went first. I held her hand and watched the artist get to work. She made faces, maybe she cried a little, but soon there was an elephant. There was no turning back. Elephants are forever.

When it was my turn, I sat backwards in the chair. A man I didn't know rolled up my shirt and tucked it into my bra. I sat that way, exposed to anyone who came in the front door. Chaos made its way onto my back, in a tender place. It hurt. A lot. But still less than I'd braced myself for.

On the way home, chaos was jostled and raw, but the pain was a nice reminder of what we'd done. Chaos was a new beginning. It was the start of something I didn't quite understand yet.

Chaos is 5 today, which means that Anna, it's time to wish you the happiest of birthdays. I can't believe how old you are! I hope elephant is doing well, and that your day has all the right kind of chaos.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Why I Don't Believe in Gap

I grew up in a Gap family. My mother shopped at The Gap like her mother before her. When I was born, there was no question that I would shop at The Gap too. For the first several years of my life, purchases were made for me. My drawers were filled with khaki, my closet bursting with Gappy goodness. I dressed myself in Gap from head to toe because it was all I knew. I was initiated into Gap before I even knew there was a whole mall full of different choices. I wasn't exposed to the mall though, we went right to the Gap outlet, and stuck to it.

I went to a school where Gap was the uniform, but for a brief period of time, there was one boy in my class who was different. He shopped at Banana Republic. He was excused from class when we flipped through the Gap catalogue, discussed this season's styles, or performed our Gap rituals. He was a mystery to us until the day he left. We whispered to each other about him for weeks: sure, he wore jeans and sweaters like we did, but the sleeves would be shorter, or the colour more muted. It was roughly the same style, but the label was different, and we all knew it.

When I grew older, the mall called my name. There was something more than just The Gap out there, and I wanted to explore it. I liked what I found. Sizes that fit me better, prices that suited my budget, styles that complimented me, shelves well-stocked with what I wanted. The Gap, for me, had always been lacking. Khakis are okay, but sometimes you just want a slutty mini skirt, and The Gap just ain't giving. In my adolescence, I stopped going to The Gap. I tore up my store credit card. Gradually, The Gap line began to filter itself out of my wardrobe.

My mother was devastated. The Gap comforted her, reassured her. The Gap was like a family tradition, and even if she didn't wear every piece of clothing they had, she never expected that I would turn my back on it completely. She did everything she could to bring me back. She left sale flyers in my bedroom. She openly criticized my Silver jeans, my Doc Martens, my Tommy Hilfigger top. She even had a clerk call me to tell me what a valued customer I had been, and that I would be missing out on all sorts of future promotions and customer benefits. All of these things just pushed me further away. I'd never liked the snobby clerks, the elitist environment, or those pretentious headsets they all wear. I wanted to shop at a store where all customers were treated the same, who weren't discriminated for what they wore when they walked in the doors, who weren't turned away for preferring boot-cut to flares.

Some people love The Gap, and always will. I'm okay with that. I'm fine with whatever store you shop at, as long as your choice was made by an informed decision. Shop around, compare the lines, try something on if you're not sure. If The Gap is not for you, there are plenty of valid alternatives. Invest in a line that suits you.

Today my closet is as varied as they get; I don't believe in shopping anywhere exclusively. I know I'm not a nudist, I love clothes way too much, so I wear a style that's all my own, and I can live with that.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Yesterday I had an adolescent day, more of the John Hughes variety than the Hillary Duff. I was hormonal and emotional and terrible. What the hell? When can I safely leave these days behind? I have been praying for menopause since I was 14, but praying can kiss my big fat ass, because it's not working. What good is prayer if you don't get what you ask for? Maybe I should send this request to Santa instead of God, because with an 82% return rate on my Christmas list and only 2% success rate on my praying, seems like Santa is just a teensy bit more reliable. Anyway, my point being, I'm still riding the crimson wave twice a year, and it still sucks. I accept that this is "part of life", but I don't like it. Plus, all the cramps and all the mood swings are compounded into just 2 episodes a year, so it's intense.

When you're young, the women in your life try to make it sound like a good thing. My mother said I would BECOME A WOMAN. Well, Mom, fuck that. She knew damn well it was a crampy curse all along, but she tried to trick me into thinking it was something that I should look forward to. Nice. Why do parents lie to their children?

"If you go out without a scarf, you'll catch your death."

"Eating your crusts makes you grow boobs."

"You're not weird, you're just different."

Yeah, thanks Mom. That helps. My grandmother talked about the "monthlies". I imagined it was like a magazine subscription. I had no idea that getting my monthlies and becoming a woman were one and the same thing. And then it happened. At camp. Oh.

And then it continues for the next 35 years. Nice. Sure, there were some months I prayed for it to come, and I sweated every second that it was late, but those months are far behind me now. I have no use for these episodes, and if there was a box that I could tick off to stop them, I would give it a big fat check mark and live happily ever after. But I have to keep going through it regardless of the futility, and the only solace I have is making Jason miserable right along with me.

When the storm is coming, Jason boards up the windows and takes his position down in the cellar. But, this time he had no choice: we needed to venture out into the world, he had to take me out of the padded cell and risk being within punching distance. He knew it wouldn't be pretty, but he had to try. He gave me full reign of the bathroom to get ready, and in fact, exited the house completely to give me space. He stood outside in sub zero temperatures where he knew he would be safer. Inside, I raged and ranted, but only broke one mirror, one lamp, and 4 plates, so it was a success on my part aswell.

"You look beautiful today, princess."

"Shut the fuck up!"

And we were off. We did our banking (well, Jason did the banking, I sat in the car with my arms folded, seething until he got back), picked up a few groceries (I snarled and bared my teeth at any man who dared look in my direction, and when I almost lost it trying to free the pennies from my wallet, Jason assessed the situation as possibly lethal to the cashier, and sent me out to the car with a bar of chocolate), and then went to the video store. In my state, and with the weather acting up again, we decided to spend the next 3 days curled up on the couch watching movies. Jason wisely left the movie picking up to me, and we came away with a strange mix, but there were no hissy fits or balls-kicking, so we were both happy.

One last stop at my grandmother's, and we were home free. Nanny is not normally one to mince words. I know this, my mother knows this, my sisters know this, but Jason listens to our stories and gives Nanny the benefit of the doubt. But today she was in fine form, and before I was all the way through the door, she greets me with "Wow, that's a huge zit on your forehead!"

Jason has a panicked look in his eyes. "Zit? I never noticed a zit. Well, we can't stay long! Just came to say hello, so hello. We should probably get going now!" He steered me back out the door, buckled me up in the car while I inspected my HUGE ZIT in the rearview mirror, and sped off into the direction of salvation.

Jason knows there is only one recourse here. He must buy the magic elixir if he is to live through the night. He buys me chips and dip, the only thing in the world that will put a smile on my lips on such a day, and we return home safely. He instructs me to put on my pjs and lie down on the couch where he can rub my feet and pull my hair the way I like. I try to do as he says, I really do, but it doesn't go as smoothly as either of us would like.

"Jamie, do you want to watch Babe or Reservoir Dogs first? Jamie? Where are you?"

I'm in the bedroom, half dressed, crying. The waterworks have been switched on, and we both know they'll pour now for 4 days straight.

"Princess, what's wrong?"

"Fuck you. Leave me alone." I have discovered a great tragedy. Well, not discovered really, so much as remembered. My pj pants have holes in them. These holes have been ripping and widening for a month now, and never seemed overly tragic until this day. Now I am crying uncontrollably for the loss of some comfy pants. I should throw them out. I know I should, or else tear them up into rags. But I don't want to throw them out. It's just a holy crotch, they're still functional as pants. The only one who sees me in them is Jason, and he doesn't mind glimpses of my crotch. So why am I crying? I do have other pjs. My life is not irreparably damaged. I should bounce back from this, but I can't. I just cry and cry, and I'm paralyzed on the bed, unable to finish dressing, to get up, to go on. Jason rubs my back. "Don't touch me!"

Of course I know I'm being too harsh. I know I'm not even mad at him, but it makes me feel better to yell at something or someone, and Jason is an easy target. He kisses the top of my head, and goes to get me some tissues. This reminds me of the red pencil incident. One day, back in high school, where this kind of thing still happened to be monthly, I discovered that the red pencil from my pack was missing. Probably, it was on the bottom of my locker, buried under clutter. Probably my red pencil would not have held so much power over me on a regular day. But 'probably' was not occurring to me as I sat in the girl's washroom, locked inside a stall and sobbing through the whole of art period. Objectively, I knew it was silly to cry over a pencil, like I knew then on the bed that pjs were not worth crying over. But objectivity is overrated when your hormones are raging. I took some deep breaths, and slowly, I recovered some composure.

Jason pops Babe into the VCR. Before the opening credits are over, I ask him to shut it off. "My neck is sore again", I tell him. He asks if he can get me a muscle relaxant, and I say no. He asks if I want a neck rub, and I say no. He asks if there's anything he can do, and I respond "Just turn the damn movie back on!"

Three singing mice and a sweet little piglet come on the screen. "Am I going to barf from cuteness?" asks Jason, and shoots me that sexy as hell smile of his. But we don't barf from cuteness, because before long, I'm on another crying jag: the sheep dies, the farmer misunderstands, a dog is anesthetized, puppies are sold away from their mother, Babe learns his parents have been rendered into pork. I cry like it's the saddest thing on earth, and to me it is. Jason worries that I'll flood the basement with my tears, and that 7 boxes of tissues will not be enough. We have to stop the movie twice; it takes us 4 hours to watch Babe, and I cry so much I give myself the dry heaves. But we do make it through, and Jason thinks to himself that we are now 4 hours closer to the relative safety of sleep.

Before we make it to bed, I cry twice more: once because I can't decide what I want for supper, and the second time because I gave myself rope burn on my eyelid with the string from my hoodie. Knowing that we will laugh about this later does little to help at the moment. In bed, I cry just one more time, silently, because Jason is holding me in his arms, even after a day like we've just had. Every time I have a day like this, it feels like high school, but the crappy kind of high school where I still have to pay bills and make dinner and go through the motions of life. The only improvement over high school is having my own punching bag, er, husband, I mean. Yes, having a husband on days like this makes life just a tiny bit more livable.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Patches was a mutt that we brought home from the local OSPCA. I think he was adopted for a mere $35. My mother thought it was a good idea to get a dog after my budgie (Polly, named after a very similar-looking budgie from the Polka-Dot Door) was fed a Barbie brush by my youngest sister, and then choked to death.

Patches became a member of the family the instant he appeared on the scene. I remember playing around on the kitchen floor with him, as tentative as he was. The people at the pound had indicated that there was a good chance he'd been abused as a puppy by his previous owners. For as many years as we had him, he remained insanely afraid of the water. He hated baths. He even cowered when we brought the hose out back to fill his water bowl. It took a long time for him to trust us, but eventually, he was a cuddly and happy dog. For the first half of his life, he lived outdoors. He was always tied up, but to a very long rope that allowed him free reign of the backyard. With all that space, it was funny how he really preferred the very edges of his territory. He would run back and forth on the last path of land that his rope would allow him to reach, so there was always an arc or worn grass in our yard. I remember one day going out back to say hello to him, and his lips did a strange snarly thing at me. I thought he had rabies and ran back inside. Later, I realized that that's how dogs smile. When Patches rewarded me with a smile, it made my day.

He loved spaghetti and cheese slices, and sticking his nose out of the window during car rides. Sometimes he would smell home and jump out of the moving car to race there before us. He once made friends with a rabbit in the yard, and even began imitating the bunny's hop. He was terrified of thunder storms, and would claw his way up around my shoulders to sit out their duration.

He slept in the basement every night, and in the mornings we would let him out to do his business. In the snow, he would act insulted that his paws should touch such cold stuff. Often he would roam a little around the neighbourhood, but when we called him back, he always came. Then one day, when we opened the door to let him back in, he was there, without being called. He slinked in the door, and went downstairs. No vying for breakfast crumbs. No scratching himself under the coffee table. When I followed him downstairs, he bared his teeth at me, and gave a half-hearted growl. He was hiding himself in with the storage. And then I noticed it: blood. He was attacked by a German Shepherd that had been stalking the neighbourhood of late.

We rushed Patches to the vet, and he was saved, but just barely. The doctor retrieved pieces of the other dog's teeth from a hole in Patches' neck. His recovery was lengthy, and though he did recover physically, he was a different dog. He no longer spent his days outdoors. He became a house dog. He slept with me at the foot of my bed. He was intrigued with the wall of mirrors I had in my room; his reflection was sometimes a source of amusement to him, and sometimes a source of apprehension.

His health slowly declined. He had arthritis and was going blind. He was becoming less and less mobile. We made the painful decision to put him down. I should say that my mother and I made that decision, and while we were at it, my mother also decided that it would be best not to saying anything to my sisters until after the fact. The few days we had left for him were hard for me: I got to say goodbye, I snapped a lot of pictures, but I had to do it quietly.

I held him in my lap as we drove to the vet's. Truthfully, I think he knew. The vet gave him the first shot to "relax" him. I wish there had been a shot like that for me. I got to stay with him while the shot did its work. Eventually, his legs didn't work for him anymore, so he just laid in my arms and rested. It was heart-wrenching. The worst feeling and the deepest sadness I have ever known. Then the vet came to get him, to give him that last shot. He laid on a table that had an old Star Wars blanket on it; I noticed it because I had the matching sheets on my own bed, inherited from an older cousin. Patches took his last breath, and closed his eyes.

My mother and I sat in the van in the parking lot for a long time, neither of us able to drive home. To this day, I have never cried harder. We also knew that at home we would have to tell my sisters what we'd done. I still miss him.

My mother vowed that she would never have another dog again because she knew she could never go through that last scene again. For a long time, I felt the same way, but the fact remains that I love have a doggie around, and after I had moved in with Jason, I felt that presence was missing. We mulled it over a long time (which means, I begged Jason mercilessly). Jason had previously been a cat person and wasn't sure how he would get along with a dog. Finally, he realized that my nagging wasn't about to stop any time soon, so we braced ourselves and went out into the world of doggie adoption.

My instinct was to search the OSPCA again, so we toured all the dog pounds in the area. We spent hundreds of dollars in cab fare going from place to place, and the end result was Jamie in tears. I couldn't stand all the sweet faces looking up at me from their cages, begging to be brought home. I couldn't adopt all of them. As it turned out, I couldn't adopt any of them. The shelters only had bigger breeds, and though we didn't have any breed in mind (mutts are still okay by me), we had done our research, and wanted a small dog to suit our apartment lifestyle. Jason comforted me, and realized that he had a lot more on his hands than he had bargained for. His girlfriend had a broken heart.

That's when Jason did what he does best: he swung into action to make sure I got what I wanted. He called around to pet stores, and found some suitable possibilities. We walked into one, and there she was, our new puppy. She was the tiniest, sweetest little thing I had ever seen. She was a cockapoo (cocker spaniel-poodle mix), and had curly black hair with splotches of white. She was extremely friendly and cuddly from the get-go. We bought all sorts of doggie paraphernalia, and brought her home.

The first week we had her, she was a no-name dog. We tried out many, but none seemed to fit her personality. Finally, it was my mother who made the suggestion Mabel, and that was it. Mabel was a funny little dog. She hated exercise. I adore going for walks, but we soon learned that Mabel was good for one lap around the block, and that was it. Any further and we'd have to carry her home. She loved to play, though, and did so actively. She would bring us her purple dinosaur, and when we threw it, she would take off like she'd been ejected by a canon. She never got used to the hardwood flooring, and she would slip and slide, and body-check herself off of the bed and just keep going.

Mabel got a bit taller, but never much bigger. We had to groom her regularly because of the poodle in her. She would have weekly baths, and act insulted but really reveled in the attention. I would towel her dry, but she still insisted on laying her nose to the carpet in the hallway, and rubbing herself dry on the flooring. Mabel was a real princess. My sisters adored her, and she made friends wherever she went.

It was a good thing she was so cute because she got into a lot of trouble. Garbage was her real passion in life, and she made enough of her own to leave us baffled that so much could come out of such a small little dog. We became concerned over her too-many bathroom trips and inability to gain weight. We took her to the vet's, who told us to put her on a special diet and monitor her progress. We did, but nothing really changed. When we bathed her, we could see her skinny little ribs sticking out.

The next trip to the vet was tragic. He told us that our Mabel had a twisted stomach and that she would not ever be healthy. She would suffer, and die a drawn-out death. He suggested to us that the best thing for Mabel would be to leave her there and have her put down. Knowing that something is 'for the best' does not make it easy to do. We said our goodbyes, as she smiled at us, wagged her little tail, ever eager to play.


So, two dogs, two good friends, two broken hearts. It's been two years since we left the vet's without Mabel, and I'm starting to get that itch again. Am I crazy? Mabel and Patches are irreplaceable, and losing them was awful, but I can't help but feel like a doggie would be a nice addition. I love coming home to that happy face. I love making someone's day just by getting out the leash. I think it's getting to be puppy time.

A PSA From The Staff Here at Kill The Goat

Mr. Theodore Tylenol has a fortune that puts Bill Gates to shame, but unlike Bill Gates, Theo is a quiet man who keeps these things to himself. His continued success is dependent upon his low profile. If his name became well-known in the media, people (by which I mean pill-popping consumers) might think twice about the little omnipresent bottle in every bathroom cabinet in North America.

The alarming truth about Tylenol is that no one really knows what it is, nor does anyone seem to care. Awe towards the bottle of Tylenol has been cleverly built up over the years by arrows that never line up, child-proof mechanisms that challenge even the most dexterous and highly intelligent among us, and a mysterious piece of cotton, the purpose of which eludes even the people who put it there. We don't understand it, therefore, it MUST be scientific!

For all we know, Tylenol might just be the biggest hoax in the world. They might be tablets of sugar, pocket lint, moon dust, or ground-up baby teeth. Acetaminophen might be a little-none synonym for "chalk remnants". Do you know for sure that it isn't? What if Tylenols are just a deceiving recycling program the way hot dogs are?

The problem is that people enjoy taking Tylenol. It has been a comforting habit, and nothing else. Sure the bottles says it has 'medicinal' ingredients, and to not exceed 8 tablets per day. That's still 8 tablets! You probably shouldn't exceed 8 hot dogs per day either, but it won't kill you if you do. After all, Tylenol, like hot dogs, can be purchased over-the-counter, by anyone. It is taken for headaches, tummy troubles, fever, soreness, broken hearts, phobias, general feelings of malaise, or just for lack of anything better to do. The packaging plays a part in this: it is marketed for 'pain'. Yup, pain. Well, Theo, pain is pretty general, don't you think? Stepping on a rusty nail is pretty painful, should I take two Tylenol for that? Labour is pretty painful, how many Tylenols do you recommend for that? Listening to John Tesh play the piano is painful, what's the dosage then? Or how about when I'm tripping on shrooms and my hair hurts? Or when I'm locked in a stairwell and I'm so embarrassed it aches? Tylenol? Is that the answer?

And don't get me started on this 'extra-strength' crap. Tylenol calling itself extra-strength is like Colin Ferrell and this whole bad-boy rap that he's given himself. What, drinking beers and having sex (or wanting to), makes you 'bad' now? Bah. Colin Ferrell is a greasy schmo who relies on his reputation to lay women. The extra-strength thing works in a similar fashion: it reels you in, validates your pain, makes you feel special for taking it, then never calls you again after you've been seen in the tabloids with it. Well, except for that last part.

Tylenol, like Colin Ferrell, is inexplicably popular. And if Tylenol really is a drug, then shouldn't we be concerned? Colin could be spreading herpes, or leaving behind a trail of little no-talent children. Tylenol could be responsible for any number of things, like male pattern baldness, bunions, eye twitching, or political blogs. I think we can agree that we'd like to eradicate all of those. No one really knows the damage we could be doing with these things, but that rarely stops anyone from downing 2 tablets with half a bottle of Evian.

More than likely, Tylenol is not responsible for world hunger or wet dreams or cotton mouth. Probably, it's a harmless placebo that gives people peace of mind when they are sick. It makes them feel like they are doing something for themselves. It doesn't do much to improve their health, but then, Colin Ferrell's small excuse for manhood probably doesn't do much to pleasure sexually, but women sleep with him for the idea more than anything, right? Bragging rights. Tylenol alleviates the guilt of having called in sick AGAIN. Tylenol makes you feel responsible again after a night of drinking. Tylenol gives you the power (illusory or not) to help yourself, and if helps the masses feel even just a teensy bit better, then I guess it's done it's job one way or another.

But a note of warning to Mr. Theo Tylenol: I've got my eye on you. And it's my good one.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Jason and Jesus Up in a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

So, just go put this out there, when it comes to God, I think the G-man and I are okay. I don't necessarily go play at his house every week, but if I passed him on the street, I'd be like "Hey, what's up?", and I think he'd respond with a friendly nod. We're buds. So when I say something that sounds blasphemous to you, well, it's different for me. I don't really dig on the bible, nor am I a big fan of the 10 commandments. I mean, I have a list of maybe 37 rules posted for Jason on the fridge, and people have the nerve to call ME bossy! Those are just rules, guidelines for conduct, and the worst that will happen if Jason fails to follow them is divorce. Commandments, on the other hand, are serious business. It's an order. You must, or else. Not friendly at all. And the penalty for insubordination? Eternal damnation. So yeah, when it comes to the G-dawg, I keep things rather simple. I like to keep G on a chummy basis, we pal around some, and I believe he can appreciate a good joke.

So, I signed Jason up to receive a free prayer calendar from Billy Graham. Billy of course was more than excited to have himself a new disciple. He loves to convert heathen like Jason. He wanted to help Jason "find Jesus". I mean, I didn't know Jesus was missing, I haven't seen the posters or his picture on milk cartons or anything, but if Billy says he is, then I guess Billy is right. Billy and God are tight. Right? Well, that's what Billy likes to think anyway.

Another thing that Billy likes to think is that his new converts will enthusiastically send him money so he can help more people find Jesus. Jason has been inundated for requests for cash. Send money now! You can pay to have prayers said for you (how lazy are we?), pay to be saved, pay to save others, pay to send Billy and his family on posh vacations around the world, conveniently called "Missions" to make them sound legit.

This month's cheque should be made out to - get this- saving Australia. The whole damned country. According to the 'literature' Jason received, Australia has turned its back on God. None of them go to church. None of them read the bible. They're a bunch of stinking secularists, and it is our job as good Christians to make them see the light - if not God's light, then at least Billy's. Billy has taken it upon himself to go to Australia this summer and single-handedly churchify them all. It used to be really popular to do this in Africa, but Billy has now realized that Australia has just as many non-Christians, with the added benefit of nicer hotels, Coca-Cola, and air-conditioning.

Personally, I had no idea that Australia was the new "dark continent". Australians look a lot like Canadians, but apparently they're a lot less moral, which is surprising because Canadians aren't super-religious either (especially when we are so close in proximity and therefore compared to red state values). This makes me wonder if perhaps in Australia, they receive donation requests in order to save us agnostic Canadians. I probably am not setting a good example for the Canadian people, but I assure you, we're not all as bad as me. If I burn in hell, at least I'll be warm. Australians don't need hell, they've already got a nice, temperate climate. Don't be so greedy, Australia: you got some good real estate here on earth, let someone else have the prime location in the afterlife, okay?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Random Sampling: A Cross-Section of a Deranged Mind

I wear a watch maybe twice a year. I find time keeping to be unnecessary. Generally, the world waits for me. I don't wear a watch to work, or to keep appointments. I wear a watch when I have a personal stake in time, like for 30-minute sales, or when half-price martinis end at 6. Yes, I wear a Pocahontas watch. What of it? It keeps time, and it paints with all the colours of the wind. That appeals to me. And yes, I wear the dial on the inside of my wrist. It makes sense to me that way. Why should it bother anyone else? Why should it prompt complete strangers to criticize my watch-wearing abilities?


You know how you clean all day long when your mother-in-law is due for a visit? Nay, not clean, scrub. You get down on your knees with a toothbrush and some abrasive chemicals, and you clean like you've never cleaned before. You clean places that no human eye will ever see, could ever see, but you bruise your knees and scrub until your knuckles are raw just the same. Like your life depended on it. Your mother-in-law might not inspect for dust with a white-gloved finger, but it's an image you just can't shake. The house is spotless, a nutritious and savory meal is warming in the oven, fresh flowers fill the vase she gave you at your bridal shower, every last button on your blouse is buttoned up, but when the doorbell rings, terror shoots up your spine. You'll glance around nervously, and believe me on this: something is amiss. Something ain't right. But you'll never find it. No, you won't see it, but I guarantee your mother-in-law will. It's like they have homing devices.

And do you think she'll have a sense of humour about it when she finds it? No siree, she surely will not. Trust me on this one.


So we're driving around town, well Jason's driving and I'm riding, and I'm singing along with the radio without really noticing it, and Jason asks: "Exactly how many Meatloaf songs do you know by heart?"

That, my friends, is a loaded question. I probably shouldn't admit to any, but then, I've been caught singing along with one already. Do I say just this one? What if there are follow up questions? What if this is a trick question, and I've been singing Meatloaf's whole repertoire in my sleep? I love Jason, and normally I like to keep my 'lie ratio' down to a 40-60 split with him, but Meatloaf seems like one of the exceptions to the rule. I would do anything for love, but I won't do that. Oh no, no I won't do that.


Hey Lizbeth, I'm wearing my duckies, are you wearing your fishies? Quack quack.

Jinx! You owe me a beer.


I found my shower to be inspiring this morning. Ivory is dabbling in philosophy now, apparently. It's no longer enough to clean people, you have to be competitive in this global market. Getting an edge on your competitor does not necessarily mean being higher quality, less expensive, or better working. For soap, it means printing messages of enlightenment on your packaging. Today's moments of zen included:

Complicating life is easy. The genius is in the simple things.


The road to a friend's house is never long and the directions are simple.

Not only is my skin cleansed, but my mind is expanded. Take that, Zest.


Dear Beck: Get a haircut. You've had hit records, Grammy nods, trippy videos, a new baby, 2 turn tables and a microphone. You'd think somewhere along the way you'd have made enough money to visit the barber regularly, but maybe not. This just in: the homeless look is out this year.

If money is an issue, just let me know, and I'll write you a check. In fact, I'll do you one better, I'll set up a Give Beck a Haircut Foundation and through the generosity of your fellow man, you'll never have to suffer with your devil's haircut again.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I Pulled A Jamie

Remind me never to leave the house again.

Forgive me for not blogging these past couple of days, but I've been trapped in a stairwell. I had an appointment early on Thursday morning, and it happened to be in one of the 4 buildings I have yet to frequent in this city. Jason dropped me off, but had some errands to run, so we parted ways and in I went.

Inside the front doors was a small landing, with a set of stairs leading up and a set of stairs leading down. The sign told me that the office I wanted was on the second floor. That's easy: 1, 2, the end. Normally I would be able to handle it, but there were two factors working against me: it was early, and I didn't know which floor was the first floor (which therefore makes it harder to determine which one is the second). In determining the first floor, I usually use these simple tricks:

1. Which one is the main floor?

2. Which one is the ground floor?

3. Which one is labeled #1?

Sadly, I could use none of these handy tricks. Quite literally, I came in off the street and found myself on this tiny landing. There was no main/ground floor. No arrows pointing me to safety. No one around to ask. So, I thought it was safe enough to walk up a flight of stairs. At the next landing, I peered through the door and saw a hallway with a couple of offices with unfamiliar names. I felt justified in assuming that this was the first floor, and headed up a second flight of stairs. At this next landing, I saw no sign of the office I was looking for, but I opened the door, determined to hunt it down. The hallway took a series of twists and turns, and I realized I had made a mistake. I found myself walking by many private offices, and the rustling of my passage caused a few disgruntled employees to look up at me and sniff haughtily. When I reached the end of the hallway with no luck in finding my destination, I knew I would have to turn back, and be seen retreating, retracing my steps by these same prying eyes. My cheeks burned at the thought of this walk of shame when I saw my salvation: a door leading to a back set of stairs.

I was almost giddy as I trounced down the flight of stairs, the sound of my steps echoing in the silent staircase. I was sure the floor below me would turn out to be the second one, and by my estimation, I would practically be on time. No harm, no foul. Except when I reached the appropriate landing, I found that the doors were locked. I looked through the window, but the room on the other side was blackened. I tried the handle again, more insistently, but it held fast.


I headed down more stairs dejectedly, thinking I would have to snake my way through more unfamiliar building before getting turned around again. But at the bottom of the staircase, there was another set of locked doors. I jiggled them mightily, but to no avail. There were some janitorial things scattered around the foot of the stairs, mops and buckets and the like, and this was my first inkling that something was amiss.

I raced up the stairs, my brain just beginning to consider that I might have gotten myself into a predicament but still somewhat optimistic that there was some silly mistake, and I would soon be sitting in an overheated waiting room reading Ladies Home Journal and trying to ignore the stale scent of an old lady sitting too close beside me. On my way back up, I noticed a door that led outside, but the slight relief I felt from the glimpse of daylight was quickly replaced by dread as I read the sign affixed to it: Door Locked At All Times. Great.

I went up and down those flights of stairs, trying and retrying every door, knocking on each one, politely at first, then more desperately, and eventually with an all-out panicky pounding that still brought no one to my rescue. I sat on the concrete steps, and felt the seconds tick by. The minutes pounded in my ears. I felt that the stairwell could flood with my mortification, and I would be glad to drown in it if it meant never having to admit to my mistake.

I took stock of my purse. No cell phone of course. I thought briefly that this was a convenient and predictable plot twist, but then I remembered that this was not a B-movie, but the sad, sad reality of my life. I had some kleenexes, a comb, my Winnie the Pooh keychain (he's dressed as an apple, it's very cute), a lifetime supply of lip gloss, sunglasses, 3 sticks of gum (2 of which had old pennies stuck to them), 2 pens and no paper. If I was going to write a heart-wrenching goodbye letter to Jason, I would have to write it on my own arm. Oh, the indignity.

Every few minutes, I would trudge up and down the stairs, giving each door a half-hearted rattle. The only door that looked remotely promising was the cursed door that I had passed through, but my attempts at making noise went unnoticed. In all my time, I had seen not one other person in the hallway, and all the office minions were apparently too far away or too harried to hear me. I was going to die in a stairwell. I hoped Drew Barrymore would play me in the TV movie.

I wondered how long Jason would sit out in the car until he came looking for me. My guess: a long freaking time, especially if he stopped for donuts. But what good would it do? If he went looking for me in the right office, they would tell him I had missed my appointment. Then what would he do? I could practically taste the salt on the margarita that he would drink on the cruise he would take with the hot bimbo from his work after he had cashed in my life insurance and danced on my grave. Jerk. I leapt to my feet with the rage that I felt. What an ingrate! I cooked him dinner and did his laundry and put up with him hogging the blankets for five whole years, and for what? So he can take up with that bottle-blonde floozie just days after my untimely demise?!!?? I grabbed hold of the door and I rattled it with every ounce of outrage that I felt. I imagined that I rattled the bones of my good-for-nothing husband, wishing that I could get my hands around his neck when I suddenly realized that I was looking into the face of a petite 50-year-old woman. I stopped dead.

"I'm stuck!", I yelled through the door. "I'm locked in here."

She looked back at me in silence, probably thinking to herself that it was a good thing they kept all the doors locked if it kept the crazies likes me out of the building.

"Can you let me in?", I asked, trying my best to look non-threatening.

"It's locked", she responded.

"Yes, I know it's locked. I got locked in here and I need to get out."

"Well I don't have a key."

"Is there anyone who can help me?", I pleaded, trying not to let the desperation seep back into my voice.

"Can't you use the outside door?" she yelled back.

I shook my head. "It's locked too!" I shouted, a little impatiently. I gestured down the flight of stairs at the big red sign, even though I knew it was impossible for her to see it from her vantage point. To show her I had tried all my options, I made my way down the stairs, and rattled the door to prove my point. The door swung open under my weight, and I spilled outdoors. The breeze stung my cheeks, tears stood out in my eyes. The door had been open all that time, and I had never even tried it because the sign. The damned lying sign!!

I picked myself up, brushed myself off, and made my way around the back of the building. My heels filled with slush as I trudged through thigh-high snow, but I high-tailed it out of there, knowing there was a good possibility that the woman on the other side of the door had alerted security that a woman fitting my description was trying to break into her office. I made it to the parking lot, spotted Jason sitting in the car, and I dove in the backseat.

"Home!", I ordered him. One look at my ruined pantyhose and my red face was all he needed. And home is where I plan to stay.