Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Open Sesame: Doors Open Toronto

The weather was my bitch this weekend - it submitted so completely that I rarely had to unholster my cat-o-nine-tails.

And boy did we take advantage.

Toronto kindly opened its doors to all sorts of unsavoury characters this weekend, Jason and I among them. Supposedly we were to admire the city's impressive architecture, but we secretly toured only the cool places. Of 144 sites with doors wide open, we managed to visit 7. And we did good. All told, we walked nearly 40km in 2 days, and while this sets no records, it did take my 10 day old sandals and age them to approximately 16 years. And for a flat-footed soul like me, that's saying a lot.

Early starts were no problem since I've "conveniently" been waking up about 4:30. This means that by 10:30 on Saturday morning, Jason was chugging back beer at the Steam Whistle Brewery. Tim, the hottie tour guide, or Good Beer Folk, encouraged us to "smell the hops" which I'm pretty sure is a euphemism that I just wasn't getting. Despite the free samples, we left pretty cranky between the two of us - Jason wanted to toot the steam whistle, and I wanted to ride the little trains, but oh no, "This is for children only, ma'am", I was told, which I'm pretty sure is code for "Get your fat ass out of here." Either way, Jason was quite bemused that the tiny trains were actually powered by coal - the kind you buy at the grocery store for you grill, but still. Underneath this historic roundhouse now converted into a micro-brewery sits 10 levels of unhistoric parking garage...and possibly a top secret CSIS lab...or not.

The brewery sits in the shadows of the CN tower and the Rogers Centre so we squeezed between them (and about eleventy billion sweaty tourists) to get to the CBC building for an exciting tour of television studios. In reality, what we saw was a not so exciting tour of big empty rooms where cool stuff happens only when they're not open to the public. In fact, the big empty rooms were only distinguishable by the tour guides who assured us that they were either slightly bigger, or slightly smaller, or slightly to the left of all the others. They were all empty except for lights, but the guides really talk a big game. Royal Canadian Air Farce is sometimes here! Olympics coverage is sometimes here! Elephants and helicopters are sometimes here! (sometimes meaning not now...never now). And we tried our best to look impressed. I think we failed. But we were sufficiently grossed out to learn that the donuts from the coffee shop set are a year old and still going strong. They've basically pickled themselves at this point.

In the lobby there was a 'meet & greet' of CBC "celebrities", none of which we'd ever heard of before. Admittedly, we're not big TV people. But upon closer inspection, I realized that in fact, Strombo himself, maybe the only person worth turning on the boob tube for, was sitting on the panel. I have loved George Stroumboulopoulous since well before The Hour, and some woman with a headset was very insistent that I not be shy and go on up to collect some autographs. Despite the fact that Jason almost swallowed his tongue over this remark, the woman apparently had no idea how close she came to the famous Jamie Tongue-Lashing. In the end, I chose to neither greet nor meet George. No disrespect, but I think autographs are just signatures. It's just a name on paper. Who the fuck cares? And should I stand in line to say "Hey, I like your show" so he can say "Thanks" with as much sincerity as he can muster 80 dozen times in a row? Okay, so I'm a total cunt....the whole thing just leaves me a bit cold. However, I did stick around long enough to come across a pair of celebrities that would melt the frigid cockles of my heart.

Next we went to the distillery district where we toured a very old building that seemed only moments away from collapsing on us, and which smelled distinctly of hundreds of years worth of spilled whiskey. Not too bad at all.

And then off to Greek Town on Danforth, where we were summarily marched past and told to admire storefronts which apparently were extras in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, or something like that. Then we sat our wearied souls at "the house of shish kebab" where we did not order shish kebabs, but did enjoy Greek salad and spanokopita while we watched cars on Danforth get expensive parking tickets. Har har har.

We had some drinks. And then we basically had some more drinks.

The good news is, we did get home, and safely. And a bit sunburned.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Fuckfest Does Sex and the City

{For Jen, who arrived with her library of SATC DVDs and knew without a doubt that I'd have a fridge full of cosmos, and who needs to remember that life, like the show, is only superficially about men (the loving AND the hating of them) - in the end, it's your friends that count.}

He's suave, moneyed, and debonair, and I hope to god they called him Mr. Big for a reason...

Still, Mr. Big was never my favourite.

I know, I know, I can hear the boos all the way from here.

But while it may be true that Big and Carrie were meant to be, it has to be said that he's not good enough for me, and he sure as hell ain't good enough to make the Most Fuckable cut.

Chris Noth's impish smile might dazzle me for a moment or two, but to make my list, you need to be more than just handsome. Big is a womanizer. He's elusive and ambivalent. He wants her the most when he can't have her. Sound like anyone you know? Yes, most likely: why do we women always fall for the men who are no good for us?

And why do we push away those that are?

Kyle MacLachlan is much handsomer off the show - as Charlotte's husband Doctor Trey, I could never get past the stick up his ass to like him much.

I did, however, love the exercise my eyebrow got (you know, the one I cock slightly to show disdain) when we found out he was impotent. Few of us had any pity on him - he was so smug that my smugmometer nearly exploded.

But his character did allow us all to vent about the impossibleness of mothers-in-law, and it taught us how to achieve the very best that divorce settlements have to offer.

Steve, on the other hand, was easy to like. I was pulling for Steve and Miranda from day one, probably because they're complete opposites. But he's also one of those unfailingly good guys that any seasoned dater has ceased to believe exist.

He's funny and endearing, and touchingly handsome with a baby cradled in his arms, and even a cynic like Miranda couldn't help but see his merits in the end.

Bottom line: he's actually there for her when she needs him.

Jerry Jerrod....Jerrod Smith....Jason Lewis...a hottie by any name.

And, when the cards were down, a pretty decent fellow.

I mean, it was fabulous to see any man actually not giving in to temptation.
Fabulouser still when he stuck by his girl in sickness and in health.
But most fabulous of all when you see one person bring out the best in another.

Aiden! Who didn't love Aiden? Well, except for Carrie, who clearly is not only blind but retarded aswell.

I have always had a soft spot for John Corbett, but as Aiden, he was IT. Pre-heartbreak, he was a free spirit, an artist, tender, respectful....just yummy.

But when he came back to the show, scarred and shorn, he was a new man, but entirely still worthy. In fact, when your biggest problem with a guy is that he's too faithful, that he's not just there for you, but also for your friends, and he's not afraid of intimacy...I think the problem actually lies with you.

But while I love Aiden, I can forgive Carrie. Because even if he's a good guy, even if he's good to you, it doesn't mean he's good for you. He wasn't the one. She gave up 'good' and found her 'perfect'. And that's what it's all about.

But the real success of SATC is not the men and their various charms.

It's the women, the girlfriendliness, the gossip and disclosure.

So for a moment, let's discuss:

a) The goodie drawer: Do you have one?
We have a goodie nightstand. When the mother-in-law came to visit, I cleaned it out, put everything "questionable" into a locked safe in another room. On her second night's stay, she asked me why we had an empty nightstand by the bed. I tried my best not to blush. I mean, my fears were founded - she did look.

b) Farting in front of the boyfriend/girlfriend: end of the world? end of the relationship? the beginning of intimacy?
If you've been here before, then you know that Jason doesn't fart. Damn him. I'm actually pretty unembarrassed by bodily functions. I accepted his proposal only on the condition that he could learn to pee in front of me (he did). I just can't stand the thought of a permanently closed door. That being said, I do remember the first time I farted in front of Jason. Everything went quiet for a moment, and then I laughed uncontrollably.

c) Faking it: have you? would you? could you?

d) Circumcision: necessary?

e) Ugly sex: have you ever slept with an ugly man or woman? Did you admit it to anyone?

f) Bad breakups: Carrie was dumped via a post-it note. What is the worst you have done, or received?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Warning: Stupid Man Alert

So, canned air, eh?

No, he wasn't huffing it.

He legitimately uses it to clean things at work.

Well, he used to, anyway.

Until a coworker, in a fit of retail-induced rowdiness, sprayed it on his leg.

Despite the fact that the warning label insists that you not do this, that you avoid all contact with skin, that you never tilt the can, that disuse can cause injuries or fatalities....

Despite the fact that the can's label is thick with those little red triangular symbols showing stick men in various forms of disability, dismemberment, and death....

Despite the fact that the label also includes such ambiguous statements as Danger!, Caution!, and Warning!.....

My husband came home with frostbite.

In May.

We're not sure if the worst of the burn is from the frostbite itself, or from having to separate denim from flesh where the two had become one.

Who knew the mall had become such a hazardous workplace?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Kissing Cousins

Happy Long Weekend, Canada

Ah, Victoria Day. Despite Google's best efforts to convince us of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legitimate claims on the day, good Canadians spent the day saluting the monarchy.

Or not.

Actually, I'm thinking very few Canadians even remember Queen Victoria, for whom the day is named. This is understandable since her reign ended upon her death in 1901. She was born to the King of England, but he died when she was just 8 months old. The crown was passed on to her uncles, but "luckily" King William IV had 10 bastard children and none fit for royalty, so Victoria became Queen just after her 18th birthday.

So what exactly did she do to deserve a rare stat holiday in her honour? Well, one of the first things she did was marry her first cousin. Apparently, this was a "happy" marriage, and if "happy" means "gross", then I'm sure it was. There's nothing like a little royal incest to prompt celebrations in May. They had 9 children, and as we all know, the poor bastard children are tossed out on their heinies, but the children of inbreeding are bowed down to and revered. Fair is fair.

Four assassination attempts were made on her life the first 2 years of her reign, but sadly, this was not the lowest level her popularity would see. Next, she would be dubbed the Famine Queen because of her perceived inaction during the potato blight, when over a million Irish people died, and a million more were forced to emigrate.

Her husband died and left her a widow when she was 42. She wore black for the rest of her life, and became reclusive, although some say this isolation was not so much due to grief as to a secret love affair with her Scottish manservant, John Brown. Her popularity climbed and fell periodically. Still, she kept her claws on the crown and didn't relinquish it until her son had to pry it from her cold, dead fingers after 63 years on the throne.

Victoria paved the way for future royals to act as symbols instead of politicians. Proudly, the future monarch generations would accept generous wages for the taxing duties of waving, smiling politely, and occasionally eating tiny cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. She also marked the beginning of the royal emphasis "morality and family values" while laughingly, any sign of these things is ironically lacking between the castle walls.

As she got older, her popularity increased, and during her last days she was known as the "grandmother of Europe". She did get her face on a stamp, making her at least as cool as Bobby Orr and Elvis Presley. But does that make her worth celebrating?

The answer is: who cares?

Canadians don't. Very few of us sent birthday wishes to the current royal highness, or have ever had a thought to spare for our first Queen, Victoria. But we are thankful to have the day off work, and if Vicky and Liz are to credit, then we tip our beers to them.

Because let's be honest: Victoria day is all about the beer.

It's not called May 2-4 for nothing. I mean, sure it takes place on or before May 24...but is it just coincidence that a two-four is also a case of beer? Hmm?

I don't think so.

And beer is not a bad way to toast the monarch.

A bad way to toast the monarch: fireworks.

What's with fireworks anyway? I mean, when a city puts on a show, I get it. Oooh, fire in the sky. Pretty colours. Big noises. Entertainment for the masses. A bit dull and repetitive in my book, but I get it.

Fireworks in the backyard, I don't get.

And yet for the past week I have witnessed an embarrassing number of Canadians spending their hard earned cash on stupid little fire crackers that never work the way they're supposed to anyway, unless they're supposed to fizzle, crackle, produce smoke, and do little else but cause accidents.

Ah yes, the great tradition of Victoria Day accidents.

The average number of fingers per Canadian drops significantly the day after May 24.

I mean, clearly, you have to be a little, um, imbecilic, to think that backyard fireworks are good times. Unfortunately, this is just survival of the fittest crapping out again, leaving us with maimed dullards in our population instead of eliminating them completely.

Thanks a lot.

I mean, obviously these things are accidents waiting to happen.

And the fact that Toronto has made it illegal to set them off doesn't seem to stop anyone from doing it, and it certainly doesn't stop them from calling 911 when something does go wrong, which it will, inevitably.

Because when you mix dim-witted people with explosives (and probably a case or two of beer)...of course it's going to suck.

And so the ERs will be overrun with morons tonight, and someone or someones will wake up tomorrow without their thumbs. At the taxpayers' expense.

And according to the newspaper, there will be a dozen fireworks-related blazes around the city tonight. As I am writing this, I hear the distinct whistle of failed fireworks sizzling around me, a product of ignorant neighbours, thankyouverymuch, and all I can do is hope like hell they don't accidentally set my house on fire.

But on a day that pays tribute to the Queen of all kissing cousins, what else can you expect?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Sometimes, I Feel Sorry For You.

Yes, you.

Late at night (or early in the morning, if you prefer to call it that), when the house is very still and the neighbourhood is as quiet as it can be what with all the demented motorists racing down Steeles (I'm not sure where they're all going at 3 am, but they're going there fast) - I sit around and feel sorry for everyone who is not me.

When I was younger, I had a rule about dating: 3 weeks, and kiss him goodbye. It was a strict rule, and it served me well. I never had a real boyfriend; I never had a real relationship; I never had a desire for either. Instead, I met a lot of people, let a lot of boys buy me drinks, and kissed more than I should have without knowing their names. I never saw anyone exclusively, and every single one of them got the boot at that all-important 3 week line. After 3 weeks, you either get attached, or you get bored (and sometimes you get both). I couldn't decide which I abhorred more, so I aimed to avoid both. And I absolutely did, except once.

And once is all it took. Although I assured him about a month into our dalliance that I was not the marrying kind, I soon after accepted his proposal. I didn't look for him, I didn't particularly want him, I sure as hell don't deserve him, but I've hoarded him all to myself just the same. And poor you - poor everyone who doesn't have a Jason. Poor everyone who is not me.

It's been 3 months already since Jason wrote a glowing if hyperbolic post about me, and I'm just now retaliating (you'll notice that punctuality is not among my listed qualities). I think that when he sat down to write it, he ended up revealing more about himself that about his intended subject (moi).

The undeniable fact is - I am the lucky one.

Jason is the man who made me realize that love is actually a physical sensation. Because of my insomnia, we don't often share a bedtime, but we try to share a lot of bed time. Toasty under the duvet that we purchased together, between the sheets that we washed together, nestled on the bed that we assembled together, we connect, and reconnect. Sometimes we trade massages, sometimes we read aloud to each other, and I always give him a kiss on the nose before I tuck him in and wish him sweet dreams. On a bad day, it can take him up to 36 seconds to fall asleep, but those are rare. Usually, he is snoring softly before I can even turn out the light, and in the dark, I stay to watch him sleep. And while he sleeps, that's when I get the feeling. It's a constriction in my ribcage, it makes breathing a bit harder, but each laboured breath is all the sweeter because it's I love him on the inhale and He loves me on the exhale. Literally, my heart hurts to look at him. I ache over his long, dark lashes, and I know it's time to go. If I stay long enough to brood over his luscious lips (the top one is always pale, the bottom is always pink, the pair is always kissable) or any other of his body parts, I know I won't be able to stop myself from shaking him awake so that I can love and be loved all over again.

And the thing about Jason, the thing that slays me every time, is that if I did wake him up (and yes, I sometimes do), he'll just get up. To be with me. He goes in to work on 3 hours of sleep so that he can spend the darkest hours of the night at the kitchen table with me, colouring pictures of purple elephants wearing tiny hats.

He totally indulges me.

If I look sad, he turns on the Jimi Hendrix and does the "Foxy Lady" dance from Wayne's World.

When I yell "Oops!" from another room, he always comes rushing in with a rag.

When I'm ready to move again, he won't ask why or how far, he'll bring me empty boxes and some new magic markers - but not black, he knows I don't like it.

He always lets me retrieve the lint from his bellybutton. I think he secretly stores it up for me.

He refuses to believe that I smell, or could ever produce anything but "the sweetest smell in the world." Really. He also does not notice if I've gained weight, and if I jerk my leg away from his hand screaming "I need to shave!" he always runs his hand over it as if it were smooth, and tells me not to bother.

He's never looked at another woman. He has no celebrity crushes. He's only been to the strip clubs I've dragged him to, and the only boobs he looked at on those excursions were mine. He's not just loyal, he's not just faithful. He's completely blinded to anyone else. And it's crazy because women sure as hell aren't blind to him. Women flirt with him constantly, and he has no idea. He has to be told.

That being said, he's never minded when I look at another man. Most of my friends are male. He has no qualms. He humours my many crushes. He has learned confidence because he knows I'm attracted to it. But if I occasionally get into a scrape with a man I haven't already kneed myself, I know Jason will handle it for me. Though he's the most docile man I know, he's not above throwing around his very large fist to protect his Jamie.

He took out a bunch of books from the library to learn about writing style and form. Now when I present him with a new chapter from my book, he gives me actual feedback. I always thought that his encouragement was more than enough, but he always wants to do more for me.

He has this amazing laugh, and once you've done something to deserve it, you want another and another. They're addictive. They fill up your soul. He has the most adorable laugh lines around his eyes, and I know that when I see them, I've really achieved something. Those lines make my life meaningful.

He has infinite patience. I cannot even tell you how much in awe I am of this. He is so even tempered that everyone falls in love with him. He's probably the easiest person in the world to get along with. There is not one bloody thing about him that's annoying about him (which annoys the hell out of me, as a matter of course). But he really is just one of those down-deep good guys that you don't believe exist anymore until you meet Jason.

And as great as he is, he's always getting better. It's astonishing to me how much he's changed since we first met. I think about how straight-laced he was and how every day he gets a little bit closer to being bohemian like me. He's slept under the stars, felt the sweat of 10 000 people mingle with his own, he's been permanently inked, he even ate brussel sprouts without the safety net of cheese sauce for gawd's sake. He tries. He puts himself out there. He's so brave about going along with my whims. He never tells me to turn down the music or to stop drawing on the walls. He encourages me.

It has been a privilege to wake up beside him all these years. I take a tally of my faults, my quirks, my bad habits, and I have to admit that he does not love me despite these things; he loves me because of them. In 6 years of extremely intimate living, he has had exactly 2 reasons to complain:

1. 4 years ago, I bought him a sweater that was "scratchy" - it was exchanged for another.

2. 5 years ago, he grew tired of the chicken pot pie I made him for dinner. I haven't made it since. Now he says he misses it.

And that's it. That's it in 6 years. He has never, ever been mad at me. Not ever. There are things about me that annoy me, but not Jason. My voice, my awful scratchy voice that sounds like the noise a record makes when you put the needle on the wrong track, he loves it. Asks me to sing to him, even. I talk through movies and television shows constantly. Neither of us has been able to follow a plot from start to finish in years because of this. Still, he listens to me like my insipid commentary is more entertaining than this $50 million blockbuster, and he'll even put it on mute. When I'm in a 'difficult' mood, he humours me. If I don't know what I want for dinner, he will name things for half an hour straight if that's what it takes. He'll even say things like Poor Jamie, while he strokes my hair, when I myself am screaming Fuck that bitch on the inside.

In many ways, we are opposites: he is calm, kind, and level-headed. I sometimes wonder how it is that we get along, but mostly I just wonder how I'd ever get along without him. Because he's my rock. When I need a good cry, he buys me the tissues with lotion built in; when I need to be comforted, he takes me for a shower and washes my hair like I am the most fragile thing in the world and he the most tender; when I need to let off steam he fucks me like there's no tomorrow, until one or both of us collapses. He's always been there for me, but more importantly, he always will be.

It's crazy to live in such a tumultuous, crazy world and know with 100% certainty that there will always be a Jamie & Jason. We both come from broken backgrounds, neither of us has ever seen a successful marriage up close, and yet we're living it every day, even if we are making it up as we go along.

Jason is the reason why I believe in God. Jason is undeniable proof that God exists, not because he's perfect (though other more objective sources assure me he is), but because I found him. I found, in a world of 6 billion other people, the only one who was made just for me, the only one who could put up with my shit, who could adore me for my weaknesses, who could be the only family I'll ever need, and could hold me in his arms in a way that leaves no room for doubt about how much he loves me.

And he does.

And I do too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


There's a fire drill happening between my ears. Not a huge, blazing eight-alarm fire, but not a tame kitten-up-the tree alarm either. More like...someone's burning trash in a drum in their backyard, and it's been a dry season, and there's a fire ban in effect. It's like that: moderately urgent, moderately jarring. Or it would be moderate if it wasn't taking place inside my head cavity, which it is. And I think my head has an echo effect because the fire drill between my ears is causing my jaw to seize up.

And you just know it's Jason's fault.

He's been serving me Pepsi all night, you see. Despite the fact that it's diet Pepsi that I adore, and diet Pepsi to which my system is accommodated, and diet Pepsi that I've been addicted to for 17 years and counting.

And I knew it was wrong.

"Does this taste flat to you?" I asked.

He thought not.

"Does this taste thick to you?" I asked.

Again, he thought not. But he put extra ice in my glass to appease me.

And like a fool, I drank it. And I probably drank more of it than usual because of these ultra-inviting straws I bought, pink and orange swirls that just say "drinking is fun!", and it is, so I did.

If I wake up tomorrow without teeth, I won't be surprised.

Of course, that takes for granted that I might actually fall asleep at some point, which I strongly doubt.

"Did ten thousand flies just start humming Yellow Submarine?"

"Um, no."

"Are you sure? Because I can hear them."

Monday, May 15, 2006

For Better or Worse

When the hydro bill arrives, I hate being a grownup.

When martini orders are being taken, I love being a grownup.

When my best friend is dumped by her lying, cheating, bastard of a husband, I really hate being a grownup. I remember the days when my friends and I worried about nothing more than whether we had the right kind of high tops, whether our scabby knees would soon heal from that rousing round of double dutch and leave "cool scars", or whether the ouija board would reveal the initials of the boy we'd someday marry.

Childhood is actually deceptively hard - politics of the schoolyard, bickering parents, cruel kids, strict teachers, loads of homework, and of course boys and their disgusting cooties. It's hard to be a kid. Every day you have a million questions and your only course of action is to save them up and then ask an adult - why? why? because why? how come? But perhaps being an adult is harder still; life continues to present you with an infinite amount of questions, but this time around, there's no one to ask why. In fact, you learn quickly that sometimes there is no why, no how come. It just is. And there's nothing you can do about it.

You may remember a couple of months ago, I wrote about how my friend Jen had just ruptured fantastically with her husband, Jeff. They had been married all of 9 months, just bought a new house, still had tan lines from their honeymoon when Jen had the breath kicked out of her.

It's crazy, truly crazy, to conceive of any man fool enough to leave her. She is an amazing person - generous, considerate, radiant. She and Jeff seemed like the perfect couple. He was such a good guy. He once bought her a dozen umbrellas because she was always forgetting hers - he planted them around her home, her car, and her work so that she'd never be without. He had this way of kissing her neck that literally would tug at your heart to see. Looking at their wedding pictures, it would make you sick at how gorgeous and in love they looked.

They dated 5 years before marrying. They were "sure". We all were.

And in the end, none of it mattered. He was just another unfaithful husband; she was just another broken heart. Her mother was so shocked when Jen told her they were separated that she insisted that Jen give him another chance. Surely there was a misunderstanding.

But there was no misunderstand, and there would be no second chance.

a) He was caught red-handed.

b) He admitted guilt - and not just to this one indiscretion.

c) He was already living blissfully with his mistress.

But second chances presuppose that a second chance was sought, and it wasn't. He wasn't begging for forgiveness. He wasn't playing boomboxes outside her house at night in corny efforts to apologize. He very coldly put some clothes in a suitcase (the one they bought for their honeymoon), and collected his toiletries out of the bathroom. He took his house key off his keyring (engraved; a gift from Jen on their 6 month anniversary) without being asked, placed it on the kitchen counter, grabbed a bottle of merlot, and left.

For me, the hardest part is knowing that someone she loved so much could hurt her and not be sorry for it. It seems utterly incongruous to me; I think about all the parts of the story, the before and the after, and I know how they go together, but my mind (or is it my heart?) refuses to believe that it's possible.

For Jen, the hardest part is knowing that in the 6 years they were together, she never really knew him. Her whole life is called into question - what is happiness? what is love? what is trust?

She asks me this, with red-rimmed eyes, and all I can offer is a shrug and a tissue. The tissue is a mild comfort; the shrug infuriates us both. But what answers can I give her?

I helped her move out of her house and into an apartment with another woman going through the same thing, but different. You know how it is: the same level of achy and messy, but details that are heart-breaking in their own way (her cat had a collection of unfamiliar panties piled under the sofa - she found it while cleaning for a visit from her mother-in-law).

Jen's lawyer, of course, doesn't like her to leave the house empty. Jen's sense of self, however, cannot permit her to sleep in the sheets she envisioned sharing with Jeff until they thinned from wear, at which point they'd head to Sears holding hands, purchasing sheets in 5 or 10 year increments for the rest of their wedded bliss.

Meanwhile, I feel inadequate. As a friend, as a healer, as a balm, I have been inept. I don't believe in platitudes. I have no reassurance. I know that Jen will survive, and then thrive. I know she'll be okay, and then more than okay, and then great. She's strong and she's better than this. I know it, and she knows it too. But right now, none of this helps. The promise of this sunny future does little to part the clouds that distort her present circumstances. And so she plays the familiar emotional waiting game called divorce - an intricate combination of rage and mourning that leave her friends and family feeling helpless.

That's where the story left off. I spent a few days with her, knowing that I couldn't make it better, but that I had to try. This is friendship. This is growing up.

A week later, she called to tell me that Jeff's relationship with "the mistress" (that's what we call her - her name is Melanie but Jen refuses to be on a first-name basis with her) is almost as long as his and Jen's was. He was cheating when he first said "I love you"; he was cheating when he proposed; he was cheating when they applied for a 25 year mortgage and planned for the future. I couldn't tell her that they never talking about her while they watched Leno. I couldn't tell her that he hadn't written his vows in another woman's bed. I couldn't tell her the words she needed to hear, and as much as I wanted to hop another bus and race to her side, she assured me that being an adult means going through tough times alone.

I hopped the bus anyway, and told her that having friends means never having to be alone. I hugged her lots, I rescued her fern, and I bought her a big gaudy ring to wear on that finger on her left hand that now feels naked and conspicuous.

For a month, she went to work, she did yoga and ate french fries, she even called me once in a surprisingly buoyant mood when the office hottie hit on her. But in her heart, she was still sad, and it showed. She was sick, physically sick. We all worried about her.

And then the call came, you know the one, it's the one you're not expecting.

She's pregnant.

She's also scared and devastated and confused.

Especially confused.

She wants a baby. She wants to be a mother. She also never wants to see Jeff again as long as she lives. She doesn't want to have an undeniable link to him; she doesn't want a child that will be half his, a constant reminder, a good portion of his DNA. She doesn't want to drop a kid off at the mistress' house, she doesn't want to raise a kid in a hostile environment but isn't sure she can take the high road. She doesn't want to be pregnant with a baby that was probably conceived a day or two before she found another woman being fucked in her bed.

So when she visits this weekend, she'll have her two favourite Jays to cuddle with, and she'll have the added bonus of a very good clinic just down the street from us.

The kind that does abortions.

She doesn't need to be reminded of her options. What she needs right now is support for her decisions, and that's exactly what I have to give. I believe in her, and in her ability to do what's best. I also know it won't be easy. I can unquestioningly predict that these coming weeks will be the most difficult of her life, ones that she will remember long after she has forgotten about her rotten first marriage. But I also hope that she will remember that I was there for her, and that she was loved.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Uterus Day

Brace yourselves.

This Sunday, many of us will dutifully send off $8 Hallmark cards to the woman who pushed us out of her twat. Those of us who won't spend money on roses for the people we choose to love on Valentine's Day will instead pay overinflated prices for dyed daisies on street corners to send to women who meddle in our lives, criticize our choices, and bring us closer to death with their incessant nagging.

The same people who complain that Valentine's Day isn't a real holiday are the first people to go for brunch on Mother's Day. "I don't need Hallmark to tell me when to love my husband" they say, "I love him all year round."

Okay, so maybe your mother is not worth celebrating. Maybe you browsed the card stores marinating in sappy sentiments, and found not one card that expressed yours:

Hey Mom. Thanks for always forgetting me at soccer practice. Don't worry, it only rained about half the time, and I probably would have caught pneumonia anyway.

Dear Mom. I guess you cut me out of your will because I'm such a disappointment. I'd wish you a happy Mother's Day but you probably threw this out without opening it.

Hi Mom. Remember how you used to tell me I'd never amount to anything? Well now you're rotting away in an old folks' home and I'm summering at my cottage on the lake. Ha. Happy Mother's Day.

But whether your mother is special or just "special", chances are you have someone in your life that deserves tribute. Of our 3 mothers, we did send a gift to Jason's Mom.

Yes, you heard right. Jason's Mom.

Over the years she has driven both of us crazy. She shows too much skin, she's a hypochondriac and a complainer, she has strings of bad boyfriends, and she whines if Jason doesn't call her enough but doesn't believe in paying long distance rates herself. But we love her, and not just because we have to. I remind myself that accidentally or not (although I suspect yes), Jason turned into that man I consider worth marrying because she raised him, or was at least present while he raised himself. Or mostly present. I mean, she slept off her hangovers in the same house where he slept, except on the weekends he was successfully farmed out to his dad.

Oh my. Did that sound a bit bitter?

Well, thank goodness it's only mother's day. You should hear me in June. I mean, technically both Jason and I must have grown from some form of sperm, but there's no evidence of this these days. I don't recognize any father in any form, and Jason's dad...well, we saw him last summer. At the funeral. The funeral we had to learn about in the newspaper because Jason's dad can't be bothered to write down our phone number or address when we send it to him. Who has never indicated that he knows when Jason's birthday is, who never knows what Jason does for a living, who apparently never even wonders who the packages we send them come from.

I think that when Jason's dad had a daughter (you know, by the woman with whom he cheated on his wife), he forget he ever had a son. And it makes me achy in my heart because I see Jason reaching out and being ignored, wanting a relationship with a man who doesn't give him the time of day, trying to forge something where a father-son link should exist, but where the father thing exists in the head but not the heart.

This week is hard at our house. The mother thing has always been tenuous for one reason or another, and mother's day is quickly followed by Jason's sister's birthday. I have watched him wander around the mall, unable to find the perfect gift or any gift because the little girl he knew has turned into a young woman and Jason didn't see it happen. He doesn't know how big she's gotten, or what her tastes are, if she looks like him, if she likes school or boys or Britney Spears (though he hopes not on both those last counts). He doesn't know her, nor will he probably ever really know his dad, whose birthday comes just a couple days after that.

So we sent a card to Jason's Mom because she's the only family we've got.

And we celebrate uterus day the only way we know how: we take our hearts, mangled from our broken families, and we make them whole by celebrating that we don't have kids. That I'm not a mother, nor will I ever be. We toast the fact that my uterus is as dysfunctional as the rest of me, that I lack the craving for kids that 99% of adults share. That our marriage will always be just the two of us, and that we will spend our lives filling the holes that parents have created for us.

And it's not bad.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006

Some Things

1. I will never hear Beyonce's Naughty Girl again without remembering that skinny little drag queen bopping around to it in the Bandshell.

2. Adhesive medical tape just may be my most-hated foe.

3. I love when Jason works late, because that's when he brings me treats. He comes home and he'll say "Look inside my pockets for a surprise!" and he rarely means just his penis. This past week, I got a string of 8 bracelets, 3 new shirts, a necklace, and my favourite, "sleepy time" boxers, that are scrumptialicious for spring.

4. Don Quixote is a more powerful sleep aid than the horse tranquilizers I used to use.

5. Getting high and watching 3 Men and a Baby is exactly as entertaining as it sounds.

6. I went to sleep last night dreaming of butterscotch pudding.

7. Under my right eye, a little toward the outer edge of my cheekbone, just beneath the skin, is a tiny nerve that twitches like a chipmunk on an electric fence every time someone says they had "a few beer". That nerve, she likes to pluralize beer with an S. Beers. Beers. Ah, that's better. Beers.

8. We've been hiking in the bluffs lately - we should know this is a bad idea based on:

a) the first day, we encountered someone getting rescued by a fire truck

b) driving down the bluffs was such a change in pressure that our ears popped

c) hiking back up the bluffs was so steep that my calves plotted revenge for no less than 3 days

And yet we continue to go back, to "watch nature reclaim the land" and to laugh in the face of posted signage warning us to "know your limit". Hahaha.

9. Making pies the other day, I had already rolled out my delicious crust when I discovered that my apples had gone bananas. You know how it is. No good. So I had an empty crust! What to do, what to do? I divided it and made a chocolate meringue pie and a quiche for dinner. Despite the fact that the quiche was made in a slightly sweet crust, Jason assured me that "your souffle is really good." Great.

10. Jason dragged me to see MI3. We shared a box of Reese's Pieces. I got a nosebleed from all the action sequences.

11. Am I supposed to get excited about a wedding between 2 dull, ugly, borderline moronic people? Horray because at least they found each other? Horray because this marriage is bound to last because neither of them could ever find anyone else? I am far too warped for wedding season.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

No Sex Please, We're Married.

Half naked in the kitchen, I'm not even sure where my bra has been thrown.

And then the phone rings.

And he answers.

He's not even wearing pants.

Such is life.

Coitus Interruptus

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Stinkin Golden Oldies

1. Oh, poor Al Green, you're so tired of being alone? Well, here's the thing. Fuck you. Do you really think any woman is going to think that's a romantic proposal? Tired of being alone? Get a dog. If you want your woman, try ' I can't live without you ' or ' I need you ' or even ' You make good macaroni ' for cripes sake. Tired of being alone? How about shut the hell up.

2. I always feel bad for the horse with no name.

3. If you're going to make inflammatory climatic predictions, you'd better bone up on your accuracy. It is NOT raining men, nor has it ever rained men, not at half past ten, and not ever. It HAS rained frogs, and fish, blood, corn, frozen squid, even cows. But not men.

4. Why does Jesus love Mrs Robinson so much? Last time I checked, she was a sinner. A fornicator! An adulteress! And heaven holds a place for her? Um, where do I sign up?

5. Let's call a spade a spade. Dear Aretha Franklin: it is not respect that you want when he comes home, it is sex. I get it. Mama wants a little sumfin sumfin. Cool. You want him to "whip it" to you and to "soc it" to you, but last time I checked, sex is spelled S-E-X not R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Also, you might want to be careful. When you exchange money for sex, it's not propers, it's prostitution. Just so you know.

6. I know why sister golden hair ain't gettin with you, and it's not because you write infrequent letters. It may be a convenient excuse that you've "been one poor correspondent", and "been too, too hard to find" but the truth is, she's dumping you because your grammar is atrocious. Sheesh.

7. And Marvellettes, don't get me started! You give a pathetic name to women everywhere the way you wait for the postman and cry when there's no package for you. It's not the postman's fault! Don't kill the messenger! Does anyone else think maybe that the guy above who is a poor correspondent is maybe the same guy making the poor Marvellettes wait and wait for a letter? Listen, Marvellettes, it's not like you're ultra loyal anyway. Sounds like you'd take up with the postman if only he gave you the time of day. I say, cut your losses. He's just not that into you!

8. Yes, the road is long with many a winding turn. This is true. But while it may be true that your brother ain't heavy, mine most definitely is. My brother thinks fritos is a food group and that playing Tiger Woods' PGA Tour on PS2 is as good as exercise. My brother is FAT, and I AM NOT going to carry him on my back.

9. Elvis, I think you should have been a bit kinder to your friend, the hound dog. Maybe it was a lie when they said he was high classed, but the truth is, you wore bedazzled jumpsuits, you ate fried peanut butter sandwiches, and you died on the toilet. Do you really think you're the authority on high class? Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?

10. What is so sweet about Alabama? Apparently, it's the incest. I mean, you don't rhyme kin with sin and expect to get off scot-free.

11. You just called to say you love me? For no other reason? Thank goodness for caller ID. If you're eating up precious minutes, it better not be just another ordinary day. That shit's expensive, especially when I'm roaming! Man. Can anyone say stalker much? Next time, send a text.

12. Isn't incense AND peppermints a bit of overkill? And if it's not overkill, then I've got news for you: since the days of beatniks and politics, there have been amazing leaps and bounds in the field of embarrassing body odours. Buy a stick of deodorant, and you're good to go!

13. Whose Moma said you can't hurry love? My Moma was married when she was 18. She didn't wait. She married the first steady paycheque that proposed. And did she hold on no matter how long it takes? Heck no! She didn't play no game of give and take - she played "get out of my house you dirty rotten bastard". And she won. End of story.

So forgive me for being cynical, but oldies just aren't for me.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Vant to Suck Your Blood

Every minute of every day, a Canadian will need blood. That's a lot of minutes, and an awful lot of blood. Luckily, blood is not rare, it's not hard to find, and it's not that difficult to excavate. Blood can come from the arms of you or me.

Last week I mentioned that Jason was donating blood, and a lot of people wrote in with questions, so let me tell you a bit more about the process.

First, let me just say that in my country, Canadian Blood Services does an awesome job collecting blood and distributing it to those in need. We're lucky to have them.

Whether you are looking to set up an appointment, or you just have some questions, calling 1-888-2-DONATE will do the trick. Last week we saw that there was a clinic going on at the mall, so we called to make appointments (we both donate) - these appointments are not strictly necessary, but they help keep the donation process down to about an hour.

If it's your first time donating, all you need to bring with you is your id. If you're a regular, you have a donor card. After you sign in, you're provided with some fascinating reading material (okay, not really fascinating, but it's required). Then they'll test you to make sure your iron levels are agreeable. Unfortunately, looking like a "big strong lass" and attesting that "I eat lots of meat!" won't get you off the hook - they prick your finger. This prick is quick, and feels just like an elastic band slapping you (tmi alert: Jason says it feels like the numb gun they use on ball sacks). They swish a drop of your blood in some blue liquid, and pronounce you healthy (or not, in which case, increase your cheerios intake, and try again next time).

Next up, they give you a questionnaire and seat you in a little booth a lot like voting, where you answer questions such as Have you had dental work in the past 3 days? and Have you been in prison this year? If you're filling out this form at the mall, an old man will amble over and consider it his right to invade your privacy and look over your shoulder. Feel free to poke him with the free pens provided for just such an occasion.

Then they put a number on your chest and you wait for a nurse to 'interview' you. While you wait, you are encourage heartily by several volunteers to drink your juice (provided). You should be well-hydrated before donation. You should also have eaten well earlier, and slept well the previous night. The interview is comprised of several more questions, such as Have you taken or paid money for sex or drugs?, followed by the testing of your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature, and then the nurse will kindly check your arms for track marks. Try not to take it too personally.

Then they leave you alone in the room, where you have a little heart to heart with yourself, and you decide if you have any doubts as to the safety of your blood. If you've engaged in any 'risk' behaviours, you can discreetly opt out of the process. There is no pressure whatsoever to continue. You can drop out at any time. They're actually very kind about this - whatever your reason (and people have a lot of reasons).

Depending on how you've answered the donor questionaire, the nurse may have some follow-up questions. Personally, I have to explain the nature of the AIDS tests that I've taken in the past.

If you've met the basic eligibility criterion, then lucky you, it's blood-letting time! If you're at an impromptu clinic at the mall, you'll lie down in a chair that's similar to those lawn chair chaises-longues thingies, with the plastic slats. They give you a little pillow for your head. If you go to the permanent clinic, they have nicer facilities, and leather chair. Fancy schmancy!

Unfortunately, this is where things get complicated for me. I have the distinct honour of being known as The Worst Veins in Canada. I've always had this problem, which has been more than a nuissance to me all the many times I've had blood drawn. Lab technicians and I.V. nurses who spend their whole careers doing nothing but inserting needles get the shakes when they see me. Often, I have been stuck dozens of times in futile attempts to draw blood before the nurse collapses in tears and calls for backup. The first time I remember getting an I.V. at the age of 9, the nurse finally succeeded in getting it in, at which time my vein promptly collapsed, spurted blood, and took the whole 2-hour endeavour back to square one. When a vein is tapped, it often provides little to no blood. I just suck. I am no fan of needles, and I was wary to inflict my vein-less arms on the poor staff of Canadian Blood Services, but I figure, in the name of helping people, I should be able to withstand some extra pricks, and someone should be willing to give them to me. And they always are; often, with a smile.

Last week was no different. If I'm in a hospital facility, they've often wrapped my arm in a warm blanket to try to encourage my veins (not that it helps much). But when you're in the middle of a mall, options are limited. Usually, if you are right handed, you should give blood through your left arm, to reduce hampering your activities. I offered my left, and they looked and tapped and slapped, then squeezed and pressed, but no veins presented themselves. Then they tried my right arm, but this was no better. So at this point, they are always prepared to send me home.

They don't want to jab you. They don't want to hurt you. They're very understanding.

Having given me the choice, I assured the poor guy attending me that he could jab away, and he did. And finally, he got one. And to my astonishment, my blood didn't trickle out and the sputter away...it flowed! Success! You lay there, squeezing a ball, for 8-15 minutes (usually) while 450ml of blood is taken from you. You choose to look or not look (I choose not, sorry, I'm a bit of a wuss).

Jason, on another lawn chair, has great veins. They stand at attention at the slightest provocation. He is a nurse's dream patient. For him, a regular sized needle is used (because my veins are bad, they usually have to use a bigger one). He feels no pain. His blood moves quick.

But Jason has another problem.

The first time I discovered Jason's problem, we had been living together only a short while. Jason was doing a few dishes when a plate broke in the sink and scratched his finger. It didn't really bleed so much as blood rose to the surface of the cut, but never spilled out of the skin. But the mere sight of this hint of blood was enough to make my 6'1, 200 lb boyfriend woozy and faint-hearted. He had to sit down, and take deep breaths.

He has no problem with anyone else's blood. I bleed an awful lot, as you'll all remember, and in fact, Jason had to assist the surgeon in an emergency operation on my back once, and he was completely fine. Didn't blink an eye. The surgeon thumped him on the back for a job well done. But if it's his own blood, it's a very different story.

Jason knows that he has this problem, but he always feels so confident sitting in his lawn chair that he sneaks a peak at the tubes containing his crimson blood...to his demise. Last week was no exception. I'm sitting in my chair, squeezing the ball, being ogled by pretzel-eating shoppers 2 stories over me when I hear a nurse call "Can I get a little help?"

And I know. I know it's Jason.

They take the needle from his arm, turn him on his side, remove his glasses, fan him profusely.

The nurse by my side says to me "Don't worry, he'll be okay."

"I know," I tell her "he just does this for the female attention."

Poor Jason. Luckily, he managed to donate nearly the full amount before succumbing to his condition. He is always embarrassed by it, but they don't take chances. If you're not feeling well, they take care of you. Persisently.

Jason recovers quickly. In fact, he's up and at the cookie table before I am (go figure). They like you to sit and rest 5 minutes after your donation (if you're a newbie, you wear a special sticker and they take extra special care of you, and monitor you for a bit longer). He's got a band-aid in the crook of his elbow, and another on his finger tip where they tested for his iron, but other than that, he's looking rosy and well once again.

Over at my lawn chair I am discovered to be an "oozer" (I bleed a bit more than usual) so they wrap me up good. It restricts my elbow a bit, so no hand jobs tonight. Actually, you should refrain from lifting (it could lease to bruising) and exertion for 6-8 hours afterward. No big deal, really.

When I amble over to the refreshment table, a volunteer greets me with "You have the choice of juice or juice."

"Um...I think I'll have the juice, please."

"Great choice!" he shouts at me. "Orange or peach?"

There are cookies on the table, and other snacks as well. Jason, recovered, is munching away. He might be woozy, but his stomach is strong like bull.

The volunteers like to remind you what a great thing you just did. Your blood donation can be split 3 ways: into red cells, which carry oxygen, that can help patients who are anemic due to blood loss, then platelets, which are cell fragments needed by cancer patients who can't produce enough of their own, and into plasma, the liquid that the carries everything, which is needed by hemophiliacs.

See this chubby arm? Once its contents are split up, it may help to save the lives of up to 3 people per donation. Between Jason and I, that's 6 people per donation. That's a lot of lives for just a little discomfort.

As we are finishing our juice, another gentlemen reaches the refreshment table. He has been unable to donate that day, for one reason or another. "Don't beat yourself up," the volunteer tells him, "the point is, you tried. Now you have the choice of juice or juice."

"Juice" the young man chooses.

"That's a great choice!" the volunteer tells him, and so the cycle continues, in more ways than one.

From the collection, the blood will be tested, twice, for any disease or discrepancies. It will also be typed. Like 46% of Canadians, Jason is type O. He is an important donor because of his universality. As an AB, I am typed with only 3% of Canadians - also important for its rarity. In short, every single donor is important, particulary because less than 4% of us currently donate. It's not enough.

After being cleared and typed, the blood makes its way to hospitals. Although it can be refrigerated for some time, your donation could be in someone else's veins 48 hours later. Blood is life - life for an accident victim, a premature baby, a cancer patient, or anyone undergoing major surgery.

The next day, when the bandages are removed, all that's left on Jason's arm is a tiny mark.

A small price to pay, even for the man who risks fainting and vomiting every time he donates.

My arm is slightly more mangled, but don't be discouraged: I'm allergic to band-aids and forgot to mention it.

The point is, people make a lot of excuses for not donating. Jason and I are probably the poster couple for reasons why not - but we go anyway. Needles suck. Feeling faint sucks. Band-aid burns suck. But you know what sucks more? Dying because there wasn't enough blood.

That sucks the most.