Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween: Now

The first time I attended a Halloween party that was not sponsored by the Brownies, I was in high school and dating a much older man who, embarrassingly, had gone to high school with my mass communications teacher. I did jello shots until I couldn't stand, at which point I switched to my first-ever shots of Goldschlager, which if you don't know, is a liqueur with tiny slivers of pure gold swimming in it. Unfortunately, I didn't know, and in my jello-shot-state of inebriation, I was led to believe that they were in fact tiny fishes, that were now alive and swimming lustily in my stomach.

The next Halloween Jason and I signed up for a Haunted Tour of Ottawa - basically, a guide wearing a silly cape (drama students, all of them, you can be sure) walks you through the city, by light of a lantern (I know, can you stand it?) pointing out all the spots where ghosts are said to reside and recounting the "spooky" sightings - more basically, 90 minutes spent trying not to pee my pants. At each site, the group would stand in front of the building (one of which was Friday's Roast Beef House - I mean, what the fuck is scary about roast beef, besides the obvious?), and we would all squint trying to make out the ghosts in the upper windows (ghosts never hang out on the first floor) and we would all become hyper-conscious of the hairs on the backs of our necks, which is the only real way to detect the presence of a supernatural being, despite what you may have been lead to believe by the Ghost Busters.

The Halloween after that we were invited to a party, and though we are not accustomed to turning down an invitation, we strongly considered it since this one was extended with a caveat - you must wear a costume. Good gravy. No, I am not an adult enjoyer of costumes. But we went to a big box store in Gloucester anyway, in an effort to appease our hosts, where we encountered what I can only describe as The Thing That Is Most Wrong With Society Today. As I flipped through the catalogue of potential costumes, this is what I saw: sexy nurse, sexy cop, sexy angel, sexy devil, sexy maid, sexy cheerleader, sexy witch, and then a whole section entitled pimps and hos. A fine example of the human spirit, if you will. Clearly, Halloween has become a misnomer, and should henceforth be called "The Trampiest Day of the Year".

And so that's when I quit Halloweening.
Except Jason has this delusion that he's hosting a party tonight that will involve beer drinking and scary-movie-watching. I'm not normally what you would call "anti-social", but if it involves anything scarier than say, The Lion King, then count me the fuck out.

The End.

Halloween: Then

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bad Things Happen to Good People

Well, goodish, anyway.

1. Katie got a place of her own this weekend. It's a very cute little apartment; nearly half the windows face something other than a brick wall, and the orange tiles blend nicely with the gold appliances. She and I mostly busied ourselves hanging curtains and reorganizing her spice rack while Jason did the more "labour-intensive" (but less intellectual, so it all evens out) work, such as actually strapping a couch to his back and lugging it up 3 flights of stairs. He's awesome like that. Now, Katie has a get-out-of-moving-free card for giving birth, and I'm just plain lazy, so this division of labour struck us as incredibly fair. Plus, Jason tends to be over-protective of my back, which, 4 surgeries later, is no longer actually in need of any protection. But after that many encounters with a scalpel, you can imagine the mess of mutilation we call "scar tissue" is - something that Jason gets a nice, graphic reminder of every day in the shower, while I, not having eyes in the back of my head (yet), am able to mostly forget. So actually, nothing bad happened during the move. The baby was her usual non-fussy self, and I was my un-usual non-droppy self, so we were all feeling pretty proud of ourselves, but very tired, by the time Jason and I returned home and I somehow managed to projectile-fall down an entire case of stairs (13 of them). I don't remember slipping, I didn't have that half-second of impending-doom realization. No, I just suddenly said to myself "Self, you appear to be flying", quickly edited to "Shit, self, you appear to be falling!" And without once grazing any 13 of those stairs, I nose-dived directly onto the concrete floor below, where I sprawled impressively, but quietly. Not to worry, though. I'm all bandaged up, and my knee is back in its socket where it belongs.

2. Jason comes home the other night with a ticket. From a cop. So right away I think that obviously some new law has been passed, deeming powder-blue vehicles no longer worthy for the road (secretly, I tend to agree, but missed seeing this in the papers). I assume that this is why Jason has been ticketed because Jason is the most conscientious, safe, law-abiding driver on the road, bar none. When the cop behind him turned on his lights, Jason politely maneuvered to the side to let the police car pass, so imagine his shock when the cruiser pulled up behind him. Apparently, since the Toronto Police Services have nothing better to do, and since Jason was exhibiting such dodgy behaviour as re-filling his wife's prescription, a certain officer decided to run a check on the tags on Jason's plate, which admittedly, were good through the month of October, but. BUT, having run this check, he discovered that Jason's birthday was last week, and even though the tags are good for the whole month, he really should have renewed his license 5 days ago (on the national holiday during which the DMV is most decidedly closed to the public), and according to the officer who obviously had some quotas to fill, it's "technically" a ticketable offence, to the tune of $110. When Jason handed me the ticket, I cried. And as he patted my back and reminded me that I hadn't cried when I cracked my head open on the cement, I couldn't help but feel how unfair the world can be. That there are never any police around when people speed through our residential neighbourhood, how they're not around when I'm kept awake because a rash of burglaries means every second house and car alarm is blaring down the road, how the cops aren't finding the missing little girl, or the rapist, or the woman who killed the pedestrian in a hit-and-run the other day, but they're stopping guys like Jason who spend their days helping new mothers move and broken wives get better.

3. My friend Andy apparently lurks here more than he admits to, because when many of you urged me to give salsa dancing a second chance, he called me up and insisted I accept his invitation to some bar that I'm sure has a name, but I've forgotten it, but was described to me as "Toronto's premiere gay latin dance club", so thanks a lot, guys. In an effort to not duplicate the panty fiasco, I bought a new dress, Verrrrrry sexy, said Andy, who rolls his Rrrr's unnecessarily. And I thought what better way to enjoy my new dress than with some luxuriously soft legs. As you may remember, I have a hate\hate relationship with my razor. Even so, I have resisted the lure of waxing because, well, it's waxing. First, it has a terrible reputation*. True, it's become over-used slap-stick in far too many chick-flicks, or worse, "man attempting to understand women" movies, but still, this reputation is apparently not undeserved. But second, it involves a stranger applying oddly erotic unguents to the most intimate parts of my body, only to then rip out tiny hairs by their roots, thus witnessing my inherent weakness (and probably, some rather foul language). But I went anyway. And clearly, I shouldn't have. After I stoically withstood two flaming, merciless abuses by wax, the woman frowned down at me and said "No good" and left the room. I thought this message to be a bit cryptic, and so I laid there perhaps a bit longer than I should have, waiting, and trying to decipher, until I deciphered that at the very least, she wasn't coming back, and I put my pants back on. In doing so, I caught a glimpse of my poor right leg, which looked as raw and burnt as it felt, if not more. It was covered in tiny, angry red bumps, which gave the effect of a persistent and outrageously contagious rash. It was the receptionist who finally filled me in and sent me home. Apparently I was "the worst case ever", my skin was "violently sensitive" and the entire salon thought me an incredible fool for bringing my "unspeakable" legs to them in the first place. At home the rash had developed into welts and blisters, and worse still, I was unable to take a razor to the rest of my leg because my skin was so broken that it oozed and bled just from having the water hit it. Andy, however, thought that hairy legs were not a good enough excuse no matter how revealing the hemline of my dress was, so luckily I later threw myself down a staircase, dislocating my knee, which makes for a much better opt-out.

4. Jason gets one of those dreaded calls at work the other day - the manager on duty had better get himself to the ladies' fitting room, and quick. These calls are not uncommon, and so he braces himself for the usual outcome: some brassy-haired lady is going to scream her onion-stinking breath at him because her fat ass doesn't fit into their jeans, or some other really good reason for yelling at the poor guy who doesn't even make the jeans, just takes the blame for them. But there is no pear-shaped woman, or there is, but she's not riled up yet, instead, there is a mystery package in the corner of one of the change rooms, and it's exactly this reason why Jason makes as much money as he does. His job, by his own admission is 95% looking handsome and delegating, but there's that tricky 5% that you wouldn't envy for all the paycheques in the world. Today, a woman has taken a dump in his change room. It was evidently a rather orchestrated affair. As she tried on her clothing, she must have had the urge, and so, seeing how the public washroom is within plain sight of the change room, she instead decided to reach into her bag, and remove an ordinary piece of white paper, which she laid on the floor, squatted over, and shat onto. She then wiped herself with the tissues she evidently carries around for just such an occasion, and then she placed a second sheet of paper on top of her nice little pile. And then she took her clothes, and went to wait in line to pay. Now, if for whatever reason you just took a dump in a fitting room, you might be embarrassed, and say, leave the store. But not this woman. No, she left her pile, and stood calmly in line, apparently oblivious to the many employees now crowded around two very unordinary pieces of paper. There is really no hasmat training that prepares you for poop-origami, so Jason had to improvise (or rather, he gave some gloves and implicit instructions to someone else). But he took care of it nonetheless. And then he came home and had more beers than usual before dinner, because after a day like that, he deserves it, goddammit.

*Not that shaving does not. I mean, really, if you aren't familiar with my infamous shaving accident, read about it here. But I was prejudiced against razors even before then....in fact, ever since a friend of the family once described to me how she nicked her nipple while shaving her armpit. Ouch.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Halloween: Then

Oh the excitement of bolting down our hotdogs almost unchewed so that we could get out to the business of collecting candy all the quicker. My sisters and I each took a pillow case around our plentiful suburban neighbourhood, and once the first pillow case became too heavy for our little arms to carry, we exchanged it for a second one. Chocolate and chips were favourites, but the motherlode of treats was a can of soft drink (preferably orange crush). True, a soft drink dropped into the pillow case would crush almost all the little bags of chips as it sank to the bottom, but there was nothing better than getting 2 or 3 cans, and lining them up in the fridge to enjoy an aluminum parade of bright colours and tooth-rotting goodness (my sisters and I weren't really allowed soft drink until we were the age of majority).

We usually started the trick-or-treating before the sun had officially set, shortly after 5pm. The kid across the street, Andre, was always the first to make the rounds (his father was anal that way), and once he'd rung our bell, it was a free-for-all.

Our costumes, if they can be called that, were nothing special. Poverty meant no store-bought costumes, so we were never anything recognizable, like cartoon characters or movie stars. Every year my mother would drag a dilapidated cardboard box out of storage and have us salvage costumes from its contents. There were no actual costume pieces in this box, mostly just discarded clothing of my grandmother's, so inevitably one of us would dress up as "old lady". Year after year we recycled the same costumes, never winning any prizes at school, not even any pity prizes. And each costume had to be short enough to fit a 6 year old, but wide enough to fit a 400lb woman (Canadian Halloween meant being able to stuff a snow suit under your costume). Inevitably, our neighbourhood would be overrun by fat witches, tubby princesses, chubby cowboys, and so on.

Personally, the whole point of Halloween was not the dressing up or the candy, but the exciting organizational process that would take place later on. I loved to dump out all of my candy, and after reveling in the sheer abundancy, I would take inventory. I would group them into categories: gums, chips, chocolates, salty, sweet, chewy, melty, hard, soft. I would carefully extract all purple candy, and dump it in the garbage. Then I would remove the candy corn, raisins, tootsie rolls, rockets, and grandma's fudge. These were a waste of valuable candy sac real estate, as far as we were concerned. Shame on all of the houses that gave out such crap (it was pretty much only my grandmother who gave out grandma's fudge, of course). And I would donate these items to my father, who apparently would eat anything. Then I would arrange my grouped candy into ascending order of goodness and badness.

Sometimes my cousin would join us, and she would always confess that after eating 4 or 5 pieces of candy, her bag would get pushed to the back of the cupboard, forgotten, until it was found months later and thrown out. At my house, that was never the case. My sister and I ate every damn piece of candy that came in the front door, even if it killed us, which it very nearly did. In fact, that first night I'd say nearly half the candy was consumed on the spot, which is an amazing feat for 4 little girls. But the fact is, we did not often get treats at our house. If my parents had bought one chocolate bar, they would have to buy 4, and 4 chocolate bars were beyond their means. We did get cheesies on occasion (usually as a bribe to be good when a babysitter was coming over), but one bag of cheesies to share amongst 6 people means your fingers don't even turn orange. So Halloween was a delicious anomaly to us, one that we took advantage of, belly aches be damned.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


It's such an unsatisfactory word, estrangement. It's so hollow, so impersonal.

It lacks the emotional gravity to convey the loss, the loneliness, the rejection.

It doesn't accurately describe the reality of being motherless.

It doesn't express the ache of the 652 days that you've spent not talking to her, not belonging, not loved.

It doesn't tell us about the desperation of the day you learned that unconditional love is just another fairy tale that doesn't apply to you.

It doesn't effectively communicate how it feels to be told that she used to think she had room in her heart for all 4 daughters, but now she knows she doesn't, and you're the one to go.

It doesn't imply the heart break or the bitterness, or the strength it takes to move on. It simply suggests that two people have become strangers, perhaps indicating that they were once close, but no longer are.

Except that in our case, we never really were.

And it leaves me wondering, if it was so easy for her to stop, did she ever really love me in the first place?

I rage against the failure of the English language because it's easier than saying this:

my mother doesn't love me.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Shellac It Like That

You may remember that last week our maiden date night was a little too high-impact for our strict enjoyment (we found it tough to be romantic while sweating like racehorses). This week I had 2 main criteria for planning our date: 1. rest our tired tuckuses; 2. keep my panties to myself.

I thought pottery would be the perfect solution. I mean, picture for a moment the delectable Demi Moore, sexy in her overalls, intimate with her pottery wheel, the sensuous squishiness of clay slipping between her fingers as Patrick Swayze nuzzles her neck from beyond the grave. Romantic? Mais oui. I thought I might like to share a potter's wheel with my own lover.

So Jason and I paid our dues at the art studio and bought sexy smocks that would not be revealing no matter how enthusiastically I twirled, and away we went.

Sherri was our "clay interpreter", as she called it. About 20 minutes later, we would call her "crazy."

"Clay is like, this magical stuff that's like, just clay, but then you add your essence and you turn the clay into this magical stuff."


With this vital information imparted upon us, she took a break to peel an orange. After we watched her eat a few segments, I put my hand in the air.

Our eyes met. She seemed to eat her orange more menacingly.

"Mmm?" she barely enquired.

"When do we start?"

"Start? We've already started. We are creating art!"

Jason and I exchanged glances with our fellow students. We all seemed equally dubious. None of us were creating anything other than pained expressions.

"Well, when do we get to use the wheel?" I asked, ever the expert prompter, meanwhile I find myself humming something about a hungering touch and godspeeding love.

"The wheel?"she gasped. "The wheel is for advanced students only," she told us, clearly surprised that I could be so stupid as to not know this, disgusted that I thought I might put my grubby, unworthy hands on her precious wheel.

Apparently, the exorbitant studio fee included a lump of clay, a cubby hole to store this lump of clay, and the privilege of sitting in the same room as the Exalted Wheel.

So we were given our lumps of clay. We were shown the tools and techniques for "building" our masterpieces, but the only thing I managed to do was to poke holes into my lump using my thumbs. After about half an hour of "creating art", I had a lump of holey clay that rather resembled a mouldy potato. Jason did much better - his looked like a healthy, edible potato.

And that's where we ran into problems, because here's what they neglect to tell you in the glamourous, glossy studio brochure: pottery drags ass.

It takes weeks, months, to create anything! First you shape the thing, then you leave it to dry, and next week you fire it in the kiln, then the next week you glaze, then the next week, re-fire. You have to have the patience of...of...of a potter to put up with this crap! You don't bring home the finished product until weeks after you've already forgotten about it. It's excruciating.

So I scrapped the pottery-potato, and headed to the "ceramics" portion of the studio. To me, "ceramics" appear to be finished pottery, but to Sherri the clay interpreter, ceramics are a second-class citizen. But ceramics are a short attention span's wet dream. You grab someone else's creation, splash on some garish paints, and you're done. I mean, it's no potato, but still.

Jason did a bowl, I did a plate; we adorned them with atrocious portraits of each other. On the backs, we painted our initials (JET) and these dishes are now destined for a Salvation Army somewhere in the GTA, where we can only hope they will be found and loved and maybe one day they'll be excavated from a dusty old trunk and make an ironic appearance on Antiques Roadshow. One can only hope.

So it's a toss-up as to which was the bigger disaster, salsa or pottery, but thankfully since we did have fun spending time together, even if we simply bonded over our mutual incompetencies, I'd say date night was not a complete bust. And pottery may not have been the aphrodisiac that I'd imagined, but the truth is, we were high on glaze fumes, and that ain't bad.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Update City

I know, I know, I've been sadly remiss in keeping up to date, but sometimes my fabulous life just gets too frantic. Between weekends in Belize, getting pierced below the belt, and peeling potatoes, I just can't seem to keep up. So here are just a few of the things that have been sitting on my shelf for far too long.

1. The Run for the Cure: did I or didn't I (finish, that is...or frankly, start, or franker still, survive)?

2. Could the incompetent monkeys at UPS possibly find my missing computer?

3. Jason celebrates his 26th, pirate-style.

4. Janie continues to hog the blankets, and the attention, but mostly we still love her.

5. And the question that's on everyone's mind: am I feeling better yet?

I'm trying to post pictures also, but blogger is being a bitch.

Like you haven't heard that before.

Katie and Baby Negative Father Plus Grandmother Minus Grandmother Plus Jamie and Jason make 4.

How is the baby doing?

How is the baby sleeping?

How is Jay dealing with all the attention the baby's been getting?

These are the questions that everyone seems to be asking lately, so much so that at times, I have to pause just to remember that "the baby" has a name. At what age do people start referring to her as Janie instead of just "the baby"? Poor thing is going to have an identity crisis!

Actually, we're all having a bit of an identity crisis lately. Katie has become, of all things, a mother. Weirder still, I myself have become the friend of a mother. And the roommate of a mother. And thusly, a roommate of a baby. A stinky, sleepy, cry-y baby. Named Janie. And she's an angel.

Janie and Katie are temporarily homeless, but it's not as desperate as it sounds. Katie's lease on her too-small-for-a-baby apartment was up, and she chose not to renew. Unfortunately, this lease expired about a week after she gave birth. Fortunately, she saw it coming, and was prepared. She had packed up all of her belongings, and then thanked Jason in advance for transferring all these boxes to a storage container across the city. Jason was obliged to be happy to oblige. And happier still when he saw that some of these boxes were marked Destination: Jay's house. And these boxes were filled with things that were unfamiliar to Jason because of their inherent tininess and pastel hues.

So Katie and Janie have been alternating between our spare bedroom and her mother's guest suite, which is different from a spare bedroom because it has drapes and frills and potpourri. Happily, though, Katie and Janie will be moving into a home of their own on the first of the month. Technically, this also is a 2-bedroom apartment, but the second one is neither a spare room nor a guest suite – no, this one will be referred to as a "nursery", which is different from a spare bedroom because it has a baby in it, I guess.


All that to say that we've had an exhilirating month filled with sleepless nights, cramped car sex, and more laundry than I know what do with. I've helped my close friend to pump food out of her basooms, I've narrowly avoided heart attacks when Jason decided that Janie should have "baby's first turkey"...at the ripe old age of about 16 days. And by golly, I've even listened to my music on low, even though I think it's a travesty, and even though the baby does not extend me the same courtesy when I'm the one trying to sleep.

So yes, they're doing well. We're doing well. We're a weird family. People are already assuming we're polygamists. Fun times.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Traffic Report

You know when you're feeling absolutely crummy, and you're all huddled up on the couch with the flannel blankets and you realize that you hear panting?

Are you familiar with the panting?

You know it's not a dog, because you don't have a dog. And you hope it's not a burglar, because in your weakened state the best you could hope for is to play dead. But then you have to admit that the panting is coming from you.

For days you have turned your red-rimmed eyes on unsympathetic passerby, pleading with them to feel your glands. Anyone duped into actually feeling your glands had better declare them to be at least the size of volkswagons, or else. And as if you haven't suffered enough, you've now been turned into a mouth-breather.

A pathetic, panting, mouth-breather.

Your nose is like the DVP during rush hour - it's a traffic jam, all right; nothing's getting in, and nothing's getting out. You look longingly at the kleenex box that's just out of reach, but you're tired. Very tired. So tired that breathing seems less important than staying under your 7 firm layers (plus socks).

So you just lie there, making strange huffing noises, until someone either notices you, or you suffer a brain aneurysm. And quite frankly, you don't care which.

Finally, miraculously, you have kleenex in hand. This is such a momentous occasion you actually sit up for it, and to get into better blowing position.

This is going to be good.

But then it's not good.

It's the most disappointing blow in the world. You honked, you wheezed, you snorted, and nothing happened. Nothing at all. Except now the traffic is backed up all the way, deep into your brain's sinus cavity, and the motorists are all honking their disapproval, and the exhaust fumes are thick, and you're fairly certain that no one has ever suffered this much in the history of the world, and you'd much rather die than draw breath from your raw throat once more.

Well, that was my week.
Literally. And figuratively.

How was yours?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

You'll never guess what happened to me today while I was sitting still and being quiet.

I was in the car, waiting for Jason, and I thought, He'd better hurry, it's going to rain soon.

And in a matter of seconds, there were swollen rainsplotches wetting up the windshield. I felt proud for a second, like maybe I had caused the rain with my mind. It probably wasn't my mind, though; there was probably some other climatic explanation, but you never know. You just never know.

I looked out the smudged window, searching for the sight of Jason's brown linen shirt hurrying toward me. Instead, I saw something traveling through the air, many somethings, many tiny somethings traveling through the air, aiming slantingly for the ground.

It wasn't rain.

It was thicker than rain, and more opaque. It was lighter than rain, and it was whiter than rain. Quite possibly it was even righter than rain, but I wasn't able to ascertain this for sure.

No, not pollen.
No, not dust, you idiot.
Confetti? A trick of the light? Vision problems? Tiny invading aliens in tiny clever disguises?
Please let it be something else...anything else...just not...not....


deep breaths

Frantic with the need to find any kind of proof to the contrary, I rolled down my window and stuck out my hand. For a fraction of a second, a tiny crystal sat in my hand. They say that every single one in the whole wide world is unique in some way. Every one. But they have short life spans. Soon it was nothing more than a very small puddle sitting at the exact place where one thatched line of my palm intersects with another. Then the puddle spread, subtly following the lines of my hand, and it wasn't long before it had disappeared completely into my thirsty skin, the way much larger puddles will leach into the soil.

Fucking snow.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Not For the Mild At Heart

I convinced Jason that we needed a date night - not just nights where we go out on dates, but planned activities on a certain night of the week. Jason thought this was pretty silly, but he didn't know how silly until I announced that I'd booked us salsa lessons.

I put on some strappy shoes and a twirly skirt and let him escort me by the elbow. He was worried, of course. Jason dances about as well as other big white men. But the dance studio promised we'd be swinging in Toronto's latin clubs after just 3 lessons - guaranteed, or your money back.

We live in a portion of the city that is mainly asian (white people are the minority, the english language is the minority). There are plenty of east asians (chinese, korean, japanese, etc) but the majority seems to be south asian -(indian, etc) with a few west asians (middle easterners) mixed in for good measure. Of course, that's just country of origin. We're all Canadians now - some with varying degrees of newness. Some of us were born here, some just arrived. Some of us speak without the canadian accent, others are not quite discernible yet. It makes for interesting living, but it makes for particularly interesting dancing.

Now, the south asians seemed to be smart enough to stay home. This class consisted of Jason, Jamie, and the mostly koreans. Including the teacher. The teacher was so tiny I nearly stepped on her, but she had a genuine smile, and so I trusted her. I trusted she knew what she was doing even when she weaved between the couples doing what I could only call the backstroke, but out of water.

She danced around calling "one, two, tree, one, two, tree" over and over, but I could never tell discover a rhythm. She may as well have been reading the Gettysberg address over house music, because the truth about salsa music boils down to this: there are 3 steps, and 4 beats. 4 beats! 3 steps! I did the math in all my usual creative capacities, but I never did find out where that 4th beat was lost or hidden. So instead, I internalized the elusive fourth - I did step, step, shudder, step. The shudder made it look like I was repulsed by salsa, but at least it allowed me to keep my mind. Jason was not so successful. But eventually we replaced the "one, two, tree" with actual music - but that music runs at 180 beats per minute! Per minute! I mean, that's not as fast as my heart was going after just a few bars of this, but still. That's damn fast.

Jamie's feet: step, step, shudder, step, step, panic, recover, step, shudder, fuck, step, step, shudder, look around frantically, step, step, shudder, shudder, give up completely.

Jason's feet: clonk, clump, trip, trip, stop.

And that's the "basic step." Soon we were moving on to more advanced techniques.

First we learned the underarm turn - where sexily, I get to "flow" clockwise under Jason's armpit - you know, the one that is now dripping with exertion. I don't think he would be sweatier if he had just run the ironman.

And then came the casino rueda where our "embwace" rotates counterclockwise 180 degrees at lightning speed, Jason and I switching places.

And finally, the enchufla where we turn around completely as a whole and then have some sort of cross-body lead, and switch places in the end.

So as Jason and I contort ourselves trying to do these, the teacher scowls at us and yells "glide! arch your back!" until we were basically touching at the hands and pelvises only, stumbling around the room blindly, trying to make it look as if our groping was on purpose.

Then the teacher says we've had enough practice, it's time to dance (!). On comes the insanely fast music again, and we're supposed to string all of these moves together into an elegant but sexy sequence.

It goes something like this: step, step, shudder, stomp, shimmy, bump, bump, step, overstep, clockwise, woops, the other clockwise, change hands, under the armpit, step, step, shudder, pant a few seconds, try to sneak a break, twirl, twirl, twirl.

As the music ended and Jason and I clung to each other for structural support, the class around us erupted in applause. Funny, I thought, it felt like a disaster, but maybe we pulled it off. And then, finally getting his breath back, Jason leaned down and whispered in my ear When you twirl, everyone can see your panties.

So I'm pretty sure we'll be forfeiting the rest of our lessons, and that next week's date night will be a little slower-paced. Euchre, anyone?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Yaaargh, Happy Birthday, Matey.

Jason turned 26 on Thanksgiving.

A long weekend.

72 whole hours of turkey-filled club-hopping at the end of which my belly was bloated, the underside of my eyelids felt gritty, and Jason got even older than he already was. Whew.

Normally, I think receiving flowers at work is one of the best parts of a birthday. Jason doesn't really get off on that stuff though. He prefers lavish gifts of the edible kind. So he smacked my bottom and put me to work in the kitchen baking him a birthday cake that any (2)6 year old birthday boy would squeal with delight over.

He loved it. He wasn't even embarrassed that I sent him birthday hats to match.

For his real actual birthday though, I made him the birthday dessert of his choice, which ended up being margarita cheesecake, which I think he chose because I don't eat cheesecake, so the more for him. Which is okay, because it's his birthday. And it's kinder to my hips.

He also wanted a special birthday brunch (which would hopefully be digested before his Thanksgiving supper) consisting of a special birthday smoothie and a special birthday manly quiche with 2 kinds of breakfast meat (sausage and bacon...as if there was any question).

All in all, I'd say we had a very festive 3 days, 3 days that we hope to be recovered from sometime before I attempt to turn 26.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mashed Potato Gravy Time

The first time I ever cooked a turkey, I was 19 years old. It was a gift from work, and it rode the bus home with me, a chilly companion who rolled gently between my legs.

I rather bravely dealt with the giblets, and my knees only buckled once or twice trying to heft it into the oven. I'm pretty sure that damn bird outweighed me, and it certainly had a nicer complexion once I got done slow-cooking it to a goldeny-brown perfection. I'm pretty sure I over-basted that first year, but the over-basting produced such an incredibly moist and delectable turkey that I have adopted it as my new (and only) turkey tradition.

I don't know how many equally perfect turkeys I've turned out since (last Christmas alone I cooked 5 - I for us, and 4 for a homeless shelter), especially considering that I refuse to regard turkey as sacred holiday fare. I have often made turkey and all the trimmings just for the sheer extravagance of it. I mean, there's something about shopping for this meal that makes me a little punch-drunk: 1 heaving grocery cart, 300 dollars, 2 bellies, 1 day. Where else do you get those kinds of logistics?

But as much as I adore delighting Jason with more food than our modest dining table can support, my fondness for preparing the traditional fare is often compromised by the itch to always try something new.

I remember the first time I interrupted my Nanny's impressive holiday spread with the dreaded "something new." I brought dessert, or rather, a dessert selection. I do damn good desserts, or so anyone who'd ever eaten them had been telling me for months, so I thought I had a sure thing going. But when my Nanny's tried and true dinner was over and my desserts presented, I heard grumblings to the tune of "Where is Nanny's apple pie?"

Now, I will be the first to admit that Nanny's apple pie is very good. Maybe even the best. But the fact remains that we have had this pie at every Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving since time immemorial. And not just at holidays, but at any given Sunday dinner, any casual visit, or any time she visits you. In fact, I would wager that right now, every single one of my relatives, including my uncle out in Vancouver, has no fewer than 4 of my Nanny's frozen apple pies sitting in their chest freezers right now. So it's not like there's an apple pie shortage.

But that was the year I learned that there is a very fine line between tradition and boring.

Nanny's 'traditional' holiday meal includes, and does not deviate from: turkey, ham, meatballs, tourtiere (meat pie), mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, carrots, and dinner rolls. She usually has a platter with her homemade pickles and beets, and of course, cheese. There is usually one "grab bag" item - a chicken dish made expressly for my finicky sister - to Jason's amusement, it has often been a bucket of KFC, but can also be chicken pot pie or "crowd pleasing" dish.

Nanny is a cook of the variety of "plain but good." And I mean that in a flattering way. Plain, but good. But plain. But still good. But still plain. I don't even think she seasons things.

So, I brought "Nanny alternatives" to family functions and learned that to them, variety was the same as family tension. Oh sure, they ate my "hip" frozen desserts, the kids loved my beautifully iced cakes, people cried over the cream cheese frosting on my incredible carrot cake, and they inhaled my sumptuous cheesecakes like they hadn't just collectively eaten 24 pounds of turkey. And then they divided up the leftovers to take home and enjoy all over again. But they didn't like it.

Oh no, they didn't like it.

So it wasn't until I moved away from the family thing and started putting on the whole holiday myself that I really got to play around with things. Not only do I mix up the menu, but some holidays I stray from it completely. Last Easter I made a Greek feast, complete with rack of lamb. I'd never had lamb before, neither had Jason (he comes from similar non-imaginative white bread stock). It was to die for. This Thanksgiving (that is, Monday), I was going to eschew the whole turkey thing and make ribs and lasagna instead (these being Jason's favourite foods, Thanksgiving doubling as Jason's birthday this year). But Jason mulled it over, looked deep inside his heart, and decided that turkey would hit the spot.

So turkey it is. But not with mashed potatoes.....no, we dare to make sweet potatoes. Now, if this sounds less than shocking to you, congratulations. But up until 9 months ago, neither Jason nor I had so much as laid eyes on such a thing. Imagine our surprise when they were...well, good! And get this: instead of the ubiquitous corn, we're having asparagus (in bacon-cheese sauce, at Jason's request). Asparagus is among my favourite veggies, but again, no asparagus had ever passed through my lips until I moved away and started cooking for myself.

I guess what I'm getting at is this: what is tradition anyway? To me, tradition is not just the thing that you always do. That's called a habit. To me, tradition needs to have some sort of significance, or meaning.

But now that I have my own family and my own holidays, I realize that we have no real traditions to carry forth - we have no culture, no religion. Maybe all we ever had was Nanny's apple pie, and maybe we only had that because it's all she knew how to make.

But who needs tradition, anyway? Is it an antiquated concept? Is it mandatory for successful holidays? And if so, how do you go about making traditions, anyway? Is simply liking something enough to call it a tradition?

Last Christmas Jason and I drank champagne in bed all morning. It was good. I can see doing it again. If we do, is that a tradition? Do 2 consecutive years qualify for instant tradition status? Or do we have to wait 20? And what if next year we decide we'd rather have coffee spiked with Godet white chocolate? What happens then? It's not really tradition unless you commit to doing in the same way over and over - and to tell the truth, "same" is not really a concept I'm comfortable with.

But if we have no tradition, are we really celebrating? Are we doing it wrong? Are we being disrespectful? Is having turkey enough to call it Thanksgiving, or do we have to make horn-of-plenty centrepieces and watch football to call it a holiday?

Everyone who breaks off and starts a family faces this same problem: follow old traditions? make new ones? scrap it all and go to Chuck E Cheese? Are traditions even still relevant, or do you have to know someone from "the old country" for them to mean anything? But are these celebrations just shallow and perfunctory without tradition? Can our generation even tell the difference? And if the turkey is good enough, does it even matter?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I've Got A Strange Disease: Her Name is Jay.

A guest post by Jason.

I knew before I nailed her that Jamie was something else. I knew she was probably the funniest, smartest and loopiest person I would ever meet, and most of the people around her seemed to know it too. We all wanted to be close to her back then; we were all just there for the ride.

And what a ride it was.

Of that time, I remember how all the boys were in awe of her, and afraid of her at the same time. She dated mostly older men. I didn't think too much about why she scared the lesser men away. I didn't think too much about anything other than how much I wanted to touch her freckled shoulders. In retrospect, I'm glad I was such an ignorant fool.

If I had considered for one moment what life with Jamie would be like, I might have shied away.

Man. That's tough to say. But it's true. I doubt that I would have had the confidence in myself. I might have thought it too hard, I might have wished for her a stronger man.

But thank God for the stupidity of youth - when I got my chance, I rushed right in, not thinking about anything beyond those first 5 minutes: the proximity of her pink lips, the candy smell of her shampoo. She made it easy for me - I never thought about the future because we had none. She made it clear we were just friends having an extra special good time, and that the affair was short-term. I believed her, but I fell in love anyway.

I loved the storms of her emotions, I loved being the guy with a pen when she had a fit of brilliance, I loved being the one she called when she wanted to feel grass on every inch of her skin. I fell in love with this unknown entity because it made my life feel more exciting just to live it next to hers. And I'm glad now that that my heart left no choice for the rest of me - I was in over my head from the start.

Living with Jamie is like living in an alternate universe. It's definitely worth it - she's worth it - but it's the hardest thing I will ever do, and I'm still learning, and I think I always will be. I've had bad moments. I wonder if I can take it, if my nerves are up to it. Once, shortly after our engagement, a friend of mine took me aside and told me not to marry her. Forcefully told me not to marry her. But that's the thing with Jamie, you either love her, or you hate her. And after many years of careful, intimate study, I still have no idea what makes her tick, I have no idea what she'll come up with next, I don't even know where she is right now, but I can predict with stunning accuracy those who will love her, and those who will hate her.

In fact, I have a pretty good idea of what the people who read her blog must be like. They're not necessarily like-minded people; Jamie prefers people who can argue rather than agree. She hates fence-sitters. Curse the day when I don't have a firm opinion for something that Jamie is ranting about - then I'll get a lecture on both sides of the issue and learn enough about them to be an expert panelist on a game show that doesn't exist. I wonder if she always leaves long-winded, preachy comments on other people's blogs, or if she shows some restraint (no, that's not likely). Anyone who reads this on any basis is probably more of a free-thinker, and more than likely artistic in some way. I feel so ordinary compared to lots of her friends - she gravitates toward people who are driven to create, and they obviously pick up the same vibe on her.

She doesn't believe in conventionality, but she doesn't disbelieve in it either, because she doesn't believe in disbelieving in things. Every single aspect of life is a story. She tells it like it is - without embarrassment, but with embellishment. She drives me absolutely crazy with her contradictions. Some days I feel like I will never really know her because seems to exist on some form of hopped-up evolution that exists only on her own frequency.

She is absolutely manic sometimes. I'd have to become a speed freak to even come close to keeping up. She has highs that I think most humans are incapable of replicating, but to be fair, she has lows lower than anyone should ever sink, too. It's hard to see her like that, it's hard to wake up in the middle of the night to a sobbing woman who is crying "Because" - and those eyes of hers implore me to understand, to instantly agree that yes, because. And there's nothing I can do to soothe her because I have never in my life come close to feeling things as deeply as she does. She is so sensitive, and so passionate, and so sympathetic. She is moved to tears daily. I have to keep those tissues with the lotion built in around because otherwise, her little nose gets raw. But she's not afraid of sadness. To her, real sadness, great sadness, is just as good as great joy. As long as she feels strongly, it's a good experience to her.

That baffles a lot of people, including myself sometimes. She's just not afraid of emotion. All the things that the rest of us ignore, or suppress, or hide, she displays. It's remarkable that even the bad ones - the ones that we're not supposed to admit to having, the ones that cast her in a bad light - those are right there for all to see as well. Every flaw she has, she magnifies, and she magnifies so she can embrace it. I have a hard time understanding it, but she often says "I'm a bitch, but I love that about myself," or "(fill in the blank), but I love that about myself. Even the worst parts, she cherishes. How can she do that?

I was so proud of her for joining my gym. She could have gone to the women's club across the street, but she didn't, and I know she worried that people would look at her, and judge her. But in reality, there's my Jamie, singing "Shout!" on the treadmill, and playing air drums on the stationary bike, and of course people are looking at her, and judging her. And she doesn't care. She is comfortable in her world, she is oblivious to anyone else's opinion, and she head bangs on the stair master without a shred of self-consciousness. But if you hold her up to normal societal standards, she starts to itch, it's not her comfort zone. It's not even in her universe. But the truth is, even at the gym, my gym, she shows me up. Did you know that she can pres 333 lbs with her legs alone? Do you have any idea how much that is? Can you imagine the awesome things that woman can do with her thighs?

The other day, I asked an innocent question: "What did you do today?" You know what she did? She spent it dreaming/worrying about the inevitability of inorganic nanobots violating their rules of self-replication and literally eating us all alive. That's what Jamie did on Tuesday.

On Wednesday I asked her for a striptease (shut up, it's almost my birthday, I'm allowed). And you know what she did? She gave me a striptease. Of all the sultry, sexy songs she could have chosen, she picked ACDC's If You Want Blood, and then proceeded to put on a fucking rock & roll show in our bedroom. I mean, we're talking strutting and pursed lips, the whole damn thing. And yeah, she ended up naked in the end, but I just kept thinking, where the hell did this come from? It pretty much violated any notion of stripteases that I've ever had, but it was the greatest, sexiest thing I have ever seen. But where does it come from?

And last week, I spent an hour of my life dressing her. It's a somewhat common occurrence in our house: Jamie will insist she doesn't want to leave, and thus, refuses to dress, prohibiting us from leaving. So she lies inert on the bed while I try to force clothes on her body, and she'll wriggle like a baby, and eventually overtly fight me, and we'll end up wrestling for an hour and she'll end up no more dressed than when we started. For 6 years of our relationship, I have had major guilt over these episodes. I hate to be so contrary. But recently, I've learned that this is one of her favourite games, a good way to get attention and have me touch her. Leaving and dressing have nothing to do with it. Imagine my surprise! This discovery literally changed my life. But that's the thing with Jamie - she loves to push my buttons, and I have never met anyone who is more adept at finding your buttons than she is. But then I asked her in passing if I "looked okay" -meaning gray pants with a cranberry sweater - and evidently, this pushed one of hers. She started crying, and crying, and crying. And finally choked out that she wasn't crying because what I was wearing looked bad, but just because I was wearing it. Because "there are 3 whole days left of summer!" and my wearing a sweater was apparently my attempt to rush the seasons and not appreciate each moment for what it is. So, a quick change into a t-shirt and gray skies are going to clear up, it is once again a happy day.

You know, all things considered, this is an incredible life she has, and I get to be a part of it. Sometimes I wonder if we're secretly being watched, if we'll end up in the history books, if she isn't maybe surreal. I suspect that I have a national treasure, or the missing link, or the secret of the universe, right here in my home...but if that's the case, I hope to keep it under wraps for just a little while longer. I don't know what I ever did to be a part of this, but I can't help but want just a little while longer of having her to myself.

Jay - I know you won't like this post. I know you'll want to delete it like you've deleted so many others. But I also know that if only I can distract you for 30 seconds, our lives will go hurtling down a completely different path, and maybe, just maybe, this small truth will slip out.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


When I was little, I had 3 living great-grandparents on my mother's side: Mamere & Papere, and Granny Carter.

Papere is probably not worthy of a lot of remembrance. Living just a couple of houses from my mother's childhood home, he was the source of constant trouble for the family. My mother recounts stories of him trapping her inside garbage cans as well as several incidents involving rodents that still send shivers up her spine. She once told me that at a family wedding, he spilled his wine and blamed her. He spent the rest of the reception harping on about how children should not be invited to functions....40 years later, this is still her most embarrassing moment. My grandmother, ever the polite hostess, remembers her father as a man of atrocious table manners, 'atrocious' being a very kind word for some very rude behaviours. My uncle remembers Papere giving him a BB gun and encouraging him to shoot a neighbour lady in the ass. These are the glossified versions of a dead man's mischief; with time and forgiveness they have boiled down to hazy, vaguely humourous stories that reveal the only the essence of a very mean man. I was very young when he died, but what I do remember of him is this: if we were at my grandparents' and saw him walking up the street for a visit, my mother would lock my younger sister in the bedroom because just seeing him would send her into hysterical fits. We chuckle over the bb gun incident, but a man who inspires that much terror in a 2 year old child is no treat.

When Papere died, he left behind a wife, a woman I mostly knew as Ida. To be honest, Ida only passed away a few years ago, and yet, I have rarely counted her among my relatives because she was never treated as such. I have more memories of Papere, who died when I was 3, than I do of his wife who outlived him by 20 years. Ida was not my great-grandfather's first wife, nor was she the mother of my grandmother. She married him only after my biological great-grandmother passed away at an early age. I only heard about Ida when my Nanny would dutifully pay her visits. I would often hear about Ida's failing health, how Ida had grown less lucid, and finally how Ida failed to recognize Nanny when she sat with her in the hospital. Though I often heard her name, I only connected Ida as being my great-grandmother when she died. My Nanny was a bit blase about the funeral - she didn't think my uncles should bother to make the trip. My mother had to remind her that biological or not, Ida was the only grandmother she'd known. Sadly, she remained the great-grandmother that I didn't know, and now I never will.

Granny Carter, my grandfather's mother, is another story. She was exactly what a great-grandmother should be. She was a tiny little woman with a fierce personality, not mean, but surprisingly forceful for such a small person. She had curly gray hair, and wore granny glasses on a chain and floral print dresses and tiny orthopedic shoes. When we were lucky enough to have her over for family dinners, we would sit around the table afterwards playing 31. She played bingo and lottery religiously, and was lucky at both. She socialized at the food court in the mall. When she was finally placed in a home, I remember my mother signing her out for a visit - we went to the Dairy Queen where she had a baby cone, and to Home Hardware, where my mother bought her an electric fan. I remember that she died just days after my budgie, Polly, did. I remember that I was eating toast and molasses when my mother told me the news. I remember wondering if she would also be buried in the garden, where I knew my father had put Polly. Hers was the first funeral I remember; years later, I surprised my mother by recognizing the church when we drove by. It's funny that so many things stay with you, and it's sad that so many don't.

The one great-grandparent that I didn't know was by all accounts the one most regrettably gone. My Pa's father was a stark contrast to Nanny's: this one was a good man, a great man, even. Even Nanny, his daughter-in-law and everyone's biggest critic, remembers him with a dreamy look on her face. She is quick to say how much she loved him, and with a guilty look, admits she loved him more than she did her own father. He died when my mother was just eleven. He was dying of cancer, and they kept it from her; she learned it surreptitiously by reading a note not meant for her eyes. Still, she remembers the time she spent playing cards in his lap, and is convinced that he visited her on her wedding day. My Nanny once told me that in her 55 years married, she has seen her husband cry only once, and that was on the night his father died. I can picture my grandfather crying about as easily as I can picture Weird Al Yankovic winning America's Next Top Model, but apparently on that night he came home from the hospital, threw himself on the living room floor, and sobbed. My great-grandfather died a decade before I was born, but according to my mother, that didn't stop him from babysitting me now and then. She believes that he "haunted" the first house she lived in when I was just a baby. On the nights when her husband was away from home, she would hear his footsteps on the stairs and be comforted that he was looking out for us. Even his ghost was benevolent.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Raise Your Hand if You Hate UPS

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So Jason had this honourable intention of surpring me with a new computer.

He should have known better.

To be fair, it almost got here.

Word of caution: don't go brown. Brown will let you down.

The UPS guy left a tell-tale sticker on our door: we were here, you weren't, boo hoo for you. These "sorry we missed you" stickers mean that for the next few days, you will live your life for UPS. You have to get up at a decent hour, wear decent clothing, and then be chained to the house for an ill-defined period of time. You're afraid to answer the phone, afraid to have the music on too loud, afraid to walk the dog, afraid to drink too much wine and pass out on the couch. You can't leave the house, but you can't do anything too distracting in the house either, like run a bath or start the washing machine, because these could prevent you from hearing the door bell. And god forbid you should ever have to pee. Alternatives to urination must be sought when waiting for UPS because you just know that once you're sitting with your pants around your ankles, the UPS guy will certainly appear. Therefore, from the minute you spot the dreaded sticker, you must refrain from drinking, ignore your thirst, and willingly induce dehydration. Pee is your enemy (although, in dire situations, you can summon the UPS guy by faking it - squat over the toilet like you're going to pee, and once your trousers are dropped, your package will arrive...just make sure your bladder doesn't get any ideas!). Don't worry, post-UPS recovery is simpler than you'd think: 12 hours of sleep, a couple of generous doses of Prozac, and an IV drip of saline solution should do the trick. Most people are back on their feet in 2-3 days, tops. Unless, of course, they suffer from UPS' 3-strike policy. Yes, bizarely, even though they are paid to deliver your package, they will only make 3 attempts to do so. Once the third attempt is made....package? What package?

Jason thought he would spare me the typical UPS-anxiety by requesting that the package would be held at the depot. Stupid depot. Depot for all of West Toronto, shuffling 9 million packages but somehow misplacing all the ones that attempt to be claimed. Oh yes, 8 million stale fruitcakes will be delivered in a timely fashion, but Jamie's new computer? Well, let's just say I kept my fingers crossed.

Now I have cramped fingers, and all for nothing. Not because the depot lost my package though. Because apparently the package never made it to the depot. Despite instructions to the contrarcy and Jason's explicit double-checking, the package remained on the truck. So we were not home to accept the package that we didn't know was coming. In fact, when the second attempt was being made, we were at the depot trying to claim a package that was never there. Sure, we had a tracking number that said it was there, and a customer service rep confirming it was there. Sure we had several brown-clad employees scouring a warehouse the size of Kingston. That doesn't mean that the package would be found. The package could not be found because it wasn't there. Where was it? Where was my new computer?

Well, according to UPS, it was sitting on our front porch.

I mean, yes, officially we were supposed to sign for the package. But what's to stop the driver from writing in your name for you? Nothing, apparently. Certainly not company policy. Hah!
So with un-consent, the package was left on our front porch. The very same package that came in a box clearly labelled with the computer company's name. The very same package insured for more than $1400. Just left on the porch.

When we got home, our front door had a new sticker: "We left your package behind the flowers," it said.

But there was no package behind the flowers.

There was no package anywhere.

So Jason called UPS and suggested that this was perhaps a stupid move on their part. He suggested that perhaps delivery services would be better off actually delivering packages rather than just abandoning them willy-nilly. UPS did not seem at all concerned or surprised to be accused of willy-nillyness. Apparently we have learned that drivers can abandon packages "at their discretion" but also that drivers "lack discretion."

So, someone stole a brand new notebook computer from our front porch. Lucky them, eh? I mean, if the large box with the shiny computer printed on all sides wasn't a total giveaway, then the note on the door saying that our new computer was beside the flowers probably got the job done. It's like a little treasure map for potential thieves. Thanks, UPS, X marks the spot!

Ah well. I hear this new computer had some sort of blue teeth anyway, which sounds awfully bitey to me. Between us, I think I'm better off.


Three weeks later, UPS says to us “Uh, yeah, your package is lost.”

UPS is astuter than astute. Despite the fact that they know very well that their driver abandoned the package (containing my new laptop, no less) with a sign that read “Steal Me, Please”, and a thief (or thieves, if you will) was all too happy to comply, UPS felt obligated to make a show of looking for it. They looked high and low, searched every truck, inside and out, cleaned out their closets, inventoried their warehouse, and I'm pretty sure they sent every UPS employee in the tristate area home to check underneath their beds.

No package was found.

Jason, to his credit, badgered them on a daily, sometimes twice daily basis. Once, he even went to the office to physically kick them in the pants. This is the wild goose chase that we call “bureaucracy.” And so after Jason babysat these jerks for 3 weeks, we finally got what we wanted (well, what we needed): the official “we have no fucking idea where your stuff is” certificate of UPS-suckiness. Believe me, we intend to have it framed.

So Jason calls up the computer company and is all like, Yo, the package is lost. And the computer guy was like, Okay, we'll discuss this further when we receive confirmation in triplicate from UPS in 16-42 business days.


So Jason, who is now well-versed in the childish and muddled ways of the customer service associate, calls back, and tells them how it's going to be: Either you're sending me the package tonight, or I'm going someplace else.

We got the package.

And we also got the message: UPS is the kind of business that takes 3 weeks to tell you that they lost the package that they knew they lost 3 weeks ago. In other words: they are mind-blowingly incompetent. Use sparingly, and if you're smart, not at all.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Thank You From the Bottom of My Running Shoes

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Truth be told, I'm sort of terrified of running. To be more specific: I'm terrified of not being able to finish, of making a fool out of myself, of having a sweaty photo of myself appear in the newspaper, of my blisters choosing that moment to burst, causing the streets to run red with blood, of being the last to cross the finish line. I was so encouraged by the strong wave of support I received here, and by the worthiness of the cause that I sort of forgot that I don't run. Can't run. Don't know how.

When I was a kid, I raised money every year for Multiple Sclerosis via a read-a-thon, which is a little more to my pace. Unfortunately, I could only get sponsors to promise me a lump sum rather than dollars per book, which would have been great for the charity and flaming on the pocketbook.

In high school I did the Terry Fox Run every year, but here's the catch: I didn't run. I walked. I made a point of walking and thought the runners were fools. They were fools, actually. It was a 6 kilometre route, and if you paced your walking right, you could get out of the whole morning's worth of classes. Runners were back in time for math. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

But now, not only have I committed myself to running, I seem also to have committed myself to slowing Jason down as well. The fact is: Jamie measures 5 feet, 3 inches. Jason stands at 6 feet, 1 inch. The difference: 10 big inches. The result: any time spent together means Jason strides and Jamie jogs, forever trying to catch up. Sometimes we run side by side at the gym, on matching treadmills. Running for Jason means setting the speed at 7 miles per hour, and letting his long legs loose. Running for me means 4 mph, and hoping that my short little legs can keep up. And 7 mph is actually slow for Jason, because he's a sprinter. He ran track & field in high school. Know what I did in high school? Um, debate club (oh yeah, I've been rocking the argumentative bitch thing for a while now). But somehow Jason is still determined that he will run beside me during the race, although I suspect it has less to do with any couple allegiance and more to do with his concern that I might otherwise die alone on dirty Toronto asphalt.

Now, mere hours away from running, I am unable to sleep. I just keep retaping my blisters and checking the weather network, hoping the rain will somehow turn into bright rays of comforting sunshine. But no matter what my personal result is tomorrow, I know I will have raised lots of money for a cause that needs it. You guys have outdone yourselves - and every dollar raised has been doubled in our matching program. We also sold mini cheesecakes (dubbed "cancer tarts") at Jason's work to increase the tally. I don't know if I will ever live in a world without cancer, but I firmly believe that I can live in a world where no one dies from it, so to those of you who donated: thank you.

Sponsors' Honour Roll:

Queen of Spain
Bud Buckley
Better Safe than Sorry

It's not too late to donate!

Otherwise, stay tuned for the unfolding story: will she fall flat on her face? put her sports bra to shame? use to run as an excuse to carb-load at the international pancake house?.....


We came, we ran, our hamstrings burned like a motherfucker.

But in the end, we did run.

It was awesome! I mean, if you forget the part where I'm a stupid insomniac and I insisted we leave the house at 2:30 am, bundled under enough layers not to feel the chilly wind and then arrived at the run site 8 hours later in the boiling hot sun and then spent the first kilometre of the run trying to strip surreptitiously while remaining in motion.

That part sucked. But the rest was awesome! We conveniently ran past the Mount Sinai hospital, and don't think I didn't consider running right up the steps to my eventual collapse, but somehow, I persisted. And I managed to run right past the U of T cheerleaders even though many of the bepenised runners were stopped in their tracks. The whole course was dotted with very enthusiastic supporters, screaming what I assumed to be encouragement, although it seems that when I am gasping like a fish out of water, some of my senses start shutting down, and the ability to hear is among the first to go. But their posters were brightly coloured, so I did catch a blurry glimpse of them as I shot by at lightning speeds (you know, like 4 miles an hour, approximately). But the best part was the water station – a real, live water station, just like in the Olympics! Volunteers stuck their arms out bravely, proferring little paper cups filled with the liquid of life.

Now, to be honest, I'm a thirsty girl, so Jason was running with a bag that contained no less than 3 litres of water, which I'd already been downing at that point. So strictly speaking, I didn't need the water. And briefly, I felt that the water might only be for the serious runners, and not for the slow-moving frauds such as myself. But then I entered that runner's high that people are always talking about, and I had hallucinations of myself splashing water upon myself like real live professional athletes on TV. In the end, I decided that I probably was not coordinated enough to snatch the paper cup without stopping, so I didn't water myself, but I felt cool just running right past it.

And the very, very best part was all the money we raised for a great cause. Jason and I raised over a thousand dollars, thanks in large part to some very generous sponsors right here. Every dollar we raised was doubled by Jason's work – so yay us, and thank you all for believing in the cause, and for giving me the will to keep going even when I thought I'd rather whip off my top to reveal my sports bra (in which my nipples always appear to be pointing in opposite directions, like a pair of headlights that badly need to be realigned) rather than keep going.

I kept going.

You guys rock.