Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sweetest Words.

Sean, a chronic un-morning person, has requested a morning wake up call, so I climb on top of him and put my tongue down his throat. Just a little.

Mmm, he says, you make waking up so good but actually getting out of bed so hard.

I'll take that.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Love & Loss

I met him this summer.
I fell in love with him this summer.
I am in love with him.

I knew that I was in love with Sean 4 weeks ago today, when my best friend's sister called me to say that Rory had been in an accident, and had hours left to live, and could I get to the hospital in time to say goodbye.

I was numb. I didn't believe it. Sean drove me to the hospital because I couldn't even get my fingers to hold a key. I really believed that it might be a prank. Even when the nurse confirmed that she was in the ICU, I didn't feel it in my bones.

I would have walked right by her bed had I not recognized the blubbering mass outside her room as her family. Her sister sat pale and still on one side of the bed, holding a hand that couldn't squeeze back.

The mess in the bed was not my best friend. It wasn't the girl who danced against me at the club, who clinked my glass before dinner, rubbed my back when I was sad, left dirty texts on my cell phone, borrowed my shoes, craved my mixed CDs. It wasn't just that she was unrecognizable, though she was. Completely. What was left of her face was swollen, purple, gaping, raw. The rest of her was simply mangled. Mostly, though, it was the emptiness of her. My Rory was gone, and I knew it even as I stroked her bloodied hair and held her limp, unfeeling hand.

Bleeding internally, her organs had already started to shut down. A pump emptied black blood from her stomach. Tubes forced her to breathe, because she would not have on her own. Her parents and grand parents had gathered to make their peace, and they made room for me, gave me the honoured seat by her side, and told me the stories that Rory had told them. They told me how much she had loved me. In their own grief, they consoled me. It took hours for her heart to stop, the longest hours that I've ever lived, and the last that she ever would.

He stayed.
He wouldn't go home, he wouldn't leave me. When I walked out of her room that first time, as the shock had begun to set in and the waves of grief and loss and anger and confusion had start to hit, he was exactly as I had left him, and he took me in his arms and held me until I soaked his shirt right through.

I felt like I had been fighting it for a while. I was resistant. I wasn't even sure if love would ever find me again. I'd had it once, and it expired, and maybe that was it for me. I wasn't looking for it, and didn't expect to find it. But I'd been feeling familiar twinges and wasn't entirely sure how I felt about it - whether I was ready, whether I could admit it, whether it was real.

But that night, that awful, awful night, I knew.
And it's hard to say that.
It should be impossible to feel your heart expanding even as it's contracting.
Shouldn't it?

Today I was in a store where I'd brought Rory just a few months ago, after she broke up with her fiance. I'd treated us both to pink sundresses that we wore to drink matching drinks on sunny days. That dress made her feel beautiful.
Mine is in my closet; hers is under ground.
I'm glad I didn't know then what I know now.

The past 4 weeks have been hell. Sometimes I go a couple of days between cries, and sometimes I'm lucky if it's a couple of hours. She would have turned 30 last week, but she didn't.

The past 4 weeks have also been beautiful. Sean is thoughtful and tender and he's good at knowing when I need quiet and when I need to be lectured on the brilliance of Randy Moss (actually, on second thought, note to Sean: never). He makes me laugh, often without trying, and he does this adorable squiggly thing with his eyebrows that he's not even aware of but that can make me melt. He sings wretchedly, and often, especially bad 80s tunes and country songs that he makes up.

And though he never met her (which kills me with regret, every fucking day), he tells me that he knows her, through me. Through the stories that he lets me tell and the photos and the memories and the tears.

A friend of the family had a baby recently, and 2 days later her father dropped dead of a heart attack. I don't like this cliche about life giving and life taking away. I don't think Sean is a replacement for Rory. A good thing happened, and a bad thing happened. They exist simultaneously, even if it seems incongruous. I walked out of that hospital room, shattered but alive. My life goes on, love & happiness, loss & grief, all of it together in a jumble that's hard to decipher sometimes. I'm still trying to figure it out. And I'm lucky. Not just because I have Sean, but because for a time, I had Rory.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Anatomy of a Birthday Gift

Jay: What are we getting Luc for his birthday?

Matt: I don't know, what do you get for the guy who buys himself everything he wants?

Jay: Um...something he doesn't want?

Matt: That works. At least then we won't have to worry about getting him the same thing as someone else did.

Jay: Exxxxxactly.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

When everything seemed like the movies.

I am unsuspecting in my car when the radio serves me up a little piece of nostalgia: Iris, by the Goo Goo Dolls.

I had just turned 17 the summer it first played on the air. More than a decade later I can still taste 1998 like it was yesterday (a mixture of skittles and peppermint schnapps and my mother's linguine salad).

I was in the middle of my first love. He brought me camping. He made me mudslides. He played me the Armageddon song on his guitar and I hoped that the starlight and the flames from our fire were not enough for him to see me blush. I still remember the thrill of another camper referring to me as his wife. It was glorious and it was heady and it felt so fucking important, like this was it, and I'd damn well better be paying attention.

I was.

I remember cherry lip gloss and wearing doc martens with shorts and sitting upside down on a bean bag chair to talk on the phone for hours. I remember sleeping until 1pm and stalking MTV to catch my favourite videos and The Smashing Pumpkins poster on my wall. I remember my short spiky hair and how cool it was and how much gel it took to accomplish and how it melted in the rain at the big outdoor festival we went to and got sunburned at.

I remember half-seeing movies at the drive-in theatre and skinny dipping in the river and a pair of oversized Rice Krispie boxer shorts I inherited from the dead client of a family friend.

I remember dancing to that song so many times. I remember the ill-advised long red floral skirt that I would wear and the way we would sway and how it felt when the lights got turned down low and how my heart almost permanently beat quickly because everything was so exciting all of the time.

I remember the terribleness at the dinner table when my parents told us they were splitting up. I remember leaving our home and moving to my grandparents' basement and the dread of changing schools, leaving my friends, missing out. The pity in well-meaning faces. My sisters, inconsolable. My mother, terrified and exhilarated, pretending to be neither.

I remember the stolen kisses and the not knowing and the secrets, some shared, others kept.

I remember tears and fears and learning what it means to be strong.

And I remember always, always turning the volume up when our song came on the radio, and for once really understanding what they were singing about.

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
Cause sooner or later it's over
I just don't want to miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything seems like the movies
Yeah you bleed just to know you're alive

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tonight, I cried myself through a movie, and my dog curled up on my chest to console me.
He's losing his baby teeth. I'm rubbing his gums and letting him use my fingers as chew toys.
I gave him a paw-dicure.
I'm teaching him how to high-5.
I'm thinking it's a good thing I don't have cats.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Excuse me, Miss...

A man walks up to me at the grocery store and says "I'd like to pop one of your tits out of your dress and gnaw on it like a gummie bear."

A total stranger.

True story.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Punchbuggy (black and) blue!

I had forgotten about this game, hadn't thought of it in probably a decade.

But for about ten seconds, it had been an obnoxious and not very entertaining way to pass time in the car.

It's one of those unforgiving, unskilled games that when played correctly leaves bruises.

What you do is: keep your eyes peeled.

When you zoom by a Volkswagen Beetle, be the first to scream Punchbuggy blank! (where blank is the colour of the car) while punching your companion in the arm with conviction and maximum knuckle.

It's an easy enough "game" to forget about, except when you're driving a little love bug yourself and witnessing (and in fact, inciting) incidents of abuse everywhere you go. Funny how they neglect to warn you about that at the dealership.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This blog is worth every penny.

Find a penny, pick it up
All day long you'll have good luck

But what's so lucky about a penny, really?
You know what's lucky?
A 20 dollar bill, that's what.
Or a gift card to the liquor store.
But a penny?
Pennies aren't even worth the effort of bending over to retrieve them when you accidentally dump out your coin purse.

The only thing besides luck that a penny will buy you is a thought.
And when people "penny for your thoughts' me, I tend to get insulted.
One bloody cent? Really? Is that all you think I'm worth? I'm sitting here with this really great, nearly original, somewhat lascivious thought in my head, and all you'll give me is a fucking penny? I don't think so, chump.

Luck and thoughts must be the only two things in the whole entire world that haven't suffered inflation. Even a one-cent stamp costs more than a penny (thank you, sales tax!).

Pennies are so ridiculous that they're worth more as raw materials than the amount they're stamped with as currency. If you melt a penny down and sell it to a copper dealer, they'd owe you about 2 cents. It takes 4 cents to make the 1-cent piece. It costs the Canadian people $130 million a year to keep them in circulation even though there are already 20 billion of them floating around. The reason? People don't actually use them as money. They throw them in fountains, collect them in pickle jars, fill up the cracks in their car seats with them (and then maybe clog their vacuums with them). Any reasonable human being would not stoop over to pick up a dropped penny (I myself will not stoop for less than $1) and some people will even throw them out, out of pure penny-disgust, I assume. This is such a rampant problem that they've actually made it illegal to put them to the garbage (this, of course, has proved largely unenforceable). Even homeless people, who dumpster-dive and fight rats for aluminum cans will leave pennies on the ground.

It's hard to take the penny seriously as currency when even the Currency Act says that no business is obligated to take more than 25 pennies during one transaction. If you can't use pennies to pay for things, and you can't stick them into ATM deposit envelopes, then aren't they...not actually money?

And if they're not money, then they're just grubby germ-infested copper discs that weigh down your pockets or misshape your wallet.

Only 37% of Canadians actually use them and they'll all be dead within a decade (not from using pennies, but from old age - because they're old). If you're in a rush, or you have to pee, or you can think of anything you'd rather be doing than standing in line at the grocery store, then it's guaranteed that a very old, very shaky, and nearly blind senior citizen will be rooting through his or her stash of coins looking for exact change. It's geezers like Matty's Aunt Penelope who keep the penny alive (barely). She remembers "when a penny was worth something." When told of our anti-penny stance, Aunty Penny fondly recalled a time when penny candy wasn't just a figure of speech. But for those of us with a serious sweet tooth, we know that a trip to Sugar Mountain can cost us quite a pretty penny. But this day in age, when the cheapest long distance rate is ten cents a minute, gum balls are 25, and calls from a pay phone half a dollar, pennies have become all but obsolete.

Our moronic Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, explains our $130 million annual expenditure on worthless coins with some nostalgia: "I'm a coin collector from way back and I'd hate to lose the continuity of the penny," he said.

Ah, continuity.
I love when people use the "because that's just how things have always been" excuse.
Such a valid argument.
Let's count our lucky pennies he wasn't around during, say, abolition.

In fact, it's statements like that which inspire perhaps the only credible alternative use for pennies.
I don't like to throw around words like 'assassination' , but a sock full of pennies might just teach an important lesson.

Oh, I kid, I kid.
I'm not the type to arm myself with coin-based weaponry.
I'm not even the type to wish any real harm to Harper, whom I'm sure is a nice enough guy if only he was in charge of, say, a hot dog cart instead of my country. I wouldn't mind sending him somewhere that would neutralize him a bit maybe an ice floe up in the Arctic where he could learn some fucking respect for the baby seals.

In the meantime, I'll just keep giving stupid politicians my two cents worth by flushing my pennies down public toilets.
That'll show em.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Herbie The Wonder Dog

I had a couple of failed adoption attempts back in March, and they broke my heart. They reminded me of going to the SPCA in search of the perfect companion and walking by cage after cage of big dogs with sad eyes wanting so badly to be the one that came home with me that their pleading energy was palpable. I left because I knew that large breeds were unsuitable for apartment living, but was heart sick to leave them all behind.

I cried.

My sister adopted Tucker, a beagle mix, from her local SPCA and they both fell so immediately in love with each other that when she left on a week-long trip he suffered separation anxiety even though he was well cared for. Another sister adopted a golden retriever named Charlie who has boundless energy but doesn't bark because his previous owner duct taped his mouth shut.

I wanted one too, but twice the adoptions fell through at the last minute, leaving me emotionally attached and unfulfilled. But the moment I held Herbie in my arms for the first time, I knew it was meant to be. He was meant to come home with me.

Herbie is 5.5 pounds of pure crazy. He rips around my apartment as if it's his own personal obstacle course, deking around chairs, body-checking himself off my bed, bounding out of corners, flying off the couch, and all at the highest speeds achievable by 2-inch legs. And then he'll tire himself out, flop over onto his back, and sleep soundly with his belly exposed and all 4 paws in the air.
He loves car rides and walks. He makes friends wherever he goes. People constantly stop us on the street to say how cute he is, but they needn't bother, because he already knows it. His favourite part of the day is walking down the hall to the trash chute. He often finds treasures along the way: once some takeaway fries, and another time a coffee stir stick that he idolised for 30 whole seconds. Fortunately for Herbie, we take that walk many times a day because Herbie, though small, makes an impressive amount of waste.

Herbie has two girlfriends. One is a rubber chicken named Dolores whom he cuddles with at night and does naughty things to make her bawk during the day. The other is a border collie mix named Mika who is nearly 5 times his size. Mika licks him until he's dripping with her slobber and then they run together, Herbie running underneath her legs in perfect time. When Herbie grabs onto her, she swipes him around as if he's a mop, and they both seem to think that this is great fun.
Herbie has an excellent nose for fun. Everything is a game with him. He likes to collect all of his toys and pile them in his bed. He seems to believe that his bed is his home base, perhaps protected by a magic force field because if he hides something there, he truly believes that no one can ever find it. If he gets ahold of your shoe, guaranteed he runs toward his bed with it. Once it's there, it's his. And it's awfully funny to see Herbie carting around objects that are often bigger than he is. Even shoes can outweigh him, but he's persistent and tireless and he gets the job done. Underwear and socks are particular favourites of his and if I can't find Herbie, he's usually burrowed in my laundry basket having the time of his life. I'm pretty sure that when they say all dogs go to heaven, they mean a big stinking pile of dirty clothes.

Sure there are things I never thought I'd hear myself say until I had a Herbie:
Please stop licking my armpit.
Quit humping Max Keeping!
Make a poopie and then we can cuddle.
Please stop doing unmentionable things to my shoe.
If you keep sticking your head between the balcony rungs, it's gonna get stuck.
I appreciate your amorous efforts, but my arm isn't getting anything out of that.

But no matter how you slice it, no matter who has recently peed on my duvet or stopped to poop at a busy intersection or knocked all the bottles off the edge of the tub, I love this little guy. It helps that he has those proverbial puppy dog eyes. He's just too easy to forgive. But I know that I am fortunate, and that he was worth the wait.
He makes my home a happier place.
You just have to watch where you step.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I fell off.

Two girls walk into a car dealership.

No, that's not the opening line to a really bad joke.

That's just the next logical step in the life of a newly licensed driver.

Granted, it's kind of a big step for someone who's only had a license for 5 days, but I'm nothing if not impetuous. One salesman told us enigmatically that if we walked around to the lake, any big fish that we caught we could take home for free. Another one told me that the car I was test driving was for "girls and fags." I told him it was a good thing I was a little bit of both. When another asked if Rory and I were roommates (roommates mind you, the kind that induce eyebrow wiggling and crotch grabbing, not simply roommates that split the rent), we were starting to get just a little put out. A good (guy) friend of mine offered to come with me to kick the wheels and such but I was stomping around car lots with an I-don't-need-a-man mentality.

And I didn't, in the end.

Weird conversation with Litgo:

Litgo is admiring my killer silver heels.

Me: My shoes can do way more damage than your shoes.

Him: In more ways than one.

Me: ?

Him: My shoes are vegan.

Me: Your shoes don't eat meat?


I fell off the bandwagon of the 40-day challenge.
Well, actually, I was pushed.
I fainted.
I took a shortcut to restoring my blood sugar and I'm not really sorry about it either.
But now I'm back on, and I'm willing to add on extra days for penance.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bad Haircut Blues

She called me in tears.
Is it only women who cry over their hair?
After weeks of flipping through the pages of sample magazines, agonizing over the perfect colour, psyching herself up for a significant cut, and saving up the equivalent of half a month's rent, she strode into her hair dresser's armed with a photo and some courage.
She told the hair dresser exactly what she wanted.
And like many hair dressers, this one told her why she was a moron, why it wouldn't work, what she would do instead.
And then she did it.
And it was bad.
How do hair dressers get away with treating clients so shoddily? I thought only airlines could do that. But apparently hair dressers are extended this special privilege also. Whatever happened to the customer is always right? Or even remotely right?

Okay, so maybe they take one look at the photo of Angelina's hair and they know without a shadow of a doubt that it's just not going to translate well to our less-than-lustrous, thinning, kind-of-limp hair. And maybe this other style they have in mind really would suit us better. But if it's not what we want, why are we forced to get it?
If I go into a dress shop and pick out a pretty blue frock, the sales lady will not tell me "Actually dear, that's all wrong for you, let me sell you this ugly green jumper instead, it's really more your style."
If you go to a restaurant and order the lasagna, the waiter is not going to say "Um, no, I don't trust your judgement, let me bring you the grilled salmon instead."
And yet hair dressers don't care what we want. They don't care that it's our head, and we'll wear the humiliation for months until it grows out.

Sometimes they don't even tell you they're giving you the wrong haircut. Sometimes they cut away, making a big show of consulting the glossy photos you've brought with you for reference. And then when it's all over you look more like Katie Couric than Katie Holmes. Not cool.

Or you ask for a trim and you wind up with 8 inches on the floor. With bangs! And a body perm!

They think they know best and are unapologetic when the customer is squirming unhappily in the seat, panic-stricken, mentally running over their hat selection.
They are either unable or unwilling to say "I don't know how to do that cut." They always say "No problem!" and then you leave looking like your Aunt Bea.
It's surprising that there aren't more incidences of violence against hair dressers. Not that I advocate violence, but come on.
Instead on confronting the hair dresser, my friend made another appointment for 6 weeks from now, when she hopes something will be done to salvage the cut\colour. Do you realize what that means? The hair dresser is rewarded for a bad job. She gets more work.

I wondered if only women are this crazy, but a male friend of mine recently had an even more harrowing experience: the hair dresser snipped his ear! He bled, she giggled. And what did he do? He tipped her. To show there were "no hard feelings."

Are we crazy?
Are they?
And if so, why do we keep letting them get near our noggins with sharp sharp scissors?

We need to start a revolution.
We need to take back control!
Okay, so maybe that 50-something tanned-orange woman leaving the salon with pouffy bleached out hair looks ridiculous. But she also looks happy. She got what she asked for.
That's all we want: the right to make our own bad decisions.
If we gamble on a hair risk and lose, at least we'll learn for next time. But when a hair dresser goes rogue, we end up resenting the cut, and the bitch who gave it to us. We are being forced to pay for haircuts we didn't want, didn't ask for, and don't approve of. Nobody goes in looking for "punk-pixie" and is happy to leave with "skunky school marm." Nobody.

And hair dressers never learn.
My friend's hair dresser knew that she'd given a bad cut. She knew her client was dissatisfied.
She shrugged.
She didn't offer to fix it.
She still demanded payment.
Her client went home in tears.
I thought only accountants were allowed to make their clients cry.

So I'm wondering how I go about starting an angry mob.
Do I just go out into the street and start knitting my eyebrows? Shaking my fist? Do I need a megaphone?

Give me smooth layers or give me death!

Monday, May 11, 2009

God Loves Ugly

I feel bad for those worms who come out to sing in the rain and then die horrible, dessicated deaths, dried out and alone on the sidewalks once the sun has come back out.


Weird Matty conversation:

Me: Are you still putting olive oil in your ears?

Matty: Yup.

Me: That seems weird to me. I'm skeptical of treatments that involve putting something foreign in our bodies when really it should be able to take care of itself.

Matty: This from the girl who just told me that she used to hide her cuts and scrapes from her mother so that she wouldn't try to pick the gravel out of them? Who just confessed that she let so many dirty wounds scab over that she's now probably made of at least 20% rock?

Me: Well. Rocks are organic!


So it was raining like the clouds were having a going-out-of-business sale.
I gave the parallel parking hell anyway.
I got my license.
I smacked that bitch right up.


The other night I was hungry at work.
I walked to stupid Tim Hortons, ordered a bagel.
No bagels.
Soup and a roll, then.
No rolls.
Homestyle biscuits, they told me.
No thanks, I said.
They cajoled.
But I know the score. A basket full of biscuits when all the other shelves are empty means they're rejects. They can't give those things away.
She tells me I can just take a bite and if I don't like it, to just throw it away.
Nuh-uh. I'm not disposing of their garbage for them.
I ordered the Disappointing Soup (they mislabelled it 'chicken noodle' - it wasn't). I left biscuitless.
Still not sure who won that one.


I saw Atmosphere at Barrymore's. It's nobody's favourite venue but fuck it was a good show. The opening act maybe left a little to be desired: he told us to put our arms in the air if we were STD-free. That's a new one. I don't think it's gonna catch on. But Atmosphere was hella-good. I was still vibrating when I got home. And when I guy offered to buy me a drink, I told him that I wasn't. I was good. And when my sister tried to get me to eat cake today, I resisted. She said that no one would ever know (besides the 5 other people at the table), but I would know. This is day 16 and I'm still trucking.

Friday, May 08, 2009

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said

A brilliant blogger was telling a charming story about how she felt her life was revolving too much around the word NO. She said no to her kids more than she wanted to: no you can't have that, no we can't stop here, no we don't have time. She resolved to make the effort to throw a few more yeses into her life, and she very quickly realized how lovely a difference it made to her kids. A quick stop at the 25-cent merry go round at the grocery store made their day.

I wrote to her to tell her that I seemed to have the opposite problem. I am a Yes Girl. Yes I'll have another, yes you can stay over, yes you can cum in my mouth. I'm not a pushover though. I can breezily say no to the things that genuinely distress me. I say no telemarketers (usually quite forcefully). I say no to those annoying salespeople with the perfume and lotion samples. I say no to gerbil-sitting for my wheezy crackhead neighbour. But I don't say no to life's indulgences. I buy the fancy shoes, and the air conditioner I was saving up for be damned. I accept more adult beverages than is wise (how else, but for strawberry daiquiris, would I get in my fruit and vegetable dietary requirements?). I stay later than I should. I buy concert tickets on a lark. I duck out of work early to go dancing. And I'm glad I do, I'm glad I treat myself, it's good to be happy.

But it's also good to flex my fortitude. I'm proud to find this reserve of resolve. I have will power, dammit, and I'm not afraid to break that shit out.

So that's why I'm on this crazy 40-day challenge.
That's why I've said no to roadtrip timbits, and my mother's gummy worms, and fries off Rory's plate, and shots at the bar. No, no, no.

And while it hasn't (so far) been as bad as I thought, it hasn't been easy either, at least not today.
Today, I worked 16 hours straight, went home for a 3 hour nap, came back for 8 more hours of work, will go home tomorrow for a 4 hour rest, work another 8 hours, and if I'm lucky, get another 4 hours of sleep. My resistance was low. Wayyyyyyy low. In the 11th hour, I remember thinking how much I deserved a treat. But while that may be true, I settled for a sandwich and a brisk walk to good tunes despite the crappy weather. And it was okay. I made it through. I kicked some day 13 ass.

So it turns out all my friends were wrong. I'm not an alcoholic. I'm just a happy lush who "can quit anytime." I'm not addicted to YES. I'm not an incorrigible hedonist. I can say no to the luxuries to which I've become accustomed....just don't ask about the sex. Everyone needs a vice.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Car Sick

Thick, dark cramps in the lowest pit of my stomach.
I feel my self esteem hinged on my (in)ability to parallel park.
There's a reason I don't drive, a good one. I don't talk about it, because these are the feelings it elicits.
My friend tries to teach me his technique using his belt buckle as reference. I am distracted.
Another friend uses her pickup truck to teach, though she admits that even she can't park the thing.
I pay for lessons and spend the whole time trembling and flinching.
I hold it together behind the wheel, but as soon as I'm done, I am sick. Literally. Usually on the sidewalk.
I'm trying to shake the past, to forget the things I can't forget.
But I keep reaching for the lever to turn on the windshield wipers to wipe away my tears.

I can do it when no one is watching.
I can learn on my own.
It's the instructor who makes me nervous, the idea of the tester and his clipboard and his judgement.
Pass - fail.
It scares me to be so vulnerable, to have someone witness potential mistakes. It takes me back to a time when those mistakes would be punished with blows.

I am terrified.
Driving triggers my terror.
I am terrified.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

How do I feel this good sober?

I gave up booze, and to celebrate one week of sobriety I spent the night at a bar called Tila Tequila.

I was well-behaved:

I felt at least a dozen different erections pressed in my back without losing my temper;
I was grinded on by hordes of drunk frat boys;
I danced on the second floor catwalk above the bar with my friend like we were a couple of unemployed strippers without caring that my dress was too short and my panties not plentiful enough;
I blew kisses at the fans we made doing so;
I told one boy that my name was Sophie
and another that I was 35 (he would have guessed 27)
and another, celebrating his 20th birthday, that Rory was my girlfriend....and listened to his "I saw Brokeback Mountain and I totally get it" \ "Women's bodies are so beautiful, and I bet you girls have quite the advantage!" diatribe without cracking up or giving anything away;
I asked a stranger to lend me some toilet paper (I didn't give it back);
I kept my cool when a guy asked if I was "wearing anything underneath" and told him it was a mystery;
I danced in another direction when the same guy asked for a peak;
I smiled and shook hands with the admirers outside who'd enjoyed our show, and told us to "keep up the good work";
I grinned through the pain, and when my knee was quickly swelling up to the size of a watermelon during the cab ride home, I simply commented "at least it's still sparkly!"

I did.
I did it all without a single drink.
Even when my friend insisted she would keep the secret, that she would take it to the grave, that I'd never have to admit that I had a single sip, and that no one would ever know.
Even when she asked if shots count.
Yes, they do.
I had none. Just a bottle of water.

Day 7? Day 8?
A fuckin breeze, man.
Bring it.
I got balls.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Outdoor fucking starts today.

Day 6...

We heard a noise.
It was kind of an ordinary noise, a dull bang. A thud.
We didn't know that anything was out of the ordinary until we saw the body on the ground.
Ambulances raced to the scene, but they sure took their time leaving.
So we knew.
We knew before we saw the lumpy body bag that he was gone.
Another jumper, the second in two months.
The second in two months.

That's what I saw tonight.

We had a puff or two out on my balcony, but I munched on rice cakes instead of reese's pieces. It didn't make the weirdness go away, that spot in my belly that still hasn't come to terms with the sudden loss of a friend or the body lying broken 4 floors below.

It was a strange sort of day. I drove in the rain. My dog pooped in the middle of the street. I feel off.

Today is the first of May.
Horray, horray.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bonjour, paresse

Day five...of the 40-day challenge.

Posters in my lobby have been announcing today's fire drill for a couple of days now, but that doesn't make me any happier about it. It asks for our "participation" (and I'm guessing they don't mean flashing my middle finger while yelling my favourite obscenities off the balcony) but this is the equivalent of 3am for me. I will be asleep, in the best part of my sleep. And they plan on jarring me awake, forcing me into a pair of pants, and having me stumble down flights and flights of stairs with a squirming dog in my arms and knots in my hair and mascara smudges down my cheeks. Not cool. And I'm guessing if they tried this at actual 3am, there'd be some dissent. But there's just no respect for the night worker. God damn.

But then they didn't do it and I got all riled up for nothing.
I even wrote that whole above paragraph for nothing.
Yes, I am so ridiculous, thank you for noticing.

So after a good little sleep, I woke up to my lovely Rory's visit. She's my friend because she's awesome and pretends to like my stories and doesn't mind taking silly pictures with me. She's my best friend because she doesn't mind my addiction to crystal light and she goes along with my whims as if they make sense, even though we both know they make nothing of the sort.

She amusedly watched me do my groceries, and wisely didn't comment on my lazy selection of fruit from the pre-cut section. She retrieved her shoes from wherever Herbie attempted to hide them. And there was sushi, and girl-on-girl stories, and eventually, even a walk by the wacky apartment I wrote about yesterday.

Our favourite pasttime is to sit lazily\indulgently on my balcony, tops off, and drink daiquiris. Or margaritas. Sometimes martinis. This may have been our first alcohol-less visit, but it was okay. Rory is "supportive", which probably involves at least a little behind-the-back laughter, but what else are friends for? Instead of having a drink together, we drove to a gas station where I had my first gas pumping lesson, which is just as important as a driving lesson, actually, only nobody ever gives them. A zillion years ago, I pulled into a gas station with good intentions. I left 10 minutes later, probably red-faced, definitely humiliated, and with a still-empty tank. It didn't go well. I've never been back.

So today was good for a lot of reasons, not least of which is the fact that I've once again been cheat-less. I'm sticking to it, with a little help from my friends.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Zombie chickens couldn't drag me away...

Day four...

There is no such thing as a good day to bury your friend. There is no such thing as a fitting tribute.

Today was for the most part a luscious, lazy day. Aside from the driving lesson (the only thing worse than learning to parallel park? doing it in the pouring rain), the day treated me well. I got some sleep, even if it was fitful. I got zestfully clean in a loooooooooong shower. I got books in the mail. I had a happy-neighbour-knock on my door. Green apples gave a satisfying crunch. Herbie almost didn't pee on the carpet.

On our walks together at night, before I leave for work, Herbie and I pass by this one apartment that's lit up and curtainless, which makes for excellent spying. I mean observation. The decor is hideously fantastic - blood red walls, an oil painting of Elvis, devil pitch forks mounted on the wall, a framed photo of Jim Carrey as The Riddler, enough kitsch to fill 17 curio stores, and more neon green fake plastic trees than should reasonably fit into the space. Also on our walk tonight: the sound of bagpipes, sourceless, and a truck leaking fish-smelling fluid that Herbie was way, way into, and I was not.

Thank you to Stoneskin for gifting me with the Zombie Chicken Award, apparently for my belief in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. I haven't really had many chicken-related incidents lately, although my best friend was pulled over by the cops and accused of selling chickens out of the back of her truck. Not to worry though. She took a page from Jay, batted her eyelashes and said "No officer, I did not" and he said "Oh, okay then" and she drove away. How's that for inspiring?

Bizarre happening of the day: opening a plastic fruit cup of mandarin segments, the juice came magically spurting upwards, unprompted, unaided, defying the force of gravity and logic everywhere.

Thing I wondered about the most today: why I always seem to be wearing velvet ballet flats when it rains. You have not seen a more sodden shoe, I guarantee it.

Thing you don't necessarily care to know, but I'm telling you anyway: it's surprisingly freeing to pee in a public washroom with the stall door open.

What I craved today: nothing edible, nothing drinkable. Just to see his face again. I'd give it all up forever if I could, just once.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Procrastinating my way to success!

Day three...

Today was a freak crazy-beautiful day - the regularly scheduled crap weather will resume tomorrow - but today was lovely, July-hot with winning sunshine and a happy-go-lucky breeze. It's impossible to sleep when you know that kind of wonderfulness is going on outside your window (well, this his hypothetical since as a day sleeper, my bedroom window is blacked the fuck out) so I just didn't.

Herbie of course was delighted to run and play with me outside. He particularly loves pooping in front of the asian market around the corner from my house. Stooping and scooping is a little embarrassing in front of all the merry shoppers lugging 20kg bags of rice, but I get over myself pretty quickly when I remember that this is one shit not taken on my carpet.

It was patio-perfect weather, and when I walked by Pub Italia, two very cute boys invited me to have a seat. I was strong, flashed my most glamourous, woman-in-demand smile, and made my apologies. Hurdle overcome!

I've rediscovered the art of making dinner. Cooking is still one of my loves, but it's something I only do when guests are expected. I haven't cooked for my single self in over a year! It's shameful, I know, but I have a freezer full of Lean Cuisines (well, and vodka...and tequila) and a fridge brimming with yogurt and apples and water, and that's about it. Once in a while I'll have a fit of inspiration and have the fixings for turkey sandwiches or spinach salad, but that's as far as my cooking commitment will allow.

No more!
I'm feeding myself, taking the time to prepare something I enjoy, and eliminating some of those hunger pangs that lead to bad decisions. I did have a little yen for something sweet after supper, but it passed. I figure that my procrastination skills are so vast that I shouldn't have a problem waiting out my cravings. It's practically second nature anyway.

I am anticipating a second hurdle, though. I'm at work now, starting to feel a little noshy, but armed with fruit and yogurt to get me through. In the morning, I'll be tired from being up all night, and drained from the work, and I doubt I'll feel like taking my driving lesson.

Yes, I said driving lesson.
That was another challenge I gave myself for 2009: to become one of you demented drivers. It's been a good decade since I last drove. I gave it up for a good reason: I hate it. This has been an emotional, nerve-wracking experience for me, eased only slightly by my instructor declaring me "not dangerous." But I'm betting that come tomorrow morning, my white-knuckled hands leaving sweat marks on the steering wheel as I navigate stupid Bank street during stupid morning rush hour, I'll wish I had just a whiff of caffeine to steady my nerves. But I'll be brave, I promise. I mean, if I could not be felled by two cuties on a patio, a fucking Yaris doesn't stand a chance!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Knee-deep in blood and filth and piss and shit.

Day 2 of the 40 day challenge...

Yesterday? Nothing to it.
Of course, it would be rather pathetic if I was on the floor convulsing after just a few sugar-free hours. I actually eat pretty well most of the time. This is not about changing my behaviour, because I think bad habits are what make life worth living. This is about proving to myself that I can.

My colleague seems at least a little worried that I can't because last night, to play it safe, he was a "good citizen" and ate his sweet chili chips covertly, out of my line of sight. His consideration is legendary, but come on man, everyone knows I'm a dill pickle girl anyway. And anyhow, I've discovered the secret to craving control success: a nazi book (coming soon to a book review site near you!). I challenge anyone to read just a few paragraphs about being knee-deep in remorseless blood and filth and piss and shit and then think "Mmm, I could sure go for a McFlurry right now."

Random middle of the night sugar-free conversation: Was math discovered, or invented?

Weird thing that happened to me today: Walking down my street, a man pulled over in his car, rolled down his window, and made kissy noises at me. No reason was apparent.

Stuff I was grateful for today: new micro-suede curtains, my adorable man-magnet puppy, friends and colleagues who don't tiptoe around grief, my rockstar mother, chicken caesar medley, having enough money at the grocery store (unlike the girl ahead of me, who had to put stuff back).

Today's motto: "Folded deck chair" is the new missionary!

Good day? Yes it was. And busy too! It's amazing what you can cram into a day when you sacrifice sleep. However, I foresee a bit of a problem tonight at work when my second and third and fourth winds peter out and I'm left without a hint of caffeine to see me through the night. I think I might take up smoking.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Salvation is just a vending machine away.

Day one....

It's probably a bad sign that I've put off starting my 40-day challenge until I could get in one last bender, but it's no surprise to any of you that that's exactly what I did.

Yes, there were daiquiris.
Yes, there were margaritas.
Yes, there was toe sucking.

A good time was had by all. I was even drunk enough to want to give my dog a "haux-fawk" (goddamned drunken dyslexia).

And from now until June 4 (June 4!), not one bad thing shall pass my lips.
Well, you know, with maybe the one exception.
But it's rather low in calories, cannot really said to be delicious, and frankly, no one's mistaking me for a saint. I think 2 out 3 addictions is impressive enough.

Whining will probably commence in about two hours. I'll be at work, I will hit that 2am wall and think: my salvation is just a vending machine away. The Diet Pepsi, with its whisper of caffeine, will be calling my name. I'll wonder if there's $1.75 in my wallet, and know that I'm not above changing a $20.

But I'm feeling strong.
Okay, that's a lie.
What I'm mostly feeling is that I'd be really embarrassed to have failed on the first day.
And embarrassment (or the avoidance of it) is a pretty powerful thing.
The tequila blanco is weakening in my blood stream already.
At what point will I start fighting Herbie for his dog treats? And if worse came to worse, would you go for bacon-flavour hearts, or gravy-flavour strips?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

40 Days of Hell-th: A Diary

Day: T-1

When I was a kid, I performed amazing feats of will-power in the name of God; we called it Lent. Lent was the longest 40 days of the year for me because I took it very seriously. Even my grandmother cheated on Sundays, but me, I held fast. My best friend gave up olives, sort of, except the days she really couldn't resist. I went without junk: no ice cream cake on my sister's birthday, no maple syrup at the sugar bush, no popcorn at the movies, no candy binges for March break. Either 9 year olds possess more self-discipline than I remember, or Jesus held a lot of sway for me, but in any case I'm embarrassed that I can't seem to muster that kind of strength anymore. I'm hard pressed to go three days without a little nibble of something salty. I may not be a Christian anymore, but I'm a 20-ahem year old who (mistakenly?) believes herself to be mostly in control.

Welcome to the day before my 40 day challenge:

-no candy, no dessert, no chocolate, no unrefined sugar

-no crappy snack food no matter how profusely my uterus may be bleeding

-no fast food, no yucky\yummy takeout (goodbye, butter chicken)

and worst of all

-no diet pepsi (I feel shaky just writing that)

-no booze (ohmigodohmigodohmigodohmigodohmigod)

I'm already thinking I'm going to cave on the no drinking part. I never had to contend with that as a kid.

I'm already thinking this is the worst idea ever.

I'm already counting the hours before I can order a pizza again. And I never order pizza anyway. But now that I can't, I want to. Desperately. Just 960 hours to go!

So I'm thinking that after I go through the agony of withdrawal, I figure I'll have about 37 days left of awesome bitchiness that will be worth recording, so I'm also making the effort to post every day about me and my stupid ideas.

And just a teeny, tiny, barely-there addendum: I haven't had my first patio drink of the season yet, and frankly, that's a crime. So the reason I'm starting Sunday and not today is that I'm planning a blow-out, patio-hopping good time over the summery weekend we've been promised. There's nothing like having your stomach pumped to really strengthen a commitment!

Wish me luck, I think I'm gonna need it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bad Behaviour & Butter Chicken

So my colleague Matt thinks I'm odd, and I'm sure he means odd in that lovable, sitcommy way, but still. Odd.

And it's at least in part because of my allegedly "bizarre" approach to self-discipline.

He still laughs about the day I spent 3 hours wandering around the city, trying to find my way home, blisters oozing and shoulders burning in the hot, hot sun. I was dying of thirst but determined to right myself. I knew the city marginally well and I was certain it was nearly impossible to get as lost as I feared I was. I kept on, rather bravely, possibly stupidly, and finally I saw the street sign that would solve all my problems: Bank. Bank! You're never lost if you're on Bank. Just walk north, I told myself, and then promptly started walking south, believing in my heart that I was awesome, that I had worked it out, that I was headed home, that I was no longer lost. And I wasn't lost, not exactly. I just happened to be headed in the exact opposite direction of where I wanted to be. Eventually I recognized my mistake and fought back tears as I turned around and recovered the ground I believed I'd been gaining. It was cruel. I had cash and a bus pass in my pockets but I let the cabs and buses pass me by - if I had cheated and taken one home, it would be like rewarding my bad behaviour and I'd be likely to repeat the same mistakes. So I denied myself the easy way out, bandaged my swollen and bloodied feet, and have never gotten lost in this city again.

But I continue to negotiate with myself for all kinds of things. One of my favourite vices, as anyone who knows me remotely has heard me rave, is the butter chicken from the indian place just down the street from me. Often, when the day ahead seems particularly daunting, I'll do myself a little deal.

Inner monologue:

Hey Jay.
I bet you're thinking about that butter chicken.
Well, I wasn't, really, until you mentioned it just now.
But it sounds good, right?
Oh yeah.
Well, tell you what. If you do your laundry, and go to the post office, and write 3 pages without complaining, you can get some for supper.
Yes, really. But only if you're a good girl all day long.
Oh, I will be!

And then I am. All day long.
Now, my problem is not that I admitted to Matt that I talk to myself.
And it's not that I motivate myself with tasty indian cuisine.
It's that moment of disbelief - the Really? - that split second where I doubt that I'm actually going to follow through on a promise to myself. But it's that seedling of doubt that keeps me honest, that forces me to stay on the right path and actually get the work done that needs to be done.
Have I ever not earned the butter chicken?
You betcha.
And I sit at home pouting about it too.

Is that really so odd?
I mean, if I gave myself everything I wanted, I'd be a spoiled brat.
And fat.
Well, okay, fatter.

But it's not all about the discipline.
If I do something good, I let myself know how proud I am, usually with a note on the fridge, but sometimes also with a bunch of flowers or an extra shower (yes, okay, even I think that sounds strange, but showering is one of my favourite parts of the day, especially when I turn on the music and dance and splash about).
I tell myself I'm awesome all the time. I even have a song about it.
No, I won't sing it for you. It's private. Except for that one time I won an arm wrestling competition after 4 Mike's Hard Lemonades.

In general, though, I'm very well behaved. I hardly ever embarrass myself or have to send myself to sit in the car. So now matter how you slice it, I must be doing something right.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Inevitable Heartbreak Band

He's beautiful.
He's not my type.
I hardly know him.
I'm a little in love.

We met randomly, only to discover we're from the same neighbourhood.
On our first non-date, we met at a park at 2am and we swung, and we teetered, and we made out.
He rode his bike to meet me, total 5th grade flash back, except for all the hands-down-the-pants action.

He's incredibly humble given his success.
He touches me a lot.
I like his belt buckle, and his love of pho.
He looks good in my bed, and doesn't mind when my dog chews his toes.

He's going to break my heart.
I see it coming, that he must, and even why it's pretty much my own fault.
And I'm letting it happen anyway.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Postcard from Punta Cana

Punta Cana was Punta-Fabulous.
I almost didn't come back.

The mamajuana conspired to keep me on my ass: red wine, honey, and of course lots of domestic rum fermenting in a jug with twigs and herbs and other mysterious whatnots to make a beverage that people call Dominican Viagra for reasons that quickly become obvious.

Bars in pools may be God's greatest invention. And floating drink menus? Pina colada, margarita, daiquiri, banana mama, dominican peach, blue hawaiian, sex on the beach...all just a wink away. Uno mas, por favor. That's Spanish! See how quickly we can learn new languages when we're motivated?

Ladies' Night has a different meaning in the Dominican. Yes, ladies get in free. Yes, ladies drink for free. Yes, the cute boys who brought you drinks in pineapples all day long are now removing their clothes for you in the disco.

Snorkeling is cool. Swimming with hundreds of tropical fish is an experience to be savoured. Rubbing your forehead with a banana beforehand so that the fish will be attracted is possibly a small bit of rum-induced madness. But swimming with sharks? Oh sure, it will be a cool story. If you survive. And of course you're brave about it when you're drunkenly signing up for it the day before. But once in the water with a whole bunch of sharks who probably have it in for you (this is purely conjecture, but they did give me a look), it's a whole different story. Nervous is one of those words that fails spectacularly at describing some situations. At one point, I swam over 4 or 5 of them who were all hanging out together, and I thought to myself: if one of them suddenly throws a fit, and they all storm off in a rage, I'm lunch. But it was the sting rays that really freaked me out. And whoever thought it would be a good idea to pose for a picture with one? They tell you that Cassandra is a friendly sting ray, so long as you don't poke her here, here, or here. Or swish her by the tail. But nobody tells you that Cassandra is enormous, and slimy, and heavy, and creepy. And that she has some sort of blow hole that she angrily directs at your face, and then does this floppy thing that is very disturbing. Do I regret throwing the sting ray? Yes. But I still maintain that it wasn't really my fault.

Getting into your scenery-sensational hammock is heaven. Getting out of it 3 banana mamas later is less so. Kinda makes you wish you'd brought panties, but it's not really a vacation unless it's a vacation from underwear. Am I right?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Places You Go, The People You Meet.

4 adults in a car, we argue about the things you'd expect, like whether a man can be feminist. Well, can he? Please enlighten us, because they refused to agree to disagree and I refused to tip the scales in any one direction.

We are on our way to Montreal to eat in a restaurant run by a man who calls himself the Veggie Nazi. We're all a little worried. We have heard the kind of shit that goes down at the Spirit Lounge: there is no menu. You eat whatever vegan crap he sets in front of you, every last crumb. That's his Golden Rule - no waste. Waste is sin. If you leave something on your plate, he either charges you extra, or he throws you out on your ass. This isn't rumour, these are actual possibilities. The stuff of sitcoms, yes, and it's funny when it happens on Seinfeld but will it be funny when it happens to us?

Once the miracle of parking in Montreal has been performed, my anxiety is such that I must immediately find a bathroom, and I refuse to let it be the one in the restaurant (I am afraid that he will dole out 4 paltry squares of toilet paper and tell me to be wise with their usage). I actually, bafflingly, find it preferable to use a gas station toilet. The one I frequent is equipped with that ubiquitous sharps container I keep meeting up with, and is lit solely by a black light above the mirror. It's great for not being able to see the Hepatitis that is probably swarming all over the place, and even better for making my zebra-print panties look cool.

The restaurant exceeds our expectations, especially the unfavourable ones. The decor involves copious amounts of foil, a collection of crucifixes, and a gold-sprayed collage on the wall that gives a second life to dominoes, GI Joes, and bits of broken license plates. The tables are cobbled together, and the layers of Salvation Army table cloths do little to hide staples in the plywood.

Soup, slivers of bread and tap water were presented to us with a flourish. This is prison food, according to my mother (though I was astonished later in life to learn that actually, felons eat quite well). I'm not going to lie: the soup was delicious. I ate it willingly, practically with gusto. The bread was...dense. And damp. This is food without preservatives, I told myself, until I caught a whiff and thought this is food that should have been thrown out 3 days ago. It smelled dank, the way dungeons smell, or a wet bathing suit that was balled up and thrown in the trunk of your car and slept on by a sweaty dog, or the forest floor's wet mushroomy, earthwormy rot, or, you know...mouldy bread. I elected not to finish mine, breaking the golden rule, but I was clever and hid my crust on the other side of the bowl. A fellow dining companion was not so lucky. Sure he talked the big talk before sitting down to dinner, boasting that he would purposely break the rule just to get a rise out of the owner, but when the Veggie Nazi spotted his uneaten portion and commanded Eat your bread in his smarmy french accent, he ate that bread like he suddenly believed that it would grant him superhuman strength and lifelong immunity to...well, the perils of eating putrid food.

We'd survived the appetizer, mostly, but were feeling shaky about the main course. It was described as a casserole consisting of mainly cereals and eggplant, and as delicious as it sounds, it looked even worse. But there was no getting away with leftovers, so we ate dutifully, grimacing, chewing apprehensively, fearing the worst with each tension-filled bite. Raw vegetables and fruit were served on the side, marinated in a salty oil-based dressing that was nice for broccoli and just dreadful on apples. I began sneaking pieces onto someone else's plate, not because he enjoyed the food but because I knew he would rather vomit on the sidewalk outside that engage in open conflict with the Veggie Nazi.

And then came dessert. By this time, I was smart. I ponied up on someone else's, and between the three of us, we managed to get it eaten. And with the dinner portion of the evening out of the way, thus came the show. Rozman, as the Veggie Nazi has chosen to rename himself, bestowed upon us one of the rants he is famous for, an incomprehensive diatribe against Coca Cola, women named Natalie Tremblay, and capitalism. I notice however, a few holes in his arguments:

1. It's great that he's got these lofty anti-capitalist ideals now, but where were they when he used the welfare funds provided to him by us working pigs to upstart his business?

2. While I suppose it's possible that he really is the only person to ever really understand anything, I find it just a smidge more possible that he's naive and immature and pretty fucking high and mighty.

3. When you tell a paying customer that You don't know what urine smells like and mean it as an insult...maybe you need to work on your customer service skills a little bit.

4. The traditional definition of 'asshole' is not someone who does not finish their dessert. Although suddenly he's got more in common with my grandma that I would have imagined possible.

5. When you use finger pointing and spittle to emphasize your point instead of, say, rationality, it may be time to reconsider the point.

Now, I do admire a man's passion and convictions, but this guy is ridiculous. He doesn't have beliefs, he just believes he's better, and that's probably a more dangerous concept than any of the things he rants about from his pedestal.

But that's not all Montreal had in store for us....

With our bellies full of asparagus puree, we headed over to Le National because les boys bought me tickets to see The Weakerthans in concert. Don't feel bad if you don't know The Weakerthans, just feel bad if you don't immediately go look them up. The show was awesome. The band was great, beyond great, and that's not just the rum and cokes talking.

Even the opening band was fantastic, because they provided so much fodder for ridicule, from the leader singer wearing Mom jeans and sipping a glass of red (wine is sooooo not rock & roll!), to the guitarist who played as if he was actually being stung by 13000 bees, and then would switch spots with the keyboardist who played as if he were a marionette with invisible strings being manipulated by a man with a severe cramp, to the bass player whose instrument was either under a different gravitational pull than every other atom on earth, or was under the influence of a giant bass-attracting magnet hidden cleverly across the room.

It was a great night. A grrrrrrreat night. We all agreed we'd even go back to the restaurant because it's not really about the food, it's about the experience.

But next time, we'll stop at McDonald's first.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The puppy who had no name.

If names had to be accurate describers, then so far Crotch-Sniffer, Whiny Bugger, and Cutie Patootie would all be winning, but instead the new love of my life is still nameless, so I'm asking for your help. Vote with your comments - does he look more like a:

a) Rex

b) Toby

c) Bruce Lee

d) Panda

e) Macaroni

f) Herbie

g) Marvin

Monday, March 16, 2009

Helpful Household Hint:

When you break a glass, a good way to make sure you got every last little sliver is to just take off your shoes and socks and walk around. It's guaranteed that if even one rogue piece evaded the bristles of your broom, it will come out of hiding to lodge itself in your foot in less time than it takes to say “Shit, I missed a piece.” Glass and the soles of your feet are locked in some sort of epic, time-honoured magnetic love-hate relationship. They cannot resist each other. Plus, in these trying economic times, I think it's important that we do what we can to make sure no one ever has to bail-out the bandaid factories.

You're welcome.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bright Flashing Lights

It lures you in with the promise of an all-you-can-eat buffet – seafood and prime rib. I can't vouch for the vats containing mounds of homogenneous, mostly unrecognizable food, but the shrimp skewers are lovely, and the crab legs divine. Plus, the staff hardly even look at you sideways when you fill a soup bowl with garlic butter sauce for dipping. And if that wasn't enough, the guy at the dessert station practically begs you to take a third scoop of ice cream, makes you feel like it's hardly worth a trip to the buffet at all if you don't leave with at least your weight in pie.

Only a casino can afford such generosity, and it does so, calculatedly, for one of two reasons:

1- to entice you through its doors in the first place
2- to keep you within its doors once you're there

The casino makes every effort to deny the world outside of it. There are no windows. The machines sing their songs 24 hours a day. The bright lights make it so that there is no day and no night, just gambling time and more gambling time. A crappy band in matching sequined vests plays on a continuous loop so that fleshy middle-aged women who mistakenly think they're still sexy can slither around to Mustang Sally. There are no clocks, of course, no reference to the passing of time at all if they can help it, but eventually the hour makes itself known by the rumbly in your tumbly. Your belly growls, you are hungry, and those measly little bags of chips clipped to the drinks cart just aren't going to cut it. The casino fears that if you followed your urge to eat, say, to the nearest restaurant, that you might not come back. That you might waste your hard-earned dollars elsewhere. And that would be tragic.

So they erect a massive gorging hall on premises – a buffet, naturally, something for everyone, and always at the back of the building so that even if you attempt to leave without hemorrhaging cash, you'll have to bypass at least 13 000 one-armed bandits first, each of them calling out to you: Hey baby, why don't you drop a quarter in my slot. You know you like it. Give it to me, stud. And people do. They stay, they pull up a stool, and they part with their money. Only not their physical money – the days of dropping actual quarters into the machine are behind us. God forbid the handling of tangible coin would remind you that this is real money we're talking about. It's way less intimidating to put a plastic card into the slot, and to print out a paper voucher when you're done. Makes the whole thing feel like Monopoly! Like it's just a game, and not your savings account. And when your plastic card runs dry, there are easy reloading stations right on premises that tap into your bank account so there's really no need to leave, ever! Hell, you can even remortgage your house at the casino. This is solely for your convenience, I imagine.

The casino is a beautiful place. It's all ornamental and shit. It's fancy so you can feel good about yourself while you lose th money you should have been spending on pampers and formula. Even the bathrooms are classy: the countertops are marble, the stall doors are cherry wood, the mirrors are lit up by individual glowing bulbs as if they were vanities belonging to celebrities, even the toilet seats are velvet-lined. Okay, that last part's not true. But the bathrooms really are quite posh, except for the sharps containers affixed periodically to the wall. Sharps containers are usually found where a lot of needs are used, like hospital emergency rooms and gas station bathrooms known to be popular with junkies. It's funny that an establishment that goes to such lengths to convince us of its great esteem also admits to a seedier underbelly. Funny but realistic, I suppose. An addict is an addict, no matter what the dress code.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Irrational thoughts on vans, and the creeps who drive them.

He pulls up beside me in his white utility van, slowing enough so that the pace of his lumbering vehicle nearly matches my own, its physical presence cutting me off from the rest of the world. It's eerie, being stalked by this great white whale. If his intention is to thoroughly creep me out, he's doing a good job. He rolls down the window to ask directions, and once dispensed, he does depart. But I can't shake my apprehension, nor can I believe that it never crosses his mind that this scenario is inappropriate. He could have stopped at any number of gas stations, but instead he turns down an isolated little side street and pursues a woman walking alone in the dark in an area not particularly well-lit. Yet he never considers that this is exactly the thing her mother has warned her about; exactly the thing that half of all email urban myths are about; the very essence of Stranger Danger personified.

He has to know that a man driving a large van is most often described as a suspect, or else an “alleged perpetrator” in the crime blotter section of any major newspaper. Those vans are the kidnapper's vehicle of choice. Even the car salesman at the lot sheepishly hands over a glossy brochure that says

“Perfect for abducting to your heart's content! Park it in a secluded spot and you can dismember in the privacy of your own fully-automatic vehicle without ever worrying that someone will overhear. Driver-controlled power locks ensure that no victim will ever escape. Now available in child-molester white!”

So yes, I'm wary of men in vans who drive up beside me in the middle of the night when I'm all alone. The question is: how is it that it never occurs to these men that they're giving me the bad kind of goosebumps? Because a week later, it happened again.

Another man pulls up beside me in another van, same quiet street, same time of night. He asks for directions, and I give them, generally, even though my beating heart tells me to run in the opposite direction as fast as my little legs will carry me. Placated, he drives away, once again leaving me wondering how these men can be so thoughtless, and whether scaring solitary women half to death is a common hobby among van owners, or if the neighbourhood predators really are just doing their recon work on me.

I don't get very far on my path or in my thoughts though, because van guy is back. He wants me to get in the van.

Suddenly, I'm feeling worse. He doesn't take no for an answer. He persists, trailing me at an ominous 5km\hr. If I guide him to where he wants to be, he says, he'll drop me off at the train station. He seems genuinely mystified that I'm not hopping right into a strange man's car. I walk briskly and ignore his yells and whistles. I don't know how far he might have followed me had I not turned up a pedestrian-only path.

And this is how I have come to dread my nightly commute to work. Common sense has refused to teach these men that some behaviours are just not acceptable and I'm paying a price. I've been made to feel unsafe in my own neighbourhood, which is not actually a dangerous place. But when I'm alone at night, I'm not reciting soothing crime statistics in my head. I'm fighting tears and quickening my pace. I'm not rational when it comes to protecting myself from harm.

Luckily, my momma didn't raise no fool. I won't be willingly climbing into the back of one of those vans unless the driver is really, really cute, or he's offering me an awful lot of money.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Rainbow Brite

One day last fall, my ex and I were standing in line at the LCBO and I let him pull out his wallet to pay for all the booze in arms, but instead he pulled out a hempy velcro excuse for a wallet.

"Andrew," I gasped, "what is the story behind that thing?"

He shrugged. "No story. Why do you ask?"

"Because a grown man in his 30s who still carries a velcro wallet had better either have a very good excuse or a very deep shame."


So then Christmas rolled around and I bought him a manly wallet, a leather trifold that I wouldn't be embarrassed to have foot my bar tabs. I felt quite smug about my bettering of poor Andrew until I made it down to the family home for Christmas myself, and ended up unwrapping a new wallet of my own.

My sister's reasoning was that I was the only one in the family who didn't have a proper wallet, by which she meant, a ridiculously expensive one. Which is true. I had my cards and cash stuffed into an oversized coin purse with skulls and crossbones on it. And I know you're thinking that's about as lame as a hemp velcro wallet, but actually, it wasn't lame, it was me expressing my individuality and my unwillingness to submit to the arbitrary requirements of adulthood. Or something like that.

But my sister insisted that I too should belong to the "nice wallet club", which I interpreted as "The rest of the family and I have decided we won't be seen with you in public until you convert to carrying something more reasonable." So for the past few months I've been walking around with a wallet that's too good for me, tucked away inside a purse worth a fraction of its cost and I've felt a great deal of unrest. I knew the moment I unwrapped it that this gift would end up costing me a fortune. Not only would I have to sign up for at least a dozen more credit cards in order to actually fill up all the empty slots, I'd also have to invest in a hand bag that would be worthy of my wallet.

Luckily, I had a savings account that used to be called "Jamie's retirement fund" but which quickly got renamed "Jamie's purse fund." Boxing week sales were still on, so I enlisted the help of my family to find me a purse that would make them proud. It was immediately clear that my "taste", as I erroneously called it, was actually an alarming lack of (good) taste according to everyone else. The first purse I pointed at, a zebra print bag that I honestly loved, was vetoed unanimously and it was decided that I would no longer be part of the selection process as my schizophrenic shopping was just slowing them down.

I never did get a purse and I've continued to use the ones I already owned and loved. One is constantly complimented for its bold purpleness, and another was recently given the Big Purse Award by my colleague. But last weekend, I found a bag that seemed to fit the right criteria: it was absurdly expensive, shiny, and had enough metallic junk on it to let others know that I had just spent about 3 months rent on it. But there was problem: I assumed that since I liked it, it must be wrong. Especially since it was orange. But my mother reassured me that it was in fact a "nice purse" and that it would make the others mad with jealousy. So I dug about 6 credit cards out of my wallet and between them, I bought the damn thing.

And then my mother asked what I would wear it with, and I answered that I thought it would be cool paired with my purple coat.

She cringed, visibly.

My family seems to think I am colour-retarded. They each have a brown purse, and a black one. I have a red one, and a pink one, and a purple one, and now an orange one (clementine, actually), oh, and a tiny clutch that's a very rude shade of yellow. Neutral my ass.

My approach to colour is: if I've seen them together in a box of crayons, it's kosher. I'm not colour-challenged, I'm colour-ballsy. People just can't appreciate me. I mean, it's not like I said I'd wear the clementine with my fuschia coat (no, my coats tend not to be in neutrals either, but I don't wear my red purse with my red coat, or my purple purse with my purple coat. I've never been matchy-matchy.)

I bravely bought a cashmere sweater in the most awesome shade of acid green, and people's first impression is always "Hey, that colour looks great on you!" Of course, half an hour later they're usually like "Whoa, that sweater's still pretty green, eh?" which I take to mean that they are insane with envy. My hair and my toenails tend not to be colours found in nature, either. I gravitate toward anything that can be seen from space. I don't think I clash, exactly, but let's just say that in a sea of people playing it safe, I'm my own little rainbow.

A rainbow with a very cool purse.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

For the love of god, save the whales!

Okay, so remember when I bored you all with my new obsession with nature, and you all tried not to yawn too conspicuously (some of you unsuccessfully)? Well, here's more!

Planet Earth raises some interesting questions, like what exactly is "wildlife" anyway? Is wildlife just life that we humans haven't managed to destroy? Yet? Destroy yet? And why are we automatically discounted from it? Granted, we're not exactly wild, no matter what we hope our sports cars and permed hair say. We're pretty fucking domesticated. But we are animals, not necessarily any more or less important than camels or sting rays or krill. I recently read an interesting book called The Well-Dressed Ape that reminded me just that: we're all just animals, lowly wonderful animals, living and trying to make the best of what we have. Humans just so happen to have a lot. We live in the suburbs and have hair straighteners and make sock puppets. But we seem to think that our ability to film nature documentaries makes us something better.

So my colleagues and I have spent several of our most recent shifts absorbing this BBC goodness. But then we ran out, and had to make do with that Keanu atrocity, The Day The Earth Stood Still. The basic premise: aliens come to save the earth. Not to save humanity, mind you, but to save this mad-awesome planet that has amazing skillz, such as the ability to sustain complex life. The aliens have rightly surmised that it's not worth losing the earth for one lousy species, and really, that's all we are - just one species among many. And pretty arrogant too. When we've raped the land enough to threaten the existence of an animal, we then deign to make a last-ditch effort to try to save it from extinction. And now here we are. We've made ourselves into an endangered species: if we kill our planet, we kill ourselves. Every other species gone to extinction at least had the grace not to do it to themselves. They can blame us, mostly, or predators, or a bleak environment. We're the only ones to do it to ourselves. So maybe it is time for someone else to step in. I mean, what have we done lately?

Recycle? Fuck that. Recycling barely keeps pace with the useless new packaging we're always encasing things in. Our need to wrap water in plastic means that one day an archaeologist will unearth our decayed bones from under mountains of Evian bottles and think What strange creatures. At least the dinosaurs could blame a comet.

Save the whales? Save the lowland gorillas? Who are we saving when we can't or won't even save ourselves? Right now, hundreds of human babies are dying of the most retarded shit - hunger, preventable disease, lack of clean water. And here we are putting loonies into tin cans to save the noble rhinoceros. Meanwhile, our answer to "saving" endangered species is to yank them out of the wild, which we've pillaged beyond recognition anyway, and lock them up in a zoo so we can watch extinction up close and in person, and charge $48 a head for it, and pave over more paradise for it, and continue to fuck things up.

And when the last few of their kind are locked up and unable to breed in captivity (no one ever thinks of this before capturing them), our next instinct is "Hey, no problem. We'll just clone them. If we can't have snow leopards, we can at least have copies of snow leopards. That's good enough, right?" Well, you might want to ask the snow leopards. Or tell the curator not to worry that the Mona Lisa just burned to a crisp, because you made a photocopy, yo. Have we not learned that invasive human intervention is the problem, not the solution. How much more ridiculous can we get?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Save the whales!

I love panda bears.
I love polar bears.
I hate walruses.

I adore my job, but I can't tell you much about it. Confidentiality and all that. But what I can tell you is that it affords me plenty of opportunity to work my way through an enormity of DVDs...

I've always had the typical appreciation for elephants and zebras and giraffes and those big majestic beasts that are not normally found in my backyard or the petting zoo or the deli section. But watching the brilliant BBC series Planet Earth has taught me to love some of the less infamous creatures too, like otters, for example, which have now moved to #1 on the list of "Animals which I wouldn't mind being reincarnated as, if reincarnation exists, which I don't think it does, but just in case."

It has also taught me a healthy respect for Mr David Attenborough, who narrates this documentary. It took me about 16 seconds before declaring him "definitely a glass half empty kind of guy." He's a fan and enthusiastic user of devastating, unforgiving adjectives. A predator is never just a predator - it must also be fearsome, gargantuan, unrelenting. And a landscape must be harsh, deadly, gruelling. His stories usually go something like: the baby cub clings desperately to its starving mother, drinking her retched breast milk for the first three months of its life because it is blind and unable to fend for itself. And then it dies.

Attenborough himself almost becomes another specimen to observe, especially when he's making value judgements on unsuspecting animals. A bird, rejected by the female it was trying to impress, is further depressed when David intones "It's sad when even your best isn't good enough." Ouch.

It's funny how watching these animals and their strange habits and habitats makes you think so much about yourself. There's this one sequence when seals are forced, every single day of their lives, to swim across shark-infested waters just to get to their feeding ground. Meanwhile, the sharks chase after slippery, elusive creatures, just trying to get a bite. I picture myself in a field, faint with hunger, trying to convince a cow to sit still long enough for me to get a kebab out of him. Or worse yet, I picture myself darting across a parking lot being monitored by a sniper to get to my supermarket. This series has given me immense grocery-store guilt. My life up here on the top of the food chain is too easy. My prey doesn't try to bite back, or claw me in defense. It's pretty placid, in convenient portions, wrapped in plastic, ready to go.

That whole heart-pounding scene had me shouting Go seal, go! but later, when the seals had developed a taste for "blubber-rich penguins" I was like Fuck you, you dirty rotten seals! It seems that in these contests of nature, that one almost instinctively champions the underdog. You root for the prey, because prey are invariably cuter. I wonder, though, if we matched up dolphin vs baby deer, which I would cheer for.

But that's the difference between them and me: they worry about survival, and I worry about strictly hypothetical situations occurring to me from the office of my cushy job where I sit and watch nature-as-entertainment. A few bad weeks for these poor fellas mean that their whole food chain collapses, whereas the worst that happens to me is a lettuce shortage, resulting in romaine costing $4 a head instead of $1.29. And this overproduction of crops to feed all the privileged western mouths is what's destroying their precious habitat to begin with. Imagine what it would feel like if an iguana rang your doorbell and said: Pack your bags! I'm growing crops here now, you'll have to move. And that would be kind of the iguana to give you notice, because I don't think we do a very good job of that ourselves. I'm fairly certain that the discomfiting sound of chainsaws is their first indication that it's time to leave the neighbourhood.

This series pulls hard on your heart strings. At one point, with the picture facing away from me, I could only hear the tragic tune that was accompanying it. "What terrible thing is happening?" I enquired, only to be told that "A flower is growing." Well, it sounded like Schindler's List. Everything in nature is dramatic, never dull. You might think that a bump on a log is boring, but it's only because you're not looking close enough. The tragedy is there, lurking, believe me. But there was a small slice of upliftingness: Sadly, not all the mommy penguins come back, and some of them who do discover empty nests. The lady penguins turn their unrealized motherly instincts toward the poor orphaned penguins. In fact, so many would-be-mommies compete to adopt the orphan that they end up trampling him. To death.

But seriously, I've seen some amazing things too. I saw humpback whales do this crazy spiral move that would have earned them at least a bronze medal in synchronized swimming at the Obese Olympics. I saw General Sherman, a tree so big it has a name, and a title; a sequoia so huge it is the equivalent in weight to 10 blue whales. How can they know such a thing? Well, maybe they made it up. But still. I saw dolphins hydroplaning, because why not make hunting fun? I saw the terrifying vampire squid - from hell. Actually, it was more like the depths of the ocean, which is good because I can probably expect to go to hell, but I'm pretty sure I can manage to keep off the floor of the ocean, and let me tell you, I don't want to be wherever this guy is.

So, I've run out of room before I've run out of steam. I'll save the rest for later, and you're not going to want to miss it: I will explain what happens when you mix up a nature documentary with a bad Keanu Reeves movie (yes, I am aware that the 'bad' was redundant.) Roar!!