Off the Wagon.

Whenever I feel discouraged in regards to weight loss, I just think about Oprah.  She has money, power, influence, accolades, luxury, celebrity; she can do anything, go anywhere– and do so like a boss. She has such a magic touch that there is an actual phenomenon known as “The Oprah Effect”.  All the while, she struggles to maintain a consistent weight.  This is a woman with access to trainers, chefs and all the support in the world–and it’s still the hardest thing ever. Why? Because food is delicious and gaining a whole mess of weight is quite possibly the easiest thing a person could ever do. Being Oprah, she turned her own weight-loss journey into another gold mine, chronicling all the ups and downs with Chef Rosie, and her trainer Bob. Although, it goes back further than that–to the late 80’s, when Oprah lost sixty-odd pounds, and then pulled it out onstage in a little wagon.

It’s a great visual. Grotesque, but great. Eventually that Radio Flyer’s worth of weight made it’s way back onto Winfrey’s waist line. Those pounds have been lost and found more times than anyone could count. Although, it was pretty well documented, I’m sure someone else could do that math.

Perhaps it means that you never really complete the mission. The finish line is like a mirage in the desert, or a horizon that ceases to come closer as you approach it. It’s a never ending quest to lose, and then maintain this new found physique. As I considered blogging about my own weight-loss journey, I thought of Oprah Winfrey and the fat wagon. Firstly, that it would be a fun name for a funk band, and secondly, that it was nerve-wracking enough to privately make these kind of changes, much less to shout your intentions from the roof top; inviting everyone to watch you fumble through. I didn’t want to ride in on my high horse and trumpet about my great successes…then fall off, and get trampled by said horse.

Six months into my weight loss program with Herbal One, and I’ve lost over twenty pounds and just under twenty inches.  By all rights, there should have been far more extensive changes by this point. I have the support, I have a plan, the supplements, the groundwork was laid for me to whittle down. It’s just me in my own way.  When I think about my weight-loss, I imagine water lapping along the shoreline. It goes in a little bit, and out a little bit, repeat, repeat, again, again. I could really use a low tide one of these days. It’s an arduous undertaking. Many, many changes must be made. I remember sitting down for my first meeting with owner Beth McBride and nodding profusely.  “NONE OF THIS WILL BE A PROBLEM”–I say, smugly, like a total idiot. Like any addict, I can stop anytime I want. By all means, make all the changes all at once.

I started the program after a lengthy road trip through Washington and Oregon and went to Las Vegas a week later. From there, more events, shows, mini-breaks and random outings.  So many opportunities to eat and drink.  Three weeks in New Zealand for Christmas. Sure, there was swimming and walking, but there was also so. much. cheese. Cold Ciders, gin and fresh lime, champagne, lemony French onion dip with salty potato chips. My in-laws are all foodies, and all make gorgeous, fresh meals. Of course, being on holiday, one eats 8-12 times a day, in between glasses of bubbles and the beach.

Drinking everything but water, nibbles around every corner, something decadent or deep fried around midnight.  Holiday is Latin for “seeking the next meal”. Pop into the cute café for a latte, stop at that sweet shop for an ice cream cone. Wander through a marketplace and eat all the samples. The montage that plays in my head of eating a variety of delectable goodies in a variety of foreign places makes me stare out the window wistfully.

New Zealand was a happy, relaxing time with family and friends. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to lose the shoes, send for our dog Bluebear and shack up in a little Kiwi Bungalow by the beach with Ben. In all honesty, returning home was a little challenging. I came back to some challenges that unfolded and worsened over time. I began to sink deeper and deeper into a rather serious depression. Ever the cheerleader, Beth says: “Weight-loss is something YOU can control!”. Let this be the thing that grounds you, gives you purpose. Which is a truly fabulous, remarkable idea–and it’s the truth. But, for anyone who has dealt with depression, it’s a bit like sinking in quicksand and lacking the wherewithal to stop it. Mix in crippling anxiety, and you’re sinking, too stressed to make a rational decision to better your situation. Quite the bloody predicament isn’t it?

My weight–that had crept up a wee bit while in New Zealand– was like an unmanned car with a brick on the accelerator. I was not in control. I was not happy. I also didn’t know how to stop this car or turn it around. How can we want these changes for ourselves and let precious days pass by wishing those things were for us but lamenting that they aren’t.

As Oprah would say–the ‘Ah-ha Moment’ that set me back on the path of better health was two-fold. The cancer diagnosis of a really good friend–which rattled me to the very core, was deeply influential in waking up from my deep dark doldrums. Also, sitting in the Herbal One office, like a sad sack, whining about how I keep setting health goals and not achieving them. This is my vicious cycle: I keep saying–oh this event/show/performance is coming up, what better reason to lose those pesky pounds? And then…the only thing I actually exercise is procrastination. Tomorrow I will exercise. Tomorrow I will eat better. Tomorrow I will drink less. Who am I? Scarlett O’Hara?

A month before another big event, I express disappointment that I hadn’t met my mark. Beth, in this cool, casual manner, says: “Well, there’s always next year”. Not sure if she was genuine, or if it was a sneaky parental tactic, some reverse psychology. Regardless, you could practically hear The Eye of the Tiger pumping through my veins. Next year? NEXT YEAR?? Who has that kind of time?

I let go of the shame, the regret, the ‘what if’s’ and made the resolution to start over. I got a fresh new food journal. I reassessed my habits and weaknesses. Started visiting Beth and Elisha at Herbal One more. Making teeny tiny changes. Living my life in 24-hour increments. More sleep. More water. I’ve taken to weighing myself every morning and tracking the patterns on a Pin-up Girl calendar that hangs in the bathroom.

I try to not let that number ruin my day, it is simply a matter of that number helping guide my decisions for the day.  It’s effective, and it’s now part of the routine. From the day I started that practice, I have seen significant changes. Leading up to the next event, I felt that there was a difference. Not just to my figure, but to my mindset.  I’m not really to roll out any ole wagon of fat–and I’m still living day to day, but the last month has been truly empowering. Revolutionary even. I’m active, I’m hydrated, I’m happier. I’ve even started running.  I had lost weight leading up to the Kamloops Film Festival, and continued to lose weight during the ten days.

How you ask??

  • A Bold Lip Color. Wearing chic red lipstick made me far more reluctant to nibble.
  • Eating beforehand is essential. (Who knew?)
  • Limit hard alcohol. I really enjoy a drunken grilled cheese, so I needed to maintain some level of sobriety to reduce my odds of losing my willpower.
  • I really enjoyed  Pinot Noir. Was like classy, buzz inducing velvet, and was better than anything morsel out there. Makes a great accessory, keeps your hand occupied.
  • A snugly fitted dress is key. It’s really easy to keep things loose and layered, and not notice any difference as you quietly consume a boatload of calories. I felt a nicely cinched waist kept me in check. 1) I didn’t want to be uncomfortable and 2) I wanted to wear this dress again.
  • Tell someone! I had so much support from committee friends, and that made life all the easier.
  • This is kind of a cheeky tip, but during the film festival, I packed a bottle of water and a Tupperware container of plain popcorn. On the day I watched all four movies, I brought along a small amount of dried cherries and dark chocolate as well.
  • Of course, the support from Beth and Elisha at Herbal One. I truly could not do any of this without them

By the Sunday, I was the lightest I’ve been on the program…and then gave in to post-festival laziness and ate some take-out Chinese food that my husband ordered and bloated like a MSG infused puffer fish. Damn you Chicken Chow Mein!!  Make a delicious, salty, buttery, soyasaucey mistake?  I hope you savored every bite, cause now you’ve got more work to do. Take a breath. Be kind to yourself, prepare some hot water and lemon, walk a little longer, run a little farther. Be like Oprah, and try again.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

Images Courtesy of Jen Randall Dustin &the fine folks behind the internet.

 

 

 

Pinot Noir, Popcorn & Piles of Laundry

The 2016 Kamloops Film Festival has come and gone. Le sigh. There’s so much work and momentum leading up to these all-consuming cluster of events–it’s a whirlwind of film, food and friends–full on red carpet and red wine. So. many. outfits.  Suddenly it’s two weeks later, and you’re alone in your office,  wearing a battered old pink bathrobe on Easter Monday, trying to remember every detail for the #KFF2016 review.

For me, the festival is such a fabulous time of year. I tend to immerse myself in all social aspects of the KFF. I clear my schedule, I rearrange my life, I forsake sleep.  I wind up at the Commodore at 1am, dancing like nobody is watching.  It’s like a holiday in my hometown; a fantastic social explosion. Drinking wine and grabbing meals with other committee members and festival goers. The awesome conversations that transpire in between all those film–the tears, the laughter, loads of red lipstick–pure bliss.

This year being my third, I was able to truly organize myself in a way that made the rest of my life seem perfectly manageable. I had learned a thing or two since the first year.  (See: White Girl Wasted– https://pinuppickspenup.com/2014/03/21/white-girl-wasted/). The morning of A Night with Oscar, I spent some quality time in my closet, selecting a variety of outfits to be worn throughout the entire festival. That’s a highly recommended KFF survival tip, put together ten to fifteen fabulous, and that’s one less thing to worry about. Time is tight, life is short, and you never want to be left wondering what to wear at the last minute.

In fact, I received a impromptu invitation to grab a quick Pinot before watching Holocaust drama Son of Saul. Fugitives running from the law have not moved as fast as I; out of my dog walking clothes, and into a preplanned ensemble, out the door, and drinking wine at Blue with my good buddy Tanya within twenty minutes. That was a real proud moment for me. Organization is key to drinking fabulously!

How those carefully selected pieces gathered height and momentum as they began to pile up over the edge of the bathtub as the festival progressed. Like fabric clockwork expressing the passing of time. Laundry can wait-life is happening right now! Although, the whole devil- may-care approach is super charming when you live alone, but if one has to be a considerate human being to spouses and flatmates. It’s nice to take a quick second to do something considerate and helpful before buggering off…again. Another fun life hack, do a whole bunch of nice things before the film festival begins, and then, make it up to them on the other side of those ten days. Better yet, bring them to a movie, and make it rain at the concession stand that’ll also do the trick.

The first order of business following the festival; besides sleeping, slothing and sorting through enormous piles of laundry–was to sit down for a lengthy lunch with Dušan Magdolen, the KFF Chair and long time friend. I adore Mr. Magdolen, we met a million years ago and our first conversation was about movies.  I saw him after years away overseas, and we talked about movies. His invitation to participate in the planning of the film festival was a total no-brainer. Naturally, it’s completely necessary to discuss all the films together over hot cups of tea.

In the end, I saw sixteen out of the twenty films. As promised, I ditched Darkfest, but did feel a teeny bit of frightful FOMO–especially The Witch, which is ridiculous, in no way do I cope well with scary films.  Due to such high numbers on opening night–they had to open another theatre!-members of the Events team skipped Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World to prepare for the Q&A and the Mingle & Jazz that followed the documentary.  This film was eventually voted ‘favorite’ out of the twenty;  it was a shame to have missed it. Ultimately, it was the best call for the committee members to check on everything one last time, before tucking into delicious appetizers and Pinot Noir at Hotel 540 with our lovely entertainer Cathi Marshall.

The first film I saw wound up being my favorite.  Mustang was a truly powerful story. The last twenty minutes was agonizing. Stressful, thrilling, and perfectly gripping. I sobbed out of sheer relief for the characters by the end.  In fact, I kind of had to lurk in my seat as the credits rolled and audience members milled out of the Paramount. Once feeling composed, I made an attempt to leave, and then wound up jabbering incoherently and tearfully in front of another committee member. Sheesh. Maybe just sit this one out–and avoid eye contact as you hustle off to the car.

I powered through all four films on the first Saturday; which wound up being a day of catharsis. Three out of four films made me cry–including the children’s film Snowtime, which wound up being a total anti-war film.  The child I brought leaned over, “I think something bad is going to happen”–I consoled her, “everything is going to be just fine”, and then something bad happens–to a dog no less. Introducing crying jag #1. Sushi at Sanbiki, and the next movie with my parents.  I love me some Maggie Smith, as did my folks and the rest of Kamloops.  The Lady in the Van had the most audience members, which was perfect, as it was also our Film for a Cause–with the Kamloops Food Bank collecting items at the door.

Following dinner at the Noble Pig; (one of my #KFF2016 haunts) I returned to the Paramount for James White and Youth.  James White was a truly devastating film–and won the Ugly Cry Award for me this year.

Other committee members were quite drained after that film, and decided to call it a night. I felt I had to cleanse the palate a wee bit, end the day on any other note. Youth was beautiful, sensual, life affirming, and quite touching. Jane Fonda shows up at the end and devours her scene. A main character commits suicide, and it’s completely unexpected,  and once again I blubber like a baby in the darkness.

Nothing like a Sunday matinee, except I found Victoria to be a bit of a challenge, and gave me motion sickness. It was a really fantastic production, nearly two and a half hours in one continuous shot, but all the jerky camera movements made me rather queasy.  I briefly entertained the thought of leaving, but managed to hang in there for the length of the movie.

No Men Beyond this Point was my favorite comedy of the season; the actors Patrick Gilmore, Kristine Cofsky and Tara Pratt were delightful during their Q&A. Gilmore and Pratt joined committee members at the Noble Pig, and more Pinot was enjoyed. Who needs sleep??

Born to be Blue and wine with my friend Trish, and My Good Man’s Gone with members of the KFF team. A Q&A with actor Robert Baker, and writer Nick Citton. More wine at the Noble Pig.

A Royal Night Out was another favorite; light, frothy, historically grounded. A simply delightful cinematic experience –Brewing Discussion at Red Collar to follow.

Before Macbeth, Mittz Kitchen with Benjamin for lamb and risotto. Met my brother and his girlfriend for the film.

Macbeth was a really beautiful yet severe picture. Made worse by the man sitting a row ahead of us, shaking a mammoth cup of ice before munching on it during the quietist parts of the movie. It was infuriating to the point of hilarious, and being overtired, it gave me the giggles, and I had to leave the cinema. I came back and Lady Macbeth was dead. Perhaps she died from all that infernal ice crunching, who’s to say?  Wine-ing Discussion at Hotel 540 afterwards, made the humbling mistake of approaching former TRU professor Connie Brim, and exposing just how long ago I studied Shakespeare. The table collectively exchanged notes about acts and scenes that were cut or altered, speeches that were shortened, changes to classic characterization. And me, like a deer in the headlights–totally not remembering much about the play, and thusly having little to contribute. When in doubt just say…”Does…everyone like…wine?”, and then back away slowly, and read the Macbeth synopsis on your phone.

(This is the actual moment being captured by photographer Jen Randall Dustin, this guy is on a hilarious rampage about the adaptation, and he is slaying Connie Brim–brilliant Shakespeare expert–with his witty repartee. And I’m all……”I like the Fassbender when he comes out of the water”.

Thursday Double Feature, Oscar winner Son of Saul, a grim and heartbreaking Holocaust drama and Ben’s At Home, a light independent comedy of little consequence. Donuts and warm beverages at PDK afterwards.

A note about the food: there was so much delectable numminess throughout the festival; and I was smack dab in the middle of a clean-eating, weight loss program.  Beyond the Pinot Noir, my official #KFF2016 beverage, I was not participating in the snacking at any of the events…with the exception of a partial sugar -coated donut that I had in my purse for my husband. Walking back to the car, I reached into my bag and took one big massive bite out of the pastry, a la a Black Widow chomping off the head of her mate. Without missing a step, the donut was out of my bag, chomped into a sugary horseshoe and was thrust back in my bag, my pace quickening as I licked sugar off my lips. No regrets!

Final Friday of the festival, Kamloops Art Gallery for samples of Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs, before seeing a film about his life. Followed Eadweard with Pinot Noir and Green curry at Mittz Kitchen and gin and Karaoke at the Central with special guest Meisha Lowe, photographer Jen Randall Dustin, and ladies of the Events Committee, Tanya and Nathalie. We took Bohemian Rhapsody to a whole other level, and it was glorious.

I came home at midnight and then proceeded to reorganize my whole life. Drunkenly cleaning one’s home is a highly recommended activity. It makes the act of cleaning popcorn kernels out of every purse you’ve ever owned a real hoot and a holler. Pump up some sweet jams, and take on at least a dozen tasks at the same time. It’s also an unbelievable delight to wake up to. This is a legitimate #KFF2016 life hack. #Cleanwhiledrunk.

I caught the first Saturday matinee, Anomalisa; the Charlie Kaufman penned animated feature. I didn’t love it as much as I expected to…and there was a very thorough sex scene that had some…ahem, audible qualities, that was cringe worthy at best.

I skipped Embrace the Serpent and the Painted Pony Steeping Discussion to spend some time with my dog Bluebear–(a shout out to my husband, who was in Vancouver for closing, who had taken care of so much during the festival).

Saturday night: sushi at Oriental Gardens and Forsaken with my mother and two aunts.

After the movie, I scuttled over to Hotel 540 for the Closing Night party. More Pinot to be had! The James Welsh Band was a seriously groovy musical group. All in all, a perfect celebration with the marvellous #KFF2016 committee.

Once all duties were over, and the crowd gave way to the late evening, I danced the rest of the night away; finishing the festival as I tend to do–at the Commodore.

Falling asleep at 4am, another festival finished;  a head full of cinematic stories, a belly full of wine, and a pile of laundry higher than the Himalayas.

For more information of the Kamloops Film Festival, check out the website: http://www.kamloopsfilmfest.ca/

 

Photos Courtesy of Jen Randall Dustin , Chris Warner & the  fine folks behind the Internet.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Blahs, The Blues & The Bell Jar.

Can I just preface anything I write with…you know, I don’t have the descriptive capabilities to even preface these days.  Feeling a bit colorless.  I’m like Eeyore, but with Winnie the Pooh’s curves, and Rabbit’s irritability.

Usually I’m a big crier–commercials, novels, hunger, exhaustion. I’m like an over-sized toddler with the occasional grey hair. I’m feeling so blah that I’m not crying.  I wonder whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. There’s something to be said about a good sob.  Although come to think of it, like an idiot, I suggested watching Marley and Me last weekend. That was a huge mistake. Low-grade depression and movies about dogs is a dangerous cocktail. What a deceptive film.  Jennifer Aniston is wearing cut off shorts and flip flops on the movie poster, how serious can things get? Who would have a leash that long? Boy, that puppy sure does looks mischievous, I’m laughing already. This is going to be a easy-breezy casual cinematic experience.

Sure it starts off all light and fluffy, but then it all comes crashing down.

We’ve had Bluebear for over a year now, and I’m such an unabashed dog mama. Since dealing with this bad batch of the blues, Bluebear has been especially comforting. Though I feel like we’ve seen this movie in the past, it totally impacted me on a whole other level.  I once saw Marley and Me on a plane. I was in the middle of a really painful break up, and I arrived at the airport feeling rather unhinged. What does one do when feeling emotionally unstable in a claustrophobic environment? Drink wine, brood quietly and lose yourself in a bad-good movie; light, blonde and bubbly. No love stories need apply.  I chose Marley and Me because the Aniston+Wilson+Labrador Retriever seemed to meet the aforementioned requirements to surviving a long flight while in a dreadful mood. To my broken hearted-relationship centered head space, I realized that this movie wasn’t about a dog, it was about a marriage. That’s how I remembered the movie; Benjamin and I even saw it early on in our relationship, and again that’s how I perceived the film.

Well, as a bonafide dog parent, I saw this movie very differently. Sitting next to a mountain of tissues, sobbing deeply with Bluebear tucked up next to me, snoozing soundly with her chin on my knee. After the movie ended, Benjamin and I were like-NEVER AGAIN! Never again will I let Marley and Me trick me into feeling more than need be. It was not the best complimentary flavour to my deepening winter blues.

To clarify-I’m functioning as a living, breathing human; but I’m not bursting with any kind of citrusy creative zest. After three weeks of  summertime in New Zealand, coming back to a Canadian January was always going to be a challenge. Facing some genuine unpleasantness upon my return made the transition back to reality all the harder.  Nothing takes the warmth of a post-holiday glow like bad news or unwelcomed change. Emotionally I’m somewhere between abandoned diva Jennifer Hudson in Dream Girls

…with a solid helping of angst ridden of Winona Ryder in Reality Bites when she gets fired from her job, spends all that money on the psychic hotline, loves and loses greasy ole Ethan Hawke and everything in between.

With nothing to do, she sloths about her house, sinking deeper and deeper into her doldrums.

Reality Bites :

It’s the worst feeling in the world, that stifling Bell Jar feeling, anxiety like walls closing in on you.  It’s as though you wish you could step outside of yourself to have a break from your own thoughts. It’s maddening to be sick of your own company. When you feel that low, it’s hard to motivate yourself.  How is it that when we feel depressed we turn away from the things that would ultimately make us feel better?  We resist socializing, exercise, expression. All becomes a vicious little ferris wheel of a sad little life. It’s an uphill battle to straight up Liz Taylor yourself back to the front lines.

If I had to describe my recent mood with one word, I’d just release a shrug and a sigh. Maybe a sour milk scented scrunched up face for emphasis.

Don’t worry. This is not a cry for help. Artistically speaking this is the equivalent of Britney Spears ‘Lucky’.

…or a very special episode of Blossom.

No shit. Alf is in heaven? That’s a huge relief. That’s one less thing to worry about.  My very special episode would be about the blues and the blahs. Some big time sads. Like a large American soda from a movie theatre sized cup of sadness. Nobody needs that much of anything. But seriously, can we discuss ‘Lucky’ for a quick sec? That was probably a bad example–that has “Cry for Help” written all over it–it should have been called Preface to a Shaved Head.

I can certifiably say that I’m not alone in feeling this way. I’ve spoken with a number of women that are slogging through life as if through very sticky mud. It’s a bland time all around. Blame it on January, it’s such an unpleasant month. I mean, January 1st, sure, it’s a new year, a new day, it’s still a shiny new toy; that fresh start, that clean slate. With a head full of resolutions, and a belly full of eggs benedict, possibly still drunk from last night, it’s easy to beam with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

And then…actually…no, you don’t have this. What you have is tighter jeans from all that champagne and hollandaise. That glow of Christmas has faded; no more parties, no more leftovers…the anticipation of wrapped presents under the tree is now that toy you step on when coming around the corner.You have to go back to work, and just wander around the office like you’ve just been stung by a tranquillizer dart. You have the energy level of Han Solo immediately after being thawed out in Jabba the Hut’s chamber.

You just need to lay down…really wherever is fine.

Life is just better on holiday; I am simply a better person on a foreign beach with the sun on my face. Aren’t we all? In our daily lives we are trudging Clydesdales, on holidays we are majestic unicorns. That’s just science.  Upon my return, and in the weeks that followed, I felt like a jet lagged goldfish in extremely cloudy water, trying to do a complicated algebra exam in Latin.

It’s like every day is Blue Monday, where weather/debt/monthly salary/ time since Christmas/ time since failing our new year’s resolutions/low motivational levels all meet at the intersection of one’s existence and then crash into each other in one fiery explosion.

Where do you go from there? How do you get out from under the clouds, count your blessings and pick that chin up?  How can I be more like Taylor Swift and shake-shake it off? You feel bad for feeling bad, feel guilt for a first-world state of depression.  Roof over my head, food to eat, people to love, rights and freedoms, what more do you need? Why do I feel so sad? Now mid-to late February, the blues are just now starting to lift. At the moment, I’m taking things one day at a time. Setting teeny tiny goals that benefit my health and happiness. Admitting my sadness, getting some sleep, drinking more water, hugging my husband, cuddling my dog, writing, talking, listening, walking. Laughing whenever possible. Living life like Liz Taylor, but without all the husbands and diamonds. Knocking over the bell jar and gulping fresh air as if my life depends on it…because it does.

 Images Courtesy of Google etc.

 

Blogging & Blow Jobs

Blue Monday rears its ugly head once more. Suffering from post-holiday depression. Why can’t holiday’s last longer, and youth stretch out endlessly? #anoldiebutagoodie #perfectlyfabulous

"Pin Up Picks Pen Up"

Everybody stay calm.

The inevitable has happened. I’ve hit my winter weather wall.

2013-10-12-WBkilled

It was snowing the other morning. It hadn’t snowed in a while.  The sight of the fat flakes falling and settling over the hard and crusty slabs of December snow was not welcomed in the least. A huge sigh leaked from my lips, a huff, which worked in conjunction with a massive shoulder slump.  You could practically hear the theme from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

cb_DepressedStanceLeaning on the kitchen counter with my coffee, flipping through Facebook on my phone. There were slew of photographs of beautiful friends in New Zealand and Australia, looking tanned and relaxed, smiling  in sun filled rooms and on luscious beaches with blue skies and green seas.  They look happy. They look warm.  It makes me remember a time when Benjamin and I used to ride our bicycles on deliciously warm nights, cruising…

View original post 2,170 more words

Christmas Conspiracy Theories & The Truth about Claus.

I see old childhood photographs of myself with Santa Claus, and I look pretty tense. I mean, this is Santa Claus. He’s revered in books, film, commercials, and television specials. He decides who gets presents, and what kind of presents they get. All knowing, all seeing; this is a man who can make things happen.

Mother of Pearl, imaging meeting Audrey Hepburn and Santa Claus at the same time?  If I were that kid, I would be grateful for that bonnet for keeping my brains from exploding clean out of my darling little ringlets.

Meeting Santa is a huge deal; it’s like a job interview with a celebrity. Strong posture, beauty pageant smile, penetrating eye contact. Be sure to finish with a firm handshake and you’ve sealed the deal. If your name appears on a naughty list, it was game over. Let nothing derail plans of new Barbie dolls and her many fabulous accessories.

My older brother was insistent on blowing the whistle on the whole Santa fallacy. He’d use reason and logic to debunk Santa’s delivery schedule. “Even with the time zones and the International Date Line. It’s impossible”.

Christmas sky.:

Licking my lips nervously, I sputtered feeble arguments, but to no avail. His eyes narrowed conspiratorially, “Ever notice that Santa has the same handwriting as mom?”  No Anthony, seeing that I’m in primary school and not a seasoned forensic analysis and handwriting expert, I hadn’t noticed. My bad. I was too dazzled by the bright and shiny packages. My faith was waning, my brother’s rationale had planted a seed of doubt in my mind. The anxiety! The stress! How could I have a family of my own, not knowing whether Santa would deliver toys to my sleeping children? Should I have some extra presents on hand, just in case Santa’s a no-show?

vintage Santa Christmas Coca Cola ad.     Does anyone else find it odd that this boy child is in pink pajamas?  This was a 50s ad, and pastel pink and blue were very much gender specific colors. Heck it's still that way in the 21st century!  Many of the old stereotypes have been removed, but gender specific colors are still pretty prevalent. imo:

Like a frantic detective obsessed with the case, I was rapidly unraveling. I was going to solve this mystery or else. My young forehead was tattooed with frown lines from all the worrying and hang wringing. I turned to my mother for advice, but her vague testimonies about Santa’s legitimacy were frustrating at best. Airily she would say, “You believe what you want to believe”. If this had been a gritty crime drama this would be the point where I would reach across the table, grab the withholding witness by the collar: “Don’t jerk me around Mac, just give it to me straight”.

I was desperate, reasoning like a discouraged hostage negotiator, “Listen, I don’t care, either way I just need to know”.

“You believe what you want to believe”.

I set an action plan in place. I would skip sleep on Christmas Eve and stake out the scene.

pinterest.com/fra411 #pulp pulp art:

Listening for the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof, I wondered what I’d do if I saw him. What would I say? Hello? Thank you? My regards to Mrs. Claus? Be sure to peruse our fine selection of milk and cookies? He never came. Maybe it was my mother lurking outside of my bedroom door that kept him away. Like magic, the presents were tree-side anyway. My exhausted parents clutching coffee cups for life support, and glaring at me with sleepy eyes. “Now do you believe?” my mother yawns. I got everything I wanted, but not the truth. That would come later, in an elementary school classroom, when a spontaneous, teacher-lead conversation explored how and when we found out about Santa Claus. The children casually discussing their revelations as I sat there dumbly, eyes screaming behind my grim pallor and sweaty upper lip. The sting of the truth, the humiliation of holding on for a little too long. How cool and good humored my peers were about it. Knowing that there was a little less magic in the world was a quiet devastation;  still I was grateful that I once wanted so badly to believe.

Shirley Temple - ciao! newport beach: Very Vintage Celebrity Christmases:

Images Courtesy of Google, Pinterest, & the Internet at large.

Postcards from the Plateau.

I wish anything in life was as easy as getting fat. Or as much fun. Or as delicious. Is anybody else hungry right now? In her latest memoir, actress Candice Bergen writes about a thirty pound weight gain over the past fifteen years.  She refers to herself as a champion eater, and has no regrets about demolishing every carbohydrate in sight–I believe she actually wrote that “no carb is safe”.  I hear that, I’ve been known to murder a meal or two.

Good for her, she’s earned the elastic waistband in her designer slacks. Open up another tab and Google “Young Candice Bergen”. Stunning–utterly photogenic, and looking as if she’s just come from her bungalow in Malibu.  Seriously though, what kind of deal with the devil did she have to make to get that kind of volume in her hair?

Now heading towards her seventies, Bergen’s happy to lose count of those calories. She’s had a dynamic and interesting life, well-traveled and whatnot. Candice Bergen would know where to get a good burger. If I once was able to pull off an outfit like the one below, I am perfectly happy to skip the  Jane Fonda third act make over, and hit up the world of full flavoured fat head first.

What a way to not go gentle into that good night. Just get the most expensive bathrobe ever and let the calories fly. If I make it to 100, I’ll get a one way ticket on a cruise ship. I’ll be the one lurking at the buffet like an elderly Elizabeth Taylor: drunk off my ass, jewel encrusted  and putting mayonnaise on absolutely everything.

Until then, I’m on the weight-loss track–for three months now. Seventeen pounds and fourteen inches lost. Which is not too bad seeing that when I started I had just come from the Seattle/Portland/Bend Cider & Carbs Tour of 2015. A week later I went to Las Vegas, and then there was Thanksgiving, and the Florence and the Machine in Vancouver, and then Halloween. When having my meeting with Elisha at Herbal One, she asks how I did over Halloween weekend. I had spent my Halloween as the Queen of Hearts, and she had a few nibbles of chocolate. Beth popped her head into the room, congratulating me on was quite possibly the greatest excuse ever: Blame it on the Queen of Hearts, she can take it.

It’s not that I need a weight-loss plan, it’s that I need Ranch Dressing Rehab. I need to be cured of a poor appetite by day, and an almost werewolf-like urge to  eat all of the food in the world after nine o’clock at night. Breakfast is for suckers! Give me a grilled cheese at midnight!

Which is why I now go to bed at about that time. If I stay up late to write, I try to stick with tea. Which is not nearly as cheesy or buttery or plunge into ketchup-able but that’s my cross to bear.

Around the time I  started the weight-loss plan, I was reading some tabloid article about Khloe Kardashian and her daily diet. It was an extraordinary amount of mini meals punctuated by intense work outs.  Seriously, how much food and gym-time can a gal pack away?  Then again, if you want to look that good in a full lunge, you’re going to have to do some serious work.

Khloe K is my distant cousin of the YoYo Sisterhood; with a quick bit of research you can immediately see a pattern over the last few years. Headlines have announced her twenty-five to thirty pound loss quite a few times. Is this is same weight that just keep coming back like a stray dog or old boyfriend? On a much smaller scale, I too have been feeling that pain; I was in a rhythm, losing a consistent amount of weight, writing in the ole food journal, meeting with a coach daily. Then, the schedule changed, and it was difficult to get that groove back.  Still, each day there was effort and intention. After ten days away, I was looking forward to seeing the ladies, but not facing off with that damned scale.

The weight-loss halted, but it didn’t become a weight-gain.  had plateaued. To the ounce, I was the exact same weight from the last time I came in. It was like getting a C+ on a test that you totally didn’t study for. Yes, I could have done better, I could have studied, prepared, made up little flash cards, but I didn’t. No excuses. The dog didn’t eat my homework, I did. It was not the desired effect, but I still took it as a win–that while I was busy with everything else in my life, my weight remained consistent. Not every choice was my best; but they still overweighed the number of poor ones.  In the occasionally discouraging world of weight-loss it’s perfectly acceptable to celebrate the C+’s

I got a text from Elisha the other day. Just checking in, making sure I was eating. ‘Eat the whole banana’, is a mantra I try to live by. My life is truly action packed, and each day brings wild variables that make eating at regimented times difficult. Breakfast at six am is completely  uncool. Coffee with milk and CBC 2, and a little dog to watch me putting on make-up is all I can stomach. Once at work, I just forget to do it. There have been many half eaten abandoned bananas near my desk.

Besides my late-night predatory craving for  carbohydrates, not eating enough it my biggest issueSorry? You want you to eat how much? Coffee and fruit until a half-assed dinner at 9pm isn’t the key to a slim figure? That is such upsetting news.  I’d be the only person to get stranded on a desert island and instead of coming out tanned and thin a la Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon…

…I’d look like Elvis in Hawaii circa 1977.

The last month has really been a jazzy little two step between gaining and losing small increments of weight. With the calendar at it’s busiest, it’s been difficult to get to Herbal One with as much regularity as before. I realize more than ever how much those connections matter; those texts from Beth and Elisha (#eatthewholebanana), mean a lot to me.  At those points when you could just give up and go for the full Bergan; those ladies are there with all the support a girl can handle–and that kind of encouragement is simply delicious.

Images Courtesy of the Internet etc…

 

Intensive Care Union

To my parents on their 35th Wedding Anniversary. To many more years of health, happiness and holidays. I love you dearly.

"Pin Up Picks Pen Up"

My parents were married in a courthouse, but they eventually renewed their vows in a church.  It was a private occasion, just themselves and the minister who my father liked so much, it was almost enough to wrench him from Sunday morning soccer matches on the telly to attend his weekly sermon.  My parents are not a splashy couple, when they married in 1980, my mother wore a dress she pulled from her closet, and they had their reception in their apartment. Benjamin and I also married in a courthouse, and I wore a dress I pulled from my closet. Though I was in New Zealand, and they were in Canada, I felt connected to them: “This is how my parents got married”.

When they renewed their vows, my father wore his nicest jeans, took my mother out for a nice lunch, and then went to work the afternoon shift as custodian at…

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Nobody’s Mother, Nobody’s Aunt.

This has not been my finest collection of hours. My mood is dark, feeling very much between a pre-menstrual pre-teen and menopausal matron. Down and out and wanting to crawl under the covers. John Lennon is present in the news, its the 35th anniversary of his assassination. Gun statistics, Global Warming, Anti-Muslim propaganda, Donald Trump. It all feels so bleak. I’m scattered, like my brain in a twister and my thoughts are all the random items picked up and swirling around. My sense of humor is a faint heartbeat.

Despite the unshakable funk, I press on with the work day.  I pass one of the teachers walking a small group of boys to the bathroom. One little boy, blonde bowl hair cut and big smile asks me: “Who’s Mother are you?”. “Me? I’m nobody’s Mother” I said, “But I have a puppy, does that make me her Mother?. Um. No. Not in World According to Bowl-Cut. Ask a three year old a serious question, and you get a serious answer. I’m tired, grumpy, and I’m nobody’s mother.

Driving in the afternoon, the thought of that child overlapped into a memory of my friend Monica and this t-shirt I used to own. Well, I actually had it made after catching a random episode of The Simpsons, it was inspired by gnarly spinster aunts Patty and Selma.

... new marge and her lesbian sister patty are suspicious when patty s

One of them was wearing a t-shirt that said “Sexy Aunt”, I thought it was rather funny.  Not an indication of my now enduring elegance and style, I bought a black baseball style shirt with pink sleeves that had glittery rock n’ roll lettering, that in fact made “Sexy Aunt” look like “Sexy Avnt”. No matter.  My brother was a father, and I was young and ironic, surely that justified the purchase.

“You’re nobody’s aunt”, Monica spits out the words at the sight of my t-shirt. “Yes I am”, I scoff…” What a thing to say..Nobody’s aunt. “Who?” her face is contorted in disbelief. “Who are you an aunt to?” “My older brother has a kid”, I retort. “Oh”, she lowers her guard. “You never told me that”.

It was quite possibly the only thing I hadn’t told her. In the time spent as neighbours and friends in a little building on the corner of West Seymour Street, smoking cigarettes and playing records in her eclectic little top floor apartment, we hammered out a lot of issues.

I lived downstairs. I met her in the laundry room. She said she needed a roommate, she used the expression ‘cheap like borscht’. I liked her immediately. I brought her cupcakes after our initial meeting; she in turn called me ‘Cupcake’.

The first time I came to her apartment was not by her invitation. Her dreamy new roommate saw me reading outside on the little stoop and invited me upstairs for a glass of wine. Because I was a twenty-something nitwit who willingly paid for a t-shirt that said “Sexy Aunt”, a glass of wine upstairs with Mr Tall, Dark Stranger sounded perfectly reasonable.  He had just moved in, and there was boxes stacked in his room, with a mattress on the floor. Nowhere to sit, we moved into the living room, where Monica was sitting on the sofa. Monica’s shelves were stacked with well worn books, she had a glorious music collection; she owned Jeff Buckley’s Grace–which is a completely unifying and friendship inducing album.

The space had a dusty, disorganized bohemian vibe: funky thrift store art, old photographs, punctuated by little piles of papers, costumes, clothing.   Her bathroom was teeming with Jesus imagery. Technically, the bathroom’s theme was “JC”, there was some Jackie Collins book, and there a picture of Johnny Cash right at eye-line when sitting on the toilet. Aggressively flipping the middle finger. Mostly, it was about Jesus and The Last Supper.

Once, while walking home, we spotted this very old and fragile woman lugging home two four-liter jugs of milk. Monica called out to her, and asked if she needed help. The woman brightened up immediately and thrust the jugs at us with new found super human strength “Sure!”. Monica thought that was funny, but worried for that trusting old lady, who let us into her apartment without hesitation. She offered us a milkshake, talked about Mussolini funded summer camps in Italy,  prattled non-stop as she puttered about busily among all her own piles. Monica spotted a picture of The Last Supper. It was perfectly hideous and wrapped in a ornate, ten pound gold frame.

Monica passed along her compliments. “Take it!”, she flapped her hand dismissively. Monica hesitated and the woman insisted “Take it, I’m not taking it with me when I go….” and after an uncomfortable amount of time….”to Italy”. Monica and I locked eyes from the across the cluttered room. Mouths twisting up into smiles. How did we even get here? Within the confines of that friendship, I found myself in so many strange rooms with her and random people. She would talk to absolutely anyone, get secrets out of strangers. As we left the old lady’s apartment, Monica thanked her, but cautioned her from being too friendly with strangers. Poor thing living all alone.

Who were we to talk? I lived alone, and after her roommate left, so did she. We became family. I visited her daily. She made tea out of an orchid tea pot where the spout looked like a vagina. Her kitchen was filled with oddities. Sushi earrings, random plastic fruit in a buster wicker basket.  Her sense of humor was present in all that she did.

We once got an unstoppable case of the giggles at a neighbour’s funeral. Bad weather and a broken vehicle held us up, and we wound up leaping out of a cab, and sprinting into the chapel soaking wet from the rain. Such a violent shift of emotion, you’re pissed off that you can’t get there, and then suddenly you’re there and it’s a funeral. As we settled in, like drowned rats dressed in black, I leaned in and cracked some remark to Monica. Holding hands in the back row, our faces were straining from forceful laughter that wanted to burst out of our mouths. Church giggles are one thing, but funeral giggles are only acceptable if you’re Mary Tyler Moore.

Cherie lived down the hall from me; she looked like a later years Karen Carpenter, dressed in velour bathrobes, and wore make up but her short hair was always rumpled. She never left the house. She would send her husband round to bring me expired food from Liquidation World. Grant had a pot belly and a fanny pack, harboured this little black and crooked mustache above his top lip. He said “alrighty”, and stared at you a little too long. Her death wasn’t a huge surprise. She was made of brittle glass and blue eye shadow; her ashes were placed in an urn with a majestic wolf on it. The thought of Grant selecting the best urn for his fragile lady, broke my heart.

After the funeral, over milky mugs of coffee, Monica retold the story of the time she inadvertently stole an ambulance from Cherie. Monica had gone out to help assist her, but then had a seizure herself and they took her instead of Cherie. Even though Cherie was now in a majestic wolf urn, we howled with laughter. When the giggles subsided, we sobbed our hearts out.

Monica taught me about grief. How to live with loss, wear that itchy wool  until it’s a second skin.  The memories that hurt most, that weight you carry, it’s the lines on your face, the grey in your hair, it’s in absolutely everything you do whether you know it or not.

She had mementos from the past, dead people’s possessions. She once referenced a shirt she wore into oblivion, and then cut it up and turned it into wash rags. I was quietly horrified. Wouldn’t you just save the shirt? Tuck it away and look at it whenever? Her reasoning was that it took up space, on a number of levels. Let it dissolve in your daily life. I had that thought when Bluebear stared to pick at a pair mittens that a long-lost friend had given me. Sure, I could save them and take them with me everywhere, but never wear them, or I could let my dog unravel the colorful pattern joyously. As if the material and the memory regenerate into new and possibly practical forms, and it becomes a new style of letting go.

Like Cherie, Monica’s death was neither expected nor was it unexpected. Monica would have been the first to tell you she wouldn’t be pulling silver-haired hi-jinx at the retirement home. I think she knew her time was short and she acted accordingly. She lavished in the small pleasures. She was reckless, and infuriating and apologetically slow-moving. She told extremely long stories, with even longer subplots. She would fake injures and cause public spectacles. Sometimes it was hilarious, sometimes it was endearing. Sometimes you just wanted to run some bloody errands quickly and efficiently.  As the years went by, I was consistently bothered by her health; I wished she took better care of herself. I wished I was better equipped to take care of her. At the time, I could hardly take care of myself.

On the day of her passing, I popped by the box office where she worked, where I sat with her many times. She wasn’t at work, and I didn’t wonder why. She was unwell a lot. Then, after the show it was announced that she was gone. I wanted to believe there was a way to bring her back.

In the middle of my no-good bad day, one of Monica’s oldest and best friends posted something on social media about Grand Marnier to celebrate her birthday. That’s what Oprah refers to as an “Ah-ha Moment”. That explains a lot–the haunted undercurrent of my sour mood. Both of us being December babies, it’s strange that her birthday slipped my mind. I don’t keep track of dates well–and really, I think of her every single day anyway…so it was not uncommon for a memory of her to overlap with my random everyday nonsense as if it were a reflex. “I’m nobody’s Mother/ You’re nobody’s Aunt” is all a part of the constellation of my daily recollections.  In every moment is another moment.  And then–nearly eight years after her sudden death, it’s still as if it just happened, and I’m still that kid being told about it in a room full of people.

She would have been 51.  I would give anything for a warm drink in her cluttered kitchen, one of her famous hugs where she gave you an extra long squeeze just before she let you go. I cried all way home, big fat tears free falling down my cheeks. Wearing the familiar feelings like a well-worn sweater: missing her, wishing I could have saved her, and wondering if there is still a way to bring her back.

Images Courtesy of Google Images etc.

The Comeback Kid

Kudos to Adele. That was one heck of a comeback. Cashmere smooth. The timing was perfect. Right as autumn settled in: nights are colder, days are shorter. Grey and rainy weather that makes you want to stare out the window longingly, arms crossed over your woolen cowl neck sweater while sighing audibly. Adele doesn’t make a big fuss, there’s not a flashy media blitz. Like an elegant ghost, appearing out of nowhere and singing ‘Hello’ over your shoulder. One minute you’re washing dishes or frying eggs, driving in the car or sitting in a waiting room and her fragrant crooning fills your senses; suddenly it’s goose bumps and tears and wondering if you’ve ever really loved enough.

She’s still banging on about her ex. Three albums about one relationship? That must have been quite a man.

Or it’s about many men and she can’t get over any of them. Apparently a former lover tried to take legal action against her, claiming she wouldn’t have her success without him being the subject of her sadness and scorn. What a spectacular ex-boyfriend knife twist–“remember when I cheated and lied, and all the rest of the daily disappointments and unyielding heartache magically transformed into all those Grammy’s? That was all me! You can just make the cheque out to ‘cash'”.

Um, if my arms weren’t teeming with awards I would properly deck you. Being a bad boyfriend should not be commission based. I mean, that’s the prize of the broken heart. Isn’t that the best kind of revenge? Living well without you? Adele releases ’21’, earns all the awards and accolades, sympathy and support (and an Oscar too!). After a spectacular run she then falls completely off the radar for nearly three years, living quietly with her partner and child until this recent return with this new single and epic music video.

Can we talk about the video? It’s a solid six minute mini movie. I’m not wild with all the ‘boyfriend acting at the camera bit’, but that’s just me. Have I been missing out on overly enthusiastic boyfriends all these years? If anyone ever tried to playfully force-feed me noodles like he does, I would karate chop the son of a bitch. I don’t care if this guy used to be on The Wire, he’s a little over-zealous for my liking.

When you get Adele alone in the English countryside in her furry overcoat with dramatic hand gestures and exposing her impeccable nails it’s ah-mazing.

Belting out a song like that would provide the truest sense of satisfaction. Throw in the false eyelashes, voluminous hair and a wind machine and you’ve got yourself a party. Seriously though, how fabulous would leaves swirling around look on me?

I’m not much of a singer. I sound adequate if the acoustics are generous and the pitch is low, but I’m never going to be able to do a Celine Dion style fist-to-chest pump and really mean it.

That catharsis does not belong to me–other than the shower or the car, I’m ill-equipped to hammer out all of my regret and remorse, longing and grief through the power of song. Which is such a shame. Nothing, and I mean nothing says I’m sorry quite like a powerhouse ballad.

Singing talents aside, I do feel Adele tapped into a concept I was working on for my twentieth high school reunion. I wasn’t actually going to attend, but I was going to send a video of a similar nature for the attending members of Grad ’99.

Hopefully, I look as young and fresh as Adele by then. Though odds are I will look something like this.

Still, after the short film faded to darkness, they’d stand in stunned silence before the slow clap began. “Say what you will about her, she looks outstanding when leaves swirl around her face like that”.

Images & GIF’s Courtesy of the Internet, Fans of Adele