Wait-Loss Wonderland.

The weight loss journey is one seriously rocky road, like wandering though a twisted fairy tale, a calorie-conscious Wonderland with all kinds of detours, obstacles, distractions, forks in the roads and the occasional rabbit hole.

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It’s easy to lose track of your starting point, how far you’ve come, or how much you’ve changed from that day you took that first step in that direction.

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Ten months spent in this weight-loss Wonderland has been a deeply transformative time. Not just of my appearance, or my dress size, but as layers of myself have diminished-now forty pounds and 42.5 inches, I have suffered, struggled—and travelled through my memory—and ran the entire gamut of emotions.  Memories of food; of overindulgences.  I am a certifiable comfort eater. I am my own Italian grandmother serving up heaping portions of creamy, saucy, gooey, salty goodness. Eat! Eat!  It’s the cure for all things: anxiety, boredom, depression, loneliness. It’s not as though gaining weight was a deliberate, conscious act. It just becomes a reality that feels unchangeable.  In my office, there’s a giant glass picture frame with a wedding photo of Buster Keaton, (random I know but the image amuses me). It sits on my desk, and I could see my reflection in it—so I covered it up with papers.

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In retrospect, that action strikes me as sad.  In order to not see myself–and face some hard facts, I refused to see something that brings me joy. Then again, denial, like loose fabric and stretchy pants are necessary accessories of avoidance.  Of course, the cruel irony of this vicious cycle is: feeling unhappy with yourself + self medicating and overindulging + feeling unhappy with yourself + self medicating and overindulging =not living your life out loud like you’d really like to. Knowing that you are on the verge of a great depression; or deep in that chasm with no way to get out—knowing, in an abstract sense, that a healthier lifestyle would be a benefit—but not knowing how to break that cycle—because frankly, you won’t see results on day one, two or three. It becomes quite the waiting game. You simply have to trust that each day, you are a little bit more different than the day before.

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Even after change has become to take shape, sometimes you need reminders. Those Facebook memories that pop up on the ole newsfeed are effective tools, and can be occasionally mortifying—or inspiring, depending on your mood. There was a photo of me in Mexico that really stands out in my mind—I’m rather stylish in the group shot—beachy hair, my smile dressed in red lipstick, a purple silk scarf draped over my shoulders, all tucked into a chunky belt—but oooh, that belt was not the only bit of chunky in that snap shot. It was staggering to see. I showed it to my mother, who was quick to insist that I not feel bad about it; I assured her that I didn’t look at the picture with sadness—I was celebrating New Year’s Eve with some marvellous people in Mexico, and have zero regrets about aaaaaall those guac and chips and margaritas. It was more about realizing how far I had come, when I had kind of lost sight of where I was on the long road to fitness. That was then. This is now. I can’t cripple myself with regret for not starting sooner—or for having a problem at all. Regret, sadly does not burn calories, and is therefore pretty damn useless.

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In the mix of dealing with health improvements, my issues with anxiety are the whack-a-moles that I must endlessly smash with my big mallet. Anxiety is the internal Debbie Downer that leeches joy and distracts from motivation.  That bitch needs to get up and go. But, if she won’t leave, and she sticks with you like a bad tattoo you got in your teen years, how does one redesign it in order to deal it on the daily?   In my case, how does one apply self-comfort without stuffing one’s face? Cups of tea, a cozy blanket, my husband Benjamin, our dog Bluebear, a good book, writing, curling up on the couch, a hot bath, a long walk, a visit with a friend. Chatting with Beth and Elisha at Herbal One, laughing through squats and plies at Barre Kamloops.

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Living life in bite sized increments,  mindful of the moment. By all means plan for the future, but focus on today. Especially in regards to health and weight-loss. So. Many. Times. I would eat as if I were being shipped off to the electric chair at dawn. Tomorrow I’ll be better; I’ll start fresh on Monday.  Excuses start to fly like baseballs at the batting cages. Monday is the worst day of the week, why make that the day to start anything? I’ll start on Tuesday…Wednesday… Thursday… ah, it’s the weekend, best treat myself…to bigger pants. You won’t see change in one day—so what’s one more day of not seeking change? There in lies the need for that mindfulness. You may not see rippling abs on the first day you decide to make a change, so you have to find the ant-sized successes in the daily choices that benefit your long term goal.

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My relationship with food is much friendlier.  I spend more time in the kitchen than ever before–prepping, planning and preparing. The other night Benjamin and I were lying in bed discussing all these delicious meal ideas like two children whispering secrets in the dark. Sunday’s are my food prep days, and there is nothing more satisfying than looking into a perfectly stocked fridge filled with washed and chopped produce and ready to go meals. Take that Monday! If the opportunity arises for a true indulgence, I don’t shy away from it; last night for example—live music, three glasses of pinot noir and two kinds of fondue at the Commodore (swiss cheese and dark chocolate). Do I have a wine/cheese/chocolate hangover today? Hell yes, I do. Do I have regrets? Not at all. I completed a 10-day cleanse, treated myself to a mani/pedi, and enjoyed a very special date night with my sweetheart; I savoured, celebrated and absorbed every bite and every sip.  (We also shared a salad, just for good measure).

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This time has been one of great reflection; recollections of all the injuries, accidents, disappointments, heartbreaks, disasters, losses, betrayals. How I’ve been hurt and hurt others. How I have failed myself and failed others.  Taking responsibility, accepting my actions, forgiving myself, letting go.  Letting go is not my strong suit. I’ve been carrying around past agonies in my heart for so long, punishing myself for my mistakes, torturing myself for every misstep I have ever taken.  I’m still carrying around some of those things in my emotional gunny sack—but I’m learning to leave things behind as I walk along that road. Seeing myself as different people. The fretful child I once was, that 14-year-old girl, that 22-year-old, that 30-year-old—on and on, I can only see them as separate from my present-day self.  Sure, our past selves are a part of the patchwork quilt that is your collective existence, but it’s not the definition of your entire life.  Still, I have to love her—apologize to her for the things that broke her, how I didn’t know how to help her, take care of her. I was weak and imperfect and riddled with flaws. I could have done better for so long, but I didn’t. I can’t punish myself any longer for something that is gone; I can’t change the tides that threatened to drown me. All I can do is today. Breathe. Release. Laugh. Love. Stretch. Forgive. Connect. Be Patient. Cry whenever necessary. Eat fondue occasionally. Be grateful for every mistake and heart break, just don’t let it weigh you down.

Image result for vintage alice in wonderland quotesImages Courtesy of the Fine People Behind the Internet…

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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Last Post Salute.

Let me say, with utmost respect to its context, that I really needed a stat holiday to pop up in the middle of a work week. It’s been another hectic stretch of time, and I’m exhausted.  Of course, this day is not about me and my needs, it belongs to veterans, their families and is reserved for generalized National reflection. Remembrance Day offers a sense of reverence, and a quiet Sunday-type of feeling washes over the daylight hours. Telephone turned off, face freshly washed, quietly listening to the radio with a book on your lap. Coffee on the couch with Benjamin, sitting under blankets in front of the fire with a sleeping dog nestled between us.

CBC 2 is offering a steady stream of Remembrance Day themed music and content. We sat down to a late breakfast, but when 11:00am struck and the Last Post Salute began, our forks were lowered onto the plate, and we sat in silence. Not one to be completely idle I pet my dog, and wipe away errant tears. Thinking about soldiers in a fresh uniform, before they ever see a war zone. What it would be like to say goodbye to your dog–your family, the warmth of home, everything you’ve ever known. To leave behind people who will worry about you, mourn for you, learn to live without you. Not being sure if you will ever return. To die in the worst possible circumstances and conditions, so far away from where you began. It’s an unbearably heavy collection of thoughts.

Editors Note: best remedy for this is to Google ‘soldiers and seeing their babies for the first time’…

…or how about ‘Soldiers and Dogs’? Jeez Louise, have a tissue handy for that one. It then easily rolls into a watching a YouTube montage of excited dogs and their returning masters and it makes your eyes want to explode with a burst of pure salt water.

Ah, that’s better.

After the moment of silence passes, the radio announcer carries on, introduces another song, we release a big sigh and we resume with our poached eggs. We decide to follow our meal with a walk on the beach. Before we do that–we stop by our local pet store. This is something Benjamin does to me all the time–we go out to walk the dog on a lazy Sunday–but first, lets run this quick yet unexpected errand. I ultimately run into a professional acquaintance or customer, old friend or ex-lover and I’m lurking around Petland looking like an extra from The Walking Dead. Unbrushed hair crammed under a red toque, sunglasses firmly in place, giant woolen scarf, yoga pants rolled up at the angle and running shoes; if I had an invisibility cloak, I would have happily worn that as a layer too. I hear a familiar voice, and see a woman I know looking absolutely, deliciously chic in a gorgeous black and red trench coat. Her blonde bob was impeccable. Very Grace Kelly meets Kate Middleton meets Remembrance Day. She’s just come from the ceremony in Riverside Park, which was absolutely packed with people. I’m stricken with a splash of guilt; feeling like a ceremony skipper caught out in public looking perfectly dishevelled, and sans poppy to boot. What a disgrace.

It’s been years since I’ve been to a public Remembrance Day service.  It hadn’t become a ritual for my husband and I–it was always best spent as an ‘at home’ day. Also, as a little girl I know said about being at those services: “You have to stand there and be quiet for a really long time, and that’s just not my jam”.

Amen sister.

I feel as though a full morning of Remembrance Day programming on CBC 2 is as good as a trip to the Cenotaph. I mention that to Grace Kelly, just put it out there that I’m observing Remembrance Day in my own private way–I’m not just being an insensitive non-patriot picking out dog coats without giving a second thought to the millions of people who died for their country.  How can you not? Whatever your opinions about politics, military or war are, you can’t help but get a lump in your throat when you think about all those goodbyes, and of all those poor souls who never came back to say hello.

  Images Courtesy of the Fine People behind the Internet

Faith Tones & the Freak Show Circuit

For anyone who’s keeping track–the original blogs have not been flooding in plentifully…it’s a trickle. It’s like the tap in the bathtub that occasionally releases a fat drop of water. We’re teetering on full out drought here. Once the very busy summer ended, my life continued to be a morning to night all-consuming marathon of activity and responsibility.

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The luxurious days of writing for hours are gone–for now.  Maybe I’ll have a baby just so I can have a year off–finally write the book that the world has been holding their breath for. In the meantime the only thing I have time for is re-editing and re-posting older posts. Let’s be honest, there’s well over 200 blogs, and not all have been read by everyone. Only a handful of people (that I know of), have read the entire catalogue. Once in a blue moon the pop culture gods release news that allows me to re-release a blog for another dozen or so new readers to relish.  My friend Dusan admonished me over tea one afternoon: “Too busy is not an excuse’, ‘editing and adding new ideas to an old post is not really the same thing as writing a new one’. Well…what can I say? Legitimate writers take collections of already published material and put a spine on it and call it a book–and I bet they tinker and retool their work just a little before it hits the printing press.  As an unpaid, non-legitimate writer, don’t I have the right to rotate the backlog?  Though I no longer write regularly, I still check in on my stats–see what people are reading. I get comments that are almost exclusively spam. For example, samsung 32 inch tv said: “Heyya i am foor the firest time here. I found this board and I tto find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I am hopng to present on thing bak and aid others like you aided me“.  The other day I reposted a piece about the end of summer, and got a very nice shout out from a former co-worker. Her compliment was a nice validation–that someone is reading and enjoying; that it is not unfounded to repost old pieces, as they are new to someone else. Yesterday I checked my email and received a notification about a comment. Wow, another  comment from someone not named ‘fur coats cheap for sale’. It was regarding Crossed Lines at the Cal Neva, a rather epic blog written over my Christmas holiday about Marilyn Monroe’s last weekend.

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“Hell, if your so great why don’t you put up pictures of yourself and have them judge you based on their lives?”

Whoa. That was harsh. As a knee jerk reaction I immediately deleted it. But it really made me stop and think.

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If the writer of this comment had only put an apostrophe and added an ‘e’ to ‘your’, that would have cut me to the quick.  It made me screw my face up in confusion. So…who have I offended here? Are Marilyn, Frank, Jackie and JFK up in heaven nursing wounds over what I wrote about them? Is the commenter offended on their behalf? I reread the piece and realize the issue. (Read along if you wish for the most heightened interactive experience https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/12/30/crossed-lines-at-the-cal-neva/). The blog was originally going to be about me spending my entire Christmas holiday drunk on spiked coffee, and whiling away many hours on Pinterest…and because I was still drunk I just combined what really should be two blogs into one Lawrence of Arabia length piece. So the blog does start off with me making remarks about vintage celebrity snapshots.Why wouldn’t I?How can you come across a picture like this an not crack a joke>

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Furthermore, Cher is an old friend of mine.  I met her at a Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves summit.  I even introduced her to Val Kilmer. Celebrities in general love when I gently roast their past lives.  What I want to know is how this commenter has deduced that I’m “so great”, and insinuating that my  knowledge of this greatness is bleeding into my comedic work. Does she think that I think I’m better than Cher? Better than Nancy Regan sitting on Mr T’s lap when he is dressed like Santa? Bitch please. Nothing in life will be that good again my friends.

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Clearly this woman has not read all the blogs. It’s a pretty rare day that I shine a light on my many many talents and positive attributes. Don’t I self depreciate enough? I’m an unpaid, unfamous blogger with a slim following and fat thighs, and I am not afraid to shout these facts from the rooftop…what more does she want from me? Maybe she wants to hear more about my life–learn more about my past through the majesty of photography. Allow her to judge me as I have judged others.  Please forgive me…I’ll do my best, but I’m feeling a little foggy–I was just at George’s wedding in Venice and it was a pretty magical weekend.  This is not the most flattering shot of me, I was being attacked by a bee, and was trying to deflect it with my many diamonds.

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Was I invited to Clooney’s wedding? I wasn’t not invited. I know Amal (if that’s her real name), is quite intimated by me, and hoped I would not show my face around Venice over the weekend. What a silly bitch. You don’t spend as much as I have on a face and not show it off.  George needed to see what he was losing for one last time. This is a classic shot–George took this on a particularly hot day in our tow-trailer in Arizona…I was going through a blonde phase, which was a huge mistake. In Clooney land–you better run a tight ship. No dishes in the sink, don’t leave the milk and generic cereal out–and do all that with class, dignity and chestnut hair.

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Of course, I wasn’t always the beauty I am today. In fact, when I was born, doctors told my parents that I would never be attractive. Not wanting to be known as the parents of an ugly baby, they did their best to distance themselves from me.

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Time moved along and I did not outgrow the ugly baby phase. Still, I got a pet and a pack of cigarettes, and suddenly my toddler days were looking up.

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I found a group of friends, and they tried to help me blend into the crowd by wearing masks that were scarier than my actual face.

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Things with the group got kind of out of hand. Egged on by my pet chicken Albert…who had really come to rule the roost, daily life got a little too Lord of the Flies circa Rob Zombie, so we scattered to the wind shortly after this photo was taken.

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From there, it was a ragtag life of menial crime. Knocking off drug stores, liquor stands and 24-hour dry cleaners, and getting short stints with freak shows as they toured throughout the Mid West.

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I made a good honest living for a while–thrilling audiences with my peculiar body and excessively ruffled collar.

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I made friends along the way…making one acquaintance in particular on the road. Now this is an exclusive, and you won’t hear about in the press. Sure Amal looks like this now.  When I had Clooney money I looked like a million bucks too.

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I remember Amal from the freak show circuit when she was known as Gertie the Goatee Faced Girl.

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George is not the first man we fought over either. We have loved the same man before–or, at least, we thought it was a man…the heaving breasts were often confusing.  But what can you say? It’s slim pickings on the fair grounds.

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As is the theme of my life, I loved and lost–and was forced in the opposite direction. I got a new hat and a second hand gun and didn’t take shit from anyone ever again.

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Eventually, the law caught up with me, and I was captured trying to cross the border into Mexico with counterfeit money, thirty aerosol cans of hairspray and a trunkful of mushroom colored pantyhose in a stolen Oldsmobile.

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Prison life was a time of growth and self reflection. It’s all detailed in the wildly exaggerated fictional account written about my life.

Don’t even get me started on Orrie Hitt–what a liar. Who gives someone “Sherry Jenkins” as a pseudonym? Why not Doreen Magilicutty? Esther Pinkerinko? Toots McTinkertits? Trade a little sex for money and suddenly you are a hooker–which is another lie–I’ve never even played rugby once in my life.  Nonetheless, prison changed my life, and made me the saint you know me as today.  With those dark days of incarceration behind me, I turned to a more spiritual life. I realized that I had a natural ear for music and a voice that could make the angels weep; naturally I walked straight into the record biz and dropped a rather successful album with some girls I met in a Halfway house. I’m the one with the big hair in this shot.

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Considered the Justin Timberlake of The Faith Tones, it was only natural that I went solo.  I named the album after my favorite place in the world.  This look is a little ‘Sherry Jenkins’, but my management team at the time was going for an elusive combination of bronzer, bleach and bulimia with just a healthy splash of vodka and a venereal infection.  I think that achieving that look became more successful than the actual album. Lesson learned. The album cover is not more important than the album.  The Faith Tones tried to warn me–but I was blinded by money, fame and the reflection in the looking glass–I called them a dime store Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, and laughed off into the sunset with Charlie Sheen…’s recently fired bodyguard Gary.

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Nobody looks like good all the time right? Wrong. I look that amazing all the time. I earned this beauty. I pay monthly installments for it. I lie to my husband and claim they are ‘student loan payments’ when everyone knows a university education is for suckers.  As of recently I’m paying off the butt implant surgery that will make me look more like Nicky Minaj. I look right in the mirror before I look down on Marilyn Monroe or criticize Sinatra’s ability to be a good friend.  I  pass judgement on Cher’s dating life and make off the cuff observations about celebrities in 30 year old snapshots. And I know I am right to do so.  Why not? After all, I  know as anyone else that I am ‘so great’. No one has ever used the internet to pass judgment, make ironic statements or snarky remarks before. No one has commented on a photograph before. No one has ever taken taken vintage imagery and added a modern twist. Marilyn--117784

Thank goodness I came along to shake things up. I pretty much invented irony along with the birth control pill and the friggin’ wheel. Apologies to whomever I’ve offended–especially to Ms Monroe, as I am the first and only individual to ever speculate about her spectacular yet unfortunate life.

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Dear Writer

Not blogging for an extended period of time is like trying to catch a good friend up over e-mail. We need to do this over a coffee and a scone, or a cheese board and a cab sav, or a week-long holiday in Ibiza. Whatever. I’m flexible.  I really should just set up a web cam, get increasingly drunk, and really tell it like it is. I’ll bring in some special guests to help me hammer out the issues.  It’ll be all lipstick, cackling, cigarettes and black mascara running down faces.  It’ll be longer than “Gone with the Wind” and will be just as epic. Settle in for a good, long tale, bitches.  I’ve done some growing. Developments have been made. Shit has gone down.

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Meanwhile, on the road to creative fulfillment there are many deviations and distractions. Once an active blogger, I was a steaming, persistent train engine, and now I’m more like the girl tied to the track.

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Sheesh, have you ever Googled “damsel in distress tied to track”? It’s a bit of a kinky thing on the interweb. (The other day I Googled “boozy Judy Garland” and it was almost entirely pictures from my blog).  Sexual undertone aside, that’s a pretty apt description. Not writing is always the default mode, but it doesn’t make it the best mode.  As I write I feel…better. Lighter. Like it’s the most me I can be. Typing away, making my own funny fantasy world; where George Clooney once loved me, and I’m somewhere in between Hepburn, Monroe, Streisand, a classic pinup girl…with just a dash of boozy Judy.

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Sadly, the closest I get is Liza in a wig.

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My blog used to be my number one time investment; now it is the literary version of an elliptical trainer in the basement than has laundry drying on it.  The fact that I used to write one thoughtful entry a day is as my husband likes to say ‘mind-bobbling”.  I used to check in with the daily stats religiously.  And then I stopped even doing that.  For whatever reason, I checked in with the website one night and noticed that one blog had been read at a rather high rate. I reread it and (is this tacky?) and was totally chuckling at this essay about my robust rear end, and the feminist aspects of Sir Mix-a-Lot.

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The blog used to be a bit of a life raft–in a time when steeped in uncertainty, I leaned on the ritual, relying on this made up routine to give purpose to my life.  I was rather desperate for something to “happen” to me.  I mean, I’ve had plenty “happen” to me, I could easily fill a country album with twelve or so tracks about heart ache, but I required some kind of positive advancement.  I wanted writing to be the trampoline catapulting into some fame stratosphere. Or even to step into the meekest puddle of success, to see my name in print.To earn a spot of cash for my written word. To make people laugh. It is my earthly mission to crack wise, to heal with humor, to say completely inappropriate things if it means to break the tension.  That scene in Steel Magnolias when Sally Field is lamenting the death of her beloved daughter, and is bringing the house down with her raw, guttural “Why God, Why” kind of grief–and I’m Olympia Dukakis trying to break the ice with a little Shirley MacLaine beat down. Go on, take a whack at Ouiser. What else are you going to do? Just cry forever until you die, and have someone take over and start crying for you?

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At the height of blog productivity I entered a number of writing contests, and was never considered, shortlisted…nada.  At this time last year, I hung my hopes pretty high on those stars, and it was so wounding to go unnoticed.  Did this take a toll on my writing? Yes and no.  I definitely stopped believing that the blog was a portal to anything other an elaborate hobby and a creative outlet.  Even then, I still wrote occasionally, cracking out pieces over long weekends or the occasional long night.  Something did “happen” to me. I got busy, I got involved in committees, theatre projects, and marketing efforts. I have had some extracurricular activity going on since last winter.  The time just wasn’t there to commit to the whole process. Which is great because the writing was more like a treadmill that didn’t seem to take me anywhere.  Recently I got a letter in the mail from a publication company, whom I sent a rather charming story to for a long ago contest.

Dear Writer”

That’s not how you start a letter to the winner. That’s a template for a polite rejection notice.

Dear Loser…Don’t give up your day job“.

This isn’t a pity party, more like a melancholic discotheque.  It’s just not my time I guess. The writing just became a luxury I could no longer afford…because I was out there living my life.  Not that I didn’t have things to write about. Which brings up another host of issues.  How much do I want people to know about me?  In Kamloops, in this medium sized city where social circles course into each other like Venn diagrams, eventually people would connect me to my material, and know some pretty intimate details about my private life.  I once gave my card to a former professor, and then was stricken with horror because the last blog I had written was about my vagina.  I mean, it was humorous and laden with pop culture references, but let’s be honest here–it’s me, three days, an apocalyptic yeast infection and a Sex and the City marathon.  I thought I was being rather ribald, but close friends felt I was too restrained.  Having never written about my lady bits, I thought my first crack at it was plenty racy.  I don’t want to go and make a big axe wound out of things, I like a good punchline but I’m still a lady.  After all, I don’t know if I want to be recognized in the grocery store, while absentmindedly pushing a trolley, and people knowing me without knowing me.

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-“Apparently her writing is unpublishable”

-“I hear her vagina is super temperamental“.

There have been a handful of moments, connections and life lessons that have occurred in the last while that could become blog-worthy…there is one time is particular when I was feeling incredibly challenged. Now, haters are going to hate, it to happens to everyone from Bieber to Beyonce–but there was a time when a hater had their sights set on me. I got a proper taste of what it would be like to be a bullied high-school girl in this age of technology. Back in my day a bully would call you on your rotary phone or write a nasty note, now even the most vaguely intelligent person can attack you through a variety of mediums.  It was like grown-up Mean Girls. That experience hit me pretty hard.  What was worse about it was that on legal terms, I couldn’t talk about it.  That was the true beauty of the blog– the catharsis, that incredible release.  Something stopped me.  I became self-conscious.  I was feeling vulnerable.  I feared the over-share. So I stopped sharing.

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That’s not the answer either. I want to tell these stories…but I don’t want any backlash.  While there’s freedom in a blog–it’s a self-governed practice, with access to a host of images., there’s also nothing to protect your written world in the big bad world.  Frankly, that’s why I need a book deal.  There’s something safe about sharing your most personal details in the credible confines of a published formation. With a title and a picture on the back cover and comments on the back from people that are mildly encouraging.  There is also something about the non-credibility of being just some Jane Blogger, spilling my guts onto the internet, something that even Beyonce can’t control.

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For the record, let it be known that during that recent era of the ugly hateration, the whole Beyonce/Jay-Z /Solange Knowles elevator incident happened, and I had a great metaphor about being like B & J at the same time, feeling that this bully was just like Solange Knowles. I was going to call the blog “The 99 Problems Stress Test”.  The time sensitive topic got away from me, and after a while it just didn’t matter.  It was something I didn’t want to relive just then.  Though really, it’s how I process grief, by banging it out on the keyboard. I truly believe that everything is connected, making partners out of seemingly unmatchable things is a real comfort to me.   This is the epicenter of my sense of humor: the biggest hurts require the biggest laughs. Like Truvy that hairdresser says in Steel Magnolias “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion”.  For me, in times when I have been touched by hardships and the legacy of depression, humor has been the crutch, the oxygen, the mask.  My sense of humor is my soul; if I were to stop laughing, I’d be in pretty big trouble.

You know where I’m going don’t you?

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Ugh, Robin Williams. This is a shotgun blast to the heart. Robin Williams committed suicide. Now there’s a sentence I’d never thought I’d utter. It’s such a poetic, operatic ending that it is too much to bear.  The loudest person in the room, the funniest figure, the biggest ham and cheese on rye snuffs out his own candle at a moderately young age. It brings up lots of ‘tears of a clown’ references, and endless speculations about his demise. Of course, I am right in the mix, reading, speculating and processing.  This has really hit people hard, I suppose for the same reason we fall in love with fictional characters, for what we see in ourselves.  How does it come to be? A beloved man steeped in success;  a beautiful wife, children, fame, accolades and the accessibility to the most incredible people and opportunities closes the door in his California mansion and loops a belt around his neck. Hard to fathom. That’s how deep his own misery was. “Why would you deprive people of your talent?” the masses question the dead. Clearly at that crucial moment he wasn’t thinking about Mrs Doubtfire or the Genie from Aladdin.  He wasn’t defining himself as comic genius or pop culture icon, not even as a husband and father, he must have been a desperate man in a dark place in need for his pain to endThen again, who am I to say what he thought? All I know is that those hurts belonged only to him.  And it shocked the hell out of absolutely everyone.  When I started this blog, he had only died the day before. By the time I actually publish there will be thousands of articles about his life, his death,his demons, his legacy, his generosity, his many characters.

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There’s a lot of comparisons to humor and depression.  You know me, I do love to mix up unrelated things, but these are closer than you’d think.  I’ve been in some pretty dark places in my life, and my saving grace has always been the sanctifying power of laughter and good humor.  Of course, all aliments can’t be cured with a good belly laugh, but for the most part…it certainly doesn’t hurt. The thought of the funniest person having the heaviest heart really shook me up.  What got me most was the comments from other comedians (Jimmy Fallon getting choked up, Conan O’Brien breaking the news with Will Arnett and Andy Richter, Norm MacDonald’s heart breaking tweets). What these individuals focused on was his wealth of material, what he gave, what he taught, what he left behind.  It makes you reflect on what you’d want to be remembered for, what you want to leave behind.

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In the days that followed the death of a comedian, I inched closer to the keyboard, looked closer at myself.   I wrote my first blog in ages.  It was vaguely like climbing the Himalayas, but it was worth the late nights to make like a masturbating teenager and bang one out for old times sake.  In short, to borrow and reinvent a famous Shawshank Redemption quote: get busy laughing or get busy crying.  Whenever possible. Otherwise everything else doesn’t mean a god damn thing.

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Courtesy of Google Images

The Devil, Willy Wonka & The Tunnel of Love

It’s the beginning of March and it’s snowing. Again.  Christ almighty, when will I be able to wear flats again? Walk on the grass? Feel the sun on my face.  Throw on a t-shirt and a skirt and head out the door.  My friend Monica said that nothing was more refreshing than strolling in a long skirt without any underwear.  It was like opening the window down below . When I lived in New Zealand, I once found myself at a music festival, swept up by reggae music, sun-kissed and stomping my feet into the dust, hair wet from the ocean, wearing nothing but a long white halter dress.  I felt truly free.  Like I could breathe, and not just through my mouth and nose.  The winter  season is such a bulky time of year, I’m starting to feels like later-years Marlon Brando, but with much smaller breasts.

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I manage a facility that deals with children, anywhere between eighteen months and five years, up to school aged.  Each little friend comes complete with boots, gloves, hats, snow-pants, enormous puffy jackets, indoor shoes, lunch bags…and the occasional little roller bag with Dora the Explorer on in.  The first snowfall of the season, ( exactly one thousand years ago) brought that fear to the forefront of my mind.

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Imagine all of those possessions, and then stuff them into a little cubby.  Then let a four-year old do it.  Watching a pre-schooler try to achieve this cleanly and swiftly is like watching a monkey stuff a cream puff through a key hole. Children, bless them, are precious creatures, but when surrounded by twenty of them, it does feel like being a ringmaster in a midget circus… but all the midget’s have all been drinking champagne in the hot sun, or they have just recently been tasered on a tilt-a-whirl.  They look stunned, confused, toddling around the room wrapped up in layers like little sausages.  No one knows what belongs to them, and everyday there is a lone mitten, or abandoned sock.  On more than one occasion, you have to line them up and hold up a sweater, moving slowly down the line trying to match the unlabeled item to their disoriented owner.  “No one? This sweater belongs to nobody, it just grew some legs and wandered from a store somewhere? That’s fine, I’ll just add it to the massive pile we call the lost and found”.  I dream about warmer days, and one layer per child.

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    Do they usually come with this much baggage?

I feel like I don’t know how to write.  Or…that I can write, but I don’t know what to say.  Or that I know what to say but I’m afraid to be as honest as I need to be to tell the story.  I’ve just recovered from five days bed rest.  Infection stormed the castle of my immune system, and my empire lay in smoldering ruins.  What I love most about getting sick, (and when I say love, I really mean hate) is when you are ticking along, enjoying life, strolling on a metaphorical California boardwalk eating an ice cream cone, staring at the sunset…

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…when someone runs up from behind and whacks you over the head with a crow bar, knocking the fun out of your day, and the wind out of your sails.

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The mathematics of body chemistry. Busy schedule+winter+lack of sleep/hotel hot tub x dietary sensitives=five days of bed rest due to a spectacularly wicked thrush infection.  It came on with a furious swiftness, as if it were sent to me by the devil himself via the four horseman of the apocalypse.

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Sweet baby Jesus, the tunnel of love is on fire.

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I woke at 6am and felt like moving my body would be the greatest feat.  I texted my boss and fell back asleep for hours.  When I finally awoke, I was weak and agitated.  I wasn’t going anywhere.  I lay there in the darkness, wondering how to pass the time.

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Okay…time out.  Listen,I’ve got to drop a disclaimer on y’all.  I’m not sure where this blog is going to go, but there’s a 98% chance that the subject material may get a little uncomfortable.  Right now we are cruising along in a little boat, on untroubled waters.  I’m giving you the usual tour through my ridiculous thoughts, and everyone is perfectly content.

badass-6The tide is about to turn.  Like that scene in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”, when they take that cruise on the chocolate river that quickly turned into an acid trip.  It’s innocent enough, Wonka is singing a little ditty, and then it starts to edge on creepy, and then he starts screaming at everyone, and it really takes the sweetness out of a pleasure cruise in a candy factory.

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This blog may do that.  I’m going to talk about my vagina.  Things may get graphic. Not in Quentin Tarantino or Larry Flynt kind of way, more Eve Ensler meets Katherine Hepburn. Still…I’m going to be giving you the worst side of Wonka.

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I once sat in on a general meeting for “The Vagina Monologues”.  People would introduce themselves with: “Hi, I’m Debbie and I love vaginas” or “If my vagina could she would wear a fur coat and diamonds”.  The sentiment was a little too ooey-gooey for my taste.  We can all appreciate the good work a vagina does, but you wouldn’t want to sit across from one at a dinner party all night.  Although I suppose if it were Ensler’s she would plenty to discuss, be able to describe itself colorfully, and maybe wear hip horn rimmed glasses.  She would have sassy catch phrases like: ‘Read my lips”, and discuss her favorite childhood book ‘The Vulventeen Rabbit’.  When my turn came, I of course combated my vulnerability with humor, and compared my vagina to Mrs Roper from “Three’s Company”.

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The last time I made a “Three’s Company” joke, my Kiwi husband didn’t get it.  It makes me wonder if the reference is just a bit too old and regional for my target audience.  “Three’s Company” is a wacky sitcom, a farcical web of high jinks and misunderstandings.  Jack Tripper fakes homosexuality in order to live with two women in a Santa Monica apartment with very opinionated landlords. Mrs Roper, the landlord’s wife is a feisty old broad who wears muumuu’s and plastic jewelry with curly hair. Despite her seduction tactics, her husband is sexually unresponsive. She’s sassy, nosy, lonely and a little sad.  She’s feeling her age, and desperate for a better time.

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I never did participate in “The Vagina Monologues”.  They had given me a monologue about an aboriginal woman who is repeatedly raped and beaten by her husband; but how every morning she got her revenge but braiding his hair incorrectly, so that his point of pride was crooked.  Yikes. That meeting and the subsequent performance was not long after my friend Monica’s death, and I did not need that kind of story in my head.  I had also chosen that time to go and see one of my oldest friends instead.  It does remind me of a friend who did a performance in Ontario, with a group that was beyond lovey-dovey about their anatomy.  At the after party, the topic of menstruation (as it so often does) came up.  These women discussed their different flow methods; how some just…worked from home I imagine, and just bled out on their blankets. Many many made their own pads, and the hostess remarked that she would reuse her menstrual pads, wash them, and then use the leftover pink water for her plants.  It was just then that my friend noticed the plethora of lush greenery amongst the ceramic pots and modern art.  That woman’s vagina would wear caftans and smell like patchouli.  My vagina is more along the lines of Annie Hall…or maybe Edith Piaf.  dramatic, melancholic, misunderstood, traumatized, and a little bit outlandish.

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Over the last five days I have thought less of my vagina as a person, but more as a place during a natural disaster.  A war zone in Vietnam, a zombie apocalypse in the Sahara desert.  Remember that scene in “Gone with the Wind” when Atlanta is burning? Now you’re getting the idea.

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Oh candida, you are my nemesis.  I’ve written of my love of bread before, “Carbohydrate Brokeback Mountain”, will explain all.  Bread does not feel about me, as I do about it.  As I get older, the tolerance recedes with time.  The pain worsens; this infection was so consuming that I would have done anything to make the pain go away.  I was melting ice faster than global warming.  I can’t spend my life dodging the next candida car bombing.  I’ve been here before.  Eliminating the ‘danger foods’ from my diet.  As my girlfriend said to me–first, “Yes you can blog about your vagina” and second, “Bread is the coal that stokes the flames of Candida”.  What else you ask? What other food’s encourage the growth of yeast and should be avoided? What are the other culinary don’ts?

AVOID All sweets including hidden sweeteners in processed foods, such as soups, all fruit and fruit juice. Avoid grains such as prepared flake cereals sprouted grain cereals such as: Amaranth, Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Rice, Rye, Spelt, Wheat.

Avoid Granola, Pearl barley, Instant oats, Cornmeal, degerminated Hominy grits, degerminated Microwave popcorn Blue corn meal

Pasta Pasta is flour and water, the flour may be white bread flour and it may be durum flour made from semolina. All types of noodles are made from the same base and they should all be cut out of the diet, with Bufin, the Japanese noodles, Ramen instant noodles, farina, semolina and white flour noodles and pastas.

Baked goods and Breads Avoid all cakes, pastries, cookies doughnuts or other processed baked food containing sugar. This list includes white bread, or any bread containing wheat, which includes parathas, nanas bread, pita bread, white flour tortillas, wheat dough tortillas, sourdough, or any other ethnic bread made from wheat. Mochi the sweet unleavened bread made from brown rice should be avoided.

Legumes Avoid beans and peas with sweeteners, bean sprouts, tempeh which a type of fermented tofu, tofu and textured vegetable protein.

Nuts & Seeds Coconut, Peanuts, Pistachios, Walnuts

Dairy Products Buttermilk, Soymilk (sweetened), All kinds of cheeses, Cottage cheese, Kefir, Milk, Sour cream Creme fraiche Sweetened yogurt.

Fruit Never eat dried fruit, and when you start the Candida cleanse diet it is best to avoid all fruit because of the fructose the sugar it contains. Once you have eliminated the current Candida infection then eat fruit with a moderate amount of sugar. Low sugar fruits are apples, grapefruit, melon, and strawberries.

Beverages Alcohol, Cereal beverages, Coffee both regular and decaffeinated, Fruit juices Soft drinks including the diet soft drinks. Processed tea drinks such as lemon tea. All fruit teas, Black tea

Condiments and Sauces No Ketchup or catsup or any type of tomato sauce Cream sauces such as Alfredo Steak sauce, NO Capers, Dried or powdered garlic, Miso, Dried or powdered onion, Pickles or chutneys, which include anything made with sugar and distilled vinegar. Spices, Distilled vinegar Sauerkraut.

Proteins: Meat products such as beef chicken or pork have added antibiotics and hormones and they should be avoided if you want to eat meat then eat free-range organic products. Smoked meats such as bacon, sausages and salami products such as pepperoni have added sugar and should be cut out of your diet.

Vegetables:Beetroot Canned tomatoes Carrots Cucumber skins, Mushrooms (all types), Potato skins, Prepared soups, Canned tomatoes

Don’t worry, there is plenty to feast upon that’s yeast free!

Antelope, bear, beef, buffalo, caribou, chicken, deer, duck, eggs, elk, all types of fish, frog legs, game hen, goat, goose, grouse (partridge), guinea fowl, moose, mutton, peafowl, pheasant, pigeon (squab), pork, quail, and turkey.

Oh good. No bread, wine, coffee, dairy, sugar, fruit…but all the pigeon I can eat?!? Jackpot! I’ll lose fifty pounds and call it the hobo diet.  I just live off bird meat, frog legs and rain water and be Sarah Jessica Parker thin.

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In my five days of bed rest, I remedied my boredom with several seasons of “Sex and the City”.  I was mid-way through season three–which was set up in the bedroom DVD player for those days when Benjamin was tied up with his video games.  Set up with water, tea and a bowl of ice, I propped by knees up with a body pillow, and completed the third season, which lead to the fourth, the fifth and both parts of the sixth season.

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When the show was at its peak on television all my peers were obsessed with the show. In retrospect, this show created expectations that are a kin to teenage boys and pornography.  People don’t always look like that. Sex isn’t always like that. Relationships aren’t even like that. Nothing is as exciting as New York.  Real life isn’t quality HBO programming.  Yet, it created an impossible standard of the kind of women we wanted to be.

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The series finale took place ten years to the week of my illness.  I can tell you exactly where and who I was when that show ended.  A twenty-two university student, broke, broken, self-absorbed, thrift store fashionista, dreaming of bigger and better and not knowing how to get there.  I wanted to be a writer then, but didn’t write anything other than random journal entries or assigned essays.  I had plenty of material to work with.  I suppose I didn’t know myself, I was barreling through my life, crashing into people, and snatching at choices without a thought to consequence.  I was self-reflexive, but perhaps not brave enough to truthfully chronicle my life for public consumption.  Of course, the only thing worse than people not reading, is people reading.  And then…what would happen? Wouldn’t they know about my promiscuities, my bad habits, and worse yet, the bad habits of my friends?  That thought occurred while watching the program in this highly concentrated amount.  In theory, isn’t Carrie’s voice over her article being written? Aren’t her friends reading? Wouldn’t Mr Big be reading this weekly and have a better understanding of his partner’s needs? Wouldn’t just once Samantha say: ‘must you tell everyone just how much cock I’ve been gobbling?”

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Of course, in a city of eight million people as opposed to a university town of 85,000…there’s a lot more freedom in anonymity.  It’s a lot harder to scream from the rooftops about the heavy flow of traffic being directed through the vagina’s of you and your besties when the skyscraper only reaches six or seven floors. It’s a bit like trying to replicate Carrie’s fashion sense in a city where the downtown strip is six blocks on one street, and the majority of time is spent in the library or computer labs.

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On the streets of the Big Apple, anything goes; amidst the crush of busy people in the urban jungle, you can mix couture with thrift store, and wear your heart, and your even vagina on your sleeve.

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Calm down Carrie, that’s not even the worst of it.  Going from episode to episode, I did notice one thing.  Carrie Bradshaw is a selfish piece of work.  This reminds me of a conversation with a university theatre professor, who had seen the entire series with his long-time girlfriend.  Great writing, great characterization, great acting.  The only issue? “Carrie Bradshaw is a cunt“, he says decisively.  “She’s selfish, inconsiderate, irresponsible, vain, careless. Look at what she did to Aidan, that’s cruel”.

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For those not in the know, after years of the hot/cold, yes/no treatment from Mr Big, who eventually marries another (younger) woman, Carrie meets Aidan, big sweet loving bear, a carpenter with an understanding heart.  He loves, accepts, values and adores Carrie, who starts fooling around in hotel rooms with married Mr Big.  She confesses the morning of Charlotte’s wedding, hoping to absolve herself and move forward. Aidan is like…’uh no, because now I can’t trust you–what other secrets do you have stored in that enormous bun atop your head?’

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Enter season four, Carrie reconnects with Aidan, pursues him ceaselessly, earns his love and trust once more.  They get engaged, Carrie crumbles under the crush of commitment, and then breaks his heart all over again.

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Wow, she really is a cunt.  It’s all the more obvious to me because my husband is an “Aidan”.  The thought of hurting my bear like that made me feel awfully sad.  That’s the power of excellent writing, by the end of the series you still find yourself rooting for Carrie and Mr Big.  Of course, by the time you get to Petrovsky, “The Russian”, I’d rather Carrie drove off in the sunset with Miranda or Chewbacca from Star Wars than that humorless old bastard.

splat-01-1024I don’t care how hunky he was “back in the day”, no Russian for me thanks.  Look at that expression. Imagine opening your eyes mid-coitus and seeing that grimace looming overhead.  Blech.  When I would watch this program with one friend, who I visited after Monica’s death, we would bellow “BORING!” every-time he appeared on the screen.  Thank God the Russian is the only person in the world more selfish than Carrie, and she finds her way back to Mr Big, who takes about as long as a Canadian winter to finally be like–“okay, I’m finally ready, let’s shuffle away from this retirement home and really make it work, until we die of old age in about ten minutes time”. (Until the movie, where I ruin the wedding and you still take me back in the end, which leads to the second (possibly ill-advised) film, when you snog Aidan in Abu Dhabi while Samantha has to keep her face from melting in the sun”.

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Don’t get me wrong, I was very committed to this marathon; it kept me sane.  I was emotionally invested in these lives, but it got me thinking about my friendships, romances, relationships, my youth, my memories…and my vagina.  I was in such pain, I couldn’t help but wonder how women recover after birth and actually have to take care of another human being at the same time.  What a terrifying thought. I’ve heard the stories, I could put the pieces together,  that’s a long road back for the lady bits.  Panic was rising inside of me.  In the climatic fever pitch of my illness, agitated and desperately lonely, deep inside my own head, I was lost at an intersection of fact and fiction, memory and reality.  “Sex and the City” inevitably turns to the ticking clock.  Charlotte can’t have a baby, Miranda struggles with hers, Carrie doesn’t know if she wants to have a baby; it kind of makes you sweat from all the options.

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A dear friend calls me up to check in on my health.  We gab about “Sex and the City”, I vent about my illness, and she tells me that she is having a baby.  Mind blown.  It was like…’you can’t be pregnant, we’re only 22, smoking cigarettes and talking about our crushes “.  It’s an age so good that Taylor Swift wrote a song about it. I still trip over the fact that the young girls from the past, obsessing over dramas that are dust particles now, sleepless nights spent searching for Mr Right, (and/or Mr Right Now) are now married, or settled with careers, mortgages and children, and that time is but a blip on the brain’s fuzzy recollection.  Not that I would want to be that maturity level again, but having that kind of time ahead of me…that would be better than all the couture in the world.  If you think about it, I am the age now of Carrie at the beginning of the series, when I equated this show to being in my twenties.

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In an effort to cleanse my body, I saw an acupuncturist for a candida exorcism.  In New Zealand, combined cupping and acupressure, gave you herbs, and you left feeling like a million bucks for about fifty dollars.  This was being left along in a room for an hour, penetrated by a thousand tiny little pricks.  I dozed for a spell, but then was wide awake, sinking into a new depth of loneliness.  I wanted to go back to New York,  back to bed. Once home, I tried to entice Benjamin to join me…”Please”, he said “I’m afraid the show will give me a yeast infection”. Which was fine, he wouldn’t understand anyway, he just doesn’t have the proper equipment.  I was on a journey of healing and self discovery, and I didn’t even have to leave my bedroom.  I crawled back under the sheets, where I was alone but in good company, just Carrie B, New York City, my vagina and me.

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Year of the Hoarse

Glorious Sunday.  We woke up early.  Six in the morning.  Curled up under the blankets, chatting quietly in the dark, we eventually fell asleep, waking up sometime round 10:30am.

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The intention was to enjoy the great outdoors.  Go sledding. Perhaps go to a Super Bowl party.  Attend a yoga class.  Visit friends.  Instead I am lying on the bed, wrapped up like a blanket burrito, drinking earl grey tea with heaps of honey and baking vanilla, and watching “Sex and the City”.

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Our only public appearance this Groundhog Day was a triumvirate of errands: going out to a thrift store to look for a teapot.  We skimmed the shelves, found nothing of interest, then got a latte at Starbucks as a consolation prize.  Before heading home we stopped by someone’s house. Benjamin occasionally buys tools on an online trading site; he had met this woman before, so he stepped inside the house and closed the door.  I didn’t think much of it, in reality he could have been carrying on a torrid affair with a spicy middle aged woman, and he could have used my utter disinterest in tools to cover his tracks.  He eventually was gone for long enough that I thought that maybe…just maybe that he had been murdered.  Or maybe they’re just lost in the endlessly fascinating topic of carpentry.  I figured I’d give it another minute, and continued to scroll through my phone, reading news about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sudden death.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman dies on Super Bowl Sunday by overdosing on heroin in the Year of the Horse.  That can’t be a good omen on Groundhog Day.

groundhog-day-1961-report_12532_600x450What do you think that means? Going beyond six more weeks of winter, and entering into a new arctic Armageddon.

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Here’s a lesson in word origin history.  Heroin got the nickname ‘horse’ due to the unlikely relationship between the two (As explored in Dorothy Ours’ “Man O’ War”).

In the wild, pursued by predators, a horse runs as fast as he can or dies. Given narcotics, a horse feels unnatural sleepiness creeping into his nervous system–sleepiness like the shock caused by the fatal bite of a carnivore. So the hopped up horse runs without reserve. If kept in his stall, he trots in circles until the dose finally ebbs. Let loose on a racetrack, he outruns any normal inhibition. In the United States, cocaine, heroin and morphine were legal for anyone with a doctor’s prescription to buy from a drugstore, until prohibited by the Harrison Act of 1914, and could be bribed from pharmacists long after that. But using those mixtures was a fine art. Prudent trainers experimented during morning workouts, discovering the right dope and dose for each horse.

Imagine a time when there was so much legal heroin just lying around that people were like…”It’s just going to go bad if we don’t use it, lets just give it to the horses!”

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Ugh, it makes me sad, the waste of human life. That addiction overshadows talent, status, fortune and prestige.  The tragic detail about Hoffman being found in his New York City bathroom with a needle in his arm will take precedence over a proud legacy.  I think about all the things I want in this life, things that other people already have…and for a some that sum still doesn’t fill this eternal gap inside of their soul.   I wonder how melancholia breeds madness, when everything went wrong because everything had gone right.  There are wars inside of ourselves that are often losing battles.

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The night before, I caught the open letter Dylan Farrow wrote to the New York Post rehashing her sexual abuse allegations towards Woody Allen.  This too bummed me out.  The letter started with “What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?”, then describing the molestation in disturbing detail, pleading to Diane Keaton and other actors known for working with Allen to acknowledge the crime…and then concluding with “So what was your favorite Woody Allen again?” Man. Way to take the fun out of Annie Hall.

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When Benjamin and I finally crawled out of the bed, we curled up the living room with our coffees.  I told him all about the ballad of Woody and Mia.

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Around 1980, Allen began a relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who had leading roles in most of his movies from 1982 to 1992. Farrow and Allen never married and kept separate homes..  They jointly adopted two children, Dylan Farrow (who changed her name to Eliza and later to Malone) and Moshe Farrow (known as Moses); they also had one biological child, Satchel Farrow (known as Ronan Seamus Farrow).

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However, in a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair, Farrow stated that Ronan could “possibly” be the biological child of her first husband Frank Sinatra, whom she married at 21 in 1966, and with whom she claims to have “never really split up.” Who can blame her.  You can take the girl out of Sinatra, but you can never take Sinatra out of the girl.

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In 1968, Frank Sinatra had blindsided Farrow by having divorce papers delivered to the set of “Rosemary’s Baby”. The film was going over-schedule, and she had to back out of her next acting commitment–in Sinatra’s upcoming feature.   In that same year, André Previn, married film composer and symphony conductor, met a newly single, 23-year-old Farrow in London. They began an affair, and she was was pregnant within a year.  Previn divorced Dory, his wife of eleven years, and married Farrow.

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Poor old Dory Previn. The humiliation and betrayal caused Previn to snap like a twig. She was subsequently institutionalized and subjected to electroconvulsive therapy.  According to sources, it led to more introspective songwriting…and did wonders for her hair.

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She subsequently expressed her feelings toward Farrow and the end of her marriage in the song “Beware of Young Girls” on her 1970 album.  ‘Beware/ Of young girls/Who come to the door/Wistful and pale/Of twenty and four/Delivering daisies/With delicate hands…taking my own sweet man’.  The lyrics are thinly veiled,  basically calls Farrow out for rolling up to the Previn compound with flowers and silver.  She could have just called it “”Fuck You Mia Farrow” and called it a day.   A dainty little china Trojan horse; admiring her home, her ring, her unmade bed, and meanwhile is infiltrating her marital home.

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Dory Previn really laid the blueprint for Jennifer Aniston, trumped by younger and newer. Mia Farrow, humanitarian and mother of thirteen children is the OG Angelina Jolie.

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Previn was clearly the Brad Pitt of this time–this gorgeous hunk of scarf and side swept bangs has been married five times. Who can blame the ladies for fighting over this prime piece of real estate.

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The fact that there were ever two women quarreling over Woody Allen…I find slightly more difficult to imagine.

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Long story short–(this is the bit you’ve probably already heard), one of the children adopted by Previn and Farrow was Soon-Yi Farrow Previn. About twelve years into Woody and Mia’s relationship–Farrow was in Allen’s apartment (with the famous view of Farrow’s home across the park), and discovered nude photographs of a twenty-year-old Soon-Yi just lying around, waiting to be discovered.  Beware of young girls indeed.  Hurts don’t it? If this proves anything though–you certainly can’t help who you’re attracted to.

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Around twenty years ago–in the same neighborhood as the Soon-Yi scandal, Allen was accused of molesting one of their adopted children.  He was never tried and convicted, but that stain was never properly washed away.  Now that this accusation has been given new life, it feels as though Allen is a hard man to defend.  When you write it all down on paper it looks rather…hinky.  As for their “biological” son Ronan–though who are we kidding here? I’m no doctor, but even Helen Keller could be able to see that Ronan is a Sinatra. My god, look at that bone structure. Regardless, neither are fans of dear old Woody, and they are not ashamed to say it.

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  • Following Allen and Soon-Yi’s wedding, Allen’s biological son Ronan Farrow said: “He’s my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression… I cannot have a relationship with my father and be morally consistent.”
  • Ronan, who has been disparaging about Allen, tweeted on Father’s Day 2012: “Happy Father’s day – or as they call it in my family, happy brother-in-law’s day.”
  • The night of the Golden Globes he tweeted: “Missed the Woody Allen tribute–did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?

Not cool Ronan.  If you weren’t so cute, smart and dreamy; and if your tweets weren’t so funny I would really hate you.  As for Woody Allen, I don’t want for that to have happened.  I love Woody Allen, I love his films, his sense of humor. The image of him molesting a child while she focuses numbly on an electric toy choo-choo train really hurts my heart.  Yes, he is a little creepy and yes, his past behavior is questionable.  The letter describes some pretty horrific things, and if I were to let it into my psyche, it really would taint “Annie Hall” forever. I’ve been through enough in my life.  I just can’t get creeped out by “I lurve, you I loave you, I luff you”.

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On the other hand, I feel for Dylan Farrow.  Those are tough things to live with.  Whether it happened, or it was a scenario that was fabricated; over time the fact and fiction has blended together.   And let me state: not wanting it to be true, is not accusing her to lying.  Still, one must wonder the motivation of such a public spectacle.  What is Dylan Farrow seeking–absolution, revenge, forgiveness, attention? Does she want to destroy him? Does she want to spoil his chances at an Oscar? Or is this her way to heal?  Either way, there are no winners in this scenario, just an awful lot of broken people.

woody-allen-quote-frase-mix-de-coisas (1)It does makes you wonder…what lurks inside of people.  How someone could molest a child or rape a woman, commit a violent crime and then just get right back to the business of living as per usual.  How we masquerade addictions, and convince others of our health and sanity.  Waltzing into the City of Troy with enemies inside the Trojan Horse.  La de da.  The question is–is it  possible to separate the art from the actions?  Then you wonder…has this whole time he’s been charming audiences with neurotic intellectual comedies and dramas, he’s harbored these terribly dark secrets. What is driving Dylan Farrow mad two decades later is the continued success of a talented filmmaker.  I wonder how those justify their actions and move forward in their lives. As Philip Seymour Hoffman was once quoted:

I think that’s pretty much the human condition, you know, waking up and trying to live your  day in a way that you can go to sleep and feel OK about yourself”.

And here we are, back again to Philip Seymour Hoffman. Good ole Lester Bangs from “Almost Famous”. Dead at 46 from a perfectly preventable death. Another one bites the dust.

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We could talk about this all night, until our voices were raw and hoarse.  Death cannot be undone, tragedies cannot be unlaced like a Christmas ribbon.  Feeling chilled to the bone, exhausted and feeling perfectly existential, that was when I crawled back into bed to watch some classic “SATC”.  Season three–when Carrie had big hair, and before she broke Aidan with her affair with Big.  Poor Sarah Jessica Parker, she catches so much grief about the shape of her face.  I don’t mean to drag her into my horse motif, but things have gotten entirely too serious and I’ve really got to lighten things up around here.qSC1732879

With all the additions and accusations, wars inward and outward, the world seems to be teeming with misery. The internet brings all that to your door if you let it. Once in a while, you’ve just got to laugh–despite the odds against us.  That’s all we have really, that fleeting moment when you are free to horse around.

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Blogging & Blow Jobs

Everybody stay calm.

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

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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 along the dolphin filled Swan River under endless palm trees in Perth.  There was this sudden ache–like a shot through the heart, and not in a Bon Jovi, ‘you give love a bad name a bad name’ kind of way.  Genuine homesickness for the other side of the world.  A physical craving, a hunger pang–the same instinct that Dr Richard Kimble from”The Fugitive”, gets when he knows that the cops were right behind him, and the one-armed man is only one step ahead. Time to move on to the next town.

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Blame it on Blue Monday; and the rat tail days of January when the snow is no longer magical but a muddy slush speckled with dog feces, litter and the sediment flakes from the decay of time.  What’s Blue Monday you asked? Oh you didn’t? Well this is my god-damned blog and you’re going to listen to every word I say. Sorry that I spilled my drink of you, it’s just that I am practically dripping with diamonds.  I could literally kill a man with the rock on my hand, so I can barely hold the glass.

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Firstly, I’ll let Wikipedia take the reigns with laying down this explanation:

Blue Monday: “where weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na. ‘D’ is not defined in the release, nor are units”.

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In short, that scientifically measurable moment when the Christmas train runs out of steam.  When those credit card bills start to roll in, and the true cost of Christmas rears its ugly head.  When you combine what you spent, and what your earned often clash together like the Titanic and that darn iceberg.   Although most scientists reckon the theory is a real load of bullocks, but there’s got to be something said for it.  The famine following the feast.  Feeling fat, cold and so very very poor.

Gold-Rush-Eating-boots-N_54Ordinarily Blue Monday is the third Monday of January;  this year it was decided that the 6th, the first Monday after the holiday, was the official date.  That’s not depression, that’s the last day of summer camp.    For me, it came late–Monday 27th, I felt the beginning of a funk in the same way you feel a cold coming on.  And then it overstayed for a solid week.   Perhaps Blue Monday has expanded to become the depression equivalent of Boxing Week–when one day just isn’t enough.  I can’t put my finger on the issue I just felt…bothered.  Emotionally itchy.  Like my soul was wearing wool sweater with a large tag scratching the back of its neck.  I thought that perhaps I need to work out my issues through the majesty of blogging, but once seated in front of the computer I am greeted with a whole lot of nothingness.

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I jot a few pages of notes–shorthand scribbles, as if I’m too annoyed to bother with full sentences. After a measly handful of half-written phrases, I abandon the work for Pinterest. I don’t write for the rest of the week…letting the serial killer chicken scratch marinate in my battered journal.  Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.  Truth is I don’t want to open that box inside my heart.  I don’t have the energy to break the anxiety down, find its source and record my findings in a humorous and pop-culture laden essay.  Obviously, that’s the low-grade depression talking as work usually comes before the reward.  It’s a bit like wanting to lose weight by staring in the mirror and wishing you looked different.

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You have to sweat a little bit, I suppose, pay your dues, bide your time. Then again, I have been pursing my lips at the whole blogging front.  I don’t know if I am quietly blowing minds or if people are just blowing chunks.   Elsewhere, someone writes benign pieces about movies, books, or celebrities; or angry tirades about customers, lovers, jobs and children, and readers…and the internet community as a whole are hitting that like button as if it would add years to their life.  Someone posts a picture of a snow-covered tree accompanied by a Robert Frost poem, and it gets 38 likes and 52 comments.  Nobody likes Robert Frost that much.  I mean come on, who do you have to blow to get that kind of response?

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(Okay,time out.  I won’t actually blow anyone for better ratings, but I would make a fine cup of tea and allow access to my fine record collection.  I hope you like Barbra.)

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You know, I wore something very similar to work the other day…and it was not well received.  Yet Babs shows up at a fashion shoot and lets the photographer snap one picture (as long as her nails and pinkie ring got to photo-bomb the shot). Ah Barbra, now there’s a lady who does what she wants, when she wants, and could claw your fucking eyes out if necessary.

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For me, there are few “likes”, and the only comments I get are from “use Rocket Spanish” who writes

“I think the admin of this web site is genuinely working hard for his web page, for the reason that here every stuff is quality based stuff”.

Now there’s a sentence that makes sense.  Regardless, I’m glad that someone appreciates that the admin of this web site is genuinely working hard.  So good for me.  Thanks spam!  I shake it off, I think to myself, that it’s just ego–that wanting to be liked that interferes with artistic honesty.  But–if there is no response at all–it’s like…well, sure why not? Let’s go there–blowing someone…if they make absolutely no noise, you’d think you were doing a bad job.  Maybe you’ve taken him to pleasure town and he’s left his own body and is floating above himself admiring the work of a great genius…or maybe he’s kind of bored and lost interest half way through.  To borrow a line from a Kevin Smith film: (which admittedly I thought came from “Mallrats, but was actually from “Chasing Amy”–who knew?)

“Chicks never help you out. They never tell you what to do…. Most of them sit there frozen like a deer in headlights. When a chick goes down on me, I let her know where to go- and what the status is. You gotta handle it like CNN and The Weather Channel–constant updates.”

Blogging and blow jobs…it’s an awful lot of work and you’re really doing it for the other person.  Feedback is also essential. So it’s pretty much the same thing.  How’s that for a math equation?  That’s why they call me the songbird of my generation. When it all comes down to it, I like what I write. I like that each blog goes where it wants…I never know where I’ll end up.  Did I think I was going to mention blowjobs when I started this piece a week ago? No.  Did I have any idea what I would find when I searched Google Images for “Blow Job, vintage”?  Did I think long and hard…(he he, long and hard) about posting one or two of them? Yes.  That’s the journey, and I’m happy to follow the thread where it leads.  But the occasional spoonful of validation never hurt anyone. A sip of water on the long road to the slimmest shred of creative success.  I’m bratty like that…like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka’s factory, wanting everything right away.  Not trusting that everything will fall into place as things ordinarily tend to do.

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Let’s be honest. Veruca Salt was a dick, and I’m pretty sure she dies in this movie.  Her impatience was her fatal flaw, and I share that with the late Ms Salt.  I’m trying to do as the bumper sticker tells me and just “let go and let god”, which I do, for increments not longer than it takes to finish a Tic-Tac.  I’m of two very distinct minds: more than anything, I want to pay off my student loan debt. It’s a sum that collected over eight years of schooling.  I suppose I’ve always been aware of it in the same way that one imagines their own demise–it’s too far down the track to imagine the inevitable day when the Grim Reaper…or in my case the Government of Canada, arrives and says “pay up sucker”.  On the other hand, I am giving hungry eyes to every map I see.  I want to walk on foreign soil, I want to zig-zag cross the globe, I want to see so many places. And yet, it all seems impossibly out of reach.  There’s only so much money to go around, and the persistent adult living inside of me is saying that now is the time to scrimp and save.  I’m 32…and it feels like that sand is burning it’s way through my hourglass.  I am reliable at work, pay my bills on time, obey road rules. I am a functioning member of society…but my soul is a gypsy wanderer that sometimes wants to disappear into a crowd.

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Benjamin is working overtime to lift my spirits.  Like a tap-dancing bear, rattling off the many blessings in our life while I sob and snivel in the shower. He’s right of course.  He’s a permanent resident.  We’ve finally settled. We both have excellent jobs, a nice home, solid marriage.  While I love my career, my home, my husband…there’s still an extremely large part of me that wants to be in-transit,  heading towards the next destination.  And I’m at war with myself about it.  The idea of properly settling down makes me want to hang on pretty tight to the door frame of adolescence and only pass through only if pushed.   When we look at our future, where anything is possible, there is a blight on the plan.  My student loan debt is the genital herpes of my finances.  I fear I will have carry that around forever; that it will be the obstacle to my most cherished plans. The way I am feeling right now is the very reason Peter Pan refused to grow up.

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My poor husband is hovering along the outer perimeter of the house.  Walking along the walls, giving his wife plenty of breathing room.  He’s sensed for sometime that I am a panther ready to strike…or a wounded orangutan who would swap at you weakly…(it’s been a real low energy week).  I’m crying, and I feel like I can’t stop, he rubs my back and says: “You’re crying for no reason…this confuses me”.  Poor bugger.  Finally, he drops the gauntlet…”Alicia, do you think maybe this is PMS?”.

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The Bear gets a multitude of bonus points for the endless love and support.  The glass half full, cheer-leading approach is truly uplifting.  But everyone knows that suggesting being ‘tired’, ‘hungry’ or ‘premenstrual’ to a depressed and slightly irrational woman is like putting a loaded gun in your carry-on at the airport.  The end result is not going to be in your favor.

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It very well could be PMS, it’s usually hard to tell because of my IUD, I really only experience symptoms every four months. Whenever I dip into an existential funk, I can often console myself that it is simply hormones making a fool of me.

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Meanwhile, my sandpaper sentiment rages on.  I can’t write it out, and so it brews inside of me like a toxic tea.  Why can’t I see the positive?  Why does everything feel like the worst case scenario?  When Ben was listing our lengthy tally of blessings–I could appreciate every one.  We do have a good life.  Maybe it’s my own scientific quota: debt/dreams x age ÷ fleeting years of fertility.  This hit the nail on the head when I’m crying in the shower; Benjamin said that there were no ‘deadlines’, that there was room in our life for everything, that there was ‘lots of time’.  The thought of a pre-baby time crunch made me cry even harder.  Fuuuuuck, where is the time going? Why does 32 feel so old?

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As I finish the blog, I’ve come a little closer to accepting that I am right where I need to be.  That everywhere I’ve been was where I was meant to go.  I haven’t reached all my goals because I’m just not there yet.  It’s not my time, I guess.  I’ll just keep walking this path, keep writing, and not hate on Robert Frost so much. (He actually suffered immensely in his life, lost a lot of love, and wrote the line– “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world” which was later engraved on his tombstone.  Now I feel kind of annoyed with him all over again. I feel the same way about life and wish I had written it first).  But that’s just my ego talking.  A new season will come around.  Moods will lift, PMS will pass; the days longer, the sun shinier.  The snow has to melt sometime.

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Images Courtesy of Google

Atwood, Oprah & Jesus

How lovely.  The writer of “Ramblings of a Mad Kat” nominated “Pin Up Picks Pen Up” for The Liebster Award.

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What an uplifting moment that was.

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The night before I found out about my little prize, I had written exactly one line.  The blog was a place I used to come to.  There was a period where I was cranking out daily postings, my brain was a buzz with activities and ideas. My office was the first place I’d go to in the morning, coffee cup in hand, CBC2 in the background.  I would fill my notebook with ideas for future pieces, I used to work every day…sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, and late into the night, words tumbling out of me, fingers feverishly accosting the keyboard, pounding out phrases.

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I entered a couple of writing contests, and I was never considered.  I got a little discouraged, got incredibly busy, and then…now, enough time has gone by that it’s gotten weird between us.  Like running into someone you used to be close to, there’s history there so it’s hard to be casual.   Or like when you bump into someone you know at the grocery store.  Say, you once took a class together, or worked at the same job one summer.  You like and respect them, wish them the very best.  You say, “nice to see you…we should really have coffee sometime”.

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“Absolutely” they say, nodding earnestly. Boy is it a nice idea, chipping out a little time for this old friend, grabbing a latte and catching up.  But let’s be honest.

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I hear you girlfriend.  That’s how I feel about the blog these days.  But I want to get back to that place.  Without the blog, without the creative outlet, I feel a little lost…a little deflated.  I’ve been through a trying couple of weeks.  I’ve gotten into a bit of a slump.  I’ve been feeling gold medal, black belt levels of the blahs.  Today I called my best friend, organized my closet, got a hair cut and bought a few new items for the winter season.  I spruced up a little; wore a dress and boots to the mall, and left feeling much lighter.  My husband and I visited with friends, and now I am at home taking the time to visit with an old friend of my own.

I’m to answer these questions about myself, so here goes…

1.       If you could be any animal, what would you be? 

My husband calls me ‘goat’, because I am stubborn, small and have been known to head butt .  I call him Bear because of his stature and magnificent beard.  In the animal kingdom we would be a goat and a bear and we would still be best friends.

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2.       Invite three people to dinner, living or dead – who are they? 

I wish I could honestly answer this question more academically, Margaret Atwood  Oprah and Jesus and whatnot…but I’d have to go with Audrey Hepburn, Nora Ephron and Tina Fey. 

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3.       What’s the best Christmas gift you could get?

Plane tickets with a big red bow. 

4.       What is your favorite blog entry you’ve written – please, post a link for us to read.

Oh I’m sorry…did you say my favorite five…no it was ten? Okay then!

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/06/06/double-duchess/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/07/12/mazel-tov-cocktail/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/05/29/tweets-twats/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/07/19/ten-sense/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/03/14/intensive-care-union/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/09/22/something-blue/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/08/15/guns-mom-jeans/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/06/19/beyonce-it-isnt-so/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/06/11/day-in-the-life/

https://pinuppickspenup.com/2013/07/10/rules-of-the-roadhouse/

5.       Who is your greatest inspiration? 

Nora Ephron, David Sedaris, Tina Fey, Elizabeth Gilbert, Barbra Streisand, Meryl Streep and Audrey Hepburn.

6.       Most embarrassing moment (that you are willing to share) 

Good Lord, how much time do you have?

7.       Name one thing that you wish you had done in your life thus far.  

Traveled to Europe.  To me, Paris is a necessity. 

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8.       What’s your favorite food?        

I love food in general; curry, satay, pasta…I prefer vegetarian but I eat a little meat.  I’m more savory than sweet.  My death row, last meal would be various kinds of bread with lots of things to dip into. And french fries.  Yes, definitely french fries.  And then I’d have a latte.     

9.       Cheesecake or Cake?   

I can appreciate both, but wouldn’t turn down an exquisite slice of cherry cheese cake. 

10.    Favorite Olympic sport?     

Ha ha, bitch please! 

11.    If you could ask your great grandparents one thing, what would it be?

Were you happy?

I’d like to pass the award onwards to some of my favorites.

1) An Opinionated Girl VS. The World. http://lilynichol.wordpress.com/

2) Entrepreneur by Nurture. http://www.effectiveenterprise.co.nz/

3) Vinyl and Pearls vinylandpearls.wordpress.com

4) Lonely City http://lonelycityperth.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/allow-me-to-introduce-myself/

5) Vodka, Unicorns and Lincoln Logs http://dagmartully.wordpress.com/

There are so many great blogs out there, and I wish you the strength and perseverance to continue…no matter how busy life gets…cause once in a while you get a little reminder about just how fabulous you can be.

oscarpix17f-2-copyImages Courtesy of Google