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…

Postcards from the Plateau.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images Courtesy of the Internet etc…

 

Loss Vegas.

Started the morning off right.  Making healthy choices from the moment I open my eyes, and still going strong an hour later.  Solid breakfast, supplements, loads of water.  Truth be told, my standard holiday mode can get a little loose, and I have been known to be a imbibe in promiscuous doses. Total food slut. In an attempt to redeem that quality, I am setting a positive tone for a holiday where good choices will be made.  Good thing that I’m headed to Las Vegas-the Thunderdome of bad choices.

Off to the land of liquid calories and I am on self imposed budget. I mean, I’m not under duress,  I walk this path willingly. Recently I had reached out to Beth McBride, owner of Kamloops’ Herbal One. Just to ask a couple casual questions about her services. No big deal. It all happened so fast. There I am, standing on the edge of a pool, looking to dip a toe, and Beth pulled me right on into the deep end. Just get in the water already! 

It’s kind of like learning to swim; splashing and gulping and sputtering, but with a life guard on-hand. I’ve agreed to document this flail fest, and share my journey into a smaller dress size. What a daunting task. How exposing.  It helps to police one’s self when you have to hand over your food journal to a fit and gorgeous blonde woman, who scrunches her face gently when asking whether the bun I documented eating was whole grain. There’s something to be said for having someone beside yourself to be accountable to.

At the airport in Calgary, feeling pretty empowered after declining the complimentary snacks on the way from Kamloops. High on said empowerment, there may have been a breakfast sandwich. It came with little potato sidekicks, glorious little greasy nuggets, made better when plunged into ketchup. I gave half to my husband and relished in my self-restraint. Not yet anywhere near the state of Nevada and already feeling like a real winner. Nor had I really felt the potential pressures of the many caloric delights that awaited me in the City of Sin.

In general, travel is a calorie land mine. Food has an essential, vital role in survival, while good food in my world is an absolute necessity. Benjamin and I remember meals like we remember landmarks and people. It’s connected to a memory. That white fish in Kalbarri, Australia–served with avocado and sweet potato, enjoyed with a gorgeous unoaked white wine; a meal so good that I kind of drunkenly wandered into the kitchen to thank the staff.

The cannelloni with rose sauce, a glass of red wine and the accordionist in New York’s Little Italy.   Ice cold apricot cider, frito pie and freshly made California rolls in Portland; two for one margaritas in Mexico–served on the rocks with all kinds of salt, served with warm chips and guacamole. Sitting on the beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea, right next to a wedding party.  Late night, freshly made donuts in San Francisco. Poutine in Quebec. Room service in Bali, noodles and ice cream sundaes eaten in bathrobes. Fluffy scones served with cream and raspberry jam in Otarahonga, New Zealand. I once had a mocha mousse with a dense dark chocolate foundation with whipped cream and the tartest raspberry coulis that it caused me to burst into fit of giggles. I don’t even remember where I was. The feast was a part of the adventure.

Carbohydrates, chocolates, ciders and cheeses aside, a well made latte is the crowning culinary jewel. Made creamiest on the Southern Hemisphere, there is few more joyous things than a proper latte in a cozy café in a foreign place. There is no glory greater, or luxury grander than a warm mug of espresso and frothy milk in hand.

Something about the memory of feasting makes me want to cry.  It does make me cry. When I think about these moments I am imagine myself being happy. Making yummy noises and eating with my hands.  On holiday and feeling no pain. Fostering that perfect buzz where alcohol makes you feel fuzzy as a kitten.

I have lots of other fond memories: swimming in beautiful bodies of water, walking in spectacular bits of natures, relaxing on beaches, watching the sun go down while standing on a mountain–and that moment when you want to absorb that moment. Drink it in fully. Take it with you when you go. That’s the lure of travel, that’s the high. That’s when the child inside of you who longed for these adventures beams with pride. Butterfly stroke in the Indian Ocean, in a little cove off the side of the road–sun kissed and in love, everything you really need tucked in a camper van.  Somewhere between where you always wanted to be and a place you never knew existed.

Still, life is always better when there’s food to pick at. When I think about eating–think of changing the calcified habits that surround that ritual…it is rather tough to swallow. It feels profoundly emotional. Vulnerable even. Food is everywhere. It is social. It is a comfort. It is a gesture. It’s part of the celebration. It also has a way of really sticking to your skeletal structure over time, like tectonic layers of some truly awesome meals.

Of course, not everyday is a holiday and not every meal is yummy noise-inducing. We’ve been on holidays when eating becomes ‘something to do’.  There was this time in Planet Hollywood (yes, Planet Hollywood–my husband’s choice, not mine) in New York and the “everything deep friend platter”. We didn’t need it, it wasn’t very good, and it was kind of expensive. The server, who had up to this point been quite pleasant, brings the billfold on the table, smiles sincerely before very seriously reminding us that we were in America, and in America you tip. Ewwww.  I tip well when the moment is merited, but telling me to do something makes me not want to do it.  I wrinkled my nose at that one. It was not a minty compliment to an otherwise fine meal.  The whole thing felt like a huge mistake.

I know ‘food envy’ is a commonly known sentiment, but to me, there’s nothing worse than food regret.  I wish I never knew you calories. They weren’t special like the rest.  When the feasting makes a rather seedy affair out of a once promising romance. And the day to day act of feeding one’s self can feel like such a chore. That’s why I was so thin when I was single and living alone; I was living off of restaurant food from waitressing jobs, fruit and spoonful’s of cottage cheese, eaten out of the tub over the sink. Having a husband has been a shock to the ole eating plan. Mainly that he cooks a solid 90% of the meals that we ate. During my busy periods, if it were up to me to feed him, all he’d get is two sugar packets and apology note. I think of myself as busy now, but I used to be much busier, going straight from work to a rehearsal/meeting/project, buying food on the go. Eating what my husband made, at nine o’clock at night. Time goes by and that adds up becoming another layer you one day wish to shed. Every day that desire to change is alive and well–but then I leave my house and face the outside world. Good intentions unravel, meals are skipped, blood sugars dip, more coffee than water, and go-go-go for ten to twelve hours straight and then eating a big meal on the couch–watching Netflix with bleary eyes. Sleep, wake, repeat. Tired and over-scheduled, there were so many moments where I had to wish to make a change, but feeling stunted as to how. The wishing would evaporate like fog on a glass.

So…Las Vegas, one week into a weight loss journey. There were some wins and losses. Ate too little on the first day (should have eaten all of those hash browns!) and then was befallen by a $20.00 Michael Jackson themed drink at a Cirque du Solei show.   It was like a shot gun blast of intoxication. One minute I am enjoying the plethora of glittery dancers on stage, the next minute I realize that if I close one eye, that there are significantly less dancers on stage.

I hate getting drunk like that.  I don’t have the stamina to reach that level of drunkness and continue on with my night a la The Hangover. I just want a grilled cheese sandwich and a pillow for my head.  Due to my death by MJ cocktail, I proceeded with caution with the booze henceforth. Probably for the best.  The adage of ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ does not apply here, as the weight scale is nothing but a dirty little snitch.

On the last night of the trip, before a glamorous showgirls performance, my travel companions and I went to The Buffet. Who needs a clever name when you have every food under the sun in one room? I loaded up half my plate with salad and wandered around the space judiciously before settling in with my choices. I took two very long and luxurious laps around the space instead of getting a second plate. My arm linked into my friend’s, ogling the feast as we wandered through the edible museum. Anything you could ever want to eat was right within reach. It didn’t belong to me, I didn’t feel a responsibility to consume it. No envy, no regrets. There may have still been dessert.

Images Courtesy of the Fine People of 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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Thick & Thin

Saturday afternoon of a long weekend.  This time off was so necessary. After a hectic, stressful, busy, emotionally challenging week I am feeling a bit like a filthy t-shirt you wear for the entirety of a four-day music festival.  I’ve seen all kinds of shit.  It was like crawling through the desert on one’s belly, the oasis always beyond one’s reach.  Then you find out that the desert is filled with landmines and the oasis is just a mirage.  Still, as all things must pass, the stress did recede like the ocean after an angry storm, and all was calm once more.  This weekend is the Richard Gere to my Debra Winger.

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To take my Officer and a Gentleman metaphor one step further…this week has been the Louis Gossett Jr to my Richard Gere, forever riding my ass and testing me to the brink of sanity.

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It’s like…”Thanks a lot universe, what did I ever do to you?”

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Leading up to the long weekend, Benjamin and I were making a lot of plans.  ‘Let’s go on a mini break’, “Let’s go to the lake’, “Let’s see people’. And now, past lunchtime on Saturday it’s like…. ‘Let’s never leave the couch ever again”.

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After the longest winter ever, the long work hours and Netflix on the couch I’m feeling…like I could use a little bit of a detox.  But then I hear about no bread, dairy, alcohol or caffeine, and I feel instantly bored.  As for activity, I love to be tricked into exercising.  I love my yoga, and a good long walk, but anything with a higher intensity level is too much to bear.  My favorite thing to do when I have free-time is research and write blogs.   I spend an inordinate amount on time on the computer, social media updates and promoting different events.  Endlessly searching Google images for the right picture to capture my particular vision.  It’s satisfying mentally, but it’s no cardio, and does absolutely nothing for my core.  I think about exercise more than I actually exercise. I think about it as I’m drifting off to sleep.  I’ll get up an hour early and exercise.  That’s what I’ll do.  And then the morning comes and I hit the snooze harder than I would hit the gym.  I should really make time, take up jogging, do it everyday.  Then again, nobody looks happy whilst running.  In reality, I’d only run if I was being chased.

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I mean, I walk briskly from the parking lot to the office, I move around a lot of work and I go to yoga class a few times a month.  But that’s hardly a calorie burner.  My friend invited me over and over to come to kick-boxing. The timing was difficult, but then I finally made it and it was awesome.  I resolved to buy a punch card, go all the time, be fitter, be better, perfect my round-house kick.  And then I took on additional projects and have never been available since.  Free time is feeling scarce, and I do need to maintain my creative life.  Thought admittedly, the writing doesn’t take nearly as long as searching for pictures.  Example, I’ve spent fifteen minutes searching “Baby Got Back”.  But aren’t you glad I did?

rvCPm_TAF7UlYou have to credit Sir Mix-a-Lot for being a true feminist, a pioneer for positive body image.

  • “I’m tired of magazines/Sayin’ flat butts are the thing”
  • “I ain’t talkin’ bout Playboy/Cause silicone parts are made for toys”
  • “So Cosmo says you’re fat/Well I ain’t down with that!”
  • Yeah, baby … when it comes to females, Cosmo ain’t got nothin’ to do with my selection. 36-24-36? Ha ha, only if she’s 5’3″.
  • So your girlfriend rolls a Honda/Playin’ workout tapes by Fonda/But Fonda ain’t got a motor in the back of her Honda

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Sir Mix-a-Lot is a true poet.  And he’s right about Jane Fonda.  She doesn’t have much going on in the Honda of her Fonda.  Led to believe that Mix-a-Lot ran a support group for big-bootied ladies,  I dialed 1-900-MIXALOT, to talk about my body issues.  When he said, “To the beanpole dames in the magazines/You ain’t it, Miss Thing!”, I really felt a kinship.  I felt empowered. I was trying to do as Sir Mix-a-Lot says, and “kick them nasty thoughts”, but I think I’ve misunderstood what he meant by ‘nasty’.  Unfortunately, the representative was rather crude, kept referring to his anaconda, and ‘doubling up on my juicy double’…whatever that means I am still trying to figure out.  I’m pretty sure it was Drake; he is long, strong and is always down get the friction on.

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Really, if you look at the lyrics with a critical eye, the rapper is still telling you to get a sweat on.  After all, he likes to keep [his] women like Flo Jo.

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Goodness me, Flo Jo was a fit lady, known as the fastest woman in the world. Wonder what her secret was, besides God-given talent and speed? The fastest woman in the world also had the longest nails in the world.  Pretty difficult to tuck into recreational snacking with those Freddy Kruger fingers at the helm.

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It’s a balancing act trying to please this body-conscious performer.  According to the Gospel to Sir Mix-a-Lot: “You can do side bends or sit-ups/ But please don’t lose that butt”.  He also heeds a warning: some brothers will play that “hard” role, and try to tell you that the butt ain’t gold.  Don’t worry, remember your affirmations ladies, your butt is plenty gold.  When non-big butt enthusiasts “toss it and leave it”, you can count on Sir Mix to “pull up quick to retrieve it”.  That’s comforting.  But it’s a lot of pressure to live up to.  Imagine deliberately trying to have a fat ass?

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The likes of Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn and Kate Moss were an anomaly in a world that once leaned towards the full female figure.  Certain retro advertisements were certainly geared towards curvaceousness as sexy, and skinny as lacking.

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Of course, for every Sir-Mix certified ad encouraging curves, there’s evil advertising that says…”you’re fat, stop that”. Loving this ad below, the clever ad execs behind this gem offered a pearl of a tagline for this product. Shape. “Stop eating”.  Subtle.

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Thank God that Warner’s has a Body-Do, because I’m apparently a ‘body-don’t”.   The pear shape is here to stay,  I had a big butt when I was a new born baby.  That’s just nature.  Good thing there are so many wonderful products out there to accommodate your full figure.

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Why must generous portions of lady curves have to be reduced to words like chubby? Where is Sir Mix-a-Lot when we need him more than ever?

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Easy on the sugar indeed. She’s so hungry and acidic from all the eggs and grapefruit that she’s seconds away from ramming that spoon us that smug bastard’s nose, in the same way ancient Egyptians yank out the brain for mummification.    Reduce this motherfucker.  Then she could enjoy a large cinnamon bun, sickeningly sweet tea and smoke a cigarette with sticky cream-cheese icing fingers while her husband quietly bleeds to death on the carpet.  This is why we need carbs people.

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I’m 32 now, skin elasticity is as fleeting as fertility and youth.  How can I have my cake and burn it off too? As always, I turn to Victoria Beckham for advice.  She is a busy mother-of-four, a designer, entrepreneur world traveler, and she is fit as fuck.  How does she do it?

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Naturally.  Take the fun of work and then add more work.  I would literally die if I tried to attempt this.  There is almost no space between the treadmill and the wall.  Isaac Hayes died on a treadmill and he was probably in suitable footwear. Me + typing + treadmill x those epic heels=suicide bomber’s certainty of personal injury.

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Bully for you Mrs Beckham.  Is that why you’re lying on the ground? I could wear stilettos all day too if all I had to do was laze about on my back kicking my legs in the air.  I will just need a pillow, my phone and somebody’s WiFi password…and David Beckham to pop in and bask in the glory of my beauty.  I don’t know, I have a difficult time prescribing to celebrity doctrines.  Sure, they put in the work to maintain their pristine figures, but if I had a team of people behind me I could make a hobo red carpet ready.   But wait–there are people far busier than you that look better than you, also without the luxury of extra help.

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I’d love to see this gal post this on the local Mom Swap Facebook page, and then read the 350 comments over a glass of wine.  This mother of three has a better body than me. What’s my excuse? Meh, I’m not too fussed really.  It’s not as important as everything else.  I mean, if I could naturally look like Audrey Hepburn, that would be ideal.

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Since I don’t have a dancer’s body, I can’t help but want to find the balance between happy to improve but happy to love myself regardless of my physical imperfections.

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Still, I catch the occasional glimpse in the mirror that makes me wonder whether some crazy-long Flo Jo nails would be a good idea.  Or maybe I should worry less about exercise and just take up smoking.

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Then again, you wouldn’t like me when I am hungry. It’s like those Snickers ads, only I don’t turn into a hilarious caricature, but a snarling werewolf.

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Hungry + angry =Hangry.  That’s my personal danger zone.  You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.  It’s like drowning and having no air to breathe.

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This isn’t sounding good.  I don’t want to not eat, all my favorite things involve sitting and a committed exercise regime is not suiting my current schedule.  This is a slippery slope between having a muffin top and being the mom from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

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My brother Mark and I got talking about that film on our morning hike. It’s too sad to ever watch again,  but it still resonates as a genuine fear.  How does that happen…you are born, you are a child–learn behaviors and eating habits, you grow up, and eventually become so obese that it’s easier to burn the house down than to remove your dead body through the front door.  Of course, there is a long road between thick and thin and back again.  You are usually just going along in your life, not necessarily seeing the changes in yourself until you catch a reflection.

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These photographs are a few years old now, but a terrific example of body shaming.  Jennifer Love-Hewitt is a happy and well-fed gal and the internet had a field day, hammering her for being “fat”.  For the rest of us, with bodies just like that, it sends a clear message that this is an unacceptable joke-worthy body type.

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If she’s happy, and her lover is happy, she is healthy, and her clothes fit, then what’s the trouble?  She’s on holiday, she’s relaxed. Does every day need to be met by a date with the treadmill?  Ugh, the idea of exercise…how exhausting.  The idea of fitting it into jam packed days is even more exhausting.  I wish I could adopt a fictional Gilmore Girls-esque all you can eat, movies and junk food couch potato lifestyle, and still maintain a spectacular physique.

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I flip through a magazine, read the weight-loss success stories and for a fleeting moment, wish I were just like the models in the magazine.  But then again, who would want to work that hard? Until the day comes that I shake from me the excuses and muster up the commitment to truly trim down, I’ll be happy as Love-Hewitt, splashing in the water, not for a second wishing I were any different.  What can I say? I like big butts and cannot lie.

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Images Courtesy of Google

Rock n’ Roll Rabbit Holes

In the summer before I started university, before the Twin Towers fell in New York City, I slept in a room on Vancouver Island.  I shared it with my older brother’s ex-girlfriend (whom I referred to as my sister-in-law regardless of their romantic stare of affairs).  Her son, my nephew, was quite young and slept in a large enclosure around the corner with colorful sarongs tacked up in the doorway.  Above my sister-in-law’s bed was an enormous black-and-white poster of Kurt Cobain.  It was not uncommon to have a restless sleep, and to remedy the sleeplessness by staring up at the poster and wonder about this famous stranger.

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Now, this is going to come as a real shock, but if I were a Nirvana album I would be MTV Unplugged in New York.  I don’t rock hard in the slightest.  Maybe if you play something from Kylie Minogue’s Fever, I might let my hair down a little.  As would a middle-aged men’s choir after happy hour on Fire Island but it’s one of the most important albums of anyone’s generation, so who can blames them? This album was scientifically engineered to make even the dead dance.  It’s actually the same science behind Minogue’s eternal youth, and legs that I personally would participate in a Hunger Games style death-match to earn such tasty gams.

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My older brother was a music aficionado and was my source of knowledge before the internet existed.  The very first time I heard “Landslide”, was as a Smashing Pumpkins cover on a bootleg cassette tape.  He listened to a variety of genres, listened to a lot of hip hop and rap, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Blind Melon what have you. In the pre-grunge era, he was really into hair bands: Twisted Sister, Cinderella, Poison, Motley Crue.  He had a picture of Dee Snider on his wall that scared the hell out of me. Some of his musical choices made me feel like a forty-year old-square who said things like “This isn’t music, this is noise”.  I’d never admit it, I’d always attempt to play the part.  Thinking back, I was such a nerdy kid, I really wasn’t fooling anyone.  Anthony was a very popular guy, athletic, cool, fun; all the things I was not.  I could make him laugh, and a well-crafted wise crack was my currency.  He introduced me to Tori Amos, and I used to do an impression of her that made him bust a gut.  True, he was my brother, but he was also ‘Anthony Price’, and that meant something in our next of the woods.  Besides, I can’t be that much of a loser if I’m making the cool guy chuckle.

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We lived in a trailer, and our rooms were across a slight hallway.  Almost every night I would cross the hall, tap on the door lightly, and sit on the bed for a chat.  He regaled stories about parties, people, sport field trips, his new girlfriend (there was a real female fan base and the phone was always ringing).  He talked about the places he was going, what his future was going to look like.  We would always listen to music.  He had a pretty expansive audio tape collection.  He was always buying new music, and always had something new to show me.  I wanted desperately to impress him, so when he said things I didn’t really understand–which was often, I would try my best to just nod with the right kind of serious expression.  Perhaps in between watching black and white movies, playing with Barbie dolls for about a year too long, and listening to the Righteous Brothers, I was clocking long hours on the wild side of life.

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He played a wonderful game that went like this:

“Like this band?”

“Totally…love them”. (nodding seriously)

“It’s Bon Jovi”

“Oh yeah, I celebrate their entire catalogue”

“It’s not Bon Jovi”

“Haha, I know…I was just kidding”.

“It’s Guns and Roses”

“I knew that”.

“It’s not…it’s actually Whitesnake”.

And let’s be honest, I listened to tapes I pilfered from my parent’s collection: Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand and Belinda Carlisle.  I got a record player in my early teens and usurped my parent’s albums for my own use.  Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, Blondie, ABBA, Billie Holiday–that was how I rolled.  There was a Bee Gee’s record I found when I was 13, and it rocked my world.  I was so out of touch, that even the most overplayed tracks slipped past my social-consciousness.  Around the time Ace of Base arrived on the scene with “The Sign”, I went on a school trip.  I was perfectly terrified that the excursion would be an alienating day, but I got by with my good-humor and over-compensating compliments.  All the cool girls were rocking out to that song pretty hard, singing acapella versions of the track.  I just kept a smile frozen on my face, trying to earn my keep.  That these girls were even tolerating my presence was a total coup. I was on social tenterhooks, I couldn’t afford to not know who Ace of Base was…or admit that I would have preferred ABBA anyway.

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I finally heard it…about six months later.  I saw the Queen Bee shortly afterwards and made the fatal mistake of mentioning that I had only recently heard and enjoyed a song that was now long dead to her.

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I remember the first time I met my now best friend–she was performing in school talent show.  I asked Evelyn what song she was doing.  She said “About a Girl” and I huffed sarcastically: “That’s specific”.  It shames me to admit just how long it took me to realize that it was an actual song title.  Not to compare Ace of Base to Nirvana–but suffice to say, I did not have my finger on the modern-day music pulse, other than what my brother had shown me.  Evelyn and her brother Rory were smart, funny, and musically talented,  both had a vast knowledge of punk and indie music. Their dad had a Master’s, was in a band, they didn’t have cable, they just sat around reading books at night.  They were this impossibly cool family that were the Royal Tenenbaums to my Eli Cash.

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Evelyn actually listened to Nirvana, as opposed to me only hearing of him only because I read about it him my mother’s People magazineI had heard the Weird Al Yankovic version of Smells like Teen Spirit, before I heard the original.  The prime of our high-school friendship was following Cobain’s death. After all, we were only twelve and thirteen years when Cobain died.  But he was very much alive in our world,despite the shotgun blast. Evelyn was Cobain obsessed; now recalls him as “her partner in teenage angst”, that he was “mysterious, talented, sexy, dysfunctional…and his music was really good…dark and awesome and grungy”.  Evelyn’s love for Nirvana and Kurt Cobain was something I personally did not understand.  I got that there was a mystique, but it wasn’t my kind of cologne if you know what I mean.  I faulted my own uncool DNA.  You know who did really rock my world? Courtney Love.  She was the coolest woman ever.  The baby doll dresses, barrettes dangling in messy locks, red lipstick and a mohair cardis, mixed with army boots–so effing cool.  Anthony bought me a copy of Live Through This and it was a revelation.  This was my kind of rock and roll.

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Anthony was seeing this girl, Jenne, who in my mind,  was just as-or if not cooler than Courtney  Love.  I remember seeing her sitting on the steps of the community hall, during an all ages show: short blonde hair tucked behind eyes, smoking a cigarette in a white tank top with a black bra.  I could never pull that look off.   This girl eventually became the sister-in-law I shared a room with.  She loved Kurt and Courtney in equal measure.  In that same town Love was there with Kevin Bacon and Charlize Theron filming a movie.  I met Love at a Blockbuster video store, she was in the independent film section, and was extremely rude when I approached her.  (I wouldn’t have it any other way).  I waited outside smoking a cigarette, hoping to score an autograph to give to Jenne.  Standing next to her as she scribbled on the back of the receipt, I thought about Kurt.  This was Kurt Cobain’s widow–this woman revolutionized by teen years.  I read about her in magazines, I knew things about her life.  I vividly remember how only a month before Cobain died, his “accidental overdose” in Rome and this shot in People magazine.

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On April 8, 1994, I was washing dishes during a commercial break on Oprah, when the news broke. Kurt Cobain found dead by shotgun in his Seattle home.  Obviously, it was a dominating news-story.  Suicide, drugs, celebrity, what a perfectly scandalous cocktail.  A large crowd had gathered to commemorate Cobain; Courtney Love read his suicide note aloud, (and allegedly gave his possessions away to strangers, who I imagine made a killing on e-Bay years later).  The news cameras were like flies to excrement, leaching every last ounce of marrow from the bone.  I vividly remember a young girl being interviewed; she had never heard of Nirvana or of Cobain, but that news of his death was deeply moving.  Her mother had driven her to the site, so they could drink in the mutual sorrow, though it wasn’t really their loss to share.  That is a metaphor for the six-o’clock news.  I couldn’t get enough of it. Even my mother was fascinated, more-so in a cautionary tale, tsk tsk, ‘this is the trouble with drugs’ kind of way.  Since I had first heard the parable of poor Elvis Presley, I’ve always had a morbid fascination about celebrity deaths.  Cobain’s suicide happened on an auspicious age, 27, and it drew a lot of focus on the artists that died before him at the same age.

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The first noted club member was Alexandre Levy,  Brazilian composer responsible for bringing a Latin flavor to classical music. He died mysteriously in 1892.  Ragtime musician Louis Chauvin died from syphilis in 1908. Chauvin was a ragtime musician from Missouri who made a name for himself in the early jazz haunts of St. Louis and Chicago. My personal favorite of “The 27 Club: The Early Years” was blues player Robert Johnson, who died in 1938. As the legend goes, Johnson met the devil at the crossroads one night and traded his soul to be a better blues player. His death still remains a mystery, many claim that he was poisoned by a revenge seeking, cuckolded husband, while others insist that the devil was making good on a hellish deal.  There’s Jimi, Joplin, Jim and Brian Jones, who drowned in his own pool in 1969.

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The autopsy report decreed “death by misadventure”, and  Jones was buried twelve feet deep in the ground (to prevent grave robbing) in a coffin that was paid for by Bob Dylan.  His death was a precursor for many tragedies to come.

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Jimi Hendrix dedicated a song to Jones on American television, and Jim Morrison of The Doors published a poem entitled “Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased”.  Both men would be dead within two years time.  Hendrix in September 1970, and Morrison in July of 1971.  Janis Joplin died only sixteen days after Hendrix.

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Yikes. Talk about a rule of threes.  All at 27.  That must have blown some minds. Though as far as a stigma, or pop-culture curiosity, it wasn’t really a phenomenon, it was more of a side note or point of reference until Cobain turned the lights out. Between Morrison and Cobain there were seventeen lesser known additions to the 27 Club. A member of The Grateful Dead, Inner Circle, The Stooges, The Gits–murder, car accidents, overdoses, suicides, diabetes, you name it.  There are ten additions between Cobain, and the next major player Amy Winehouse, also pronounced “death by misadventure”. She feared 27 as being a rock and roll expiration date.  Of course, while these deaths are accidental, they are not accidents.  Many of these people had participated in the unraveling in their own lives. Winehouse being a classic example. One does not go from this…

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…to this, over night.

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By the end, WInehouse didn’t know the words to the songs that made her famous–and she helped write many of them.  She was such a horror-show, and her antics overshadowed her unbelievable talent and once great stage presence.  Don’t get me wrong, Winehouse is actually my 27-club favorite, her death was very emotional for me.  It’s troubling to me that the very things that makes one great, is quite possibly the same thing that destroys them–it’s a kind of Ouroboros, that snake eating it’s tail, representing an eternal cycle of rebirth.  I hate to take Egyptian symbolism and bend it to my own will, but I’m going to do it anyway–it is an eternal cycle–talented individuals with this undefinable x-factor, that are plucked from obscurity and thrust into fame with the pressures, expectations–artistic promises made on your behalf by someone who cares only for the all-mighty dollar.  For someone with mental illness, propensity for addiction, or crippling self-doubt the limelight would be like an itchy wool sweater to skin that had only known silk.  Of course, narcotics and booze and excess have always been part in parcel of the rock and roll culture, but imagine the era when doctors recommended smoking and really strong pharmaceuticals were best washed down with a stiff drink. Sounds fun doesn’t it?  Of course, that’s like the first bit of Requiem for a Dream before the amputations and double ended dildos, before addiction begins to erode reason, rationale, relationships and brain cells.  I mean, it isn’t as if God Almighty is sitting up on his judgment cloud, striking down talented, healthy musicians at 27 just for shits-and-gigs, these artists were ceasing to function (it was maybe a bit personal with Jim Morrison because of all the whispers that he looked like a ‘Fat Jesus” ).

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Around my 32nd birthday, I made a discovery about my age that gets very little press. After watching Dreamgirls over Christmas holiday, I did a little post-film trivia recon.  I knew that the Broadway musical and subsequent film was based on The Supremes, but little else. The musical has a much better ending for all parties, Effie White gets her moment on the stage at the end.  Florence Ballard, the woman on whom White was based, had a short and tragic run.

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Born eighth of thirteen children in Detroit Michigan, Ballard was due for some hard living.  Financial constraints forced the family to move all over town.  Her father, who taught her about music,  died when she was sixteen. She had met Mary Wilson and Diane–not yet Diana Ross while still in high-school   She was lead vocalist in The Primettes, the first incarnation of The Supremes.  They auditioned for Berry Gordy, who told them to finish high-school first.  The others graduated, Ballard did not.  As their group crept towards fame, Ballard was brutally raped at knife-point in an empty parking lot.  In the aftermath, Ballard retreated inward, not leaving her house for a considerable time which worried her band-mates.  Ballard shared about the incident, and then never spoke about it again.  Obviously, it caused major psychological damage, and from the time on was distrustful, negative, and bitter (Um, who can blame her?).  She eventually returned to the group, personally selected the name “The Supremes” off of a list and signed a record contract with Motown Records. Between 1963-1967, “Ballard contributed vocals to ten number-one pop hits and 16 top forty hit singles”.

SUPREMES in Paris mid 1960s from l Diana Ross Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson

For those who’ve seen Dreamgirls, Effie White is a big girl with a big personality and an even bigger voice.  She also has a large ego, which prevents her from being a team player; which ultimately gets her kicked out of the band. Having always been the lead, she struggles to cope with playing second fiddle to beautiful Deena Jones.  As in the movie, Ballard had a better voice than Ross, but Ross was deemed more attractive.  Ross was being groomed as the star and Ballard drank excessively, gain weight, fighting with Gordy and Ross, and missing rehearsals and recording sessions.  Ballard once had a sore throat and asked Ross to sing her signature song; People.  After that night she never took the lead on the vocals again. The decline was becoming much steeper.  Ballard was disillusioned; their success only exacerbated her misery.  She lamented in an interview the loss of intimacy between the women now that they stayed in separate hotel rooms.  She suggested that it was a mistake for Gordy to highlight Diana Ross over the others, and resented that their romantic relationship,which skewed opportunities within the group.    In 1967, Ballard took a leave of absence, understanding it to be temporary.  Gordy renamed the group The Supremes with Diana Ross.  Shortly after her 24th birthday Ballard reported to work intoxicated–which was not uncommon.  Gordy sent her home, immediately terminating her position.  She was replaced by Cindy Birdsong, who had covered before in Ballard’s absence.  Ballard was released from her contract, was offered a one-time payment of $139,804.94, and was told she could not use “The Supremes” brand, a name that she had approved, to promote solo work.

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From there: spousal abuse, divorce, debt, foreclosure, poverty, welfare, rehab, all while raising three children. She tried to fight Motown Records for additional royalties, and lost. Meanwhile Diana Ross had gone solo in 1970 and was living large in fur coats and diamonds, with many accolades and film roles at her finger tips.  Ballard performed intermittently, (she once opened for Bill Cosby), and occasionally sang with other former Supremes, once playing tambourine at Six Flags in California.  She had lost her desire to sing.  Following rehab, she attempted to stage a comeback.  Ballard performed for the first time in five years, and was in talks to write an autobiography.

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None of that was to be, the two-hundred pound, 32-year-old Florence died of a heart attack.  Diana Ross made a splashy diva entrance, skipping the long, slow-moving line, bee-lining for the front row while surrounded by four burly bodyguards. She sat with the Ballard family in the front row.  She was booed by the crowd, and even Ross’ own mother felt as though she was deeply unwelcome.

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God love Diana Ross, what a bitch move.  Making a big production of her grief.  Although, at this point Diana Ross was not just a singer, she was an Oscar nominated movie star.  She had already done Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany.  Naturally she can’t just walk in by herself or stand in the back respectfullyIn truth, it had been nearly eight years since Ballard left the group, and Ross had been going strong after six years of solo success.  There was enough water under the bridge…but that still didn’t stop Ballard’s supporters to want to hold Ross’s head under said water.  Sheesh, That would have been a mighty tough crowd to face.  According to some sources Ross had donated $50,000 to Ballard before her death, and opened trust accounts for her daughters after her untimely demise.  Perhaps it was generosity, perhaps it was out of guilt.  It was her dream, and Ross helped blacklist her.  Ballard supports claimed that Florence had died of a broken heart.   A month or so after the funeral Ross said to People Magazine:

Did I cry? Yes, I cried. People tried to help Florence. I tried to help her. She had it all and she threw it away.  She quit The Supremes, we didn’t quit her. Don’t make too big a thing of this.  Florence was very important in my life, but I’m not dead. She did this to herself.”

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Shortly after Dreamgirls, I was listening to The Carpenters, (naturally, some things never change) it got me thinking about poor old Karen Carpenter.  During her 14-year career, she and her brother Richard recorded eleven albums, had thirty-one singles, five television specials, and a short-lived television series.

Karen_0009Carpenter lived with her mother until she was 26, dated Tony Danza and Steve Martin, and was also an accomplished drummer.

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Carpenter struggled with anorexia nervosa for years and weighed as little as eighty pounds at the height of her illness.  She spent most of 1982 undergoing treatments to gain weight (30 pounds in eight weeks).  She died at the age of 32, on the day her divorce was to be finalized. Her real-estate developer husband Thomas James Burris had failed to mention that he had a vasectomy to the family-minded Karen during their wedding vows, and their marriage crumbled almost instantly.  She collapsed in the bedroom her parents kept for her at their home; before a planned shopping trip.  Carpenter and her mother were off to buy her new clothes to accommodate the weight gain.

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 After reading all the depressing details, I couldn’t bear to listen to hear her velvety, melancholic voice. I changed the record and put on a Mamas & the Papas album…which then made me wonder about poor old Mama Cass.

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Cass Elliot died after a significant weight loss (80 pounds in eight months by fasting four days a week)…at 32 years of age. Whoa.  Scientists who discovered cures to diseases had nothing on me and my discovery.  This trifecta connection led to a long meandering jazz riff of internet research that lead me to discovery that there is a “32 Club”.  First things first–for Mama Cass it was not death by ham sandwich.  What an unfortunate urban legend to haunt your legacy.  During my research I came across the old joke “if only Mama Cass had given her ham sandwich to Karen Carpenter that they would both be alive today”.  That’s slightly clever, granted, but it’s undermining two paralleled deaths that connect to body images and societal expectations.  The circumstances surrounding her death have been made into a punchline in routines by Frank Zappa, Adam Sandler, Denis Leary, Mike Myers, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Robin Williams.  Aw, Mama Cass,  that rumor is unfortunate and unfair in the same way stripes don’t flatter certain figures.

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Mama Cass died in London, after a sold-out solo show.  She was staying on Curzon Street, in an apartment owned by singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson.  The young mother had a little champagne, called fellow Mama Michelle Philips, expressed gratitude about the packed houses and loving fans, that people were accepting her solo efforts–and then went to sleep and never woke up.

Geneviève Waite, Michelle Phillips and John Phillips at Mama Cass Elliot funeral, July 31 1974

In 1978, now four years later, Keith Moon, drummer of The Who rented the flat.  The 1970’s had not gone well for Keith, who habitually flushed explosives down public toilets and trashed hotel rooms–once was about to leave one location, claimed he had forgotten something in the room, and went back to hurl a television set into the pool.  His 21st birthday was spent in a Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan and cost $24,000 in damages.

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On January 4, 1970 a wildly intoxicated Moon, caught in an onslaught of over-zealous fans, struck and killed his bodyguard/driver/friend Neil Boland with his Bentley.  Close friends claimed that he was forever haunted by the incident, but it didn’t really give him a new lease on life on the straight and narrow.  I apologize to any Keith Moon fans out there, but Christ Almighty this guy sounds like he was as bad at living as he was good at drumming.  Even then, percussion was a bit of a trial for him –during an incident in 1973, after a heaping portion of tranquilizers and brandy, he passed out behind his kit during “Won’t get Fooled Again”.  Eventually Moon was carried off stage, given a shower and a shot of cortisone.

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Thirty minutes later, he was back on track….or rather slumped behind the drums with damp hair.  After passing out once more during “Magic Bus”, Pete Townsend put a call out to the audience:  “Can anyone play the drums? – I mean somebody good?”  Scot Halpin, a drummer from Iowa came up and played the rest of the show.  In 1973 Halpin was recognized by  Rolling Stone magazine’s “Pick-Up Player of the Year Award” for his historic performance.  Moon sounded like a messy, monstrous man,  inconsiderate and unprofessional.  He alone was responsible for driving The Who into mountains of debt.  After calculating all of his losses following a 1975 UK tour, he was owed a whopping £47.35. By the late seventies, The Who could nary get through a show without major incident.  He was costing a fortune, whilst making a mess of their collective success. He had caused a death, ruined personal relationships–another thing he couldn’t recover from was his 1973 divorce, where his long-suffering wife left with their daughter Amanda.  She later spoke of Moon as being incapable of parenting because he was a child himself .

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While many of you like to start your morning with toast and coffee, or maybe a fruit smoothie, for Keith Moon he liked to blend champagne, Courvoisier and amphetamines before he started any day.

“I always get up about six in the morning. I have my bangers and eggs. And I drink a bottle of Dom Perignon and half a bottle of brandy. Then I take a couple of downers. Then it’s about 10 and I’ll have a nice nap until five. I get up, have a couple of black beauties [also known as Black Birds or Black Bombers and are a combination of Amphetamine (Speed) and Dextroamphetamine], some brandy, a little champagne and go out on the town. Then we boogie. We’ll wrap it up about four”.

How can one live like that? Short answer? You don’t.  Come late 1978, he’s off the booze, and has been prescribed sedatives, 100 Heminevrin as means to cope with alcohol withdrawal.  He and his girlfriend Annette Walter-Lax stepped out with Paul and Linda McCartney for the film preview of “The Buddy Holly Story”.

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Following the film, they returned home, where he asked for steak and eggs. She apparently declined the task, to which he uttered his last words: “If you don’t like it, you can fuck off”.  Real classy send off, Keith.

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He died in the same bed as Mama Cass, at the same age, with thirty-two pills in his system.

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Annette was heavily sedated for the funeral, and collapsed during the service. Jim Henson immortalized Moon by creating the drummer Animal. In 2012, thirty-four years after his death, some dumb-ass from The London Summer Olympics committee–contacted The Who’s manager about Moon performing at the games. In an interview Bill Curbishley said he replied: “I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to The Who’s anthemic line ‘I hope I die before I get old’.

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After Moon died Harry Nilsson immediately sold the house, for fear the house was truly haunted. Nilsson was no stranger to rock and roll excesses; once in a recording studio he opened his mouth to sing and blood poured out instead of lyrics.  The copious amounts of cocaine caused his throat to rupture, but Nilsson was so far-gone that he didn’t even notice.  If you were Harry, the house would be the last thing you’d worry about.  Two years after Moon’s death, another drummer met his demise.

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Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham was found dead, having choked on his own vomit after consuming forty shots of vodka in twelve hours. Led Zeppelin had spent the day rehearsing, and were about kick of the first tour since 1977. The father of two was 32.  Bonham was in a bad place, thinking that his drumming abilities were sub-par, when really…in the spirit of Keith Moon and all the others who fell before him,  perhaps his addiction was getting in the way of his talent.

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Led Zeppelin, inventors and innovators of ‘cock rock’ were the kind of men you wouldn’t want to clean up after. Collectively, between cocaine, booze, tight pants, huge egos and extremely willing sexual conquests, Led Zeppelin were dangerously out of hand.  Writer Simon Hardeman examined the gritty underbelly of John Bonham.

The most unsettling member of the band itself was Bonham, whose other nickname was The Beast. The American journalist Ellen Sander describes how on the last night of Zep’s second America tour, band members, led by Bonham, ripped her clothes off, “shrieking and grabbing”. She goes on: “They were in a frenzy. I was absolutely terrified that I was going to be raped…” Zep’s former-nightclub-bouncer manager, Peter Grant, bodily pulled Bonham off her. She describes life with the band as like being inside cages at a zoo where “you get to smell the shit first-hand”.

Another terrifying Bonham incident occurred aboard the Starship, the Boeing 720 passenger aircraft that the band fitted with luxurious bedrooms for their 1973 and 1975 tours. Plant says his fondest memory of the craft is “oral sex in turbulence”, but one stewardess will have a different take. Stephen Davis describes how Bonham, after drinking a bottle of whisky, appeared in a robe, grabbed the attendant, bent her over forwards in an arm lock and announced that he was going to “have her from the rear”. He then threw open his robe. At the girl’s screams, Cole and Grant appeared and dragged him off.

Maddox said Bonham was the nicest guy in the world when sober, but a maniac when drunk. Once, in a Los Angeles bar, a woman looked at him and, apparently recognising him, smiled; he went over and punched her in the face. And in 1977 he, Cole, Grant and a former London gangster called John Bindon were arrested in San Francisco after a security man was beaten unconscious and left in a pool of blood. A $2m legal action ensued, and the night lives in Led Zep legend as “The Oakland Incident”.

And we shan’t forget the ‘mudshark’ incident, with Bonham once again at the helm. The band were fishing from their window–and had caught a mudshark–or a red snapper, depends on who you ask.  Either way, a pretty red head arrived on the scene, red snapper jokes ensued, and ultimately she was tied to the bed, and her cavities was then stuffed with bits of fish in a room filled with people.  I’ve heard this story before, and it’s rather hard to take.  Before I got the details I just thought it was your average one girl, ten guys, a motel room and a mudshark kind of situation.  The fact that it’s just bits of meat really drives me over the edge. Oh, those boys, they seem like they could gets their female fans to do just about anything–with dogs, octopuses, the mind reels.  Led Zeppelin were the Kings of excess, and were hardly gentlemen to a huge number of the female population.  They burned girls with cigarettes, cut their hair, and generally abused because they could. They were stars–Rock Gods, the rules of human decency don’t apply.  How degrading and unhygienic.  Just think of all those grandmother’s and pensioners out there with some unbelievably filthy stories.

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Phew! Let the record show that I have never spent so long researching a blog before.  And like a Led Zeppelin groupies, I could just go on all night. This entry is going to be longer than a Bonham drum solo, and some famous penises, if you ask Cynthia Plaster-Caster–a groupie who apparently never wanted to forget a phallus. She started on Jimi Hendrix…who was apparently flying at ‘half-mast’ and was not pleased with the final result.  Nonetheless, it became a fun hobby, great way to get into someone’s pants without looking slutty or over eager, just write it off as an art project, and see what you can get cooking on an extra curricular level.

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I’ve fallen down numerous rock n’ roll rabbit holes–each figure I’ve mentioned merits plenty of attention.  My intention was to spend more time with Kurt Cobain, who originally inspired the thesis of this piece. Of course, he is a part of a great cosmic web of excess, self-destruction and wasted life.  Like others before him, Cobain was someone’s husband and father.

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For Cobain, he felt the same way about music as Charlie Brown did about Christmas: things had gotten far too commercial.  Cobain’s suicide note references his lack of passion for the craft–he felt as though he needed to punch the time clock before stepping onstage.

kurt-cobain_sassy_courtney-love_magazineClearly, there are a whole host of issues at hand, addiction, crippling stomach pains, mental anguish, a tortured soul.  Why this man couldn’t just bow out of the limelight and leave the business is beyond me.  The pressures, contracts, obligations to band-members, who knows the what and the why.  A need to burn out than to fade away.   Which brings us back to April 8, 1994–twenty years ago, when I walked across the hall to my older brother’s room.  He was sitting at his desk, listening to Nirvana.  “Isn’t it weird to listen to this now?” I ask.  “It’s different…sad” he said.  We didn’t talk much, I didn’t really know what to say. Kurt Cobain didn’t belong to me.  I wondered if this was how people felt when Elvis died…he had been on his way out as well, shadow of his former self.  Yet people grieved as if he was “Love Me Tender” guy, not “Bloated, pill popping, awkward high kicks, and sequined jumpsuit” guy.  Cobain wanted to be the former, not the latter, and so he is forever 27, the tortured artist who never wanted to be a star.  When tragedy strikes, endless possibilities and speculation grows like a giant tree, each branch individual versions of what was, what could have been, what could have been different, if only.  Life ends, and the legend begins, but really it would have been nice to hear just one more song.

27-club-of-death-wallpaper-hd-e1384384643890 Images Courtesy of Google

Paint Me Paltrow.

"Pin Up Picks Pen Up"

I wish I had Gwyneth Paltrow‘s problems. I wish I had her money.  I wish I had her wardrobe.  I wish I had her legs.

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I wish I could make huffy remarks like: “When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, ‘No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine?”…oh yeah, and you have to say it with a straight face.  And, furthermore, Paltrow complains about poor concierge recommendations, like “Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?”  You just hear her fury loud and clear.  My god, this is a woman with her finger on the pulse.  She is touching on some serious issues that today’s woman really struggle with–being in a foreign country and having no one to tend to your solid gold snatch.

What’s embarrassing, is that…

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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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Sweetie Darling

With Ben’s sickness spilling over into another week, we have been hitting the Netflix pretty hard.  Without “Downton Abbey” to lean on, we are back in the sometimes murky waters of movie selections. We start watching “Finding Neverland”, and then Ben starts to doze.  I’d seen this film before…and admittedly had one of those big ‘caught without a tissue and wiping your face on your sweater’ kind of cries. I figured if he was going to sleep, I might check another program out.  I select “Beautiful Darling”, a documentary of Andy Warhol Super Star, Candy Darling.

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Looks like my kind of movie right? Ummmmm. I don’t know, I love me some pop culture education…but it was creepy and morbid.  Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for it, cause creepy and morbid is usually something I can’t resist.  The thing about Ms Candy Darling is that…she’s a terrible actress with a breathy voice, and watching her huff and puff her way through monologues feels like hot breath on your neck while standing in an elevator.

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In a nutshell: James Lawrence Slattery, born 1944 in Forest Hills, Queens was a future transvestite with a dream. (S)he inspired Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”, made movies with Andy Warhol, added her own lashing of avante-garde, disco-glam style on the cultural landscape before dying of lymphoma at 29. 

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It was uncomfortable to watch.  Darling is like your boozy aunt, only your boozy aunt has a penis and wears far too much rouge to compensate.

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Furthermore, the Bear didn’t actually sleep. There’s that relationship osmosis when you know your partner is uncomfortable, and by virtue it makes you extremely cognizant of all the potentially uncomfortable aspects of your shared experience.  A girlfriend of mine once took her husband to “Brokeback Mountain”–and he didn’t know what it was about. That story never gets old to me, it cracks me up.  If my relationship osmosis theory was rooted in any actual science–that moment would have been a record breaker.  Still, he says nothing.  We sit in silence, I’m tapping away on the computer, reading about Andy Warhol and another Factory favorite Edie Sedgwick.

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“Are you watching this?” Ben asks.  I’m aware of it’s existence.  I’m listening to it and occasionally looking at the colors and light.  It’s inspiring a new thread of nerdy internet research…but I’m not married to it.  There’s also this element of not wanting to admit that I think it’s weird.  I don’t want to be creeped out.  And perhaps Ben is also trying to ride it out as well.  It’s like a game of chicken…only it’s a new fangled visual, media aged ‘strange chicken’, circa sitting through “Two Girls, One Cup” and trying not to barf. Of course, the closest I’ve ever been to that vile piece of scatological nonsense was having it explained to me one long-ago Christmas morning while walking with my two brothers and my fiance.  I of course, had many questions. Who were these women? Did their mothers know where they were? How much would one get paid to shit in a cup and have someone vomit on your face? What made the director select “Lovers Theme” by Hervé Roy as the soundtrack?” “Did they look unhappy?” The more the boys explained, the more the urge to retch at the memory seized them.  My god, why watch that? Why do that to yourself? More importantly why  would you do that to Questlove?

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http://http://www.maniacworld.com/roots-watch-2-girls-1-cup.html

Of course, if uncomfortable moments were salsa, “Brokeback Mountain” is medium, “2 Girls, 1 Cup” is hot, making Candy Darling a mild concoction.  Nonetheless, if you aren’t in the mood for salsa, even mellow Old El Paso is simply the wrong flavor.  If you want to throw a game of chicken to me, give me the tractor race in “Footloose”.

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I’m sorry, by the time Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero” starts to peak, I’m holding my breath.

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By the time Lori Singer is running through somebody’s daddy’s field, and Bonnie Tyler is full steam ahead, and I am running strictly on goosebumps and exhilaration.

(I couldn’t find a picture of her mid-sprint , but I can do you one better. I can post the link to the scene and offer you this bonus image: this amazing t-shirt and arm-length jean zipper is too good to pass up.  You can just image the photographer here “Yes darling, love it, love it…now point at the t-shirt…perfect! We got the shot!)

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwGQDtC-h18

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Good ole what’s her name.  Apparently Madonna wanted to play Kevin Bacon’s love interest Ariel, the promiscuous preacher’s daughter with her sassy red boots, but some casting agent was like “That Madonna  girl is a nobody, it’s Lori Singer who’s going to be a star”.  Now, I’ve seen “Footloose” a time or ten, and every time I do…well first of all,  I have a really good fucking time. Secondly, I cringe at Singer’s skeletal frame; I want someone to feed Lori Singer a little less cock, and a little more casserole.  My god, by the end of the movie when she’s fussing with her dress–“do I want it on my shoulder/off my shoulder”, expressing her self-consciousness with the majesty of fabric fiddling…I’m like, I’m sorry did we run out of money? Can we not cover these shoulders? How is Ren McCormack going to fit her in his yellow Beetle? Does she have to turn sideways to get through the door?

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We all know what happened to Kevin Bacon, he’s six degrees away from Christ himself, but whatever happened to Lori Singer?

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“Sunset Grill”? Now there’s a restaurant I won’t be eating at.  I’d rather watch ‘2 Girls, 1 Cup’ than this cheesy train wreck.  They even airbrushed out her god-damned shoulders.  And who the fuck is Peter Weller? Peter Weller hasn’t even heard of Peter Weller.  From the look of the cover, the mustache, the dirty band-aid, that ‘held at gunpoint date-rapist intensity’…what appears to be a tie-die shirt, you gotta know that he is going to bad-act the shit out of it.  He’s the male Candy Darling…he’s Randy Darling, which would be an improvement from stupid ole ‘Pete Weller’, poor man’s Tom Selleck.  Poor ole Lori, probably thought she had properly broken into the biz with “Footloose”.  Singer’s probably clutching a highball glass slumping her expansive shoulders, glaring at a recent photo of Madonna–“that should have been me, those Gollum arms and immortal skin”, damn you “Footloose”!”

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Yikers, she’s someone you wouldn’t want to bump into in prison.  I don’t really know who she’s fooling.  She’s older than the dinosaurs, but more muscular than Arnold Schwarzenegger before he married a Kennedy and made a love child with his maid, when she was supposed to be making the beds.  Of course, plastic surgery is a real point of contention.  Not that I’d deny you the right to just put whatever knives and needles and injectable toxic swill into your face if you think it buys you more time.  It really doesn’t, you’ll still die and you’ll look like Mickey Rourke in the meantime.  Do you want to look like Mickey Rourke? Will that help you feel alive?

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Huge improvement right? And it only cost $100,000. Good call Mickey.  And the thing is…I came across some post-surgery Mickey Rourke photos just now…and let me tell you, I wouldn’t want to see Mickey Rourke on his best day, fresh from a bubble bath and tucked up in fresh jam-jams, much less post-surgery.  With these procedures, there is ample recovery time…which is great because you look like a wax museum after an arsonist attack, and no one wants to hire you because you’d frighten a feral dog looking the way you do. The more you tweaked, the more you had to recover.  Folks like Joan Rivers would live their lives in constant cycles of metamorphosis and healing; and surgery is no joke, to me, that’s a horror movie, it’s not a solution to self-consciousness.  Which brings us to tonight, when I picked a Joan River’s “Don’t Start With Me”, a comedy special.

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Joan Rivers is someone I’d like at my dinner table, but not on the stage.  I think she is ruthless and fearless, and a true comedy icon.  I would love to sit through a bad movie with her (Sunset Grill, perhaps?), wander through a crowded mall and people watch…or maybe an afternoon at the zoo? I bet Joan Rivers would have a lot of opinions about all of God’s creatures. As long as I don’t have to stare directly at the blaring sun that is her face.  Mostly, when looking at the screen, I just focused on her fabulous coat.  After twenty or so minutes of her routine, which included a Oprah/Gayle/”sisters going downtown” bit, I was rubbed raw.  Forty minutes more I could not take, (yes, sometimes I do write like Yoda talks).  I guess that’s her schtick, aggressively bitchy and wildly offensive.  People were lapping it up, but again, it’s not really where I’m at.  It’s more a blueprint of my golden years, as opposed to the evening’s entertainment.  Oh, I like to get a little bitchy, maybe dip my toe and make a little splash, but I’m not ready for a big cannonball.  I don’t have nearly enough money to be that brand of bitchy.  The day I can pull off rainbow stripes, fifteen pounds of medical grade plastic, and that coat, I’ll throw out some real zingers.  They’ll just love me at the nursing home.

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Images Courtesy of Google/YouTube

Carbohydrate Brokeback Mountain

I call my husband “The Bear” and it’s a nickname that’s started to stick.  As with most nicknames, it spawns spin-off expressions.  He calls me “Goat”, or on occasion “Sheltland Goat”, with many variations.  Once in a silly mood, I called him ‘chunky bear‘ and the sound of it made me giggle. Obviously, he didn’t care for it, as it does imply that he is ‘chunky’.  It was not an often used name, but it does come out now and again.  Truth is; winter has come and so has the carbohydrates; we’re both feeling a little soft around the edges.

therightcarbs_heroStanding in the walk-in closet, attempting to pack for our last minute trip to Vancouver.  I catch an unflattering glimpse of myself.  Well..not like seeing an unflattering glimpse of myself is the equivalent of aurora borealis. It’s not rare to catch a glimpse in the mirror and feel varying degrees of dissatisfaction.  I’m not Victoria’s Secret, I’m not even her dirty little secret.  I’m not really their market audience.  I’ve got itty-bitties up top and then all the action is down below.  As I always say, my thighs are Godzilla and my calves Tokyo.  I lean into the mirror.  Oh crap.  Has my face gotten fat? Am I looking a little puffy?

Kim-Kardashian-instagram-selfie-2461622I implore my husband for some consolation. “Aww…” he says,chuckling a little and pinching my cheeks: “My chunky-goat-wife”.  I took this remark like an absolute champ.

Jenni-in-a-Calmer-Moment‘Chunky goat wife?’ Scientists couldn’t extract adorability from it and a public relations expert couldn’t spin it into a frothy confection.  At least ‘chunky bear’ sounded a bit like a yummy pastry.  “I’ll have an non fat cappuccino and two chunky bears please”;  at best ‘chunky goat wife’ could be a poorly translated name for a questionable looking hot dish served in the Mongolian mountains.  He really ran with that bit, which is fair I suppose, I did start it. But doesn’t he realize? It’s only funny when I am the one dishing it out. I’d like to keep my plate clean of comebacks thank you.  Needless to say, I spent the next hour pouting, glaring and poking my chin contemptuously.  Then ole Chunky Bear had the nerve to complain that I wasn’t being more helpful with the packing.  Uh, well here’s a tip, if you want your wife’s help, best check yourself before you wreck yourself with the pet names.

f5b7828531a537ab9eb7f44a4272d530I don’t want to be one of those wives that you have to lie to…but I wouldn’t mind being the kind of wife you bend the truth for.  Nod and smile and back away slowly.  That’s how you get it done.  I don’t want to be one of those women who are weight-obsessed.  I am who I am, and my body is shaped as it is.  If it were fifty years ago, my perception of my physical circumstances would be a different story.

ad1Of course, I’d be a fool to say I didn’t wish that I had legs that went on forever.  Truth is, I was curvy even as a little kid.  In my late elementary school days, someone started calling me “Chunky Soup“, saying that like the famous soup line, I too could be eaten with a fork or a spoon.  I didn’t know what that meant…but I was certain it was a nickname Audrey Hepburn never got pegged with.

largeChubby knees, stubby legs and dimply thighs are super cute when you’re a naked toddler running around the backyard.  As one gets older, and possibly more modest, such is best kept under leggings, trousers, pantyhose and A-frame skirts.

Fkowt Don’t get me wrong, I think Lena Dunham is awfully brave.  In her television series “Girls”, she is fearless when it comes to being vulnerable.  Sure, it’s her character Hannah being portrayed in those uncomfortable sex scenes and unflattering rompers, but Dunham is writing herself into these situations. She is deliberately exposing to the cast, crew, professional partners, advertisers and the audience.

Lena-Dunham-nude-topless-bush-sex-Girls-s2e5-2013-hd720p-15 It’s brave, bold, revolutionary, but I wouldn’t participate.  If I was director, writer, star and producer of my popular HBO program, I would have an iron clad nudity and romper policy.  The show would still be brilliant; it would be the new “Girls” which was the new “Sex and the City“.

66301_parker93_122_499loThe main theme on my show would focus on a love triangle between myself, Ryan Gosling and George Clooney; Clooney being a wealthy suitor, and Gosling a young man from the wrong side of the tracks.  They fight for my love and affection, (this will go on for years) and as we slip into old age, the winner gets to repeat the story to me over and over about how I dicked everyone around until I got dementia.  It’s a completely original idea, and it’s going to blow minds.  And never in the years of the beloved series ‘Love Sandwich’ would you see me scantily clad.  I would dress like Katherine Hepburn and in all my love scenes I’ll wear a scuba suit.

hepburnSometimes I think to myself…”I could stand to lose a few pounds”.  And I visualize a montage of myself doing sit ups, and jogging in the streets, and punching large slabs of meat.  I would be so fit.

44-sexy-fit-women-13My problem is…I love bread.  I love cheese, red wine and creamy lattes .  And bread.  I love bread so much that if I was on death row my last meal would just be various types of bread with things to spread, dip and place on top of it.

creepy girl stares at bread and jelly cello54aI used to go to this amazing restaurant when I lived in Victoria where they offered an all you could eat soup deal with the greatest bread ever.  Hot, buttery and pelted with chunks of rock salt.  I could have ordered the special and sent the soup back in the same way my friend Robin does with a wings and beer feature at the local pub.  She wants the cheap wings, but tells the waitress to give the beer to someone else cause she doesn’t want that cheap piss anywhere near her face.

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Fair enough, life is short, take only the good stuff.  I don’t even know who this Franz character is but I wish that I were that duck so I could eat all his bread.  Alas, this is a world full of limitations, boundaries, rules and limits.  Bread is a dietary no no, and most would recommend cutting out yeast and flour based products.  My love for bread is like the love in Brokeback Mountain. I just don’t know how to quit you, carbohydrates.  I love you, I hate you, I want you inside my mouth.  (…too much?)

Brokeback Mountain I really can’t remember “Brokeback Mountain”…though I did wind up seeing it twice at the cinema.  But I do remember just sobbing my little heart out.  I meant to re-watch it recently, but got distracted on Netflix and watched “Bring it On” instead.  It was just too sad to watch again. Maybe that’s how I can justify comparing the film to carbohydrates and plump thighs.  It was devastating to me that you could just miss your whole life by not being true to yourself; and for Ennis that was Jack Twist, for me it’s twist bread.

tumblr_md3ixfsZKW1rbear9o1_500Okay, I’m sorry for you situation with the forbidden love and all, but this is my blog and I can say what I want.  I’m comparing your love to my love of bread–deal with it.  In reality, I’m perfectly average. Not Karen Carpenter, not Mama Cass, just somewhere in the middle.  When I look at old photos of myself I balk at how young and slender I looked.   Of course, when that picture was being taken, I had that same voice in my head that compared and criticized.  In a year’s time, I could look at a picture of myself today and think I looked perfectly lovely.  With this in mind, I try to do my future self a favor and look at myself in the present as she would do in hindsight.

fun-house-mirrorImages Courtesy of Google