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…

Faith Tones & the Freak Show Circuit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Writer”

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

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

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

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-“Apparently her writing is unpublishable”

-“I hear her vagina is super temperamental“.

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

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

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

You know where I’m going don’t you?

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

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

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

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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

Good as Gold

After a certain length of marital life, my husband realized that he didn’t know a lot about my previous life in Canada.  From high school to adulthood Benjamin had lived in Hamilton, New Zealand.  He lived with a few mates, and it had been a revolving door of a core groups of friends as tenants in a few houses over the years.  Quite simple. A to B to C.  My story is not as simple…if his life is the alphabet, mine is more like that useless font “Wingdings”, where letters are nonsensical symbols.  I’m like the Littlest Hobo, I just roamed from town to town depending on the kindest of strangers willing to throw me a bone.

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During the immigration process, we both had to list all the places we had lived in the past five to ten years. Jeepers creepers, who can recall the exact address of that place you flatted with for six months when you were 23? Not me.  I could tell you about the emotional scope, or aesthetic details, not directions from the highway. And I’d have no means to deliver a package to the new owners.  I eventually just had all my mail sent to my parents house.

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As Dr Seuss once said:Oh the places you’ll go, all the couches you’ll sleep on”.  I was always in a transition, but not so much so that I didn’t know where I was going to lay my head each night.  Maybe…if I had to venture a guess, thirteen moves in eight years?   And that was before I graduated and moved to New Zealand.  Thank God for my mother, who had kept track of my whereabouts in her address book, which she had supplied a copy of for the Immigration questionnaire.  Places I had long forgotten about, and would not have been able to provide if Immigration really needed me to swear on a bible about where I was living in any given year. I don’t remember things linearly, I’ve mentioned my tabloid calender, if you give me a pop culture reference or major event, and it’s like… ‘Ah yes, September 11…which was in 2001, and I had just come back from a summer in Vancouver Island, and just started university’.  It felt like the world was ending just as I was getting started.    That’s a pretty universal example, but generally it’s like my life story is hand written scribbles on play bills, napkins and take out menus and stashed between the pages of history.  My memories are kept in a very unorganized library; it’s not the best way to keep track of your life, but it’s just how my brain works.

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I had just read that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was celebrating it’s tenth anniversary. I remember seeing that in a cinema in Victoria BC, during my reading break. (Student loan dollars hard at work).  This movie was devastating to me.  It’s achingly vulnerable piece about how even our worst experiences make us the people we are, and how those collections of memories shape our existence.

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I was twisted with anxiety  at the thought of those memories getting sucked up into some cosmic vacuum.

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Ten years ago, my 22nd year, was a time of great tempestuousness. I reckon it was the hardest year of my life.  I faced the darkest side of another person, and in turn everything I knew about myself was stripped away like one’s road-rashed skin after a high speed motorcycle crash.  I had gone to Victoria to visit some friends, and fell in love with the city.  How I felt in the city.  The newness of it all.  The distance from the scene of so much unhappiness.  I knew that I had to come back to live. I finished my semester, unloaded a vast amount of my possessions and went back to Vancouver Island for the second time in my life, this time with intention to make a new life there.  Which I did, for a time, but I eventually returned to my English degree, moving on to a Theatre Major, keeping me in school for three more years before finally graduating.

vintage_blonde_educated_lady_round_sticker-rf99db5468d634b4a8dec1d623d059fc6_v9waf_8byvr_512Which brings up another question from my husband–how did you make your money when you were in university? How else? Student loans and waitress tips.  I came into a bit of money a couple of times, but eventually it depletes like snow in the hot sun.  If I had a time machine that would be my first stop would be to take Thirties Alicia to Twenties Alicia, get her a gym membership and dance lessons, and pay for my education through the majesty of exotic dance.

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Student loans certainly seemed like a good idea at the time.  As a young, creative, self absorbed drifter who happened to fit in well with academia, eight years of school and part time work dominated the scope of my twenties.  A savings account was a mythological concept.  There was enough for all the essentials: tuition, cigarettes, wine, travel, clothing, weird thrift store knickknacks, kitschy coffee mugs and dusty records.   When I graduated, my traveling nest egg had come from winning a rather sizable scholarship before I graduated.  I waitressed at a Mexican bistro all summer and lived at a former professor’s house until I left the country. It was all about jumping to the next lily-pad and trying not to drown.

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Having to pay back my student loans was like imagining your own demise, it was too far away to fathom. Now, whenever I have any kind of a Stevie Nicks-Landslide-climb a mountain and turn around moment, I can look at all my wonderful choices, all those times that I should have been prepared but wasn’t, the times I should have listened but didn’t, and all those times I could have been a much, much better friend and couldn’t.  I could have been more financially responsible,and better organized in general.  But you know…I was busy, distracted, learning, growing up.  Who can keep track of time and money?

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I could pay my student loans back by writing a book about all the people I’ve lived with.  I once wrote a collection of short stories for a creative writing course about the most memorable people and places.  I got an A…why not a book deal and movie options? When recently organizing my office I came across the papers and was amazed at the dire conditions I have lived in for the sake of little or no rent.  I could write a Twilight length trilogy that would be a mash up Fifty Shades of Grey,  Girl Interrupted, The Complete Works of Shakespeare and all ten seasons of Friends.  

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Real quick–has anyone seen Jennifer Aniston lately? We just watched We’re the Millers, and bless her soul, her face just doesn’t look authentic.  It’s distracting.  It makes me feel sad.  As Benjamin would say, Jennifer Aniston is “tidy”.  Yes, she is fit and fabulous, and Lord knows she’s doing a hell of a lot better than me.

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Nonetheless, when the magazines crow over Aniston and Cameron Diaz, and all the other face-freezers… that ‘they’ve stopped time, can you believe it?” Of course I believe it, they’ve got a chef and personal trainer.  It’s not inconceivable that the better paid stars have NASA-grade accessibility to the best equipment to fight ole Father Time–anti-gravity chambers, access to experimental European dolphin semen serum, that is injected directly between the eyes causing you to live forever. Over time body parts are slowly replaced with plastics and by the year 2065 they’ll be robots that run on Vodka and Botox.  Sadly, science still can’t make your hands look young for Madonna is going to have to wear those little fingerless gloves until the end of time.  When anyone moons over Aniston in that film I feel a bit like Mugatu in Zoolander. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

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In the film version of my Couch Surfing trilogy, naturally Natalie Portman will fall at my feet to play me.  I guess I do look a lot like her, some say you can’t tell us apart. (Just to help you out, I’m the one in the white).

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Where am I going with this you ask? My youngest brother has moved to Australia, and conditions have proven challenging for him.  It’s a scary and frustrating time, and to me, I’m feeling very bothered about the situation.  Yesterday afternoon, I went into a yoga class and my mind wandered over to my twenties, my choices, and how I had come to make rational responsible decisions in my thirties.  I can’t tell anyone how to live their lives, convince them to approach things differently.  But if I could it would be this:

Hang in there. Have faith. Try again.Don’t give up. Fight Harder. Have fun.Do your research.  Be mindful. Be grateful.  Know you are loved.

Even though I was an occasional arsonist of my own life and have now rebuilt a sturdy foundation over once smoldering ashes, my advice is meaningless to someone who still needs to learn those life changing lessons.  As I imagine a parent would, I can’t help but worry…and wish I could do it for them.  But then one loses the all mighty life experience, the reward for all that fucking-up–becoming a true grown up. A graduate of ‘the school of hard knocks’

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When I left for Victoria, I stood on that ferry watching the mainland drift away from me, convinced that this was the beginning of a successful new chapter.  I had some good friends, all I needed was a job and a room to rent.  After the first few days, when the party died down and everyone else settled back into their studies and jobs, it was time to face the business of employment.  Ugh.  Which brings up one of my greatest ever pet peeves.  Handing out resumes is like those scenes in American high school movies. The new kid standing in the cafeteria, tray in hand not knowing where to sit.  Smiling and standing at an unnatural state of straightness.  Nodding enthusiastically.  Feigning interest.  After a generous portion of pavement pounding, I stopped into Lulu Lemon, and the salesclerk was about as kind at the shop girls in Pretty Woman. 

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The job application required details about my education, experience, history—which is another pet peeve of mine…”but all of this information is on the resume I just handed to you”.  Why am I transcribing all that information onto the page with the too short lines, eventually requiring you to scribble in the margins, when it is clearly laid out of the resume”?.  What a waste of time and ink.  If you want to get down to the personal deets–what was the last book you read, what’s your favorite color, how many dates do you got out on before putting out, then sure, let’s explore the psyche on a deep and meaning level before we book an interview.  At the Lulu Lemon, the question that stopped me cold.  “What style of yoga do you practice/prefer”? Um…something told me that the VHS copy of “A.M Yoga with Rodney Yee” that I used intermittently, would not satisfying the requirements of the tall, thin spandex clad.

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Utterly defeated–feeling like no job on earth belongs to me.  In reality, I’d only applied to thirty places…just that day.  There are so many variables to applying for jobs in a time sensitive situation.  These things take time.  I don’t even think I had a cell phone, so I would have to get home to listen to the answering machine to see there was any need for my services.  I had been there less than a week, and there was a terribly fearful creeping over me that I had made a mistake.  It always feels like a mistake when you first get somewhere.  You don’t have a place to live, no job–if you don’t know anyone it’s lonely, if you know people they are busy.  But it’s the desire to make it work that pushes you forward; something brought me here, exactly what lesson am I being taught?  That afternoon, I only made it as far as the pub.  I snagged a small table on the patio that overlooked a popular shopping area.  All these smiling tourists, shopping bags in hands, strolling by.  I ordered a beer, and exhaled deeply before I took my first sip. Putting it down on the coaster, distracted by the passing people, I mislaid it, causing my full glass to tip and pour all over my lap–a cool pair of khaki capris, now soaked in ale.  I sat in stunned silence as the beer slipped through my thighs, creating a lawn chair crotch puddle.  A waitress came over with a towel, and drew as much attention as I got liquid into the material.  I had to pass the packed patio to slink off to the bathroom to push my pelvis as close to the hand dryer as possible.

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I came back to the table, mostly to grab my manila envelope, and get the bill, but the waitress had mercifully followed me with a fresh drink.  Something to kill the time while my knickers dried, I guess.    The couple next to me gently cracked a joke about my predicament. They invited me over to the table, and asked for my story. I opened up about my frustrating day, my crisis of faith.  The couple was from Los Angeles, nearing retirement age.  He gave me his card: “Jack Gold”–he was a judge, with a much fancier title that I can’t remember –‘Super Judge’ or something.    They shared their story–which I can’t quite remember, but ultimately, this man was someone who climbed his way to the top.  In his mind, anyone could reach those heights, if they worked hard enough, believed enough, weren’t afraid to get your nails dirty scraping your way to a higher plain.  He had offered his services, to call that private line if there was anything I ever needed.

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Of course, I never called the private line.  Luckily I never needed to call in a favor with Jack Gold: Super Judge.  He provided everything I needed right in that moment.  I like to think that it’s some kind of cosmic force, like God speaking through a total stranger; telling you that even though you’re unemployed in a strange city and it looks like you’ve just pissed in your khakis, that everything is going to be okay.  Pants dry, wounds heal, embarrassment fades and failure becomes our best teacher.  Support systems also appear out of nowhere, take a half empty glass and make it brim–and that is worth is weight in gold.

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All Images Courtesy of Google

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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Blogging & Blow Jobs

Everybody stay calm.

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

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

cb_DepressedStanceLeaning on the kitchen counter with my coffee, flipping through Facebook on my phone. There were slew of photographs of beautiful friends in New Zealand and Australia, looking tanned and relaxed, smiling  in sun filled rooms and on luscious beaches with blue skies and green seas.  They look happy. They look warm.  It makes me remember a time when Benjamin and I used to ride our bicycles on deliciously warm nights, cruising along the dolphin filled Swan River under endless palm trees in Perth.  There was this sudden ache–like a shot through the heart, and not in a Bon Jovi, ‘you give love a bad name a bad name’ kind of way.  Genuine homesickness for the other side of the world.  A physical craving, a hunger pang–the same instinct that Dr Richard Kimble from”The Fugitive”, gets when he knows that the cops were right behind him, and the one-armed man is only one step ahead. Time to move on to the next town.

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

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

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

\frac{[W + D-d] T^Q}{M N_a}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Images Courtesy of Google

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

Yuletide Death Rattle

I haven’t always been a “Christmas person”.  Only when I got married did I really relish in the ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ romantic element.  Growing up, there was something about Christmas that made me feel rather melancholy.  Christmas joy is a bit like chasing the dragon. There’s extraordinary highs and lows.  It comes and then just as quickly it goes.  As a child I anticipated Santa and dreamt about new toys, Barbie dolls, mostly.  When I became too old for dolls, there was a certain Christmas magic that passed away.

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I loved the decorations, Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song” that warm holiday feeling…but mostly I just loved the Christmas tree.  I loved turning off all the lights and how it glowed in the dark.  I loved lying under the tree and staring up through ornaments, tinsel and colored balls.

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To me, dismantling the tree is one of the saddest events of the calendar year.

Christmas - Chopping Down the Christmas Tree Poem, 1921Straight and ready, tall and steady. That’s how I like my trees and my men.  And similarly so, I don’t want to get my holly jolly’s out of them for a month or so and toss them away carelessly. Not unless you count an old Spanish lover I had…Rodrigo.  I used to wrap him in lights, cover him in tinsel and stare up at his balls.

But that was another time altogether.

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On the last day of my Christmas holiday, I was feeling jazzed.  Moving forward. Looking ahead.  I’ve had a nice break, and now it’s time to go back to work.  I’m telling this to my husband, speaking in an upbeat voice “I’ve had a nice rest, I’m ready…” and then I’m crying like a baby.  And not because I’m not totally in love with my job, it’s like a friend once said to me: “When given the option, time off is preferable”.

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We had intended on taking the tree down that Sunday.  We were doing laundry, making lunches, organizing rooms; really taking on the new year and the upcoming work week.  But there was a general sense of the blues, that last day of summer camp feeling.  That tree was like our glittering mascot, the wing-man for the fireplace…we’ve grown accustomed to it.  Taking the tree down is the last straw, the Yuletide death rattle.  We decided to just leave it be and enjoy the rest of our Sunday, enjoy what was left of Christmas.

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Though I was organized and prepared, the first day of work was like waking up from a gorgeous sleep, but realized you overslept and missed your flight.

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It was busy, that phone wouldn’t stop ringing, people kept asking me questions.  I felt very tongue-tied, responding with phrases like: “I like the Christmas because of the lights and the balls”.

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I’m suddenly not used to not wearing a bathrobe at noon. Pants have become a real problem for me.

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That Monday I cringed at the taste of my coffee. The lack of Irish Cream had the same effect as thinking you are about to sip coke through a straw, but it’s actually ice tea.  It’s startling…and depending on how must you anticipated that carbonated sip…deeply upsetting.

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Now, the week has passed.  It was filled with meetings and late work days, and a first aid course.  My husband was struck down by a dreadful flu.  It’s now Saturday, January 11th and our Christmas tree is still up.

tumblr_mfjr5wwWQp1r7dlj2o1_500And I’m actually wearing a similar outfit as this gal overhead.  I often mince around the house in sheer pants and a mink stole.  They frown on that code of dress at work, fur and partial nudity…and that’s just another thing I have to deal with post-holiday.

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Benjamin is the sickest I’ve ever seen him. Fevered and delusional, the last few days have been a blur of work and getting my Florence Nightingale on.

images__63668__22908.1348588447.1280.1280The outfit does feel extreme, but I’m one to dress for the occasion.  If you must get profoundly ill during the first week of work, causing you to act like a wounded animal caught in a fence, rendering us unable to attend a much anticipated mini-break this weekend….then I get to wear this.

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I made mention to Benjamin that I would take down the tree on Saturday.  He kindly offered to watch me do so.  Once home from a meeting, and after a few hours of work. The tree was staring at me…expectantly.  Like it knows that it’s stayed at the party for far too long.  It is the morning of the holiday season, and this is the tree’s walk of shame.

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Truth is…Christmas tree, (and I know I’ve said this about carbs) I just can’t quit you.

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It makes me sad…what happens to a tree in January.  Last year we chopped a tree down in the woods, this year we bought a tree at a lovely market.  Both seasons we discussed the idea of an artificial tree.  This seems so frightfully inauthentic to me.

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Then, once you’ve enjoyed that pine smell of an authentic tree, you have the authentic task of removing it as though it were a dead stripper after an ill-fated bachelor party.  Last winter, we intended to recycle it, and ultimately my husband tossed it in the dumpster.  Ugh, there was nothing sadder than the errant string of silver tinsel poking out of mouth of the yellow metal dumpster.

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Perish the thought of dumping the once living tree.  Driving away with the greenery shrinking in the rear view window.  “I’m sorry little tree, you deserved better.  I should have done right by you”.

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Tomorrow we will face the task of packing the rest of Christmas into a box.  And I will miss the sparkle of the little white lights.

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More Than You Could Ever Know

Last Sunday morning, the first of December, was spent doing what I prefer to do best. Cradling a cup of coffee in my fingers, wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa.  We had been dog-sitting from the night before, and I had Harriet nestled upon my lap, curled next to the fire, listening to Micheal Bublé’s Christmas album.

Michael-Buble_All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Is-You-CoverWe’re listening to “All I want for Christmas Is you”, another favorite Christmas favorite.  It never falls to choke me up a little at the end of “Love Actually“. Even when Mariah Carey goes there, I can still get behind it.

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It’s an ordinarily a fast-paced jingle, (What? Mariah Carey co-wrote it? Huh, who knew?) but Bublé makes it a slow love song.  I am feeling aglow with holiday spirit.  Feeling hopeful for the month ahead.  Benjamin is checking his email and spots a message from Immigration and Citizenship Canada.  He says my name aloud in a stunned tone and reads the email to me.  His permanent residency application had been completed.  We simply had to pay a fee and we would be contacted regarding a time in which to meet an immigration official.  Benjamin joins me on the couch, Harriet still nesting near me.  We kissed and cried as Bublé crooned along.  All we want is to be a normal married couple, free to leave the country, free to make long term decisions, free to make a home. And how lovely that this news comes to us before Christmas.

kiss5 The December calendar has a lot of writing on it.  Meetings, events, parties, concerts.  It’s all so busy and exciting but unfortunately the temperature is so bone cold that it would normally take dynamite to blast me out of the house. It was -20 yesterday, and I can’t say that I love that.  There’s not even the magic of snow.  It’s that part of the snow cycle where it starts to look like cookie dough, mud and chunks of rock and debris in thick slushy slabs.  The cold is bitter and is mood transferable.  I’ve been so anxious about winter driving conditions.  My tire fell flat the other day.  There was nothing worse than standing by helplessly in the frigid night air as Benjamin set up the air compressor to fill the tire so I could take it to the shop in the morning.  In a moment of sheer anxiety, practically frothing at the mouth my husband took hold of my shoulders.  “Alicia, you have got to accept that shit happens“.  Shit happens?

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I know shit happens.  Have you read a newspaper lately?  Across the world and in your very own community lives are being smashed to smithereens.  I’d need both hands to count my major “SH” moments.  Natural disasters, major accidents, violent encounters, broken hearts, I’ve seen my share.  The agony of catastrophe, the inconvenience of tragedy.  Things take forever, and them they come and go too quickly.  Things get broken and need mending.  People make mistakes and need forgiving.  Shit is happening all the time everywhere.  Sure, I could cope better with frustration, I could be gentler with myself, I could go with the flow, but I don’t.  I don’t care for surprises.  Good or bad, I’d prefer ample warning.

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From that Sunday on the sofa, feeling blessed, happy and relaxed, and all that shit happens stress in between, came Friday afternoon. I arrive home for my lunch break around 1:30pm and see the light flashing on the answering machine. “Hello this is Immigration and Citizenship Canada, bring your pertinent papers and we’ll see you in Vancouver next Wednesday. I’m not going to give you my name or number so just be there or be square. So…Bye.”  Uh…what? Next Wednesday? I looked at the packed calendar…this was not on the agenda. We have work. It’s so expensive, so close to Christmas. Such a long way to go on such short notice.  We’ve waited forever for news, and now it’s on our door step and the timing is utterly inconvenient.  Not to sound ungrateful; we want nothing more than to resolve this and move forward with our lives.  But it’s a bit like the old librarian in “The Shawshank Redemption“, he had gotten used to imprisonment.  He had a good thing going at the library, had a pet crow, good friends, he was used to the conditions.  When faced with freedom it becomes his undoing.

Shawshank-Redemption-Script-Brooks I called Benjamin, who shared my reaction.  It all seems so sudden.  Not even a week’s notice to make plans.  We speak briefly, and hang up to call our respective employers.  I begin looking up flights, weather reports, all while being on hold with the immigration call center.   I am trying to connect with an actual human on the phone, but an elaborate labyrinth of options always leads to something along the lines of: “We’re super duper busy right now, we urge you to check the website”.  The lunch hour nearly over, and not a single moment spent actually lunching, I try the old trick–to just press zero, but that wily old recording, she’s just not having it. I bellowed…no, shrieked...no raged into the phone. “I JUST WANT TO SPEAK TO A REAL PERSON”.

psycho I was desperate, angry, frustrated.  How foolish were we to think we had any control in this matter.  We did not dream of being called in December, we figured sometime between January and March…maybe in the spring at the latest.  Not next week.  When I finally got on the wait list, I was told there would be at least a thirty minute wait, which was time I did not have.  Okay then…let’s drive to Vancouver in the middle of winter. Why not?

vpb0044We’ve made lists and arrangements and are warming up to this new development.  I’m nervous about the weather, Ben is nervous about the meeting.  Of course, there’s nothing to fear, our marriage is legitimate and he has every right to be here.  In an immigration office I once saw an beastly, overweight senior citizen with his young Asian bride. She wore a basketball jersey as a dress with striped knee socks and high heels. She complained endlessly about the long wait and he snapped impatiently at her.  Certainly they had more to answer to than my husband and I…but you just never know.  Benjamin has sorted through all the required documents, and already we are discussing what else to bring…just in case.  You could bring every piece of paperwork you ever received, along with your marriage certificate, love letters and photographs and they’d be like “Everything looks great, if we could just get a receipt from the coffee you purchased this morning, that would be great”.   And the color would drain from your face, blanching at the memory of telling the girl at Starbucks to go ahead and keep that golden ticket.

 Fuuuuuck.

It’s as if we cant possibly imagine our lives without that hanging over our heads.  From the moment we met, we have lived under a bureaucratic umbrella.  Separation was a very real possibility if we didn’t cling to each other fiercely, and fill out the appropriate paperwork for three different countries.  To think that by Christmas morning my husband would be a permanent resident, that we could think seriously about our future seems too good to be true.  I can’t let myself imagine the possibilities it until I know the outcome. If you ask my husband he’d like to acquire a dog, truck and a baby.  Those things sound perfectly lovely, but you know me…I’m also excited about being able to leave the country again.  Maybe we’ll get to Paris after all.  As long as we get there together.

Benjamin: husband, friend and bear…best of luck on Wednesday.  All I want for Christmas is vous.

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             Images Courtesy of Google