Blogging & Blow Jobs

Everybody stay calm.

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


(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.)


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.


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.


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.

vanish girl 4

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.


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?”.


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.


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.


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?


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.


Images Courtesy of Google

Leave it to Bieber

In honour of Justin Bieber’s first arrest and descent into a new level of douche-baggery, an oldie but a goodie

"Pin Up Picks Pen Up"

There was a bus stop close to our home  in Australia that for a very long time, had a poster promoting Justin’s Bieber’s concert-documentary “Never Say Never”.  He’s standing in the middle on the road, and one one side is cold, forbidding, grey Stratford, Ontario–and on the other side the bright lights of…who’s cares what city–it’s AMERICA!Justin-Bieber-Never-Say-Never-Movie

OK… I didn’t pay close enough attention to the ad–that looks like New York city.

Anyhoo, I’ve never give much though to the ole Bieb’s, after all, I am hardly his demographic.  Which is why when I told my mother that I had bought tickets to see Justin Timberlake, she looked confused.

“Well I hope that he just sorts himself out after that whole London thing”.

“Wha? No, mom, that’s Justin Bieber“.

“Oh, okay, phew! I was really concerned there for a minute”.

This mistake did allow for the…

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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.


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.

looking-at-christmas-tree.jpg w=547

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.


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”.


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.

christmas lights3

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.


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”.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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”.


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.

carole-xmasImages Courtesy of Google

Fragments & The Final 24

Ah, Boxing Day. Such a glorious date on the calendar.


If you are lucky, this is a day to take holiday loafing to a new level.  When all that merriment turns into cellulite.  I am so well fed and relaxed, so dizzy with blessings that I am feeling somewhere between a new born baby…


…a later-years Elvis.


with a little bit of this guy over here…


Perfectly content, but potentially incoherent. I know some of the greatest writers wrote some pretty famous material while under the influence.  But after a sizable amount of champagne, Strongbow, turkey, stuffing, chocolate, cheese, chips, dip and many Kahula/Baileys/coffee combos…I am extremely unfocused. I blogged yesterday Benjamin took a rather sizable nap, when we got back home he took to a post-holiday snooze, and I thought I’d keep that momentum going. Sadly, my creative intentions were far stronger than my literal ambition.  I pondered the number of half-ideas rattling around in my brain. I picked up the book my best friend Evelyn bought at the Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris, and sent me for Christmas. “Fragments” is a collection of photographs and Marilyn Monroe‘s personally handwritten notes and journal entries.  I flip through it, relishing in the information.


I return to the task of blogging.  In trying to accurately describe my state of full belly and lethargy I considered making an Anna Nicole Smith joke in lieu of a fat Elvis one; that took me down a very dark road that eventually led to my half-watching the Anna Nicole edition of “Final 24” on YouTube.  Not familiar with “Final 24”? These Canadian made programs are badly re-enacted, poorly scripted yet morbidly fascinating pieces detail the last day in the life of ill-fated celebrity…but mostly told by Z-list hangers-on like chauffeurs and hotel staff. And then it all turns out looking a bit like this…


Poor old Anna Nicole.  She was like the Hindenberg only sexier.  Her life and death was so scandalous and so very white-trash-turned-yellow-gold that someone literally wrote an opera about her.  Where exactly had this buxom beauty gone wrong? What exactly was her fatal flaw?

anna 1

I hear you girlfriend, though I’m pretty sure that mantra didn’t apply on your wedding day.


My god, I’d rather be the person who clears tables and hands out mints at Wendy’s than to make my fortune this way.  If this what his face looks like just imagine what state his nether regions would be in? The mind reels.  But hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girls gotta do.  That man died victoriously, smothered in platinum blonde hair and double D’s.  As for Smith, it led to another downward spiral.  Her husband died about ten minutes after this photo was taken, and his son took Smith all the way to Supreme Court to protect his father’s billions.  Naturally, the only career options left for the former Playboy Playmate and Guess model were reality television, Trimspa endorsements and general PR prostitution.annanicolesmith2

When Smith arrived on the pop-culture scene, dangerous curves and all, there were obvious comparisons to Marilyn Monroe. Smith happily fueled the fire, and often replicated Monroe’s most famous poses.

anna monroe

Like Norma Jean Mortenson before her, Vickie Lynn Hogan dreamt of money, fame, attention and love.  They both capitalized on their humble beginnings, often exaggerating their struggles to the press.  They both married young, Marilyn at 16 and Anna at 17.  They both struggled with mental illness, prescription drug addiction and an inability to check themselves before they wrecked themselves.  Monroe died at 36, and Smith only had enough time to flip the 6 to a 9.

Marilyn-Miller-QuoteThe few differences was that Monroe could act and that Smith could procreate;  Monroe was an actual movie star, Smith was a casualty of that pre-Kardashian ”famous for being famous’ tabloid world where people were laughing at her, not with her.  Who knows what it must be like to be beautiful and famous and to crack under the pressure of the very things you craved when you were planning your escape from the misery of a hum-drum, small town life?  In the case of “Fragments”, the editors seek out answers in Monroe’s half written coded chicken scratch, written on the stationary of the most exclusive hotels.  She felt alone in a room full of admirers.  She could never sit back and relax, exhale over a job well done.  Success was all a part of the downward spiral, but it makes you wonder if those poor small town girls would have had it any other way.  It seems for some, the worst thing that can happen are for your dreams to come true.

mmnb562All Images Courtesy of Google

Always the Narrator, Never the Virgin

Happy Christmas Friends,


I’m coming to you live on Christmas afternoon, lounging on my parent’s sofa and watching “The Royal Tenenbaums“.


Historically speaking, by Christmas afternoon, the blues start to creep in a little.  The holidays take so long to get there; the anticipation of the gifts under the tree, the excitement, the magic and then…it’s over. It’s never quite what you built up in your mind.  Although my relationship with the holiday season is a little more complex than the average person.

Church-SignWell…I hate to break it to you Reverend Swisher, for me, Christmas is my actual birthday.  Listen, I’m not in the business of overshadowing Jesus, but there wasn’t a calendar in my mother’s womb and I really lost track of the days in there.  Although depending on who you ask, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th.  Once while walking off our Christmas breakfast, we were approached by a power walking, arm pumping, grinning woman, who was full of holiday greetings.  “Many Blessings to you this fine Christmas morning”, she beamed with light and love.  “Do you know who’s birthday we are celebrating today?”

Gerard_van_Honthorst_001“Jesus?” we all respond.  “That’s right!”, she smiles, breathing deeply.  “Actually”, my brother Matthew gestures towards me, “It’s also my sister’s birthday”.  Her smile drops and her neck snaps in my direction, steely eyes squinting my way.  “You know it’s not his actually birthday, right? Jesus was born sometime in October, during the harvest”. Which makes sense, the weather does look rather mild in all artist renditions. Riding round on a donkey, being turned away from hotels, giving birth outside surrounded by farm animals…well if you ask me, that’s got summer time written all over it.

pregnant-mary-on-donkey-and-joseph-travel-to-judiaMeanwhile, being that this was well before the days of the GPS, three wise men were using a star to guide them to little baby Jesus.  They meet up with the Little Drummer Boy, and they all roll up together victoriously with their gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Poor Mary. After all that wandering through the desert on a donkey and giving birth to the Son of God on a stack of hay, she probably would have liked a morphine drip and an ice pack, but myrrh is good too.


My mother has a ceramic nativity scene.  Growing up, it was my favorite decoration of the Christmas season.  The  Virgin Mary was blonde, beautiful, wrapped in a blue robe, eyes downcast modestly.  Joseph looked looking slightly perplexed, like…”How did I get roped into this?”. There was a shepherd and the wise men, a camel, a cow and some sheep.  For years I used to play out detailed soap opera scenarios with the figurines, the most popular game being “Who was the real father of Jesus?” And for whatever reason, in my head Joseph sounds like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life“.  “Mary? How did this happen?” My mother finally overheard, and that was the end of my gig at the Wildly Inappropriate Nativity Theatre.  She also gave me a quick history lesson and explained how the Shepherd could not possibly be the actual father of Jesus.


The Christmas pageant at church was always a big event, and I had secretly hoped to be the Virgin Mary.  She was so lovely in every Christmas card.  Olivia Hussey played Mary in my mother’s favorite biblical movie (the one with the “good looking Jesus”), what better role could an eight year old want?  Year after year, I was cast as the narrator. My mother said it was a compliment.  Mary never actually says anything, and it would be a shame to waste me, seeing that I was such an eloquent speaker.  Until I eventually stopped going to church, I was always the narrator, never the virgin. Just once I wanted to stand by silently and serenely, and let someone else do the talking for once.


Regardless, this woman on the street couldn’t have known my weird Freudian holiday hangups, so she was awfully surprised when I attacked her. “What? Next thing you’re going to tell me that Humphrey Bogart wasn’t actually born on Christmas Day but on January 23rd? And that with the invention of new calenders Issac Newton was actually born in early January?  Sheesh–a man loses his birth certificate and people think they can just change your birthday? If it can happen to Jesus, surely it could happen to Bogie.  As Newton always said, “What goes up must come down”.  I don’t know how that applies to this, but it’s my goddamn birthday so I’m going to jam it into context like a fat foot in a Manolo Blahik.


I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, may this day be lazy and full of love, food, forgiveness and good fortune.

pin-up-christmas-cover1 All Images Courtesy of Google

Hey Jude

As I’m about to leave for work, dreading the blustery winter morning ahead of me, I get a text from my boss asking me to wait an hour before turning up.  It’s a Pro-D day, so there’s no actual classes.  The day was to be spent organizing and preparing for tonight’s Christmas concert.  I’m never one to be late, but this is a rather irresistible invitation. The wind has sharp teeth, and the roads look slick and glassy. There is so much white, insistent and imposing, the world a snow-globe shook by an angry and energetic child.  Eventually another text follows, calling the whole morning off. As prepared as I was to brave the weather conditions and have a productive work day, something about not having to leave the house made me feel like a middle-aged divorcee on her fourth banana daiquiri at her first Mexican vacation.  Pretty bloody giddy.  Inside there is a roaring fire, a freshly decorated Christmas tree, and just enough coffee in the pot for a toasty top up.  Maybe I’ll heed the warning and bask in the glorious indoors.


Winter weather has such a magical quality.  A thick blanket of white across roof tops and sidewalks, urging you to stay indoors, to curl up in bed, in front of a fire, a warm beverage enveloped in your hands.  When Benjamin and I lived in Perth, Christmas time was blazing hot, filled with summertime activities.  We once watched “White Christmas” on a large screen in an inner city park on a piping hot day.  To a Canadian, it was a confusing physical experience.  For my husband, born in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas dinner comes off the BBQ.  Once during our Australian Christmas season evening, we watched “The Holiday“, a personal Christmas cinematic favorite.


Yes, the writing is imperfect.  The concept ludicrous.  The acting a little terrible (ahem, Cameron Diaz I’m looking at you girlfriend).  Jack Black is wildly miscast as Kate Winslet‘s love interest.  He’s perfectly cute and funny, but he is the exact replica of that “nice guy” who single girls go to the movies with but whom they will never go to bed with.  My husband hates they way the characters talk to themselves.  Still, as far as a Christmas-themed romantic comedy goes it’s light, frothy, sexy, silly and ends happily.  I especially love the friendship between Winslet and Arthur Abbott, played by Eli Wallach.

006THD_Eli_Wallach_012He is as cute as the dickens.  Look at him. Isn’t he precious? I’d love to be on the other side of that table hearing his many stories.  (PS: Did you know that this man is still alive? He is 97 years old y’all, and he knew all of the greats. He was in Marilyn Monroe‘s last completed picture “The Misfits”).


He worked with Audrey Hepburn in “How to Steal a Million“.


With the slew of celebrity deaths this year, someone needs to go check in on him.  Wrap a blanket around his shoulders and check his pulse, and say “I really enjoyed you in “The Holiday”, what was Marilyn Monroe really like?”


Anyway, as for watching “The Holiday” on a hot and lazy evening in Australia, I was overcome with nostalgia for thick cable knit sweaters and a snowy Christmas. I also enjoyed me some Jude Law in this deliciously mindless holiday fare.  Essentially this movie makes me crave snow, sweaters, long lunches with Eli Wallach, and for Jude Law to explain how books, movies and birthday cards make him weep.


Wow, thanks Jude.  I love how last night you weren’t wearing glasses, and today you are.  It really adds to your mystique.  Last night you were a bad boy, but this morning you’re this nice guy.  But not in a Jack Black, you can make me laugh, but you’ll never bring me to orgasm kind of way.  It’s refreshing.


Jeez Jude, way to give it all away in one blog post.  But I don’t have to go to work right away…I’m willing to roll with this.  But the truth is, I’m married, and I’ve already promised my celebrity cheat card to George Clooney.


So…where do we go from here?


Yeah, you’re not the first person to tell me that.  Maybe it’s the winter blues.  Maybe it’s always wanting the opposite of what you have.  In Perth I dreamt of snow kissed landscape, and now I am fantasizing about that hot sun in that beautiful city, where Christmas decorations baked in the heat.  How is it that the things you want always seem to be on the opposite side of the fence?


Well sure…I guess.  I mean you live in a movie in England, and I may die of frost bite and homesickness in Canada.  How could we possibly be together?


None of this makes any sense.  I should of been at work an hour ago and you look so cute in a collared shirt and sweater combo, and this blog shouldn’t even be happening.  But here we are, just a woman and a fictional character falling in love on a miserable winter’s day. Ah well, whatever keeps you off the roads.

the-holidays6 2Images Courtesy of Google

Gap Toothed Grief & Billie Holiday Blues

The thought struck me that I couldn’t remember the last blog I did.  Lo and behold, it has been a well over a week since I’ve jotted anything down.  Truth is, the past weeks have been a blur.  Wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving weekend, the Sun Peaks wedding where I did a real Bonnie Tyler to my vocal cords and ultimately, broke my voice box.


I can’t pinpoint that exact moment when the headache started.  It feels like it’s just always been there.  My cold has lingered like that unwashed guitar playing dude at the end of night at a crazy college party, strumming along obliviously, preventing you from pouncing on the cute guy you’ve been making eyes with all night.  This headache is basically cock blocking me.  I’m not enjoying anything as much, when I laugh, talk, sing (which is all the time), it sends shooting stabbing pain straight into my jaw.  And then, it traveled behind my eye, this incessant scream in my brain. It was distressing to say the least.


To remedy the eye pain, I would scrunch my ocular cavity. Now it looks as if I were eying you up suspiciously…or trying to wink flirtatiously and failing miserably or that I was a peg leg short of being a pirate.


And the thing is, if I worked in a library or a quiet office, it would be manageable.  In my profession, I am surrounded by  joyous, excitable noise.  You put twenty children in a room together and things can get pretty rowdy.  Laughter, crying, complaints, it’s all at a rather bold decibel.  During the day, it’s children’s music, and there are moments where the children’s version of “Crocodile Rock” really takes you right on the edge of sanity.  For the afternoon parkour classes, the coaches sometimes crank some pretty intense house music.  I’m sure it’s super inspiring music, but if you are hunched in front of a computer, feeling as though your right eye might cave in from the pain, you just wish they had a little Billie Holiday on tap.


Each afternoon, I pick kids up from school and bring them to after-school programs.  This is one of my favorite parts of the work day, listening to the conversations of 5-7 year old children, hearing their thoughts about life.   One recent afternoon, when this headache was squealing in my head like a whistling kettle, there was one child talking so loudly and excitedly, that it was actually painful to listen.

Urban Legend Back Seat

The pain had resonated within my neck, shoulders, jaw, and then my head become a glistening orb of blistering pain with a long staff of twisted gnarled muscle mass connected.  Come Sunday morning I was in shambles, feeling sickly and whimpering like a child on the sofa.  Our landlord wanted to show our townhouse, and whenever anyone comes by, we make a point to leave. It’s too weird watching strangers appraise your home.  I pushed the time back as much as possible.   I just couldn’t leave the house.  I texted my friend Sheanna, a spiritual healer and all round amazing person.  She brought along her dachshund Harriet, who nestled over my belly as I reclined in the chair while Sheanna pressed gently on my neck and shoulders.


This beautiful lady then proceeded to work on me for Philip Glass‘s Metamorphosis and Miles Davis‘ Kind of Blue…twice.  And that that album may only have six songs, but its 55 minutes and 26 seconds long.


All the while, a very patient and kind friend works away at this geologically dense, sedimentary layers of tension.  Little clusters of worry or distress, collecting slowly overtime.  As she placed pressure, she asked questions, and I found myself recalling memories, things that were forgotten or stored away.  A childhood carnival ride that gave me whiplash (and made me barf up hamburgers…not a pretty sight).  A drunken night in high-school–vomiting in front of a beau at a sexy viewpoint, a car accident…no vomit but going off a rather sizable embankment and being tossed like a rag doll, and my various dental traumas.  Each memory had common themes, mostly of being quite vulnerable or exposed. But it was like fragments of those moments had stored themselves in amidst of the threads of my insides and began to decay over time.  I think it also speak volumes about that it all comes back to my mouth…which has often gotten me into trouble in the past.  If my parents got a dollar and invested it for every time they read “Alicia talks too much in class”, I could have paid for my university education and possibly have some left over for a summer home.  As I grew up, I was always yapping and wisecracking, saying too much and repeating gossip, and never knowing when to shut up.  I had braces when I was twelve, and a year later they were taken off. Meanwhile, there was a rogue, undescended tooth bulldozing it’s way through roots of potential neighbours.  I learned of this in my early twenties, a totally inappropriate time to get “Braces: The Sequel”.


From there, about six different oral surgeries followed.  All with a healthy dose of Ativan, because I’m not just going to lie back and let you drill into the roof of my mouth without a fight.  And then, after the procedure, it is the distinct pleasure of whoever is waiting for me in reception to get incoherent, boozy me, with a mouthful of blood and holes.  There are a slew of funny stories from those times, but I couldn’t share them here…only because I don’t remember much from them.  The taste of blood, forgetting my address, breaking a vase, and attempting to play “Raining in My Heart” by Buddy Holly on my record player.


What’s worse is not being totally fucked up the next day, with this raw hamburger in your mouth.  All for what? Trying to dredge the tooth from the roof of my mouth as if it where a sunken ship?  And then, after all the exposures and Ativan laced interludes, the dentist was defeated.  That tooth, along with two others would have to go.  Which again, is not the greatest news a mid-twenties bride-to-be wants to hear.  Dentures was not on the menu, thank you very much.  Alas, the teeth had to go, and I was devastated.  As time passed on, when my wedding was cancelled, that was one of the first things that came to mind.  Meeting someone knew, and being all cool, funny and sweet, but then taking him home and putting your teeth in a fucking glass on the nightstand.


Shortly after my breakup, and right before I left for New Zealand I took part in a Fringe Festival.  I was feeling raw, and felt I’d done terribly in the last performance. I was at a closing night party, and someone had bumped into me, and I then knocked into an actress I admired who split her beer, and then spewed venom at me for the accident. I was horrified, felt totally alienated.  I felt terribly alone, and so I stepped outside, and called my ex.  That’s the worst part about breaking up with your friend because you get all Barbra Streisand to Robert Redford in “The Way We Were”: “I just want to talk to you about someone we both know”.


I stood outside, at one am under an awning on a rainy night, next to a rather busy gentleman’s’ nightclub…and talking to someone I used to know. After the conversation, I stepped inside, sat down on a sofa. I felt an unfamiliar looseness on my teeth. I open my lips and there, like two tiny bones are the dentures divorced from the device inside my mouth.  It was like being kicked when down, only it’s God kicking you.  I traveled all the way home without my teeth and to me, it felt like walking around naked.  People said “It’s only teeth”. To those people, I invite them to go around without their cuspid and lateral incisor and get back to me.  It’s not cancer or a prison camp, but it’s not pleasant, and I’d prefer it wasn’t so.


I was days away from leaving New Zealand and had to borrow my parents car to drive back to the place I just moved away from to get them fixed.  My mother, who was a real champion in my jilted bride chapter, said “Never look back”.  And when I had to return she said “Okay then, get your teeth fixed and then never look back”.  Of course, I dropped them off first thing in the morning and they said “Come back at the end of the day”.  I got my hair cut, and avoided looking into the mirror.  I bought a large pot of flowers and went to the cemetery, and stood a long while at my friend Monica’s grave.  I figured it was a safe place to be; the dead don’t really care and Monica wouldn’t have minded.  I picked up my dentures at the end of day, and I didn’t look back.  Of course, when I met my husband, that fear cropped up, that missing those two teeth made me ugly.  In the heat of a moment, slightly drunk and trying to tackle kissing a nearly seven foot man, he confessed an insecurity.  He was sweet and vulnerable, and also a little bit drunk so I replied “That’s okay, I don’t have all my real teeth”, and in that moment we accepted every thing about each other, and were already falling in love.


But still, there are moments of being caught without them.  Once in New Zealand the police came to the door, looking for a friend of one of the flatmates.  I was like someone you’d see on cops, flapping my lip, all gap toothed and ghetto “. Honestly, I could fill a rather “War and Peace” length tome of toothless anecdotes.    Moments where having all teeth like guns a’ blazing would just be better. Occasionally  I catch a glimpse in the mirror and I resent that gap along my gum line.  And lets be honest, it would be cheaper to get breast implants than to get tooth implants, and it feels like a very long road before I can get fancy new teeth…or boobs for that matter.


All these thoughts come to me as I lie back with my eyes closed.  Harriet on my lap and Sheanna pushing down on calcified concerns trapped in my jaw.  By this time, my landlord has popped by with a young Asian couple. We’re listening to Philip Glass, a Wayans brother movie is muted on television, my spiritual healer is working on my throat muscles and there’s a wiener dog nestled on my lap.  When she returns with another person, I’m fielding work texts and frowning slightly, looking ever the pampered movie executive trying to get a moment’s peace.


Once the house is shown, and our space is returned to us, I begin to weep as I  confess these things.  This is something that I truly hate about myself. I live with a constant, genuine frustration from the pain and pressure of wearing a partial. Never properly tasting food, being so painfully aware of my mouth at all times.   And of course, the issue of receding gum-lines and decreasing bone density, the only solution being more painful and expensive work in the future.  Admitting this aloud is like poison begin drained from my body.  Sheanna continues to push and press and exorcise some of this pain that’s been stashed away.  When Sheanna finished, I felt ten pounds lighter; my thoughts clearer, my mood brighter.  I felt relieved, like I’ve been holding my breath for a century and finally got to inhale. Sheanna and Harriet went home, and I was able to reclaim my Sunday, going for a walk and cooking a meal with my husband.  I crawled into bed at nine pm, nestled next to my husband, my two teeth nestled in another room.  And for a split second I wasn’t defined by what was missing.

gallery_main-demimoore-tooth-twitter-052609Images Courtesy of Google

Animal House

My friend Chelsey and I were exchanging a few messages about the fact that the house she rents with her husband is going for sale.  What an inconvenience, especially if leaving is not your choice.  I gently brooch the subject: “Could you buy it yourselves?” She says that the house is a cool $500,000.  To which I reply ‘What? You don’t just have half-a-mil lying around?’.  How embarrassing for her.  I said this outright to which she begged me not to spread word, for she feared she’d never be able to show her face at the yacht club again.  And I don’t blame her, she is the belle of the ball when it comes to being a seafaring siren.


But she’s not the only the gal at the club, and to be frank, she often struts about like she owns the place, which obviously she doesn’t because she can’t.  Like…what do you want to do when you want to buy a house? Save for it? Get a loan? You don’t just buy places to keep your expansive shoe collection? Buy a flat in London because you go there once every two years?  Buy a beach house in Fiji, just cause you’d like to go to Fiji someday? How does one live?


This information could really elevate me to a higher level of popularity at the Boca Del Rio Club.  Not that I need it.  People know me there.


Truth is, I don’t have half a million myself, I don’t even have five dollars.  I don’t even own that captain’s hat.  So, what does one do in this kind of economy?  Just take it? Just pack your bags and slink away because your landlord wants to lose the pleasure of receiving your measly rent cheque just so he can make half a million, when you know he probably paid $50,000 in 1960?  Yeah, that’s called injustice and I don’t think she should take it. I tell her to look on the bright side.  “I totally smell a ton a wacky hi-jinx where you can deter potential buyer”.  Oh the hilarity.  “Isn’t that the theme of Animal House?” she responds.


Confession time. I had to confirm with IMDb whether that was the general premise.  It’s not exactly my friend’s case, but I think it’s fair to take those subversive shenanigans and use them as the basis of our war against the real estate crazed owner.  After all, not only did I learn about the general gist of the film, which I saw many, many years ago, I realized that this movie is actually a rather big deal.

 In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was No. 1 on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies.” It was No. 36 on AFI‘s “100 Years… 100 Laughs” list of the 100 best American comedies. In 2008, Empire magazine selected it as one of “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

So, clearly “Animal House” is a commendable source, and it’s just the beginning.  What other crazy things could we do to scare away potential buyers?  Just spit-balling here, but I think a meth lab would be a great start.


She asks whether I could commit to chemistry classes at night school . I don’t know how to make meth…apparently neither does Chelsey.  You think you could get two attractive intelligent women in a room together and scrape up half a million dollars and a meth lab.  Sadly with us, you’d get spare change and a delicious smoothie.  But maybe that’s the problem.  We’re not bad ass enough.  We’re both married women, we keep our houses clean, pay our bills, and live generally quiet lives.  Therefore, we must go under the radar.  Create super identies, in which we could really do some damage…without ruining our credit rating.  Chelsey will be Anastasia Beaverhausen…


and I will be Shanequa la Fontaine,  and neither of us are going to take anymore of anyone’s nonsense.


As of this press date, Chelsey-er Anastasia is trying to rustle up some rough and tumble boys who can be fast and loose with some cans of spray paint.  This could help with our meth lab cover.


To that end, I think we should get cute kittens to run said meth-lab.  Mostly so we can get on with our daily life.  And second, so if the cops bust in, they’ll be so knocked out by the kitten in the charming glasses and think. “I’m going to let this go, but being this adorable should be illegal”.  Also, because I really wanted to find a way to include this picture in today’s blog.


As for me, let’s just say that  Shanequa’s got her work cut out for her.  I’m going to scrounge up a pack of loud mouthed ne’er do wells. Preferably, chain smoking night owls, that get into passionate, profanity laced arguments at four in the morning.  When all is said and done, we could devalue the property so much,turn it into such an animal house, that they could buy the house for a cool buck fifty.  Wish us luck.  It’s about to get raw like sushi.

3qyyutImages Courtesy of Google

Bold & Beautiful

Boy oh boy, Joan Rivers. Dead at 81. This one really hurts my heart.  Following the suicide of Robin Williams, which was a proper tragedy….but this is a different kind of tragedy.  If life is a party, Williams quietly slipped out the back door. He made a choice to leave early.  Rivers, on the other hand was still holding court in front of the crowd, and hadn’t even finished her drink.  Award season is just getting started.  That seems like a cruel joke from the universe. Her red carpet commentary is the very best.  I no longer have the E channel, but when I lived in New Zealand, that channel was my North American touchstone, and Joan Rivers my acid-tongued fairy Godmother.  Feeling homesick, lonely or blue? For my money, it doesn’t get better than Fashion Police.  

Fashion Police - Season: 2012

I loved her fearless, searing, ruthless cracks. That kind of ‘axe to the chest’ humor, a cutting, bone cracking blow. Like an unexpected medicine ball chucked at your belly, one that you just barely catch in time. And then she’ll hit you again and again until you die from laughter.

Rivers was speaking about her last book, Diary of a Mad Diva, where even this acid-tongued misogynist slashed a little too deeply for many people’s taste, causing a flurry of threatened lawsuits, including one from Kirsten Stewart, who was upset by Rivers’ allegations she had slept her way into her role in Snow White and the Huntsman.  “I can’t wait to get into a courtroom with her,” Rivers cackled. “I’m going to bring a Ken doll and I want her to show me on it just where she touched her director.”

This kills me.  You would have to be seriously uninterested in pleasing everybody to make these kinds of cracks.  I think it’s hilarious, but then again she’s not saying it about me.  Still, I’d like to think that Rivers could roast me and I’d still appreciate the crack.

“Everyone thinks Angelina Jolie was the first celebrity baby hoarder, but she wasn’t. Before Angelina there was Mia Farrow. Mia had an entire farm full of children. I think she got them at Costco.”

“Most babies are not actually attractive … (They’re) kind of like Renee Zellweger pushed up against a glass window.”

“I said Justin Bieber looked like a little lesbian – and I stand by it: he’s the daughter Cher wishes she’d had.”

“She’s such a disaster, they now call train wrecks Lindsay Lohans”.

Often crippled by the opinions of others, I do self-censor my wisecracks, especially in the blog.  I wouldn’t write something about a friend, but a celebrity crack is fair game…nobody, famous, important or influential reads anyway.  Only a select few know the true extent of my salty humor.  My friend Margaret, for example, is one who witnesses my comedic axe-wielding at it’s sharpest. The night of River’s death, Margaret came round for dinner, which led to getting a little tipsy, and watching Sex and the City 2.  Our particular friendship unifier is our love for the ‘good-bad movie’.  The film makers sure had the best of intentions, but the humor is buried deep within that intent.  SATC 2 is a glimmering jewel of this genre. It’s a ludicrous premise, the costumes are ridiculous, it’s sexist and wildly racist.


Samantha is a horny wax statue in the baking sun. Charlotte, in her Ground Zero parenting moment, up to her ears in needy, attention seeking, crying, ugly children, foolishly tries to make a phone call to Carrie while icing cupcakes in a cream-colored Vintage Valentino.  What a fucking idiot. Thank God the bra-less nanny, came to restore order.  Then at the end of this nearly two-and-a-half hour masterpiece, the true conflict comes from Samantha’s arrest due to reckless, public sexual displays, the consequence being kicked out of their extravagant hotel. Before they head to the airport, Carrie–a professional woman in her forties– realizes that she lost her passport at a souq.  Here’s a question: WHY ARE YOU TAKING YOUR PASSPORT WITH YOU TO A MIDDLE EASTERN MARKET PLACE? WHY IS IT FLOPPING AROUND LOOSE INSIDE YOUR BAG? (insert obvious joke here). That’s the Superbowl of identification in the travel world.  That’s dumber than wearing vintage couture while baking at home. Is that tiny book and a slim bundle of spices so buxom that you need to remove them completely from your large bag to make room for a measly pair of shoes. And is the Call to Prayer so enchanting that you can’t do a quick glimpse over your shoulder to make sure you haven’t left anything behind? Of course, her blunder is all part of a bigger picture. It all leads to this:


Once Carrie retrieves her passport, from the friendly vendor, more high-jinx ensues. Charlotte has a ‘forbidden experience’– is lured into a room with sweaty, swarthy men and their black market wares.  Samantha’s $10,000 Birkin bag being confused as an excellent knock off, and the bag being inevitably ripped open and as many condoms as dollars spent on the bag rains like confetti on New Year’s Eve.  Samantha screams obscenities, hurls said condoms at fist shaking men,  and grinds the air, replicating all the hot relations we’ve known her to have.  Now they are on the run from some a horde of conservative, Middle-Eastern types that are out for their blood.  Meanwhile, the big issue is that they are trying to catch a cab so they will not get bumped from first class.  That’s an actual line in the movie, said in the same tone as: “The Apocalypse is coming, we’re all going to die”.   Meanwhile, Carrie Bradshaw is a cocktail of shrewish wife and anorexic racehorse, who badgers to husband to be more socially adventurous. She’s been chasing him for a sold decade, and just when everything is comfortable and happy, she goes to shake the snow globe once again.  She runs into her hunky ex-fiance Aidan in Abu-Dhabi, then meets him for dinner in a dress that is like a black wash cloth on a giraffe, wearing more liquid liner than a teenaged goth girl. They ‘accidentally on purpose’ kiss under the stars and she then runs away, flailing about as if on fire. She then runs home to call Mr Big–who is at the office toiling away while she runs around the Middle East in feather boas, nine inch heels, and hats larger than the one Eliza Doolittle wore to the Ascot Opening in My Fair Lady.


Don’t worry, Mr Big took her indiscretion like a champ. When Carrie gets back to New York, she paces the floor for hours, waiting for Big to come home.  He does, and in the most Hollywood of endings, buys her an obscenely large black diamond ring. What if she had slept with Aidan? What would she get then? A helicopter? A Ferrari? A 50-foot yacht called the “SS Horseface?” Women everywhere are cheating on their husbands and saying in divorce court “Your Honor, I just don’t get it–when Carrie did it she got a diamond, when all I did it, all I got was the boot”.   This may sound horrible, but it’s actually time well spent, the film is fun, frothy, silly, and getting drunk and ripping this film to shreds, is just cream on the cake.  Making acidic, occasionally vicious attacks on costumes and characters and cackling wildly, was a wonderful way to honor Joan Rivers, who was not far from my mind that night.  I’ve been a fan of Rivers since she got fired alongside Miss Piggy in the classic film Muppets take Manhattan.


When I first came back to British Columbia and had more time on my hands, I had  developed quite the routine with my friend Trish the Dish: my coming over on Friday, usually after my noon yoga class.  Just us girls, Trish, myself, and her lovely baby Melody.  Trish would often take a shower, or take a minute to herself while I sat on the couch and watch The Bold & The Beautiful with her baby. I don’t know how good babies are at deciphering irony, but Melody got an earful of humorous soap opera commentary.  I hope she wasn’t just laying there in my lap, in her little jammies, taking me seriously, and cataloging the information for later use.  “Don’t worry mom, you don’t have to explain men to me…boozy old Aunt Alicia told me all about them a long time ago”.


One afternoon after class, I came up the stairs and saw a vintage Joan Rivers comedy album on the kitchen table.


I’m exclaiming my enthusiasm for such an awesome relic, when I notice the envelope  with my name on it.  (Well, it actually says “Hippy”, a nickname from our younger days, along the same era where she was christened Trish “the Dish”).  A present? For me? Fabulous!  When she was pregnant, I had given her this book, to help her with the difficult days.


And then I came home and wrote this blog, in honour of Trish the Dish, and to the advice I may someday give to her daughter…for which I was apologizing for in advance.  It was also in honor of the now late Joan Rivers, who at the time was “80 years old, fearless, bitchy as hell and she’s got a mouth on her like you wouldn’t believe”.  On a late Sunday morning her funeral already passed on East-Coast time, I pull out the record–which has  rested along a ledge in my office, since the day I brought it home, next to a Joni Mitchell album, and other strange knickknacks.  I listened to it in the kitchen, drinking coffee and cutting vegetables, periodically buckling over with laughter, and giggling until my eyes watered. The album was produced in 1983, so when she says that Bo Derek is so stupid that “studied for her pap test”, it’s a little dated, but the punch line still stands up.  It’s all in her delivery.  She talks about how she used to be “happy” in her marriage and how now she is just “happy”. The tone of her voice shifts so perfectly, it’s simply incredible–this one word in this particular tone paints a perfect picture of a marriage at a particular point in time.    Like a bitchy machine gun, she targets beauty, marriage, childbirth, money, class, death.  There is such intelligence behind the barbs: “Every joke I make, no matter how tasteless, is there to draw attention to something I really care about.” Don’t let that foul mouth fool you, Joan Rivers was a brilliant businesswoman, a woman who suffered many hardships and setbacks, but whom always fought back with a wisecrack on the tip of her tongue.


“The ideal beauty is a fugitive that is never found”.


“There is not one female comic who was beautiful as a little girl”.


“I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door — or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present”.


“I was smart enough to go through any door that opened”.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

“Don’t tell your kids you had an easy birth or they won’t respect you.  For years I used to wake up my daughter and say, “Melissa you ripped me to shreds.  Now go back to sleep”.


“People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made.”


“I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking.”


“There are many self-help books by Ph.D.s, but I hold a different degree: an I.B.T.I.A.—I’ve Been Through It All. This degree comes not on parchment but gauze, and it entitles me to tell you that there is a way to get through any misfortune.”




“Look, Winston Churchill once said making someone laugh is like giving them a little holiday. What’s wrong with that? And if the jokes I make call attention to things that aren’t right in the world, that’s why I do it.”


I heard that quote for the first time while listening to the CBC. That thought choked me up a little, laughter being a little vacation. That at the heart of her comedic style, to spew venom in every direction, to brandish a hammer, swinging indiscriminately, was to deliver surprisingly soft blows.

Good Night Joan Rivers. Thank you for a million mini holidays.

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All Images Courtesy of Google

Fascination Fever

One summer, I had a place in a car pool for a job that was 45 minutes from town. I lived in the same neighbourhood as one of the car-poolers, and we would alternate collecting one another from our respective homes.  In the first week I noticed that he was carrying a biography about John Lennon.  Incidentally, I was reading “Wonderful Tonight, the autobiography of Patty Boyd, wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton, and the inspiration of famous songs from both men.  I began to do my own internet research about Lennon and the Beatles, and we found that our daily journey would be speedy and scholastic.  One day, after two books, and too many lengthy conversations about music, movies and pop culture, he appeared despondent and distant.

 “What’s wrong with you buddy?  You look troubled”.  His eyes fixed on the highway; he shakes his head in disbelief: “I can’t believe he’s dead, man”.

“…Who? John Lennon?”

“Yeah, dude…I just can’t believe he’s dead”. 

“Yeah, like… 27 years ago”. 

It certainly wasn’t news; in fact neither of us had even been born when he was alive. He’s read every word, knowing how the story ended, but on that long stretch of highway, he couldn’t help but wish that things were different. Of course, in the days leading to that particular conversation, discussion of Lennon’s life had inevitably led to his assassination.  Mark David Chapman met Lennon outside of the Dakota apartments in New York City, had his copy of Double Fantasy autographed by Lennon himself, who was on the way out to a recording studio, presumably to lay down some tracks with Yoko Ono.  There is even a poorly centered photograph snapped of Lennon and his assassin, taken on that fateful December day.  Chapman, satisfied with the meeting, suddenly deterred from his violent plans, thought of going home, of not pulling the trigger. But the story doesn’t end that way.  And over three decades later, you still can’t help but wish you could turn the tides, negotiate with long established fate.


The internet becomes a breeding ground for the obsessed to fuel their creepy hobbies and obscure fascinations.  I am certainly not immune to the perils of investigatory predilections.  One late night in New Zealand, unable to sleep, I watched Amelia, the Hilary Swank picture about Amelia Earhart.  I remember a storybook from my childhood about the famous ‘lady pilot’, and her famous disappearance. Though I was aware of how the story ended, my heart was in my throat as the final moments of the film began closing in.  I joined my sleeping husband in bed and laid awake for a long while, wishing things had been different for old Amelia Earhart.  How terrifying that your dream could be the death of you; that the very thing that drives you is what destroys you.  To disappear and be unreachable, silenced and secrets left unspoken—leaving loved ones behind who are unable to make peace with what could have happened to you, forever haunted by the uncertainty and the unknown. 


The following day was fueled by Amelia Earhart fever; I spent that morning sitting on the floor with a cup of tea, watching a 1970’s documentary on YouTube.  The piece regarding  her career and subsequent disappearance was narrated and hosted by a young Leonard Nimoy, hip in his turtleneck and blazer, with cool, expansive sideburns kissing his angular cheeks.  When the film had been produced, the mystery was not yet forty years old; now it’s well over seventy, and the mystery still remains unsolved.    The most recent theory would attest that Amelia and her navigator Fred Noonan, (who is historically speaking, a tragic grain of sand on the vast and endless desert of the Earhart mystery), were castaways on a deserted island.  I suppose that anything is possible, but in all likeliness, Earhart ran out of petrol and crashed into the sea.

 amelia 3

One can surmise that there is a collective desire to be swept up in the romance of the unknown, to either solve a mystery or to wade amongst the million possibilities that fail to alter the final result.  Like conclusive results of an autopsy, knowing what happened doesn’t undo the knots of loss.  Throughout the day, the recent feature film, and the grainy aging documentary fresh in my mind, I couldn’t help but think about Earhart’s husband George Putnam.  I researched further, this time about her personal life and marriage.  Adrift on the sea of imagining, I pictured her husband coping after her disappearance.  He must have been devastated, haunted forever by the loss of his adventurous, trouser wearing wife.  I read Earhart was officially declared dead in absentia approximately two years after her ill-fated flight in 1937.  One website declared that this was done so that her affairs could be finally put to order, but another site stated it was so her widower could remarry.  Horrors!  He did in fact marry again in 1939-which shattered my romantic illusions of a man pacing along a shoreline, holding vigil for a resolution that would never come.

(I have since made my husband promise, if ever I were to disappear in an airplane in a round the world tour, that he would hold out for longer than 24 months to shack up with someone else. I need him to be a Joe DiMaggio type, to never remarry, to always carry the torch, never divulge my secrets to the press, and to always ensure fresh roses were flourishing on a memorial on a bi-weekly basis.)  


My thoughts were consumed by the history, the celebrity, the legacy, and I was certainly not alone.  There are people just like me, perhaps with more money to burn, that are desperate to know the truth about such things.  All the lost souls and their impenetrable secrets, deep underwater, buried in the earth, locked away in people’s hearts. The world is simply bursting with secrets that we are rarely privy to.  The iconic figures that captivate national attention have specific exceptional qualities, talents or skills that first gather focus, and then merit respect.  Earhart’s passion for flight was so great that she was willing to die for her craft-she knew that her goals were risky and still she pushed forth fearlessly.  Her rationale was simple: she wanted to see if she could do it.  What better reason is there, beyond money, fame or accolades-just desire to achieve.  I wonder what would have happened if she had survived the mission, and gone home as planned.  Would she have retired as she promised? Would she have been satisfied? Would she have delighted in knowing the mystery she left behind?  I wonder the same about Marilyn Monroe, what she would have thought of the conspiracy theories and mythology that surround her life and death to this day. 


While living in Australia, I caught the second half of the documentary “The Many Loves of Marilyn Monroe”.  Curiosity ignited, I followed the program with a series of Google searches, trying to piece together details about her short life and lengthy legacy.  Trust the internet for photographs and commentary; disjointed detailed accounts of her history, her behaviour, and even more about her mysterious death. But I was not satisfied, only more intrigued and voracious for information. Benjamin and I took a stroll through Hay Street, Perth’s chic shopping district and found the most delightful consignment book store amongst Tiffany’s, Burberry and Gucci.  In Elizabeth’s Second-hand Bookshop, we found a 500 page text called “The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe”, which was all the glamour I could afford in that particular neighbourhood. I bought the book and carried it out of the store clutching my new purchase lovingly to my chest.

Marilyn Monroe Arthur Miller

Summer was passing and the stifling weather had cooled in Perth.  The dampness of winter crept inwards and I felt illness roll in along with the bad weather.  Within 48 hours I had a debilitating head cold and was unable to work.  It is a rare occasion that I become ill with a cold or flu, but when I am struck down by a germy invasion, I fall like the Roman Empire, and it’s always ugly.  As the sickness infiltrated my body, I retreated into the biography, reading either curled up in bed, or while soaking in the tub.  After the Monroe biography ended, I couldn’t deny the sadness I felt.  I couldn’t believe she was dead.   To have read that whole book in a mere 72 hours was to have watched her perish in one continuous cataclysmic crash, as if she was both the speeding car and brick wall.  Still, it seemed so sudden.

“Oh my God, Marilyn Monroe just died!”

 “Oh my God, when?”

“50 years ago!”

The circumstances in that plane, that locked Hollywood bedroom, outside the New York apartment building are grim and fantastic.   Suddenly those figures are forever shrouded in their final outcome, and it’s impossible to see past the fog.  Though I know how these stories end, I can’t help wishing it were different.    But, wanting doesn’t make it so; once the machinery of fate is in motion, not even God can pull some mystical emergency brake-ceasing all action that leads to tragedy.   What remains are fragmented, feverish late night Google searches.  But satisfaction could not come from a simple answer. American writer Ken Kesey states: “The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery.  If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking.  I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer–they think they have, so they stop thinking.  But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom.  The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer”.  And so the fascination fever may never break, and we will spend our lives trying to prescribe answers for incurable questions.   


Images Courtesy of Google