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

Something Blue

First day of autumn.  Grey and chilly. A touch of wind.  Everyone wearing an extra layer. I like fall.  I like the spicy overtones.  Went out this morning and did our weekly shop, bought a few warmer things, and smiling at the idea of merino wool and a scarf resting snugly against your throat. I had a fantasy about charcoal grey knitted boots with buttons on the side, and I found them…amid a sea of a rather dismal selection in the shopping center.  Of course they are edging toward $200, and there’s a huge part of me that simply can’t justify that cost, even though my bare feet feel like a silky minx on a bear skin rug.


I had geared up for this big purchase, and in the end they didn’t have my size.  When I was told I could order them, I just shrugged.  I didn’t want to drop a couple hundred bucks on the idea of something.  I wanted to leave bag in hand.  Annoying.  But, on the grand scale of bothersome things, its a mosquito among mountains.  I had to actually creep down the hall to pluck the box of the tissue from the living room, to bring it into the office.  I’m extremely aware that writing is going to open up a whole can of weepy whoop-ass.  Ben was facing the television, doing god-knows-what on the X-Box, and so he didn’t notice me doing so.  Not that he would care, it’s no secret that I like to resolve me things with a good sob.  I cried at the end of “The Guilt Trip” last night, and it was just totally out of my control.  So when it really counts, when it actually belongs to me, when I find it in my back yard, there will be tears.


It was my friend Shannon’s birthday the other day.  Her thirtieth.  Just days before marked the fourth anniversary of my moving to New Zealand.  Four years…astounding.  In a week or so it will be my third wedding anniversary.  And it becomes a rather reflective time as the leaves begin to fall.  I was in New Zealand for a few days when I got word that Shannon had been in a car accident, on the way home after a birthday holiday with her fabulous boyfriend.  She was alive in a legal sense, but was in a coma, and her entire being was in great distress. And I felt like I was living a different planet.   earth-from-space-day-night

Having moved to the other side of the world because of a broken heart and a cancelled wedding, I was already feeling jet-lagged and fragile.  Learning this about one of my bridesmaids, one of my most favorite people in the world –was one of the worst moments of my life.

{Tissue Break}

She’s still alive, but in a different form.  I had only seen photographs before I met her for the first time last summer.  When I went to see her, in a neighboring town, in a place that’s somewhere between a hospital and a home.  I brought along my husband and my brother, and the plan was to drop me off, and then go out for dinner and bowling.  It was my idea, for the fear that the sight of her would shatter something inside of me that I could not possibly piece back together,  And bowling seemed like a suitable diversion.  I went into the building alone, wanting to find a washroom to clean my hands and take one last calming breath.  Of course, I went further than the directions I was given allowed, and I passed Shannon’s room.  Her name on the partially opened door.  I hear a fluster of activity, and so I slink past unnoticed.  Well, it was more of a scatter, I bolted in the proper direction.  I washed my hands, swallowed a grapefruit sized lump, went back outside and called her mother, who was expecting my call.

For those in her inner circle, most have adjusted to a point of normalcy, or at least routine. I had been so detached from the situation, that for me it was like it had just happened.  I was freshly devastated.  I loved this girl. She was like a slapstick comedienne, mixed with Lana Del Rey, and a healthy dose of the musical “Hair“.  She was impossibly optimistic, active, beautiful, well traveled.  Wasn’t the most exceptional dancer though.  I remember going out to a bar with her, and watching her dance and feeling sort-of surprised.  She rocked everything else, but she was never going to win “Dancing with the Stars“.  Which I told her, which made her laugh.  I knew her from university theatre, and we were in Arthur Miller’s “After the Fall” together. She was the Marilyn type, and me the embittered first wife.

after the fall

She taught me so much about the acting process, and her enthusiasm was deeply infectious. I lived with her one summer in this little holiday town.  We waitressed in the same spot on the lake, and after busy nights, we would leap off the dock in our clothes and walk home soaking wet.  We always had a good laugh and honest talks. When I was engaged, I asked her to be my bridesmaid, more specifically, my something blue.  As a vivacious red head, she wore blue like nobodies business.


The night I first saw her was at a party.  She was in a dark blue trench coat, and was terribly drunk.  She kept leaning against walls and sliding down them dreamily.  I remember thinking that if that were me doing so, that I was look like such a dick. On her, it looked strangely ethereal.  When I came across that coat last summer, when I was organizing her clothes, I wept into the fabric.  A few items of clothing got that treatment.  Occasionally pausing to remember the ridiculous girl who tromped around in tasseled cowboy boots and wore impossibly tiny shorts. I took many things to the theatre, kept a few personal favorites, and shared the tinier sizes with the girls I was working with.  Being such a clothes horse, I felt comforted at this fashion reincarnation, that they would continue on in some way.


Shannon always brought things back from trips for me.  In that first week in New Zealand, the strap on the purse, the string on the colored wooden beads, and the pin of a peacock brooch, all things she gave me, they all broke in the days leading up to her accident.  That bothered me.  Tasting that bad omen like it was acid on my tongue.  I’ve kept them, stored away with other trinkets and actually carried the peacock with me, along with a dime on the day I got married.  She gave me many scarves, which I still wear.  When I went to that psychic reading in Auckland, the medium was picking up on a very strong presence.  “Did I know a person in a wheelchair”.  ‘Nope, sure don’t’ was my first general response.  “Are you sure? Because she’s with us in the room, and she’s holding a big bunch of wildflowers and they are for you”.  I immediately think of my passport, more specifically of the picture I carry around in my passport, a snapshot of Shannon I kept tucked in the middle.  Standing in a field wildflowers.  She said she wanted to meet me and travel to Australia and Bali, and so when I went to these places, that is how I took her with me.  ‘I guess I do know someone in a wheelchair’. Anyway, Shannon totally commandeered the reading, and the psychic was saying a whole bunch of stuff that made me sob uncontrollably.  Then she looked at me, and said “When you dream of her, she’s dreaming of you too”.  Ugh, I just cracked like an egg then.  I would dream of her, and she would always be as she was when I knew her.   She would never speak, but would sit serenely.  And I would be crying because I was so happy to see her, alive and well.  In the heat of emotion, I wrenched my pashmina, a raspberry color, another Shannon present, from my neck. Like fog, her presence lifted and then she was gone.


I was able to celebrate her birthday last year, in a large hotel room with her mother and other family and friends.  What struck me while looking at the girls around me were their new last names, new babies, pregnancies, travels. Everyone was a little bit more grown up, a little more refined.  Careers instead of jobs, mortgages instead of rent.  We were all growing up and changing, and on that level Shannon’s journey has ended, though her heart keeps beating.  And this was along the vein of thought that was choking me the morning of her birthday.  I paid my Visa bill, folded my husband’s laundry, puttered around in my bare feet as I sipped coffee and listened to the radio before heading off to work.  And it made me sad that she would never have these silly little things that we all take for granted now and again.  The dignity of independence, the blessing of perfect health, the last days of summer.  And so, as the fourth year passes by, and I am still no closer to knowing how to grieve for her.  Though we are now in the same province, I still feel like on that different planet; missing someone terribly even though you could still sit across from each other, reach out and touch their hand.

shann and me

Happy Birthday, my lovely friend.  May you know in your heart just how much you are loved.

marilyn-monroe-birthday-black-and-white-cake-Favim_com-670370Images Courtesy of Google

| Tagged "After the Fall", accident, Arthur Miller, birthday, friendship, grief, , Lana Del Rey, loss, love, , memory, New Zealand, sadness

End of (Summer) Days

The fellow on the radio is bumming me out. It is the second of September, the last official day of summer, and the radio personality is comparing September to death.  While Ben is sprawled out on the air mattress, I’m happily typing away, researching.  Though we have plans to barbeque, and went out for a lovely bike ride before enjoying a quiet afternoon,  the CBC 2 is working overtime, making me want to squeeze the damp dishcloth of summertime and wring out every last drop.  It is reminding me that time is fleeing, that summer, youth, life is dwindling second by second, and soon it will slip through my fingers.  How do you want to spend your last summer day?

Jean-Harlow lounge by the pool

Ben and I are thinking about how to spend the afternoon.  It’s very much a childish…”What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”.  Seize the day, I guess.

bathing suit ball

Yup, that’s what I’ve got to do…carpe diem, and all that.  Just load up the car with beach chairs, a few towels and a Frisbee and take back the power from old man winter, who’s now waiting in the wings.  Come on gang, beach party in ten minutes!


Now Ben is napping, which is for the best, for when he is exhausted, he becomes something in the middle of a Kodiak Bear and an over-tired toddler.  I just wish he could do it on the beach, near the ocean, he could snore lightly in the dimming sunlight, and I could watch the sea water heaving back and forth, breathing loud sighs of salt water.

heart shaped glasses

I don’t know why I suddenly feel so sad.  Perhaps it’s because this nostalgic a-hole is playing the most melancholic number, “September Song“, performed by Willie Nelson.  It’s songs like that that makes leaves fall.

mm picture-4

What’s so great about summer anyway?  It’s a blonde season.  It’s romantic, it’s youthful, the nights are long and hot.


Summer time = good times. frolicking, swimming, holidays, road trips, adventures and fun…Vintage Snapshots of Summer Fun on the Beach (19)

Summer means sexy flings, that are often as sweaty and maddening as an August heat wave.  (I love this couple, “I’m glad she likes my giant muscles, because my penis is teeny-tiny“)


Summer is spending time with fabulous friends, and that usually involves cool drinks, and that wonderful ‘ice cube in glass’ sound that chimes in the background of lazy conversation.


Summertime is barbeques, ice cream cones, and other beach front food fare…

bettie page eating

But then again, it’s not my favorite season.  I like the crispness of fall, the freshness of spring.  I like the colors, the spices, the sweaters.  Summer fashion is not my favorite.  I’m not one for gallivanting poolside in my bikini.  It annoys me when guys walk around on the street shirtless.  I believe that short denim shorts are a privilege, and not a right.  Whenever possible I like to emphasize the slip and slap, of the “slip/slop/slap”  trilogy of Australian sun protection.

vintage beach 3

When my sister-in-law came for a visit, we had arranged to spend an afternoon floating down the river, a pretty standard summertime activity in this region. The night before,I asked her what she was wearing.  She glimpsed at my strangely, “I don’t know…a bathing suit?”  As for me, I wore a man sized white collared shirt, black and yellow scarf, and a white brimmed hat with a black band, and enormous sunnies of course.  I looked like an aquatic Diane Keaton, a scuba Annie Hall.


About an hour into the three hour float, Kate was feeling extremely exposed as the floating device floated down the river. No hat, no shirt, just a bikini and a light white scarf.  As were the other girls on the float, my friend Margaret and her two friends were in swim suits. But they had the means to roll on different sides.  We were in tubes which kept you in quite stationary , and to try to exit would be graceless at best.  I offered Kate my pashmina, which she used in conjunction with her scarf.  I felt terrible that maybe I hadn’t pressed the point that she might like to have the top she pulled off at the last minute.  I wished I had an extra scarf. I wondered if losing the pashmina made my floating outfit less fabulous.


Later on in the evening, I apologize for leaving her unprepared, and she just laughed.  “Honestly, it didn’t occur to me that it was for sun protection.  I just thought that you were ashamed of your body”.  True, I am not beach ready in the way others are, but that’s not really the issue.

hard bodies

I just like the layers, and so fall suits me just fine.  But when the normally soothing voice on the radio actually utters the phrase “Speaking of death…” in reference to the last day of summer, it fills me with a sense of loss.  I try to entice Ben out to the beach, to a lake, an afternoon drive, but his energy level matches mine.  “Isn’t it nice to be at home?” he says.  And I let go of wishing summer would stay and time would stand still, and I wrap myself in the idea of another season passing away.

mm nudeImages Courtesy of Google

| Tagged "Annie Hall", Air mattress, Ben, CBC 2, Daylight saving time, , , Ice cream cone, Jean Harlowe, Kodiak Bear, , sadness, September Song, summertime, Willie Nelson

Mojo Rising

Okay, we’ve been dancing around it in the long time.  In literary terms, I’m not putting out the way I used to.  It was like I had a raging blogging boner, and it’s suddenly gone flaccid.  It’s disheartening, but I’m not getting down about it.  Don’t worry, I will rise again.  This week has been, as my mother would say, “hair straight back”.  And now, It’s Saturday night, the house is a mess, laundry is everywhere, and blogging is the last thing on my mind.  Well, of course I think about it, in a “this is not going to happen today” kind of way.  But as Anaïs Nin says,

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.


I’ve been busy.  Time is no longer a luxury to me.  And it’s summertime and there are events and visitors.  And those experiences take presidence over being hunched at my computer desk.   The other day I saw a good friend from a long ago time, and coffee turned into a walk, which turned into chatting and flipping through old photos on my office floor.  She left about 11:45pm, and I posted my Marilyn Monroe photo at 11:58, with the sweaty urgency of trying to detonate a bomb.  But of course, it’s not a bomb, it’s not the end of the world, it’s not as is the Blogging Police is going to come pound on my door and take away my status as an unpaid writer. I won’t be stripped from the success I don’t yet have.  The fans will not faint or swoon, revolt or protest.   It doesn’t really matter to anyone but me.  But it does feel a bit like running really fast for a long time, and then when stopping suddenly and your legs feeling like jello, and you don’t know how to walk properly anymore.


I’ve been sleeping about five hours a night, on account of the new upstairs  neighbours, who are clog dancers who pace in steel-toed boots at midnight.  Despite I’ve been going pretty strong, regardless of my sleepless nights.  Today was another busy day, and like a fool I stayed up until 2am the night before chatting with lovely theatre people.  When the alarm went off at 8:15 this morning, I very much felt like punching myself in the face and setting myself on fire.

vintage yawning pin upAnd sometime in the late afternoon I hit a wall.  You know that feeling, that sudden, yet slow motion, underwater, dizzying loss of energy, and this garbled voice inside your head that says “I am so sooooo tired“.

dancers collapsing

And then I got home, and unexpectedly got to talk to my  best friend on the phone for a solid hour-plus, plus.  And then my husband and I ordered pizza, and watched a mindless movie on Netflix. And now I sit amongst the many piles of papers and clothing, pizza boxes, the thump squad above gearing up for another night of tappity-taps.  The day will come when my new routine will feel normal, and I’ll find daily pockets of time to write.  And I will feel slightly more normal again…for ten minutes or so.  Now…it’s time for sleep.


Cheque Mate

Whenever possible I like to live as, say, Audrey Hepburn would.  Graceful, elegant, chic, effortlessly gliding into rooms and humbling people with my ballerina-like ways.


Of course, this is rarely the case.  While I often hope that I can glide in to spaces, I mostly crash into them. What I’d like is to be elegant to the point of invisibility.


Today, I opted for a delicious sleep in (7:06am, but whatever).  Ben took the car, and so when time came to run pressing errands, I had to walk to pick up the vehicle.  The first order of business was to retrieve my final cheque from my former employers.  I handed in my resignation notice last Friday, incidentally on payday.  I was dreadfully nervous, fearful of retribution or confrontation.   I had  just come from an hour long yin yoga class, one that focused on hips and upper thighs, so when I stepped out of the car, my knees nearly betrayed me.


I came into the building on my jello legs.  And stood in the reception area for a moment.  I could not, for the life of me, remember the word “resignation”.  I just stood there, my sweaty palm moistening the envelope.  “Resigning”? “Resignatory”? “Resignative”?  No matter, I could go into the office, drop the perspired paper purposefully on the desk, recite a haiku in German, and it wouldn’t really matter.  But somehow, I needed a grip on that exact word…like it was a mantra.  I offered the letter to the only person in the office.  And she took the letter without a fight.  Not that I wanted a fight, but in the same way you want to glide all over town like a chic starlet, it wouldn’t hurt for a wail, a cry to the gods, a shaking fist  to the sky, or my favorite, the ‘on the knees begging you not to go’.  “You have to let me go, I’ve just given my reignignatory letter, please, you’re only embarrassing yourself”.  She wished me the best, we shook hands, and I wobbled out on my rubber legs.  And I made it all the way to the car before I realized:  “Ah frick, I didn’t get my cheque”.  There’s nothing worse than having a tense or emotional moment with someone and then pop your head back in and ask if they validate parking.  Luckily, I was able to get my pay without having to pop back into the office with a cute “Me again!” kind of shrug.

Anyway, today, heading down the hill in black leggings and tank top, wearing black flip flops.  Listening to Erykah Badu on my I-Pod, and envisioning myself walking into the building, grabbing that cheque and walking right back out.  Don’t look back.  I was grooving to Badu, negotiating my way down a dusty hill, and imagining the end game. I pictured myself picking up that cheque, already basking in the closure–check mate, bitches, I don’t have to play this game anymore.


I’ve walked this way plenty of times before, but this was a first in these shoes.  It was lightning quick, the sliding, the levitation that occurs before a fall, with just enough time to know that you are about to eat shit, but not enough time to do anything about it.

falling pinup

Lying in a cloud of dust, I propped myself up on my elbows.  This is when I see the blood.  It appeared that my big toe decided to separate itself from…itself.  There was a strange, dusty, dirty divorce on my left foot, and still a small distance to walk.  I stepped gingerly down the path, loathing the fact that my in-and-out plan was thwarted.  This is the moment to walk through that door, coolly pluck that cheque that out of someone’s fingers, and go back the way you came.  You never, ever want to smile weakly and say “There’s actually an awful lot of blood here, mind if I raid the first aid kit for old times sake?”  The receptionist was very kind, she guarded the first aid kit politely, (as if I had tried to cut my toe off just to get my hands on unlimited antacids, PMS tablets and finger condoms). After I was washed and bandaged, I took my cheque, and excused myself.  Not the graceful exit I had hoped for.

It was not glamorous.

Actress Marilyn Monroe with Actor Robert Mitchum

Not chic or elegant.

jackie o crutches

Not adorably injured, I was bleeding like a hobo after a parking lot knife fight.


And let me tell you, with the money I just received, you can just forget about buying a 24-karat gold wheelchair a la post-hip surgery Lady Gaga.


I  limped away, covered in dust and dirt all, my foot throbbing, final cheque in hand.  I exhaled. No matter the exit, at least the job was over.  And I hobbled  towards the future, whatever it held for me, forgetting the injuries of the past.

mm with swin instructorAll Images Courtesy of Google

Parton Ways

Several years ago, I played an embittered first wife in Arthur Miller’s play “After the Fall”.  I was meant to deliver this line, “I am a separate person”,with stoney certainty, but at the time, I didn’t quite understand it.  What does that even mean? Of course I’m a separate person, I’m standing apart from you.  But I’m married to you, so I’m connected to you? Either way…you’re leaving me for a thinly veiled version of Marilyn Monroe?

after the fall

But the play wasn’t about Louise, the nag, the shrew–it was about his second marriage, with Miller’s most famous wife, Marilyn Monroe, the red-hot mess.  (Before he can possibly consider marrying his third wife, the breath of fresh air).   Now, I love me some Monroe, my heart breaks for her, but historically speaking–Monroe was not a spectacular wife.  She just wasn’t. She was a selfish star who self-medicated with pills and champagne.  She was mentally ill, and wasn’t properly cared for.  Of course, Miller tried his damnedest to save her, but it was a truly impossible feat.  It would have been so easy to love her, but it was have been impossible to sustain that affection because it would have been like trying to fill an eternal void with all your precious energy.

miller monroe

The issue for Miller was that he was at a great height in his success, he was a beloved playwright with a Pulitzer Prize, and catalogue of important work.  But under Monroe’s spell, his work dwindled.  His sanity suffered.  He lost himself in trying to keep their relationship afloat.

miller behind monroe

He worked on her projects, followed her everywhere and even wrote the last film she ever completed, “The Misfits”.  By the end of filming, they flew home on separate planes, and their marriage was over.


Monroe was a rapidly wilting flower, and nothing could be done to change that.  I think she was convinced that marriage could save her life, but that’s a pretty lofty expectation for any relationship.  But Miller wasn’t without fault, he had told reporters that Monroe would make fewer pictures now that they were married: “She will be my wife.  That’s a full-time job”.  And that’s a mistake old Joe DiMaggio made as well, that marriage would somehow tame Monroe’s ways.  When in fact…I think marriage brought out the worst in her.  Anyhow, she and DiMaggio didn’t last a year, and her relationship with Miller failed after five years.  They split in 1961, and she died the following year.

unhppy monroe

Being married to Monroe would have been an all-consuming gig, and it would not always be rewarding.  (Louise ain’t looking too bad now eh Arthur?)  Demanding to be thought of as a separate person is not a crime.  It’s not a crime to demand that your spouse all but dissolve into your own being, but it’s certainly a misdemeanor.  In marriage, perhaps a bit of separateness is  needed for longevity.  Now married, I am just learning what that means.  We belong together, we live, eat, sleep and travel together, but we are still separate entities.  I think of marriage as a kind of three-legged race.  You are bound to each other, and are trying to run in a unified order in the same direction.  But what if you want to go in opposite directions?  Is that the fork in the road that signifies the end of your marriage?  That’s a perfectly terrifying thought.  In your marriage…or in any long-term relationship, there are decisions to be made.  These range from, “where are we going to order our Chinese takeout from?”, “which grocery store will we shop at?” “what movie are we going to watch tonight?” to “where are we going to live?” “how many children are we going to have?” “how will we spend our money?” “if I become a famous [insert profession here] will you accompany me to [insert award show, press junket, photo shoot here].  These are serious questions, and when the answers vary, it’s cause for concern.

picnicrace1946As a couple, my husband and I are polar opposites.  He is a strong silent type, and I just won’t shut the fuck up.  I want to be onstage, and he’d prefer to be behind the scenes.  I’m a social butterfly, and he’s a solitary bear.  He’s a sturdy structure, and I’m a twister swirling all around.  Our unifying quality is that we are both stubborn as  hell, and we often lock horns.  Our marital three legged race can be a challenge, I want to go one way, he the other.  But we don’t want to break up, fall apart, get divorced.   Is it possible to remove that tie and change the game?

These conversations have been occurring more frequently: “your thing doesn’t have to be my thing”.  Of course, I’ve never been married before, and obviously all my relationships failed before I met my husband, so I’m no expert on how to get these things right.  I love him deeply, I am committed to him, but I still belong to myself.  How do you successfully live your life as a spouse without letting go of your personal goals.  How does that important role not engulf you?

wedding photo

Last night, lying in the dark, thinking about my marriage, my husband, myself, my thoughts turn (naturally) to Dolly Parton.  Hasn’t she been married for ages to a man that has nothing to do with her career?

Dolly-Parton wedding

Yup. Dolly Parton has been married for a staggering 47-years to Carl Dean, whom she met at a laundromat when she was 20 years old.  Dean has absolutely nothing to do with the public aspects of her career.  She explained this in an interview with Oprah–another gal that knows a bit about being a “separate person”.  She and her partner of 25 years, rarely appear together publicly, and prefer it that way.  They also never married and claim that is what kept them together.


As for Dolly and her camera-shy husband, they learned quickly what worked for them:

“Early on in my career, I’d won [Song of the Year] in 1966, and I asked him to go with me. … He was so uncomfortable…He said: ‘Now I want you to do everything you want to do. I want you to enjoy every minute of your life. But don’t you ever ask me to go to another one of these things. Because I am not going.’”

And so, she never pushed him into partaking in another public event ever.  What is really interesting is that in exploring these ‘separate’ relationships, I’ve noticed an abundance  of criticism and suspicion.  Open marriages, secret lesbianism– Parton is rumored to be in a homosexual relationship with her best friend, a rap Oprah has also dealt with. God forbid it has anything to do with being comfortable in your marriage and and confident about going your own way.  And it is just that–she wanted to go this way, he wanted to go that way, but at the end of the day, they wanted to come home to the same place.

“He’s proud of me. He’s just basically shy about things like that. He doesn’t like crowds.  And I respect his privacy. I respect the fact that he loves to be out of the limelight. That’s one of the reasons I think we’ve lasted so long.”

parton marriage

(Wow, they seriously do not appear together in public, pictures of them are hard to find, and those you do see are grainier than a poorly made sex tape).

This is revolutionary thinking.  When Ben comes home from work, I’m invigorated by this concept–that I can have a life that I want, and the husband that I love, and that I have solid evidence that separateness can occasionally work.  I’m following him around the house and jabbering away about Dolly Parton.  A smile creeps across his face when I explain that Dolly happily goes it alone, and her husband happily stays at home.
Now, my husband doesn’t want me to be alone, but he’s relieved at the thought of having his own choices as well.     What I’m learning is that while there is room for growth, people have unchangeable qualities.  And I’m pretty sure that would appear on any ‘Ways to Not Cock-Up Your Marriage” lists:  don’t try to change your partner.  If you marry someone thinking that the ring on their finger will magically make them go against the values they started out with, then it will never work.  For a marriage to succeed for decades upon decades, there needs to be a bit of room; freedom to wander away, and know that there is a place to come home to, and a person who is waiting to hear about what you achieved all on your own.
o and dollyAll Images Courtesy of Google

Filter Skelter

The art of marriage is a delicate tightrope walk–and I lose my balance all the time.  I have a patient, organized, gentle husband, he is a tightly structured concerto and I am a  jazz fusion of creative, emotional, occasionally hysterical chaos.

Yesterday my husband asked one thing of me, “Could you please pick up coffee filters?”.


“No worries!”

“Will do!”

“Not a problem!”…  Are examples of things that I said and that could be used later in court transcripts.

I did not pick up coffee filters.

I blogged and worked against a looming deadline for an essay contest, which of course meant mostly fucking around on Twitter in my sweatpants.

I’m building a platform Benjamin, I’m developing a process.  I don’t have time for coffee filters!

Which of course I did.  And there’s actually a shop right down the street.  And it was on the agenda, my husband didn’t assign this simple errand and I agreed flippantly, cackling wickedly with ill-intent.  I wrote all day, made dinner, and then went to a rehearsal for an upcoming show.  This naturally led to a stop at the pub afterward.  I said to my friend Vivi, “Don’t let me forget coffee filters”. So really, I think it’s his fault.   I drove him and another person home, and then went home, sat in the office, worked a bit, and somewhere around midnight….


Coffee filters!  I briefly consider going out and getting some, but I crawl into bed instead, poke my deeply sleeping husband.  “Psst.  Psssst. Psssssst! Hey…how important is coffee to you in the morning?”

And of course my husband bore his caffeine-free morning stoically.  And yes, I did feel guilty dropping him off and then immediately heading to a Starbucks. But I never said I was perfect, and there is no reference to ‘getting it right ever time’ in the marriage vows.  There are mild undertones of guilt flavor in my beverage…I wonder if caramel would cover that up.  But I feel bad, it’s such a little thing–filters, but coffee in the morning–I mean, that is the whole point of getting up.  We set the timer the night before, and it acts as a pre-alarm clock. You hear the brewing before your actual alarm goes off, and though soon you have to go to work, you know that there will be coffee waiting for you in the kitchen; this hot black liquid that has the capacity to make your day better before it even begins.

And I’m the monster that denied him that.

Sitting in the office with my guilt-laced latte, I think about potential blog topics.   I think about how someone once said “If you forget, it means you don’t care”.  I disagree.  I care.  I just forgot the fucking filters.  It doesn’t make the the world’s worst wife.  I search the web for a decent ‘bad wives’ list, and you know what? I’m not on any of those lists, so that’s the good news…or maybe that also means that nobody knows who I am so that’s the bad news.  But then, if I did become known, is that what I would be known for? Being a filter-forgetting insensitive wife?  But also, I didn’t find a really satisfying list of bad wives.  So I’m going to compile a wee list of historically bad wives (famous & fictional), which will be my way of saying…”it could be worse Ben, I could be Sharon Stone in “Casino’”.

sh stone“Yes, while I’m a heartless, ball-busting, drug addled, villainous hustler who cheats on Robert DeNiro with James Woods and Joe Pesci…but seriously, just how fabulous is my hair?

Ginger McKenna appears on all cinematic bad wives lists; it’s almost enough to watch me re watch Casino, but then I looked it up on IMDB, and shit gets real in that movie.  It gets an all round 48/50 for intensity levels, and I love whoever wrote the list. Amongst all the pen stabbing, hammer smacking, baseball bat smashing and head in the vice gripping, is a note in the Sex & Nudity section: “There is a brief shot of a woman’s bubble butt”…and it is (spoiler alert!) “beautifully shaped like a ripe peach”.  How is that a spoiler? “I want to know if I’m going to see some ass…but I don’t want to know if it is shaped like delicious fruit”.kurt and courtney

I bet Courtney Love forgot coffee filters from time to time.  It could not be easy to be married a woman who “Rolling Stone” magazine refers to as “the most controversial woman in the history of rock”.   And I can’t imagine her being a tidy bride either; heroin and housework are well known mortal enemies, a bit like Courtney Love and marriage.  In fact, in recent years their daughter, the unfortunately named Frances Bean, filed a restraining order against Love on behalf of herself and the family dog.  Apparently Love is not only a hoarder, she also just leaves uncapped pharmaceuticals strewn about, killing a slew of pets.  But there are also theories that Love was responsible for Cobain’s death, whether she pulled the trigger or he killed himself just to get away from her unhygienic ways. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors.

Surely Kim Kardashian should appear on a bad wife list–and most don’t realize that this was her second marriage.  She  married music producer Damon Thomas when she was just nineteen, and kept it a secret for a period of time.  Apparently he once punched her in the face and told her she needed liposuction.  And, before they were to go skydiving with Justin Timberlake, he smacked her around.  I love that she name-drops even in court transcripts, (though no woman should suffer physical abuse).

kim k

You know I love me some Drew Barrymore, but she had a rather lengthy run in the bad wives club.  She was engaged twice, the first time at sixteen, then married for the first time at nineteen.  Barrymore and the Welsh bar owner split up in less than two months.  Her recent marriage–her third–seems really positive, and they have a little baby, and she looks amazing.  Although anything after being  married to gross-out comic Tom Green, you could be married to an antique lamp, a lawn mower or a piece of masticated bubble gum and it be more mature and meaningful.


Cher wasn’t a perfect wife either.  She met Sonny when she was sixteen years old, and there relationship and career grew together in tandem.  At a height in their career, Cher grew tired of the Bono’s controlling ways, and their marriage crumbled (as did their show).  Three days after their divorce was final, she marred Gregg Allman, who she then divorced two years later.


Believe it or no, but I am writing this blog in almost the exact same outfit.

Hey, no bad wives list would be complete without ole Liz Taylor, that lady collected husbands like diamonds–and that bitch had a lot of both–even famously marrying Richard Burton twice, later spawning the delicious terrible Lifetime special, Lindsay Lohan vehicle “Liz and Dick”.  But really, you could drop Burton from the movie and the title would still make sense.


Also, bonus points for Taylor, as she also appears on many lists for the shrewish wife in “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?”.  She is possibly one of the most boozy soul-crushing literary wives ever.

Virginia Woolf 1966

Marilyn Monroe was a gal who could not master marriage, but really wanted to get it right.  She took a crack at it three times. The first time, she was basically given away in marriage to get her out of the foster-care system.  The second time, to Joe DiMaggio lasted less than a year.   Her final marriage with Arthur Miller was the topic of “After the Fall”, a scathing portrayal of woman who could not be loved enough and could not be saved.

marilyn miller

Audrey Hepburn broke off  an engagement saying that she didn’t have “the time to be really married”.  She married for the first time–to Mel Ferrer who was already married with four children when he met Hepburn.  She remarried years later, to a philandering Italian doctor, had a baby at forty, and got another divorce.  At the time of her death, she had a long term partner, but they never married.  Jackie O did the same thing–twice divorced can still be classy, any more than that is edging on Taylor territory, and it’s a rare breed to make multiple divorces looks that look fabulous.

audrey-hepburn-wedding-mel-magpie-jewellery-dressAll images Courtesy of Google

And sadly, me–Alicia Ashcroft, unpaid writer,  a distracted, forgetful, messy, and occasionally hysterical wife.  But I’m always quick to apologize.  Okay that’s a lie, I hold onto apologies with pretty tight fists sometimes, but it’s a part of my ‘tough but tender’ charm.  But I am sorry.  I love my husband, and I want to make him as happy as he makes me. And I’m going to the shop right away. …now what was it I was supposed to pick up?

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.

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.

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.   


Courtesy of leisuremartini.com

Cardboard Time Machine

Amongst the cardboard boxes my youngest brother delivered is a time machine made of photographs and scrap paper.  Firstly, like a little kid on Christmas morning, I pulled everything out and made unorganized piles of books and photo albums and journals on the floor of my office.  Then my mother called and we spoke for an hour, and I sat amongst the piles and I did nothing more than survey the mess.  Then Ben poked his head in and suggested that we make dinner.  And then evening faded into nightfall and the mess remained.  The next day, I went into the office to grab a notebook and accidentally punted a teetering pile of paperbacks. This caused a domino effect, spilling the tower across the green rug, where standing room no longer exists.  My response? Backing out of the room slowly, as if a crazed wolverine had come through the heat vent and was now snarling and baring his teeth at me.  I closed the door and didn’t open it for a couple of days–until yesterday, when I had a day off and had a glimmer of ingenuity.

I spent the better part of an afternoon thumbing through old yearbooks and journals, scholarly papers and short stories.  An odd habit that I’ve apparently always had is to shove photographs and cards in the middle of novels.  By fanning through “Pride and Prejudice“, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s“, and “The Great Gatsby“, I discovered forgotten artifacts of my former life; concert tickets, newspaper clippings.  But what really stuck out was my writing.  My journals focus mostly on my obsession with my high school love, who was totally dismissive and I was such a sucker for it.  Also, I wrote a lot about insecurity: not being good enough, not being pretty, not being thin, not being popular, expressing petty jealousies about the capabilities of other friends.  God, being a teenage girl was so exhausting!  Such unhappiness, such confusion, harboring such illusions that you knew anything about life or love or maturity, while actually knowing nothing at all.  Along with these entries I got through a mountain of photos, and while I’m smiling in most, I know that in most cases, I am just not happy.  I have actual photographic evidence of good times wasted, because I know that I am consumed with worry…not only about my place in the room, but of my place in the world.  I scanned and emailed a photo booth shot to my best friend of us when we were fifteen.  Her response was along the lines of: “Nothing like seeing youthful, adorable pictures of your fifteen year old self to make you feel old and haggard”.  What occurs to me is that at the the time you think: “I’m so ugly, I’m so fat”, and now you think: “My god, would you look at that skin tone?”.  You also think that your face hasn’t really changed much but baby, day by day, you are aging, and eventually it starts to show.  Perhaps it is it tradeoff for knowledge and maturity…lines all over your goddamned face.

The photographic example I want to share is from my first trip out of Canada.  When I was eighteen, I went to California with my live-in boyfriend.  He asked me if I wanted to go to Mexico or to Disneyland. And I chose Disneyland.  We drove to Vancouver and took a bus to Seattle and a train to Anaheim.  From what I remember, the journey was thrilling.  I always wanted to see the world…but my 31 year old self thinks…’You wanted to see the world so instead of Mexico you chose Anaheim?’  Anyway, by the looks of the photos, I knew little about a lot of things.  For starters, this girl did not know how to pack a bag.  I clearly had no sense of style and am wearing a collection of cropped belly tops.  (I’m ashamed to admit it, and cringe as I type this)  My hair is chin length, crudely pinned back and dyed in purple-red hue.  I am wearing these navy blue polyester trousers with white running shoes I bought on sale at Zellers, and (the real kicker) a bright blue baby tee with the Superman emblem on it.  Egads, eighteen-year-old me! Must you be such an embarrassment?  In the photo I am at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre–the highlight of the trip– crouching down over Marilyn Monroe‘s signature, putting my hands into her imprints.  I remember that they were a perfect fit.  I’m looking up and smiling, my tee-shirt riding up my back, exposing just a hint of white undies and a lower back tattoo I got in high school.  I took the rest of that album and chucked it in the dumpster, along with other needless scraps.  This is the moment I want to remember.  In this picture I am smiling and I know that I am happy.  I didn’t know about loss, or how much it hurts to grow up, that the man taking this picture would break my heart, that there would be dark days ahead.  Just this image of a young girl in Hollywood who still has so much to learn, pressing her fingers in the imprint of a woman who died trying to find her way in the exact same town.