Wait-Loss Wonderland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Downward Facing Dog Gone Girl

The 2015 Kamloops Film Festival has just come and gone; this piece was featured in the festival insert that accompanied the Kamloops This Week…without further ado, the extended and Pin-Up-ized version of the article…

Award season is in full swing; and the social media news-feeds are filled with tidbits from these congratulatory evenings that pulsate with fevered anticipation, glittery gowns, and talented performers who are spray tanned within an inch of their life. ‘What are you wearing?” “Who are you here with”? “Are you excited?” “Nervous?” And my question if I were granted court: “When was the last time you had a sandwich?” Of course these people are excited. Number one: if you’re walking that red carpet, dripping in diamonds and adjacent to a bulging three hundred pound bodyguard named Rocco—you’ve made it. You’ve been a part of a significant project, and it’s now being clustered into an exclusive group of significance and a lucky few receive a holy trinket as a result.


But seriously, win or lose, that’s a pretty solid way to spend an evening. Coiffed to perfection, you are privileged to wear jewels and couture, rubbing elbows with wealth, talent and celebrity; swag bags would have gold dipped M&M’s and the champagne fueled after-party people watching would be Olympic level greatness. As it is happening, and in the days that follow, the event and its participants are neatly categorized by the media under: best/worst/memorable/uncomfortable; the hits, the misses. I can’t help but think about the people behind the flops. Who are the people behind the choices? Like…who approved Bjork’s swan dress?

The late 80’s scandal magnet Rob Lowe singing Proud Mary with Snow White?

Who was the guy who pitched Anne Hathaway and James Franco as Oscar hosts? Seriously?

Fact is things hit as often as they miss—sometimes you don’t know why, sometimes you wonder why no one foresaw the future flop–but sometimes the miss evolves into something spectacular in retrospect, and falls under the best category of all–“so bad it’s good” .Rob Lowe + Snow White x “Proud Mary” = The Greatest Thing to Ever Happen to Me. If only something tossed Lowe a saxophone so he could play a la Billy Hicks from “St Elmo’s Fire”, it would have lifted the bar a fair bit.

This performance was so bad that the Academy received strongly worded letters from the likes of Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. Ouch. I just hope I never screw up so badly that I get a strongly worded letter from Mary Poppins.  Perhaps I can comfort my collection of small failures with the sentiment.

It also says something about formulas for success. I can only imagine the late 1980’s executives in their boardrooms, jacked on cocaine and ego clapping each other on the back for these ‘excellent’ ideas. “People love Rob Lowe. People adore Snow White. People can’t resist bastardizing the lyrics to “Proud Mary” with clever cracks about dwarves. What if we threw it all in a great big blender…how smooth would that go down?” Hey—I like fish and I like ice cream, but it doesn’t mean I want to combine the two. In my experience as an event coordinator, I constantly obsess at the near mathematical combination of time of day/day of week/point in year in combination with financial climate/theme/location…and all the details in between. Most importantly, “Who am I catering to?” “What gets people off the couch and out the door? “Why should they get a babysitter?” “Why should they make the time?” Socialization is hard work—at least the idea of it is. I feel like participating in dinner parties or social occasions is like exercise. You don’t feel like doing it, and then you do it and maybe it starts off painfully, and then…you’re just running—smiling, cheeks flushed, wind in your hair, and heart pounding mightily in your chest. You’re glad you tried it. You feel better for having done it. Still, you need to get moving to get that feeling. And that, as everyone knows is the hard part.

So…who are you? What do you want? What do you want in a party or event? What kind of music? What would you eat? Drink? What would make you want to stay? Want to go? The mind reels, right? Do you even know what you want? You want that freshly exercised feeling without the pain. I know I do. Whenever I have a hand in the planning of an event, it always comes with a touch of heartburn and crippling self-doubt. If I planned an event that suited me, there’d be nothing but cheeseboards, bread, mellow lighting, and comfortable seating,  listening to the CBC at a moderate level while waiters who looked like George Clooney handed out free drinks and lingered while making eye contact. But hey, that’s just me.

Also, planning takes time, and when you don’t have time—you are up a creek without a paddle. I don’t know about you, but I personally have the ability to overload my schedule in the same way a prison inmate or a university student would load up their plate at a buffet on a cruise ship. Always, always, always room for dessert, and maybe more mashed potatoes. Heaping spoonful’s of absolutely everything—YOLO y’all, YOLO. Sleep is for babies and great things can be achieved if you make that the thing to take off the plate. It kind of makes you like a circus performer who rides a unicycle and balances plates on sticks…except you are drunk, experiencing vertigo and only have one leg. Oh. And you are on fire. In the thick of film festival preparedness, beyond my demanding career, I was also participating in a thirty-day yoga challenge. Then, just for fun, my husband and I got a new puppy. We named her ‘Bluebear”, which is Latin for “Nothing will ever be achieved in a timely manner again”.

With my e-mail inbox fuller than a Kardashian’s pout, Bluebear’s need for attention at an ‘11’ on the puppy scale, I was at a breaking point: downward facing-dog-gone-girl. This furry little toddler was gnawing away at my spare time like the carpet in the living room; prevention had no point, she was destroying the fabric like it was her mission from God. I had one afternoon to myself, and was bent on catching up. I ran an errand with the dog on the passenger seat. The radio playing low and the pup resting her head peacefully, and me…just driving for 45-minutes basking in the quiet. Eyes narrowed on the road—like a fugitive from the law—just a couple of procrastinating bandits–she the Thelma to my Louise. “Let’s just keen going Blue–let’s just drive until we run out of road”.

My phone rings, my husband’s voice over speakerphone sounding concerned. “Where are you—I’m waiting for you to come home, I was going to take the dog”. “I’m just driving!” I say, laughing, my own voice teetering on the edge of madness—sounding as incredulously giddy and nonsensical as if I had just said: “I just walked on the moon in ice skates, good thing I had my sunglasses! I just had Justin Bieber’s baby—I didn’t even know I was pregnant, I’ve never even heard his music! Charlie Sheen is doing Shakespeare in the park—and he makes a wonderful Juliet!!” Okay then…time to stop driving. This is like 2008 Britney Spears behind the wheel with a baby on her lap kind of crazy.

Once home, both husband and the puppy out of sight, the opportunity presented itself to work alone in the sanctity of my office. I faced the email onslaught with the intensity of Rocky dashing up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art once he’s finally in fighting form. One by one, the emails are answered and filed or deleted, the pressure lessens, a new to-do list is born.

Why do this? Every volunteer has full plates of their own: families, jobs, responsibilities and yet they save room on the dish for the film festival. We do it because we are film-lovers who love film-goers. We like to put all these pieces together, and create a special experience for our community. No greater joy than to sit back and watch others enjoy; like the matriarch in a multi-generational family watching everyone devouring the meal she spent the day making: feasting, tasting, laughing—satiated by your own loving efforts. It makes balancing it along with the yoga challenges, puppy problems, and time constraints worth the while. To participate in a committee like this is to invest your time in creating a special, cathartic, emotional, entertaining and fabulous chain of events. It’s a cinematic holiday in your daily life where film-goers gather to love movies together. It’s worth the lost sleep and increased intake of Tums.

Why the film festival? To me, it’s one of my favourite times of the year. This Netflix age—much precious time is spent looking for “something good”. And then—you finally make a selection, only to lose interest in the first 15 minutes. And so—the journey continues, trudging the path of indecision in the land of endless choices. The issue is of timing and context. It’s the dilemma of film’s purpose—entertaining vs. edifying. Let’s be honest, life can take some pretty dark turns: disease, divorce, war, poverty, the way toddlers have a better i-Phone than you and are so technologically adept that they could very well be the Sony Hackers. There are many serious, important, controversial films that hold a mirror up to history, to humanity—and I have never seen them. Simply because there never seems to be a good time to experience the breakdown of a marriage, the death of a loved one, the atrocities we afflict on others on large and small scales in the comfort of your own home. It never goes well with the end of a long work week, a ratty oversized hoodie and a plate of Chinese food on your lap. If nobody minds, I’d like to keep it so light that the movie could practically float away.

Though in my defense, I am a true sap, an empathetic cinematic sponge that is inflicted with whatever ailment haunts the characters within. My husband has said on more than one occasion: “You know this movie isn’t actually happening to you…right?” Of course I know that…but it could, and being reminded of life’s fragility whilst my fingers are tunneling through a bag of buttery popcorn is as bad a combo as Snow White and Rob Lowe. It makes me think of last year’s beautiful “The Broken Circle Breakdown”, which is quite possibly the most devastating film I’ve ever seen. That’s a kind of film that you watch once, die inside a little and then never again. It does such an exceptional job at bringing you into the heartache, like a 3-D effect, that it hurts way too much to repeat.

With that in mind, it makes you want to polish off too many margaritas and watch a Cameron Diaz movie on a Friday night. Sure, you watch it ironically, and it’s the cinematic equivalent of taking a cabana boy as your lover on holiday. You wouldn’t bring it home with you, but it’s good for the night. But one cannot live off of twenty year olds named Pedro and “Bad Teacher” alone. You need to see the poetry of the human experience in its full breadth: the best/worst/memorable/uncomfortable; the hits, the misses. There are so many excellent emotional cinematic efforts that would pass you by if you avoided the film due to its emotional weight.That’s the beauty of the film festival. It’s a safe place. It is an adventure. It’s a little bit dignified; it’s a social community event. You’re out in public, so odds are your bra is still intact and not carelessly flung onto the kitchen table in the decisive—“Not leaving the house ever again” kind of way. Whether it’s a comedy, a tragedy or somewhere in between—it’s something outside of the norm, outside of your comfort zone. You’re surrounded by empathetic film goers, who share the same doubts, fears, concerns, and who also quiver in the chill of life’s dark shadows; who want to laugh whenever possible, who want to talk about the minor details over a cup of tea afterwards. In the darkness, the group becomes one collective heartbeat, muted observers glimpsing into the lives of others, at the light that shines through the cracks. And you know that you are not alone.

Images Courtesy of Google

Dear Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Writer”

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

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

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

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-“Apparently her writing is unpublishable”

-“I hear her vagina is super temperamental“.

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

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

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

You know where I’m going don’t you?

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

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

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

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Courtesy of Google Images

Thick & Thin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Images Courtesy of Google

Put a Ring on It: Collective Regrets from the George Clooney Women’s Guild

Winter has worn away at my soul.  I desire a luxurious getaway as one longs for a conjugal visit after years of imprisonment.  I am afraid of what I would do for a plane ticket to a hot far-off destination.  I would sprint towards a holiday like Whitney Houston did to Kevin Costner at the end The Bodyguard.  Mashing my face all over it’s face and while belting I Will Always Love You in the background.

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The later-years Beach Boys classic Kokomo recently came up in conversation, when I was expressing to a friend just how badly I wanted to be nursing a solid buzz on a beach with a trashy magazine in my hand.  One simply cannot discuss Kokomo, but must live it, sing it,  harmonize with it.  Hot skin and wet hair. Toes in the sand. Sounds of crashing waves. Salty kisses from island lovers.

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I proclaimed that the Beach Boys song said everything about my current state of mind. And I think a really good solution to all of my problems.

As follows: my personal top ten list of why I would like this song to be about my life.

  1. Now if you want to go and get away from it all (which I do, I really do)
  2. Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo. (There’s not apparently, but let’s move forward anyhow)
  3. That’s where you want to go to get away from it all
  4. We’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow
  5. We’ll be falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band (I usually fall in love to the sounds of banjos so this would be a welcomed change).
  6. Afternoon delight, cocktails and moonlit nights
  7. That dreamy look in your eye
  8. tropical contact high
  9. Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahama, Key Largo, Montego, Jamaica
  10. Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand

When I Googled the lyrics of Kokomo, I realized that the line was be “tropical drink melting in your hand”…when all these years I thought that it was “tropical cake melting in your hand”.  I had even remarked that the other day: “I don’t even know what it is…but I want it”.  I imagine golden yellow slice, glistening with coconutty goodness, a thick slab in the palm of your sun-screened hand. Still…a gooey piece of cake is hardly beach food.  And why are they no plates at this resort? Could a sister get a wet-nap up in here?  Stand down guys.  It’s tropical drink, which when you come to think about it…that really does make more sense.  Perhaps this is because my first introduction to this super timeless track is when the Beach Boys appeared on Full House.  I would have been about six, and a stiff cocktail would have been no good to me.

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Wow. What kind of deal with the devil did these guys make in the 60’s to make an appearance on this saccharine-sweet sitcom in the 80’s? Look at the guy in the dead center wearing those ridiculous mom jeans…I really don’t know who was driving that style choice there.  His fly is longer than Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen’s leg. And ole pointy fingers on the end…leather jacket+ball hat+those sweatpants =my favorite person in this picture. Nonetheless.  The song grown had  with me, and now I would like to feel like the human equivalent to the saxophone solo in this sexy, ooey-gooey cheesy beach jam.  Haven’t heard it recently? Allow me to remind you.

 It’s one of my favorite things about YouTube: that some guy in Peru loved Kokomo, and the film in which it was written for (Cocktail) so much that he just plays full scenes of the movie. Not a montage in sight, just whole chunks of muted dialogue with the Beach Boys crooning away.  But what an ending to the video.  Ugh, when have you ever woken up and thought: “I really hope I don’t have sex in a waterfall today” or “Jeez I hope that a hunky bartender doesn’t try to get into my black one piece bathing suit”.  Cocktail is actually loosely based on a relationship I had.  Watching the footage actually makes me feel very emotional….in light of the current news.

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Whoa, looks like somebody’s gotten their priorities all out of whack at the Daily Express.  Hayfever hell? Boohoo.  My Georgey-Porgey is getting married–and I am having a difficult time coping.  When I first got word I…had a rather strong reaction.

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The Vicodin I took couldn’t touch my grief.  The three martinis I threw down my throat didn’t dull the ache. George, George, not you.  That’s when I starting smashing everything in sight.

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He said he never wanted to get married, only because I didn’t want to marry him.  It’s not that I didn’t want to be “Mrs George Clooney”. It’s just that he wanted to be “Mr Alicia Ashcroft” a bit too desperately.  George loved me so deeply, that it really was all-consuming.  We were young, met on holiday, and let’s just say he got ‘under the waterfall’.  He adored me.  Worshipped me.  Said I was perfect mix of Jackie Kennedy and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  I loved him in return. We were the Golden Couple.

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Some of the greatest moments in pop culture were inspired by George’s romantic gestures to me. John Cusack in Say Anything? That has George all over it.  He actually had Peter Gabriel write In Your Eyes about me.

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In later years, he had inspired Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), because he was trying to get a message to me.   I was hesitating and he was slipping through my fingers.  George actually said that to me one night, after a dinner party at our home in Lake Como.  He hissed it, so that the waitstaff couldn’t hear.  All the other couples were married and engaged, nannies holding gorgeous babies who are named after exotic locations and expensive cheese.  George was humiliated after Beyonce and Jay-Z pressed us about our single status.  Why couldn’t I give him those things? Why didn’t we have a little Camembert Dubai Clooney? Why couldn’t I put a ring on it?

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Not this again.  George, baby, things are so good why complicate it with things like marriage and children?  What if dating is like the first half of Cocktail, hot sex in a Jamaican waterfall and marriage is like the second half, when it gets all serious with unwanted pregnancies, angry parents and suicide notes?  A friend and I had both lamented that brief and glorious time when love is new and your lover doesn’t know you yet.  “Just dating” George Clooney was my life support.  Marriage was quicksand.  I pressed myself up against George, and swore my allegiance.  I knew his heart was breaking.

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Eventually we fell apart…around the”In your Eyes” era.  He needed to get married, and by the time I offered to throw him a bone and marry him just to shut him up…it was too late.  His heart had hardened to the whole institution of marriage.  I broke George Clooney. I regret everyday since that I couldn’t repair the damage I had caused.

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I don’t see him around much.  I hear things like the rest of the world does now….in the news, on the internet.  Do I get jealous? Well, sometimes I miss the Italian air, our housemaid Lupe, and the smell of George’s musk.  He had good musk.  When I see pictures of George trying to aptly describe just how enormous his Clooney is, and people like Sandra Bullock aren’t even paying attention to him, I get a little peeved.  That could have been me. 

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News of Clooney’s engagement has shaken the world through and through, inspiring bios on his new fiance Amal Alamuddin, and lists of “Clooney’s former flames”…or as I like to call it, “Clooney-Bear and the luckiest Bitches on Earth”.

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Don’t look for me, I’m not on the list.  I don’t know if this is TMZ’s mistake, or that George has worked so hard to forget me, that the press has forgotten me as well.  That’s fine…the paparazzi know me by name, but whatever leave me off the list.  I know what I had with George.  I don’t need to prove it with pictures of me on George’s yacht.

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Please…that’s obvi me…I would recognize those legs from anywhere.

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Oh this? Just George and I leaving after a nice meal out.  The photogs were really there to catch a glimpse of me, but snaps of George would do too.

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The other women knew about me as well. I was famous amongst the other Cloonists as having made his hair go salt and pepper from all the heart ache I caused him.  Many tried and failed to slay the dragon as only I and his ex wife Talia Balsam had done before.

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So…after all the replacements that George has tried to tried to fill the gap with…all the vivacious, intelligent brunettes he’s known–and all he could see was me.  And now…it seems that someone has finally ‘put a ring on it’ : Beirut born, London based human rights Lawyer Amal Alamuddin.

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Well let’s just acknowledge the elephant in the room.  That’s my doppelganger.  I’ve got piercing eyes and endless locks of shiny ravine hair.  The similarities do not end there. Amal Alamuddin? Alicia Ashcroft? Uh George, this is a little embarrassing for you, chasing the dream as you tend to do. At the last Clooney Guild meeting, the others offered scant details–just that George chases versions of me the same way a nerdy Asian teen tracks ever-evolving technology.  Amal Alamuddin is just a new i-Phone..a shiny distraction.  When news of the engagement spread, I caught a ride to the secret compound on Kelly Preston’s helicopter along with Stacey Keibler and the gal with the awful arm band tattoo circa Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire, who now dates the guy from Jack Ass.  We pooled together about what we knew of her:

  • She’s provided legal council to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
  • She served as council into the United Nations.
  • Legal advisor to the King of Bahrain…
  • She speaks fluent French and Arabic…
  • She’s a published author.  Apparently has written several  articles about international criminal law.
  • She was voted “hottest barrister in London” by a particularly sexist and ethically dubious legal blog called Your Barrister Boyfriend…for achieving “the seemingly unattainable ideal of contemporary femininity: she is both breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful.”

Breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful? That’s how most people describe me.  Frankly, it’s like looking in a mirror.  Although, according to this photo she’s like a little pocket-sized lawyer.  That’s never going to work. What is this? A bride for ants?

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Maybe watching Clooney up and marry my evil twin is my equivalent of The Beach Boys on Full House:  karmic payback for not appreciating the glory days.  I had him, and I lost him, and now I have to live with it.  All because of my foolish pride.  So there it is.  Goodbye George Clooney.  I will grieve this loss in only the most glamorous of ways.   One of the things he loved most about me.

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Good as Gold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All Images Courtesy of Google

Year of the Hoarse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blogging & Blow Jobs

Everybody stay calm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Images Courtesy of Google

Bear Flu at Downton Abbey

My husband’s illness has been of epic proportion.  The symptoms are ever-evolving, rotating inside of him like a Ferris wheel (and not one of those awesome ones that Ryan Gosling jumps on to ask you out on a date).

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“I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m clammy.  I’m burning up. I need a blanket.  Take this blanket off of me.  I need to eat. I can’t eat that. I need a hot drink. I need a cold drink”.  This is not man flu, this is Bear Flu.

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Not to confuse it with ‘bear sick’, which is apparently slang for “expressing when something is awesome however when the word awesome is not quite enough”.  Can you use it in a negative context? “This is bear awful”…I don’t know, Urban Dictionary didn’t say.  Then again, you can’t always trust the internet. Which is what I tell my husband when he wants me to Google his ailments and  health concerns.  We have a rather strict policy about such things.  It’s never a good idea because it’s always the worst case scenario. If I have a tumor, I don’t want to be told by the internet.

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When he first became ill, I’ll admit I was annoyed.  It was the day of my first aid course; my work van was picked up by a co-worker for the after-school pick up.  Ben agreed to pick me up.  Shortly before the examination, near the end of the day, I receive a text that he is too sick to pick me up.  It’s a bit of a schmozzle, getting back to my van.  I decide to swing past a Booster Juice to get a wheat grass shot for myself, and a smoothie for Ben.  Before I go into the shop, I text Ben. “Do you need anything?” I was close to a grocery store, and could pick up any supplies without making an extra trip.  Ten minutes later, I come back to the van, and there’s no text message.  I go home with the smoothie.  I’m home long enough to settle, shoes off, and wandering around the kitchen.  Ben comes round the corner.  Since I last saw him, he has developed a limp, a pout and speaks with a quivering voice  “Did you get me any ice cream?” “Ice cream? I didn’t hear anything about ice cream”.  His face sinks in disappointment.  “Oh…I just thought it would be good…for my throat”. He coughs weakly. “I texted you…I asked for ice cream”.  “But…I brought you a smoothie”.  He gives me a look that says a smoothie is good, but not great.

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I grab my purse, my shoes, the car keys and storm out the door.  I resent my sick husband, and resent his need for ice cream.  That smoothie should have been perfectly adequate.  I go round to the 7-11, and face the chiller filled with wildly overpriced products.  I spot a brand on sale two for $9.99.  I grab two and head to the till.  Of course, there is a complication, the price isn’t registering, and they want to charge me $16.  I’d like to pay $9.99, take the ice cream and get back to my regularly scheduled life.  It took ten minutes, the fluster of two sales clerks, a call to the manager and to get what was clearly labelled in the cooler.  Part of me wants to pay whatever they want so I can leave, but my husband has already missed one day of work, I’ve got to save what I can.  This further fuels the marital resentment.

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I come home, cram the containers in the freezer and check on Ben, who is pale and clammy on the couch. Alright, get the poor bastard some ice cream.

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As the flu ravages his body, Benjamin keeps obsessing over the notion that it’s anything other than the flu.  I try to soothe him “You just have the flu Bear, that’s why you feel so bad”.  My words don’t matter, as he lumbers around the house, following me around like a giant shadow.  He breaks my heart, his big sad blue eyes and his feet hanging off the edge of the couch.  Despite the giant beard he looks just like a child.  He’s weak and emotional, and I want to scoop him up in my arms as though he were a baby.

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Of course, I do have to maintain distance.  I can’t afford to get sick.  I work with children, I have a really busy schedule.  Being sick would be wildly inconvenient. I have to love this man and take care of him from afar.  It’s lonely for both of us, sleeping in separate beds, but he needs to get better and I need to stay well.  We’ve passed the time watching television; as Benjamin works through the flu and I keep watch, occasionally cleaning dishes and tissues, and making cups of tea.
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To make matters more emotional, we’ve been whiling away the hours watching “Downton Abbey” on Netflix.
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Goodness me, despite all of the hype and accolades I never had any real interest in the program.  Then one week, two seasons and a debilitating illness later, we’ve been through the trenches with these people.  The Titanic sank, World War One destroyed lives and shattered social barriers. In the midst of these historical milestones, the Crawley family and their faithful servants are always up to something that tugs at the heartstrings.  Just when we couldn’t take anymore, the Spanish Flu took no exception at Downton Abbey.
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There are so many richly drawn characters, the writing is excellent, the details are superb.  For anyone who’s even been sick and powered through a television series, you can appreciate how one can get pretty attached to the characters.   In a sickly stupor you start to take things personally…rather seriously.  For example, when I was put on bed-rest with a flu six years ago, I got rather caught up with “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila”.
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Nothing is ever as dire for Tequila as it gets for the fine folk at Downton.  Rejected lovers, star-crossed lovers, scheming staff, tragic Turks, gossip, intrigue, all steeped in historical fact. I mean…you just have to be there, you just don’t know what it was like unless you were on the front lines.  Last night, after three episodes where two characters die as a result of the war and the flu, I was left feeling rather dehydrated.
Downton_abbey_william's_weddingThen in the ‘very special Spanish Flu” episode, it really hit a nerve with us.  Even though we can’t research our own medical concerns, there are no rules about researching diseases from yore.
This pandemic has been described as “the greatest medical holocaust in history” and may have killed more people than the Black Death. It is said that this flu killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century.
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This disease killed six percent of the world’s population anywhere from 40-100 million people.  How staggering.  God must have been feeling extra Old-Testamenty during that time.   Between the war and the flu, a girl would be hard-pressed to find enough men to fill her dance card.  We discuss this notion, knowing so much loss, surviving a war only to be cast down by the flu.  That really would have been a traumatizing time.  By this episode, as dirt as being shoveled onto a grave, I make a remark about not liking the idea of a burial.  Ben asks me what I’d prefer for myself.  “Cremation”, I said.  “Where would you want to go”, he asked.  “I don’t know…I’d want someone to take a fistful and release into the wind somewhere”.  I look over, and my husband has fat tears rolling down his cheeks and nestling into his red beard.
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It’s never a good time to mention these things.  Especially after too much Downton.  I don’t care to think about it myself. Sometimes it takes the Spanish Flu to say PS: “bury me not on the lone prairie” (and while I’m at it, request “Way Over Yonder” by Carole King, which would be played right after George Clooney does my eulogy, slamming the pulpit and screaming “Why God, Why”).  Loss is the saddest thought especially when frightfully ill. Poor Benjamin cried which made me cry.  For the first time I didn’t fret about the quarantine perimeters, and pulled him close to me and wrapped my arms around him.  Perhaps the first world war and a medical holocaust was just too much for one night.
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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.

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

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

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

But that was another time altogether.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHARLIE BROWN TRIES TO PERK UP THE FORLORN LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE

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

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

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

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

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

carole-xmasImages Courtesy of Google