More Than You Could Ever Know

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


             Images Courtesy of Google

Time Warp

postcard_vintage_retro_busy_cleaning_new_address-rd2ec5b06ed7940c8b41e6864fc578cbe_vgbaq_8byvr_512We’ve just moved, and are getting settled in. (Editors Note: I suppose the ‘just’ is a little bit of an exaggeration.  We moved on Halloween, and now we are well past Remembrance Day and hurdling towards the holiday season.  Life got busy and messy, and this poor little blog sat on the sidelines for a solid week and a half.  But allow us to commence).    We moved on Halloween…which I would not recommend to anybody.  There’s my advice to you: don’t be born on Christmas day, never eat ribs on a first date, and don’t move house on Halloween.


Despite all the planning, the weeks of packing and organizing, come moving day it’s like sinister little elves have broken into your house to add mysterious piles in every possible corner.  Furthermore, no matter how clean you’ve maintained your residence, it suddenly seems an impossible task to contain the dust bunnies and vague smudges on the wall.


As Halloween is a pretty essential holiday on the kid calendar, I organized some birthday party characters for this big trick-or-treat extravaganza at the local mall…


…Right smack in the middle of moving day.  I arrived to help set up, wearing a frock with dancing skeletons, the purple fascinator that I bought for my Kate Middleton costume secured on my head, and it was not thirty minutes earlier that I was trying to stick my body into the oven.


As the kitchen was impossibly small, I was having difficulties getting a proper grip on the oven cleaning venture.  I could hardly get my head in to reach the back, and there was no space on either side to kneel, so it was a rather dangerous and awkward feat to wipe that son-of-a-bitch out.  Put it this way…if Sylvia Plath had my kitchen space, she would have lived a much longer life.


My eye was fixed on the rapidly ticking clock.  Benjamin and our friend Trevor was loading up the U-Haul, while I cleaned and listened to the radio, where “Thriller”, “Monster Mash”, the “Ghostbusters” theme song and for whatever reason, Warren Zevon‘s “Werewolves of London“.  Like every hour on the hour, and then  intermingled with Katy Perry and Ke$ha.  Normally I would have been listening to the CBC2, but Halloween themed classic music is not really a ‘roll up the sleeves, pump up the jam’ kind of genre.  Maybe at Edgar Alan Poe‘s house would Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” be on the cleaning playlist, but not for me. Not then at least. I had enough weighing on me as it already was.


Our friend Sheanna came by and offered her help, which was an enormous relief.  I felt that pinching nausea of stress, that force of tears behind my eyes, as I tried to wedge myself into the oven to give it a proper clean.  But sure enough, the house was nearly emptied, and each room was cleaned.  The guys left with the U-Haul, Sheanna wished me luck, and I dashed to the washroom, and changed with the same urgency that spins Clark Kent into Superman.


The event was in good standing when I slipped out to run a few errands, and do my after school pick ups.  My thoughts were swirling with this never ending checklist.  I wish I could split in two and be both Clark Kent and Superman, achieve all goals without causing insult or injury to anyone.  Just then, the “Ghostbusters” theme song starts up all over again.  Fuck that noise.  I steer the radio frequency over to the CBC2 and alas, they are playing “Time Warp” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.  Not familiar with the dance craze? Why darling, it’s just a jump to the left and then a step to the right…


 The older I get, the more disturbing I find this picture.  I’ve been watching it since high school and have traumatized a number of people with this perverted horror/Sci-Fi musical mash up.  Despite my discomfort, it’s still essential Halloween viewing.  Of course, catching ‘RHPS’ is the last thing on the agenda, and so I thank the radio gods for the offering by cranking up the volume and singing my heart out in between the crush of traffic and a string of red lights.


The day was a blur that occasionally bordered on disastrous. My original promise to our landlord: that we would be out by three in the afternoon, was also shot right to hell.  It was well past five, and I am vacuuming rather desperately in my day-of-the-dead dress, purple feathers all a muck.    I had slipped off my heeled boots, and was in my eight dollar fake uggs…my “fuggs”, and was mincing around in the kitchen and living room, collecting the remaining remnants of our life there.  The landlord stopped by, waiting for the new tenants to come by to pick up the key.  I finished the inside tasks, while Ben swept the fireplace and fallen leaves outside, in the presence of the landlord’s young son, who was dressed as a bright yellow M&M.

Vintage-Moving-Poster1The new tenants came round as we were removing the last miscellaneous pieces from the townhouse.  Which was nice, as we’ve since had to go there twice, once to pick up all the kitchen utensils that were left behind in a drawer, and to pick up paperwork from immigration. (Because when you wait eleven months for something in the mail, why wouldn’t it show up the day after you move?) Of course, this move coincided with a theatre festival, and those first few nights were spent unpacking until two in the morning.  We had a small party on closing night, and then come Sunday, we collapsed in exhaustion.  We also wandered around the strange house looking sort-of stupefied.  I was wishing for another time warp…where we could pause the Sunday, and live out several more days of sleeping, settling and unpacking, and starting a new chapter in our brand new home.

RHPS-OakleyCourtLImages Courtesy of Google


Getting it Write

Okay folks, even though I will still be posting videos and photographs on a daily basis, this will be my last official blog posting until after August long weekend.


I was expecting this.  The droves of hysterical fans, screaming, crying, wailing, begging me not to stop blogging.

cryinggirl1963Okay, dry your eyes, and pull yourself together.  People are looking and this is getting embarrassing.  Listen, I hear you, I’m this strange fusion of James Joyce and Danielle Steel.  And you are one of a very enthusiastic dozen or so people that…as far as my blog is concerned…you just can’t get enough.  And I want to be here, dropping hilarious anecdotes like Dr Dre lays down tracks (is that still a contemporary reference?). But Mummy’s tired and she needs a break.

vintage mom is on the phone

“Girls, I can’t play right now, I’m just talking about quietly resenting you”.

I think about where I was when I started this project.  By the time summer ends I will have been at it for six months.  With the exception of a handful of “too tired/hungover/busy to write, here’s a picture of a pin up girl doing….something”. I have written every single day since the 1st of March.

pin up typewriter

Since that day I’ve written over 150 pieces.  And if I haven’t made it abundantly clear, after years of writer’s block, this is a pretty fabulous feat.  Recently, my friend Sheanna came round with tarot cards, she asked what I wanted to focus on.  “The writing, of course”.  Is this something that will happen for me? Am I wasting my time?  And of course, the cards reveled that there is some kind of mystical blockage getting in the way of success.  And that I’ve planted seeds, but the harvest has not happened yet. But what really hit me was that one of the cards suggested that I don’t celebrate enough.  I need to give myself a little more credit, and appreciate every “like”, every comment, every bit of positive feedback. I’m terrible for thinking “I’ll be happy when…”.  That’s a dangerous belief.  Why not be happy right now? There are times when I’ve sought validation, as if I need an external force to justify my direction in life.  In fact, it was not being long-listed for that writing competition when my life took a turn.  It was not directly connected, but after that day, my job changed, and my life opened up.  I had this month or so of freedom.  I took casual work, which led to actual jobs.  I took on a social media project, and it has been such a satisfying undertaking.  Doors have opened, and I’ve walked through them.


And so, I’m trying not to worry so much.  Note the italics here.  I fuck it up as often as I get it right.   But it’s fair to say that this blog has been a lifeline for me.  And now, after over 9000 views in over 50 countries, I am going to celebrate that. Am I counting the one time someone in Nicaragua had a gander? Yes.  Because I need to celebrate any one, any where reading my pieces.  Am I well-paid? Not really.  Am I writing while wearing a magnificent fur coat? No.  Am I happy? Most of the time, yes.  I’m actually amazed how life can sort of evict you from your circumstance.  I was in a job that made me so unhappy, that I had never-ending heartburn, an unsightly stress rash, and a soul that was crying  out for change.  And then, circumstances changed, and I could just walk away.  And it was only was the stress was slowly released, like air out of a balloon, that I realized just how unhappy I was.  And that’s no way to live.


But there’s something about my temperament that wants me to be stressed.  And I’ve got to work on that.  I’m pretty famous for stressing hard before a holiday, trying to accomplish everything before the break, so I can be truly relaxed.  But by the time to clock ticks to the holiday hour, I am so wound up, it’s like trying to untie an impossible knot.  And I don’t want that either.  So, there’s a bit of meditation to do on this break.  How I’d like to proceed with my life.  How I’d like to adjust my attitude.  How I’d like to be just a little bit better than I am right now.   And then I’d like to come back to this place and share with you all I have learned in the time I spent away.

Esther-Williams-in-Millio-009All Images Courtesy of Google

Lou Grant Me Serenity

For those of you who camp out in front of the computer, waiting for me to drop my latest track, my apologies for posting at 1130 last night.  I felt bad, showing up late to my own party, and then bumming everyone out by discussing the latest celebrity death.  But then I thought.  Why do I worry? I worry about so. many. things.  The blog should not be one of them.  It’s not like my boss is going to burst in and give me grief about deadlines.  As far as the blog goes, I am my own boss.


“Oh Lou, you lovable old curmudgeon, you can’t rush the creative process, now get the fuck out of my office before I scald you with hot coffee”. And then I’d toss my hat up into the air, just to let him know that I mean business.


It’s exciting, busy times, it’s summer and I’m in a happy place.  I’ve been able to bend my life towards a more favorable  position.  This  is why I haven’t been pumping out lengthier pieces.  Masterpieces  cannot fall from my fingertips on a daily basis; some days, it’s just a small token.  A quick phone call, a drive-thru transaction, a quick hug and kiss on the street, popping by for a short coffee.


My sister-in-law Kate is coming next week, and we are going on holiday.  I think I may take a blogging holiday as well.  I’ll still post something daily, but I don’t want to chain myself to this daily task.  I don’t want to resent it.  We often lament our jobs and occupations because we feel powerless, feel we don’t have a choice, have a say.  But when it’s your own project, why place the very constraints you hate most on yourself?  That’s like being cute little Mary Tyler Moore, but having some Incredible Hulk condition that turned you into grump old Lou Grant. I’d rather be a young MTM, if that’s all the same to you.

x lou_a

I’m trying to…accept things better.  Take what comes, come what may.  Sometimes I get so twisted up with stress about the slightest things.  Traffic. Current events. Money.  And…oh, I don’t know…the future? Immigration, writing, fertility, health, time, marriage, failure, success, tweeting, bathing suit shopping.  There will be forks in roads, and choices to be made.  How will it all work out in the end?  It takes time to unravel that kind of knot, and then a new worry washes over you, and the knot is not ever completely undone.  And because of that, you are never fully present in any given moment.  And then you worry about not living your life to the fullest, and in that very moment of worry, you are missing precious seconds of your life.  But I’ve always been a worrier.  When I was a child, I fretted so much that my mother actually gave me a framed copy of the Serenity Prayer to hang on my bedroom wall.


I kind of thought it was a stupid prayer.  Of course you worry about the things you can’t change…because you can’t change it…and that worries me.   I have an almost pathological need to not disappoint. So much so, that I think it’s a major cause of the heartburn that often makes a cameo appearance in my chest cavity. If you ever want to slay me kike a dragon, all it takes is the “I’m not mad, I’m just extremely disappointed”, and I will fall like Goliath.  (I’m sorry to mix metaphors, hope that doesn’t disappoint anyone). I never want to let anybody down.  But, in the end, that kind of mentality, though it comes from a good place, may lead to a bad spot.  It’s like putting everyone else’s oxygen masks on during an emergency, before you do it for yourself.  I need to take those stressful, helpless feelings and just treat it like a stray animal, drive it deep into the woods, pretend you to are getting out of the car, and then drive like hell the minute that wolverine is out of the truck.  Or just lead it across the street inside your mind, and try to be unfettered by useless, negative thoughts.  Not that I’m doing anything back breaking over here, or being put out by other people’s expectations of me.  I have so much to offer, and give of myself happily, but I recognize how I don’t always care for myself the way I do others.  I can see the value in knowing your limits, accepting change, rolling with the punches, and in taking a break, even if it’s from something that you love.

mtm_13   All Images Courtesy of Google

Semicolon Cleanse

Have you ever had that moment when you’ve forgotten your mobile phone, I-Pad, carrier pigeon, whatever–and been stricken with the image of a million people trying desperately to reach you.  And then once reunited with your phone, there is not a single missed call. Not a text, a tweet, a like, a poke…nothing.  It’s as if the whole universe is like “No I didn’t need you, let me just check with my other realms…no they didn’t want you either”. Sometimes that is an isolating feeling, a  real ‘feelings-hurter’; thinking that nobody wants you, needs you and that there ain’t no way they’re ever going to love you.  But don’t feel sad, because, shouldn’t your own company be perfectly adequate?

Alone in a CrowdYesterday I overheard a woman taking about joining her daughter in a colon-cleanse.  The daughter couldn’t face the task alone, and so the mother got lured into it.  Ugh, the thought of a cleanse sounds horrible, reminds me of the cayenne pepper, maple syrup, lemon and water cleanse that girls used to do.  I never did it because I saw the horrifying results, the monstrous behavior of malnourished girls.  It didn’t matter if you had an amazing body or squeaky clean intestines,  if you were in the clutches of something ravenous and emotional.

Trio 1

What interests me is the idea of electronic cleanses; occasionally eliminating the news or the internet from your daily life.  Since I started the blog in March, a huge part of my life has been sitting in front of the laptop.  The phone that my husband bought for me (that I said I didn’t need) has become a real presence.  It’s so easy to check on and obsess over blog stats and to post endless opinions, pictures, preferences.

Pin-up+girl yellow phoneI’m always connected, always online; delving deeper into the eternal avenues of the internet.   I worked last night, and once I got home, I just sat there, eating in front of the computer, squinting at the screen light, reading about Sid and Nancy.

sid and nancy

And I just felt so tired.  I suddenly had my fill.  I shut the computer off.  This information will be there another time, that e-mail will not implode if you don’t check it right away, and the internet is not going anywhere.

Vintage Exhausted Woman Photo

I’ve taken on a social media project,  which I love.  I could research and write forever.   But this morning…I  strayed from my routine–getting up at seven, and turning on the computer before I grab a cup of coffee.  I’d bring said beverage into the office, where I would remain for hours.  Firstly, I slept off and on until nearly nine.  I overslept so long that by the time I got up the coffee pot turned itself off.  And without making a conscious effort or declaration, I didn’t use the computer, I didn’t check my phone.  I just wasn’t bothered.  And my god, is anyone else aware of how much spare time you have if you are not fucking around on the internet?  I could have baked bread from scratch and then churned the butter for it afterwards.  I spent the morning tidying up, organizing the office, doing a load of laundry, washing a stack of dishes.   I visited a good friend, and watched her baby, while she had a shower.  The wee one and I watched a portion of the soap opera “The Bold & The Beautiful”, which takes place in a magical nether-world where everyone looks like models and makes statements like “Listen Brick, you know I haven’t been the same since that plane crash on that secret island with the twin brother I didn’t know I had”.


Afterwards I went to yoga.  I love my Friday class, the whole purpose of yin yoga is to hold poses for five or so minutes and just…quiet the mind.

marilyn red sweater

I need that.  I need to turn the volume down on my thoughts.  I get so bothered.  I get angry, jealous, frustrated, bugged, irked–you name it, I can get in touch with that emotion.  The constriction of stress.  The choking sensation of discontentment.  And I’d prefer not to feel that way.

snake charmerWhat I’d like is to hold on to that post-yoga class feeling: calm, relaxed, at peace.  I wish I could be carried home, with my eyes closed, not concerned with traffic, obstacles, deadlines.


Once home in the afternoon, I checked my phone, which I had left at home.  Nothing.  I checked my inbox.  Nothing.  Facebook offered very little in the way of messages and notifications.  And I didn’t feel alone.  I felt relieved.  No one was let down in my absence.  And I felt better for my inadvertent technology cleanse.   I then spent the rest of my spare time in the office, searching for images, staring at words, blogging, writing, and making up stories as I go along.  A feast after a fast, and everything looks so much more delicious.

phone headAll Images Courtesy of Google

Shining On

Back from our twenty-four hour mini break, we walked through the front door, dropped our bags, turned around and walked down to the pub for a pint before getting on with the business of unpacking and preparing for Monday.  We left the house yesterday in such a tizzy; bed unmade, dishes unwashed, which is absolutely not my personal taste.  I enjoy a clean and organized post-holiday home (who doesn’t?).  But my husband was so keen to go on a spontaneous, whirlwind holiday, that once home from work, I was suddenly stuffing my overnight bag with the urgency of a fugitive running from the law.

“But we had plans!”

“Cancel them. You have Sunday off, I am taking you on a holiday”.

Though I am a strident feminist, I thought it best to bow down to my husband when he insists upon road trips, hotel rooms, and splitting a bottle of wine over a dinner that neither of us had to cook.

“I can be ready in five minutes”.

As we head towards Sicamous, the Houseboat Capital of Canada, (thank you very much), I am discovering just how tightly wound I am.  I’m an ice sculpture slowly thawing in the hot sun.  Ben and I are back on the road, and it has been way too long since we’ve traveled.  We used to holiday all the time.  We were constantly planning, executing and recovering, from said adventures.  Holiday, then lather, rinse, repeat.  Somehow, Canada has not been that way.  Well, not really ‘somehow’, life is just different here–the immigration process has held us in a choke hold, and work schedules have not been conducive to travel.  The work versus play quotient has been extremely imbalanced. And you saw how the how the old adage of ‘all work and no play’ worked out for everyone in “The Shining“, creepy children, freaky mazes, eerie hallucinations and a whole lotta red rum.

jack nicholson in the shining

See? This is a man in serious need of a holiday…this also an example of writer’s block gone terribly wrong.

all work

Jack was a frustrated, off-season caretaker of an isolated mountain lodge that just happened to rest on top of an Aboriginal burial ground. He believes that the long winter spent snowed in with his family and typewriter will be fruitful.   Cabin fever, evil forces, and the dreaded creative block leads to some heavy shit.  And I reckon that ten minutes before we hit the highway, I was just short the ghost story, and as Meatloaf always says: “two out of three ain’t bad”.  But this is just not the case.  I was feeling caged in.  Trapped.  Stuck in a labyrinth, not knowing how to escape.  Being on the road reminds me that we can go anywhere; I need to know that we can go anywhere.

Though we are in our own house, the holiday continues.  Fostering a decent buzz, the sun still shining, I am happy to have gone away, but am happy to be home as well.  But it is decidedly a good thing to take a break now and again.  Nothing good comes from not taking a break.


Courtesy of