Dear Attention Span,

Attention span, you are as fleeting as a summer breeze.

pink girl

I have a list.  I have not yet crossed anything of said list.  I am busy, yet I am accomplishing nothing.


It seems I can’t finish anything.  Not even the leftovers I brought home from last night’s dinner.  It’s just laying in the plastic container, looking as though a wild badger had a go at consuming it before also getting bored with the process of biting, chewing and swallowing. Focus wise…I’m drawing a bit of a blank.

can't write

…maybe I should go for a walk, maybe I just need to clear my head.  But, time away from the computer is time wasted.  It’s better to just stare blankly at the laptop until…words shoot out of your eyes and pierce the screen.

…maybe I should tweet something or absentmindedly like things on Facebook.

…but I want to work, get things done, cross things off the list, but my attention span holds me back and takes me off track.

vintage secretary photo

Ordinarily, I am really at home when I’m at my desk, making lists and immediately destroying them, and looking fabulous while doing it.


But not today.  Mark the date on your calender y’all, July 8, 2013, the day my attention span walked out that door and out of my life.  Now it’s hitchhiking somewhere along the highway, moving further and further away from me.  And the whole things just makes me so sad.  I really needed that son-of-a-bitch to stick around.


And so, I will conclude, publish this sorry excuse of a blog, just to cross something off the goddamned list.  (In fact I did complete something that wasn’t on the list, so I wrote it down only to immediately cross it off.  I’m not proud of myself).   But don’t worry.  I’ll get by.  I heard that Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic “I Will Survive” was actually about her attention span.  At first she was afraid, she was petrified but she grew strong and learned how to get along.  And she survived.  And so will I, I’ve already added it to the list.

smiling girl writingAll Images Courtesy of Google

Study of Change

Awaiting orientation for my new part-time job to begin, I am sitting across from a very young, very blonde girl.  We smile politely, say hello, and then…a long and treacherous silence.

“So…are you in school?”

“Yes, I go to the university.”

More silence.

“…You like…school?”


“What are you taking?”


Oh fuck.  Another conversational dead end. Like science you mean beakers, microscopes and phosphates?


Of course I don’t say this, I just smile.  The hamster in the wheel inside my head has stopped to draw up some charts and graphs, and new and exciting avenues to commence with this painful conversation.  Ideas are being tossed around, what are the kids into these days?

“You…taking classes over the summer?”

“I was thinking of taking calculus, but I figured I’d just work instead”.

The hamster in my head, who is wearing a cute little lab coat, (just to get into the scientific spirit), perks up.

“So…what’s the deal with calculus anyway?”


Sweet relief! Her attempt to explain the mathematical study of change made absolutely no sense to me, but it killed an awful lot of time.  I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’m a gal that needs a calculator for basic addition and subtraction.  In university, I took a computer course as a math equivalent, not just because I’m terrible at math, but because of the enormous sweat stains I would be left with after the first week of math class.  Everyone would be diligently writing answers to equations and I would be burning up as if under a hot lamp being interrogated by the ‘bad cop’.   Even knowing that it was a written on my school schedule gripped me with anxiety.  After I asked another student what “whole nos” was, to which they replied “whole numbers“, with the “duh” implied in their tone, I dropped the class.  When time came to get my science credits I took geology:  the official choice for art students everywhere.

chemistry for girls

“She’ll be okay guys, someone just tried to explain math to her”.

1935_BrideFrankenstein_img2 The orientation began, and there was no need to fill the space with any more questions.  But I’m left wondering about x’s and y’s, and what those equations are about, and what they are for.  And it makes me a little bit sad that I’ll never truly understand.

science-of-sex-skeleton-and-pinup-girlAll Images Courtesy of Google

Cheque Mate

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


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


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


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

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


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

falling pinup

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

It was not glamorous.

Actress Marilyn Monroe with Actor Robert Mitchum

Not chic or elegant.

jackie o crutches

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


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


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

mm with swin instructorAll Images Courtesy of Google

Fireworks in Dog Years

Ah, the delicious statutory holiday.  In my lifetime, those days have often eluded me.  I’ve been the one in some unbreathable polyester uniform, sweltering in the heat, dying of humiliation in some sweat-stained visor.  Or slinging breakfasts, brunches, burgers and beers to holidaymakers, who are beyond bliss from hours spent in the sun…on a yacht…after making love all afternoon.  It’s like trying to take an order from a pool of water, or melted pudding.  And you’re hot and hungry and tired, and occasionally fantasize about that chilled beverage you bear on your tray, dripping with condensation, titillating with that ice-cube rattle.  Instead of placing it on their coaster, you want to lift it to your parched lips and chug like it’s a frat party, and you’re refusing to lose a double dog dare.

witress pinup

But not yesterday, I spent Canada Day at the park, and then we went to the beach.  I basked in the sun, swam in the lake, and I felt like a knot inside of me was being unraveled.


I smiled goofily as I dipped my fingers in the water, watching all the people around me.  The much older man talking politely with his young Asian wife, as she nods politely and holds their baby.  The rock-n-roll mother in the bikini, fedora, covered in tattoos and wearing huge rings, smoking in an inflatable dingy next to her daughter.  The teenaged couple on the grass, making out like he was about to go off to war.  An older couple standing waist deep in the lake, their serious expressions and tense hand gestures leading me to believe they were having some kind of aqua quarrel.  And there’s me, snooping at snapshots in the lives of others.  After the swim and the sun, Ben and I drove home.  We napped, we ate more, we walked through our neighborhood for potential firework viewing spots.

Something you should know about me…I hate missing fireworks.  And as a result, I like to get to the viewing spot early.  And it’s always way too early, as the city’s website will say 10:00pm, when what they really mean is “when it’s dark enough, and whenever we feel like it”. We venture down to the lookout spot, a crushingly popular one at that.  We got there at 9:20, and it was packed with folks sitting on top of their trucks, families set up with lawn chairs, and us, with a shitty blanket and nowhere to sit.  Which brings up the issue.  Should we go somewhere else? Of course, the minute you climb into the car, the explosions would start.  You’d try to drive closer (or should we go further away to see it better?), and ultimately, you’d be speeding along the highway like a storm chaser, trying to get inside the eye of the explosion.


But who wants to work that hard?  It’s only fireworks.  This is what I’m thinking to myself, as the population of people builds at the city look-out.  On one side of me, some jerky kid has just evicted his tired-looking mother from the lawn chair by barking “It’s my seat, it’s my seat, give me back my seat!”.  (And I had seen enough mothers all day to know that even though they are in bathing suits and sundresses, it’s not exactly their day off, diapers must be changed and sandwiches must be made, and I felt like smacking that kid upside the head for talking to his mom like that).  But don’t worry, on the other side, there was an elderly grandmother whose patience had run thin, hollering at her granddaughter to ‘sit down’, ‘calm down’, ‘behave yourself’, ‘shut up’.  As the time passed, the children were growing restless.  While one gave up her seat to soothe her child, the other was smacking fingers and threatening toys to be tossed into a ravine.  I’d like to think that when I’m a parent, I’m going to be somewhere in the middle.  But I can appreciate the eternity one must wait for these fireworks to start.  I’m 31, and I was losing my grip on my patience.  The cement beneath my feet.  The collective smell of bodies.  The children…just being sticky and whiny.


The time creeps toward 10:00.  Any minute now.  They will begin and then we can go home.  A fleet of people in electronic wheelchairs and scooters arrives.  One was clearly the leader, and proved this by bossing strangers and forcibly guiding his chair into cramped spaces.  I hear him demand the time of said fireworks and I pipe in “It starts at 10:00″.  “NO- it starts at 10:30″.  This is a dangerous situation to be in, because even though you are tired and annoyed, you never want to be the person arguing with the kid in the wheelchair just because he dares to disagree with you and the city’s Canada Day schedule.  But it was like he knew the answer was 10:30, and asked just to prove you wrong.  I dropped my blanket, and plunked down on the concrete.  Ben crouched down next to me.  We were talking quietly, recalling firework displays from the past.  We were remembering the Australia Day spent in Perth, when it was so hot, and then began to storm in the middle of the light show.  We were discussing how we ran home in the rain when the little girl shoved her hand right below Ben’s nose.  Ben smiles grudgingly before standing up.

I continued to sit.  Really taking the time to consider just how important this fireworks display.  It was 10:20, and life was starting to feel as though it was being passed in dog years.  Suddenly, there’s one magnificent burst of light.  I leap up, and then…nothing.  More waiting.  Shortly after 10:30, the fireworks begin, and it’s over within ten to fifteen minutes. When they finish, giving the same notice they did when they began, people give a brief pause, as if another round is possible.  And then, everyone abandons their long held post.  On the way home, I can’t help but think about how this ritual is like so many others.  Exciting and disappointing all at the same time.  That it’s like life itself.  Sometimes there is so much waiting, waiting for something magnificent to happen.  And then it happens, and you don’t want to blink because it’ll be gone before you know it.

fireworksAll Images Courtesy of Google

| Tagged British Columbia, Canada, fireworks, , , , national holidays, relaxation, summer,

Red Wine Meets White Carpet

After a hectic work day, I was driving home in the rain with crumbs all over my lap.  There was a lone bran and berry muffin left in a Tim Horton’s box from the morning staff meeting.  Standing alone in the staff room, I stared at it the way a predator hones it on its prey before attacking.  That muffin didn’t stand a chance.  I snapped it up and just sort of shoved the peak into my trap.  I wanted to hurry home, so I continued the attractive mushing of muffin into my mouth from behind the wheel.  Loose and reckless morsels of muffiny goodness; this kind of eating is not a tidy enterprise.    This is exactly how Audrey Hepburn looked whilst feasting.  Classy as hell.

Love in the Afternoon (1957) - Audrey Hepburn, Gary CooperSome bastard pulls out in front of me, and I bark an obscenity out, mouth full of muffin.  I catch a glimpse of my reflection.

Girlfriend, you look so stressed.  And you are seriously just covered in crumbs. Like, it’s all over your face.  

This was totally understandable, as I was all but chewing of the muffin lining.  This is what I was doing when I got cut off, and when I snapped out loud to no one in particular.  Behold, my finest hour.

Naturally, I stopped by the liquor store for a bit of vino.

After a hot shower, and a proper meal, and two glasses of the California red blend, I was feeling far less crumby.  Relaxing with my husband, watching a movie, I took a sip of water, and intending to put it back on the table, I  clink it into the wine glass–cheers darling–knocking it over, the scarlet liquid cascading onto the cream colored carpet.


This isn’t a huge surprise.  These are things you need to know about me.  I cry all the time.  I mix past and present tenses when I write.  I’m terrible at basic math, I’m incapable of giving directions, and I’m a certifiable food and beverage spiller.  That’s why I wear so much black, it’s 5% wanting to be chic, and 98% wanting clothes I can wear again after an inevitable staining.

One night, when Ben and I were first together, I was all tucked up in bed in one of his t-shirts and sipping a huge glass of water.  I don’t quite know how I did it, but I just kind of relaxed and let go of the glass.  Water everywhere.  I just sit there in the spillage, not quite sure how to proceed.  Ben came in, smiling at his new girlfriend, the ‘super soaker’.  He climbed into bed, and he puts his hand down on the mattresses, and his smile wavered as his eyebrows turned into a “what the…hell?” kind of squiggle.  I’m holding the empty glass, soaked through the sheets, down to my knickers, smiling like it’s a beauty pageant, and the other contestant’s name was called over mine.

But he’s used to it by now, and it was absolutely not a surprise to him when we were assessing the crime scene last night.  “With the amount of wine that goes through this house, I’m only surprised it didn’t happen sooner”.  I am seriously one klutzy son of a bitch, in fact, that would be my rap name “DJ Spilly Britches” or “Notorious SOB”.  Although truth be told, as you can tell by my rap names, the closest I could get to being a rapper would by being the old lady in the opening credits of “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.  That’s another thing you should know, I don’t rock that hard…at all.


The wine is spilled, and there is this split second moment where we looked at each other, and looked at the mess.   We then lunge into action, attack the stain with paper towels, hoping to lure the liquid from the clutches of the carpet.  I search the internet for stain removers.  There are a variety of options, but here’s a step-by-step approach of what worked for me:

1) Panic

2) Lament your bumbling butterfingers.

3) Paper towel that shit, while wondering if Nestle still makes Butterfingers.

4) The internet recommends vinegar, dish soap, baking soda, laundry detergent.  I suggest layering all of these ingredients and scrubbing like a post-regicide Lady Macbeth.

gp-Macbeth_t614My god woman, how much wine did you spill?

My favorite tip was to pour white wine over the red, which sounds a bit wasteful.  But hey, maybe carpet sangria has yet to sweep the nation–what do I know?  It seemed to me that it was a bit like putting out a fire with more kerosene.  Plus, I’m not much of a chardonnay kind of girl.

Once the stain was out, I congratulated myself with a little Butterfingers re-con.  Good news y’all, not only is it still a thing, but they are putting it in ice cream now.  So that’s just another thing for me to bring home and spill on the carpet.  The possibilities are endless really, my clumsiness knows no bounds.

pin up boozeiAll Images Courtesy of Google

Bitch Please.

I’m currently on the market–job market that is, and it’s looking pretty bleak.  Don’t get me wrong, there are interesting jobs out there…just not where I currently live.  And if there are excellent career options, they are the employment equivalent of Where’s fucking Waldo.

waldo sceneAll Images Courtesy of Google


I skim the job postings on the various websites…and it’s boring, and I’m bored.  At least, we are mostly beyond the days of dropping resumes off; I’d rather punch myself in the face and set myself on fire than pound the pavement with freshly printed copies of my resume in a little manila envelope.  Now you can apply for jobs in your pink bathrobe and no one will judge you.

Most of the ads are condescending: ‘looking for highly motivated dishwasher’, most are hastily written–spelling mistakes aplenty, unless there are new and exciting opportunities for a ‘made’ or a ‘sever’.  Bitch please.  And enough already with the capped letters and exclamation points.  After a healthy search of the websites, I made the conclusion: the more exclamation points, the worse the job.  So when you see URGENT!!! NEED SEVER FOR GRAVEYARD SHIFT AT LONELY TRUCK STOP!!!! It’s probably not going to be a good gig.

For me, I just want to be fabulous, but on a professional level.  I want to be paid handsomely to do yoga, read literature and have coffee with friends.  I would blog about being so deliciously amazing, and I would have cards made that said:

Alicia Ashcroft-


This would confuse people, because there would be no contact information, but they would know that I was sort of elusive…which makes me even more fabulous, don’t you think?


I would eventually teach courses and write an enormous series of books on “fabulosity”–which is a subject I will be identified as for generations to come. People would nod slowly, solemnly at mention of my name: “She really was fabulous” they’d say.

Of course, in my later years, I may get a little too fabulous; the fabulosity will effervesce like champagne fizz,  eventually eating away at my brain.  I would make outlandish demands–everything must be white! water at room temperature!  must play “Who’s that Lady?” by the Isley Brothers whenever I enter a room!


I may even start to dress like the Isley Brothers.

But the transition would be subtle—like young Liza Minelli:

Photo of Liza MINELLI

Into…having the ability to see ghosts, and realizing it while on the Home Shopping Network amid selling from my own line of sequin jacket and tank sets for just three easy payments.

Liza Minnelli odd appearance on HSN

From there is will be a Minnelli mudslide into my Norma Desmond, “Sunset Boulevard” phase.


Beyond the boulevard will be nothing but fur coats and safety pins, tap dancing at inappropriate and stray raccoons running through the house.


 And it’s going to be fabulous.

| Tagged 'Grey Gardens', , crazy, employment, , Isley Brothers, Liza Minelli, movies "Sunset Boulevard", Norma Desmond,

Hurts So Good

When I was a kid, I awoke one morning with my neck in spasm.  The pain was intense, but what made it worse was that my head was actually stuck in an awkward position; I was like a background singer for a Motown star, head twisted over my shoulder like so:

bettyritaBut I was only eight years old when this happened, so I only wished I looked like that. Hell, I’m 31 and would be hard pressed to pull off that Betty Grable getup.

Anyway, I wake up, my neck twisted and I realize something horrifying; my mother had purchased a small box of Captain Crunch the day before and that shit was going to fly out the door once my three brother’s were up and at ‘em.  I cry out for help, my voice growing louder the longer that I am unheard.  The sounds of my helpless cries were probably being drowned out by the loud cereal munching and and inadvertent sugary assault to the gums and roof of mouth.  Ah, the ecstasy and the agony of that delicious breakfast treat.

FACT:  John Cougar Mellencamp actually wrote “Hurts so Good” about Captain Crunch.

Finally, knowing not to expect one of those medic St Bernard dogs bounding through the door, not even this guy was coming for me.


Imagine that dog lumbering in to rescue you? I’d love it, and would have turned that lowly St Bernard away, “Enough with whatever is hanging around your neck–I’m waiting for the Captain!”


I erect myself frigidly–very gentle, very slow.  I need  attention, and a bowl of that cereal set aside for later.

I was stuck like that for days; long summer days were spent looking out the window, over my shoulder, at all the normal children riding bicycles outside. I was beginning to fret that I’d never get to drive a car and would undoubtedly ruin every group photo for the rest of my life.  But after logging many hours with the peptol bismol colored heating pad, I was thawed at last.

This afternoon, I am feeling a similar iciness, this time in my shoulder and neck.  In my profession, I operate giant food processors, and am often mixing product by spinning the lever atop the mighty Hobart; much in the manner and enthusiasm as the fist-pumping Jersey Shore gang when out on the town.

jersey shore

And then you hear it.  This snap-twinge two-step combo, and that moment when you just pause.  Fuuuuck.  Once home, freshly showered and tucked up on the couch, I pull out the heating pad, turned it on and iced my shoulder until the pad heated up.  About fifteen minutes later, I pull the pad over my shoulder, and find not warmth, but general nothingness.  And that really pisses me off.

Ben’s like, “Of course it’s unplugged!”

And I’m like, “But why didn’t you tell me when you saw me turn it on?”

He said something about fire hazards and energy conservation but I wasn’t really listening. The plug is behind the couch, a tight squeeze, and so I worm my way to the power point, bitching the whole way there and bitching the whole way back. Of course when I get angry, Ben can’t help but laugh.  I’m bleating like a pygmy goat all tangled up in a fence; I’m more apt to hurt myself than anyone else.  I’m grumbling away, settling back into my seat, and I pull the heating pad over my shoulder, and hug it close to myself.

“Don’t scrunch the heating pad”.


“Don’t bend it–it’s a fire hazard”.

How can you not bend a heating pad? Doesn’t it work for you and not you for it?

As I write this, I have the baby blue electric heat strip across my chest, leaning back with my arms out in sort of Frankenstein sort of way.  (It looks more comfortable than it sounds).  Most importantly, I’m being careful not to fold haphazardly it so as to not invite the scorn of my Boy Scout husband, who does not bend the heating pad or the rules.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

To celebrate our first wedding anniversary; we went to Ubud, Bali, and stayed in the most luxurious hotel we had ever seen.  It was the kind of place that made you run through each room pointing out beautiful things–”look at that bowl of fruit! look at the four-post bed!  Oh my god—we get our own pool?’  We arrived late at night, and there were candles floating in the water that overlooked paradise.  And so, while we explored Ubud thoroughly; the monkey forest, art galleries; rice paddocks, there was nothing better than the vast suite.  After the bustling (and crumbing) streets; the sights, the smells, the poverty (nothing like a mother breast feeding in the gutter to really put first world problems in perspective), there was nothing better than lounging in our private pool.  One day, while taking a cab home, we passed a Four Seasons Hotel and the driver expressed contempt for the necessity of the tourist culture in Ubud.  “These people with their private pools” he grumbled, to which Ben and I did not respond.  We asked him about his family, and he talked about living in a small room with three generations and how he was working extra jobs to afford a whole chicken.  “That’s nice, more economical that way…soups and whatnot”  I trail off.  Back at the hotel–in the pool as if it were a baptism to wash away the guilt of holidaying in such a poor country–we discussed the idea of class, caste systems and social roles.  Bali is Western Australia‘s playground; and there is an equal measure of animosity and reciprocity from the locals.

Bali 1 074We were living and working in a fortuitous country, and in a short time, got ourselves a little slice of the pie.  But while wealthy miners were winging to Bali for a quick weekend getaway; we were aware that this was not a throw away holiday.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and though we had to acknowledge staggering levels of poverty, all you could do was feel humble gratitude and tip extremely well.  And we were determined to not let it get in the way of our good fortune.  I even got a little sassy and stared roaming pool side with only a sarong wrapped around my waist.  The angle of our pool was high up, and therefore, there was not a soul to see us.  Until we realized that we had been putting on a pretty good show for some construction workers over the hill.  Floating in the water, my legs wrapped around my husband, I noticed half-dozen or so men, crouching down and eating lunch and watching our watery antics.

I waved, as if to say, “I see you asshole!”. He waved, as if to say “I totally saw your boobs, and this is going to be our new lunch spot!”  Normally, this would have been a serious buzz-kill, but I was deep into holiday mode—and aren’t we all the most fabulous sons-of-bitches on vacation?  ‘Oh well–let ‘em look, it’s probably good for morale’.

A few months later, back at work on the construction site, I get a phone call from Ben, who is on a different floor on the same building.  “Where are you?”

“The twenty-fifth floor…Why?”

“Cause there’s something I need you to see”.

He comes into the apartment and pulls me into a bedroom with floor to ceiling windows.  “Do you see that roof-top hot tub?”

“Yes…” squinting my eyes.

This hot tub had never seen so much action; or rather we had never seen this hot tub get this much action.  The world below was like map, the ground was punctuated with water; pools, tubs, and the river in the distance.  Each work day was interrupted by no less than one million glimpses out the window.  We literally watched a suntanning couple get browner as summer blazed on.  But in this particular afternoon, there were five people in the tub, four of them paired off in passionate two-somes, with one fellow in some sort of awkward fifth wheel–all at once trying to include himself in the waterworks, and secondly, trying to get out of the water whilst trying to cover his swim truck clad boner.

And, after about fifteen minutes of  viewing and commenting,  cracking jokes and making up horny dialogue; it occurred to me that we no different than the Balinese construction workers watching us in the water.  I wonder if they made up jokes about us, or just watched with interest, wishing they were on a holiday as well–like the fifth person in the hot tub; so close to paradise, with that kind of pleasure simply out of reach.

Sydney plus Perth 003

Sydney plus Perth 011

It’s Not You–It’s Me

My co-worker Jessica is one of my favorite people; she’s bright, funny, silly, and she is an avid reader of the blog.  The fact that she reads it is not why I like her, but because she always has constructive feedback.  She is also about ten years younger than me and has a view of the world that I do not have.  I wrote a piece that referenced “Dirty Dancing”, and the fact that she had never seen the film made her a perfect reader–like, if you never heard of that movie, would the piece make any sense.  She read it, gave her thoughts and I immediately sent her home with the DVD.

Prepare for your life to be changed girlfriend!

dirty dancing

Anyway, today we were ticking along with our duties, and she mentioned that she had caught up with my recent ones; including “Yesterday’s fuck you“.  She gives me a look that says, “Yeah, you know what I am talking about”.  “No, not fuck you–not at all.  I just wanted to finish “The Great Gatsby”…did it sound bitchy?”

Cripes, how much nicer could I be?

“No–not bitchy, but I got the subtext”, nodding knowingly, again with that look.  Though I’m pretty sure she’s just riling me up out of boredom, of course it sends me into an emotional tailspin from which I might never recover

(Even after I introduced you to Johnny Castle, really nice Jess, really nice)

I insisted once again that no, I did not flip the bird to my beloved readers; I just wanted to finish my book, and sometimes there are not enough hours in the day to read and write.  This lead to her next comment, “Yeah, so what is ‘The Great Gatsby’ anyway?”.

Oh my god–how much time do we have?

“Well, the story takes place during the sweltering summer of 1922…”

I talk on, and she listens intently–”Who’s side are we on?”, when I explain that Gatsby is trying to court an already married Daisy.

“Well, the husband’s a bit of a brute, and he’s got a little slice on the side as well”.

“He’s cheating on his wife too?”, she says this in a way that sounds like these are real people we know.

I try not to give the whole story away; just that it’s a famous American tragedy regarding a self made man in one of the most decadent eras in recent history.  And why I simply had to re-read the book after seeing the film, and admittedly, that I was even thinking about seeing it again (because everyone knows that certain films are better the second time).

And just like that, the work day passed, and my head swirled with happy thoughts and stories, and despite the difficult day, I was smiling.

So–dear readers, know that when there is a pittance of a blog, it is not you, it is me: reading, sleeping, working, spending time with my husband.  But understand that my brain is always dreaming up new words and ways to thank you for taking the time to check in on me and my silly little stories.


Sisyphus in the Stairwell

While driving home after a long day of work, I caught myself frowning–like seriously frowning.  My shoulders are knotted and my hands gripping the wheel tightly.  I’ve been up since four am, I’m hungry, tired and annoyed by traffic, drivers and the birds flying around, looking so god damned free.  Oh my god, I have got to relax–quick reality check, the sun is shining, I’m on my way home, and as if to prove that all was about to get better, “Mushaboom” by Feist played on CBC 2.  This song is so happy and hand-clappy and just breaks my heart with the cuteness.  The song is about building a life with your lover on a limited budget: “I got a man to stick it out/ And make a home from a rented house/ And we’ll collect the moments one by one/I guess that’s how the future’s done”.  Okay…exhale.  I roll the window down and chimed in.  I arrived home before the song ended, and I just took a moment in the parking lot before I headed inside.  This is a common action, to just sit in the car and hear a song out, like the closing arguments in a court case.  Its also about trying to leave stress of a work day behind…the day is done, it doesn’t matter anymore.  The song is about not being ‘there’ yet…but making that place in between your home.  After all: “It may be years until the day/ My dreams will match up with my pay”.  It feels like it sometimes, like your station in life will never improve, or success will happen when you are so old, you have to spend your fortune on Botox due to the craggy lines that have burrowed into your face from all the hard work and post-work scowling.


I have had many jobs that did not suit my temperament–sometimes in the thick of the drudgery, worn down by the grind, I’ve felt like a caged songbird who has forgotten how to croon, and something inside of me dies a little.  Surely I was meant for more than this.  I have a friend who works at a liquor store, and he was telling a co-worker how he was doing the job until he finished university and got a real job–”Oh, that’s what I said, but I’ve been here a few years now”.  And there was something about this person’s casual landslide from means-to-an-end to career made my friend rather insistent, like a prisoner in solitary confinement arguing with a mouse:  “No, really…I’m going to get out of here–just you wait and see”.  “Sure kid…that’s what they all say…every one here is just passing through”.  (why do I imagine this mouse chewing on a little tiny toothpick menacingly?).

When we lived in Australia, my work visa limited me to a minimum of six months to one job.  I waitressed at a posh spot along the waterfront, serving Perth’s upper crust businessmen and political figures.  The job was fine, and the pay was excellent, but the hours were terrible.  But I was good at the job–I am a very good waitress.  But I’m good for the work in  the same way you pump change into a meter and after a brief period, the allotted time runs out.  Around the time I told a customer that she “wasn’t going to die if she had to wait for her chardonnay”, my six months were nearly up, and I got a job working on the same construction site as my husband.  As a magnificent stroke of luck, the site–a brand new apartment complex was a mere block away from our flat, and every morning we’d walk to work, our hard hats in hand–and in the middle of a staggeringly hot summer, we’d skip home at lunch and go swimming.  

As cleaner, my job was to take dusty, filthy suites, strip the protective plastic layers off every surface. All I had to do was avoid empty bottles filled with urine–which was an issue–work quickly, and I could make hundreds of dollars a day.  To save up for our holidays, Ben and I worked long hours, usually six days a week.  I worked alone, and would go long periods without seeing another soul, which I loved.  I would listen to the radio, rush about the finished suites, and daydream.  I was like a steel-toed Roxy Hart in Chicago, while I was filthy and exhausted, I was elsewhere in my mind. 


Most importantly, I was a contractor on a piece rate, and there was nobody to micro-manage me.  There was about five women amongst the hundred or so men; the other cleaners were nice ladies, called me ‘love’ or ‘bub’. I didn’t see them often, they chose to work on hourly-rate and mostly spent their days looking for windows to smoke out of.  Everybody smoked on this job site, it was like “Mad Men” with tool belts.  To get into the building, you’d have to ride the alimak, meaning that if this elevator was a belly button, it would be an outtie, not an innie.  At first the novelty surpassed the cigarette smoke and stench of unwashed men.  (How this combination has not been made into some celebrity fragrance is beyond me), but I very quickly lost patience with the ride, and so I took the stairs up to my floor, some twenty five flights up…three times a day.  What an incredible slog, that journey each day, hiking the dingy staircase, climbing upwards to eternity.  Like being on small planes makes me think of Buddy Holly, this made me think of Sisyphus–the King sentenced to push a giant boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down; and he would repeat this action forever.  No six month visa limitations on that shit y’all. I came to think of Sisyphus on each and every climb.  What a shitty deal that would be–maybe you’d have a good body from all that hard work, but what would happen if you met someone? (“So, where’s your family from? Ooops, hold that thought, I’ve got to push this boulder up this hill, be back in a jif”)   


For a while, things were ticking along…we were saving money, off to Bali, then off for Christmas, and then, as our year was winding up, the building’s official deadline began to creep closer.  Naturally, to speed things along, they hired an elevator operator to act as cleaning manager.  Her name was Hanna, but with her accent she pronounced it “Huna”, and the others called her “Huna Muntuna”.  She was given a clipboard and it made her drunk with power, why not just give her a loaded gun?  She started coming by everyday and began to nit-pick.  Prior to this, I had been dealing with men, and generally are much easier to convince that something is perfectly clean…when it’s really not.  But it really was an impossible job with improbable expectations.  All the other workers that came before made such a mess, so as the last person working in a ‘finished’ space, I failed before I even began.  If jobs took an unreasonable amount of time because of the tilers or the painters, I would claim my piece rate fee, but also take an hourly wage for the extra time spent.  I fought for that rate–went to the manager of that site and demanded it and he allowed it.   

But Huna Muntuna didn’t think that was a good deal.  “You see Alicia…that’s what we call ‘double dipping’ in this business”.  She’s standing in the doorway, and I am perched on a rickety ladder, wearing a vac-pak, (imagine if a vacuum cleaner and a back pack had a baby), and she is threatening the nice little routine I have made for myself.  “It’s not coming out of your pocket Hanna…I work hard, and I wouldn’t make any money otherwise”.  She studied the clipboard, and gives me this pained look that said “I’d love to help you, but I don’t want to”.  This whole conversation took place while I was on the ladder, dressed as a hoovering Quasimodo.  I felt this singular angry drop of sweat roll down my side.  I stepped off the ladder, and let the vac pack fall to the ground.  “Hanna…you’re not going to change a thing, you don’t have to worry about me”.  Ben had told me when I started the job that I had to be ‘stroppy’, be tough and no tears.  This was the crowning achievement, my coming down to her level and fighting for my bread and butter.  Did I yell? Yes. Did I cry? Absolutely. What did she know about my work?  Nothing.  Though she claimed she came from a family of cleaners–maids begetting janitors, like generations in the bible, she was still unaware of the work that was happening in this very room.

After I shouted and sobbed, Huna Muntuna generally left me alone.  The days in the country were winding down, and I had a week left to go.  She came to check on me one afternoon and was picking out something “that didn’t feel quite clean” that was only reachable if you were to rip a limb from your body and jam it under the sink and right up under into the ledge just behind the plumbing.  I felt that white hot rage of managerial injustice, and then I try to reason with her…but asking her questions about her life, and by telling her about myself.  I ask her where she’d like to travel if she could go anywhere: “Alaska”, she decided “Yea, I saw a show on it once, looks real mean (read-”cool’).  “Well, I’d really like to go to Europe eh?” I say to her “I love the idea of all those countries clustered together”–”Yes, one minute you’d be in Paris, next minute you’d be in France”.  “They are quite close”, I smiled.  And just like that all my anger fell away.  She can have the have her clipboard and authority, this is not the last job I’m ever going to have, and Hanna would always be in the exact same place.  On my last day of work, I was nervous that she would not sign off on my last floor. Glory be, the Gods were smiling on me, and it turned out that she had called in sick, and I was elated to finish my job in solitude.  At the end of the day, Ben and I went to the roof of the building and looked over the cityscape, all the pools down below, the palm trees, the blue water.  There was this moment of quiet, as we examined the view.  All these images and possibilities that was far beyond reach. We were not yet home, we were somewhere in the middle, like Sisyphus the moment after he lets that boulder roll down the hill.  Image


| Tagged Feist, , Roxie Hart, Sisyphus, , worth