Benjamin Bear

This morning, instead of plunging immediately into the writing, I clean the townhouse.  Scrubbing, organizing and laundering…you know the deal.  Too often my hard-working carpenter husband comes home to find the house in such a dismal state of emergency; as though burglars have broken in, gone through my clothing and makeup, scattered papers and books, and then sloppily constructing a sandwich before escaping.  And often he makes dinner while I finish the day’s blog (even though he realizes I am probably mucking around on Facebook or trying to understand Twitter). My husband is such a supportive hunk of man, but it’s not all selfless devotion; he is laboring under the fact that if ever I hit the ‘big time’ that he would receive “big things”—like a truck so enormous, I would need a fireman’s ladder to climb into it.  He often makes wistful remarks about wanting a truck.  He also makes wistful comments about how a ‘clean house makes him happy’…so hopefully one day I can just cut him a cheque and then he can just drive around in his roomy vehicle whenever creativity occurs and basic hygiene takes a back seat to all else.

I was introduced to Ben at a New Zealand music festival, and eight months later we were married. He was so much taller than me that as we spoke, standing side by side, his words came in and out like a bad radio frequency.  But I thought he was so unbelievably gorgeous that I just kept smiling and nodding when all I could hear was “And…was…music…think?”  “Yeah…” I agree, batting my lashes, “Totally!”  My neck ached from gazing up at him as if he were a dreamy, blue eyed sky-scraper.  Concern crossed my mind early on: if I wanted to kiss him, how could I pull it off?  I couldn’t really sneak a smooch without just mashing my face into his belly button.  But despite the odds, there was an immediate connection.  We spoke all night— from the festival to a café to several bars, and on every sidewalk in between. I asked him whether he felt he fit properly into the world.  His answer was a resounding “no”.  He always feels a bit like the world had shrunken around him as he continued to grow.  And soon I would know exactly what he meant.


We lived in this tiny downtown flat in Perth, with a Murphy bed and a loveseat as a sofa.  The shower head was low and to wash properly, Ben had to bend his knees as if he were a diver about to take a leap.  One afternoon, we were getting dressed before going out.  I went into the bathroom, and as soon as I closed the door, I heard what sounded like the shattering of glass.  I dashed out into the main room, and Ben was tangled up in a sweater, his face frozen in horror, his head and shoulders covered in the snowy dust of the fractured light fixture.  Ben’s arms were crossed and lifted as if tied crudely to the ceiling, looked at me with wild eyes. “What happened?”  “I…don’t know…I was just putting on my jumper and I must have punched the lights”.  “Sweetheart…” I said, leading him to a chair so I could sit him down (because I can’t help him all the way up there). “You are special, you can’t just be putting on jumpers wily-nily” I cooed, gently removing his sweater.  But this is something to look out for—I get a little nervous for him around ceiling fans as well.  And while yes, things are tight for him (see Sharing is Caring), what he cannot bear are the comments from strangers.

x bear

When asked about the worst ever comments, he says: “too many to choose from”.  He hears it all the time, and he has heard it all.  And by virtue, as his wife, I too get bizarre questions.  And who doesn’t love to be asked about your penis size or your husband’s prowess?  We love it.  We welcome it.  And as an added bonus, it’s totally appropriate.  Women do get a little swoony around him and the fact that he is a strong silent type, only sweetens his allure.  The cashier at our neighbourhood shop always smiles coyly at Ben, shaking her head in girlish disbelief:  “You are so tall!” before looking at me, “Isn’t he so tall?”  “Yes, he’s tall”.  I answer, not really knowing how to respond.  Sometimes people are so mystified about his height that I have to check and make sure I didn’t grab the wrong hand in the grocery store and am now at the bank with a Sasquatch.  At nearly seven feet, he’s very aware.  Yes, he’s tall.  That’s a fact.  And I’m small, which doesn’t help his case.  His size is a direct contradiction to his personality, for he is quiet, shy, and his face reddens when he’s paid attention to .  He’s a big gentle bear, and he’d rather you not gawk while he’s trying to do his big bear thing.

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Still, people love to point it out as if Ben has been walking around his whole life wishing for longer legs.  And while sometimes he laughs along, mostly it just pushes his limits.  Recently in a Canadian Tire, this gruff old bastard hollered: “Hey STRETCH, just how short are ya?”  It was a double faux-pas—not only did he comment, but it roused the attention of the other shoppers within ear shot.  Ben’s jaw tightened and his face reddened.  I try to reason that people are curious and inconsiderate in equal measures.  But it embarrasses him, and who can blame him?   It’s occasionally sweet…like that store clerk who loves herself a big ole bear. And I totally get it… after all, I married him.


As his wife and partner, though I make a terrible housekeeper, I am an excellent personal assistant.  His comfort is important to me.  And spatially speaking, I will always work to ensure that he fits.  For example, we are heading to a play tonight, and I called the box office to reserve seats. Of course, it is not as simple as arranging names, numbers and nights, it is matter of specific seating.  We require an aisle row in the far back so Ben can stretch his legs, and I need a booster seat so I can see the fucking show.  With each seated event we go to, arrangements are made, because you do not want to be the poor bastard sitting behind my husband; and he doesn’t want your hatred boring holes into the back of his head.


When we were in Christchurch visiting Ben’s mother, she offered us two tickets to a Don Maclean concert. Though neither my husband nor I were die-hard fans, or terribly familiar with his catalogue beyond “American Pie” we happily accepted the tickets.  The theatre was gorgeous…it also had seating similar to that of a small aircraft.  As we inched closer and closer to the front of the theatre, I interrupted the usher.  I leaned in and mentioned that the seating would not suit my husband.  “The people behind us may not be happy”, I reasoned.  The usher looked up at Ben as if he were a great Redwood tree and her gaze fell back down to his tiny woodland nymph wife.  “You’ll be fine” she declared.  We sat down, and Ben had to splay his legs open therefore evicting my legs, so I crossed them under myself like a seasoned yogi.  He was shifting restlessly, trying to fold his legs in new and exciting ways when the sound of shrieking erupted behind us. “Oh my god…just my luck…look at this…I’ve got the HUGEST man right in front of me, the BIGGEST man, just my luck! Honey, honey-look, look I’ve got the most ENORMOUS man right in front of me…this is just terrible, TERRIBLE!” The woman stood directly behind Ben, pointing and barking to anyone that would listen.  His scarlet skin deepened to a plum colour as he tried further to shrink himself down.  She alerted our good friend the usher and complained about the audaciously tall man who had the nerve to step out in public.  We were angry but we said nothing (see Rebuttal Struggle). Sitting quietly, our hands clasped together, we noticed a woman coming towards us, who was as obese as Ben was tall.  (And in case I haven’t sufficiently driven this point home, Ben is extremely tall).  She squeezed herself into the seat, her brown leather coat clad exterior spilling over the modest space allotted for my husband’s frame.  Jesus, this night keeps getting better and better.

bear sadBen’s legs turned like a sun dial to face me, his face now pressed into my shoulder, and my legs were swung over the lap of the person next to me.  “That’s it!” I declared, “Let’s find you some leg room”.  We unraveled our twisted bodies and searched for a different usher.  I explained the situation: the useless employee, the abusive woman, that chocolaty leather rubbing against Ben’s shoulder.  She was sympathetic but then immediately countered it with: “My god he is tall! What are you two even doing together?”  But this kind of fascination suits, because she took us upstairs, introducing us to a sea of empty balcony seats and leg room as far as the eye could see.  And we enjoyed the concert in comfort knowing that from now on, we would always be sure to call ahead.

ImageImages Courtesy Of Google


Sometimes the words don’t come.  Or you have the words but not the attention span.  Some days, the ideas flow and typing fingers fly, and some days its like pounding on the same piano key over and over—it’s noise, but it’s not music.  Tonight, my husband and I are curled up on the couch, watching the 2002 Charlie Kaufman film “Adaptation“.  I adore this movie because I totally relate to this writer’s inability to organize his thoughts and focus his attention towards the task of writing.  Charlie Kaufman struggled with the adaptation of a book into a screenplay, and so he wrote a self-deprecation version of himself into the script..  This characterization of Charlie Kaufman is my worst nightmare.  As he struggles to write the script, he doubts himself, resents himself, is surly to all those around him, and generally gets in his own way.  Kaufman created a fictional twin brother to establish a true opposite.  He seeks out the company of others, wishes to better his craft, lives positively and with good humor…which, of course, is totally annoying.


It’s frustrating when success seems to come easier for others, but in this film it proves that attitude is everything.  What bothers me most about Charlie Kaufman is that he is missing his life.  He imagines a great life for himself, but he then retreats from the reality from his fantasies.  Imagination is easy, ideas are fantastic, but it’s structure, order and follow through that’s the real bitch.


I’ll finish with a quote from the film as Charlie Kaufman sits in front of the blank page: “To begin… To begin… How to start? I’m hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. So I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana nut. That’s a good muffin”.

No Woman, No Cry

Blank screen and blinking cursor–I hate this place.  Its been a very long day and I’m feeling exceptionally weepy.  This is my default emotional reaction: crying.  I weep when I’m tired, sob when I’m frustrated, wail when I’m bereft.  I even cry when I’m happy.  And I’m most likely clasping my hands and gazing in wonderment, tears streaming down my face.  I once cried three times during one episode of “Glee”.  Everything makes me cry–songs, newspaper articles, documentaries, of course movies–don’t even talk to me about “The Notebook”.  The ending of “Superbad” makes me cry people…”Superbad“.  (But it’s a really well told coming-of-age story, and I highly recommend it).  I think I get this from my mother, who can’t even begin to tell you about the ending of “Saving Private Ryan” or the beginning of “Love Actually” without getting choked up.

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I just asked my husband for his thoughts on what makes me cry…and he looked as if I just asked him to describe what it was like for him in his mother’s womb.  His eyes get really wide at the concept of recollection.  “Wow…everything…just everything”.  This makes me sound like a Sylvia Plath sort of gal, but I’m really not meant for the bell jar , I’m just extremely sentimental.  This is a salty cocktail when mixed with my busy and romantic imagination.  I get really worked up over biographies.  I once cried on my husband’s lap because I would never know Audrey Hepburn, I’ve cried because Marilyn Monroe died alone.  Once while working on a construction site in Australia, I was so hot and frustrated that I cried in front of my foreman, who blanched at the sight of my tears.  “You cut that out now–I get enough of that from my wife at home”.  But I can’t help it, I’m a sensitive sort.  The tears are here to stay.


Shortly after my fiance and I broke off our engagement, I watched “500 Days of Summer” at the cinema with a group of people I didn’t know terribly well. Now…if you have never seen this movie, let me warn you right now–if you have just gone through a devastating breakup, and/or have a propensity to shed tears, DO NOT see this movie in public.  This movie beautifully depicts how two people come together and fall apart.  It’s well acted, poetic, stylish, and completely heartbreaking. The film’s content was trying, but I maintained my composure.  And suddenly there’s this scene with a gorgeous wedding–my dream wedding, and playing in the background is Feist’s “Mushaboom” and I feel a tempest of tears crashing against insides of my ocular cavities. There had been a tall person sitting ahead of me, so I had moved one seat over to see better.  Sitting separately from the others, staring up at the screen, slowly unraveling over the story, I had never felt so alone in all my life.   I slipped into the emotional equivalent of having one drink too many–there is no going back, these tears would come.  And it will be an embarrassment.


The film ends and the credits roll, and we gather in the lobby, and my eyes projectile vomited involuntary tears.  It revolted from my body and my whole face contorted like a really ugly sneeze and a flash flood of fluid rushed from my face.  I retreated to the ladies room.  I splashed cold water on my face, and looked at myself in the mirror, I wished for an enormous pair of sunglasses…or a Hannibal Lecter mask, whatever was available. When I returned everyone had polite smiles and I could hardly look anyone in the face.  What a fabulous impression.  That chapter of my life was full of capital-c Crying, (remind me to tell you sometime about when I cried on a plane and my sopping tissue wound up on my unknowing neighbors’ lap, and I had to pluck it with lighting speed off her cotton-poly blend trousers before she looked up from “The Da Vinci Code”).  Christ, I could fill a book with what makes me cry—and today, tired and frustrated as a child, I feel as though I could open the floodgates and dehydrate myself with sobs.  But somehow, writing about crying does put a finger in the dam.  Soon enough I’ll wrench my hand away and the tears will flow like fine wine, but not at this moment…not for the next five minutes at least.  And for me…that’s gotta be a new record.


Images Courtesy of Google

Like Nobody is Watching

After two days of a cold—after two days of blogging about William Holden cracking his head and bleeding to death and Martin Luther King’s untimely demise, I fear I’ve taken my readers to a dark place.  But sometimes, that’s just how it is.  I’m finding that I don’t always know where each blog is going to go.  The other day I wrote about zombies, and the piece wound being a metaphor about a failed relationship.  I recently wrote a blog about an altercation at a drug store, and then I got an e-mail from a friend saying that the woman I wrote about might have been her mother.  Of course that bothers me, but at the time of writing, that was not my concern.  It wasn’t about what it said about her, it was what it said about me.  I can’t let myself be consumed with that kind of self-consciousness.  I can’t fear that no one will read and then dread the consequences when people do read.   I can’t fear that my readers will be bored, offended or disappointed.  I have to write about what I find fascinating and hopefully that translates well. There is nothing I love more than researching and writing, and there’s nothing that means more than being read, and that my words could be a small part of your day.

That being said, I think its high-time that I switch gears and tackle male strippers.  Last night, two co-workers and I went to a bar to see “Canadian Playboyz”. (I think the ‘z’ makes it sexier, don’t you?)


Kathleen had often reminisced about going out in the 1980’s, and what a hoot such events were.  Of course, I hadn’t gone out in a few years (see Foot-lose) and when the event was mentioned, Jessica quickly helped make the idea a reality.  Tickets are bought, and the plans are made…and of course, I get a cold.  But I work diligently to  achieve better health in anticipation of the night.  (Come hell or high water bitches, I’m going OUT!)  The girls come round to mine and jello-shots and rose wine is imbibed, and my husband drives us to the bar.  The, ahem, ‘performers’ have not started yet, and we giddily anticipate what is to come.  Jessica boozily confesses a fear of seeing these naked strangers…like, the whole thing.  Kathleen has told us stories—one of which when a stripper took her glasses and put them on his ‘member’.  I love this story because I always imagine her squinting blindly as he backs away ever so sexily with her eye sight on his cock. (You’re going to bring those back right?)

article-2346071-00057EBE00000C1D-960_634x536The MC comes out, and riles up the crowd.  The three of us are hanging back, but there is a decent crowd of hyenas, er I mean women, panting in the wake of this beefcake, who keeps alluding to the fact that soon these guys are going to get “naked and sexy” (as opposed to what? “Naked and flatulent?” “Naked and Crying?”)


And lord knows what these beefcakes are up to, because the clock strikes ten on a show that was meant to start at nine, but it doesn’t really matter because we are drunk and dancing.  The MC returns, once again throwing around the “naked and sexy” guarantee.  He starts selling 50/50 tickets to the audience—the prizes included being dry-humped by a naked stranger—which seems like a good deal to at least 50% of the audience.  He goes on with a general: “here’s what you get for ten dollars, here’s what you get for twenty”, and we’re not really listening because we want to save our money for more drinks.  But the mention of the grand prize did capture my attention, ‘for the most horny and nasty woman in the room’.  Ugh, who wants to win that prize?  (And further more—is there a worst word in the erotic lexicon than ‘horny’?)


The strippers go out into the crowd, selling tickets and grinding up on these women, who are squealing like nubile teenaged girls. Oh my god, this is like my worst nightmare, these strange men are licking and kissing, and pushing up against you in their tight jeans…in front of everybody…for money, no less.  When they passed us, we all just dropped our eyes, as if the floor was the most interesting thing we had ever seen.  The MC begins a new game: he chooses a couple of women from the front, asks them what their favourite sexual position is, and another stripper comes out, and performs it on her as she…fakes an orgasm.  The woman who faked the best orgasm won a lap dance.  And these gals did not hold back, screaming like they were on as sexy roller coaster.  This whole scene is really testing my feminist values.


I came as a lark with some friends, but I really was expecting some cheesy, hard bodied dancing to Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like a Wolf”…not denim clad doggie style with some shrieking participant.  And really, in the end, their whole shtick was 15% actual dancing.  But let me tell you, they did do some choreographed Backstreet Boys type moves, but I couldn’t stop imagining them rehearsing it in their mother’s basement.  I looked at their website in preparation to write about this, and as it turns out, the bar couldn’t swing the extra $50 for “Full Monty”, so we were stuck with the “G-string Show”, which mostly involved a lot of ab rubbing and butt clenching.  This all suited me fine; I couldn’t handle seeing those things swung around like helicopter propellers anyway.


The show ends and we hit the dance floor, which is my favourite part of the night.

5566361209_8d6fb92b75_zI am now certifiably in a new chapter in my life: married, in my thirties and unconcerned with being cool, which is good because I’m not cool, so I don’t have to worry about it anymore.  As I’m dancing, my eyes fall on various figures in the room, and there’s so much evident self-consciousness in the room.  Everyone is aware that there is the possibility of judgement (this is a bar packed with women after all), that there is an edge to everyone’s actions.  Some girls are dancing like there is a camera on them; others dance like they shouldn’t have had that last drink, and others are dancing, eyes darting all around, looking to see what else is happening, who else is here, cell phone in hand, rouged faces illuminated by the screen’s light.  As for me, I’m dancing as if I won’t go out again for another three years. I danced as if nobody was watching; drunkenly deciding that this is how I should write: fearlessly, recklessly, and with little regard of what others think about the way I move.

17h4rImages Courtesy of Google


Grave Digging to Hips Swinging

My work days are long and taxing, but the consolation is that my mind can occasionally wander without affecting the tasks at hand.  My mind is a loom, weaving a tapestry of crazy thoughts and pop culture references…I really should invent a machine that transcribes my thoughts into print, so when I come home after a long day–it’s all there, ready to be edited–or shit, while I’m out there inventing mind-reading machines, why not get this bitch to edit?  Cut through all the nonsensical imaginings which, believe me, there is an abundance.  But in reality, my husband just bought me a new cell phone and I’m totally intimidated by it.  So…I’m not really the inventing type.  And I really wish I could be, I am  looking for that ‘dare to be great’ situation.  I remember this childhood scrap book with space created for each school year.  At the bottom of the page where you put your yearly photo was a checklist–‘what I want to be when I grow up': “Nurse” “Stewardess” “Actress”, check, check, check.  Why not?  To think of it now, the crippling indecisiveness of wanting to do ‘everything’ has lead to a whole lot of studying, traveling, and waitressing.  (PS, why does spell check have to hate-on the word waitressing? It’s a word dammit! I’ve lived it!)


I was discussing this with Robin, a former professor, now dear friend.  I had just read a slew of Nora Ephron books, and felt mildly annoyed at her idea of her ‘before-success’ job, which was writing for the Post in New York City, which followed a Wellesley education, and a brief intern position at the White House for the Kennedy Administration.  Not too shabs indeed.  Robin says, “Well, she’s not going to write about the crappy jobs”, she’s going to skip that”.  “Well I won’t skip that”, straightening indignantly, “I will talk almost exclusively about all the degrading, low paying jobs I’ve had, because people need to know just how long that road can be”.  My shoulders slump slightly: “That’s if…you know, anything fabulous ever comes of me”, I think.  Hmm, what a dreadful thought.

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But anecdotes about Ephron’s early days as a journalist is not what I, the unpaid writer, wants to hear, I want to hear three things about life: that people can immigrate to their spouses’ country’s with ease, that women can have healthy children late into their thirties and that extremely successful people suffered before they found their niche.  I want Brad Pitt in the fast food chicken suit, before the rambling Chanel # 5 ads and the fifty children he acquired with Angelina Jolie. I want Madonna at Dunkin Donuts, before the Gollum arms and as many fashion incarnations as Brad Pitt has kids. I want Channing Tatum as a struggling stripper because…who wouldn’t be into that?


And my personal favorite, tied with Whoopi Goldberg as a beautician in a mortuary, was Rod Stewart as a grave digger. Come on! How do you not feel better about your station in life after hearing that? Imagine Stewart, shovel in hand, feeling the indignity of such a shitty job…do you think he thought to himself: “One day, I’m going to have a string of gorgeous wives and make a ton of cash, be a easy listening radio staple and have children well into my seventies…and my hair will always be awesome”.  Probably not…he probably did it because he needed the work, needed the cash, and couldn’t see the bright lights of his super sexy future.  Take these thoughts as if they are a cozy blanket and wrap that around yourself.  It too could happen to you.  But it better happen to me first because I need to hire someone to teach me how to use my fancy new phone.

Jerry-Hall-Norman-ParkinsonImages Courtesy of Google

Timing is Everything

Feeling exceptionally scattered today.  Worked ten hours, then home and out for a walk in the sun, and am finally sitting down, lap top ready and waiting.  I flip idly through my notebook for inspiration, shove a few potato chips in my mouth, and chew thoughtfully, thinking only that I would like to eat more chips.  My mind skips around like a flat stone along a pond, and I consider the ripples.  Throughout my work day I imagine what I’ll write about once home.  And ultimately it whittles down to one thing: how much time do I want to commit to today’s blog?  Recently people have been saying: “Oh I love taking five minutes out of my day to read”, which pleases me to no end, (if you keep reading, I’ll keep writing!), but it kind of makes me laugh, as any writer knows, it takes sooooo much longer to write it out than it does to read it.  But, lets be honest, if I was focused, and gave no time to my beloved “dicking around” on the internet,  I’d really shave off some serious time.  But that’s research people, I can’t write about Beyonce without watching a dozen or so videos.  I need to read about the movies I write about…and if that leads me from “200 Cigarettes…


to Courtney Love to Kurt Cobain…


to the Seattle Grunge scene…then so be it.


Yesterday my husband was waiting for me to finish blogging: “When will you be done?”.  “Five minutes”, I lie.  I am half-watching scenes from “Jesus of Nazareth”, and reading about Mary Magdalene,  and obviously going to great lengths to prove whether or not Jesus was a hunk.  Not everything makes it to the blog, but believe me, it all goes into the vault.  And if ever you bump into me at some cocktail party, be prepared for me to drop some useless knowledge on you all.  The internet is my oracle in which to seek out all answers and also to waste just a shit-load of time.


I’ve been really pleased with the last few blogs this week, and now I’m feeling a bit like when you were a kid and came home with an A, and your parents would say: “We are so proud of you, and will expect nothing but A’s from now on.  Oh crap.  Any room for a B average?  When I was in university, my ‘rock bottom’ was a B-, so that’s going to me my gold standard promise…I’ll always provide better than  C average work, but don’t be expecting A + work every day–I’d just hate to disappoint. As for right now, my husband is looking at me expectantly, I have a cold cider awaiting me, and these delicious potato chips aren’t going to eat themselves.

mindless-popcornImages Courtesy of Google

And No One Came

Have you seen ever “200 Cigarettes”? Few people have, but it has enough of a pre-fame collection of actors (Paul Rudd, Ben & Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Janeane Garofalo, Dave Chappelle, and Courtney Love) to establish a mild cult status nearly fifteen years after its theatrical release.  Anyhoo, I’ll set the scene for you: it’s New Year’s Eve in New York City in 1981.  And there are all these romantic and comedic storylines that are meant to intersect at a party in the East Village, but it’s the woman hosting that party who interests me most.  Monica (Martha Plimpton) is so unnerved at the pressure of throwing this party, that it drives her to hysteria and intoxication.  Well, to be more specific— it’s not the stress of hosting that bothers her; her loft is well decorated, the bar is stocked, she’s made crab dip and all that…but it is the fear of being left alone with said crab dip that causes her to unravel.

zzzz2Listen, I’m going to spoil the ending for you.  Everyone is out on the city streets: finding and/or losing love, smoking cigarettes, drinking to excess, and discussing the finer qualities about life and love in the back of Dave Chappelle’s taxi cab, they are also inching towards this party at a glacial pace.


It is in the empty, unattended room, that the hostess begins her descend into social anxiety.  Feeling humiliated in her party frock, with her “Happy New Year” tiara nestled in her up do; she cannot reason that people are not there because they are not there yet.  Instead, she panics and jumps to the worst possible conclusion: “I have no friends and everybody hates me!” she declares before eventually drinking herself to the point of blacking out.


She awakes the following morning amid the aftermath of a most successful party.  She is left to piece together just how fabulous they evening was, and is devastated that she missed her own event.  In fact, it turned out that Elvis Costello was at the party as well, desperate for the crab dip recipe, and for her, it begins a whole new shame spiral.  Every time I see this movie, the irony of this woman’s situation makes me so sad.  If only she could have just relaxed, had confidence in herself, she would have been vindicated in the glow of celebratory merriment, surrounded in the crush of happy party-goers

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Okay…the scene I have just laid out for you is me on my worst day…a mirror in which I see my reflection.  This is sometimes how I feel about blogging.  Not the writing process, I find each day it gets easier or more enjoyable.  It’s that in blogging…in establishing some kind of following through social networks, I fear it is a party that no one will attend.  And what I need to consider is that a month ago, I wasn’t doing this blog…I wasn’t even writing daily.  And I like where my head is at, I like filling a notebook with random thoughts and ideas, and knowing that I can give dimension and life to a few handwritten words on a page; before they would just lay in the darkness of a closed book, words that aren’t being read.  But—sometimes there is a part of me (the ego I reckon), that can’t help but wonder where all the effing people are.

I felt this way occasionally while living overseas. I purchased lovely stationary, wrote several letters and envisioned all the envelopes I would receive and the mailbox was always empty.  The blank, unused paper made a mockery of me, “So…are we going to do this thing or what?”  And I felt suddenly embarrassed, like I do sometimes with the blog—all these clever thoughts and phrases strung up like streamers, humorous anecdotes blown up like balloons, and me sitting alone in my literary party dress amongst the frippery, afraid that nobody will come, that nobody cares, that nobody will read, that…I have no friends and everybody hates me.  Though it must be said, I have readers and I am grateful for the support and comments.  I don’t mean to appear ungrateful or greedy, but this is me being  honest about my insecurities… and this is how I feel today… (actually this is more how I felt yesterday, but the words flow just as easily today).


In my research of successful writers and bloggers, I realize that everyone has growing pains…things take time.  David Sedaris had a series of odd unsatisfying jobs before being discovered by Ira Glass, and did not publish until his late thirties. Julie Powell from “Julie and Julia” was awfully concerned that nobody read her besides her friends, husband and mother, which obviously, was not the case.  She reached enormous success with the blog going to book to film… but then her follow-up book is now on clearance tables next to books written by Snooki from “The Jersey Shore”.  It’s a crap shoot, what appeals to the masses…so I suppose its best—that time before failure or success, when anything is possible. I am currently reading Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened”, and this gal is one successful blogger. But from what I’ve read, she started “The Bloggess” six years before the book is published.  These things take time.

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One website writes that there millions…no wait scratch that…HUNDREDS of millions of blogs out there (which means my meager blog is a tiny grain of sand on this vast and eternal beach known as the internet—yikes).  Also, that it takes anywhere from six months to a year to…oh, I don’t know, a solid decade to achieve a faithful following.  A DECADE? I don’t have that kind of time, I’m 31, and it’s all crumbling down around me!!  So, just cool it, you don’t want to freak out and miss your own party…if you build it, they will come…now did I just make that up myself? Or was that “Field of Dreams”? With Kevin Costner and Darth Vader, and the dead baseball players?

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It’s one of those movies you catch in pieces on channels like TBS, and just never see the whole thing…but according to Wikipedia, it’s about a novice farmer, who, with the support of the world’s most supportive spouse ever, mows down their corn field for the sake of building a baseball diamond.  This leads to financial ruin, but based simply on hearing ghostly whisperings: “if you build it…” and later, “Go the distance”…which then leads to a happy ending of baseball playing and success growing and father and son playing catch.  Again, I can work with this analogy—sometimes blind faith and biding time are qualities of strength.  So…where to go from here?  Keep on keeping on, keep writing and day dreaming and throw a daily party with a devil-may-care panache, whether anyone arrives or not.  It can just be me and a few friends, my mother and of course my husband, who encourages me on the daily to plow through our corn field for the sake of my own baseball diamond, so that maybe someday, the people might actually come.

fodbannerImages Courtesy of Google


Snooze for Thought

Another day of staring at the screen, the cursor flashing expectantly, like a pulse beating.  I’ve been awake since 4am, worked at 5am and finished work early.  Shortly after 10am, I am home, with the day ahead of me.  There are tasks to be done: dishes to wash, laundry to do, and of course, there is the writing.  ‘I’ll blog first…and then work on some essays’, I think to myself.  The possibility of a productive period stretches out before me, and yet I can not concentrate.  I wander from room to room, standing in doorways and looking into the space, my expression blank and my intentions dwindling.


Exhaustion takes hold of me, and the unmade bed looks inviting.  I wish to sleep but am usually incapable of napping.   My husband on the other hand is a champion, Olympic level napper, and can easily close his eyes and drift off for hours.  Occasionally I will lie down first, and Ben will follow. And then, as if by magic he will be snoring quietly, blissfully unaware of his wife scowling beside him.  But today, like dipping a toe reluctantly into unfamiliar waters, I lay down in the cool sheets.  Light creeps in through the blinds, and when the vent below blows air, they flicker in the sunshine and create this technicolor dance of pinkish hues.  My mind refuses to relent, to accept sleep, but I close my eyes anyway, and begin to feel myself falling like a feather floating from a great height.  And I sleep…for three delicious hours.  Not bad for a certifiable non-napper.  When I awoke, I wandered through the house once more, looking at all that needed to be accomplished, inching closer and closer to the room where the laptop is.  Though I am rested, my mind feels fuzzy, unfocused.  And so I write about not much, only of the good fortune to have mid-morning nap.  Not exciting, but this is all I am capable of today.

audren-hepburn-sleep1Images Courtesy of Google

Thoughts that Occur While Watching “Eat, Pray, Love”

My husband crept into the bedroom early this morning to say goodbye.  It’s a ritual we’ve developed, not walking out the door without kissing our sleeping spouses before starting the work day.  I hear the door close, and I lie there for a short while. I cannot sleep in, my internal clock has become so engrained to wake up at four am, that Ben and I fall asleep by nine, and so while I’d love to have a delicious lay-in, I usually rise on my day off before seven.

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Since I started this blog, I have gone straight to the computer on these early mornings, coffee in hand, ready to write; floating blissfully along on a stream of consciousness.  This morning I check my emails, sit in front of the laptop, and…nothing.  I have notes galore for story ideas, but today I’m just not feeling inspired.  But I have to write everyday…don’t I?  I never promised to write daily, though I have decided that I would.  There is always a little bit of time to commit to the written word, there is always something to write about—this feeling of not feeling ‘it’ is the creative block, the goal of writing daily is to learn to break through those barriers, and get on the other side—to fill the page with typed thoughts, and look back on a job well done.


Yesterday, I luxuriated in not only writing, but in the general dicking around on the internet: looking up music videos, reading about the movies and artists I wanted to write about.  I work a second job one or two days a week, and while I had a decent number of hours between my two jobs, time just ran away from me.  I wrote the piece and then hopped in the shower to wash my hair. Freshly scrubbed with my wet hair wrapped in a towel turban, I returned to the office and continued to work.  Whether or not the writing is perfect, I am writing and it is very exciting. It can be all consuming— so consuming in fact that it occurs to me that I am due to go to work in an hour.  I haven’t eaten, I have no idea what to wear and my hair has been wrapped up in a towel for a frighteningly long time.


I start to dash around the messy house, which I hadn’t even begun to tidy, and simultaneously attempt to eat lunch, dress myself and do my hair and makeup in less than twenty minutes.  I do a quick foundation, blush, mascara, and as an added dimension of colour, add an onyx eye shadow on the crease of my eyelids.   With ten minutes left before I am to run out the door, I unravel the towel on my head and discover the most horrifying disaster.  My bangs have been twisted up and dried in a manner not unlike Cameron Diaz in “Something about Mary”.


Ah, fuck.  With the help of my hair straightener, I attempt to tame the unruly fringe, but to no avail.  Desperate, I zip to the sink and shove my face towards the tap and run the water, soaking the offending mane.  I then reach for the blow-dryer and attack the bangs, spraying myself in the face with water, causing the water to blast my dark eye shadow, creating the appearance to look like splattered soot.  When it gets to the point that it doesn’t look bad (but it didn’t look good), I grab my coat and purse and lock the door behind me.  Once outside, I am hit by freezing cold winds, and the spitting of rain.  By the time I get to work, all my desperate efforts to tame my hair has been bruised by the chilly squall.  I did make it to work on time and though I was rushed, hungry and disheveled, I was happy to have written.


This morning, as I sat in front of a blank screen, feeling as though words had failed me, I made another decision.  Yes, I will write something daily, but I will not to worry about it so much. Not every day is a masterpiece kind of day; not every day is a day of creative resurgence.  Today is the kind of day where I curl up under a blanket and watch “Eat, Pray, Love” on Netflix.


From there I think about a million things. I think about reading that book for the first time, how it inspired me to go to New Zealand.  How Ben and I travelled to Ubud, Bali  (where author Elizabeth Gilbert meets her husband in ‘E,P,L’) to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.  I think about travel and adventure, where I’ve been and where I’d like to go next.  And I think about how you can revisit a story over and over again and endlessly find a different narrative each time. I also wonder why Julia Roberts’ top lip is significantly plumper than her bottom lip, but that’s a question for a different day.  But just like that I have written…something.  Not bad, not great, but the effort remains.  And I can live with that.

EAT PRAY LOVEImages Courtesy of Google  

Songs about Wanting More

Lately I have been thinking about wanting more.  I don’t want much, I just want more.  Gosh, did I just inadvertently quote “The Little Mermaid”?  Nope, sorry, I just realized that I quoted Barbra Streisand’s ‘Everything’ from the 1976 classic, “A Star is Born” (and boy, she got more than she bargained for in that picture).  But this is not to say that The Little Mermaid isn’t filled with yearning either. Yes, she has possessions galore but what she really wanted were some lovely legs with which she could pursue a prince.  Anyhow, to go any further into depth about this fairy tale would really get this whole train of thought off the track.  But nonetheless, somewhere between Babs and a Disney cartoon is little ole me: wanting, wishing, hoping, and praying for just something along the lines of everything.

I don’t know why I feel that success is something that happens to other people.  As if for myself, I will always live well below the vaulted ceilings of greatness. Never once will I feel my fingers brush so much as a structural beam, even if I stood on my tiptoes and stretched my arms nearly out of the socket.  It’s right there, I can see it, but I cannot, will not, be able to reach it.  But more recently I use the mantra ‘Why not me?’ which has a slightly cynical flair, it suggests that success could be achieved, but it also might not.  A lot of that depends on me.  What I really want is to have a collection of personal essays bound together in a book that I didn’t fashion myself at Staples.  But there are significant, necessary steps before one could publish a book, the first being is to actually write, which can be an awfully pesky obstacle.  In truth, before the first of March, when I started this blog, I was a writer who didn’t write much.  I was a procrastinator that couldn’t even finish “The Artist’s Way”—a book designed to unlock the creative self. I couldn’t commit out of reluctance and anxiety.  For fear that opening up the cavities of memory in order to write and attack the creative block would be akin to opening up a musty trunk in the forgotten attic; there could be some amazing treasures, or there could be a dead body…it’s anyone’s guess.  Still, how is it that one can want something so badly, but be as lost as to how to achieve those goals?  Perhaps the greatest concern is that the product you figured you would one day unleash into the zeitgeist, and the talent precipitating that magnificent work was actually non-existent, just a figment of an twisted imagination…and the only thing you ever really created was that fantastic lie with which you could only convince yourself.

In amidst of this existential block, my mind continued to sing like a sewing machine, endlessly stitching sentences together. Unfortunately, the fabric of thought always fell flat if ever I tried to replicate these pieces in print.  Suddenly the clever pithy dialogue or heart wrenching reflections seemed menial, trite and clichéd.  And all I am left with are useless scraps of material—not an actual, cohesive, tangible product; just shreds of bright colours and splashy patterns—these are samples of talent, but are not actual talent.  Talent is realized through bravery and fearlessness, and action is everything.  From accomplishment comes art, and from that creation, dreams are realized, goals are achieved and summer houses are purchased.  As for myself, edging deeper into my thirties, I have not built a terribly sturdy writing platform to reach that elusive ceiling.  This leads into the even peskier second point to publishing—after writing, you have to show it to people.  I have a small circle of individuals who have read my personal essays, but otherwise, they are filed away.  I keep hoping some important looking person in a serious, tailored suit will ring my door bell and say: “Excuse me, but I’m a prolific publisher…do you by any chance have a binder of potentially decent, half written stories on hand?”  To which I would reply: “My goodness, I do! Please come in”.  A thought had crossed my mind while watching the Australian “X-Factor”.  Enough with the signing contest and talent shows, what someone needs to do is develop a competition show for writers—and contestants can read excerpts of their own work.  The panel of judges could be Margaret Atwood, Danielle Steel (wouldn’t that be interesting?) and Stephen King for a mature masculine element.  They’d get to make delightful puns like: “I’m sorry, but you’re not ‘write’ for this show”, or “You are doing the ‘write’ thing”—the show could be called “Write On” or “Write this Way”.  I don’t know, I’m just spit balling ideas here, but let’s be honest, we’re not all singers and dancers, and how else do you get noticed these days?

From years of tabloid reading and E-channel watching, I can easily deduce how one gets to the place fame and fortune: through shameless self-promotion, sheer determination or by stroke of luck.  I read about these glamorous women with beautiful husbands and children, careers, money and travel.  Oh, how I wish I could be so successful and chic, with a multitude ‘upcoming projects’ and witty anecdotes about my celebrity friends.  At this point in my career path, I feel so far behind the eight-ball that I can hardly see the pool table.  Having immediately followed my university graduation with three years of travel, I was strapped to temporary working visas which was grossly limited my career aspirations.  There have been times in a minimum-wage-work-life when I feel I am an inconsequential ghost, a waitress haunting tables, a phantom in a kitchen, a spook casting a shadow in a shop front, holding a vigil for a ‘career’, as opposed to a ‘job’.  Now, I go to work and smile, do my best and receive a paycheque, but I’m not always present, I’m sometimes dreaming as if I were a girl, playing with Barbie dolls, pretending to have control.   If my childhood fantasies actually came to fruition, I would be wildly successful by now.  The details of my fascinating life would appear crisp news print, my photo in the Who’s Who pages of glossy magazines:  my eyes just meeting the camera’s gaze, my freshly styled hair blowing in the breeze as the paparazzi captures me mid stride—an impressive shopping bag in hand, or a thick manuscript clutched to my chest, effortlessly maneuvering through the crowd in striking sky high heels—a goddess amongst mere mortals.  Always busy, always popular, always in demand—this snapshot would be a rare, unguarded moment of a graceful, talented woman of whose star has continued to rise.  The caption would read: “Alicia Ashcroft, taking a break from her hit talk show/Broadway musical/book tour…”, or “Alicia Ashcroft, fresh from her Oscar win…” or “Even without makeup, Ashcroft has a natural beauty that humbles us with her presence…”  If photographers were to snap an actual shot of me the caption would read: “Fresh from being unable to pay off her student loan, Ashcroft looks as though it may never ‘happen for her’”, or “Now over 30, Ashcroft is looking like she’s beginning to wonder what those eight years of education was for, and we are starting to wonder the same”.

Of course, I don’t believe that one should create with the sole purpose of wealth, fame, and cosmetic endorsements.  It should be to satiate the hunger to express, celebrate an avenue that has been paved, allowing all of one’s brilliants thoughts and ideas to course through, reaching the delighted masses.  If it is appreciated, or relatable to the reader, and if that leads to lecture tours, adaptation to film and television, the occasional flattering snap in a fashion mag, worldwide travel, wealth beyond imagining and a career that allows you to be at home with the adorable babies you and your gorgeous husband can’t stop making…then so be it.  I’m willing to do the work, take the risk, because this life is happening right now, and this time is slipping through my fingers, even as I write this down.