Category Archives: Humour

To tell or not to tell

I recently have heard from family and friends an interesting argument around gifts and Christmas. I was surprised at the vitriolic fervour with which folks responded to my simple question: do you prefer buying gifts for people based on your own feelings about that person or do you prefer, and indeed rely upon, people telling you what they want?

Some of my family uses Giftie Giftie while others would balk and spew at such a thing. So, I thought to put out a poll about it. Fill it in and I’ll post the results!

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My mom in her underpants at the Hudson’s Bay

Ok, a little bit Princess...but cute right?

My mom was more my pal than my mother. She was older when she had me–48–and she didn’t want to have to discipline or harangue me much which suited me just fine. I was her last child and she wanted to spoil me which also suited me just fine. It could be perhaps why recently a friend told me to repeat after him: I am a princess. I did so reluctantly but only because I needed a ride.

My mother and I often went shopping together. It was a social thing which inevitably ended up in a restaurant because, growing up in a family of 13, eating in a restaurant to me was so much more civilized than say having my brother steal my food off my plate or some fight breaking out over who was doing the dishes and I was comforted  knowing there was life outside our war-zone eatery.

When I was in my third trimester of my pregnancy, my mom thought a trip to the Hudson’s Bay in North Vancouver would be a good thing to do. I was as large as an oil tanker by then and though I still did some stage management at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt, I was doing a lot of lying around reading about what could go wrong during a birth.

We parked on the upper level of The Hudson’s Bay and wandered, very slowly, because remember, I was taking up two aisle widths and my mother was ancient so nobody was beetling around anywhere in a hurry. Instead, we bought some baby clothes, had the inevitable lunch, then headed back upstairs to leave. Now, my mother was getting on in her years, and she wasn’t the type of woman to put much care into herself. She cared for everyone else around her. That is what made her the female version of Gandhi. However, on this day, she might have put in a little more effort.

I was walking ahead of her through the second set of doors to the upstairs parkade when, by habit, I stopped and turned, and as I did, I saw my mother’s wide, white underpants drop softly down around her ankles. I looked at the underpants then back up at her. She was stuck between the two glass set of doors so eternally in my mind is a diluted image of my mother, her face looking back at me in slow time, both of us realizing in that moment that we were not, in fact, alone in the busy department store, but surrounded by others, who also were able to see the innocent flop of polyester fabric that now was being clumsily yanked up and held by my mother’s shaking hands. She was convulsed in laughter, struggling to get out, while I struggled to get to her, feeling hysteria rising up from my toes and we limped across towards the car, stopping, leaning over, silently laughing so hard I thought either my baby would be born there and then or my mother would die from the convulsions.

I had never seen my mother laugh that hard and never did again. I said, what in hell are you doing wearing underpants with no bloody elastic left? She only kept laughing and laughing all the way home, on the ferry, then on the long slow drive up the coast and into the evening, periodically looking over at me, and bursting out in another round of glee. I think it was because she knew it was something that horrified me to my core and it was the look on my face that kept making her laugh so hard. It was her knowing me and me knowing this that made me laugh. This is the way with that kind of love, you don’t have to say a word. You can just laugh.

Some days, when I get bogged down by the weight of things, I remember that moment, our eyes meeting through those glass doors, the image of my mother in her simple skirt, worn wool sweater, curled grey hair, and of course, her underwear around her ankles, staring helplessly back at me. And I laugh out loud.

It was my mom’s birthday last Saturday. She would have been 93. Love you, miss you every day Mom.

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Filed under Humour, Memoir

Naked, Vulnerability, Genes: Meow

Recently, I was posing for a photographer with my long-time friend Sarah Petrescu who was producing her last Fashion column for her newspaper before a year-long sabbatical. (I have a special place in my heart for Sarah as she knew me when I had a baby in my arms reading poetry on the Sunshine Coast many, many years ago and we bonded as writers then).  I was flattered she asked but more so touched that I would be in her last fashion piece for a long while. When I arrived at Bernstein and Gold, likely my favourite store in Victoria, I of course fell instantly in love with their entire fall collection. But I was working, not shopping and had a few dresses to try on for the shoot; one was a gorgeous silk light-as-air dress in white with a little geometric pattern and two sexy little bows on the hip and shoulder and the other was a clingy, hip-hugging, very flattering Diane Von Furstenburg in deep burgundy. The women collectively decided that was ‘the one’. It felt fan-effing fabulous on and I desperately lusted after it as soon I wriggled into it’s tight little contours. Diane Von Furstenburg is a woman who designs for real women–professional women–and this dress would go the mile and a half on any business meeting followed by dinner and even a midnight tryst in a martini bar. It had legs.

When we arrived for the shoot, to my surprise, the other models looked like they had not yet graduated high school. A sort of panic started when I imagined our pictures side by side in the newspaper but then I looked down at the dress and went fuck it and played that Bif Naked song in my head, ‘I love myself today!’. While a few of the models were being shot, I stood and chatted with a young male model who my first words to were: ‘You need to go model for Abercrombie and Fitch‘. He said he doesn’t like to be photographed. I said, ‘Get over it’.

I seriously don’t understand when people are genetically given a lottery that they don’t see it. I don’t think I’ve seen such an attractive man in years. I counseled him on other brands he could easily work for with his particular looks, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan. He had that all-American east coast look and in his fall sweater, with a high-collar, he looked like he should be heading to the Kennedy compound for the weekend.

It was a hot day and I was in a hot dress so I suggested to him we go do shooters of Tequila next door at the Mexican restaurant and then maybe some Corona’s? I was completely kidding, just horsing around, but, to my surprise he was game. (We did not drink on set, just for the record, though he was game for post-shoot cocktails). Now, here’s the thing all men above 30 that I can share with you: the reason there are ‘Cougars’ is, in a large part, because of our hormones, but more so it is because as a woman gets older, she gets more….to the point. She wants what she wants and doesn’t like to negotiate about it and younger men are, well, more game for the most part. I could be wrong–I’m open to anyone who wants to argue this point, because I have enough stories to fill a library on this subject.

This morning I was reading The Daily Love’s post by Mastin Kipp (who is a sexy enlightened beast), Vulnerability is Strength, and I was struck by this quote, because it describes what I am getting at much better than I am attempting to do:

“Instead of trying to change yourself to please others and then taking rejection as a sign that something is wrong with you, let’s step into our authentic power and allow ourselves to be ourselves with no apologies.”

Yes. Bravo. As I walked down Pandora towards the lens going click, click, click, with lines of cars idling beside me, windows open, I had a moment of oh god, this is really kind of embarassing, then my friend Sarah told me to wiggle my hips more and look to my right. I smiled, and as I did I met the eyes of  more than a few drivers who smiled right back at me. In that moment, letting my hips do their thing, I guess I had stepped into my ‘authentic power…with no apologies’.

Post shoot note: Thanks Sarah for the experience. We’ll miss your daily writing for us here in YYJ, but I cannot wait to see what you’ll write from your journeys this year.

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A few of my favourite places and things…

This week I have a big project to work on for my course in digital media so my fiction, poetry, and blogging is on ‘lite’. Hence, a few fun things that feed me body and soul in Victoria.

Cobs Bread 

Located near my family doctor, it’s always a pit stop on the way home. I throw all my carb fears out the window when I enter this shop because the smell just envelops you. The staff have it figured out–they’re cool, laid back with pitch-perfect service style and somehow you find yourself ordering things that will undo all the thigh-squeezing, squatting, lunging work you did at the gym. I just try to think like the French and enjoy every last lick of my freshly baked Cinnamon bun, ignoring my North American need to count the caloric damage of the insanely pleasurable taste of their thick, gooey icing. I always bring home some garlic cheese bread for my son who promptly sits down with sandwich ingredients and devours the whole thing while still retaining his six-pack, God love him.

The Bengal Room

Last I checked, I am the Mayor on Foursquare of the Bengal Room at the Empress (it says lounge on their website but I prefer room). Why am I the virtual mayor? Because I go there way too often. The Bengal reminds me a little of one of my favourite places in Vancouver which is the 900 West lounge at the Hotel Van (for non-native Vancouverites I am referring to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver) where I spent many a happy, formative, rainy afternoon. So I always feel a little sense of home at the Bengal every time I visit and likely also because the staff know me. (Thank you for great service Paul each and every time). The best time to go, in my opinion, is mid-week, towards the end of the day, in low season. There’s something about the stilled fans on the ceiling while curling up in the warm buttery leather chairs, and the always present scent of the delectable curry buffet (which just got more interesting I would imagine with Chef Kamal on board) that is enchanting. For summer, I would recommend the Verandah where you can enjoy people watching behind your sunglasses with a few pomegranate mojitos.

Scrimporsplurge.ca

If you haven’t been on this website, just bookmark it now. I am really so impressed by the volume of info Anita puts out on her blog and of course the incredible value of it all! The other reason I love this blog is that it gives me the news about my business community–I adore hearing how small business’ are marketing their products or what deals people are putting together for tourists’, or what free stuff is out there to do on any given day in Victoria. Anita is also a talented editor who used to edit the famous British Columbia magazine and is a writer I really enjoy reading every day as well. The best part about Anita’s digital deals, in my humble opinion, is that she deftly couples community news with real value, something that this single parent family certainly needs to survive in this town, though I think there should be a weekly column dedicated to hot shoe deals. Just saying Anita.

OKV Gewurztraminer

This is a terrible looking bottle of wine. You’ll snootily pass right by her in favour of a dependable Châteauneuf-du-Pape but if you are on a budget and want a decent tasting bottle of wine, try this one. It’s 9.99, yes, under ten bucks, and is mass-produced but this is a perfect bottle for a summer white sangria or with a picnic at the beach–just ensure it stays cold or she will taste a little cheap. For dinner, I would recommend trying any of the many small estate wines from the Okanagan, and I will be sure to post a whole blog on those soon as I go for my annual wine tour at the end of July. I simply cannot wait to stand in the blistering heat, looking down rows of lovingly cared for grapes, with estate wineries and orchards for as far as the eye can see, and nothing to do but sip, smile, and tuck bottles into the trunk as we lazily meander through our afternoon towards deliciously cooked dinners and conversations outdoors past midnight. No sweater required thank you.

Saxe Point

This often overlooked little park is really a magical place to escape to. In the summer, it is lovely to take a blanket down and read and watch weddings all afternoon in the adorable little wedding area enclosed by gardens and a low stone wall where sometimes 3 or 4 nuptials happen on the same day. The gardens here are really amazing but what is magical are the little paths through the woods surrounding the shore, with little secret benches here and there that open up to a vista of the ocean–perfect for watching the sunset, listening to music, and being mindful. On very hot evenings, okay, maybe the one hot evening in YYJ, you’ll find lots of older folks with incredible feasts laid out, bottles of wine open, playing cards or bbq-ing. (One year, a man of at least 85 shouted out to everyone: COPS! and we all rushed to put away our booze. It was one of the funniest moments of my life). This is a place I go to often in the summer but don’t make the mistake of falling asleep as I did in the little grassy wedding area, waking up to a disconcerted bride staring down at my disheveled guise, about to put her stiletto through my larynx.

Sexy Mouth Wash

I promised my dental hygenist Mary I would one day give her a shout out so here it is. Mary did research on essential oils and their remarkable ability to cleanse and soothe the mouth and leave it sweet-smelling and kissable. She smartly set to work using them in her work with patients at Dr. King-Brown’s practice and now she is manufacturing this organic mouthwash! Bravo for entrepreneurism with a healthy bite! Okay, sorry for the bad joke but her mouthwash really is amazing. She has two kinds, Fresh and Sexy and her company is Synergy Organics. Support this local entrepreneur who really knows her stuff and ensure you have a sweet-smelling kisser year-round! See what people have to say on their Facebook page where you can link out to all the info you need including their url and what local stores carry this awesome kiss-inducing product.

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Through a dark wood cont’d

As requested in comments to part 1 below (read that bit before this one or it won’t make sense), here is another little stab at some fiction and hence workshop/drafty in-progress still. 

Part 2

“Don’t bother, there’s no signal out here, I already tried my evil Blackberry. I am afraid to say we’re in a digital black void.”

Fuck the fuck off. 

“I see that.” She hoped her voice sounded like honey on buttered toast and not give away what was going on inside her mind which was starting to resemble a scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

“Oh well, we’re supposed to be enjoying the silence, right?” she offered, mostly to herself.

He had wrapped one of the large towels around his waist but it still seemed teeny on him. She avoided looking at his feet as he came and sat down beside her. He kissed her clavicle, the part that he liked to say he ‘owned’, a tiny piece of her real-estate that was the key to her acquiescence, its triangle shape when bent towards him a perfect receptacle for desire.

She would tell him. She would just say it.

“I love you.”

It hung in the air like a perfect smoke ring.

She glanced at the wastepaper basket in the corner. Was it lined? Because she was going to puke.

“Hey….you okay?” he whispered, pulling her jaw, something she had always hated, so that she was looking directly at him.

“It’s just…” she stammered uselessly, “that…you are so wonderful and I am not, really, so wonderful, and you are so thoughtful and kind and…” She trailed off, circling her finger in her palm in minute circles she hoped would signal to the universe that her ship was going down.

“And? Someone you could love too?”

The air was hot and thick like Apocalypse Now not remotely resembling a Pacific Northwest rain forest. Why? Why did she put herself in these situations? Wasn’t there some creed cowboys lived by? Always sit in the corner of the saloon, near the door so you can either kill anyone coming at you or escape quickly.

You are not a cowboy she told herself. I know that, she replied.

He pulled her hand onto his lap. Did he love her sweaty hand too? Her criminal hand, her deficient bitchy fucked-up hand ? She doubted it. He liked its smallness or maybe the way it wrapped around him, or when it scraped down his back. He didn’t love the beat up cuticles, the sunspots, the fault lines that said this one’s a fraud, this one will run your heart over with a manual lawnmower. No, he didn’t see any of that in her small hands. It was a cute a dumpling to him, a child’s hand, adorable, and harmless.

“You don’t love me. You think you do but you don’t. It’s an illusion Anthony. Did you know that the Buddhists say you can’t even start loving someone until after all the chemicals have died off which takes two years. So clearly you are still in the chemical phase.”

He chuckled, that knowing, I am Yoda in a large man’s body chuckle and she was thrilled to hear it. Because it was like oxygen. If she could not feel terrible and feel angry instead then she had a fighting chance.

“Sam, you are really something, you know that? Someone tells you they love you and you offer them reasons why not to?” He stood up and walked over to the Raven’s suite picturesque window that was made for transformative moments. Yeah, transformative in a Stephen King-like way, she thought to herself.

“I just want to be real. For once, I’d like that.” Her voice sounded oddly flat. She heard something scrape against the wall and looked at the floor; was there wildlife on the inside of this place?

He turned and she was surprised by the emotion on his face. Was he crying? Oh dear god please no.

“I don’t know who damaged you, but it wasn’t me, okay? I fucking love you, I want to be with you, I’m here, you are here, together in the middle of nowhere to be fucking real? This is real Sam.” He yelled, which called forth all of her entire Genghis Khan tribes, like a great, echoing horn blow, from the depths of her soul. Thank you. Thank you for yelling.

“YOU have no FUCKING clue what is real. Don’t even give me that horse shit! You have never had a goddamn worry in your entire life! You’ve lived in a Yale-induced bubble of privilege. Every girl you ever wanted you took. Just like a can of soup off a shelf. And for ONCE in your life someone isn’t letting you.” She noticed her hand waving in the air and pulled it down to her side. She had to stay in control.

He strode over to her. For a split second she had the image of being struck.

He leaned over her and she could smell his cologne, which she did in fact love, and said quietly, “I love you.”

She looked into his hazel eyes, which had lovely flecks of yellow and stood up, like a monologist entering the stage as she strode towards the living room, which was now suffused with the last light of the day, a thin moon beginning to emerge between the trees.

“Well, I don’t love you,” she called out behind her.

Actually. I don’t love this place either, in fact I fucking hate it, I don’t even like nature, I don’t like trees hanging around like sentinels that won’t move, I don’t like that ugly bedspread, it looks like it came in a bed-in-a-bag and I have forgotten my hairdryer and I don’t like, in fact, I hate Adirondack furniture, eagle art, or wood sculptures of animals.If you ‘loved’ me you would know this. You would inherently have known how much I would hate it here. This is living proof of our incompatibility.” She was hyperventilating. At this very moment, she vowed to her long-lost God that if he or she, could find a way for her to get out of this situation she would in fact never sleep with another guy. Yeah right, offered her embittered self, which she quickly hushed, imgagining how bad that kind of cynicism would sound to God. If he even existed…because if he did then…

Focus. 

She felt his hands on her shoulders, actually upon on her trapezoids, which had oddly risen up to her ears in knotted stress.

“I know you love me. And you’re going to stay here. And be without your iPhone and we’re going to sit in those stinking, ugly Adirondack chairs and drink wine and talk about how we’re going to spend our lives together.”

Hell was her love life and karma was this very moment come to its full, explosive, justice-seeking, barefoot, country-loving, wooden, hairy, digitaless, fucking glory.

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Through a dark wood

Here’s a slice of some fiction I am working on this week.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

It was too intimate. Seeing him crouched there over the side of the tub, his lower back hair softly lining the top of his underwear, his face fixated on his toes, the clippers delicately held between his forefinger and thumb. He still had his socks on and for a revulsive second, she was reminded of her dad, standing on a Seattle street corner, the sun barreling down like a klieg light on his polyester plaid shorts, offset by dark cotton socks, pulled up, solidly standing in brown Oxford’s. She shook her head, coughed, and slipped back out of the bathroom door. He hadn’t wanted her to see that. She hadn’t wanted to see that.

If they could sleep together, why on earth couldn’t she see him clipping his toe nails? There was something so very wrong here. She felt like she should get dressed but where would she go? Outside, just as the pamphlet sweetly promised, were dense woods. It was supposed to be romantic. Instead, she felt like an ice pick was wedged in her esophagus and she was the sister to James Franco in 127 Hours only it wasn’t her arm that was trapped, it was her heart. It was tightly wedged between romance and the driving, pounding, jabbing, crushing, suffocating, smothering, insatiable, demanding need to get the fuck out of here. Her forefinger nervously circled her palm as she began working out her bets, hedging that her survival skills were pretty good–she was a survivalist right? Yes, yes she was. But now the light was low, would she be able to make out to the road before dark? And what then? Oh my god she whispered out loud.

She told herself everything was fine. Fine.

Hitchhike? That’s not a big deal, people still hitchhike, likely there were friendly hippie-types around here, happy to pick up a hitchhiker. She looked down at her palm in alarm–it was wet, what? oh god, it was sweat–she was sweating, something that only happened right before she was going to faint.

Sit down. Just sit. Down. For Christ sakes. Take stock. Think quickly. Rationally. To the point. She slowed her breathing, sat down, and put her hands on the wide arms of the wanna-be Adirondack chairs, sliding her wet palms back and forth. This is the type of moment Ativan was created for. What could she tell him? There’s an emergency. What kind? With a girlfriend? What girlfriend doesn’t have another friend to call? No. No. No. That won’t work. Okay, stop, what was she complaining about? This place is great. It’s awesome. Now the voice of her friend Sean beamed in like a scene from Star Trek: “It is awesome. You are a psycho. You choose the wrong guys on purpose. You have committment issues.” She fucking did not.

Focus.

She just didn’t like the forest.  She wanted great, wide, swaths of cement. And lights. And traffic. Yes, lots and lots of traffic. Taxis. She could call a taxi! And then leave a note, yes, that would totally work. A quote from Woody Allen suddenly popped into her mind, I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy myself, but I didn’t. Brutal. This was only 7 hours, not 127 Hours; she wasn’t a survivor after all. With a furtive eye on the bathroom, she grabbed her phone. She was really doing this.

No signal.

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I Have Online Dating Disorder

I have Online Dating Disorder. Kind of like ADD only with an O and instead of Ritalin it’s Chardonnay for meds. As a busy parent, online dating seemed like a good idea at first. You know, water boiling on the stove, filing your nails, talking with your girlfriend on the phone, all the while scanning the online profiles on Lavalife or Plentyoffish for something that doesn’t make you exclaim out loud: Oh.My.God. It was downloadable men–what a fab idea! Like shopping online, only instead of a purse size you were thinking about, oh well, nevermind that, but over time a few things began to become painfully clear to me.

Such as, when a guy recently wrote to me on one of these sites saying, “It’s been three years, do you think you can go out with me yet?” I realized for sure I had ODD. What was wrong with me? These were perfectly nice people. Why couldn’t I commit to seeing any of them? Hadn’t I met some lovely people over the years through online dating? Yes. But…

I might want to watch a subtitled foreign movie this weekend. Maybe an Italian movie. With some Italian wine and oh and I know, some creamy Tuscany inspired pasta you know the kind that gives you an extra set of hips? Or maybe it’s a personal issue, as in I might have gray roots in which case I have to stay home and dye my hair. Or I think my stubble might show through my nylons. Or my laundry is spilling out of my laundry basket and I need to change the kitty litter. Or oh look! the weather vane is pointed southwest, in which case, I simply can’t go out as, well, I just never go out when its pointed that way.

You get the picture.I’ve become the Howard Hughes of the dating world.

Neurotically avoidant. But can you blame me? Recently, I was bravely giving it another chance, talking back and forth with a fellow about all things intellectual and I thought, well, this is a good sign, he hasn’t asked to see a naked picture of me yet. Then lo and behold we go from talking about how sad it is that Christopher Hitchens got cancer to ‘So Margaret, tell me the naughtiest thought you’ve had lately.’ Oh, do you mean as in how long can I park in this loading zone and pick up my prescription from my doctor and not get a ticket? Like that kind of naughty?

Delete.

Or perhaps its the endless sexual innuendos that I am maced with the second I go online that have contributed to my disorder? As in, ‘what exactly were you thinking about in your profile picture? Your smile looks really devilish’. Well, Mr. Online Personality, I was thinking about the weird sound my car makes when I lurch out of first gear and then nearly stall in a busy intersection. Does that do it for you? Because that is actually what I was thinking about. But we know they really want to hear: ‘I was thinking of you tearing off my clothes, maybe in public, because I am that wanton‘.

Pour Chardonnay. Insert movie. Break off slab of dark Denman Island chocolate. Repeat.

The truth is, I never wanted to be one of those mom’s you see in movies, you know the kind, with the chenille bedspread type robe on, smoking a Players filter, a 40 pounder of Jack Daniels on the table, maybe some leftover Poker chips scattered around, screaming at her kid to get her boyfriend another bologna sandwich? No. I wanted my son to be proud of me. Always. So having a Lazy Suzie of boyfriends wouldn’t make for such a great lineage of memorable male figures in his life so I’ve tried to keep my dating to a dull minimum unless I was serious about someone. So, he sees me go out, and sees me come in, usually with a funny story, or phrase that surmises the experience, as in ‘he called my shoes Big Girl Shoes’ or something of that ilk. And with that he knows that the Disorder is back in full swing for a long while.

I am owning my disorder. I know it can’t be helped. Modern medicine simply doesn’t have a cure. I’m sorry to you good guys I’m avoiding in my need to avoid all the bad eggs. Maybe you can reach me by smoke signals or telegraph, you know, the old fashioned way, so I know you are the real thing.

(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/with/1482848501/)

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