Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Under-domesticated Girl`s Guide to Getting Pot-Lucky (Canadian Edition)

Once upon a time I was young.  Being young meant that going to parties involved bringing a very large bottle of vodka and/or a 24 of Canadian, and that was pretty much it.

Being a grown-up is different.  Gone are the days of people being impressed with your ability to chug 8 litres of hard liquor through a hose without puking for 30 seconds.  Now you have to prove to everyone that you are a functional member of society based on your ability to mold fancy hors d`oeuvres into the shape of a swan while holding down a job that grants both medical AND dental benefits, and investing in your child`s Harvard Law future.  Adulthood is the worst!









Being a grown-up does not suit me for many reasons. I am a commitmentophobe who is afraid of babies and I can`t cook at all.  Not even a little.  I mean, I`ve never actually poisoned anyone with my cooking, but I`ve also never really impressed anyone with it either.  Maybe because when I find something I think might be fun to make I start reading the recipe and then just get really bored. The story is always the same: Add salt, stir until thick, cook for blah blah blah...  And there`s never any character development!

Being a grown-up means that you have to pre-plan for parties so you can show off your outstanding culinary skills in a way that is not only delicious, but also clever, whimsical, and adorable.  You have to make people at the party say things like "Oh my goodness I think my tongue just had an orgasm", because that is the kind of thing that not-young people like to say at parties and then everyone laughs because it is silly and edgy and hilariously inappropriate. People will tell you that the thing they made was really no big deal and that they just whipped it up at the last minute, but they are lying. Fruit does not naturally come shaped like flowers. You are fooling no-one.

Being a grown-up means pretending that you are from Europe, so you have classy European habits.  And I`m not referring to Henry Miller`s Tropic of Cancer kind of Europe. I mean like stereotype Europe.  You can no longer justify that pizza is nutritious because it has cheese and vegetables.  You have to have a more sophisticated palate and pretend like Foie Gras isn`t a completely disturbing concept.  But here`s the secret weapon that will protect all my fellow under-domesticated grown-ups from being sucked into the culture of adulthood: Grown-ups are nostalgic for their youth.

So, with that in mind, here are a couple of great ideas from my kitchen to yours on how to Pot Luck with the best of them without surpassing the cooking skills of a 10 year old.

1. Rolled up Balls of Cookie Dough
People like cookies, but approximately 99% of people like raw cookie dough way more. (I made up this statistic. It`s probably correct though.)  But you can`t just bring a tube of pre-made store bought cookie dough to a party because that`s really tacky. So what you do is buy the tube of pre-made cookie dough and then roll it into little balls and arrange nicely on a plate that doesn`t showcase the fact that you`re poor.
*Super Fun Twist*
If you, like me, have had a few too many bellinis from Milestones and have been collecting the colourful little plastic animals they put on top, this is a perfect opportunity to put them to use. Place them firmly in the cookie dough balls for a funtastic treat! If you don`t have any little plastic animals, improvise. Be creative. The sky is the limit!

2. Kraft Dinner with Little Pieces of Hot Dog
Prepare two boxes of Kraft Dinner. Follow the instructions or don`t, it`s your call.  Make some hot dogs. Cooking method is not important for the hot dogs.  Quantity is also up to your discretion. After the hot dogs have been cooked all the way through, cut them up so they make little hot dog circles. Place the hot dog circles in the Kraft Dinner and stir half-heartedly.  No need to overexert yourself.  Place in serving dish that doesn`t showcase the fact that your poor.
* Vegetarian Twist*
Do not add little pieces of hot dog
*Note*
Also makes for a good hangover snack the next day.



3. Bacon
Other people will try and outdo you by make something fancy and then wrapping it with bacon, but why mess with a classic? Everybody loves bacon.

4. 1960`s Jello Cake With Fruit Chunks
This dessert is both over and under-rated.  It is entirely possible that nobody will eat it, but everyone will appreciate you for bringing it. I have not used this one yet.  Feel free to let me know how it works out.

Moral of the story:  Being a grown-up is about facing new responsibilities and trying new things, but we all long for reminders of our youth.  If we really think hard, being young wasn`t all that great, and we spent most of the time wishing we were grown-ups.  Adults get to take the best-of moments and find some campy way of bringing it back to life and sharing it with others who need to be reminded of just how special the Garbage Pail Kids were.  Grown-ups will tell you that we hate Call Me Maybe and we only dance to it to be ironic, but deep down we dance to it because it`s fun to be young without all the bullshit. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Glee: Spirit Fingers in Social Context


I was in the bathtub thinking about how much I love baths.  In my head I thought "Mmmm.... Baaaaaths..." like the way Homer Simpson thinks about donuts or bacon.  But then that led me to a Hanson version, which went like "MMM BATHS, BA BA DOO BATHS, A DIBBY AH BA DOO BATHS, BA BA DOOOO..."  And then bath time became kind of like a party!

Fact: I think in music.  I am always rewriting my favourite songs to fit every day activities.  Like that time that I changed Fleetwood Mac`s classic hit "Go Your Own Way" to "Go Urinate".  Or a few weeks ago when I sang my entire work day to the tune of "Mambo # 5".  I guess it actually started back when I was about 9 and my Ballet carpooling buddy and I created the great masterpiece entitled *"Wind Beneath MyButt".  My life is a musical, and I`m pretty pleased about that. 

I think this is why I`m such a die-hard Gleek. Some people think it`s silly and unrealistic how they`re always randomly breaking out into song.  But for people like me an episode of Glee is just a typical day, only with more talent, better production quality, and fewer fart references.  (Actually the fart jokes pretty much stopped after we nailed the Bette Midler ballad.)  So what if I have a bunch of imaginary back up dancers when I brush my teeth, and I may or may not occasionally tap-dance while engaging in conversation.  (That second one actually happens kind of a lot.  Every day I`m shuffling!)  I only wish I could make it so that everyone I run into each day could somehow have shiny colour co-ordinated outfits, like for theatrical impact.


I have an intense sentimental attachment to music.  It reminds me of people I love, and precious moments in life.  It has been a catalyst for fun times, and helped shape and/or figure out who I am.  Music is a form of self-expression because every situation in life, good or bad, has its own corresponding soundtrack.  Music has special superpowers, and is frequently used for therapeutic and healing purposes.  It has even been used as a tool for peace-building and conflict resolution.  Music is probably my number 3 favourite thing after beagles and facebook, and tied with Quentin Tarantino.

It`s a bit unfortunate that I was born completely devoid of musical talent.  Although that didn`t stop me from almost scoring a recording contract in Australia for a song I wrote about living in a hostel.  I`m kind of a big deal in Melbourne, which you could probably tell from the part about how I was living in a hostel.  Sadly our duo had to break up immediately after the only time we ever performed it because of artistic differences.  (And because he was trash talking my girl Lea Michele.)  You know how it is.  But I still keep the dream alive that one day Ryan Murphy will catch me singing Don`t Stop Believing in the shower and then come up to me and say "WE NEED YOU ON GLEE STAT!"  Why, I`d be so excited I`d forget it was weird that Ryan Murphy was stalking me in the shower!


Moral of the story: If you have the imagination to add a little razzle dazzle to your every day life, embrace it.  The world needs more harmony.  And spirit fingers.  

*As kind of a funny aside, one time several years after the Ballet carpooling days I was meeting up with that same ballerina friend for drinks.  I texted her, and in my message left some kind of reference to Wind Beneath My Butt, thinking I was being cute.  The funny part was that she had actually got a new phone and I didn`t have the updated number, so I ended up sending the Wind Beneath My Butt text to some random stranger who responded with "Umm... What!"

Oh, and P.S.- Sorry for getting Hanson stuck in everybody`s heads.  

For an archive of all the fun imaginary songs I can remember check out this page which I just created.



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Invisibility: On Looting and Pillaging and the Rise of a New World Order

The world of science was rocked this week by the brilliant masterminds of Duke University`s Nathan Landy and David R. Smith.  Thanks to these guys and their ability to manipulate light or microwaves or whatever, the world is one step closer to succumbing to the Republic of Dumbledore.  That`s right, they just figured out what Hollywood mastered in 1933: Invisibility.  So, now that man has successfully made a cylinder disappear, it`s only a matter of time before we`re all assaulting each other to get our hands on our own cheap personal invisibility smocks at the nearest Wal-Mart.  Scientists, Fuck Yeah!

But with such close technological proximity to perfect invisibility, we can assume that the authorities are already trying to figure out how to destroy fun.  Politicians are no doubt preemptively drafting legislation criminalizing invisibility cloaks due to the inevitable descent into anarchy that would result from mass invisibility. So before the man takes away our right to dream, it`s time to get real and discuss the funtastic adventures that are about to be made possible.

I decided to do a poll to see what  everyone would do with this coveted superpower.  After some consultation and preliminary data analysis, I have broken down the possibilities into four main categories: Mischief, prosperity, voyeurism, and indulgence.

1. Mischief: You could haunt people and make your nemeses totally batshit  without all the inconvenience of being dead.  Let`s face it, the only real problem with being a ghost is the bit about having to snuff it.  Otherwise it`s awesome.  Well, problem solved. So go forth and give some asshole a nice good mind fucking.  It`ll be hilarious!

2. Prosperity: Co-ordinate and carry out unnecessarily elaborate bank heists.  Then give all the money to charity.  Then steal money from people you don`t like it and keep it.  I spoke to an engineer who thought this was a terrible idea because the money wouldn`t be invisible and you`d probably end up getting caught and dying in a Bonnie & Clyde style bullet shower.  But obviously you would hide the money under the invisibility cloak so that it would be invisible too.  Duh!  Scientists are just no good at problem solving.  That`s why the world needs us Arts students.  Anyway, he suggested sitting in on some Fortune 500 company`s finance meetings to get some hot insider trading info.  My main concern with that idea is that it wouldn`t be as fun to do crazy invisible ninja moves as it would with the bank heist method.  Nevertheless, money`s money and the modus operandi is completely up to you.

3. Voyeurism: Find out if that girl you`re smitten with has a shrine in your honour in her bedroom that she worships every night before pleasuring herself.  Or, sneak into the homes of sexy celebrities and spy on them in the shower.  If you`re into that kind of thing.  Which I`m not, because I find spying on people really creepy and if you vote for this one I`m deleting you off facebook because you`re probably a creep.  Not to mention the fact that I also don`t necessarily want to see the kinds of things that Zach Braff does when he thinks he`s alone, mainly because I`m worried that it could potentially ruin Zach Braff for me. I`m not prepared to sacrifice his perfection or tarnish the integrity of "Scrubs" in any way.  So I`ll just stick to the ZB shrine.  (Just kidding. As previously confessed my bedroom shrine is reserved for the United Nations Secretary Generals.)

4. Indulgence: Of course there`s the obvious hopping on planes to see the world, or sneaking into movie theatres so you can be the first to see "American Pie 87: My Great Great Grandchildren are Jerking off with Baked Goods and Woodwind Instruments... Again".  But you could also take gluttony to a whole new level and make fat pants a thing of the past.  When you`re bloated and disgusting you don`t have to worry about people judging you on your gross poutine stained elastic waist jogging pants.  Go steal another wad of chocolate chip cookie dough and just give er! (Did that sound Canadian?  That totally sounded Canadian!)

Moral of the story: Science is awesome, and why are we worrying about China when Hogwartz is the real threat to American hegemony?  Seriously, I just discovered today that my city has its own Quidditch league, but no discernible public transit system.  Is nobody else threatened by the fact that pretty soon all of our research money will be contributed to figuring out how to turn ourselves into cats?  And quidditch?!  Really?! Because a game that involves running around on a broom is obviously not lame at all.  On the other hand, beats the hell out of hockey!

History of Invisibility: 1933- Score one for the arts kids!



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Siri: The Worst Technological Advance Since... Ever

I am a connoisseur of crappy phones.  I have had a magnificent series of six cell phones that are less useful than those Fisher Price phones from 1962 with blue wheels and a giant creepy happy face that says "age 3 and up" on the box. (Okay, I just checked and it`s actually age one and up, but who`s counting?) The point is, these phones are designed for people who have not yet developed to the stage of verbal communication, and they are still better than all of my crappy phones.  This is probably because my strategy for purchasing a telephone goes as follows:

INT. TELECOMMUNICATIONS RETAIL OUTLET- DAY
Me: "Please point to your cheapest phone."
Sales representative points to piece of shit that obviously won`t work because it pre-dates the invention of fire.
Me: "I will take that one please!"

Sometimes I get jealous of people who have cool phones that do tricks like connect to the internet, or download apps, or send and receive text messages, or ring when somebody calls you...  But I don`t need all those bells and whistles.  In all honesty I`m just not a phone kind of girl.  The only reason I even got one in the first place was so that employers could contact me.  And now that I have a job it`s only real purpose is texting Kate every time I see a cute boy wearing a suit.  (Although I can`t even do that anymore because my texting functions have inexplicably ceased :s)  So in general I don`t really care that you left me a voicemail three days ago which I didn`t get because my phone is so crappy that it had no way of indicating to me that it happened. If it`s that important you should have just sent me a message on facebook.

One so-called "development" in telecommunications that makes me NOT regret my refusal to upgrade is Siri. Apple marketing cleverly conveyed this as a tool that enables you to find information more efficiently.  However, as we have all now figured out, it is pretty much exclusively designed to say funny shit when you ask it about penises and not be helpful in any practical way.  One of the many reasons Steve Jobs is considered a legend I suppose.

Perhaps my anti-Siri mentality stems from the fact that the first time I was introduced to her was when my friend asked a question about me and she responded with some kind of poop reference.  Cass thought it was funny.  I thought Siri was an asshole.  So Cass made another attempt to ask Siri a question about me, and again Siri made another poop reference.  I have hated Siri ever since.

Due to my undying contempt for Siri it has been impossible for me to remain objective in my opinions of her value to society.  But I believe a recap of Kate`s discussion this afternoon with Siri will speak for itself.

Kate: Siri, where is the closest Tim Hortons?
Siri: I have located five airports nearby. Would you like to know where they are?
Kate: No, Siri. Where is the closest Tim Hortons?
Siri: There are two K-Marts, but neither is very close.  Would you like to know where they are?
Kate: God damnit Siri you fucking suck you stupid piece of shit!!!!
Siri: Have I done something wrong?
Kate: Yes you stupid dumb bitch.
Siri: I`m sorry, I`m doing my best.
Kate: Oh, now I feel bad... Siri, where is the nearest Tim Hortons?...

Moral of the story: Even though my phone serves no practical function whatsoever, and in fact is so useless that it won`t even let me change the time settings for daylight savings, at least it doesn`t compare me to poop.  And that`s good enough for me!

Better than my phone.

My phone

My phone trying to send a text message

My phone when I tried to adjust for daylight savings time


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Normaling in Public With Betsy Fisher Fernandez

Me and *Betsy Fisher-Fernandez go way back. Let`s just call her BFF for short. We first met as lovable young hooligans at your friendly neighbourhood alternate school. Yup, BFF and I were bad little apples. Not so bad, but not really very good apples either. Really we were artists, so let`s just go with "misunderstood" apples.


We met a day before our city was buried under a trillion feet of ice and declared a state of emergency thanks to the ice storm of 1998. Her favourite movie was Titanic and we both had bad intentions for Leonardo Dicaprio.

In our early days we used to wear short skirts and push up bras and go to Hull where the legal drinking age was a year younger than it was in Ontario so we could cause a little trouble, break a few hearts, and dance like we had been choreographed by Bob Fosse himself. In fact one time we rented Sweet Charity and then went to Mercury Lounge to try out some new moves. They worked. We were awesome! One time we even danced for socks. We would order Slow Comfortable Screws Up Against the Wall (the drink), and since we were regulars and the bartenders knew us too well, it went without saying that we would require a whole lot of maraschino cherries. It was a magical time in our lives where we didn`t have to worry that much about things like essays or deadlines or job stability or cellulite. We pretty much owned the world.  

At the end of the night BFF and I would stumble home and crash on my couch and watch A Clockwork Orange until we fell asleep, which was usually about an hour in. Eventually we would learn to start the movie from the point where we left off the time before so we wouldn`t have to keep watching the same part over and over again. And when we finally finished watching the whole thing BFF decided we could never watch it again because we had watched it way too many times to be healthy. I still watch it because it`s amazing. This possibly makes me a terrible person.

 When I broke up with my first love and boyfriend of five-ish years, BFF came over and we ate a bunch of ice cream and watched all three Harry Potter movies. (This was a while ago)  When things have gone wrong in her love life I swore I would punch the bastard because I don`t like people fucking with my BFF. Let this be a lesson to all you boys who think she`s cute. And she definitely is. If you hurt her I will break you in half.

Even in our darkest days, BFF and I always had a plan. We would sit in the middle of a  field in the middle of the night singing House of the Rising Sun with some vodka mixed with a can of frozen orange juice and plot our futures. We were definitely both going to be famous. We would definitely make each other famous with our mad skills. Although not our mad singing skills because we both totally sucked at that. But we made a bunch of videos together and wrote some songs, and nearly 15 years later we`re planning feature length films and television series and other wild adventures. Like how one day we`re going to rent a slick convertible and drive really fast from Los Angeles to Vegas and get dinosaur tails and fake bats for photo ops. But no point in mentioning those bats. You poor bastards will see them soon enough.

But then one day she moved to the other side of the country, and in case you`re not a Geography expert, Canada`s a pretty damn big country. And then I moved to the other side of the Earth. And then I moved even further to the other side of the Earth. So there were a lot of years where I didn`t see too much of BFF at all because we were really really far apart.

So finally we are back in the same time zone. In fact, we`re back in the city where it all began. So last night BFF needed to go to Wal-Mart to pick up a clothing steamer, because she wears the kind of stuff and does the kinds of things that require a clothing steamer now. So on a Saturday night that used to be filled with wild and crazy adventures, we were busy picking out towels to match her bathroom and buying pita and hummous to snack on while we watched Titanic.

There`s an episode of 30 Rock where Jenna and Paul discover this crazy new fetish called "normaling" where they go to Bed Bath and Beyond to pick out placemats and it can`t possibly be normal because Jenna and Paul don`t do normal. This is exactly how last night felt at Wal-Mart, because Ella and Betsy don`t do normal. We`re fucking artists! But it turns out that despite all our wild times we grew up and kinda got normal.

Moral of the story: BFFs are like a chronicle of your life. Better than a diary because you can relive all the fun times and the story seems to keep getting better every time. They are like having your own personal CIA because they know all your secrets and they`ll put you on a watch list if they know you`re about to do something totally idiotic. They go through all the phases of life with you from being little shitheads to shopping for towels. And best of all they inspire you so that when you`re really angry about having to come back to Ottawa after two years of gallivanting around the world it ends up being not so bad.

*Her name is not really Betsy, but was changed because she didn`t want anyone to know that she was watching Titanic instead of independent art films last night.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Church & State Penitentiary


            You know when some asshole says “no offense” and then immediately launches into a completely offensive tirade that makes you want to punch him in the face?  But instead of thinking “it`s cool, he said no offense”, you think “that guy is a fucking asshole!”  Well that is how I feel about Canada`s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews right now.
            Let`s just say the Conservative Government`s idea of “religious freedom” differs slightly from my own view.  I`m of the thought school that goes something like “believe whatever you want just don`t hurt anybody”.  Theirs tends to be more along the lines of “everyone is free to be Christian, and by Christian I mean specifically the kind that judges everyone and spits all over the grave of equal rights”.  Maybe I`d feel a little better if it was more like the Jesusy kind of Christianity that`s all loving thy neighbour and don`t treat them like shit and stuff.  But it`s not.  So I guess it shouldn`t have been that much of a surprise to learn that the government is eliminating essentially all non-Christian chaplains from federal penitentiaries. 
            According to a CBC article, the government has decided that Christian chaplains are in a unique position to cater to all religious beliefs and provide the services of all of them.  Since apparently Christians are the only ones possessing this incredible skill of universal guidance, getting rid of all the other ones was the only logical option.  This one`s for you taxpayers!
            Here`s the thing that economics doesn`t explain away: Why are Christians exclusively able to provide interfaith teachings?  Who decided this, and what was the criteria for their decision?
Vic Toews stated that he “strongly supports the freedom of religion for all Canadians, including prisoners”.  So in other words it`s not actually religious discrimination because Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Christians are all equally allowed to be Christian.  Yay Canadian rewrite of equality!

            HOW IS THIS OKAY???

            In addition to being an incredibly blatant rejection of the right to religious freedom as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this decision demeans the work of all non-Christian spiritual leaders who have devoted their lives to their faith and strive to develop a deeper understanding of that faith.  Then they use that passion to help inmates through some of the most difficult times of their lives.  And Vic Toews reduces their work by saying “well this guy`s a Christian so he can probably do it”.
           
Moral of the story: If you say you`re not a douchebag and then say something douchy, you`re still a douchebag.  There is no magical non-douchebag cloak that you get for preceding bullshit with the words “no offense”, or “I`m no racist ”, or “I`m all for equality, but...”  If you find yourself using disclaimers like these, you are probably a dickhead.  Just like if you are the Minister of Public Safety and find yourself saying you`re “not in the business of picking and choosing which religions will be given preferential status through government funding” and then proceed to cut the jobs of everyone not affiliated with a particular religion, it turns out that is exactly the business you are in.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

iLove The Captain

Saying goodbye has never been easy for me.  I`m a total disaster at funerals, I cried a little when Silverchair disbanded, I cried A LOT when Finchel broke up, and I still haven`t come to terms with the fact that Bonkers candy no longer exists even though I`ve had like a quarter of a century to get over it.  So if I need Prozac over fruity little cube shaped candies, you can imagine how emotional it is for me when a beautiful relationship of almost five years comes to an end.  This week I finally had to accept the DNR order on my laptop, and now I pretty much just want to eat an entire tube of chocolate chip cookie dough every single hour while I weep and listen to 90`s grunge death ballads and never again see the sun.  I did not just lose a machine, I lost my first electronic love.

I remember the day I first brought it home.  My friend Eric helped me pick it out and I told him I was going to name it.  I didn`t actually have a name in mind, but I just knew the right name would come to me.  As Eric and I were setting it up (and by that I mean as I sat around being really confused while I watched Eric set it up), I suddenly referred to it as "The Captain".  As sure as I knew when I was three that my new baby brother`s name should be Pork Chop, and when I was seven that my new beagle`s name should be Bagel, I knew that my computer`s name was The Captain. 

People argue that losing a computer is no big deal because you can just head down to the nearest Future Shop and find a really cheap replacement, but the relationship between a girl and her first laptop is so much deeper.  This computer was with me through the best of times and the worst of times.  It has kept me in touch with friends through all our comings and goings, connected me with amazing people I thought I`d never see again, and it provided the skype that let me share Christmas with my family despite me being in the middle of nowhere on the opposite side of the planet.  It pulled all-nighters with me while I wrote papers, it helped me with the research for said papers, and I can`t help but give it some of the credit for my graduation from University.  It has been my true partner in crime through all my wacky creative endeavours, and ultimately served as an extension of my own mind.  No matter how tough things got, it encouraged me to never stop believing. (Although that`s mainly because I listen to too much Journey on iTunes.) We shared secrets, and laughs, and tears, and bad decisions, and most importantly memories.  It made miracles happen.

I know we`ve had some hard times and occasionally I threatened to throw it into the middle of an ocean full of really hungry computer eating sharks, but no matter how many times it crashed or failed me it was no worse than dumb shit ex-boyfriends have done. (Example: My computer never once asked for a threesome with a chick he said was hotter than me. Can`t say that about *Dipshit.  *Not his actual name.)  The fact is, like any relationship there are going to be some rocky patches, but in the end a computer is there for you no matter how many stupid things you make it do.

I bought a new laptop, but it`s just not the same. It`s different, and awkward, and it refuses to stop being French, even though I`ve tried every single keyboard language setting cure Yahoo Answers has prescribed.  But it`s still being a stupid asshole.  You know what new computer with a name that is dangerously close to becoming Dipshit II, there are times in life when a girl needs to build a fucking question mark and an É just won`t suffice!

Moral of the story: A great laptop is about more than just its model.  It`s about sharing your hopes and dreams, and doing everything in its power to help you to realize those ambitions.  It provides moral support, whether it`s playing Journey over and over, or letting you talk to mom when it won`t stop raining in Korea and there`s jumping spiders all over your porch and the big mean boss keeps stealing all of your money.  It does not judge you, but provides the voice of reason by saying things like "are you sure you don`t want to save that?" or "do you really want to send that?"  In conclusion, you can always buy a new computer, but you can never replace an old one.
 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

There's a Witch in the Bathroom

When I was little I figured out there was a witch in the bathroom.  Not my bathroom specifically, all bathrooms.  Every single bathroom in the entire universe contained a witch, and that was the scariest thing ever.

The witch would mostly be asleep all the time, and it wouldn't wake up as long as you were just doing your business.  But once you flushed the toilet it was game over.  The witch would hunt you down and kill you and then perform evil rituals on your mutilated body.  This was a fact.

But when you gotta go you gotta go, witches be damned.  And refusing to flush the toilet is just gross.  So my only option was to run as fast as I could out of the bathroom the instant I flushed.  Bathroom witches can never leave the bathroom, so once you were out that door you were home free and the witch could suck it.  (I understand this presented some sanitary issues, what with not washing my hands and all, but I was like four and there was a fucking witch after me so what are you gonna do?)

Four year olds think all kinds of crazy shit, but here's the confession: I still kind of do this.  Don't get me wrong, I don't go racing out of the bathroom with pee all over my hands or anything, but that's because I learned to take preventive action.  To this day every time I see a closed shower curtain I will check behind it to confirm a witch-free pee.  If you are one of those people with a cute clever shower curtain and you want to show it off to all your house guests, as far as I'm concerned you are an accessory.

At this point it is basically just force of habit.  I don't actually think there are witches in your shower.  However, what happens if the one time I don't do my witch-proofing there actually is a witch?  I end up with a giant pentagram carved into my chest and Alanis Morissette writes me into a song about irony.  Fuck that!

Moral of the story: There is such a thing as being overly cautious.  It's probably not necessary that I look for witches in bathtubs, or show up at job interviews three hours early, or spend the night in an airport for a flight that leaves at 10am.  But if I don't do these things I will go crazy.  If I have to choose between being inconvenienced and being crazy then inconvenience wins.  We all have our weird things that bring us comfort and security, and if checking for witches in the shower until the day you die is what it takes to fend off the inner psycho, then I say go for it.  Plus it works, I've never once had a witch encounter in the crapper.

Super scary witch <3

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Totally Forgot I Have the Key to a City

I require a job.

Like many people do when they require a job I decided to hit up the interweb for its infinite wisdom and then got depressed about how I'm pretty much horrible at everything especially reading French, speaking French, and writing French.  ...And anything related to computers.  Yes, I am that amazing genius who thought that fabulous high paying jobs would just fall into the lap of a unilingual technologically inept Canadian Political Science graduate, because if there's two things Political Science is known for its the spectacular employability factor and not being a hilarious joke degree. #LifeChoiceFail

Anyway, I was going through some Government job opportunities when I discovered a vacancy at DFAIT.  Keeping in mind that I love International Relations SOOOO MUCH that I literally have pictures of all the United Nations Secretary Generals on my bedroom wall (not kidding), the idea of working in Foreign Affairs and International Trade hit me like if Quentin Tarantino had just offered me a seven figure salary position with the Department of Puppies Chocolate and Jared Leto.

I NEEDED THIS PUPPY JOB!

So I started filling out the application.  Turns out there's a crazy number of questions and components, which I guess is good because it means that the Canadian Federal Government only selects the country's *best and brightest (*people with enough patience to sit through the 95 hour application process) to be its photocopy bitch.  (Kind of like how it probably selected the 'best and brightest' to provide the top notch Parliamentary "security" that enabled Greenpeace to get onto the roof of West Block and hang a banner effectively declaring the incompetence of the House of Commons in 2009, but that is for another post.)   So, as I was trying to explain to the department of Jordan Catalano how I am the next shining star of Canadian civil service because Kofi Annan is like my Justin Bieber, I came across a question involving my experience with etiquette and dignitaries.

Every once in a while I get this sudden realization that my life is totally insane.  It's basically a tornado of destruction and then when that's over the tornado is all like "hey sorry for making a big crazy mess, here's a bunch of diamonds that were ethically extracted and for which the miners were paid fair wages for their labour".  Exactly, it makes no sense! 

The reason for this epiphany was that a few years ago when I was in Sierra Leone I got the Key to the City.  The city of Kenema, to be specific.  Somehow I had forgotten this.  Reagan and I spent the whole day meeting with Mayors and various officials and being paraded around like superstars to the the point where it was questionable if we could actually get our documentary completed in time.  It was very strange and flattering, and I wondered if that's what DFAIT had in mind when it asked me about my experience with official visits and etiquette.  And that got me thinking about how strange my life has to be to not remember holding the Key to a City in western Africa for a week.  

Things happen to me.  Like in a Forrest Gump kinda way.  For example there was that time I called up my friend Kate from Boston to say "Hey Kate I gotta go because I'm in Boston about to meet Hillary Clinton".  Then there was the media paparazzi that followed me for a week and a live interview via satellite on Canada am.  Then a couple of weeks later I celebrated my victory as Communications Director for the Political Science Society by getting drunk and dancing to Journey at the home of the Ambassador to Uruguay.  Then there was that fortnight that had me randomly seated for dinner next to two African dignitaries on two completely separate occasions after some development speeches I gave on behalf of Engineers Without Borders.  This all happened within 4 months of commencing my degree in Political Science.  After that Olivia Chow became my exercise buddy, and I couchsurfed at Jack Layton's house a few times.  I guess you could say Political Science was actually very becoming of me.

But it's not just Political Science that has led to random strange and amazing experiences.  As a dancer I have choreographed and performed solo on the mainstage of the National Arts Centre, and I even got to do a bunch of fouettees in front of a lot of people which is a really big deal to me.  I have won a few Championships, and represented Ontario at the Canadian Championships, and even taken home a medal from Worlds.  As a filmmaker I have had the privilege of going to Cannes Film Festival, and as a writer I was pretty stoked to get included in Zooey Deschanel's HelloGiggles website.  Things just have this bizarre way of happening for me.

I never know where my life is going more than six weeks in advance.  Last year I was joking with a friend after I had just returned from seven months in Asia about how we should get together before I ship out again.  We both knew I would be in Ottawa for a while though, so it was all just fun and games.  A month later I was living in Australia.  I gave about a month's notice when I ran off to Korea.

I know I seem like a flake because I do a zillion different things so employers look at my resume and think I'm a trainwreck.  (Plus I cry all the time and have no eyebrows.)  But here's the thing: I make shit happen.  I seize opportunities and I commit.  Okay, I'm kind of a flake, but seriously employers how many other resumes have you seen with Cannes Film Festival, World Championship Dance Medals, HelloGiggles, AND a Key to a City on it?  Probably not that many!

Moral of the Story: I'm still trying to decide.  It's either to follow your heart and do what you love and enjoy the random crazy opportunities that exist in life, or it's to follow logic and reason so you don't end up a broke nomadic hipster bum that doesn't speak French.  99% of the time option A will be kind of disastrous, but in the other 1% of the time you remember that at one point in life you had the Key to a City and then it all sort of makes sense.  Also don't take Political Science unless you really want to be poor.

told you i have pictures of all the united nations secretary generals on my wall!


Getting the key to the city in Kenema.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oh Canada, Your Traffic Infrastructure is So Sexy!

Millions of years ago (give or take), a small round revolutionary creation emerged from the depths of human imagination.  It was an idea that enhanced efficiency and capability, and is arguably the second greatest invention of all time after facebook.  That invention is, of course, the wheel, and I am deathly afraid of it.

You know that old urban legend about the girl who never learned how to ride a bike even though she was over the age of seven?  Well, myth busted because that girl is me.  I also tried driving but hated it because I was constantly paranoid that I would crash and die or be the accidental perpetrator of somebody else's death.  In the words of Tweak: "TOO MUCH PRESSURE!!!"

I pretty much view every single thing with wheels as a death machine, be it a train, or a car, or those stupid little wheel things kids put on their sneakers.  I am convinced they will somehow roll to their bloody death, possibly by rolling into oncoming traffic where they will be slaughtered by something bigger with wheels, or maybe they will roll down the stairs and shatter their skulls.  Or, alternatively, they will just bump into me and I will have to kill them out of sheer annoyance.  Regardless, my eternal pessimism refuses to see these sneaker wheels as a fun toy, but instead as the driving force behind the apocalypse. 

I. HATE. WHEELS.

This is how I felt even before I travelled to India.  And now, after riding on the back of motorbikes clinging for dear life as cars, bikes, rickshaws and a variety of barnyard animals come at me from every direction without any logic or order, I am absolutely certain that wheels were created by a sadistic fuck who preyed on chaos and human misery.

A Portrait of India
What appears to a Canadian as a two lane road, in India is actually more like a 20-25 lane road.  There is no such thing as the "three second rule", or "safe distance".  The way it works is if there is even a tiny amount of space on the road you are required to fill it somehow, even if it doesn't make any sense to.  If the oncoming car is at least 3 meters away, the general passing rule is "I can make it!"

NO!!! YOU CAN'T MAKE IT!!!!!! YOU WILL GET STUCK OR CRASH FOR SURE AND IT WILL MAKE AN EVEN BIGGER MESS AND P.S. YOU MIGHT GET DEAD!!!

In India the horn is a solution to everything, which is hilarious because there are signs everywhere saying "Do not honk your horn".  Maybe honking is supposed to serve as some kind of crash prevention method, but my theory is that it's actually to drown out the blood-curdling screams of tourists yelling "HOLY SHIT TELL MY MOTHER I LOVE HER!!!!!!!!!!"

As a pedestrian you have to be aggressive if you want to get anywhere.  This sucks for me because when I look and see a zillion cars and a bunch of cows coming at me I become paralyzed with fear and my brain rejects all crossing "opportunities", even if they do actually exist kind of.  Example: I spent 20 minutes trying to cross the street to get to the Red Fort in Delhi.  Then I gave up, went crazy, and decided I hate India. So I took a break at McDonalds with a bunch of Chicken McNuggets and then decided to try again because I really wanted to take pretty pictures.  I ended up making it, but my pictures turned out bad and I am still angry about the whole thing.

Yup, I risked my life for this photo!


In a couple of weeks I will be out of Asia and back on the orderly roads of my home and native land.  I have loved many things and will miss many things about India, but the traffic is not among them.  I look forward to Canada, where there will be traffic lights and driving laws and it will be glorious.  In fact, I may end up getting all cocky and strut confidently into oncoming traffic Marla Singer style dramatically yelling "Who are you anyway? Cornelius? Rupert?..."  JUST BECAUSE I CAN! (And also because I'm a sucker for misguided violent movie references)

Moral of the story: Dear Canada, I love you for your traffic infrastructure.  I promise to never take you for granted, or cheat on you by loving another traffic infrastructure more.  You are the only traffic infrastructure for me.  I kind of wish you'd lose the snow and the hockey and the conservative government, but hey, can't have it all right?  Anyway, I wrote you this song which I would proudly hold my hand over my heart and sing any day:

Oh Canada, your road signs are so clear
And 'cuz of that I walk with much less fear
When the light is red people stop their cars
So that they don't hit me
Stuff like that is cool for pedestrians
Who want not squished to be
God keep our lanes
Marked, well-lit and free
Oh Canada your passing laws are sweet
Oh Canada your pavement's so sexy

(I think that was probably some sort of treason or something)



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Travelling Light

My flight to Singapore was scheduled to depart at 6:20am, which meant check-in was theoretically to begin around 3:20am.  After spending the night at the Bali airport Starbucks (which was actually closed but they had an outdoor seating area popular with local mosquitoes), it was finally time to go check in.  However, check in was delayed for a while and didn't end up beginning until closer to 4:30am.

When I finally got my boarding pass I noticed something interesting.  There was no checked baggage allowance.  "Impossible!" I thought.  I always remember to book checked baggage, surely it had to be a mistake. I am never wrong!  So I asked at the desk and they assured me that there was, in fact, no checked baggage for me :*(

THIS WAS A DISASTER!!!

I was down to my final rupiahs and I absolutely refused to pay extra for checked baggage. The only solution was to improvise and try to stuff every single thing I owned into a tiny carry on suitcase that I was not able to expand due to size restrictions.  I knew it was not going to be easy.  So, with less than an hour left until scheduled boarding time I dumped everything I had onto the floor and began making some fast and terrifying decisions about the fate of my stuff.

After a brief panic attack I started sorting everything into piles with imaginary labels marked "i will most definitely die without this", "i will possibly die without this, best not chance it", "i probably won't die without it, but to lose it may reduce my will to live", and finally "why do i still have this crap?"

Everything in pile #4 was immediately discarded.
Everything in pile #1 was test packed to see how much more space I had for the items in piles #2 & #3.  Then it was unpacked and thrown on the floor again.
Piles #2 & #3 were re-sorted hierarchically, and those ranking lowest were set aside for probable death.  The higher ranked stuff was sorted into new categories including "what I can squeeze into my suitcase", "what I can layer on my body", and finally "do I actually need it, really?"

It was not a comfortable journey, nor was it a fashionable one, but I managed to successfully meet the size and weight requirements for carry-on luggage and here's how I did it:


What I wore:

-1 pair of socks
-2 pairs of leggings
-1 pair of loose cotton capris
-1 tank top
-2 babydoll dresses
-1 cashmere cardigan
-1 wool hooded sweater
-1 fleece jacket
-underwear

My attire was very well suited for my destination of Singapore (aka 1 degree north of the Equator)


Things I managed to keep with a lot of stuffing effort:

-1 Stuffed beagle pillow
-Bunch of notebooks with random "really important and top secret" stuff written (I have a stationary addiction, it's unhealthy)
-2 amazing Balinese presents for Megra & Katerpiller which I will neither confirm nor deny are wooden penis beer bottle openers
-1 Mountain Equipment Co-op backpack that is so amazing I'm convinced it will outlive us all (and not just cuz the world's going to end in a few months)


What I had to sacrifice:

-1 really comfy Bohemian kinda dress that had at least 2 more wears before total disintegration
-1 one-size-fits-all dress that didn't fit
-1 pair of leggings with 2 holes in them
-2 empty notebooks symbolizing my lack of productivity
-8 billion pairs of black tights (I have no idea how I ended up with so many???)
-1 stick of deodorant (to be replaced ASAP)
-Several mismatched socks (they will meet with their long lost mates in the Travellers Trax Sock Vortex, I have faith!)
-1 brush (admittedly I was a little attached because it was one of the trillion brushes Courtney and I bought because we kept losing them in the room 6 abyss, so we just started leaving them randomly around the room so ideally we could always find at least one of them.  This may have been the last remaining one :*( 


Moral of the story:  Always print page 2 of your travel documents as well as page 1.  I checked my flight details when I got some internet and it turned out I did actually pre-book my luggage and all of that was for nothing.  Now please excuse me, I have to go buy deodorant.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Probably Have Fish Pee In My Hair But At Least I Didn't Get Eaten


            If I had to summarize the ocean I would probably say it is a giant wet death trap filled with zillions of gross things that want to poison and/or eat you.  If I had to summarize Australia the description would be exactly the same but minus the word “wet”.  Oceans and rainforests look pretty in pictures, but lurking just beneath the surface there are an infinity of ugly slimy things with too many legs and too many eyes and too many teeth.
            When I moved to Australia my friend told me I was insane because I was going to get eaten for sure.  In fact, she no longer calls me by name, but rather as “Shark Host” because she is convinced that the instant I got to Australia I was swallowed whole and now I update my facebook statuses from within the shark.  This is not true.  Sharks don’t really swallow people whole and then update their facebook pages.  It’s a common misconception.
            The point is, for many years now I have desperately wanted to go to Australia.  I could handle all the spiders and snakes and sharks and jellyfish, I just really really wanted to go to Australia and swim in the Great Barrier Reef.  So every single year for my birthday and when Santa asked what I wanted for Christmas, I would always just submit a piece of paper containing simply the word “Australia”.
            Last year I finally got my wish.  I got a Working Holiday Visa, packed my bags, and set off for the Land Down Under.  That was over 11 months ago and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by.  So, in my final hours in the international departures terminal of this glorious country, I would like to propose a toast. To Australia!

SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE


           The day I arrived I hauled my sleepless body off the plane and immediately over to Circular Quay to see the iconic landmarks known as the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. That was the day I developed a freakish love affair with the Opera House, rivalled only by my feelings for Quentin Tarantino.  There could probably be a reality show about it.  In addition to its aesthetic magnificence (the Opera House, not Q)  there is an incredible history of perseverance and controversy and it stands as a testament to the power of the human mind.  It is a building that, quite simply, is not supposed to exist. 
 It began as an international architecture competition virtually limitless in its scope.  The winning concept by Danish designer Jorn Utzon was initially disqualified and discarded in the first round of the competition.  However, it was later retrieved and selected despite a complete absence of any real logistical plans.  In other words, it looked really cool on paper, but nobody had any idea how it was actually going to materialize.
The construction was a revolutionary process that exceeded both financial and time predictions by A LOT!  (Give or take 15 times the original cost estimate.)  There was widespread scepticism and contempt, a new government that was highly critical of the project, and ultimately the resignation of Jorn Utzon.  He never returned to Australia and therefore never actually saw the completed project for which he was awarded the Pritzker Prize.
I lived in Sydney for about eight months, and every time I was in a bad mood all I had to do was walk down to Circular Quay and look at the Sydney Opera House, and then nothing else mattered because that building reminded me that I was in Australia.  That made me happy as a giant clam.  Like the giant clams you find in the Great Barrier Reef. 

GREAT BARRIER REEF  


Jumping off a boat into the middle of a shark infested ocean is, admittedly, a little intimidating.  You kind of feel like the biggest sucker ever for empowering Australia’s tourism industry for a) convincing you to do it, and b) convincing you to pay for it.  But then you muster up the courage to dive in and suddenly a whole new universe is revealed.
Viewing the Reef through the eyes of National Geographic is amazing, but nothing compares to the first moment you stick your head under the water and it feels like you’re on a different planet.  A planet that tastes like salt.  You are like a spectator looking down, and all the colourful fish and turtles and barracudas swim around like you’re not even there.  When you stick your head up you remember that you’re back in the middle of the ocean, and it’s kind of like you’re going between two totally separate worlds.  I found Nemo and swam until my arms ached, and it was without a doubt one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

Moral of the story: The ocean is undeniably disgusting and contains a crazy amount of creatures that have clearly provided the inspiration for Will Smith’s cinematic opponents.  And so what if Australian wildlife is just a bunch of merchants of death?!  It’s also spectacularly beautiful.  (Not so much the spiders though.)  Exploration opens our eyes and makes us stronger by pushing us to do things we wouldn’t normally do and be close to bugs that are big enough to have their own solar systems.
I am extremely lucky to have travelled all over the world and seen things most people never get to.  I may have missed out on a platypus sighting, but I did get to see wild kangaroos and wallabies and giant sea turtles, in addition to the most spectacular scenery in the world.  There are so many amazing things I got to do in Australia, and even more that I didn’t.  Bottom line is I love this country, and I love all the people I met along the way who helped make this year so fantastic.  And here's a giant spider eating a butterfly!
yum!



 "Don't forget me I kill people too!" -Crocodile



Friday, May 18, 2012

The Incredible League Of Incredibly Practical Superheroes


            I went to see the Avengers, even though I’ve never been all that enthusiastic about superheroes.  I mean, unless you happen to be in New York City when an evil demi-God from another realm decides to launch a total annihilation campaign against humanity, they’re not really that useful.  And that almost never happens.           
In theory superheroes could be pretty helpful in preventing disasters, but I think they should try to address more practical problems.  So here are a few spandex wielding protagonists that I wouldn’t mind intervening in my life on occasion.

Captain Patience

            In the bleak apocalyptic social landscape of unreciprocated facebook messages, Captain Patience stays strong and never panics.  Even in the 25th hour when she knows they’re online because they just commented on someone else’s status 14 seconds ago and therefore the only possible conclusion for their unresponsiveness is that they’re fucking with her and have some sinister investment in her misery, she just stays calm and does not crack. 
            It is no great mystery that waiting SUCKS.  It sends you into a downward spiral of insanity that convinces you that the only cure for waiting is to do something mind-numbingly stupid, the consequences of which make you realize that there are many many things way worse than waiting.  So on that darkest day where the evil insecurity demon tries to invoke his wrath, Captain Patience swoops down just in time to fight him off before the dark lord forces you to hit ‘send’ on the passionately worded follow up message that goes something along the lines of “wow, your level of idiocy is unfathomable I’m amazed you’re even able to dress yourself”.  Another crisis that could have been averted with the help of Captain Patience.
             
Willimina Power 

            Willimina Power is resistant to every strain of cupcake, and serves as the first and only line of defense against the horrible Retail Therapy Goblin.  In the morning she always chooses the treadmill over the snooze button, and after cooking her own nutritious dinner instead of just microwaving a box of food-flavoured preservatives, she washes the dishes instead of selling her soul to the dish gnomes to bail her out again.  Everybody knows dish gnomes are a bunch of lazy slackers and if you wait for them to do anything your cookware will breed its own ecosystem in the sink.  Of course some of us learn that the hard way.

The Incredible Emotional Stability Hulk 

            The Incredible Emotional Stability Hulk has never once cried because she ran out of parmesan cheese, and when she learns that the boy she likes doesn’t share her views on refugee policy it doesn’t even phase her.  She doesn’t refer to minor inconveniences as “a total disaster”, and instead of flying off the handle when missing an episode of Glee she simply contemplates that great ancient proverb ‘She who knows Rachel’s response to Finn’s proposal is no more wise than she who does not’.  Then she morphs into something like a Buddhist monk and meditates to the height of enlightenment and floats away. 
            She still cries at the end of that Futurama episode with the dog, but that’s only because you have to be born without a soul to make it through that episode without feeling like your still beating heart has just been torn out of your chest cavity and thrown into a vat of acid.  Same applies to Dancer In the Dark starring Bjork.  Otherwise she responds to all of life’s obstacles with her famous catch phrase “No worries, that’s cool!”           

Reality Chick

            Unlike many superheroes, Reality Chick doesn’t live in some far off galaxy or top secret lair.  She walks among normal people and is totally grounded in the real world.  She gets that imaginations can be useful, but you can’t actually live in them because the atmospheric temperature of LaLa Land is not suitable for permanent human habitation.  She vacations there from time to time, but her earthly responsibilities remain her top priority when the real world needs her.  She still dreams when there’s time though.

Moral of the story: Superheroes shouldn’t leave their environment in worse disrepair than Team America.  Problems can be solved without destroying any UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and I mean that both literally and metaphorically.  (Think about that for a second.)  Minor catastrophes can breed bigger catastrophes which can be easily prevented by not acting like a dumbass every single time something pisses you off.  When faced with the need to relax and refrain from eating the entire cheesecake it’s easy to turn into Jared Leto’s mother in Requiem For A Dream, complete with Cha-Cha dancing refrigerators, speed addictions, and frantic appeals to the media to let her have her 15 minutes.  (Seriously, WHY COULDN’T THEY JUST TELL HER WHEN SHE’S GOING TO BE ON THE FUCKING TELEVISION???!!!)  It is these moments of weakness when we make disasters happen, but the Incredible League of Incredibly Practical Superheroes is just the team to keep people out of trouble and out of electro-shock therapy.  And by ‘people’ I mostly mean me.

*Note: I kept all the superheroes well stacked as is the convention. Sorry I can't draw and I'm even worse at drawing with MS Paint. I made someone verify that at least one of them kind of looked more or less like a superhero though.

Friday, May 4, 2012

First Rule Of Dancing...


Two things I love more than anything in the entire world (besides beagles) are dancing and violent movies.  If Quentin Tarantino directed The Nutcracker and I got to be a machine gun wielding Sugar Plum Fairy with awesome dialogue and a yellow leather tutu I would instantly die because I would know that life could never get any better.


I LOVE dancing, and the only time I ever truly felt comfortable growing up was when I was on stage.  I shied away from attention in my day to day life, but when I was dancing I was starved for it.  I wanted to live forever and learn how to fly, and when my toes bled right through my point shoes I just salted and disinfected the wounds and then did it all again the next day.  I danced on dislocated knees and fractured feet and I loved a good battle scar.  The searing pain and stench of peroxide and rubbing alcohol on open wounds only made me stronger as a person.  Dancing was like Fight Club for girls, but with less anarchy and more swans.  It tested your limits and then pushed you past them, and when you wanted to scream in mental and physical anguish you just repressed the pain until the time when you could finally lie in the dressing room with your feet stuck up on the wall letting all the blood rush out of your torn up toes.  It was magical!
Dancing is deceptive because, even though it’s just as demanding as any sport, you can’t grunt like tennis players, make weird faces like runners, scratch your balls like baseball players, or hit people in the head with sticks like hockey players.  Dancers have to look graceful and make it appear like it’s the easiest thing in the universe despite our feet and shins simultaneously being ground into pulp.  Even in death we must be in perfectly turned out fifth position with toes beautifully pointed.  The problem is it makes everyone think it’s super easy so they spin around waving their arms like assholes in mockery. If you happen to be one of those jerkfaces who thinks that dancing is easy maybe you should try putting YOUR FACE in a pointshoe!  (Dear Quentin Tarantino, please feel free to use that idea in any of your future films.)
Thanks to my unfortunate exploding calf muscle I don’t really get to do much dancing anymore (except for how I’m always rocking out to Rihanna’s “We Found Love in a Hopeless Place” or doing the entire “All the Single Ladies” dance in the laundromat to the music that plays in my head at all times).  I miss the life of extended highcuts and grand jetees, and would do damn near anything to fouettee like it’s 1999. 


Moral of the story: This article is dedicated to all the dancers who know that a good dance wound brings with it the same sense of enlightenment as if Brad Pitt poured a bunch of pure lye on your hand and then made you watch it burn your through your own flesh.  And while I’m sorry to all my tendons and joints that now like to spontaneously suckerpunch me as punishment for pissing them off for twenty years, the fact is I would never trade my Cowal medals or spotlit moments on the mainstage of the National Arts Centre no matter how likely it is that I’ll need a hip replacement before the age of 35.  It was totally worth it!  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What's a Lesbian?


            When I was younger I watched an episode of Degrassi and thought I was a lesbian.  I think that was more a testament to my mother not knowing how to adequately explain what a lesbian was to her pre-pubescent daughter.  
“Umm...  Girls who like girls” she said. 
“I like girls” I replied.  I was not fully aware of the sexual and/or romantic implications hidden in this ambiguous definition.
            In fact, I had known since the age of six that I was most definitely not a lesbian because, while all my playmates were convinced boys had cooties, I was getting ostracized for knowing that Ian Phillips was totally cute.  I didn’t know what to do with that information when I was six, and it didn’t really matter anyway because he was convinced that, since I was a girl, there was absolutely no doubt that I had cooties too.  Cooties is a real romantic deal breaker when you’re six.  But still, I had been tricked by Degrassi into false lesbianism because I didn’t grasp the difference between ‘liking’ and ‘like liking’. 
            What I gathered from the show was that it was pretty damn complicated being a lesbian, and I was a little confused about why girls liking girls even mattered that much.  Who better to resolve that confusion than Canada’s finest selection of after school television writers and child actors?   

            Several years later I was teaching Highland dancing at a community centre downtown.  One of my young mischievous students around the same age I was for the Degrassi incident was busily checking out some of the posters in the studio instead of doing what she was supposed to.  As I was about to tell her to go do some dancing, she turned to me and said “What’s gay lesbian and bee-sexual?”
            I should probably mention the fact that at that time I was studying Criminology with a concentration in Law, and one of my Law electives was a seminar on GLBTQ Charter of Rights issues.  So literally a few weeks prior to this event we had spent our entire three hour opening lecture defining these exact terms.  If ever there was a Highland dance teacher equipped to tell an eight year old what a “bee-sexual” was, that Highland dance teacher was me!  Instead, my response was “DO YOUR SWORD DANCE!!!”

Moral of the story: No matter how many Law classes you take or episodes of Degrassi you watch, explaining sexuality to children really fucking sucks.  But the explanations we get when we’re young stay with us through life, so I’m sure glad the definition I got was as simple as girls liking girls, rather than something along the lines of “it’s an abomination of God and they’ll burn in hell for an eternity”.  One thing that is certain is that kids are really curious.  Possibly even bee-curious.  But if they’re in a Highland Dance class they probably should just do their Sword.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Find This Message Creepy

"We noticed that you've been a Weebly user for 2 days, 11 hours, 10 minutes and 24 seconds, but you still haven't published your site!"


1. Chill out I've been busy.
2. Why is my website so important to you that you are running a doomsday clock?  Alerting me to the precise number of seconds is a little intense.
3. Exclamation point?! Seriously?!!! It's been two fucking days since starting a website, it's not like I got drunk and ran over a baby.  There's really no need to scold me. And I haven't been given any of the content yet so it's not even my fault.  You're stressing me out Weebly!


When Twitter sent me their 'where the fuck did you go?' message they at least waited a few weeks.  The automatic messaging system recognized that we needed some time apart, but gently reminded me that it was waiting whenever I felt like I was ready to come back.  It gave me my space and let me know that it still cared.  And now we're back together, still taking things slow, but I feel like things could blossom between us again.

Weebly, on the other hand, is acting like this overprotective monster and I think it might kill me in my sleep.

I have never spent long enough away from Facebook to know how they handle their defectors, and I probably never will.  I love you Facebook, you complete me.


*UPDATE*

And then this appeared in my inbox:

"It's been 6 days, 6 hours, 39 minutes and 24 seconds since you last logged in, and we're starting to get really worried.

We were just getting to know each other.  You created 1 site, 2 pages, dragged on 1 element, and then... nothing."

1. Please don't file a missing person's report on me. I still exist. I just updated facebook not that long ago.
2. We weren't really getting to know each other. Have you been watching me in the shower? I feel kind of uncomfortable.
3. It is 1 day, 13 hours, 27 minutes and 46 seconds before I file a restraining order.


*UPDATE*

Hopefully I have laid to rest all those creepy messages from Weebly as the website is now up and running at www.travellerstrax.com

Monday, April 9, 2012

The New Beat

In the 1950s a powerful literary movement known as the Beat Generation was born.  They were a group of iconic literary figures who pushed boundaries, challenged social norms, and sought meaning and answers through their lives and their literature.  It was an age where the people were taking control and demanding social change, and while it may have been ugly at times, it was instrumental to paving the way for the increased equality we have today.  There is no denying that their behaviour was sometimes questionable, but the writing of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Charles Bukowski has long served as an important anthropological insight to an era.

As much as I'm a huge Jack Kerouac fan, for me one of the really fascinating elements of the beats is how they formed such an influential movement of writers.  Being a writer was a cool thing to be, and there was a support network that fostered "spontaneous creativity" and built on the ideas of one another on the fringe of New York City's upper west side.

Every so often there is a literary Renaissance, and I always felt a little sad that I probably missed out by a few decades.  But in fact, I recently realized that our generation is actually living in one of the most amazing literary movements in all of history.  Thanks to the rise of social media EVERYONE is a writer. It's no longer reserved for people who publishers decide have the right to express their opinions, it's an activity and a medium that is universally available.  Thanks to today's globalized world there is a virtually limitless network of people with whom to share ideas and tell stories.

With facebook and twitter and tumblr and blogger people are writing constantly.  There is always pressure to come up with something concise and captivating.  Nobody wants to repeat the same old status every day, so they come up with their own unique voices and metaphors.  Social media forces people to actually think like writers and gain an appreciation for it.  Maybe not everyone is the reincarnation of Charles Dickens, but the fact is that social media is bringing writing to the forefront of society and social interaction in a completely unprecedented way.

Twitter even acts like a publicist when you get lazy.  I had sort of stopped doing the Twitter thing, and about a month later I got a notification they missed me.  Translation: Stop being a big dumb slacker!  The pressure to update something regularly is a kind of motivational force.  Sure a lot of the time it's people talking about what they had for breakfast or how they're really tired, but some of the funniest things I've ever read have come from the minds of people that I know and love. And it's so constant that it means we're forced to think daily.

So maybe its a literary generation that sits in the nearest Starbucks instead of camping out in some shack on the side of a mountain or a crackhouse in the wrong side of town, but hey, it's our generation.  I love that we live in a society that has embraced the introvert and made writing an important part of our social life.  I like realizing how brilliant or funny some of my friends are that I may not have otherwise known.  Even though some people make fun of the fact that everyone has an opinion now, I don't think that's such a bad thing.  Self-expression is a great thing, and the level of honesty with which people are writing with is enabling readers to  become more confident in themselves realizing there are other people who they can identify with.

Moral of the story:  I am grateful to be a part of an era where ideas are so freely exchanged and thinking is both encouraged and facilitated.  I love that we have taken the idea of "spontaneous creativity" from our generational predecessors and used technological advances to make it our own. I love writing, and I love that so many other people do too.