Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Big Split, Part II

The Big Split, Part I, can be found here.

When I get emotional, I get symptoms. Severe fatigue, hives, sore joints, and aching lungs have all shown up at one point or another, over the years. The theme for my divorce years was a terrible heaviness, like gravity had been multiplied a dozen times. There were days when I could barely pull myself up off my sofa. At times I thought I might not be able to keep working. I don't know how I managed to hang on to my job.

After my ex and I had lived apart for one year, according to Ontario law, we were permitted to begin divorce proceedings. But first we had to figure out what to do about the house we had bought with his mother. I had to get my name off the mortgage and have it signed over to the two of them.

We had agreed that if he would handle this changeover with the bank, I would handle the paperwork for the actual divorce. I can't prove this, but I strongly suspect that he was not in any hurry to finalize things. It took 14 months to get the house ownership transferred.

That done, it was time to fill in the divorce papers. I'm sure you know the saying: "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client." Well, lawyers charge a pretty penny, but it only costs $400 to get divorced in Ontario if you fill in your own paperwork, so I decided to be that fool.

The process of filling in those papers was one of the most difficult that I have ever been through. And it wasn't because of the content, either. We had vastly simplified things by transferring ownership of the house before proceeding with the divorce. There was no contested property and we had no children. All I had to do, essentially, was fill in our names, addresses, and dates of birth on around a dozen forms, answer checklists of simple questions, and then get us both down to the courts to sign them all in front of a notary public.

However, because of my emotional state, mired deep in grief and depression, I may as well have been writing a university-level biology exam in Greek. I would stare at a form asking for my name and address, and my mind would go absolutely blank. I forced myself to answer one question at a time, using all my willpower to push through the artificial confusion. It was like running in a nightmare, when your limbs are made of lead and you can't move forward.

Finally, after a lot of effort, all the papers were complete. I brought them to the courthouse to have them checked by a clerk before setting a date with my ex to do the final signing. I took a subway train downtown and then walked two blocks to the court building. The sidewalk was flat, but the heaviness was so great that I felt as though I were struggling up a steep slope all the way there. Every step was like climbing a mountain. It took all my strength to keep going.

When I finally got into the proper office and found the correct clerk, I thought that I might faint. He was very kind and patient with me, going over all the papers and reassuring me that I had done them correctly. My legs were rubbery as I left. The hardest part was yet to come.

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Big Split, Part I

When I heard the news that my mom and step-dad were separating, the worst thing was the shock. It was so sudden! One day we were all sitting down to a warm, friendly dinner together, and only a few days later I heard that he was jetting off to Arizona to take a holiday with his mistress.

However, the actual process of their separation is going to be very slow. This is going to be a long, drawn-out process with legal and financial complexities, paperwork, arguments, and confusion. Just getting him moved out of the house is going to be a painful and involved process of packing and discussions.

Thinking about it like that, and knowing how hard it's going to be on my mom, makes me wish that it were possible to get it all over with in one big shock, like ripping off a band-aid.

I was married for five years the first time around. The logistics of dividing our lives was daunting when we went our separate ways. Splitting up our CD collection and photo albums added fuel to flaring arguments.

To simplify things, and because I wanted to start a new life, I barely took anything beyond my clothes and books. I packed up enough kitchen basics to get me started, and I took the toaster oven, because he barely used it and I make toast every morning. He let me take the old TV without an argument because he was looking for an excuse to buy a flatscreen, but he did put up a fight for the toaster oven. Go figure...

Of course the toughest joint possession to deal with was the house. We had bought a house jointly with his mother only a year before we split up.

Everyone say it together now: BAD IDEA!

Even though the house was divided into two separate apartments, that much proximity to my mother-in-law was one of the final nails in the coffin. Not that she's a bad person, by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that his relationship with her was so clearly much more valuable to him than his relationship with me. He barely ever did a lick of housework in the five years we lived together, despite my complaints, but he would run to her beck and call for any task she wanted done. It was too much.

In the end, dividing our material possessions turned out to be infinitely easier than dividing our identities. We had started dating in tenth grade and had been together ever since. We had essentially grown up together, and I had considered him my best friend for many of those years.

I once heard it said that trying to extract oneself from a long-term relationship is like trying to separate two eggs that have been scrambled together. And that is exactly how I felt. I was a scrambled egg, and I couldn't tell which pieces belonged to me and which to him.

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Durian

Speaking of things that stink...

A few summers back, Ken had the idea of going on a new food adventure every weekend. Chinatown offered many items to test our taste buds, including a variety of unfamiliar produce. We ate taro root, lotus root, bitter melon (I highly recommend never putting bitter melon anywhere near your mouth), and rambutan. But nothing compared to the weirdness of the durian.

Most of you have probably seen durian for sale. It looks like this:

How many of you have actually tasted it? Are there any durian-lovers out there? It's popular in Asian cultures. Supposedly it has healing properties, and even tastes good in the right context.

But I just can't get past the smell.

On a sunny day in July, Ken decreed that this was the day we would bring home a durian. The temperature was getting up to around 30 degrees Celsius (that's 86 in American degrees). The whole Chinatown market was quite whiffy, as it always is during the summer months. The fish vendors were competing for smell dominance against overflowing garbage cans and a general, pervasive undertone of sweaty armpits.

We had heard that the durian was a smelly fruit, that it was banned on airplanes and certain other public places, but I guess we thought that the tales of its stinkiness were exaggerated. It seemed innocent enough at the fruit stall, especially compared to the place next door that had piles of dried shrimp and buckets of (mostly) live shellfish perfuming the air.

Once we had the thing in a plastic bag, we realized that it was too heavy to carry all over the market with us while we did the rest of our shopping, so we walked it back to the parking lot and left it on the backseat of the car.

An hour later, when we had finished the rest of our errands, we were ready to head home. We opened up the car, and were immediately overpowered by a strong smell of rotting garbage.

Me: OMG, what the hell IS that?

Ken: It must be the durian! Boy, does it ever stink! Geez!

We stood there with the doors open for a few minutes, trying to air out the car. It didn't help much, so we got in, rolled the windows all the way down, and drove home really, really fast.

Figuring that it was the heat that had brought out the worst of the durian's smelliforousness, we put it straight into the refrigerator as soon as we got it home. Clock-wipe transition to the next morning. I opened the fridge to get some juice, and guess what? The fridge smelled like it was packed full of rotting garbage.



If you want to eat this thing, you'd better do it right now, or I'm going to throw it off the balcony. It's stinking up the whole kitchen.

Ken wasn't willing to let the durian go without tasting it, so we sawed through the tough skin to the flesh inside. The texture wasn't any more charming than the smell. It was custardy, with strings like spaghetti squash. It didn't taste quite as bad as it smelled. It was equal parts kiwi, strawberry, and rotting garbage. Statistically, 33% trash is an improvement over 100% trash.

Once we had satisfied our curiosity, we wrapped up the rest of the durian and chucked it down the trash chute. But the story doesn't quite end there. It ends a few days later, when I was down in the basement on my way to the laundry room, and the super was bagging up all of the building's garbage to go out for collection. She had her nose wrinkled up as far as it would go. The trash room was emanating a familiar scent. The durian! It wasn't finished stinking yet.

For all I know, it's resting happily at the dump, stinking to this very day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ken has a question

It seems that we are seeing more and more ads for air fresheners on TV lately.

There are air fresheners that plug in, air fresheners you spray (aerosol) or spritz (manual), air fresheners that look like candles, and air fresheners that change colour. There are air fresheners that alternate two scents so you don't get bored. There are even multi-scent, themed CD air fresheners that require a special player.

Ken turned to me the other day, as yet another ad came on for scented candles that play music and change colour, and asked:

"What is wrong with people? Do their houses stink that much? Why do we need all these air fresheners?"

I thought that was a really good question. There are definitely more products available than ever before. To me, they mostly smell of chemikills. I try to avoid them if at all possible. In my opinion, the only place an air freshener should be necessary on a regular basis is in the loo. But apparently you're supposed to use them all over the house.

Do people not have time to clean anymore? Do their homes stink that badly that they need a plug-in freshener in every room? Or do some people actually enjoy the air freshener flavours?

Please, write in and answer these burning questions.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Not Knitting

My last few posts have been very sombre. My family issues are still at the forefront of my mind, but I refuse to let my Blog365 project become Sob365. So to take my mind off things and to be a more interesting writer, I will be breaking up the drama with other topics. Like this...

I wish that I had the patience to knit. I love hand-knit sweaters, scarves, socks, you name it. I love strolling through yarn stores, filled with gorgeous colours and textures. Generally, hand-crafts appeal to me.

But apparently this isn't enough to motivate me. Over the years, I have started three scarves and one sweater (knitted "on the round" with two colours of yarn), and finished nary a one of them.

The planning stage is exciting. Shopping for yarn, likwise. But sometime after row number 47 I start to get bored. My mind wanders. I try knitting while watching TV, and then I screw it up because I'm not paying attention. Eventually the project is laid aside on a handy surface, where I'm sure I'll go back to it in good time.

Time passes. The knitting project is eventually shoved to one side of the table/desk/bureau. When I can't stand to look at it anymore I stuff it in a drawer. From there, it eventually disappears. I don't even know where it goes. Maybe yarn gremlins come in the night to rescue it.

I keep knitting books on my bookshelf, even though I'm 99% sure I won't be attempting any new projects. My favourite is called Knitting Without Tears, by Elizabeth Zimmermann. Here are some examples of her distinctive writing style:

"Soft wool from the silly sheep can be fine as a cobweb, tough and strong as string, or light and soft as down."

Regarding celluloid knitting needles: "The famous old fire hazard, but why sit so close to the candle? Extremely brittle; not to be sat upon."

"The human being is so constructed that it can be completely covered by a series of shaped tubes... and we could, if he desired them, make long-johns for an octopus."

And finally, most applicable in my case: "If you hate to knit, why, bless you, don't; follow your secret heart and take up something else." And so I do.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Family History, Part II

Family History, Part I, can be found here.

When we left off yesterday, I was regaling you with tales of my step-dad's rageaholic tendencies. You may ask: how did my step-dad get to be so messed up? And I can tell you: He and his parents were Holocaust survivors.

In 1939 when he was 6 months old, his parents packed him into the backseat of their car with a few, carefully-chosen belongings, and fled the Nazi-occupied Eastern European country where he was born. They actually ran a Nazi roadblock with all their lights off and ducked gunfire as they sped away.

His father led them to a faraway new country, where they didn't speak the language. His parents struggled to settle in and start a business. Within the year, word reached them that almost all of their immediate and extended family had been killed in the concentration camps.

His mother fell into a deep depression, and was unable to care for her son. His father was occupied with earning a living for the family, and there was no one else to care for him. He was fed and bathed, but otherwise badly neglected. At this critical time when he should have been bonding with his parents, he missed out. It seems to me that he was never able to make up for this stage in his development. It's why he's always seemed to live at arms' length from other people, and have difficulty understanding other peoples' feelings.

When I was in my late teens and early 20's, both of my step-dad's parents died. This triggered a period of intense introspection, and a new resolve to be a better man. He began to read self-help books, which gave him a better understanding of human psychology.

Unfortunately, by the time he'd begun to manifest this new direction, I'd already moved out.

Years passed. Once I was no longer a part of the household, the dynamics of my parents' relationship changed, and they slowly settled down into a comfortable routine. After many years of keeping my distance, I gradually began to build a new relationship with my folks. We began to enjoy each others' company. Since I turned 30, it's been more and more common for me (and eventually my husband) to visit with them just to talk and hang out together.

After 15 years of living in the Angry House, and then 7 years of not seeing much of each other, we had finally achieved what had seemed to be impossible: Harmony. Love. Good conversation. Happy memories.

My step-dad will never be as sensitive as we'd like him to be, but at least he tries. He knows that he tends to blunder and put his feet in his mouth, but he is open to suggestions and corrections, as long as they're gently worded. He has really turned around 180 degrees from a bully to a sweet, generous man. He doesn't try to hurt people anymore.

All of this goes to explain why it's so tough to watch my mom and step-dad split up. I want more happy times together to make up for all the lost years. We had finally gotten there, and now it's all going down the tubes.

It's also hard to watch my step-dad handle the situation so badly. I believe that he's making a big mistake by leaving my mom, and by the time he figures it out, it'll be too late. He's not going out of his way to hurt her, and feels guilty for the suffering he's causing, but you wouldn't know it from the things he says and does.

His insensitivity is staggering. He's just trying to follow his heart's desire, like all the pop psychology books told him he should. He's just trying to be honest (ditto).

I've already had to take him aside and tell him that my mom doesn't want to hear how happy he is with his new girlfriend. There's such a thing as too much honesty, not enough tact. And here I am, having to spell it out for him. Stuck in the middle again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Family History, Part I

I put my sadness and confusion out there in the open for all to see, cringing a bit, hoping that it's going to be well-received. The support and wise words that have poured in, in immediate response, have amazed me and buoyed me up.

The online relationships that I've developed in the past few months have had a big impact on my life. People are so generous and understanding. No matter how long I write online, I will never take these responses for granted. I'm very grateful to all of you. (Lurkers are included - stats tell the story of quiet folks who keep coming back to visit, and I'm glad you do.)

It's time for me to share some more of the story of my mom and step-dad's history, so that you can understand better what their separation means to me.

My mom and step-dad got married in 1980, when I was 8 years old. I remember after the ceremony I addressed him as "Dad" for the first time. He was very pleased and scooped me up into his arms. Everyone who overheard me cheered and made a big fuss. I immediately felt that I'd gotten in over my head. I was just experimenting to see what it sounded like, but then it was too late to go back.

My folks had been dating for 5 years before they tied the knot, and during that time I had grown to like my step-dad. However, once he moved into my mom's house with us, things took a sudden and definite turn for the worse. I was jealous and territorial. He was equally so. And my mom was stuck in the middle of a conflict that would not end until I moved out at the age of 23.

My step-dad was, and still can be, an aggressive man. I hated to go out to restaurants with my parents because he would always raise his voice, bullying the wait staff, trying to get faster service or a better table. He's been known to drive through the automatic barriers that block the entrances and exits of parking lots, breaking the wooden arms right off, from sheer impatience.

When I was still in grade school, he would pick fights with me just for the hell of it, because he was feeling bored. One time we even had a discussion about it. He was perfectly aware of what he was doing. It was how he amused himself.

Home was not a pleasant place to be. Two out of the three of us were always fighting. When he fought with my mom, I tried to mediate, and she tried to mediate for me, but it only complicated things. We went round and round in cycles of fury and misery.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Self Talk

Things I have to keep reminding myself of lately:

1. I'm not a toddler helplessly watching my first set of parents fall apart. I do not need to hide in my closet hugging a stuffed toy until the yelling is done. I am 35 years old, and I can look after myself.

2. I'm not 28 years old, wrenching myself away from my own first marriage. I am not a fox chewing off her own leg to free herself from a trap. I am not leaving my home, my routines, and even my old job behind to start a terrifying new life. I am safe, and Ken is here to support me.

3. I don't have to let depression win. I can feel my sadness without losing hope. I have learned coping mechanisms, and they work, as long as I actually use them. I must use them.

4. I have good friends, and they want to hear from me. Some of those friends are also part of my family. I am lucky to be surrounded by so many people who wish me well. I do not have to go through this alone.

I've been trying to calculate how I should feel. On one hand I'm a grown woman no longer living with my parents, so it seems that their divorce might not have any direct impact on me. On the other hand I'm still my parents' daughter, and it's heart-breaking to watch them suffer, because I love them. I'm trying to figure out which of my feelings are about the present situation and which are echos of past divorces coming back to haunt me.

Like, if I could only get that straightened out, I could deal with my feelings in an orderly fashion.

Or maybe I just need to let myself feel my feelings and honour them all. They're there for a reason, right? They each have an important lesson to deliver from my heart to my conscious mind.

I wish I had a whole week just to sit back and mull things over. I need time to understand all the messages.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Love Cats

The guys have been on duty 24/7 lately, providing my mom with lots of love and silly distractions from her ordeal.

This is Tinker:

And this is The Dude:

Tinker is the strong, silent type. He's bigger than The Dude, but he doesn't take advantage of his dominant status. He's more likely to stay calm, to observe instead of jumping right in, and to sit still on a lap for some snuggles.

The Dude is a loveable mischief-maker. He's the one who hides under the bed and attacks my mom's toes while she's changing the sheets. He'll be the first to gallop after a cat toy that's been thrown down the stairs. If you try to hang on to him for hugs, he'll squirm until you let him go.

He loves to sit on top of an old, folded-up quilt, purring, kneading it with his paws, and sucking on the edges until they're soaking wet. He also likes to get into my mom's closet and nibble at the edges of her clothes. When she puts on a blouse to go out, there's a high likelihood that the hem will be damp.

I can't wait to go back and visit with them again.

Edited to add: Much as I wish these guys were my cats, technically they are my mom's. They live with her, and I live with Ken, who is allergic to everything with fur and feathers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Touching Apples

It's good to be alive.

I don't mean that in a general "My, the air is fresh today!" sense. I mean it in the "I almost got run over just now" sense.

There I am on the streetcorner, a four-way, stop-sign intersection, checking to see if it's safe to step off the curb. There are two cars stopped, one waiting to cross my path directly, and one waiting to left-turn across my path. After waiting a beat to see if either of them is going to take the initiative, I step off onto the street.

As I walk, I see the left-hand turner, a minivan, slowly begin to move into the intersection. He's rolling along like he's just taken his foot off the brake to see where that would get him. I'm used to drivers getting antsy and creeping up on me, so I think nothing of it.

I'm still walking, and the minivan continues to approach. It gets to that point where I'm expecting him to come to a full stop and wait for me to get out of the way, but out of the corner of my eye I SEE THE CAR SPEED UP. He's headed right for me, like he's bowling with one pin left and he wants that spare!

I actually gasp involuntarily and freeze, one arm thrust out protectively, preparing myself for the impact. Then, half-a-second before running me over, he jams on the brakes.

I stare at the windscreen, and then throw a big palms-up WTF? dirty look at him. So what does he do? Now that I'm standing still, he guns it and drives right past me, as I'm standing in the middle of the street, his wheels passing inches from my toes, the side panel of the minivan blurring past my nose.

I throw the palms-up WTF? to the other car that was waiting, and get myself on wobbly legs to the safety of the opposite sidewalk. I've half a mind to sit myself down right there on the ground to collect myself. But I keep going.

I remember that I need to buy apples.

At the grocery store, I find that my hands are shaking. I go to pick up an apple, and I half-expect my hand to silently pass right through it. What do you know? I'm a ghost! I got hit after all and now I'm one of those spirits who doesn't know they're dead.

The Rescue Mediums will have to come to help me find The Light, or I will be stuck here for eternity, trying to pick up apples that I can't touch. Sensitive types will feel an aura of sadness hovering by the Fujis and the Jonagolds. A cold breeze will inexplicably accost shoppers as they pick through the Granny Smiths.

But luckily I found myself still fully embodied. I got some beautiful, sweet apples. It's good to be alive.

Monday, January 21, 2008

5 Meme

The sweet and insightful Melinda Zook has tagged me to do this meme. There was no mention of posting rules, so we'll skip all that boring admin stuff and get right to it.

1. Name one thing you do every day.

Yoga. I do it every day of my life and have done for around 10 years now, unless I'm so sick that I can barely move. It's worth getting up early for.

2. Name two things you wish you could learn.

Ballroom dancing: one of these days I'm going to convince Ken to take lessons with me.

Drawing: if I ever have the time or the patience. I've gone through phases where I carried a sketchbook around with me and actually filled a few pages. But it never lasts. While I have limited time, writing will always be my first love and priority. Maybe when I retire...

3. Name three things that remind you of your childhood.

Orange Popsicles and penny candy.

My old picture books. My mom saved them all. She had a very hard time accepting that I don't intend to have children of my own. She always hoped that one day she would pass them along to the next generation. But there's always the chance that my little sister might have kids... so the books still wait on their special shelf. (My little sister is the child of my bio-dad and step-mom. I am my mom's only child, which is why this is so poignant for her.)

Airplanes flying overhead on summer evenings. My childhood home was under a flight path for the Toronto Airport. When I played outside with my friends on those summer evenings when the sun seemed to linger forever, it was always to a background of airplanes intermittently passing overhead. As we skipped and hop-scotched in the fading light, willing the day to last longer, not ready to go inside to bed-time yet, the hum of engines gearing down for final approach was subliminally embedded into our brains.

4. Name four things you love to eat but rarely do.

I shall amend this to include things I NEVER eat because of food sensitivities:
Real Ice Cream
Real Cheese
Chai Tea
Malted chocolate milkshakes

(by Real I mean made from cow's milk, not soy beans.)

5. Name five things or people that make you feel good.

My family (even though sometimes it gets complicated)
My friends (especially my 6-month-old friend whom two of my older friends so generously created)
My blog and all the Bloglins of Blogland
My new, cozy bootie slippers

Alright, now comes the fun of tagging five people. You're it!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Meme Tagged

Hello to everyone who I tagged for a meme. That will be posted tomorrow. I got part-way through it and decided I needed to post about my family situation first. Please check back in tomorrow for meme-structions. Thanks for your understanding.

Those of you just tuning in, my official post for today is below.

It's Official

That's it, then. My step-dad has made his final decision, and he is leaving my mom.

He left her a voice mail message stating this news. Yes, voice mail. After 27 years of marriage. I listened to the message myself - my mom saved it for me because she needed someone else to witness the surreality of it all.

That's typical step-dad. He wasn't trying to be cruel - he just doesn't have a clue. He's never been good at putting himself in someone else's shoes. It's like he lives in an invisible bubble protecting him from the harshest parts of reality. In some ways he's very childlike.

I was shocked that he had hooked back up with an old flame from his college days. They rediscovered each other via a school reunion. But I'm not shocked at the way he's handling the situation. It's consistent with how he's always been.

I'm proud of how well my mom is holding up. She's on a roller coaster of emotions, but she's staying strong. I am very willing to support her through the process. I went through a divorce myself in 2001-2002, so I can relate to what she's feeling. Although in my case I was the one who decided to leave, so at least I didn't have to deal with the horror of being dumped.

It's affecting me in odd ways. I can totally be there for my mom when we're together or on the phone, but then my feelings will sneak-attack me in the middle of something else with no warning. For example I was at the mall yesterday with Ken, shopping for T-shirts in the men's department, and suddenly I broke down weeping.

Then it passes just as suddenly.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How to Play the Didgeridoo

I have a didgeridoo by my desk. According to Wikipedia "The didgeridoo (or didjeridu) is a wind instrument of the Indigenous Australians of northern Australia."

Didgeridoos sound weird, like giant, alien kazoos. Here's a video clip of an aboriginal Australian artist playing the didge. Note that he never stops to take a breath . There is continuous sound. How does he do it? The secret is in his cheeks.

It's called "circular breathing".

I made my own didge from a length of PVC pipe and beeswax (for the mouthpiece). Just getting a sound out of it at all is tricky unless you're an experienced horn player. You have to buzz your lips, like blowing a raspberry, at just the right frequency, with your mouth pressed tightly against the mouthpiece. At first all you get is elephant farts.

Keep practicing! After many frustrating hours of blowing elephant farts, and wondering why the hell you're wasting your time with this ridiculous project, you'll figure out how to get a tone. Practice more! Practice until your lips are numb, your face is red, your head is spinning, and your didge is leaking saliva. (Sorry - it's gross but true. You can't blow raspberries down a tube for 20 minutes at a time without spraying spit. Go ahead: try to prove me wrong!)

OK, so now you can reliably get a tone out of your didge. You are so proud! Show all your friends. Practice changing the shape of your mouth to get different overtones and fancy flourishes. Cool!

But. You still have to stop when your lungs are empty and take another gasp of air to keep going. This breaks up the soothing, hypnotic, didgey drone that you are ultimately aiming for. Now is the time to take that next step to CIRCULAR BREATHING.

Actually, circular breathing is a misnomer. It's not circular at all. As the old saying goes, you can't suck and blow at the same time. The trick is: you fill up your cheeks with air, like a bagpiper's bag. Then, as you quickly sniff more air in through your nose, you squeeze out the air in your cheeks to keep the sound going. You have to take a lot of quick sniffs to fill your lungs, because you don't have time for a deep breath.

Sounds complicated? Let's break it down. First pretend you have some water in your mouth. Now squirt that water out through your lips in a slow stream. Got it? Try it with real water if you're not sure. Once you're comfortable with the slow squirting-out thing, try doing it at the same time as sniffing in through your nose. Squirt+sniff! Squirt+sniff! Good! OK, you just did some circular breathing!

Now you just have to take that over to your didge and keep your lips buzzing the whole time you're at it. Yeah, that's a little harder. It'll take some practicing. Don't worry, your neighbours love didge sounds. Everyone does! I promise. They'll be at your door begging for lessons of their own.

I don't play my didge much, but it's like riding a bicycle. Once you learn, you won't forget. I'm not as good as the guy in the video, and I tend to choke when playing for an audience, but I like being able to say that I can do it. I think it complements my training in violin, and ballet very nicely.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Two Phobias

I have two phobias. There are a lot of things that can make me anxious, but only these two have the power to induce physical symptoms despite my most stubborn willpower. These are: being poked with hypodermic needles and anything to do with uncontrolled bleeding.

Funny thing is, I have a high tolerance for things that would make other people squirm. I have no problems with mice, spiders, snakes, or any other of God's fine creatures. OK, yes, when I lived in the horrible basement apartment with giant cockroaches, I wasn't exactly thrilled to find one burrowing in my duvet. But I could control my disgust and deal with the situation.

I can also handle operations and freaky illnesses on TV (although sometimes I do watch from between my fingers). It takes a lot to seriously gross me out.

But give me a tetanus shot, and I'll go all faint. It doesn't matter that I can't even feel the needle . It doesn't matter how stoic my thoughts are. Even if I don't look, I get that woozy feeling and I know I'm in trouble.

If I'm asked to give a blood sample, it's the same thing times ten. I always ask to lie down for the procedure, because I'll end up horizontal anyway. It's easier to start out that way than to play brave and pass out in a chair.

I wish that positive self-talk could help. I can be so psyched for a situation, like, Come on, girl, it's just a little pinprick! Button up and get it over with! I'll be fine, fine, fine, oh wait, there's a needle... then I start to get this sick, tight feeling between my shoulderblades, my head starts to spin, and that's that.

The worst part of it is how it prevents me from helping other people. There's just no way I could give blood. And the one time I accompanied a friend for a minor surgical procedure was a complete embarrassment.

Before my friend even got called in from the waiting room, I overheard another patient telling her friend about a hemorrhaging problem. Uh oh. I knew I was in trouble. I got up to leave the room, and made it about half-way to the door before I collapsed into a helpless heap on the floor. A big, burly nurse with a buzz-cut told me curtly that I'd have to move because I was blocking the fire exit. I murmured pathetically "I... can't..." She went off and got a second tough-ass nurse. They each grabbed one of my elbows and hauled me, heels dragging, into a spare room, and threw a heating pad on me. Then they left me to stew in my humiliating uselessness.

When the procedure was finished, my friend was sitting up on her cot in the recovery area, chipper as a budgie, chatting away with her neighbours. She looked none the worse for wear. She thanked me for coming to support her, without any hint of irony. Yeah, right, I was so "there for her".

I have tried hypnotism, to no avail. And don't ask me why I'm fine with acupuncture. Those needles aren't hollow, so somehow that makes it OK. I just don't get it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Quote Book

For years I kept a notebook of quotes that I copied out in longhand. I can now see it as a tool that I used as a young adult to define myself. I collected all the ideas and inspirations that I liked and then read and re-read them until they became a part of who I am.

The entries follow my interests and readings over the years: feminism as I first discovered it in University; my philosophy 101 readings; my New Age phase; my Zen phase. There's some random stuff too, like a paper slip from a fortune cookie that I taped onto the page.

It says "He who hurries cannot walk with dignity."

When I re-read it today, most of the quotes don't excite me. They are either ideas that I rejected long ago, or so much a part of me that I now take them for granted. Oddly enough, the ones that still move me most are dated from when I was around 17 years old. Here are two samples:

"We must lighten ourselves to survive. We must not cling. Safety lies in lessening, in becoming random and thin enough for the new to enter. Only folly dares those leaps that give life."
-John Updike

"Exaltation comes from the consciousness of being guiltless, of seeing the truth and achieving it, of living up to one's highest possibility, of knowing no shame and having no cause for shame, of being able to stand naked in full sunlight."
-Ayn Rand

What words move you?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sporks and Tomatoes

I am proud to announce my first ever blogging award! Thanks to Tink of Pickled Beef I am the proud recipient of a Golden Spork.

Tasty indeed! Tink's blog is awesome. You should go take a look now, and see who the other lucky award winners were. And I should update my blogroll because I've just noticed that Pickled Beef and so many other of my favourites are not even on there. Bad blogger! I'll get right on that.

And now, boys and girls, its time for a story. Are you all settled comfortably in your chairs? You in the back, stop whispering! OK, today we have the story of Ray and The Tomato.

I used to know a guy called Ray. A regular guy, who had a crush on the girl who worked behind the counter at the local burger joint.

The burgers would come off the grill with nothing but a bun. Ray’s crush was the burger dresser. She had all the toppings and condiments arrayed in bowls on the countertop, ready to go.

Now, for reasons of his own, Ray hates raw tomatoes. He’s OK with ketchup, but don’t put a raw tomato anywhere near him unless you’re looking for trouble.

Up at the counter, the cute burger girl waited for Ray’s instructions. He found himself tongue-tied. After waiting for an awkward moment, she started offering him toppings one at a time.







As she loaded up the burger, he found himself lulled into a feeling of safety by saying “yes” to every offer she made. He wanted to be in agreement with her on everything. He wanted her to see what a nice, agreeable guy he was.







Burger girl reached for the tomatoes. She already had a slice in her tongs when Ray’s brain kicked into gear and he remembered that he loathes tomatoes. Panicking, he blurted


She paused, tomato slice dangling in mid-air and one lovely eyebrow raised. Smooth move, Ray.

He spent a lot of time that night imagining what she must have been thinking at that moment.

He never did get her number.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mad New Skillz

I figured out how to do a few more tricks on my blog, like putting things in Italics. Look how cool this is. Italics! Shweet!!

Next week I will attempt to put things in bold type. Can I do it? I bet you can't stand the suspense.

I also figured out how to embed a YouTube video into a post. I had shied away from this for weeks because I was intimidated by how technical it would probably be. HTML code! OMG!

So. Turns out it's just a cut and paste operation. Not so tricky after all!

In honour of my incredibly draining weekend, I am posting an ad for a new energy beverage. I would like a big, cold can of this stuff, right now. Would anyone care to join me for a Brawndo?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Get Outa Town

What with all my recent posts about summer, and how SUMMER IS THE BEST! and OH I DO MISS THE SUMMERTIME!, you might be wondering if I'm due for a vacation. I should just jump on a plane to Barbados already, yes?

I will not be traveling anytime soon, not voluntarily, not even to the most seductive, luciously tropical destinations. Why? Because I'm just not cut out to enjoy traveling.

Physically, I do not react well to long trips. Sitting in a car or an airplane for hours on end leaves me drained. Jet lag makes me completely miserable. Sleeping in a strange bed leaves me fatigued and suffering from headaches. Hotel food for more than one meal makes my stomach misbehave. And whenever I've travelled anywhere hot, I've spent the whole time hiding from the sun, nursing heatstroke and sunburn.

Part of these reactions is also due to my mental state. I am a woman of habit. I am even perhaps just a wee tidge obsessive-compulsive. And controlling. And did I mention compulsive? Just ask Ken. He has had to adjust quite a bit to accommodate my need to have things Just So in our home. As long as I get my way, everything is Peachy Keen! But put me in unfamiliar surroundings and there are just so many details that seem wrong.

The sheets on the bed might not have a welcoming texture. The glass tumbler that's provided for drinking water probably has a funny smell. Unfamiliar controls in the shower are cause for concern. It's not like any one of these things makes me want to hyperventilate, but they start adding up and grating on my nerves, to the point where I feel on edge all the time. Add that to jet lag and poor sleep, and generally I'm going to be feeling fussy and querulous. I won't be able to relax until I get settled in at home again.

Once I'm home, I can sift through the sensory memories of the vacation, and begin to have some appreciation for them. Like the day we took that tour when I was dying of heatstroke, we saw some really beautiful sights! So it's not a total loss. But considering how expensive it is to travel, I have come to the conclusion that for me, it's not worth it. I am much happier to read travel stories or watch movies set in exotic locations.

The advantages: I save a lot of money. It's better for the environment. I don't have to worry about terrorists on my airplane. I won't catch horrible parasites or "traveler's diarrhea". And I am the perfect audience for your vacation snapshots. I will look at 1000 of them in a sitting with real and sustained interest. I will travel vicariously at any opportunity, as long as I can stay in Toronto to do it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Island

This post is dedicated to Jameil of Unabashedly Me. I'm trying to convince Jameil visit me in Toronto. In fact, all of you are welcome! Start making your travel plans now. Toronto is currently wearing her grimy winter face, but she'll be beautiful again in a few short months.

My favourite place to hang out during the summer is down by the lake (by which I mean Lake Ontario). The lakeshore just south of downtown Toronto is known as Harbourfront, and there's something cool going on down there every weekend. There are vendors selling crafts and imports from outdoor stalls. There's every sort of food you could want, from milkshakes and hot dogs to boneless goat roti and tandoori chicken dinners.

These are some of the free outdoor festivals you'll find in the public park, which also has a covered stage for free performances: The Spicy Food Festival. The Hip Hop Festival (which has an amazing beat-boxing competition). The World Rhythms Global Music Festival. The Dim Sum Chinese Festival. The Island Soul Carribean Festival. And plenty more!

If you want to lie on a beach, you can drive east of Harbourfront to the ritzy Beaches neighbourhood, where yuppies pushing designer strollers jog along the boardwalk. Or you can take a ferry from the Harbourfront docks to Toronto Island, which has many beaches to choose from, including a "Clothing Optional" section. (Straight guys: don't get too excited - it's mostly gay guys strutting their stuff.)

Toronto Island is my Happy Place. You can walk it east to west in around 45 minutes. North to south, you can get from one end to the other in around 10 minutes. And the entire Island is one big public park. No cars are allowed except maintenance vehicles and a couple of open-sided shuttle buses. Cyclists are plentiful. Dogs and little kids can run around without fear of being mown down by traffic.

At the centre of the island is a cute little amusement park, with rides for kids and a zoo called "Far Enough Farm". It costs around $4 for a soda at the concession stands, but most families pack a picnic lunch and eat on the broad, green lawns. You'll see families on the ferry with shopping buggies full of watermelons and bags of charcoal, and coolers full of treats to be cooked on one of the Island's public barbecues. There are always extended families of every ethnicity, spread out on blankets on the grass, with boom boxes playing lively music, and filling the air with the incredible smells of their BBQ.

Ok, so the entire island is not public parkland. There are actually two small neighbourhoods where people have homes on this paradise. The waiting list to live there is currently 50 years long. This is the case even considering how inconvenient it is. There are no stores on the island except the gift shops in the amusement park, so people have to do their grocery shopping in the city and then take everything over on the ferry. Remember - no cars are allowed on the island! I don't know how they do it. These communities are breathtakingly lovely.

So come to Toronto! I'll take you down to Harbourfront. We can eat kebabs and fresh pita on a bench overlooking the lake, and then we can walk the Island end to end. We'll go wading on the beach. It'll be so much fun! I can hardly wait.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Day Camp

Let's take a break together. I know I need one. I'm in the mood for a little vacation, somewhere/sometime that's the opposite of too much responsibility in the middle of winter.

How about Day Camp, back in the salad days of my youth? Perfect.

Not all of my Day Camp experiences were ideal. When I was young and my mom was struggling to make ends meet, she could only afford the bargain basement camps. There was the "Roasted Kids R Us" camp, which didn't bother applying the sunscreen in my camp bag, and sent me home with appalling sunburns. I remember lying on my bed with wet tea bags all over me - my mom's traditional remedy to "draw out the heat".

There was Computer Day Camp, where I was accidentally enrolled (at the age of 12) with the 15-16 year-old campers. I could keep up intellectually, so I stayed. Unfortunately Beavis and Butthead were in my group. For two weeks solid it was non-stop teasing about the fact that I had no boobs. I was so shy back then. I just tried to ignore them.

There were two years, when I was 10 and 11, that my mom could afford to send me to an expensive camp on the grounds of a private girls' school. That's where the wealthy kids went. Four-leaf clovers grew thick on the ground among the verdant lawns, no word of a lie! That's how lucky the place was.

At the fancy camp, ancient trees shaded the lawns where we played Duck Duck Goose and Capture The Flag. The main school buildings were over 100 years old, built in a gothic style, of grey stone. At the end of each day we gathered in the gymnasium, which had a vaulted roof and tall, stained-glass windows. The sun flooded in, throwing patches of saturated colour onto the golden, glossy, wooden floors.

We'd have a sing-along. All the camp favourites sounded fabulous, reverberating in that space. Even "The Other Day I Met a Bear" and "Fish and Chips and Vinegar" sounded positively choral.

Ah, those were the days...

Camp stories, anyone?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Meatball Story

Seems like everyone I know has been sick lately, or is looking after sick kids, or is desperately trying to avoid catching a bug that's making the rounds. Even I have been using anti-bacterial hand gel at work, even though I can hardly stand the stuff. (It's slime! I can barely believe that my hands are cleaner once I've slathered that gunk all over them.)

In the end I guess it comes down to how healthy one's immune system is. I used to work in healthcare. Sick people would show up just to sneeze in my face. But I managed to stay healthy most of the time.

I used to know a guy who subjected his immune system to appalling challenges, yet he almost never got sick. For example, he used to share his food with his cats. I don't mean that he gave them little pieces of his food. I mean that he'd actually hold out the sandwich and let them nibble on it. Then he'd take a bite. Then he'd pass it back to the cat. I also saw him do this with a Creamsicle.

Now, we all know that cats use their tongues to clean their butts. Much as I love cats, I draw the line at letting them lick my food. And yet, I couldn't argue when my friend pointed out that he was healthy as a horse. The proof is in the pudding, yes? No?

The ultimate test was the incident with the meatball sub. This friend is someone I knew back in the days when we were all penniless students. He had spent his last few dollars on a meatball submarine sandwich. He took it to go on his way home from school, which included a ride on the subway train.

As with public spaces anywhere, many of the people of Toronto treat the transit system like a garbage pit. The floor is fundamentally grimy. I have seen people hork on the floor. I have seen people barf on that floor. It's probably the least sanitary surface you could find, because at least outdoor spaces get washed by rain.

So you can see where this is going. He unwrapped his sandwich, went to take a bite, and one of his precious meatballs dropped onto the floor. And. You know it. He couldn't let it go. He bent down, picked up that meatball, and ate it.


The crazy part is, he didn't get sick.

So anytime I realize that The Person With The Bad Cold has just used my phone, or chewed on my pen, or breathed in my face, and I feel hypochondriac panic rising, I just remember the meatball. If it's possible to eat a meatball off the floor of public transit and not even feel nauseous, then surely my immune system can tackle a few wimpy germs.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Mystery Challenge

A heartfelt Thank You goes out to all of you who responded to my last post with supportive comments. I have re-read them all several times. If they were written on paper, they would be getting dog-eared already. Thanks also to those who have supported me in person, or who have silently sent good wishes my way. It all helps.

I do want to clarify one point. There is another Dad in my life, the one who so generously provided me with 50% of my DNA, and a very excellent DNA at that. You may have noticed him in my comments (writing as Mighty Mouse). Some people think it's weird that I have two Dads, but hey, if you can have more than one brother, sister, aunt, or uncle, why not multiple Dads? I think it's a great arrangement.

Now I have a mystery for you to solve. Without scrolling down, see if you can guess what this is:

Any idea?

It's small, it's lacey, and it's recently been hand-washed. (That's my "lay-flat-to-dry" screen thingamabobber that it's spread out on.)

If you're anything like Ken, your first thought upon seeing this delicate little scrap of fabric is: it must be lingerie!

Your second thought is: What kind of panty is that?

Don't get too excited now, but I even volunteered to model this in one possible configuration. Here is the world premiere of the garter's more modest cousin, the Knee Ruffle!

Woohoo! Look at those sexxxxaaaayyy gams!

Do you think this might catch on? Will Victoria's Secret have models strutting down the runway wearing colour-coordinated knee ruffles? Could this possibly extend to coy, peek-a-boo lace designed for elbows and ankles too? Stay tuned for the next stages of this hot, new trend!

But before you go looking for online vendors, maybe you'd like to see what this garment is really all about. It belongs to none other than one of the stars of My Favourite Things, Raggedy Ann.

Here she is, wearing her pretty pinafore.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bad News

It looks like my mom and the man I've called "dad" since I was in grade school might be splitting up.

I'm feeling... upset. And shocked. Sad, confused, and numb. And about a dozen other things all at once.

The first question my friends have all asked me was: did I see it coming?

No, I did not see it coming. It's the last thing I was expecting. It seems to have happened out of the clear blue sky.

The funny thing is, years went by, when I was a kid, when I expected them to split up at any moment. Hoped they would, even, just to get it over with and have some peace in the house. But now? After they finally survived all the years of endless conflict and they're in the home stretch leading to their elder years? Why suddenly throw it all away? Things had finally calmed down and the affection in the house seemed to outweigh the irritation.

So far I've only heard my mom's side of the story. I don't want to start making judgements about the situation until I've heard my step-dad's side too.

In the meantime, as it slowly sinks in, I'm feeling pretty stressed out. I won't even know for sure what's going to happen for at least another week, it seems. They have not finalized their decision, yet. So we hang in limbo, not knowing.

I've been having nightmares. Last night King Kong was coming to get me. The night before that, Angry Walrus Dad from American Chopper was yelling at me.

I know I'm having a strong reaction because food is starting to be a problem. Eating is still OK (I have to be pretty far gone before that's an issue), but I'm already finding that my brain freezes up in the kitchen when I'm supposed to be doing something as simple as preparing steamed broccoli. It's very inconvenient.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Virtual Money

Firstly, a note to all of you who were smitten by Spoon Guy. He has relatives available for adoption! They are officially called Tater Pots. If you simply must have one, click here.

Alright. On to today's topic.

Today I am musing about banks. I try not to think too hard about what it really means to keep my money in a bank, because it makes me nervous. I don't like that all I have to show for my life's savings is some numbers on slips of paper. If it wasn't completely inconvenient, I would convert all my savings into gold and keep it stuffed in my mattress.

The first time I encountered the fallibility of banks was when I was 12. I had an account with a trust company that had been slowly filling up with birthday cheques from relatives. I was well on my way to saving for university, when the trust company went bankrupt. The trust company was not covered by the Canadian Government's deposit insurance plan. Luckily some other company came in and bought all their assets, so I didn't lose my dough, but... I lost some of my trust in financial institutions.

The second time I ran into trouble with a bank involved a GIC. A banking representative had sold me the investment. I had sat in her office, explaining to her that I might need the money back again for a down payment on a house, but I wasn't sure how soon. She told me that this wasn't a problem - if necessary I could get my money out without a penalty.

Around 1.5 years later, I wanted my down payment money before the investment matured. I went back to the bank. I spoke the very same banking representative who had sold me the GIC. When I said that I was ready to withdraw the funds, she frowned and told me off. She was all "Well, you signed the contract, and you should have read the small print. No, you can't have the money unless you're willing to pay $X [insert giant penalty fee here]. Too bad, so sad."

Of course I didn't let that be the end of it. I stood my ground and fought her until she got her manager, who let me have my money and apologized profusely. But still. It shouldn't have come to that. I was shocked that she would have first sat there and lied to my face about the contract, and then gotten all pissy with me when I wanted my money. Unbelievable!

At least that bank has branches, so I can show up in person and yell if I need to. I am even more nervous about my account with ING, the branchless bank. They have that high-interest savings account that I can't resist, but I always feel like I'm sending my money into an unstable wormhole to another dimension. It could collapse at any time and then I'd be truly S.O.L. I've never had any trouble with ING... yet.

Excuse me now, I'm going to go pull some twenties out of my wallet and rub them until I feel better.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Few of my Favourite Things

When the dogs bite,
When the bees sting,
When I'm feeeeeeling baaaaaad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
and then I don't feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel
so saaaaaaaaaad!

Spoon Guy is always in a good mood.

My plants. The Azalea is blooming!

My grandmother knitted this afghan that perfectly matches my living room. It's super-cozy.

The Neurofuzzy rice cooker sings Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when you start the cook cycle. When the rice is ready, it plays some other song, which I like to call the Triumphant Rice-Is-Ready Anthem. Even if it didn't sing to me, how could I fail to love an appliance called "Neurofuzzy"?

Raggedy Ann was handmade for me when I was born, and was my constant companion throughout my childhood. She's wearing a dress that I used to wear. She's threadbare, half her hair has fallen out, she's yellowed, and she had a double foot replacement when I was in grade school, but she's still my favourite of favourites.

Friday, January 4, 2008

'Fessing Up

I'm learning some stuff about myself through this blog. For example, I was never previously aware of how obsessed I am with weird food and bizarre diets. So far I’ve only posted a few times on the subject, but you should see the notebook where I brainstorm blog ideas. It contains scrawlings like “The Meatball Story”, “The Tomato Story”, and “The Durian”. I’ll try to space them out. I don’t want this blog to turn into a Food Gross-Out Marathon.

My obsession probably resulted from my four years working in the health food industry. I may mock the Health Foodies, but deep down inside, I am one.

I take supplements almost every day. I used to be crazy with the supplements. I took fistfuls of pills with every meal. But some of those pills are a) tough to digest and b) pretty darn pricey. Once I stopped being able to steal them from the stockroom - I mean purchase them legitimately from my employer using my staff discount – I went through my stash and streamlined it.

I do feel that the supplements I take keep me healthy and youthful. I hardly ever catch cold or flu. (See how I just jinxed myself? Watch me get sick next week.) And as recently as this past summer, people have assumed that I’m in my early 20’s. I am 35.

So if you’re interested, this is what I take every day:

Greens Plus: This is one of those green “superfoods” chock full of powdered wheatgrass, algae, cleansing herbs, bee pollen, and tons more. Most of these products come in a powdered form which you mix with water or juice and drink in the morning. They taste like dried, pulverized lawnmower clippings. I pay a little more to get capsules, so taste isn’t an issue. I also take a third of the recommended dose which is quite sufficient, unless you prefer to poop twelve times a day.

Fish Body Oil: I drink a spoonful of the stuff every morning after my oatmeal. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Honest!

Multivitamin: I take one that comes in a capsule. Capsules are easier to digest than tablets, and always preferable. Apparently there are many vitamins with pretty, candy-coloured shellac coatings that are almost impossible to digest. I have heard tales of septic systems backing up due to filters clogged with almost-whole vitamin tablets. Considering how much the suckers cost, I want to make sure I’m actually absorbing them!

Vitamin D (I only take this one during the gloom of winter.): Excellent for bones, skin, and keeping Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) under control. The latest recommendation is 1,000 i.u. per day. I *heart* Vitamin D.

The minerals: Zinc for the immune system, Calcium with Magnesium so I don’t get a humpback in my elder years, and Iron, because of that girl thang.

What are you taking, if anything?

Thursday, January 3, 2008


One of my colleagues was in the kitchen when I went in to use the microwave. Packed by his loving wife, his entire lunch consisted of sliced, leftover sweet potatoes. A lot of them. And was he happy with this? Oh my, yes! For he is a Health Foodie.

I worked in the Health Food retail business for four years, so I can tell you with authority: Hardcore Health Foodies get totally obsessed with their dietary choices. Back in the day, I used to work with a guy who was a nutritional consultant and personal trainer. He had very, very odd eating habits.

He used to run into the store at the beginning of his shift with oven mitts on, carrying a hot, cast-iron frying pan that he had brought from his apartment a few blocks away. Inside the frying pan was his lunch: a pound of unseasoned brown lentils. No butter. No salt. No nuthin'.

I like lentils and all, but I don't think I could swallow that many in one sitting, dry and sauceless as they were.

Other lunches I saw him "enjoy" included 2 pounds of boiled potatoes, and (on a different day) a pound of plain baked meat. His serving sizes were always measured in pounds, and his meals never contained more than a single ingredient. He claimed that this was better for his digestion.

Could I argue? I never saw a man with such clear skin, I'll tell you that much.

I only knew him to get sick once. He dosed himself with strong ginger tea in which he had steeped several cloves of garlic, and loaded with a huge amount of cayenne pepper. Mmmm, delish! Amazingly, this is a popular natural remedy. I have never tried it myself because cayenne tends to burn holes in my digestive tract.

Relative to the average diet, I'd say I'm pretty health-conscious. But not obsessive. I'll eat potato chips - just not every day. As they say, A little bit of what you love does you good.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bringing the Lurv

Hear ye, hear ye! For anyone who might not be reading every last comment on my New Year's Resolution post , I am announcing the addition of a new blogroll to my sidebar. Anyone who reads this blog and who is also participating in Blog 365 should let me know, and I'll add you to the list. Come on, you wafflers, you can do it!

And the rest of you who aren't participating, well, now you can read until your eyeballs fall out.

Honestly, I'm loving this whole blogging business. I love writing. I love reading your comments. In two short months, I have become a total blogwhore.

I have to share this. You'll think I'm a nerd, but what the hey. I wake up at 6:30 in the morning, and the first thing I do is go online to check for comments. Really! And if I got even one, I start to purr, right there in front of the computer.

Thank you, for helping me to become a morning person.

In other news, I have a few more tidbits to share about New Year's Eve.

Best quote of the night:
"Don't give my your fancy granite tabletops! I just want to mash my face into your pho! "

Best hoodie:
Apparently, the latest trend is hoodies that zip aaaaallll the way up, like this. They actually cover the wearer's face. The dude who uttered the quote above was the proud owner of such a hoodie - except that his did not have any eye-holes. He demonstrated the proper use of the hood, which is to zip it all the way up and then head butt everyone around you in a blind frenzy.

Least successful attempt to start a rumour:
Ollie crept around whispering "sexy jealous" at what he judged to be a subliminal volume. Result: zero rumours started.

Worst plan:
One of the few girls present revealed to me that she was planning to drink until she barfed. Uh, gee, that sounds like FUN! Seriously, I would rather have my teeth drilled without freezing than upchuck. It's just so goshdarn unpleasant. These things sometimes happen by accident, but I can't get my head around someone actually intending it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

35 plus 25 = not much in common

It was a New Year's miracle. By 8:30 pm last night I was feeling surprisingly good, and so I got myself dressed up and went out with Ken.

We showed up at his little brother's place shortly after 9. Now, Ken is a few years younger than me; his brother is a few years younger than him; and his brother hangs out with guys who are even younger still. So I walked into a room full of guys in their mid-twenties, intently playing Guitar Hero II, drinking beer, and smoking up. I thought "This is going to be a long night".

How did we end up there? It's not like we have no friends our own age. But the social hub of our peer group is a couple who is currently coping with a teething 6-month-old, and without their invitation to draw us together, people all made different plans.

I was introduced to the group thusly: "Everyone, this is Spark. Spark, this is everyone." Which was perfect, because I really wasn't into memorizing their names. There was an indeterminate number of these 20-something guys in the apartment, and they all looked alike: skinny white guys wearing hoodies and and oversized jeans. That was the basic model. They came with a few options: glasses/no glasses, goatee/no goatee, and toque/no toque. It was all the more confusing because they kept getting up and switching seats in order to take turns at Guitar Hero.

I got bored. I don't drink. The way my body processes alcohol is that it skips the warm, fuzzy buzz and goes straight to feeling poisoned. But there were a lot of joints making the rounds. I've only smoked weed twice before in my life (I know- I'm such a goodie-two shoes) but I was so bored that I started smoking just to pass the time. By shortly after midnight, every other person present had a spliff in their hand, and the air was thick with smoke. I didn't smoke furiously, just took a few puffs here and there, but between that and all the second-hand toke, I was feeling pretty mellow by the time we excused ourselves.

And today? I am still totally sedated. My mind is working, but my body feels like it's moving through syrup instead of air. Stupid weed hangover! This is why I don't smoke more often. It always messes me up for a full 24 hours. And it's really not worth it.