Monday, December 31, 2007

Because Resolutions are Made to be Broken

I am making one resolution this year, and you're looking at it. I have no idea if the Powers That Be are going to allow me to post every day, but by gum, I will try. If you would like to join Blog 365, you can sign up here. Last time I checked there were 500 nutbars on the list, and counting.

I usually don't wait until a new year to make resolutions. Once I decide that I need to make a change, I go for it right away. Putting things off gives me too much opportunity to worry and get bogged down in self-doubt. So I try to get everything done as soon as possible.

I call my strategy Anticrastination. See, it's the opposite of Procrastination. I don't condemn Procrastination. I am open to all philosophies of life. However, some procrastinators have taken offense when they hear how I do things. Any hard-core Procrastinators out there, may begin hating me.... now!

As for New Year's Eve, I'll be spending it on the comfort of my sofa this year. I am having some kind of issue with my sinuses. My face feels tired, like it just ran ten marathons. My eyes want to droop and my jaw wants to hang open. I don't think I could put on enough makeup to make that look attractive, and I also doubt that I'll be feeling very perky by midnight. We'll see. If I'm still awake by then, I'll be toasting the new year with Orange Crush.

Happy Celebrating, and Best Wishes for 2008!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sleeping Beauty

I've just been skimming this article on sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a horrible phenomenon during which your brain wakes up enough to know you're not asleep anymore, but you still can't move any part of your body. All you can do is struggle internally and moan like a zombie.

I woke Ken this morning by lying next to him with no muscle control, mooing "Mnuuuuuuhhhhhh! Mnuuuuuuhhhhhh!" I've taught him that this is his cue to gently shake me until my neurological breaker switch clicks and I regain control of my body. If he's not there to save me, I have to struggle through it by myself.

I HATE dealing with sleep paralysis alone. Waking up should be simple enough. Your eyes blink open, and you're awake. A newborn baby can do it. But I can end up lying there for what seems like an eternity, saying to myself "OK, I'm going to move my right arm now. I'm going to push back the blankets, roll over, and sit up. 1, 2, 3, GO!" My brain sends the signal. My dream-arm pushes at imaginary blankets. But I'm also aware that my real arm is still lying by my side like a dead snake. So I try again. "Alright, this time I'm really going to do it. I'm going to move... NOW!" Still nothing. And so on. Until finally something snaps and I break through to movement. Then I know I'd better get myself right up and walking around, or I could doze and slip back into limbo again.

Once I finally managed to get on my feet today, I went out with a girlfriend on a bun-seeking mission. We found what we were looking for here:

Everyone knows the best bun is a Ding Dong bun!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Translating the Crazy-Talk

Here are some excerpts from my family dictionary/phrasebook:

“Back in the days when God was young.”
- used by my grandfather to refer to the era of his childhood. (Clarification: He is not referring to himself as God. He is only implying that he is as old as God.)

- an adjective applied by members of my family to British television comedies (a.k.a. Brit-coms). Despite the fact that we all speaka-da-same-English, British humour doesn’t translate well into North American. These shows make my eyes glaze over. Why are my Russian-Jewish family members such die-hard Queen-loving anglophiles? I wish I could tell you.

In case you are curious, here is a link to a singularly unfunny Brit-com. Warning: content may make you drowsy.

“Birthday Party”
- a synonym for “obligation”. The pre-Birthday-Party phase, up to one month in duration, allows ample opportunity for arguing over whose turn it is to host the party. Other divisive aspects of the Birthday Party include date of execution, and the politics of sharing a party with more than one celebrant. Further complications arise when other obligatory dates are closeby on the calendar, such as Mother’s Day, or a Jewish holiday.

One year my birthday fell on Yom Kippur, which is officially a solemn day of atonement and fasting. I was all for balancing lit birthday candles on an empty plate, but no one else thought that would be cool.

- a weapon of verbal destruction used without restraint in the Birthday Party wars. Violations of the Geneva Conventions have been noted.

“Small slice”
- the serving size of Birthday Cake most commonly requested at the Birthday Party. If it is not translucent, then you have not sliced it thinly enough. The slice may be refused. “Just eat as much as you want and leave the rest” is not an acceptable suggestion.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


On Christmas Day, Ken and I went to meet his family for a potluck lunch. Knowing Ken's brother, I thought he might actually bring pot, but he brought fruit salad instead.

After that, there wasn't much to do. I shuffled through a few DVD's on loan from a friend, and chose to watch Casino Royale, the latest James Bond flick. I thought Daniel Craig was a decent Bond, but by the end the movie started losing me. It went on way too long.

I have noticed that movies since the mid-90's have gotten longer, and it hasn't made them any better. Once we've seen all the stages leading to the climax, I expect to cruise into the denouement. This is the story-telling sequence that's worked for humankind since the time of classical myths and legends. But North American culture got their hands on it and decided More Is Better! And thereby screwed it up.

So just when I'm getting ready for the happy ending and the closing credits, suddenly the director throws in a plot twist. Oh my gosh, look at that, the couple got into that car to drive off happily into the sunset, but now they're being chased by bad guys again! And we're back into conflict and action sequences for another X minutes. Sometimes there are 3 or more false endings tacked on to the plot, through double and triple crosses and other devices. And honestly, I'm just not into it.

Part of the enjoyment of a movie is that it ends! The problems are resolved, the questions are answered, and now we can all forget about it and go home. Obviously I'm talking about mainstream Hollywood flicks here. There are other types of movies that I'm willing to be uncomfortable for, like documentaries that reveal unsavory truths. If I've spent my time suspending my disbelief to invest myself in a dumbed down Hollywood blockbuster, I at least want to get the satisfaction of a neatly packaged ending.

Because the plot that convinces you that things are all OK and then produces another problem? That's the plot of my life on a bad day. A day that drags on and on with nasty surprises, sneak attacks by my own personal bad guys, and just when I think I've resolved it all and can put my feet up and relax, something else goes wrong. So what I'd really like is for Hollywood to go back to the simple endings and a 90 minute running time.

Other opinions on this? Shout'em out!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Time to Carve the Roast Beast

Merry Merry! Did you all have a satisfying gift-opening frenzy? I certainly hope so. And now most of you are probably preparing to dig into a big Christmas dinner.

I have researched some alternatives to the traditional turkey. These recipes are not jokes. They are from real cookbooks, courtesy of my mom's library of strange and relatively rare books. They are meant to be used, although you may have some trouble finding the ingredients. I should warn you that I have not tested them myself.

From a cookbook of traditional Israeli dishes, first published in 1963:


2 kgs. locusts

Heat the oven and when hot, put out the fire. Put the locusts in the hot oven and leave half a day. Remove from oven, spread out to dry in sun one day. Before eating, remove head, legs, and wings.
Serves 4

Mmmmm... Sounds yummy, doesn't it? Boy, my mouth is watering. But that's just for the appetizer. Here's a main course, from a cookbook of traditional Northern Canadian recipes, published in 1967.

Jellied Moose Nose

1. Cut the upper jawbone of the moose just below the eyes.

2. Place in a large kettle of scalding water and boil for 45 minutes.

3. Remove and chill in cold water.

4. Pull out all the hairs - these will have been loosened by boiling and should come out easily.

5. Wash thoroughly until no hairs remain.

6. Place the nose in a kettle and cover with fresh water.

7. Add onion, garlic, spices, vinegar (etc. - it goes on for another 8 steps to completion. If you have your heart set on following the whole recipe, I can e-mail it to you.)

There you have it! Proof that hungry people will eat anything. That same Northern Canadian cookbook has recipes for bear, lynx, beaver, and anything else you might hunt or trap in the woods. It could come in handy!

Last night my mom's side of the family all got together to celebrate my grandmother's 87th birthday. It seems that my mom decided to cook a dinner of maximal gas, including both lima beans and brussels sprouts. I asked my grandfather if he likes brussels sprouts.

"I can tolerate them," he said.

I managed to tolerate four sprouts, which is more than my usual annual quota. For some reason the first three didn't taste so bad, but the fourth had extra stink. Sulfur, I guess. Some of those little green fellers taste really nasty.

What are you eating today?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

You really shouldn't have

I've been thinking about gifts. I'm willing to devote a lot of time and a decent amount of cash to gifting. I enjoy the challenge of finding just the right thing for someone I care about.

Today I was trying to remember the best gift I've ever received, but I couldn't narrow it down to just one. I'm a lucky woman, and I've received so much in my life. I can, however, easily pinpoint the worst gift I ever received.

I have to preface this by stating that my ex gave me some of the best Christmases of my life. He's a thoughtful, generous guy and no one would ever accuse him of being a Grinch. However, things had gone awry by our last year together, and that last Christmas just wasn't the same.

We had recently bought a house together, and on top of all the closing costs we had fixed the place up, so essentially we had no money left. Our agreement was that we would get each other gifts to put under the tree and open on Christmas morning, for the excitement of it, that were actually things we needed for the house. I think I got him oven mitts that looked like lobster claws. Something like that.

So that brings me to what I found under the tree, wrapped up in Christmas paper, for me, that last Christmas. It was... can you guess? I bet you can't guess.


Yes, he got me garbage cans for Christmas.

Definitely the worst gift I ever received.

I mean, sure, we needed them and all, but there were a dozen other things, none of which had anything to do with garbage, and some of which were actually attractive, that could have gone under the tree.

He's not the kind of person who would maliciously, consciously try to hurt my feelings on Christmas morning. But there was a lot of subliminal weirdness going on by that point, and this was a real stand-out moment for questionable symbolism. In a nutshell, that was one messed-up Christmas.

Can anyone top that? What was the worst gift you ever received?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Scary Christmas

I found this malevolent Santa plotting world domination from a store window in my neighbourhood. Is he not the creepiest Santa you've ever seen?

It's worse than you think: he has an evil twin!

These guys are going to give me nightmares. They make me glad I don't have a chimney.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

DDR Max!

I could have easily spent the whole night on YouTube, watching DDR videos. Some of those kids can really dance it up! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Read this part if you don't know about the video game called Dance Dance Revolution:
The joystick/controller is replaced by a pressure sensitive floor mat, marked with up, down, left, and right arrows. Neutral position is at the centre. The goal is to step on the correct sectors of the mat, as indicated by corresponding arrows on the screen, in time to the music. Confused? Here is a link to a video of some cute girls playing DDR in Japan. It gives an idea of how the game works in action.

Ken recently resurrected DDR in our home as a fun way to get a good cardio workout. Hoo boy, do I sweat when I'm hopping around on that mat. I'm sure I look like a damn fool, too. This is not ballet class. There are no graceful pirouettes. It's all about staring intently at the endless patterns of arrows flying up the screen, and trying to get your feet to keep up with all the stomping. Like whack-a-mole, but way faster and more complicated.

I actually injured myself by concentrating too hard on the "light" level of DDR. (In my defense, it's not the easiest level. I did graduate from "beginner" without requiring medical assistance.)

During an intense DDR Battle, I watched Ken from the corner of my eye. As he was being pushed to the limits of his skill, his whole upper body started to lock up. His neck craned forward as his eyes fixed on the screen, and his hands curled into rigid claws. I was like "Hon, you're doing this thing with your hands. It looks uncomfortable."

I hadn't noticed that I was doing the same thing. I had practically stopped breathing. Well, sheesh, breathing was distracting me from my footwork. Come on! It was a Battle! Priorities people. Priorities.

That level of dedication comes at a price. Not long after we had our dance-off, my entire torso contracted into one big muscle spasm. Ow. See, that much thinking and that much exercise is just too much for me to handle in one activity. I like to exercise mindlessly, and think sitting down. Is this not reasonable? I think it is very reasonable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I am The Namer

Hey guess what? I won a contest. The contest was hosted by the lovely honesty*rain on behalf of her friend Tamara. Tamara needed suggestions for a new blog name and (drumroooooll, cymbal crash!) she picked my suggestion! Which was downward blog. I am honoured. Go and check out their blogs!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Friend to Animals Everywhere

In my last post I mentioned my step-dad. When I was a kid, we fought like cats and dogs, but we've both changed a lot in the past 20+ years, and now I feel really lucky to call him family. He can come across like a toughie, but he has a soft heart.

Many years ago, I was with my parents at a small zoo. Some of the animals were in a fenced enclosure. Signs indicated that you could purchase a handful of pellets from a vending machine to feed these animals. There was the usual assortment of livestock, goats and whatnot. And, for some reason, one ostrich.

All the animals understood the system well. If a hand came over the top of the fence, they would all rush over to try to get to the pellets first, including the ostrich. However, there was a sign on the fence that specifically said:


Sadly, the ostrich didn't know that. He lived in a state of perpetual frustrated yearning, hoping against hope that eventually someone, some kind soul, would give him some pellets. He couldn't understand why the humans never offered him treats.

My step-dad was very into feeding the animals. He chuckled as llamas and sheep nibbled his palm. He didn't mind being slobbered on. But what did bother him was the forlorn look in the eyes of the ostrich. Poor bird! He was hungry too!

I looked over just in time to see the ostrich rear back his head like a hammer ready to strike, and then peck down with all his might on my step-dad's out-stretched hand. My step-dad yelped. Pellets scattered all over the ground. The ostrich bent happily to eat. My step dad looked a bit mournful, holding his sore hand, but later swore that he did not regret feeding the ostrich. He felt it was the morally correct thing to do.

And would he do it again, given the chance? A couple of years later, my parents were vacationing in Florida. My mother phoned me.

"We've just been to the petting zoo."

"Did you have a good time?"

"Your dad's been bitten by a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig."

Same story, different zoo. My step-dad has often said to me that he'd rather err on the side of being too generous. He sleeps better at night knowing that all the petting-zoo animals are well-fed, even if he sometimes gets bitten.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

8 Random Facts

Meme time again! Here are the rules:

(1) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
(2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
(3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
(4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

And here are The Facts:

1) I can move my pinky toes independently from my other toes. This is in no way useful, but seems to impress people.

2) I was raised in a home where cow's tongue was a regular item on the dinner table. I didn't realize that most people found this disgusting until I was in my teens. I actually quite like tongue. It's a very soft and tender meat.

3) My current surname is the fourth I've had in my life. I was born with one last name. Then my step-father legally adopted me (when I was 8) so I ended up with his last name. When I got married I legally changed to my husband's last name, because I didn't like sharing a name with my step-dad. But by the time I got divorced I had a better appreciation for the support of both my fathers, both step and biological, so I created a new last name that combines elements of both of my fathers' last names. That's the one I'll be keeping for the rest of my life. Ken knows that if he wants us to share a last name, it's up to him to change his name to match mine!

4) Whenever I'm in a pet store, I seek out the guinea pigs and whistle through my teeth at them. This gets them excited so that they all start squeaking and running around the cage. I guess it's a little mean, because it means that I've frightened them, but they're just so cute that I can't resist.

5) Recently a stranger mistook me for Molly Ringwald. I do look quite a lot like her in this photo. All you have to do is dye the hair a darker, auburn shade, change the eyes to pale green, broaden the nose a tad, and show just a little less gum in the smile. Then you almost have me.

6) I have a tendency towards Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which gets worse when I'm under stress. Sometimes I make myself late for work because I can't stop checking things. I know it's really getting bad when I catch myself compulsively counting the number of times I swallow as I drink.

7) Because of allergies, I don't consume caffeine, alcohol, or dairy. What I miss most: grilled cheese sandwiches, and Chocolate Oreo Ice Cream.

8) I have no goals in life. I used to be very goal oriented. One by one (or sometimes several at once) my carefully laid plans went awry, and a weird, unforseen life took shape in their place. I find I quite like this life I've fallen into. It feels very "meant-to-be". So now I trust the Powers That Be to guide my overall future, and I just try to live each day as best I can.

Okey shmokey! Tagging time.

A lot of bloggers have already done this meme. I can think of a few who might not have, so I'm tagging y'all below:

Tamara at Downward Blog

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Drew Carey Wrecks Price Is Right

Have you had a chance to watch The Price Is Right lately? We have moved into the post-Bob-Barker era, and now Drew Carey is hosting. I am not happy with this state of affairs. Not at all.

The Price Is Right has always been entertaining and lovable because it is so uncool. Full grown men and women scream and jump around like kids. The set is all colours and flashing lights, like a carnival. And Bob Barker was the King of this fantasy land, taking it all in stride. It was an irony-free zone, which is a precious thing in this jaded world.

I always felt safe with Bob in charge. He treated even the silliest games with a certain amount of grave seriousness, and always expressed appropriate sympathy with the contestants, whether they won or lost. The viewers at home were free to ridicule as they wished, but the show itself was sincere.

Drew Carey, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care at all about this magical land that he has inherited. He steps on stage with a smug little half-smile, as if to say to us all "Isn't this a ridiculous show, and isn't it crazy that I'm getting paid to host it? Well, whatever, I have bills to pay, so let's get this over with."

Nothing else has changed, but Drew's attitude taints it all. He keeps himself emotionally distant, shows no enthusiasm and, worst of all, makes ironic comments. Who's idea was it to give him the job? Because I want them to know: he sucks! Is he still on probation? Is it too late to fire him?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I can't resist. I am happy and I know and I've really gotta show it. I have to share what I'm grateful for this holiday season.

I have finally landed in my own life. I finally feel like I'm living in the present. After my divorce, there was a disconnect between me and the rest of the world that just wouldn't mend. For years I felt as though I were wandering around, lost, in a life that belonged to everyone but me. I could only take one day at a time. The future was muffled in a grey cloud.

Christmases were the worst, because when I was married, they were the best. I had my first family Christmas with my ex and his folks when I was 16. I hadn't had much in the way of Christmas celebrations before, being Jewish and all, so it was new and exciting to me. He became my Santa Claus, filling my stocking with treats, buying me wonderful gifts, and bringing me into a family circle with warmth, laughter, and fabulous Christmas dinners.

He was my Christmas for twelve years. All my holiday memories centered around him. So after we split, naturally, Christmas could never be the same.

It took six years for me to get beyond that. Last year was the first year that I was able to simply enjoy the holidays in the present, without feeling haunted. I think the turning point came when Ken and I moved into our condo. It was a totally new setting, all ready for new memories. I left the ghosts behind in my old apartment, where I had spent so much time grieving the past.

It's so good just to be here. I have everything I've ever wanted. Although, I still wouldn't say no to treats in my stocking.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Questions are the Lubricant of Conversation

Dear Loud Woman Who Sat Near Me In The Restaurant Last Night:

It warms my heart that you love your dogs so much. I am an animal lover too, and I am sure you are the bestest Mommy they could ever hope for.

The two other women at your table nodded politely throughout your 45-minute-long monologue, however I am guessing that they probably felt the same way as I did, which is that we really didn't need to hear about your dogs in so much detail. Especially because the details you chose to share were inappropriate for a public place of eating.

We didn't need to know the quantity of poop left by your Lab and your Husky in your back yard, and how long it takes you to pick up all the poop every week on Sunday, which is poop-harvesting day. Nor did we need to know how excited your dogs get when they see you handling their poop.

We didn't need to know about the time your Lab got into a scrap with a squirrel and sustained a significant flesh wound, which bled all over your kitchen. I'm sorry that he needed four stitches and that the vet bill was $300, but that is the cost of being a good pet-Mommy. When one of my cats decided to pick out her stitches (with her teeth) after being spayed*, at midnight on a Saturday, and we had to bring her to an emergency vet at great cost to get her sewn back up again, I did complain about it, but NOT at the dinner table. Because it was gross.

We didn't need to hear about how monumentally disgusting your Husky's farts smell after he's been out hunting and has eaten raw squirrel, bird, and heaven knows what else. We particularly didn't need a detailed visual description of what bits of the bird/squirrel the Husky leaves behind on the lawn when he's finished chowing down.

In closing, Loud Woman, you do seem like a good-hearted person. I think you just don't realize a) how far your voice carries and b) that good dinner conversation should be neither gross nor dominated by you. Questions are the lubricant of conversation. Show some interest in your dining companions! Let them get a word in edgewise! Would you give that a try?

Yours Sincerely,
S. Red.

*Anticipating the question: why would a cat pick out her own stitches? Answer: Because they were itchy. Isn't that what you would do if your stitches itched?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sacred Flames

The crafts instructor at the oldies' home really wasn't thinking ahead. My grandmother arrived for the family Hanukkah celebration with a menorah that she had made herself - out of wood.

F.Y.I. Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates a miraculous sacred oil lamp, which burned for 8 days on one day's worth of oil. To commemorate the miracle, it is traditional to light one candle for each of these days in a special candelabra called a menorah. There's more to it than that, but that's all you really need to know for the purposes of this story.

So anyway, we filled the menorah up with candles, said the appropriate prayers, and set them ablaze. The menorah was set on a baking tray on a sideboard. Once the prayers were done, we all turned back to the table and focused on eating potato latkes.

Around half-an-hour later, when the candles had burned down quite a lot, I noticed that the flames were flickering quite dramatically. My father followed my gaze. "What's going on over there?" he asked. I stood to take a closer look.

The menorah was on fire!

The candles had dripped sooty wax all over the wood, the flames had followed the soot deposits, and soon enough the actual wooden candelabra itself had started burning. Good thing we had set it up on a baking sheet, or who knows where it would have ended.

So much for my grandmother's handiwork becoming a family heirloom. Turns out it was a one-use, auto-self-destructing menorah.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ain't as smart as I thunk I wuz

At work, I am known as The Most Technical Person. I have earned this title by being most consistently able to unjam the photocopier and coerce reluctant printers to actually print. However, all things are relative, and tonight I'm really not feeling like a genius.

Back in May of this year, I bought a digital camera, a Sony DSC-H9 Cybershot, if you care. It was a big investment, but my photos are precious to me and I wanted the best that I could afford. I bought it at a Serious Camera Store (Henry's, if you must know), where knowledgeable experts go to get all their camera gizmos.

The first few of batches of photos turned out really well. The detail, the focus, the colour - top notch. Then, sometime near the end of the summer, I noticed that some photos I had taken out in the sun had a whitish, blurry patch in the middle of them. I put it down to overexposure, and fiddled around in iPhoto to minimize the damage.

Next time I went out, I screwed a sunshade attachment onto the lens. The same problem recurred. Then I started noticing the blurry effect in indoor photos too. Because I had already diagnosed the problem as over-exposure, I figured that there must be something wrong with the photo-receptors inside the camera. It was a manufacturer's defect, and I'd have to get the whole camera replaced under the warrantee.

Today I finally got around to calling Henry's to ask how I should go about returning my camera. I even took a series of pictures to show the obvious blurred area. I was just about ready to pack the camera back into the box it came in, when Ken said:

Maybe there's something wrong with the lens. Have you checked the lens?

Well, no, I had been so confident of my previous assessment that it never occurred to me to take a look at the lens. And guess what?

There was a greasy smudge on the lens. Right in the middle, where the blurry spot kept showing up.

So, basically, I had been worrying about the state of my photo-receptors and taking bad photos for four months because I WAS TOO STUPID TO CLEAN MY LENS. Boy howdy, am I ever glad I figured that out in the safety and comfort of my own home, and not in the Fancy Pants Camera Store.

"Did you hear about that woman who came in this morning? Yeah, she wanted to return her camera because their was a smudge on the lens. No, seriously! Can you believe it? Some people are so dumb."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Pound until tender

Jackie, my massage therapist, is the coolest. And I'm not saying that just that because I love massage.

I have tried rolfing, which involved my rolfer leaning into my flesh with her elbow or the full weight of her forearm, trying to break up knots “all the way down to the bone”. Most people find traditional Rolfing too painful to endure. I actually liked it, in a “hurts so good” kind of way, since I have a high tolerance for pain and also, a touch of masochism. The only part I didn’t like was when she put on a latex glove and put one hand inside my mouth so that she could jam her thumb into my jaw-joint from the inside. I would have screamed, if I hadn’t been instantly paralyzed by the pain.

I have also tried Thai massage (photo here), during which the therapist pulls your body into various yoga-ish poses in order to stretch your muscles and get your joints moving. Thai massage usually wasn’t painful, but as you can see from the photo it requires a lot of intimacy between the masseur and the client. That was weird, especially since my therapist was male. It felt a bit adulterous. The only part of the process that I hated was when he would pull on each of my toes until the toe-knuckle cracked. I really felt that was unnecessary.

My current massage therapist, Jackie, does regular Swedish massage along with some other fancy techniques like craniosacral therapy. She doesn’t cause me pain or bend me into a pretzel. I knew she was cool from our first meeting. After listening to my reasons for wanting massage, she explained to me that she’d like me to disrobe and get onto the table. She asked “So, after this brief acquaintance, are you comfortable with me touching your buttocks?”

She asked so nicely – how could I say no?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dear 13-year-old me,

Hey, it’s my first meme! I volunteered to be tagged by R.E.H. at Ramblings of a Madman. R.E.H. changed the rules a bit from the usual meme standard, and I like the new rules, so that’s what we’re now playing by.

First, link to the person who tagged you, as above. Then, explain the rules of the meme. The assignment is to write a letter to yourself at the age of 13. Then, anyone who wants to, up to five people, can volunteer to take on the challenge (i.e. be tagged). You can volunteer via a comment. I will then link to the volunteers I get by editing the list below:


1. Jameil1922 at Unabashedly Me. (TENTATIVE)
2. To be determined
3. Come on, be brave!
4. You know you want to…
5. Don’t all speak at once!

So, here goes…

Dear 13-Year-Old Me,

I know things are tough right now, in grade 8. I wish I could travel back in time to hold your hand and reassure you – life does get better! Kids can be so mean! Boy if I could just go back there and get my hands on the bullies, some scrawny adolescent butts would get kicked, for sure.

Here’s my first tip from the future: beware the girl with the glass eye. You’re going to meet her next year when you start grade 9. She’ll act like a friend, but then she will manipulate you and mess with your head. Bad things will happen if you don’t stay away from her!

From grade 10 on, it'll be all about the boys. Yes, they will eventually start asking you out. Go! Have fun! But don’t let them squash your spirit down. Charlie will be hot. So hot, like Brad Pitt! No, wait, it’s only 1986, and Thelma and Louise doesn’t come out until 1991, so you have no idea who I'm referring to. Anyway, trust me, you’ll fall head over heels for him. And that’s fine, just don’t take crap from him. Don’t let him push you around. Don’t spend all your time with him. Don’t neglect your girlfriends. And by all means, if he tries to break up with you, do NOT beg to be taken back and then spend 6 months in a horrible limbo that crushes your spirit with each passing day. That would be bad.

Do me a favor: fool around! Date different guys! Don’t be so serious! You have your whole adult life for seriousness and long-term relationships.

Changing the subject to what you’re going to do after high school: you won’t like studying engineering. If you enroll, it will destroy your love of mathematics. In fact, you will be so disillusioned with technology that you won’t even use a computer for word processing. You will instead type multiple drafts of 20-page English and History papers on a typewriter, after you switch to the Arts Department. I repeat: a typewriter! Think of all the fun things you could with that time if you would just use a computer instead.

This will come up next year: when you decide you don’t want to wear bangs anymore, don’t pull them back off your forehead with a hair band one sunny summer day and walk around with that strip of white skin at the top of your forehead exposed for hours. Unless you want that skin to turn into a strip of crispy bacon. You won’t be able to raise your eyebrows for a week. You think I’m kidding? I’m not kidding.

And stay away from stirrup pants. Even the purple ones. Just because they’re trendy doesn’t make them flattering.

Well, that’s about it! Keep up the good work, young lady! You know I’m proud of you. And if you need me, I’m only one wrinkle in time away.

Love and Hugs,
35-year-old me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This is not an advertorial

I really love my contact lenses. This is a story which illustrates two points:

1) Acuvue Oasys lenses really are the shizzle, and;

2) sometimes I get confused.

I was at my eye doctor's last July, trying on contact lenses for the first time since 1988. Who remembers contact lenses from the 1980's? What a pain in the rear they were. All that fiddling with different bottles of solution and protein dissolving tablets. I couldn't deal with the hassle. But things have changed!

The doctor gives me a pair of lenses to try on. No problem. I'm cool. I've done this before. I carefully apply lens to eyeball, and repeat. The woman sitting beside me at the mirror is having trouble getting hers in. She's all admiring-like, jealous of my ability to stick my finger in my eye without flinching. I pretend to be bashful, but of course I'm feeling smug.

The doctor comes by to check up on me. How are the lenses? Oh, well, actually, now that you mention it, my vision is still very blurry. That's confusing. I swear I put them both in, but I can't feel them. Could I have dropped one? Or both? How could I have lost them both? The doctor takes me back to the examining room and peers into my eyes with his special magnifying light. Ah, he says.

Your vision is blurred because you put both lenses in the same eye. On top of each other.

Wow. Who's smug now?

I feel like such a dope.

And also, I'm impressed. These contact lenses are so comfortable that I can layer two in one eye and not even feel them! Nice! A definite improvement over 1988.

Monday, December 3, 2007


It would be easy for me to feel bitter about the recent weather in Toronto. It's not even officially winter yet, but it's been snowing for a month. Das ist crazy, for reals. We usually don't even get a dusting of snow until around Christmas.

But I'm kind of liking this wintery experience. Bad weather allows me to pretend that I am an adventurous hero, forging my way through wind, sleet, and snowdrifts to survive. Getting to the grocery store and back in freezing rain becomes an expedition. I may be slithering and slipping on this glassy sidewalk, but the Stalwart Red will never give up! Even if I have to shuffle all the way, I will prevail!

I'm even looking forward to the deep freeze days, the days I used to dread. What's different this year? In July I got contact lenses. Now I can pull my scarf right up over my nose, without fear that my breath will fog my glasses. I used to have to choose between seeing and breathing. That, my friends, was a hard choice.

Soon I must go out. I will pull on my ugly, waterproof winter boots and go stomping through ankle-deep slush while most everyone else is delicately picking their way between the puddles in their fashionable, leather-soled shoes. And I will feel superior! Oh, so superior.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Judged by a jury of our peers

Lucinda was 41 years old and had recently escaped a hellish marriage. She had been forced to move, with her two children, into a shelter. She looked like life had chewed her up and spit her out. Then Style by Jury got their hands on her.

By the end of one week, Lucinda was a new woman. She’d had her teeth capped, her eyes lasered, her hair tamed, and she’d been poured into a svelte little cocktail dress. She was all smiles when the jury delivered their final verdict. She declared herself filled with newfound confidence.

So, what exactly is the message? Is it a wonderful blessing that this woman, so good-hearted and downtrodden, has been given a new lease on life through her renovated appearance? Sure, I guess so. But what about the thousands of other hard-luck cases, who don’t have the good fortune to be chosen for a makeover show?

If society is under-appreciating so many good-hearted people just because they can’t afford artificial teeth, I submit that makeover shows are not the solution. I propose filming a TV show that interviews and appreciates good-hearted people just as they are. I would call it Hidden Treasures, and it would have just as many inspiring and heart-warming moments as What Not to Wear. Yeah, yeah, I know. In my dreams. When pigs fly.

I gave myself a makeover within the past year. I cut off my mop of frizzy hair and went for a sleek, short look. I learned how to wear makeup. I got rid of my thrift-store wardrobe and bought good clothes that fit. And people did start treating me differently. Some women at work who used to not have the time of day for me suddenly got all chummy.

But that didn’t feel like a victory. The people who decided to start being friendly with me just because I looked “cool” weren’t people I wanted to be friends with anyway. My new look gives me a psychological advantage, but not in a heartwarming way. The bottom line: it gives me more influence with shallow people.

Beyond basic hygiene and some evidence of personal pride, appearances are over-rated. Give me a brilliant, funny person with funky teeth and glasses any day of the week. [/end rant]