Sunday, June 29, 2008

And there's more...

Nothing says holiday like:

Wearing the t-shirt you bought on your last vacation
, while on this one. We lost count of how many Hard Rock Cancun t-shirts we saw yesterday. People like you to know that they've done this sort of thing before. Don't mess with them.

Hard Rock Cafes. I know. Let's fly around the world and go to a restaurant that's an exact replica of the one we went to in the last city we were in. In an effort to sample the local cuisine and partake of the extraordinary island culture, be sure to order the curly fries.

Para gliding and other extreme sports. For 358 days of the year, you get up, go to work, and come home to commandeer the channel changer and watch Rock of Love. What possesses you to tether yourself to the back of a boat and go flailing around the harbour?

Hotel sized toiletries are the new black market currency. I don't care how much money I make. It gives me a perverse thrill to take half-empty sample sizes of shampoo and body lotion.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nothing says holiday like....

White powdered mini donuts. Reading the nutritional information on the side of the Hostess donettes package is scarier than any Stephen King novel. You might be surprised to know that a single package contains 40 per cent of your USDA daily fat content. One question is: do I eat them or snort them?

Drinks served in little plastic pineapples. I'm keeping it as a souvenir, and as a stark reminder of my money-managing skills.

Popcorn shrimp. Shrimp, coconut, a deep fryer and a defibrilator. Happy holidays.

A charley horse. It's holiday boot camp. We must have walked a billion miles yesterday. We had to...we had to burn off the mini donuts.

Vacation fights.
Barb and I are making sport of spotting the fighting families. There seems to be something about deviating from your usual work-a-day routine that drives even the closest knit families into cold, clipped sidewalk spats. They need mini donut 911.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Time Change

My body says 3:15 p.m., but the clock says 9:15 a.m. I'm afraid this won't bode well for leading tonight's conga line.

After more than ten hours in the air, I landed in Maui last evening. Barb was there, looking tanned and lovely, at the bottom of the escalator. We came home to their amazing place in the rain forest, where the tiki torches were burning and the hospitality is over-flowing. I'm starting legal adoption proceedings this afternoon.

It's paradise!

But you know what's NOT paradise? Travelling anywhere on a plane these days.

I took two different airlines yesterday -- Air Canada and United. 10 hours in the air. And the ONLY free bit of nourishment I was given was a pack of pretzels.

I think the pretzels were an ironic nod to the way my spine felt after being squeezed against the window for the last leg of the journey -- trying to avoid getting hit in the head (again) by one of the 20-odd revellers, wearing the same electric green t-shirts, all heading to Maui to celebrate Alex's Bat Mitzvah.

Oy vey.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vacation Checklist

Musn't forget:

1) A positive attitude. You can never have too much of that.

2) #45 sunscreen. This is a nod to the Scots who contributed to my genetic make-up. By crawling out of the peat bogs as they did, they ensured I'd spent a lifetime without any measure of pigmentation.

3) Two not-quite-serious-enough books. I once went on an all inclusive vacation with a group of girls. A few of them brought along some pretty serious reads -- A Map of the World and Fugitive Pieces. I brought along a seering look at the Jon Benet Ramsay murder case. Guess who did more pool side reading?

4) US, People, In Touch, etc. God I miss the demise of Weekly World News. The continuing adventures of Bat Boy were always good for half hour of flight time. Instead, I will have to contend myself with: Stars, they're just like us.

5) Snacks. I'm an eat every two hours kind of girl. It's crazy that they don't serve you anything to eat anymore. I have a baggy full of raisin boxes and Kashii bars. I'll fit right in during my layover in San Francisco.

Ready for takeoff!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wear and Tear

I'm wearing my yoga pants at work today.

They're a modern cut of yoga pants. The type that look like dress pants with a kicky little flare, but have the comfortable give of blended spandex. They hide a multitude of figure flaws.

I don't actually do yoga, I just have an entire collection of yoga gear in my closet.

If a sudden and overwhelming need to do Downward Dog or stand on one leg like a tree should overcome me, I'll be ready.

On this, my last day of work before vacation, my yoga pants are a talisman against stress. They're telegraphing my brain to remind me to breathe. How important is it? This, too, shall pass.

When I think about it, I have many other items in my closet that I invest with the same supernatural powers that I ascribe to my yoga pants.

I have the Lucky Power Presentation Outfit -- the few items that work together to give me the Wonder Woman-like confidence to sell through any creative idea -- the Pretty As Can Be Outfit and the Don't Mess With Me Outfit.

Tomorrow, I'll be wearing the best outfit of all. The Going to See my Friend in Maui Outfit.

Not sure what it will entail, just yet, but I'm pretty sure it will involve a sign around my neck that reads "Unaccompanied Minor". Here's to clear skies ahead.

Happy Tuesday, everybody.

Monday, June 23, 2008

See this woman live

Sandra Bernhard opened Toronto's Pride festivities with a concert at Toronto's famed Massey Hall last night.

The show opened with the spotlight on Bernhard, in the aisles, as she belted out a completely ironic and campy version of "And I am telling you," from Dreamgirls. She's larger than life. A female drag queen. It was hysterical...but it was also good. The girl has pipes, and she knows how to use them.

The audience went wild.

From the first note to the last -- a completely over-the-top rendition of Prince's "Little Red Corvette", she had us eating out of the palm of her hand.

I slept like a baby last night. Laughter really is the best medicine.

Friday, June 20, 2008

In the realm of hungry (and thirsty) ghosts

A couple of weeks ago, I read a book called "In the realm of hungry ghosts: Close encounters with addiction." Author and physician Gabor Mate (there's an accent on that last "e" but I can't figure out how to do it on my computer) who has spent numerous years as doc in residence of a residential treatment facility for drug and alcohol abuse, explores the epidemic of addiction in our society.

While the good doctor's patients are at one end of the spectrum, he takes a decidedly compassionate approach to their plight based on his own addictive tendencies.

What follows is a completely frank and honest examination of his obsessive thinking patterns. For it's not just drugs and alcohol that can destroy your chance for happiness, he argues, it's tobacco, work, food, sex, gambling,shopping and inappropriate spending. ANYTHING that can take over and unbalance your life.

Doc cautions that while society derides certain types of addictions -- the street crack addict, for example -- it supports and even institutionalizes others. He points to the perceived normalcy of the workaholic, slogging away 12 hours a day, glued to their "Crack"berry, missing out on real life.

In short: we're all addicts, in one way or other.

I thought of old Gabor this morning. I ran out of milk yesterday and forgot to buy some on the way home. So I decided to forfeit my usual morning coffee until I got into the office.

On the way into work, I noticed my thought patterns were muddled. I'd lost the usual zing in my step. I felt tired and irritable.

I didn't just want coffee. I needed it. Bad.

And then I saw it. Starbucks.

It's got all the requisite drug paraphernalia -- shiny espresso makers, a community of like-minded users, unquestioning devotion, and a language all its own. My own private crack house.

What a great reminder on this Friday morning.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My laughter cup needs filling up

My sweet and crazy friend, Barb, wrote the words above on a postcard that she mailed to me in care of the office. In the spot where she felt compelled to indicate my title, Barb wrote: "Buxom Blonde".

This gives you an idea of the sort of trip I'm looking forward to.

Whether I was headed to Maui or Minnesota, I'd have just as much fun if Barb was along.

It's funny that Barb should mention cups at all, since hers is always, ALWAYS half full.

When I've seen her get irritable -- and hey, it happens, we worked in a pressure cooker together -- it lasts for a short time and then its over. Like a passing cramp. Barb doesn't wallow and she doesn't feel sorry for herself. Happiness is her greatest currency.

Today I raise cup of laughter to Barb. In six sleeps, my friend. Six sleeps.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lessons from cyberspace

In my short foray into online dating, I have discovered a few truths that I'd like to share with you.

1) Sentence structure is an excellent indicator of mental health. (ie. c u later)

2) A lot of people aren't over their previous relationships. (Wow. She hurt you bad, eh? Can't believe it's taken you 18 years, 4 months, 12 days and 6 hours to love again.)

3) Beware the over-use of the personal pronoun.

4) Pets are the new relationship substitute.

5) Having a connection on paper and having a connection in person are two entirely separate things.

6) I think I am better at being in a relationship than I am at dating.

7) Online dating is a time suck.

Anyway, it's still early in the process but I persist, firm in the knowledge that I am the Universe's tinkle ball -- happily being batted around the block while I await my one true love. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

When the bird and the book disagree,
always believe the bird.
~James Audubon

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

My Mom was in town this weekend.

Sometimes I feel like I can revert to the emotional maturity of a door-slamming 17-year-old when my Mom is around.

I allow my buttons to be pushed.

Saturday night we're watching some television together. Okay, I'll admit it. We were tuning in to the "I Know My Kid's a Star" marathon.

We'd watched one episode and, midway through the second episode, I left the room to use the bathroom and fold some laundry.

When I came back, the tv was on another channel.

"You don't want to watch the show?" I asked.

"It's over," said my mother.

"Are you sure?" said I. It's a marathon. It's on until the end of time."

"No," my mother protested. "It's over."

I was not invested in the show. In fact, I would have preferred to watch Brideshead Revisited! But sometimes my need to be right usurps my need to let it go. So I found the channel again. Of course, it's still on.

But who cares, right?

Me. I care!

So I turned off the TV and, with all the love in my heart, I said, "Ma. What's going on. This is the dumbest thing in the world to lie about. Why didn't you just tell me that you didn't want to watch I Know My Kids a Star?"

"Because," said my mother after a ten minute conversation that pulled every Catholic guilt card in the deck,"with your father I had to make up a story to get my way."

And I wonder why I need to re-learn how to communicate.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wisdom from Le Petit Prince

On this fine Friday morning, I offer you some wisdom from Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: "What does his voice sound like?" "What games does he like best?" "Does he collect butterflies?". They ask: "How old is he?" "How many brothers does he have?" "How much does he weigh?" "How much money does his father make?" Only then do they think they know him.

"That is the hardest thing of all. It is much harder to judge yourself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself, it's because you're truly a wise man."

"One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."

All grown-ups were children first. (But few remember it).

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Some of my blogging friends have been writing about detachment recently. It's something I've been trying hard to practice in my own life.

On my walk into work this morning, I was listening to s Stevie Nicks song -- Trouble in Shangri-La -- in which she sings a lyric that always speaks to me:
You can consume all the beauty in the room, baby.
I know you can, I've seen you do it.

How many people know people like that? How many people are people like that? My hand's up on both counts.

As someone keenly attuned to other people's energy, I'm working on my tendency to react, react, react to other people's moods.

It's like a pinball game. You're not happy? Let me fix it. You're sad? Here, I'll make it better. Feeling ok? Great, now I can relax...until the next emotional tornado comes along. Ping, ping, ping.

Detachment means not being such a sponge when it comes to internalizing other people's emotions.

And it also means not taking my own crazy emotions as bloody seriously. How many times have I let my moods rule a situation? Not seen the forest for the frees? Not been happy until everyone else was as miserable as I was? I've sucked the energy out of some rooms faster than a hyperbolic chamber. Less so, recently...but it has happened.

Detachment isn't indifference. Far from it. It takes a lot of mental strength. But I'm pretty sure I'm up for the challenge.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

28 Days Later

Synchronous menstruation has frequently been observed among groups of women living together. It's a physiological phenomenon.

I don't know whether it's the result of large groups of women-folk heading out to see Sex and the City, or the recent heat wave, but every woman in my department has been peeking this week. They've alternately been bemoaning their expanding waistlines and hoovering back 20-packs of Timbits. There's been a run on blemish cover-up.

The energy is decidedly tightly wound.

I'd laugh, except "WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING AT ME? I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE LAUGHING AT ME! Do you think I'm pretty?"

Sometimes I'm very grateful for not having a period.

I'm holding my breath. The all-clear signal is when everyone starts taking her purse to the bathroom.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I see

Got a call yesterday afternoon. So I picked up my new glasses at my optometrist's office this morning. They're great. What's better -- I can see.

Monday, June 9, 2008

King David

I'm savouring David Sedaris' new book.

While I usually race through things, I'm reading this one nice and slow because I know it'll probably be two years before his next new book is out. So I'm practicing patience.

Rick Mercer -- another funny guy -- interviewed Sedaris for Saturday's Globe and Mail.

Mercer admitted to having bought and given away numerous copies of Me Talk Pretty One Day. He said he considered it a moral failing if his friends didn't enjoy it.

This made me laugh out loud.

I've got a few books like that. I think we all do.

It's the stuff that speaks so personally to our own experience that we can't imagine having any kind of meaningful connection with someone who doesn't get it. At least a little.

I saw David Sedaris in person -- even talked to him -- the last time he was in Toronto. He was as quirky and charming in person as he seems in his books. He's coming back on July 10th. I think I might have to see him again, for old time's sake.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I have four fabulous friends from my CARE days.

We call ourselves Slippers because, no matter where we've been in the world, whenever we get together, it's easy. Like putting your tired feet into a comfortable pair of slippers.

I write about them today because we've all just had a long newsy email exchange. Only two of us are living in the same city at the moment, but it doesn't seem to matter.

GS is living in Bangkok now. She's the CEO of an AIDS organization and has managed to parlay her brilliance and her own private medical crises into a life spent helping people. My BFF and I will see her in the fall, when we celebrate his 40th, four years too late, in Thailand.

KOB is an associate country director in Zambia. She was back in Canada recently when her Dad bravely lost his battle with cancer.

HR recently left her position as director of communications for a big health charity to a position with more work/life balance. She's found a new love of yoga -- in the Kripalu tradition -- and hasn't been this happy in years.

NG is the elder stateswoman of our group but perhaps the youngest at heart. She is a frequent commentator on Canadian foreign policy and one of the most loyal people I have ever met.

How grateful I am to have such amazing women in my life. Happy Friday everyone.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Afternoon at the Movies

The office is clearing out today.

All the account services people from across the entire mega agency are off to Niagara Falls for an offsite. That leaves just the admin and creative people behind.

You're kidding right?

You want us to sit here and work while you're happily putt-putt-putting along on the Maid of the Mist? Not a chance!

So, we're taking the creative department to the movies. After much debate, we've landed on Iron Man. The guys found Sex and the City a little too emasculating.

Sometimes I really love this business.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Date squares

There. I've done it.

I've actually gone and written a profile and posted it on an internet dating site.

Let's see if this is how the universe decides to engage me in finding my soul mate. Or maybe the Universe would prefer that I sit at home most nights watching A Very Brady Christmas. Who knows?

Anyway, I would appreciate it if you sent me some good vibes. I am alternately too immature and too old for this entire exercise.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Keeping them for good

Not too long ago, my mother gave me two pairs of vintage high heels from the fifties. They were barely worn. One reason for this is that my parents went out to parties so rarely that she probably never put them on. My Dad's annual Christmas party was one of the rare times I can remember seeing them dress up and go out.

The other reason is that she was probably "keeping them for good".

When you keep things for good, the implication is that there will be some other occasion coming up that will be better, more important, and somehow more worthy of our attention than the present moment. Now just isn't quite good enough. Later holds more promise.

So I learned to keep things for good, too.

For a time, I had a number of pieces in my closet that still contained price tags. I was keeping them for good.

This past weekend I had a few friends over for something to eat before the kd lang concert. While I was arranging the appetizers on a plate, I noticed a box of decorative side plates that someone had given me as a housewarming present...when I moved into my last place.

They're beautiful. Each one has a line-drawing of a different high heel -- a sling back, a stiletto, a fur covered mule. There are black squiggles around the rim.

I realized, as I admired them through the packaging, that I was keeping them for good.

So, not only did my guests enjoy eating off the good plates on Saturday night, let history show that I enjoyed my peanut butter covered breakfast muesli on my new plates this morning.

And it was good.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Throwing good money after bad

There comes a time in every retail relationship where you say to yourself, "Is this really worth the aggravation?"

I asked myself this question on Saturday and the answer came back loud and clear.


No eyeglasses for Franny Glass. Ironic, no?

I'll give them this. The second pair of lenses were slightly better than the first, but not good enough.

The alteration they'd made was fine for my left eye, but now I was experiencing trouble with the right. Part of this, owner insisted, was that this was a more "modern" lens.

You're kidding me, right?

The owner insisted this problem would likely correct itself over time. That if I simply paid the remainder of the balance and took them home with me, all would be right as rain.

I thought about it for awhile. A long while. My natural reaction is always the path of least resistance.

The easiest thing to do would have been to take them and give them a try, but my gut-check said walk. Take the loss. In your heart you already know.

Given the difficulties I'd had up until this point, I'd lost complete confidence in them.

So, I'm out the deposit.

He wouldn't budge on this. In fact, he even did a ten minute sermon on the mount follow-up call where, barely taking a breath, he insisted that they hold themselves to the highest standards of service.

Since I need glasses right now, I'm going back to my optometrist. Her frames are cheaper, and at least I know she'll be more concerned with my vision than my fashion sense.

But I'm also going to acknowledge the collective wisdom of my friendly contributors and order a pair from our good friends in Bangladesh. As far as I'm concerned, the distance between myself and the rejected College West optician is now farther than between here and Dhaka.

Let all who see, believe.