Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Somehow we managed to tolerate these chairs for the 4 years that followed. Today we went to Queen West, scoured the fabric stores and found a gorgeous replacement. We spent a lovely, crisp day, the curtains pulled open, the house filled with light, struggling with a task regular people should never attempt. There's a reason upholstery is an art.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Jason: Absolutely. A lot of ascenders, for one thing.
Sophia: And the "davit" part . . . I don't like that one bit.
Jason: I know! A word with no diction. Like post-dentist numbness. No.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
What causes this outbreak? Is it cabin fever gone wrong? Is it Seasonal Affective Disorder running rampant and misguided? Where's the breakdown causing all the breakups in town?
On a daily basis my Newsfeed informs me of another awkward move from "In A Relationship" to "It's Complicated". It seems endless this time of year. Spring cleaning, or something like it. Is it a cold-climate thing? When buds creep from branches do chemicals surge, inspiring once-happy couples to look elsewhere? Do these people turn to the person they've been cooped-up with and say "What was I thinking?!" It makes me wonder when Los Angelites break up. Without seasonal cues perhaps they float, year-round, in a happy haze of love and sexual satisfaction. It's a mystery some Ivy Leaguer must be researching.
However selfish it may be, hearing of these devastating separations makes me feel particularly satisfied by my own relationship. I'm entirely happy sailing along, a steady heart beat, no major spikes of drama, no dips into the dramatic, no seasonal shifts. Those days are long gone, thankfully, and my Newsfeed remains beautifully uncomplicated.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
There's a store at the corner of King and Jarvis called Modern Weave and it has gorgeous rugs. They are thousands and thousands of dollars. But just today, on Apartment Therapy, the rug I've dreamed of since seeing similar designs on Welcome to the Parker is quite reasonably priced. This is the one I want. Oh someday.
Monday, March 24, 2008
In the last 25 years, just my own lifetime, everything has changed so dramatically. The whole world is at our fingertips, literally and otherwise, we have more information than we could ever sift through, and every opportunity we might ever want. If I had enough money, I could be in Korea this time tomorrow (or would it be yesterday?) Anything, at the drop of a hat.
I am constantly stunned by the advances we've made. I went to a record store a couple of years ago and when the young salesperson handed me a wireless debit machine, I nearly fainted! I said "Wow. Do you remember when we didn't even have debit?" She smiled, rolled her eyes, and said "No." She was 18 and couldn't remember a time without it. I'm sure she thinks of Jim Carrey like Cary Grant and Mariah Carey as an aging pop star's grandma. She probably hasn't experienced the devastation of a tape being eaten by your stereo, but I'm sure there's a modern-day equivalent. A corrupted MP3?
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I hate those mornings when I’m forced awake by my alarm. It seems such an uncivilized way to start the day. I much prefer to wake up the natural way, when I’m good and ready. I’m generally an early riser and like to take my time in the morning . . . make breakfast, have a cup of coffee, read a bit of the newspaper, that sort of thing.
To help soften the blow I set my clock to ‘radio’ rather than ‘alarm’ and every morning I'd wake up listening to Metro Morning with Andy Barrie. Andy’s smooth voice and intermittent coughs would lift me out of my slumber, with other folks, all with friendly ‘wake up sleepy head’ voices chiming in with news tidbits and weather. There were days when these voices would drift into my early morning dreams, slowly coaxing me awake.
I remember one morning in particular when I woke to news of a disaster on the 401. It seems a truck full of teapots had overturned and scattered its contents all over the highway! The newscaster, in a very grave tone, told us of the chaos this was causing for the morning commute and, if at all possible, we should avoid this area of the highway.
The smug non-driver part of me chuckled at what a spectacle this must have been. Teapots all over the highway! I had visions of loose pots stacked neatly on shelves in the back of a transport truck heading toward Chinatown to make delivery. There was something I really liked about this vision, something very Disney; every little bump in the road would cause the pots to jump just a little and then return to their neat stacks. Then, out of nowhere, a sharp turn in the road caused the truck to veer a little too quickly one way and, boom, teapots on the highway!
I soon forgot about the mess on the road and got about my day. My sister and I had some errands to run together and as we drove up the DVP I asked if she’d heard about the teapots on the news.
“What?!” she said in disbelief. “Yeah, a truck full of teapots turned over on the highway…can you imagine being in a car behind that truck? Teapots coming at you like grenades? Terrifying!” “You’re an idiot!” she laughed, “The truck wasn’t carrying teapots . . . it was a gardening truck full of peat moss!”
In that moment, my Disney dream was shattered like millions of teapots on a highway. But boy did we have a good laugh! Since this day, I've avoided hard news before noon.
Friday, March 21, 2008
It shouldn't surprise you that I'm a Madonna fan. It's in my genetic makeup. On April 29th she'll release her 11th album called Hard Candy. Not one to miss a trend, she's teamed-up with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland to produce a hip-hop flavoured record. Her last, Confessions on a Dancefloor, brought her back to form with a series of hit singles. Based on the new photoshoot with Steven Klein (click to enlarge at the right), it seems she'll be blonde for this promotional tour. Half the excitement of a new Madonna album is a new Madonna Look. Remember when she hit the press junket for Evita? All 50s hair and old-school-couture? Hot. And in 2006 it was all hot pink body suits, purple tights and heels. From what I've seen, this year will show us the "hardcore Madonna", who apparently boxes on weekends and wears gold. Thugged-out and streetwise. So utterly manufactured. I love it.
Listen to the new single, 4 Minutes (To Save the World).
Monday, March 17, 2008
I am a considerably together and well-adjusted adult, despite my childhood. And I don’t mean that I was abused or that I overcame anything significant or specifically arduous, I just mean that I was an especially strange child.
At 9 years old, I was often found waxing-domestic with one of my 35-year-old, mother-of-two neighbours. She with a cup of coffee, I with skinned knees, we’d sit together on her front porch, watching her kids play in the grass, discussing the events of the day. As openly as she heard tales of 4th grade nothingness, I ravenously absorbed stories of diaper-changes and marital un-bliss. The dynamic was most bizarre in its total lack of peculiarity. I had the same relationship with most of my teachers – except with those who were decidedly male and resistant to chitchat after class.
I've mentioned my intense attraction to Judith Light. I was always drawn to women of a certain age, and was a total sucker for one with well-coiffed hair and a smart wardrobe, shoulder pads notwithstanding. Judith Light’s pedigreed turn as Angela Bower was a dream come true. Add a t-shirt-laden Tony Danza, and a sharp-tongued Mona Robinson, and you can be sure Tuesday nights on ABC had me spellbound.
Bathtime became a particularly eccentric time. My Mom had a blue-bottled-product near the tub. Its sole purpose, electric blue and shaped like some sort genetically-altered conch shell, was to dye the water, making the bather feel like she was Brooke Shields, I imagine. Worked for me. Aside from soaking in the Blue Lagoon, I would become the host and creator of a fantastic new stain-removal system. I would squirt the dye onto a facecloth and spend the next 20 minutes using shampoos, conditioners and a variety of hard soaps working the blemish out – all the while, in a hushed monologue, describing to my viewers how my cleaning products would get anything! out.
My skin wrinkled and gently tinted, I would climb from the tepid water an hour later, entirely satisfied with my latest performance. This was, of course, before puberty, when the bath became a single-purpose-endeavor which long-outlasted the hot water.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
2) Working out is not an athletic endeavor! It's easier, it's slower, and no one will expect you to catch anything! No teams, no score keeping, and you make the rules! Why do you think so many gay men hit the gym so hard - It's because they get the machismo points and participate in something that isn't a garden party. It makes our fathers proud!
3) The locker room is a bit weird, sure. But if you shower at home and avoid that walking-around-stark-naked thing, you'll be fine! Avoid starting at those who are stark naked.
We unpacked, assembled and organized for the whole day, Natasha and I moving around each other in her compact kitchen. We've always been able to share a room, no matter how small. Like ballerinas, we glide around each other; she's the only person I can have in the kitchen with me, the only one who doesn't irritate. I placed her things in cupboards where they made sense to me, figuring I'd spend nearly as much time searching for the salt and peppers as she would. Digging through a box, I'd hold up a set of candle-holders as if to say "Do you really want these?", because, you see, not every flea-market-find retains its charm.
Flubs and Tubs (as they're known) have been fixtures in our life (and house) for many years. Jeff and Nick went to high school together, Jeff and Natasha shared a college. Jeff brought the two together almost 8 years ago, a modern-day Dolly Levi. Then I came along and we meshed like magic. Natasha and I share a bundle of neurosis, Jeff and Nick are the supposed "easy going ones". We're a well-balanced foursome. We travel together, we dinner together, we sit and do absolutely nothing together. We take each other for what we are on any given day. We know each other's moods and ticks, when to poke fun and when to shut up. They are our family and I'll miss our jam-packed-weekends - Saturday night turning into Sunday brunch and into Sunday dinner all over again. Now they'll hop a cab and sleep in their own bed, just down the block. No more pajama parties, no more gassy mornings. I'll even miss the toothpaste in the sink. Yes, Nick, you just got that in writing.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I will say, however, that Anton Yelchin is a charming and engaging young actor. Adorable, to put it mildly, and I think I'm in love. Totally worth the price of admission.
However disappointing the movie, I enjoyed a rare night with my decade-long friend, Sandi. After the movie we fell into a deep high-school-memory hole. We sat in the lobby bar of a hilariously boring hotel and drank, recalling the characters we'd been back in those days. Movies, of course, show the most typical sects of teenage life - the goths, the nerds, the cheerleaders. While they did exist, it's hard to remember if they were quite so clearly defined. Although I filled the role of Nerd, unadulterated, in elementary school, people like Sandi and I walked the line by the time we were teenagers. On the Spectrum of Geek, we were well-above the kids who played Dungeons and Dragons at lunch, and miles from those fast-tracking brown-nosers. However, we breezed through our classes and always had stationery supplies, which automatically takes you out of the running for Homecoming Queen. We like to say we were self-proclaimed outcasts, avoiding almost everyone but each other, because they were so lame. Sour grapes, perhaps, but really, weren't they so lame?
Sandi and I both, by chance, played the alto saxophone. We sat next to each other, that first day of grade nine music class, and struck up a friendship. Over the years we shared a love of The X-Files, Gummi Bears, and an inexplicable adoration of Can-Rock. I am grossly oversimplifying, but suffice it to say we were deeply connected. We often wonder what would have happened if one of us played the clarinet instead. Would I be seeing bad movies with Heather Gimson, a notorious classmate we always seem to recall? What may have come of me, without Sandi's dry wit and fidelity?
I shudder at the thought.
Whenever we get into one of these nostalgic conversations, we are often at a loss. We simply don't remember much. And, no, it's not what you think: One of the few regrets we share is that we didn't smoke drugs in high school. It's just that nothing sticks out. We had one of those teenagehoods - We hung out at the mall, we hung out in our basements, we listened to Sarah McLachlan and spent spare periods in the library laughing. We crafted amazing scrapbooks and made beaded jewelry (I am not proud of this), we poked around at Value Village and we loved used CD stores. But we didn't do anything. We shared time. And we did it, largely, just the two of us. It's one of those memory things, nebulous and indistinct, a feeling that makes your heart swell, but is so intangible. Like family. You can't really pinpoint the specifics, but you know the smell. It might not make a good movie, but neither do movies.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I think it’s important to remember that your parents were once babies. Children. Tiny people with little to do. It’s important to keep in mind your grandparents were once young and virile, and critical to acknowledge your teachers had lives outside the classroom. Because we tend to box people in, think of them one way, rather than as whole people. We cling to dangerous archetypes and allow ourselves to be shattered when they’re disrupted. I look at this photo of my Dad, as a little boy, to remind myself he was once that little thing.
A memory: It was summer, I was 10. My best friend and I spent the morning with my parents – flea markets, hot cakes at McDonald’s – I have no real memory of that part of the day. I imagine it was a perfectly fine day, my parents always ten paces ahead, my friend and I lagging behind, enjoying an entirely different adventure. If we hadn’t been fifth graders (no drivers’ licenses and forbidden the use of public transit) we surely would have been out on our own.
One of our “new to us” used cars rolled into the driveway. Our day of errands was done. Ryan and I were likely planning the rest of our afternoon: Nintendo and Doritos high on our list of priorities. The car, well-worn and prone to breakdowns, had only two doors. Three, if you include the hatchback, I suppose, though it didn’t even open in the winter when ice would jam up the mechanism. I remember my Dad climbing out of the driver’s seat, bending to release the lever, freeing the passengers from the cramped backseat.
I contorted myself past the seatbelt between the folded seat and the hard metal doorframe, blistering hot from the sun. When my torso was free, my Dad reached under my arms and lifted me. Playfully. Lovingly, I suppose. In the way Dads do things in front of your friends – Acts that have a way of ending up embarrassing, rather than cherished as a gesture of affection. I was 10. I was a boy who, at that point, didn’t particularly like his father. I wanted him to put me down, and quickly. I also happened to be ticklish. I flailed. And my sneaker made contact with his shin.
I knew instantly that our lovely day was over. Like so many days had ended before. Like so many family dinners, summer vacations, camping trips, household DIY projects. I didn’t have a chance to yell “I’m sorry! It was an accident!” I guess I wasn’t entirely sure it was.
My father’s eyes expressed a kind of rage that I can now, as an adult, only describe as clinical insanity, depicting years of sadness and anger. My sister and I still refer to that look as “Dad’s crazy eyes.” I know he didn’t mean to, and he’d be devastated to know, but each time he looked at us with those eyes he chipped away at the image we clung to.
Occasionally time would sort of stop and loop over itself, his anger giving way to that deep sadness. You could see what you'd only heard in bits and pieces; the stories of his childhood that would leak out in fragments during family discussions, fights between my parents, or, what I now know was some kind of massive chemical imbalance, which always involved the purging of closeted skeletons. How he was tormented by his older brother, unloved by his father, expected to work 18 hours a day on the farm. The stories had become like fables to my sister and me, I think we got them mixed-up with our Grimm’s Fairy Tales collection. Memory has a way of folding over itself like mixing dough.
Once when my Dad was 8 years old, his mother bought him his first new Spring jacket. Joyfully (though I haven’t decided if she was happy to present it to him or proud of herself for a well-chosen item) she led him into the rarely-used living room and offered her purchase. It was blue nylon, it fit perfectly. He stood in awe of a brand-new jacket, all his own, and marveled at the grandness of it. He was 8 years old. Small, but strong. Muscled and tanned, like a sturdy little workhorse, his hands, though, belying the utility of his body. They were small and gentle, unlined and soft; he ran them down the length of his arms, over the metal zipper and into the pockets near his hips. I find myself telling this story as one would tell a joke: adding details no one can be entirely sure of, but created out of images and stories, the history of your family, all placed neatly into one concise recollection. I imagine he turned and spun around the living room – or maybe that was me as a boy. I imagine he smiled and laughed a little, unsure of himself. I imagine he hurried to find a mirror, to drink himself in, and to savour this moment while his jacket was still at its newest, a boy proud and unsure and delicate.
A boy kicking out as he was held under the arms. Wriggling and writhing, unwilling to let himself be held me in that intimate way. A boy who was 10 years old who didn’t much like his father.
Standing in his new blue jacket, spinning, perhaps, smiling and laughing, maybe. His father appeared from nowhere, his voice arriving in the room ahead of his boots. The little boy had left open the door to the grain elevator or the feed stall, vulnerable to coyotes or cats or rats. As he stood reveling in this new blue jacket he had neglected something far more important. His father lurched forward and tore the coat from his body. Stripped it into long strands from his small frame. Frayed edges of blue nylon hung from his shoulders. I imagine there was yelling. I imagine there was some kind of explanation for this, as it happened. I imagine this small boy fought to avoid direct eye contact. I imagine my Grandma focused on the muddy boot prints dragged in by her husband. I imagine her staring there, at the carpet, rather than at her son, layered in strips of blue.
Any variety of events caused my Dad’s eyebrows to fold into dangerous slashes. Chores left undone. A tent peg not held at the right angle. A presumed-dirty finger grazing the lemon-yellow wall of the kitchen, balancing to slide into a shoe.
His father, nylon threads clinging to his fingers, stormed out of the house, leaving a boy in shambles and his wife to go to her knees, scrubbing at her muddied carpet, muttering angrily about a grain elevator or a feed stall or a boy who didn’t deserve new things if he didn’t do his work properly.
He released me from his grip, after I kicked him in the shin. His anger came instantly and my friend and I scurried from the hot tar to my bedroom, that sinking feeling in my stomach that this incident was far from over.
My parents came in the house, and I could hear my Dad’s anger, I could hear his teeth clenched. I could hear his eyebrows etched into fierce angles. My friend and I sat behind my bedroom door, and then he said it. In the kitchen, as he stomped around searching for neglected errands: “I wish I had a little boy instead of a little girl.” My shame was immediate, my sadness irreversible. It would be one of those defining moments in my life, one that would make a great indie film. One sentence would encapsulate our relationship, even if, years later, I would joke about the incident telling him I'd put it behind me.
I climbed to the top bunk of my bed. I waited until Ryan went home, awkwardly slipping into the hallway, out into the kitchen, and through the door while my parents had their backs turned. My shame had become his. I often wonder if that was as significant a moment in his life as it was mine. He had actually said those words out loud, within earshot of the boy in question. I always suspected he felt that way; I never wanted to play catch (mostly because I resented the lack of originality in his notions of father-son-bonding), I preferred Barbies to power tools, and I lacked the physical coordination required to scale a ladder or climb a tree. But I never thought he’d say it out loud.
Hours later, I was still on that top bunk. I could still hear him seething, although he was asleep. He collapsed there, on his bed, mostly a boy in a tattered blue coat.
I am of a generation that seeks out closure and forgiveness. An overly communicative, self-actualized, Oprahfied generation. But I vacillate, often at odds with that kind of hatchet-burying, like I was born out of order, like I belong, rather, in the days of spite, anger, and resentment. And to be honest, I wasn’t waiting for my Dad to come to me, weeping, desperate to explain his rage. I didn’t need him to do that. I hoped he wouldn’t. I preferred he silently bought me a new Nintendo game, leaving it near the TV with the price tag still attached. At the time, shame still flushing my cheeks, I think I'd have been okay with never seeing him again. Luckily I let myself get old enough to see him as a boy. Shame and memories, like dough, folding over each other, that firm grip, a fistful of blue nylon.
Between AIDS jokes and below-the-belt (literally) jabs at the token Asian, I wiped my tears and caught my breath, wondering how she gets away with it? If Cosmo Kramer and Don Imus are raked over the coals, how can this hyper-aggressive, cuss-addicted modern-day white supremacist get away with the N-word, the C-word, molestation quips, and the occasional blitz against Mexicans? And, unlike the cellphone-video evidence against Richards, Lampanelli releases high-quality DVDs that pull no punches. I ask you, how do funny women like Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Handler, and Lisa Lampanelli get past the censors and the right-wing pundits? Is it the dresses? Is it the vagina? The cleavage? And where are they putting women, in terms of feminism? Is this the new feminism? Have they taken back the chauvinism and the degrading image once avoided entirely, turned it on its head and used it to their advantage? Well, sure.
The new issue of Vanity Fair (Who Says Women Aren't Funny? April 2008) explores these ideas and the new wave of hilarious female comedians. We're experiencing a renaissance of the Carol Burnett-style funny ladies (Tina Fey, Amy's Poehler and Sedaris, as well as the aforementioned), those who write and perform their own material. In the 90s it was all Jennifer Anistons and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss's, those who are admittedly funny, but played no part in the writing room. Since Tina Fey became the first female head-writer on SNL, something has changed. Where once men wrote sketch comedy, asking women to characterize themselves in ways not particularly authentic, now women pen their own scenes, bringing that sense of truth, however off-colour, edgy or questionable.
This is a series of half-baked thoughts, so grab the new Vanity Fair, if not for the article, for the fantastic photos taken by my personal photographic hero, Annie Lebovitz.
“For funny ladies, we’re attractive. But when you open us up to real, professional attractive people — I do not want to run with those horses.” - Amy Poehler, Vanity Fair
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
With this, I give you the Guest Blog.
In the preamble to their chapter "Domains of Shame" in the 1998 book "Shame: Interpersonal Behaviour, Psychopathy and Culture," authors Deborah Greenwald and David Harder describe the emotion as an adaptive signal that helps us avoid negative social consequences. Because shame is an example of a directly adaptive emotion, one that orients our behaviour in an unmitigated way, it makes sense that even years later, the burn of shame is so much more immediate than the other emotions we conjure up at will. I remember some happy times, I remember some sad times, but my moments of intense shame, I can tick off one by one like a laundry list, and the swell of humiliation that floods back is more present than anything other memories can reproduce.
I started to write this essay with the preamble already formed. I knew I would be writing about shame - but THE moment of shame that I was about to write about didn't strike me until the writing was well underway. It's something I don't think about often; perhaps the counterpoint to the intensity of shame is the fervency with which we are able to block it out.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Set to make a major splash in 2008, the 23 year old mono-monikered Welsh soul singer is well on her way with a record breaking #1 single in the UK, Mercy. Check this out to get a taste of what she's about. I think you'll like it.