Monday, May 8, 2023

And that's what you get from 41 years of sticking fingers in your eyes

In 1981, while conjugating the verb être in French class - my vision blurred. I blinked... blinked again. I then stuck the tips of my middle fingers into my eyes, discovering an abundance of eye guck loitering beneath my eye balls.  

rheum noun


: a watery discharge from the mucous membranes especially of the eyes or nose

The path towards my eye guck removal was navigated logically. I had an issue with eye guck. I had fully-functioning fingers that could swipe the lengths of my lower eyelids, gathering said eye guck. This eye guck removal became the standard practice for the elimination of blurred vision. I didn't think anything of it. 

For 41 years. 

Until February of 2023.

While applying stage makeup for a production of Into the Woods, I was taken aback by the discovery of bags under my eyes. Seen in the sun-like brightness of the vanity bulbs at my makeup table, my undereye area suddenly resembled an aged basset hound. (My perspective. David and Rissa keep telling me I'm nuts.)

Problem is, I'm a fixator. I fixate. 

In 2007, when my high school reunion was on the horizon, I became utterly focused on my forehead lines. Four horizontal lines, each a centimeter apart, turning my 38-year-old forehead into a octogenarian's. 

How did I cultivate these forehead lines? In my early 20s, I did a production of A Comedy of Errors... in mask. And I was told by the director that I needed to raise my eyebrows while I smiled, or the audience wasn't going to see my eyes properly. For my art... nay, for my very presentation in life as a whole, I immediately eschewed my natural smile and introduced this eyebrow-raised, lunatic, manga-esque rictus, so that my eyes could be seen. Only to realize, 15 years later, as I contemplated the afore-mentioned high school reunion, that my forehead resembled the bottom four lines on a music staff. 

(I blame you, Mike Brunet. For wanting to see my eyes when I was wearing that fucking mask. And no, don't try to weasel out of your culpability by telling me that I didn't have to smile like that when I wasn't onstage, wearing a mask. Don't fucking attempt logic with me, you rat bastard.)

I, like every other 38-year-old woman attending a high school reunion, wanted to look like I was still 18, only better. But those fucking forehead lines were the only thing I could see. I couldn't un-see them. 

I saved up and had a round of Botox treatment. This treatment completely erased the top two lines on my forehead. The top part of my forehead was marble-like in its smooth perfection. The bottom? Still had the fucking lines. And I was certain that everyone would see those lines. Because there ain't nothing like a high-school reunion to put you back in the head space of a paranoid teenager.

All this to say that a precedent for physical fixation had been set. So, when I noticed my less-than-perfect undereye area this year, and realized that I had spent 41 years of my life actively pulling my undereye skin down to collect eye guck, I went into a vanity tailspin. In the jet wash of this tailspin came the YouTube makeup tutorials, caffeine-infused under eye creams, cold spoons, lymphatic drainage...

blepharoplasty noun 

bleph·​a·​ro·​plas·​ty ˈble-fə-rō-ˌpla-stē 

: plastic surgery on the eyelid especially to remove fatty or excess tissue

I suggested that Rissa and David could take a wee syringe and suck the undereye fat out for me, but they totally shut me down. Not a problem. I am confident that I can squirrel away the $6,000 to get the procedure done in ten years.

For now, I'm practicing undereye exercises. I'm calling it Ocular Casing Micro Tightening. I do teeny, tiny, rapid squints several times a day. I may still have bags, but they will become muscular bags. My goal is to be able to bounce quarters off those suckers.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Cursed Roof





Nope. No, I am not going to look. I don't need to look, because that problem has been solved. The leaky roof above of our kitchen ceiling has been fixed. 








For the love of... I square my shoulders and stand up. I walk over to the kitchen. The light fixture is filling with water... again.

Cue Heather, mixing her first Dirty Martini. At 10:42 a.m. On the last Saturday in April. 

In 2018, we'd been led to believe that our entire roof had been replaced. This was erroneous. The roofer we'd hired had not, in fact, replaced any of it. He had re-shingled it. We had to call him back six times to deal with our leaky eaves. SIX

But... GOOD NEWS!... after only six return trips, it was fixed.


Cut to Dec 2022, when our kitchen ceiling begins to leak...into our light fixtures. Through Google, I discover that not only is this phenomenon an electrocution hazard, but a house fire hazard. Who knew? 

This is when I start making Martinis. Because coping with alcohol is a great coping mechanism. (It's NOT, kids.)  

Yes, we could have gone back to the original roofer, but given his track record, we didn't trust his work product.  And frankly, winding up in small claims court with this roofing shyster seemed like it would wind up costing us more money. We get a quote from another roofer, and it will be $13,000.00 to replace the back part of the roof. 




For 400 square feet of roof.  We shop around, get recommendations and find another roofer. 

And they attempt a repair, with the proviso that if it doesn't work, they will give us a deal on a more extensive roof repair. So, of course, it doesn't work, and they have to do that roof repair, which appears to work... until today... when it doesn't. And we are looking at another complete roof repair.

Which is when I start making Dirty Martinis. Again.

Because that's what I have the ingredients for. I have vodka. I have olives. I have olive juice. (Up until 30 minutes ago, I had a 1/2 oz. of vermouth.) 

It might seem odd that someone with Meniere's Disease (where you're supposed to limit your sodium intake to avoid the worst of the symptoms that invariably have you falling to the ground when your vestibular system ceases to function) might choose to OD on the sodium found in olives and olive brine... but when the alternative is to run the airport with your Visa and your passport and go somewhere, ANYWHERE else in the world where one doesn't have to contemplate a leaky roof and the thousands of dollars to repair it....

Two Dirty Martinis in, I'm no longer as worried, and strangely, the prospect of tearing down our kitchen ceiling to discover from whence the leak originates, seems no longer so daunting.

* written while under the influence of 2, no... 3... dirty martinis. 


After the initial leaks, we tore down the ceiling. 

During a downpour we discovered where the water was coming in.


However, after that downpour, regular rainy days haven't created a single drip. 

With me in the kitchen on the phone looking at all the places the ceiling had leaked during the deluge, our roofer came back and spent an HOUR AND FIVE MINUTES trying to recreate the leak with a hose and couldn't do it. What sort of crazy-ass weather system has to hit us to make it rain inside? 

What is today's coping cocktail??

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Irregular Heather

WARNING: Colourful language in this post.

Fact: My internal thermostat is fucked. I've dealt with hot flashes since the age of 36. But the night sweats? The truly disgusting, sleep-annihilating, life-altering, make-you-feel-like-you-have-malaria... 


Maybe it's not night sweats. Maybe it's malaria.

It's January. In Canada. There are no mosquitos.

Maybe it's COVID... again. 

Cue rapid test.


I haven't slept through the night - in a really, really... REALLY long time. What's the part of your brain that's responsible for logic? The frontal lobe? My frontal lobe is fucking exhausted.

Seven years ago, I thought I'd kicked them - the night sweats. I exercise regularly. I cut out caffeine. I don't have more than one drink at a time. Or, if I do, at least I KNOW to expect the night sweats and I weigh the pleasure from a second spiced whiskey against the waking multiple times during the night drowning in my own secretions. 

But I have NOT been enjoying extra spiced whiskeys. Number 1, because of the night sweats, but also because, Number 2, Health Canada has now told us that we can only have 2 drinks a week or we will all die of cancer.

What kind of cancer? How much of it? How long will it take to get here? And when it's here, how much shorter will I live because of it? What are we talking? Will it take weeks off my life? Years? How many years?

Cue breathing into a paper bag.

Suffice to say that I haven't been drinking a lot. Which is why I'm so confused as to why now, after years of having thought I'd figured this shit out, havoc has been wreaked upon my body... yet again. Or is this what's supposed to be happening? Maybe seven years ago, when the night sweats got bad, and I figured out how to put them on the back burner (HAH!), that was just the dress rehearsal and at the age of 54 and a half, I have reached opening night for EGG-FREE AND INSANE: THE SCREAMOPERA.

With my mis-firing hormones, I get chilled in the evening, lips almost blue, so I throw on a sweater and woolen work socks. But I know, I know, that when I go to bed that I will be too hot if I wear all that shit, and yet...? I can't go naked. Because if I go naked - like I used to be able to do...

Cue montage of Heather basking in her naked sleeping glory...

Cut back to:

I'll wake up in the middle of the night, having thrown off the blankets because I am the temperature of the sun and all that night sweat... SWEAT... will then dry on my body at which point hypothermia kicks in and my teeth literally begin to chatter, and I have woken David up with all the noise. 

So, every night before bed, I strip down to a t-shirt and panties.  But then my feet are blocks of fucking ice and I pull the woolen work socks back on. And I burrow under our flannel sheets, down-alternative duvet and woven blanket topper. My feet, now encased in woolen work socks, are deliciously toasty. Our cats, Steve and Lola immediately bookend my feet, adding supplementary warmth. All is well with the world.

Until 1:37 a.m. when my feet are on fire and my sternum and scalp are soaked and I want to vomit from the heat. I don't, because cleaning up vomit at 1:37 a.m. is not a thing anyone wants to be doing. So I tear off the woolen work socks and jettison the covers, panic-panting as my heart races and both cats,  look at me like I've completely lost it.

Within three minutes, I'm no longer hysterical as my body temperature plummets. I wring out my t-shirt and crawl back under the covers. Except my feet are cold again. So I grab the socks and put them back on.  And go back to sleep. Until 3:53 a.m. when the cycle repeats itself.

This morning, while I research HRT and cancer risks, I'm enjoying a spiced whiskey. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Ill-timed Aphasia

warning: BIG time bad words in this post.

Aphasia noun
apha·​sia | \ ə-ˈfā-zh(ē-)ə 

    medical : loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words

    etymology:  mid 19th century: from Greek, from aphatos ‘speechless’


Rissa and I stand in the checkout line at a Craft/Antiques Barn. Neither crafts nor antiques will be purchased. Today it's all about fudge. For David. On account of the fact that it's his first day teaching at a new school.

"I'm going to come back in November," I say.

"Oh?" asks Rissa.

"Yeah, they'll have lots of Christmas merch out then."

Around the expansive perimeter of the main floor there are high shelves showcasing a crap-tonne of Christmas inventory. All of it just waiting for Halloween to pass so that the entire barn can get its Christmas glow-up.

"Although," I say, wrinkling my nose at a 2-foot Santa in Buffalo plaid. "A lot of their stuff is cunt... cunt... cunt... cunnnnnnnt... cunnnnnnnnnnnt..."

Rissa's eyes widen at the first 'cunt.' By the fifth, she's holding her sides and almost falling over.

I'm not sure whether this is a migraine-induced bout of aphasia or if I can now add Tourette's Syndrome to my list of disabilities.

I take a breath. And another. No need to panic. 

"I... was... trying..." I close my mouth and take a breath in through my nose and release it slowly from my mouth. "To say... COUNTRY... Christmas," I explain.

"Ahhhhhh... that checks out."

I glance around. There are a few senior women in line, but none super close to us.

"Did I get louder with each one?"

"You didn't NOT get louder..."

"Can I help you?" asks the cashier.

"I'd like some fu... fu... fu..."

"We'd like some fudge, please," says Rissa.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

I'm sweating WHERE now?

I'm at the kitchen table playing word games on my laptop. I have my Google timer set for 6.5 minutes of cool down. Cool down time is vital to surviving a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout. Otherwise, you're still sweating IN the shower. And you continue to sweat AFTER you've finished the shower. Freshly cleansed skin sweat somehow feels much, much worse. 

So here I am, typety-typing as I play Words With Friends, and I notice that my forearms - the UNDERSIDE of my forearms - are SLIDING on the table. Actually sliding. From all the sweat. 🤢

This here? Is why I choose not to exercise with other people. Inevitably, I look like ex-fighter pilot Ted Stryker when my heart rate climbs.  And no one wants to be in proximity to that gal.

Robert Hayes as Ted Stryker in Airplane!

Now that I've cooled down for 6.5 minutes, my forearms are no longer slidey... they're sticky.  

From all the dried sweat. 

Upon this realization, I spend way too much time pushing my forearms against the table and then then listening in horrified fascination as they SQUELLLLLLLLLCH when I unpeel them from the table.

I could use my forearms to lift cat hair from the living room ottoman!!! Which now, of course I have to try...

Monday, August 29, 2022

Surreptitious OCD

David, Rissa and I are in a charming French restaurant in Baldwin Village. 

Red walls. Black baseboards. Brilliant yellow door. Art everywhere.

We choose to sit inside. You know, because of the art. Instead of facing the wall displaying the larger artwork, my vista will be the opposite wall; the unexpected opportunity to gaze upon a gallery of many smaller pieces makes me very happy.

Every piece on the wall is askew. 

I'm doing my best to give my entire focus to the conversation; however, my peripherals are on high alert.

Do the restaurateurs not see that the vintage Asian paintings nearest to the door are both OFF?!? Beside a larger piece - also at least an 1/8 of an inch NOT straight? Next to three paintings arranged over top of each other - all OFFAnd the next four paintings directly across from me...

"Ma," says Rissa. "You okay?"

"Yeah, yeah," I say, forcing my eyes to my club soda and lime. 

But my peripherals...They know. 

Rissa's talking about work. David's talking about...

The upper right corner of an 8x10 painting is angled towards the ceiling...



"Are you having a stroke?"

"No," I say, wishing for a pocket level. I smile broadly at them, my regular response whenever they ask this frequent question. Both sides of my mouth lift reassuringly.

"The artwork... It's... ahhhhhhhh... it's a bit... off."

Rissa takes a look. David turns around.

"Ooooh, yeah," says Rissa. "Wow." She tilts her head this way and that, scanning the entire wall. "I think the larger painting might be straight. Wait. No. I think it's off too."

I swallow. My fingers clutch the edge of the table.

Rissa glances at me. "You want to fix them all, don't you?"

"DON'T YOU?!?"


David snorts. "Do not do it."

"I'm not going to," I huff.  "I will disregard it."

David and Rissa share a glance before rolling their eyes.

"I will." And I do.

Until my delicious chicken salad is finished and I and no longer have food to distract me. Whereupon, I ever-so-casually rise from the table and saunter over to the first pieces of art on the wall.

"Heather!" David whisper-chastises.

"I'm just admiring them from closer," I say, leaning in to look at the signature, my hand resting delicately against the frame. My back blocks the waiter's view. I adjust the frame.

Rissa smirks. "Uh-huh..."

I move to the next painting, and the next.

"She's actually being quite subtle," begins Rissa.

SLAM! My thigh bangs into the corner of the table. The very pointy corner. Bruising. There will be much bruising. My head spins around to see if the waiter is paying attention. He isn't. I quickly straighten the two painting behind the table. Can I get to the next ones?

"That artist is very famous," calls the cook from behind the kitchen counter. 


"Oh?" I ask. I haven't even been looking at the actual artwork. All I can focus on is the frames. The cook tells me the artist's name, which I immediately forget. 

I calmly walk back to our table.

"Until you whacked the table, you were very inconspicuous," says Rissa.

"Right?!? I can be sneaky when I need to... Oh, for the love of..." In my haste to straighten the last two paintings, I overcorrected one of them.

"Serves you right," says David.

"If I were a super hero, I would be The Leveller."

"You mean instead of being able to fly or have super-human strength, you would straighten artwork?"

"And furniture. It would be multi-purpose. And I could do it just with my mind."

David Malki's WONDERMARK

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

I am patenting this RIGHT now...


In the summer of 1997, David held my hand as I sat at the triage desk of the local hospital. He looked concerned. I looked like I was going to pass out. The nurse looked wiser than Nicodemus from the Secret of NIMH.

"Are you a new couple?" she asked, after hearing my symptoms.

"Relatively," I replied in a haze of fever and abdominal agony.

"Pee after sex."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I am 99.9% sure that you have a UTI."

"I have a, what now?"

"A urinary tract infection. Sometimes ejaculate can get into the urethra and you get a UTI. Pee after sex."

"Like right after?"

"Right after."

Now, the last thing this woman wanted to do after she'd had a wham-bam-thank-you-man session with her new live-in boyfriend was leave the bed to go pee. When my mind had been blown - along with other parts of my body - I wanted to snuggle. I didn't want to swing my legs over the edge of the bed and totter in the bathroom and then pee away misplaced ejaculate. 

Twenty-five years later? I still don't want to. Nothing wipes the blush of satisfaction away more than having to prophylactically (not be confused with practically) pee. 

But I do it, because my urethra is a prissy little... princess, and I've had enough UTIs over the years to know not to gamble with these particular odds. 

Still though. The post-coital-paranoia that now has me leaping out of bed to flush out my lady bits continues to put a damper on snuggle time.

That's why I will patent the VAGI-VAC. A mini vacuum that one can use while still in bed and just apply to the... area... to eliminate any evasive ejaculate from the UT area. Possibly a keyboard vacuum they're meant to suck up crumbs and dust - maybe they could have a stronger motor... Or... is there such a thing as a Mini Wet-Vac? And instead of sounding like a vacuum, it will sound like wind in the autumn trees, or maybe there can be some sort of musical accompaniment - perhaps Floyd's Comfortably Numb? Oooh, maybe I can just retrofit one of the vaginal sex pumps - there won't be a soundtrack, but then you wouldn't have to worry about cords or batteries!  Lower tech.

I am excited to share this idea with David.

"But then won't you have to leave the bed to clean the vacuum?" he asks. "And how would you even clean it?"

"Both good questions. One - yes, of course you would have to leave the bed to eventually clean the vacuum, but after snuggling. Long after snuggling. And two - the VAGI-VAC would have a special easy-to-clean suction repository that you could just clean it in the bathroom sink."

He looks skeptical and a little grossed out. Note to self: I definitely have to find a new word for "repository."

"Dude, you are not the only one who becomes nearly comatose after a good orgasm. I too, should be able to melt into the bed and be all blissed out. And you know there have been more than a few times when you've had to half walk/half carry me to the bathroom after sex thereby ruining your own bliss time."

He can't help but nod his head. 

I have several shopping tabs open now, I'm sure that I can MacGyver something by the end of the week.