Friday, October 14, 2016

Snakes don't have legs

"So if they're asking do I have experience working with animals, does that mean REAL experience?   I mean, I have three cats," says Rissa.

"Yes, you do have three cats," I reply. "And don't discount the dogs that we've had."

"But do they mean experience like squeezing a gopher's anal glands?"


"Or like, I've seen a bunny... once?"

"I don't know..."

"Or is it please collect my horse's urine?"

"Where are you...?"

"Or can you spout general animal information like 'snakes don't have legs' ?"

Snort.  "I say put it all down.  You never know where you might be placed."

"Right.  Code of Conduct.  Okay...  Okay...  Okay...  WHOA!!!  What about lighting fires?  Why don't they specify lighting fires?  That seems like a no-no in addition to the no drugs, alcohol and serious behavioural problems." 

"I think that pyromania might fall under the serious behavioural problems."

She's already moved on.  "Under gender I'm going to say 'squirrel' for you."

You can bet that whomever ends up with her for a summer exchange is going to be entertained at the very least.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Heart of Darkness Dance Party

"OH MY GOD!" Rissa exclaims.

"What?" I ask, glancing up from my e-reader.

"This," she says, indicating her book.  "THIS. STUPID. BOOK."

"What are you reading?"

"Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.  ARGH!"  The book has fallen from her hands and banged her on the head.

"Dude.  Careful."

"It's not me!  IT'S. THIS. STINKING. BOOK."  She holds it out to me.  "It's not weighted correctly. You see this?  This here?"  She's indicating the first 6th of the tome.  "This is the actual book. 77 pages.  You see this?" She indicates the other 350  pages.  "This is the part where it explains to you why those 77 pages are worth reading!!"


"You shouldn't have to have FIVE times as many pages explaining why the book should be read!!!"

"I have to concur."

"Right?!?   It's a 77 page monologue. GAH!  And I have to read 10 pages tonight. He just keeps talking and talking and talllllking.  I'm not going to make it."  She brightens for a moment.  "I'll   have to have a Heart of Darkness Dance break every 2 pages."

"That sounds like a plan."

"Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack should do it."

Never underestimate the power of a good soundtrack when played on your Crosley portable record player at 45rpm.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gilmore Girls Meltdown

"IT'S IMPOSSIBLE!!!" wails Rissa.  "WE'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!!!" She is flailing, face-down, on the couch.

"Yes we will honey."  I smooth her back.  "We've got 77 days."

"And 95 episodes!!"  How are we going to watch 95 episodes in 77 days?!?"

"Easy.  One episode a day, with 18 days where we watch two."

"But then it'll be like work and we won't enjoy it.  We'll resent it! WE CAN'T RESENT THIS!!!"

"Some days we can binge watch - like 8 episodes."


She's panicking.  To her this is a seemingly unattainable goal. To me this is a perk, nay, a privilege.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa there chickadee...  Say, 5 weekends of the next 12, we watch 8 episodes each weekend - so that's 40 episodes of the 95 which means then we only have to watch another 55 episodes over the remaining...  69 days. That's only (insert mental gymnastics here) 3/4 of an episode a day on those days.  If we watch 12 episodes each of those 5 weekends, that's 60 episodes of the 95, leaving us with only 35 for the remaining 69 days - a mere 1/2 an episode each day.   Sooooooooo easy...."

To say that Rissa shoots me a 'baleful' eye would be an understatement.

David takes a different tack. "I'm sending you both a link to the must-see episodes - there are only 19."

Rissa immediately runs to grab her phone.  "We've already watched three of these!" she crows.  "No - five!!  No wait - SEVEN!!! WE'VE WATCHED SEVEN EPISODES!!!  We only have to watch 12 more and we'll have the gist of everything."  She reclines back on the couch, completely relaxed.

"See?" says David.  "Now you only have to watch 12 and you're good to go.  No stress at all."

"Oh, we're going to watch all 95," says Rissa.  "Those 12 are our backup."

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sticky thighs in the City of Lights

Our first day in Paris, we get a lay of the land from the massive seasonal Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde. We can see EVERYTHING from there!  Paris has turned us giddy.  "We can go there, and there... and THERE!"   Paris at our feet!  This is fantastic!!

Within  30 seconds of alighting from the ride we realize that  downtown Paris sports wide open spaces with concrete and cobblestones and palaces - all acting as the most stunningly architectured heat conductors/reflectors - I'm going to say it - in the world.  Wilting in the blinding sun, Rissa and I (in our fish-belly white glory), desperately seek out the tiniest scrap of shade that can be found in the lee of Parisian lamposts.

"DIBS!"  I yell - trying to morph my skeleton to the shape of the shadow.  Rissa stands in the lee of me, so she's good to go.

As a family we find ourselves ill-prepared.  Our plans for Paris had not been indoor plans.  We were going to head out each day in a different direction and just walk. We were going to explore - see the 'real' Paris - the Paris of the people.

As we walk back to our Air B&B flat in the 8th - I begin to rethink our Parisian plans.

"What are you doing?" asks David, watching me walk.

"I don't have a thigh gap," I explain, looking like I've just spent an afternoon riding the mechanical bull at the Rock 'n' Horse Saloon.


"Skirt. Thighs. Chafing. I under-powdered."  I am already anticipating macaron-sized heat rash on my inner thighs.  "I shouldn't have worn a skirt.  Or I should have packed the travel size baby powder in my bag."  I milk the physical comedy for a bit longer before I stagger and give up.  "Cover me!"


"Cover me!"  I heft my skirt and grab my slip, tying the front and the back together to create emergency bloomers.  I walk around a bit.  "Not bad.  I don't know if it'll get me 10 blocks back to the flat, but if it doesn't hold, I'll just pretend that I'm a bull-legged Charlie Chaplin."

Later, that evening, we arrive at the train station for our trip to Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte, and I realize we have forgotten the travel sized baby powder... again.   I just had to wear a chi-chi dress.   But we're going to a chi-chi Palace, a chi-chi dress is totally appropriate. Having liberally applied powder, I think I'm good to go, but given Paris's heat, it's still not enough. 

Luckily, there is a pharmacy still open at the station.  "Avez vous poudre pour bébé?" I inquire, after having spent a good five minutes searching the baby aisle looking for anything resembling baby powder.   Dude looks at me like I'm nuts. "Que désirez-vous?"  "Uh... poudre de... um... what is baby powder when it's not baby powder - talcum?"  "Ah!  Poudre de talc!"  "Oui!"  I give him a huge thumbs up.  He goes to the back section that houses all the heavy duty drugs and comes out with a box of talcum powder.

"Success?" asks David, upon my return.

"Success!  Now we just need to locate a salle de bain where I can powder these gams!"

An item of note: you have to pay .75 Euros to enter a bathroom in Paris. 
I hang my bag on the back of the door and open the box, which contains a plastic bag full of talcum powder. I look like I have about a 1/2 kilo of coke.  I examine the box again.  There are no perforations, no place that I can tear away to conveniently fold the remaining cardboard over which provides wee little holes so that when I open my 1/2 kilo of talc I can tap-tap-tap it without ending up looking like I've decided to do performance art in a Parisian bathroom.
I tear into the corner of the plastic bag with my teeth and dump a toonie-sized amount of talcum into my left hand.  1/4 of a cup of talcum lands on the floor.

Another item of note:  when I go into les toilettes I am wearing this:

Yes, there is a ginormous crinoline under the dress

I balance the bag precariously on the round toilet paper dispenser and lift my skirt, attempting to navigate through my crinoline to my naked thighs.  I don't succeed.  This is a two-hand job, so to speak.  But seeing as one hand is covered in talcum, and I'm wearing navy blue, that's not an option.  I try again.  I fail.  I am now stuck in a Parisian toilette, more than enough talcum at hand to solve my sticky thigh issue, but unable to powder.   I contemplate getting Rissa to pay .75 Euros to come in and hold my skirt up.  That's when I start giggling.  After another failed attempt, I lean my back against one wall of the stall, put my right foot on the opposite wall and fluff my crinoline and skirt up, holding them to my chest with my chin.  It appears that given the ferocious Parisian heat, the amount of powder that I have in one hand can only really do one thigh.    Still holding my garments under my chin, I manage to pour more powder into my hand and powder the other thigh.  I'm snorting to myself as I wash my hands.

"All good?" asks David as I step out.

"No problem.  From now on, when I say something is impossible?  Remind me of this."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Easy, Action...

"Hor-ORRR-ork!  Gaaaaaaag!  Pwaaaa!"

"You sound like you're doing "Cool" - the vomit version," says Rissa. *

I'm brushing my teeth.  Every morning, when I get to the brushing my tongue part, I can't seem to get past my gag reflex.

"Pwaaaaa!" I spit.    "We'd need some added percussion for it though.  It'd be like snap, snap, snap, snap... 'Haaaaaack!'  snap, snap, snap, snap... 'Hunnnng-ah!' and then the dude would be all, "Easy, Action" and rubbing the guy's back while offering him a bowl to puke into."

"Or it could be someone choking, virtually the same noises, but with a person Heimliching the dude..." Rissa chimes in.

Then, of course we need to reenact the entire song with barf/choking accompaniment, you know, 'cause that's what we do.

Once I make it big on The Great White Way, I'm totally going to do that for Forbidden Broadway - we'll have a revival show.  There will also be a chicken chorus singing Poulet-Vous.  

* One of the most memorable songs/dances from any musical.

Friday, July 22, 2016


Nostalgia has bitten me in the ass.  And Rissa's ass, because she was forced to watch four, count 'em, four 1980s movies with me.  Floundering after Bowie died - it got me thinking that we hadn't shared Bowie movies with Rissa.  She'd never seen Labyrinth, or Absolute Beginners.  And when I was ordering those movies from Amazon the "if you like that you might like this" algorithm came up with Xanadu and of course she had to see that too.

We started with Xanadu.  About 15 minutes in she turned to me.  "Is the whole movie like this?"

"I think it is."


I remembered the roller skating and the mash up number where they mix 1940s swing with 'modern' rock.  When the animated section came on I exclaimed,  "OH MY GOD - I totally forgot about this!"

Rissa looked at me in disbelief.  "Wait... now she's a... FISH?!?"

"Yes.  Yes, she is, and it's freaking brilliant!"

Upon reflection, Xanadu might be a little unpolished and poorly acted... and just one music video after another... and why oh WHY did they make Olivia Newton John attempt to roller skate?  She could NOT roller skate.  Was there no budget for a skating double?  Rissa is also adamant that Gene Kelly should be erased from the film so that it doesn't sully his reputation.

After Xanadu, Absolute Beginners, which, apart from its first steady-cam shot (that clearly inspired all the "walk & talk" shots in The West Wing) - was a made up of a nearly-incomprehensible plot, surrounded by even more weird-ass plot points, with a brief scene where Bowie plays an American ad exec who gets to chew the scenery and Sade sings a spectacular Killer Blow. Strange, after having listened to the cassette tape of the soundtrack for years, I had remembered the film as having much more substance.  Rissa fell asleep during the race riot scenes near the end - not quite the gripping action the producers hoped for, methinks.

Next... Labyrinth, where Bowie's spectacular codpiece was front and centre for most of the film.  Huzzah!!!  Unfortunately, the codpiece was not enough to distract Rissa from how much Jennifer Connelly's portrayal of Sarah annoyed her. 

"Why is she being such a douche?  He's just a baby!"

Rissa's favourite part of the movie?   The special features - where almost all the FX were practical and she got to see Jim Hensen in all his puppeteering/directing glory.

Although Rissa recognized that Fame was a far superior film - better acted, danced... hell... made, the depressing verisimilitude of  the film had her jonesing for a therapist and had me wishing that I'd broken her in gently by showing her the  TV series - especially the episode where Doris gets to re-enact The Wizard of Oz.

Crap - I thought it was only four movies.  It was five.  I showed her The Lost Boys too.  And although she did appreciate how pretty Jason Patrick was... the oiled up sax player at the boardwalk made her throw up a little in her mouth... I owe her.

It's time to remind her of other 80s films that she's seen already and actually likes.  The ones that I've watched in the intervening decades since the 80s, nay  WILL watch any time they're on, the fabulous and the cheesy, from the sublime to the ridiculous: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Footloose, The Blues Brothers, Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Heathers, The Princess Bride, Tootsie,  Bladerunner, Ghostbusters, Stand by Me, The Neverending Story, E.T., Indiana Jones, Top Gun, The Karate Kid, Pretty in Pink, Working Girl and, and, and ... 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

And that's why menopause makes you crazy...

It's come to this: I am now answering Facebook quizzes in my own head. Without the computer.  And not the normal ones like:

Which Disney Princess are you? 
Which Shakespearean character would you be?
What breed of cat are you?

Nope, this mostly Pagan gal has this one pin-balling around her cranium:

Which Bible character is your alter-ego?

We've got to go to Judges 16 for that one.  Samson.  I am Samson.  Delilah cut Samson's hair and he lost his great strength - his power.  I cut my hair and lost my mind.

It's been a swift ride to Crazy-Town for Heather.  I got my hair cut 3.5 weeks ago and in that time all rational thought has departed.  I was getting ready for a wedding with the new 'do' on Saturday and I could actually feel my sanity abandoning me.  Rissa went to get David.

"Uh, Daddy?"


"Mummy's, uh..."  (I can only assume Rissa made the 'she's batshit crazy' gesture beside her own head here.)

David came upstairs and found me weeping; a curling iron clenched in one hand and sweat dripping down my spine.

"Oh love, what is it?"

"This HAIR!" I wailed.

"You're beautiful.  You're always beautiful."  He stood behind me, attempting to smooth my shoulders down and press a hug against my back.

I pulled away violently.  "NO!  I'm NOT!  I look like fucking BOZO the CLOWN!!!"

I could see it then.  I could see the look of concern in David's eyes - the wondering if this was it - if this was the moment I had finally given in to insanity.

"But love, you've been fine this past week.  You liked your new hair."

"I was LYING!!  I HATE it!  I HATE this hair!  I want to shave it off and start wearing wigs until I can put it in a pony tail again!!" You know when you really lose your shit and you have an out-of-body experience watching yourself do it?  That. 

 Dozens of people have complimented me on my hair.

"It makes you look 15 years younger!" 
"You look so sassy!" 
"It's adorable!" 

They are ALL - every single one them - LYING to me.  I try to be good and politely accept the compliment.  I really do.  I smile and nod, ready to move on and behave like a normal tamped down human being, but then they ask "Do you LOVE it?" and I can't keep my irrational mouth shut. Brutally honest, I spout colourful invectives, minutes-long vituperation which, naturally, takes people aback.  That, plus my wild-eyed cuckoo-banana-ness.  Because really?  What person actually says how they're truly feeling?  We're not supposed to do that.  Most of time, I can playact when a person asks a direct question.   But for some reason this hair thing has caused me to lose the ability to deliver bland social conversational norms with any believability.  My inner truth tap switched to ON when I lost 10 inches of hair.

But I didn't fucking LOSE the hair!  I am not on chemo, I do not have alopecia!  I ASKED for something shorter.  It's not like the stylist went rogue, tied me down, gagged me and madly began chopping - I'd been toying with going shorter for years.  The problem was that pretty much as soon as she started to take it off the top, I knew I'd made the wrong choice.  I left the salon thinking "Okay, in a year I can grow 6 inches of this back."  And no matter how many people love the 'do,' no matter how much my husband smiles and says he loves kissing the back of my neck - something was lost for me.

"I look like a MOM!"

"You are a Mom."

"But I LOOK like one.  I feel MA-A-A-AAAAAA-TRON-LY!!!!!"

And that's what it really comes down to.  I had long curly auburn hair that turned heads and now I don't turn heads - unless I'm walking with my 16 year old daughter who is always turning heads - which is somehow worse because at first you think they might be turning heads to look at you and then you realize Nope - this head-turning is not for me at all.  I cut my hair and I am now an invisible, middle-aged woman.  The male gaze slides over me - it's not that they're ignoring me - it's that they don't even recognize that I exist.

I tried on a dress for this aforementioned wedding a week ago - a purple, chiffony, deep V neck that swished and was lovely.  I asked David's opinion about the dress and he was underwhelmed.  "Oh, that's nice."  He didn't look like he wanted to lick his way from my collar bone to my navel.  He blandly smiled and part of me died inside.

As we were driving home from the mall he knew that something was up.  I was quiet, desperately rationalizing my crushing sadness.  We got home and I went upstairs and laid upon the bed, taking calming breaths.

"He just didn't like the dress.  It's not you.  The dress wasn't the best colour..."

And these are basically all the same things that he told me when he followed me upstairs and sat on the bed beside me.

"I know," I said.  "I know that.  You don't have to like everything that I put on.  I don't want you to lie and say something to appease my vanity.  It's just that there are these times that you look at me and I feel like I'm the most beautiful woman on the planet and this was NOT one of those times.  Seeing myself reflected in your eyes can make me feel desirable and... sexy and... POWERFUL and you didn't look at me that way this time.  And right now it's killing me, but I'll get over it."

The look on his face when I shared that shit?  Deflated.  I made him deflate.

"I'm not saying it to guilt you.  I'm being honest. And in a few minutes I will be able to move on, but right now my coping skills are at a minimum and I need to reboot."

My regularly programmed personality has been usurped by this short-tempered, weepy, bitch - whose behaviour is psychotic attention-seeking at its finest.  I am not this person.  This is NOT me.  I want me back.  I used to be the gal with a quick off-colour joke and burlesque posturing. My 'shoulders back, tits out' coping strategy got me through the day.  Bravado was my secret weapon.

Somewhere around Victoria Day I started having night sweats.  Two months folks.  That's all it takes.  Two months of disrupted sleep patterns and I have morphed into the stereo-typically irrational and moody menopausal woman who believes she had super sexy powers in her hair length.   This is why middle-aged women seem dissatisfied and bitchy all the time.  They're not crazy - they're fucking sleep-deprived.  Night sweats create an atmosphere very similar to early parenting exhaustion, except that in your late 40s you don't have the energy stores to power through the exhaustion, and when someone touches your naked body you want to strangle them.

Tonight I'm taking a sleeping pill.  It's time to reboot.