Monthly Archives: February 2014

Embassy Suites owes me a new dream!

I’m currently in Niagara Falls attending a conference. Last night (Feb. 19), my ad manager and one of our friends from P.E.I. went over to the Copacabana Restaurant across the street from our hotel to have some dead cow on a stick. Basically, it’s some rip-off of a famous Brazilian (or maybe it was Argentinian?) restaurant where hot looking guys serve you hot meat sizzling on skewers and you make an absolute pig of yourself.

Good times!

Fast forward several hours. I’m lying in my nice soft, comfy hotel bed  – dreaming of good-looking shirtless Brazilian men serving me skewers of meat – when this heart-stopping, annoying noise that I can only describe as a cross between a whoop and a bray erupts out of nowhere, causing me to sit bolt upright. I’m completely disoriented, wondering where the Brazilian men went.

All I could think was: where did my Barzilian men go, such as this poor lost lamb who looks like he needs help. Don't you think so?

All I could think was: where did my Brazilian men go, such as this poor lost lamb who looks like he needs help. Don’t you think so?

I manage to clamber half asleep out of bed and proceed to examine every piece of electronic equipment I have in my room – two computers, mobile phone, e-book reader, clock radio, shoe shine machine – trying to figure out which one is making that horrible noise. I even checked the fucking Jacuzzi tub!

Suddenly, this disembodied voice comes over some loud speaker hidden in my hotel room ceiling (who knew?) – causing me to jump about eight feet into the air – telling me the hotel fire alarm has been activated, the fire department is on its way, and that I need to evacuate the building.

So I stand there in the middle of my suite trying to decide what to do. Visions of the great 2000 Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers Conference debacle come to mind – Hilton Hotel, London, Ontario, 21st floor, three fire alarms in one night, rubber legs for days. All I can hear is that horrible braying alarm and The Clash – Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? (Some might describe those two things as being one and the same – as a fan of The Clash, I do not.)

The Clash drank lite beer? WTF?

The Clash drank lite beer? WTF?

I get dressed. The room next door to me is filled with screeching young girls panicking as they try to save their make up bags and hair flattening irons. Me: I grab my room key, purse, mobile phone, e-book reader and a handful of small liquor bottles from the minibar and start the long trek down the stairs from the 25th floor.

I have made it to the 16th floor when the disembodied voice, which reminds me very much of that asshole game voice in The Hunger Games, comes back to inform us panting, exhausted guests crowding the stairwell that, hey, it was all some big mistake; we weren’t going to be burnt to a crisp in the Towering Inferno, and it was perfectly safe for us to return to our previously scheduled program, re: unconsciousness. I made it to the 19th floor before my legs gave out. I manage to crawl to the bank of elevators and push the up arrow repeatedly for five minutes straight. Somehow, I manage to return to my room.

I'm sure this is what the screaming girls next door to me were imagining as they packed their make up and hair products.

I’m sure this is what the screaming girls next door to me were imagining as they packed their make up and hair products.

And now I’m sitting here – wide awake, thanks – thinking: You know what? If it hadn’t been for that clattering clarion call from hell, I would now know what happened at the end of my shirtless-Brazilian-waiter-with-dead-cow-on-skewer dream. So guess what? Embassy Suites, you owe me a new dream!

I Will Never Be Mother-of-the-Year – Like Ever!

A few weeks ago, I was out with some work colleagues at one of our favourite restaurants celebrating the retirement of one of our own, a man I’ve worked with since I first started as a wet-behind-the-ears magazine editor at the tender age of 28.

Sigh – I can still remember back to when I was 28 and drove a black, two-door, sporty-looking car rather than a honking huge minivan – but I digress.

I had a car just like this one. It even had the fancy bra and everything. God it was a piece of shit but it had two-doors.

I had a car just like this one. It even had the fancy bra and everything. God it was a piece of shit but it had two-doors.

Anyway, our buddy was pumping back the drinks and we were having a good time when one of the women in the group brought up the subject of her children. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve figured this out yet or not, but I’m a bit of a smart-ass. Actually, I’m a big fucking smart-ass. So, when people start telling me about their wonderful, angelic, gorgeous children, I usually start talking about what little shits my two Goobers are. Not because they actually are – hell, all kids have their projectile-vomiting-pea-soup-Exorcist moments – but because I like to interject a little bit of reality into these types of conversations. My ad manager usually plays along, agreeing with me about my Goobers’ horrid behavior (she should know, she’s actually babysat them).

So, I’m joking about my Goobers when the co-worker sitting next to me – a man – states: “I guess you’re never going to be Mother-of-the-Year.” I laughed, my response being: “Damn right!”

I will never, ever win on of these. But that's okay; it would just get dusty.

I will never, ever win one of these. But that’s okay; it would just get dusty.

Fast forward to this evening. Like most Wednesday’s, I am responsible for transporting my son to and from his Cub meeting – they’re currently in the middle of making their Kub-Kars so this is really important shit. As I back my huge honking minivan out of the driveway – which is currently a very narrow, single-lane plowed through deep snow – I veer off course slightly and end up driving up a snow bank. I have no problem getting the vehicle out – one of the actual benefits of driving a big honking minivan – but I joke to my Goober that I’m acting like I have just learned how to drive. His lightning quick response: “About fucking time!”

And then it hit me – like a tonne of bricks to the head – I sure as shit am never going to be Mother-of-the-Year because I’ve made one of my Goobers a carbon copy of me: a foul mouthed smart-ass.

Personally, I have no problem with my children swearing, as long as the word (or words) being used fits the situation, is meant in jest and is not hurtful to another person – the dog and cats are open season. I do have a BIG problem with the C-word and generally don’t go there, although my Goobers have informed me they hear it from other kids at school all the time.

It wasn’t the swearing that made me laugh with a slight hysterical edge. It was the realization that, by example, I have taught my son comedic timing and he will now be burdened with the need to make every situation – no matter how horrific, depressing or awkward – into a stand-up routine. And that sucks.

I can remember as a little kid, my mother coming home from work to find me sobbing, upset because kids at school were teasing and making fun of me. Her response – a la Singin’ in the Rain – was make ‘em laugh. So I did, using the one thing I already knew they thought was funny – myself. Rather than wait for the big bully of the schoolyard to call me a fucking pizza faced fat bitch with shit-for-brains, I would call myself that first. It was ingenious. Soon, I was known as that weird funny girl and treated with a certain amount of reverent respect because I wasn’t afraid to make other people laugh at my own expense.

Donald O'Connor and his famous Make 'em Laugh performance from Singin' in the Rain.

Donald O’Connor and his famous Make ’em Laugh performance from Singin’ in the Rain.

But – looking back on it as an adult – that particular method of dealing with bullies and uncomfortable social situations is a tricky tight-rope to walk. You have to be pretty sure of yourself and have a lot of confidence to repeatedly beat yourself up mentally for the big laugh. I was neither one of these and it was damaging. I certainly don’t blame my mother for this – she gave me the best advice she could at the time. But when it comes to my own Goobers, I’ve tried to steer clear of the make ‘em laugh approach, relying instead on the you’re-better-than-that, they’re-just-jealous, ignore-them philosophy.

But obviously, if my son is any example, some of that joker crap managed to seep its way through. And I’m to blame. For now, I’m going to watch to see what develops, how he chooses to use his comedic skills. Hopefully, he won’t turn down the self-deprecating route and I can provide him with some other pointers.

I will never, ever, ever be mother-of-the-year – like ever. But I can always hope for smart-ass-of-the-year!

SmartAss

The big black blob of blah

It’s been a tough week. Not tough in the sense of hard or difficult. It’s been tough in the sense of BLAH.

I have a big black blob of blah that builds up inside of me from time to time. And, no, I haven’t been smoking wacky tobacco or popping illegal drugs. It’s “big” because it’s constantly growing, feeding on the disappointments and negativity in my life. It’s “black” because that’s what my mood becomes when it shows up. I call it a “blob” because it works pretty much like that creeping amoeba-like alien that Steve McQueen had to deal with in the movie – it covers everything and cuts off all that is good and light, growing bigger and bigger as it consumes more and more. And “blah” is pretty much self-explanatory – that’s how I feel inside when it’s around.

The big blob of blah has been around for a long time, pretty much since my teenage years. I’ve always envisioned it looking like a really evil black Barbapapa. One day I’ll feel fine – laughing and joking – the next it’s “clickety-click, Barba-trick” and the blah descends.

My big black blob of blah isn't smiling like this hairy Barbapapa.

My big black blob of blah isn’t smiling like this hairy Barbapapa.

I try to work through the big blob of blah, forcing myself forward, always forward. Get dressed, go to work, do work, socialize with co-workers, go home, interact with the Goobers and the Genius, try to write. But the blob is made of sticky stuff. Peel it from one surface, and it’s soon stuck to another, like an annoying burr of negativity. And lately it’s been getting worse.

Back when I was young and gung-ho to change the world, I composed a mental list of experiences and accomplishments I hoped to achieve in my lifetime. The list was lengthy and – shall we say – overly optimistic. Here’s just a sampling of the feats I was going to do:

  • Win an Academy Award – At first it was going to be in an acting category, then I moved on to directing. Now I’d settle for original work or adapted screenplay. Who am I kidding? I’d settle for best gaffer, focus puller or coffee-getter.
Never going to win one of these babies. Just as well, I don't dust.

Never going to win one of these babies. Just as well, I don’t dust.

  • Write a “great” novel – Of course, along with that “great” novel would come fame and fortune, a Governor General’s Award, possibly the Orange, Giller or Man Booker prize, and the opportunity to adapt it to film, thus leading to the Academy Award.
  • Earn a university degree – When I toddled off to university many, many years ago, I was an immature idiot. I partied like it was 1999 (actually it was 1989) and blew all kinds of opportunities, mainly the chance to earn a degree. It’s something I’ve regretted very much. I have tried various times to get that ever elusive degree but life always becomes too busy and formal education falls by the wayside. So, alas, I only have an honours diploma.
The iconic image of the University of Toronto where I lasted exactly two years in pre-med. I just wasn't blood thirsty enough.

The iconic image of the University of Toronto where I lasted exactly two years in pre-med. I just wasn’t blood thirsty enough.

  • Travel around the world – I have been to some amazing and beautiful places in my life, such as Israel, Egypt, Mexico and England. But currently I seem to be stuck in a rut of work trips to Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. These are lovely places with great people but when you say Des Moines, exotic and exciting doesn’t come to mind.
  • Win the Triple Crown with a filly – I love horses and I love thoroughbred horse racing. I’ve always dreamed of owning a horse farm stabled with some of the fastest horses in the world. Of course, their bloodlines would all trace back to the great Man o’War, the original Big Red. Breeding and training a three-year-old horse capable of winning the Triple Crown is a great achievement and hasn’t been done in about 40 years. And it has never been accomplished by a filly.
The great Man O' War romping down the home stretch in the 1920 Belmont Stakes.

The great Man O’ War romping down the home stretch in the 1920 Belmont Stakes.

  • Meet and be friends with some of my favourite authors and celebrities – Yeah, right! Welcome to Fantasy Island! This has been a steadily shifting list that once included David Hasselhoff (from his Knight Rider days) and Mr. November from the 1986 or 1987 Chippendale’s calendar (I can’t remember which year). Now I’d want to have a dinner party with The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson), Matthew Gray Gubler, Margaret Atwood, Dan Aykroyd, Donna Tartt, Bill Murray, John & Martin Marquez, Jo Nesbo, and a steady stream of famous dead people (Alfred Hitchcock, Sylvia Plath, James Mason, Jane Austen, John Belushi, Charlotte Bronte, etc.). And then I’d probably want Taylor Swift to write and sing a song about it (I’m joking).
An image of John and Martin Marquez from the play Boeing Boeing. I guess the stewardesses could come to the dinner party too.

An image of John and Martin Marquez from the play Boeing Boeing. I guess the stewardesses could come to the dinner party too.

  • Win an Olympic gold medal in the Three-Day Event – I can still remember the day my high school boyfriend informed his mother this is what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” The stunned minute of silence paired with rapid eye blinking should have been my first hint this was maybe a bit much. Now, I’d be happy if I could fit into my riding breeches and heave my fat ass up on a horse.
  • Win the Nobel Prize for Literature – In order to win this baby, you have to have actually written a book; well, several books. And they would have to be REALLY FUCKING GOOD. About the only criteria I currently meet for obtaining this great honour is the fact I have a pulse.
Never going to win one of these either. My luck, my girl Goober would steal it to put with her track & field medals.

Never going to win one of these either. My luck, my girl Goober would steal it to put with her track & field medals.

So, as you can see, having a firm grasp on reality and setting realistic goals are not my strong points. Thus leading to the big black blob of blah. I’m getting older and older and older and with each passing year, accomplishing even one of these dreams is becoming harder and harder to attain. And that bums me out. BIG TIME. I had all these great ideas and optimistic goals (well, overly optimistic) and I haven’t been able to come close to even one of them. And the big black blob of blah likes to remind me of this – often. As a result, I take lots of blob-busters, rest on couches in tastefully lit rooms and talk to nice, understanding people, and wonder when the big black blob of blah will finally consume me.