Archive for the 'Musings' Category

Moving Thoughts

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

The big move is tomorrow. I am stumbling around boxes, seem to be covered in assorted mystery bruises and every room looks like a tornado has swept through it. I am wondering how my things manage to unpack themselves and replace themselves in drawers so that it looks like I have not packed at all.

As crunch time approaches and my eyes are bulging further out of my head, a few thoughts:

  • Maybe my weeks of playing online Sudoku in the hopes of becoming an internet champion wasn’t the best use of my time.
  • Ditto on re-reading every card sent to me by my bestie in high school . A nostalgic revisit of my youth should have been saved for a time when I didn’t need to pack.
  • I wonder if it is possible to overdose on Rescue Remedy and if I do overdose will I be so mellow that  I won’t care.
  • I wish I had interrogated the owner of the neighbourhood dog who freaks out if you are holding a cup of coffee. I have never had a chance to hear the full story.
  • I should have eaten more almond croissants from the amazing patisserie down the street when I had the chance. I don’t know why I have become a croissant slacker.
  • I am craving vegetables which is a sure indicator that I have become a toxic wasteland of fast food.
  • Maybe I didn’t need to spend all that time searching for Nutella recipes so that I wouldn’t need to pack the half empty Nutella jar.
  • I am starting to suspect that my last client who saw my (unpacked) boxes and said “don’t worry, the box fairies will come and pack for you overnight while you are sleeping,” may have been lying.

Monkey on the Loose

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Yesterday a tiny monkey in a shearling coat was discovered wandering outside an Ikea store in Toronto. In the past I have spent many frustrating Sundays at this same location, trapped behind a shuffling family who have decided to make a trip to Ikea an all day bonding excursion. If only I could have glanced out of the showroom windows and seen a nattily dressed monkey, I know the Ikea experience would have been a joy rather than an exercise in patience and fortitude.

Apparently this dapper monkey had managed to escape from his crate, let himself out of the car and was wandering around the parking lot. Initially I suspected that perhaps the monkey was in fact an employee, hired to assemble the furniture. That would explain why an Allen key is always included in the box complete with illegible instructions and way too many screws. The Allen key would fit perfectly in a diminutive monkey paw.

I would like to imagine that this daring monkey was on the lookout for my own monkey that I purchased at Ikea years ago. Ordinarily I am not a stuffed animal kind of girl. I pity the girls whose boyfriends win them giant stuffed animals at amusement parks. I am grateful that I never had boyfriends who would buy me teddy bears holding shiny hearts for Valentine’s Day. This stuffed monkey was different though. It was alone, tossed on top of a bin and there was something in his expression, sunken chest and pot belly that struck me. He looked like an old man dressed as a monkey. I knew I needed to have him. When I finally reached the cashier I plunked my new friend down with trembling hands, unable to conceal my excitement at bringing this magical creature home.

“I can’t sell you this monkey,” the cashier said.

I was shocked. “What do you mean you can’t sell the monkey?” I spluttered, my voice taking on a whiny pitch. “Why put the monkey out if it’s not for sale? What kind of reasoning is that?”

“It’s the display monkey. It’s for display, not for sale.”

“Well, why would you put a monkey on display if there are no monkey’s for sale?” I reasoned, trying desperately to stay calm.

I could hear a loud sigh behind me. Everyone is exasperated at Ikea and by the time they get near the front of the line and can taste freedom, any delays are excruciating. I glanced quickly behind me at the sea of angry faces with dead eyes and felt myself start to perspire. I am not one to cause a scene. I avoid confrontation at all costs. I’ve been known to apologize to mannequins when I bump into them. I am more of a deer in the headlights than a fierce tigress. That day, however, something in me snapped. I leaned forward and narrowed my eyes. “Look. I am not leaving without the monkey.”

I could now hear a chorus of sighs that were becoming louder and more aggressive as the cashier called his manager. The monkey was staring up at me in solidarity.

“Don’t worry buddy,” I tried to tell him telepathically.“We’re going home together and we’ll never be apart, you’ll see.”

It was an agonizing wait as the line came to a stand still and the crowd behind me realized that they were boxed in by patrons with loaded skids of furniture and would be unable to find another line. I stared straight ahead with tight lips and steely resolve. At last I saw a young man jogging towards us, a stuffed monkey in his hand. The cashier snatched it and made motions to ring it in.

“Wait a minute,” I said, “I don’t want that monkey, I want my monkey.”

“It’s the same monkey.” The kid said, unable to hide his exasperation.

“No it’s not,” I protested. “I chose this monkey and this is the one I am going home with,” poking my finger in my monkey’s sunken chest.

After years of being meek and not standing up for myself, I was now willing to have a death match showdown in a suburban Ikea. I was not going to back down, even if I was going to get pulled apart limb by limb by the growing line of people shifting angrily behind me.

The cashier and I settled in for a stand off until I heard a man behind me yell, “Just give her the damn monkey!”

The cashier nodded almost imperceptibly and I relaxed my jaw. He rang up my monkey and I snatched it up and clutched it to my chest, victorious and empowered. We never know when we will face a challenge that shows us what we are made of. That afternoon I learned that I could make my voice heard and take a stand, put myself in danger to fight for what I believed in.

This was no ordinary monkey. It was a symbol of something larger and more profound.

Milla and Me

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Last week I received an email from my buffet buddy that knocked me off my chair.

“I’ve been doing a marathon viewing of all the Resident Evil movies and there is something about Milla Jovovich that reminds me of you.”

Milla Jovovich?! The super hot former model turned lame actress in bad zombie movies? I was thrilled. The last time I was told I resemble a celebrity was when a “friend” told me I reminded him of Carol Burnett. Carol Burnett doesn’t even want to look like Carol Burnett. “Carol Burnett?!” I hissed at my former friend. “What did I ever do to you?”

Milla Jovovich was definitely a step up. I grabbed a photo of my new doppelganger and thrust it at The Sweetie.

“Does she remind you of anyone you know?” I asked, doing my best super model face.

The Sweetie’s face remained blank, no glimmer of recognition or joy at the realization that he is married to a model look-alike.

“Who?” He asked.

“My buffet buddy said I remind him of  Milla Jovovich.”

The Sweetie looked incredulous, then apologetic.“Hmmm,” he said, trying to look like he was considering it, “I don’t really see it,” he finally shrugged.

I decided I would quiz my friend incessantly when we saw each other face to face. Yesterday we had a date to make plum jam.

I sat expectantly and waited for him to gasp at the resemblance when he could see me so soon after watching the latest installment of Resident Evil.

“So what was it about me that reminded you of Milla Javovich? The bone structure? The somersaults she does while fighting zombies? That luminous skin?”

My friend looked at me carefully and then shrugged. “Actually, now that I think of it, I realize that there was something that was reminding me of you while I was watching the movies, but it wasn’t Milla Javovich after all. I think it was the zombies.”

If a Girl Falls in the City Does Anybody Hear?

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Recently I had a major meltdown that caught me by surprise. Unlike the slow onset of malaise that I get in the winter when I feel depleted and defeated, this hit me like a wave. It seemed like an extra affront that I could sink into a dark place when it was warm and sunny. Sink I did though, and it was ugly. I was filled with angst and misery and a whole lot of tears. There are few things more disturbing than a middle aged woman crying on the subway. Clowns, spiders, sharks and guys who wear those tight t-shirts with glittery angel wings on them that are probably more disturbing, but a grown woman blubbering alone on a subway is probably up there on the list of unsavoury sights. Especially as I am not an attractive cryer and I get a crumpled up plucked chicken face.

I would love to have a nervous breakdown like the one Bette Davis enjoyed in Now Voyager, one of my all time favourite weepers. Bette has a nervous breakdown and ends up at a sanatorium with grand grounds, daily tennis matches and sessions with the kindly and wise doctor played by Claude Rains. After her stint in the sanatorium she goes on a cruise and returns home triumphant, with plucked eyebrows, fashionable frocks and a beau. Best of all, she gets to smoke. She has renewed energy and turns her life around with trademark strong Bette Davis briskness. Alas, I don’t have a luxurious sanatorium to escape to, nor do I have a kindly doctor to straighten me out. I don’t have tickets for an exotic cruise where I will try out my new persona and wear the latest fashions. Much as I would love to, I can’t start smoking again.

Nervous breakdowns are never convenient. I have decided that now is not a good time and it will have to be put on hold. It is too exhausting and doesn’t seem to be leading to much. Instead I have decided to just get on with it. It isn’t as much of a go-getter mantra like Nike’s Just Do It but it feels right. I plan to deliver my new mantra with an eye roll and a shrug. Like a Bette Davis heroine who is tough as nails, who’s been around the block a few times but still has spunk, I plan on putting this latest breakdown on ice with an imaginary cigarette clenched between my teeth and a plucky “just get on with it” rolling off my resilient tongue.

Good Deeds and Sunshine

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

It has been hot and humid, prompting heat alerts and smog advisories and I have been loving every minute of it. While others are complaining of the heat I am irritatingly peppy, often exclaiming, “why, it feels just like a breezy oven!” with uncontainable glee. To have a brief respite from wearing my granny cardigan has been bliss.

My joyful perkiness came in handy yesterday when I was waiting at the bank machine to deposit a cheque. The man in front of me was exhibiting a post-work, melting in the humidity stance. As he stumbled away I discovered that he hadn’t removed his cash from the slot. I hadn’t had a close look at at the man other than noting that he looked exhausted. I grabbed the cash and ran towards the intersection.

I accosted the most wilted looking man I could find and asked,“were you just at the bank machine?” Perhaps asking a stranger if he was at a bank machine while extending a wad of twenties would inspire a yes from anyone. He did, however, have one of those forehead slapping expressions on his face so I handed over the cash.

I skipped merrily back to the bank machine, gleefully proud that I saved a man from kicking himself for an entire weekend. I imagined how awful it would have been when he realized in the hot and sweaty subway that he had forgotten his beer money in the bank machine. I tipped an imaginary hat to my dear guardian angel from my recent dog course, thinking again of how her kindness made me want to be nicer to strangers. I thought about the principle of paying it forward – how an act of kindness can prompt someone to do a good turn for the next person, creating a domino effect of goodwill. It is timely that I am reading “An Open Heart, Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life” by the Dalai Lama. He talks about determining whether an act is a moral or spiritual one. If someone doesn’t steal because they are afraid of getting caught or are afraid of public opinion, they aren’t acting in a moral or spiritual manner that will help their karma. If they don’t steal because it causes others to suffer, they are acting in accordance to the Buddha’s doctrine. I am far from being a good Buddhist. I have not mastered having an open loving heart to my enemies. Instead I indulge in lengthy, elaborate revenge fantasies on a regular basis. I am impatient and often dream of pushing my overly chatty clients down the stairs. I possess a healthy dose of non-compassion in my closed, everyday heart. Nevertheless, I felt pleased with my latest act and felt one step closer to better karma.

I saved his weekend!” I thought smugly to myself, puffing my chest. I imagined the Dalai Lama would smile his beatific smile just for me, if only he knew. I imagine the bank machine man telling his friends about the perspiring angel of mercy who returned his money. I couldn’t wait to tell  anyone who would listen. “My karma rocks!” I almost yelled out loud. Then again, how great is your karma if you have to shout it from the rooftops? I’m sure Mother Teresa wasn’t high fiving herself on a regular basis. How much is a good deed cheapened by endlessly crowing about it? My karma probably still has a way to go.

The Sweetie and The Surgery

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Yesterday The Sweetie had surgery on his spine, something called microlumbar decompression surgery. He had been on a waiting list for surgery, got a call on Monday and by Wednesday he was on the operating table. He had not been able to sit for over eight months, which, needless to say, was limiting. We have been lounging on the floor, taking modest walks around the neighbourhood and fantasizing about going out for dinner or seeing a movie. He has been very stoic. As much as I make fun of his dramatics when he has a cold, he has been unbelievably patient and positive throughout this ordeal. It was unanimous among everyone who knows us that as horrible as it was for The Sweetie to be suffering, it was better that it was him and not me because I would not have been as brave. Everyone would have been suffering along with me, I would have made sure of that. I would have had a breakdown by day two.

It was very hard to see The Sweetie looking vulnerable in his hospital gown and paper slippers when he was getting prepped for surgery. He came out of the change area looking like a little boy with the hospital paper shower cap on his head.

“Hey hon?” one of the nurses called out to him,“You don’t need to wear the paper hat yet unless you really like that look.”

We had to wait a long time for the doctor and anesthesiologist to arrive.

“Want to do the crossword with me?” I asked. “Want to play dirty hangman? Want to read about dog facts? Want to plan a trip to Portugal?”

“Actually I just want to pace,” The Sweetie replied.

As he paced all I could think about is how few things there are that truly matter. Love, health, connection. That’s it. If that is gone there is nothing else. All the things that I get stressed out about, all the things that I think are a big deals mean absolutely nothing.

“I think you should go now,” The Sweetie said when he had finished pacing and was lying under a blanket the nurse had brought him.

“I’m not going before they wheel you away,” I answered.

“I think I need some time on my own just to zone out and stay mellow and if I have to say good bye to you and you get all emotional I won’t be in the right frame of mind.”

“I won’t get emotional,” I said, starting to cry.

“Really, you should go.You’re going to have to wait around forever while I’m in recovery anyway.”

The Sweetie closed his eyes and then opened them again.“You’re still here,” he said. “You should really go.”

I unwrapped a throat lozenge.

“God, you’re like an unmovable force.”

Eventually the anesthesiologist came, a quirky Nordic fellow with a cute accent and soft hands. I kept it together and watched as they wheeled The Sweetie away and then burst into tears on the elevator. I baked cookies and washed dishes in a daze and waited for the surgeon to call me after the surgery. It’s funny how you always watch the world from outside of yourself when things feel stressful. Things felt slightly removed from reality, like I was sleepwalking through a dream.

I came to the recovery room to find him enjoying a glass of apple juice and nibbling on a tea biscuit. His nurse Svetlana seemed to be a little overly attentive and looked disappointed to see me. “You’re girlfriend?” She asked The Sweetie. “His wife”, I said and tried to drape myself over the bed, the metal rails digging painfully into my side.

Everything is fine, The Sweetie is home and is enjoying painkillers and soup. The cat is keeping a faithful vigil by his side. We have been taking tentative walks around the block and have been outpaced by a toddler. There is nothing I would rather be doing.