Archive for the 'Musings' Category

R.I.P. MCA

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

mca

I was very sad to hear that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died of cancer yesterday at the age of forty-seven. MCA was always my favourite Beastie. I loved his hangdog face and how he always seemed satisfied to hover in the background.

The Beastie Boys provided many a soundtrack to my hazy twenties. Initially they struck me as slobbering frat boys, screeching anthems for beer swilling neanderthals. Eventually, however, I fell hard for their exuberant, irreverent music. It wasn’t just for frat boys after all. Back in the nineties they played at the Concert Hall in Toronto and although I am uneasy in crowds with an overload of testosterone I gamely went with my boyfriend and his band of glassy-eyed cronies. Although I was a little anxious, feeling like a prim Holly Hobby out of her element, I was memorized. They were silly and uninhibited, something I wish my self conscious twenty-something self could have embraced more fully. I will always cheer for those who are unafraid to look like fools. Those who aren’t concerned with looking like cool guys are always the coolest. The unabashed goofs will always have my heart.

A Sob is Sometimes Necessary

Friday, April 27th, 2012

I really shouldn’t complain. This winter was the mildest that I can remember. I feel like I had a guardian angel considering that The Sweetie was unable to sit all winter, eliminating our chances of going on a beach vacation. Nor could he shovel snow. If ever there was a winter that I needed it to be mild and snow free this was it. The past month, however, spring has been dragging its heels in getting here. The wind is raw, the days have been chilly and I just heard on the radio that parts of the city are getting snow flurries. I just looked out the window and saw little bit of white stuff blowing around. I am trying not to panic. I know it won’t last, I’m taking deep breaths but a small choking gasp escaped from my throat.

Luckily I found some solace when I discovered this Pinterest the other day (here).

Scatterbrain

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

It always feels like a miracle when I emerge from my winter fog and no longer feel like a zombie. It is quite a transformation to go from feeling unspeakable rage toward anyone who is walking too slowly, talking too much or generally breathing, to finding everyone adorable and a potential bosom friend. The only drawback is that the spring awakening starts off a little on the manic side. I have a tendency to wake up at 3 AM nearly breathless because I feel an urgent need to polish my non-existent silverware or dig a trench. Unfortunately this unbridled energy does not translate into doing anything productive. Instead, I am completely scattered and catch myself talking too loudly and too quickly. I know this frenzy will pass and I will soon settle into mellow summer mode when all is bright blue skies, chirping birds, and contentment. In the meantime I would love to sit here musing a little longer but I must resume running laps around the house for no particular reason.

Old Driver of Canada

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

The unthinkable happened this week. I passed my road test. I am officially a driver. At age 42 it has taken me an extra 26 years to obtain what most teenagers get as soon as they turn 16. It is a miracle.

Driving was one of those things that didn’t interest me when I turned sixteen. I figured I would eventually get around to it but as I grew older I started to develop a fear of driving. It felt like a huge responsibility and I am suspicious of my own skills and abilities, especially with anything that involves technology and the ability to judge space, distance and speed. I also have a terrible sense of direction.

Although I didn’t feel the need to drive it continued to nag at me. Seven or eight years ago I decided to finally bite the bullet and get my driver’s license. I talked a friend into taking the Young Driver’s of Canada course with me. Being non-drivers we had a running joke of how we would enact our own version of Thelma and Louise and drive across the American southwest. I insisted on being Geena Davis and she graciously complied. Instead of driving a convertible we would have to hire a taxi while on the lam. We imagined the scene at the end when they drive off the edge of the Grand Canyon and wondered how much we’d have to tip our cab driver to take the plunge as we’d hold hands in the back seat.

The in-class driving lessons were tedious and humiliating because we felt like two old ladies surrounded by pimply teenagers. Things took a turn for the worse when I started my in-car lessons. My driving instructor had the unfortunate affliction of collecting spit balls in the corners of his mouth when he spoke. I couldn’t concentrate on the road because my eyes would be riveted to the little balls nestled on his lips. In addition, I was filled with a crushing fear every time I drove. I was suspicious of other drivers. I was terrified that I would swerve into oncoming traffic. Pedestrians seemed poised to lurch at the car. Practicing with The Sweetie wasn’t any better. His nervousness would exacerbate my nervousness which would increase his nervousness until I would be in tears and we would return home, tight lipped, traumatized and silent.

I started to think that I was a menace to myself and others and that I was destined to remain a passenger. I felt okay with that. I’m not so focused on accomplishments that I have to see something through no matter what. I’m okay with being a quitter.

Driving started to feel like a metaphor for my life because so many of my decisions are based on fear. I avoid anything that can increase my already nervous temperament. I am meek by nature. In the jungle I would definitely be one of those skittish gazelles that are a tasty lunch for predators. Regardless, I decided that I would give driving a final shot and if it still didn’t work I would hang up the car keys, knowing that for once I had faced my fear.

By the time I decided to give driving another try my temporary permit and driving school paperwork had expired. Apparently, they expect you to get your license in a measly five years. Once again I had to sit through eight weeks of in-class sessions with sixteen year olds. This time I planned it so that when I finished three hours of classes I would meet The Sweetie at a bar afterwards. My young classmates had fearlessness and taut skin on their side, but after class they had to go home to their schooolwork whereas I could go to a bar and drink alcohol.

Finally the day of my road test arrived. I had one final practice with my instructor on the way to the test. Immediately upon setting out I nearly hit an elderly woman crossing the street.

“I guess hitting the old lady would be an instant fail?” I asked.

“Yes but it’s good, get the evil out now! Get it out of your system before the test.”

“What I need is a cigarette and an Ativan. I know I’d be a lot better then,” I said.

By the time we arrived at the testing centre my hands were shaking so badly that I could barely sign the form the silent examiner handed to me. I felt nauseous. Things seemed to go relatively well until he asked me to back in and park next to a car just as the owners of said car were walking towards it. They looked alarmed as I backed in too close to their vehicle.

“Umm, I’m a little close, do you want me to correct that?”

“Just get out of this space,” the examiner said, sounding disgusted, ”Just move. Nose in to the next space.”

Sure that I had failed, I didn’t even bother trying to drive straight. I parked diagonally across two parking spaces and stopped the car, my shoulders slumped and defeated. He handed me my evaluation sheet and left the car in silence. I was utterly dejected.

My instructor approached the car.

“I think I failed,” I mumbled.

He grabbed my sheet. ”You passed!” He exclaimed, sounding shocked. ”Even with that shitty parking job. That was pathetic.”

I stood in stunned silence as my license was processed. My instructor gave me a hug. I was starting to feel elated as we walked back to his car.

“Now give me the car keys,” my instructor said. “I’m driving you home. You scare the hell out of me.”

I’m Every Woman

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I keep being reminded that I have one of those faces that looks familiar to everyone. Apparently I have a lot of doppelgangers floating around. This is a bit of a blow to my ego. I think we all want to believe that we are completely one of a kind and irreplaceable. I’d like to think that I am striking in some way but I am constantly stopped on the street or the subway because someone thinks that I was in their grade four class or that I resemble their dental hygienist.

On a recent trip to Mexico I noticed that a man kept staring at me on the beach. “I must be looking pretty hot,” I thought to myself. One day he approached me and said, “I’m sure you must have noticed that I keep staring at you.” “This is where he is going to pull a business card from his Speedo and tell me that he is a talent agent,” I thought to myself. I began to imagine the stories I’d tell of how I was discovered by a model scout for middle-aged, soft bodied women.

It’s uncanny. You look exactly like my accountant in Australia,” the non-talent scout told me.

My dreams of photo shoots and easy money came to an abrupt end. I looked like someone else again. An accountant. Not exactly an image that conjures up exotic beauty and glamour.

“I get that all the time,” I sighed, “I have one of those faces.”

I’d like to think that if I have a double she would be doing something a little more exciting than me, that the other me would be doing all the things I am afraid of doing. I don’t imagine my parallel life as a bean counter. Now I can’t risk going to Australia for fear of running into my accountant doppelganger. I hear that if you meet your doppelganger one of you will spontaneously combust.

Today I was once again mistaken for someone else. Lately I have changed where I go for coffee because they kept calling me ma’am. Recently when I was feeling particularly grumpy with winter angst I stopped in for a coffee and was momentarily cheered when I saw they were serving my favourite blend. I ordered a large, thinking that the day could be salvageable after all.  “I’m sorry ma’am, we just ran out,” the barista said. That was it. Each of us has a defining moment when we realize that it is time to take a stand. This was mine. I stormed off, vowing never to return. At last I had something I could stand by, an unshakeable conviction and unwavering stance.

Since my ban of the coffee shop I have been frequenting a new place where no one calls me ma’am. Today one of the baristas lit up like a firefly when he saw me.

“Oh my God! It’s been so long! Where did you disappear to?” He exclaimed.

“I think you’re mistaking me for someone else,” I said. “I have that face.”

“No you don’t,” he assured me. “You have a very distinctive face. I totally remember you. It’s been ages.”

“I was here yesterday. I swear, it is my face.”

“Well I didn’t serve you yesterday I guess,” he answered, still convinced that I was his long-lost customer.

“Actually you did. You gave me a sample of your maple coffee.”

“You’re not the girl who used to come in every morning for a latte?” he asked wistfully.

“I just look like her. And I probably look like her high school geography teacher too,” I sighed.

“I’m so embarrassed,” he said.

“Well you have a great face,” he added as an afterthought and handed me my coffee.

My face is so great that apparently there are a million of them floating around. So much for being that special snowflake. We all want to think that we are all special in some way, that we aren’t a dime a dozen and that something sets us apart. Instead, I am reminded on a regular basis that as much as I want to think that I am unique, I’m pretty much like everyone else. As humbling as that can be, perhaps it is teaching me a valuable lesson. Maybe I am meant to recognize that we are all unified and connected somehow. Thanks to my it-is-so-interchangeable-it-is-remarkable face I might have more empathy and patience. Except for those who call me ma’am.

Time Management

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

I have probably already mentioned that I have a time management problem. I honestly don’t know how some people do so much in a day whereas I often feel accomplished if I shower and shave my legs. Back in our university days my sister and I briefly shared a room. Before I had opened my eyes in the morning she would have gone for a run, baked muffins, organized her closet and cheerfully blow dried her hair. I often waste time reading blogs about the seemingly fabulous lives other people are living. Women with handfuls of children are growing their own vegetables, sewing their wardrobes and spinning wool to knit tasteful throws for their stylish homes. I have made attempts to channel my sister and other accomplished Type-A early morning muffin bakers but I just end up feeling frantic.

I was discussing this with a friend, another laid back sort who recently had a crisis when she realized that life was passing her by and she wasn’t where she thought she would be. She was afraid that she had lost her fire.

“What’s wrong with us?” she lamented. “Shouldn’t we be setting more goals and getting things done?”

We decided to set weekly tasks and check in with each other so that there would be a sense of accountability. We set a date for the following week. When the day came I had to fess up that I hadn’t folded my laundry mountain and she admitted that she hadn’t gone to the gym. We then spent the afternoon eating cheese crepes, drinking coffee and seeking out clothing with animal motifs.

“Maybe people who get a lot done just don’t like to relax,” I said darkly.

“They probably don’t know how,” my friend agreed.

We still have faith in each other. My friend still believes that I will one day fold all my laundry and make it to a 6:45 AM yoga class. I believe she will work on her resume. I would probably get more done if I actually remembered to grease the cooking tray before trying to bake cupcakes so that I wouldn’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time scraping my failed remains out of the pan. Baby steps. We can’t all get things done at breakneck speed. Overachievers need people like me to feel more accomplished and my friend and I need each other to spend afternoons strolling and bonding over coffee. Unfortunately no one needs crusty cupcake crumbs.

fused cupcakes