Bath bombs, cigarette patches, and true crime I quit smoking (again). Saturday, November 16, I looked at my half-full package of Gauloises and, at arms length, ran water on the whole pack to render them unsmokable. To get me through the weekend, I finished the three Panter cigarellos I had and on the Monday, I bought myself some nicotine patches. I partied as usual this weekend, with no lapses. Yay me! I had to special order the non-transparent patches, because the transparent ones don't stick to my skin unless I rub the area vigourously with alcohol. The patches come with a cute little booklet that provide helpful hints and list certain side-effects such as insomnia and vivid dreams. They recommend that you step down to a lower dose to eliminate the side-effects. I'm not experiencing insomnia (I rarely do), but I am having some rather vivid dreams. One rather memorable dream involved a gorilla. Apparently, we were in a relationship. As the dream progressed, he began losing his hair (at one point my gorilla guy was wearing a blue latex face mask) and became less gorilla-like, except for one feature: his...um...penis. I told him there was no way we were going to have relations until his organ shrunk down to something more managable--size does matter. I'm remembering most of my dreams, and have a great deal of control over them. If I wake up, I can slip right back into the story line. This isn't an unpleasant side-effect. Needless to say, I look forward to bedtime these days. Last night, bedtime was particularly cozy. I've been experimenting with making homemade bath bombs to give as Christmas gifts, and made my first batch Sunday night. Since I had to try one, I ran a bath at around 11:00 p.m. I dropped the bomb in the running water and it fizzed, just like it's supposed to. It even smelled good (citrusy rose). It was a lovely soak--the bomb consists of baking soda, olive oil, citric acid and rose oil--and I came out of the bath warm and a bit sleepy and feeling really soft, but not greasy. I slipped into my bed, which has a feather bottom topped with a flannel sheet from Simons, and squirmed in sheer delight. Then I picked up the book I've been reading. In addition to my love of 70s and 80s horror films, I love true crime. At the church bazaar (see previous post), I picked up a book called "The Torso Murder", which I thought was going to be a retelling of the Black Dahlia, a true story that inspired James Ellroy's brilliant book of the same name. It turned out to be a book about a woman, Evelyn Dick, accused of killing and dismembering her husband in Hamilton, Ontario in the 1940s. A facinating read, which, happily, had no impact on my dreams. I dreamt I was on holiday with two of my gal pals. We got split up as we were running through a corn field. I ended up in a cute little rooming house full of friendly Mexican people. They agreed to let me stay there until my friends found me. That I didn't have nightmares is a sign that I'm incredibly well-adjusted...or a psychopath.


The Ro-tato Revelation I never miss my parent's church's annual Christmas bazaar. I'll usually help out on the busiest night--Friday--and arrive well before the doors open at 7:00 p.m. so I can can scope out and acquire all the interesting bits and pieces the congregation donates. I scored: some wine glasses. some danish-design aluminum and wood kitchenware (which I'll give as a gift to a designer friend of mine). the entire Amy Vanderbilt "How to" series, which includes titles such as "How to be a More Interesting Woman" and "How to Have a Great Vacation" (they were published in 1965). some inflatable hangers that I originally thought were shower caps. that they are inflatable hangers is a bonus. homemade strawberry jam. various sweets, including some dark chocolate fudge, which I immediately distributed to friends. two ozz franca framed prints. Awesome! various necklaces. a whack of macrame pattern books, which I'm convinced will see a revival soon. There's a price to be paid for gettting first dibs on all this stuff: I have to work behind the "white elephant" table, where everything from CDs to japanese teapots get donated and sold. There's never enough room to put everything that's donated, so more stuff comes out of boxes as other stuff gets sold. Towards the end of the evening, my mother and I looked at a bag full of stuffed animals and started digging through it to see what's sellable. As I sifted through grubby bears and rabbits, my hand brushed something hard and plastic. I pulled it out and discovered that it was a Rotato, a battery-operated potato peeler. No sooner did I put it on the table for sale when a woman came up and said, "You won't believe this, but on my way down here, I found a potato in the street." To prove it, she pulled it out of her hand bag. "It's still perfectly good." And it was. I sold her the Rotato for 50 cents. Now I know the price of divine intervention.


Hommage to my Girlfriends It was the last writing workshop last night. We talked about actually getting published, and my short story, among two others, was deemed attractive to the publishing market, which I think is pretty cool. I still think I like the idea of self-publishing, but perhaps I should investigate sending it out to appropriate publications once the final edits are in. The participants in the workshop have been great, but I've found myself being uncharacteristically shy, perhaps because the subject of the workshop is "writing from memoir" and I've revealed much to these strangers in a short amount of time. There is definitely a one participant, a woman about my age give or take, who seems to quite despise me. She actually said that I used "too many adjectives", which reminded me of the scene in Amadeus, where Mozart is told by the King of France that his music contains "too many notes". This comment just confirmed the vibe I had been getting from her during the whole workshop. This is a rarity in my life--women in particular tend to take quite a shine to me. (Men, of course, are another matter.) The last time I felt this kind of quirky contempt was while I was doing my Master's. There was a handful of women who treated me like I was a bimbo. I think it was the lipstick and the heels I wore (I was working part-time at IBM at the time). There was some incongruity, I suppose, between the lips that were painted scarlet and the lips that were adept at speaking intelligently about almost any post-modern text. Yup, I adored Jean Baudrillard, but adored shopping more. Baudrillard would approve, at least. So, this is a hommage to all the wonderful women in my life who love me as I am and never fail to make me feel special. A, who's known me the longest and knows me best. She rarely judges and chastises--but when she does it makes me a better person. Li, who I met only a couple of years ago, but who's an integral part of my life. Her energy and chuztpah is forever admirable. Le, also a new friend, who, with wisdom and gentleness, always expresses faith in me. J, more than a colleague, constantly suprises me with her strength and incredible advise. C, also much more than a colleague, someone I know I can share much with, which is usually a good belly laugh. The "Slander Girls", who confirm that smart is beautiful and sexy. ...and all the wonderful women I encounter daily. (I don't wish to insult my boy pals, but simply remind them that "it's different for girls".)


Nomar: the Cat's Pyjamas When you have four cats, it's hard not to play favourites. But, each of my little guys has their singular charm: Benny is the friendliest, Rosie is the most independent, Punkin is the cutest, and Nomar is the gentlest. Nomar spends as much time with me as he does with my neighbours and their grandchildren, with whom he is exceptionally patient, letting them pick him up and carry him about the garden. He's a big orange fella. Big paws. Short hair. Face a bit human-like. He still spends more time out than in, but that ratio changes as the temperature dips. This morning he wandered in and sat on me as I was reading the paper. He's so big that it's impossible to actually cuddle him and read at the same time. So, I gave in to this large purring mass and he sat on me, his head on my shoulder and his entire body covering the entirety of my upper torso. Sigh. Cats are lovely. Nomar was brought to me a few years ago. My other neighbours were proprietors of a local watering hole, and some patron had left Nomar in the bar. My neighbour's daughter tried to keep him, but her allergies were really bad, so he came to me. Whoever left him there doesn't know what they're missing.


I'll be home for Christmas... Started practicing some Christmas tunes with my friend R as we've been invited back to play at a Concordia Fine Arts Christmas do. We're trying to do as many twisted versions of twisted Christmas songs as possible, mingled with our usual repertoire of jazz, sesame street and italian revolutionary songs. In the same vein, I'll be singing a song with Softimage's house band at the company Christmas party on December 11. It takes place at Club Soda, so I'll actually be able to say that I've sung there. What have I chosen? Eartha Kitt's seminal Christmas tune of living and giving: Santa Baby. If you have off-beat Christmas tunes to suggest, I'd love to hear them!


My short story was finally reviewed last evening by the participants in the writing workshop I'm in. The story is based in my own experiences and I was pleased that it was received favourably, with some very constructive comments, which I'll implement on the weekend. Writing from "memoir" can be kind of perilous, particularly if you're dealing with something that still lives with you under your skin. It can lose its universality and sink quickly into a psychiatric case study. I showed the story to a colleague a couple of days before--he wasn't aware that the experiences in the story were actually based in my own. He seemed to like it, but labelled the heroine in the story "heartless". A participant in the workshop also wondered how close my heartless heroine was to my own personality as the character seems at odds with this workshop mate's favourable impression of me "in the flesh". It was a revelation to me that I could invent a completely new character just by recasting familiar events around a small, but dark, part of my personality. Mostly I'm proud that I've managed to go beyond "diarist" and into to the realm of "fictionalist". I'll be posting the revised story publicly soon.


Snow Shuffle I caught myself walking funny today. There's still slushy wet bits everywhere and I'm still in girly shoes that look great with my jeans, but don't provide any traction at all. I find that my walk devolves into baby steps in an attempt to stay upright and combines with a march as I attempt to lift my feet high above the muck. People stare.


Moving Forward with my Twenty-something Posse Bowling for Columbine I finally had a real weekend. No work. No thinking about work. Just 48 hours to do whatever I wanted. Friday started off well, with a viewing of Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore’s erratic and brilliant documentary on guns in America. He presented a rather surprising statistic: there are as many guns per capita as the United States, yet we don’t experience anywhere near the same homicide rate. What’s up with that? He suggests that it has something to do with our social security net. Detractors of this film say that it lacks focus and is somewhat facile. Given the enormity of the issue, if nothing else, I think he asks the right questions. If Moore is right, and I think he is, and our security resides with our social policies, then please join me as I protest against the Mario Dumont’s of this world who propose changes to our health care system and a ridiculous reduction in tax rates. I can afford private health care and I could buy a yacht if my income was only taxed at 20%. However, he’s simply proposing a society in which I simply wouldn’t want to live. Make the rich pay, indeed. Nantha’s Kitchen, Part Deux I saw this film with a twenty-something colleague from work and two of his twenty-something friends visiting from Toronto. After the film we split up and I met more friends at the new microbrewery in Nantha’s Kitchen space. They’ve done a great job with the d├ęcor. And there are more bathrooms. The Amber beer could do with a touch more head, the Stout with a bit more oomph. But, for $4.75 a pint, you can’t go wrong. I’m sorry, but I don’t recall the name of the brew pub. Saturday Night’s All Right for Cupcakes The next day was my friend H’s birthday party. I made chocolate cupcakes with my mother’s famed mocha icing. The recipe comes from the first recipe book she ever bought when my parents moved to Canada and the first my mom gave me when I moved out: the Canadian classic Kate Aitken’s Cook Book. The cupcakes were a hit and I was in a fine, party mood. My twenty-something posse was there, too, and we split for Else’s at around 1:00 a.m. The Five Second Rule It’s interesting hanging with people who are so much younger than you, particularly if they’re flirting with you. Pretty much all week, my twenty-something colleague had been making comments to me about “being with an older woman” and whether, as my palm was being read by our receptionist (see previous blog), there was any foretelling of a tall, good-looking younger man about to enter my life. The best part during our drinking fest at Else’s was when I described the five-second rule: if you’re trying to show someone you’re interested in them, hold their gaze for at least five seconds. Well, after that, my colleague and his twenty-something friends all seemed to be attempting to hold my gaze for at least that. All good fun, in a strange kind of way. It got rather awkward when we started to talk about age and beauty (but, not truth—that would have been too eerily Socratic). I tried to remain politically correct by announcing that youth and beauty weren’t necessarily synonymous. But who can deny the exquisiteness of glowing, unlined skin and lanky bodies? And the attentions of three good-looking young men who could be my sons—if I had become pregnant just barely out of high school. Moving Forward Today I took a test that was supposed to reveal my worst fear. Apparently, I fear “moving forward”. Dear readers, you’ve been privy to quite a bit about me—issues with “aging” and trysts in Else’s washroom--and I wonder if you’ll concur with me as I come to the conclusion that it’s time for me to move forward, grow up and find…someone old enough to be my father to date.


24 hours in the life of... Yesterday at about this time, I was sitting in a meeting in which we were going over the last minute details of the release of Softimage's new products. There was still much to do, despite the long hours spent in the office the previous weeks. In the middle of the meeting, realizing I hadn't eaten at all that day, I stepped out and grabbed a bagel and coffee from Tim Horten's. Verdict? Coffee good. Bagel bad. After the meeting, there was a mad scramble to get everything marked, proofed, and prepped for the web. I managed to finish up just in time to get to the Sigur Ros concert at Metrolpolis. It was sheer pleasure to go from the chaos of the office to the hypnotic sounds created by theses skinny Icelandic angels. Backed by a string quartet, they sound a bit like Radiohead, a bit like monks singing Gregorian chants, and a bit like a good jazz combo on a really mellow night. I didn't want to leave, and just sat at the bar chatting with friends until the staff warned us that our coats, still in the coat check room, risked getting locked in forever if we didn't go get them. Got home and discovered that Prom Night was playing on Pix. I fell asleep, so I'm not entirely sure who the prom killer was. But Jamie Lee Curtis sure did cut a rug in the Saturday Night Fever-inspired dance scene. Can you say "Farah Fawcett Flip"? Woke up very late. Got to work very late. Went for lunch with a friend at Sofia's, treating ourselves to a lunch that cost us more than our usual $6.50 budget. To bring things full circle, a meeting similar to yesterday's is about to take place in a few minutes. In the meantime, I'm having my palm read by our very wise receptionist who does this every year to raise money for Centraide. Click here to see the fruits of our labour.