Thursday, April 30, 2009

The thing about blogging is

that as soon as you create a public forum to sound off about nothing, you realize you have nothing to sound off about. Life is sweet and that's a damned lucky thing, but it I think this may be the Curse of the Blogiverse...


Travels With My Mother

So, the husband and I are off to Germany in a few weeks for a quick visit to Berlin, my parents’ native city and, quite frankly, where I might as well have been born as I’ve inherited far more krautedness than my siblings. Just ask my hairdresser how square my head is…

Now, I love travelling with my husband. LOVE IT. We both like city vacations. We both like visiting grocery stores and food markets when travelling, especially in the States (we were gleefully dumbfounded by the entire aisle of pudding at a Wegman’s once…seriously, an entire aisle of pudding cups. Who needs that much choice in pre-made pudding?). We both like museums and we both like to shop. We’re in agreement about eating cheap while travelling to afford at least one splurgey dinner at a fine restaurant. And finally, we know when to call it a day. One of the nicest moments of many on our honeymoon in California was when, at about 1:30 on our last day in San Francisco, we turned to each other and said, “I’ve had it. I can’t look at anything else. I need to flake out at the hotel.” It was so wonderful to me that I’d found someone who travelled at the same pace as I did and was willing to forgo squeezing every last moment of sightseeing out of a trip in favor of a little flake out time.

My mother, however, is not of this camp. My mother is the energizer bunny made human. My mother, who (along with my father) we’re meeting in Berlin for a week of international togetherness, does not know the meaning of “flake out time” while on vacation. In fact, I'd argue that the woman doesn't know the meaning of "flake out time" at all, being of the you-can-sleep-when-you're-dead school of thought.

I fear for my husband’s feet. And nerves.

The first time I travelled with my mother (whom I adore, don’t get me wrong, I truly cannot find a pedestal high enough for her), I was 14 and she took me to Germany for 6 weeks. I have many wonderful memories of that trip which took us from the top (Hamburg) to the bottom (Mittenwald) of the country, with a one day foray into Italy to see Venice. It was an amazing experience; the food was fabulous, hanging out at the “disco” with my older cousin was beyond fabulous (though cringeworthy to think of now), the access to European music magazines and 12 inch singles (it was 1984, this was important stuff!) was amazing, the architecture was spectacular. What wasn’t so great, though, was my mother’s unflagging energy for sightseeing. There I was, 30 years her junior and there was NO WAY I could keep up.

Naturally, even though at 14 I thought the world revolved around me, not every sight we saw was geared towards my interest. I’ve childishly never really gotten over the entire day wasted (in my view) at the bird zoo, or the afternoon spent rattling around in a horse drawn hay wagon over the Luneberger Heide. “Why are we doing this?,” I peevishly asked over the surprisingly loud clopping noise of the gigantic horse’s hooves. “It’s a special place,” mum replied, “It’s the only place in mainland Europe where they have Scottish heather.” Which was all fine and dandy except no 14 year old finds botany that interesting and it wasn’t the right time of year for the heather to be in bloom, so it just looked like a big, old, dumb field to picky, adolescent, whingey me.

The hardest were the train journeys. I don’t know about you but the rhythmic sway of a train car is an instant ticket to the Land of Nod as far as I’m concerned. I’d just about manage to get out of the station and into the countryside and then, like a light, I was out. Until my mother started poking me with her sharp little finger and hissing, “Wake up! You’re missing it. You’re MISSING EUROPE!” and I’d have to make the effort to open an eye and peer out at the landscape before falling asleep again. And God forbid my head should fall over on her shoulder as I snoozed – out came that sharp pokey finger, right in the ribs as again I was told to wake up or I’d miss Europe. As though it was going somewhere, I thought.

But really, taking a 14 year old anywhere for 6 solid weeks is an act of motherly love and devotion and believe me I was grateful for the experience. We’ve travelled together countless times since then, and truly, until my husband came along, my mother was my first choice companion on any trip. Not only have I come to appreciate her energy, but I’m also smart enough to appreciate her incredible planning capabilities. Not willing to waste time dithering, my mother likes to have a plan for each trip so that she can maximize every moment. Since we share a brain, I can trust that (bird zoos and heather fields aside), my mother has chosen good things for me to see and experience. She’s also an incredible navigator, taking the weight of route planning completely off the driver’s hands, which is nice (and she’s more fun than a GPS system too!). And finally, she travels on her stomach – no, NOT like a snake – and will plan your trip and route around the best eats she’s had on the road, always eager to share the out-of-the-way breakfast place or forgotten diner experience with you.

So, as I said, I do fear for my husband’s feet and nerves. He’s never had the full-on Christel International experience and it might be a little overwhelming. Luckily, my mother adores her son-in-law and is quite intent on making this a good trip for him, so she’ll likely tone it down. Also, as the only fluent German speaker among us (though she does speak in the Berliner slang of 1959, the last time she lived there, which is apparently hilarious to our relatives over there), she’s going to be quite tired herself as the sole translator of the group.

But I still won’t use the term “flake out time” around her, that’s for sure.


Shiny Disco Ball

Had a doctor's appointment the other day. I booked it ages ago and in the mean time found out that my son had his Public Speaking contest thingy at the same time, and when I tried to re-book at the docotors I found out I couldn't get in before my birth control pills ran out, and I think we all know that that is no good for nobody.

So I kept the doctor's appointment and missed the wee boy and he got Superior ( the highest grade?, award?, level?), and the adjudicator said he was perfect. At least I am told that it what was said, as I was at the doctors waiting to have him go splunking through my lady parts.

At the doctor's office I spent several very uncomfortable minutes in the nurses room, while she talked to some co-worker, I don't know exactly what it was about, but it must have had something to do with dealing the patient records and confidentiality, and lets just say that the co-worker did not take the comments of Nurse Marilyn very well. As I say, I don't really know what the issue was but the offended party made this big show of walking around the office to show that there was no place that guaranteed totally privacy so we had to hear the sound flaws of every inch of the office. Then when Marilyn came in to weigh me (could not bear to look ) and do my blood pressure and test my urine ( and to my suprise she did not tell me I had a UTI or bladder infection, making this one of the first urine tests I have passed ever) and stuff, the snitty co-worker woman made this big show of talking to everyone in the office in this exaggerated stage whisper. It was horrible and whoever bitchy co-worker woman was, she was totally out of line.

Then I am off to the exam room where I have to strip down and put on a gown that sadly is missing a couple of the ties. My EKG is fine. This would be the high point of the day. I should have taken a moment to enjoy it. After bringing my weight up on the computer screen we have to do a waist measurement...just in case the first set of numbers aren't horrific enough. (Perhaps I should have had a peek at the scale, judging by the double take the nurse and doctor do at the computer, watching the scale must have been like waiting for the jackpot to tally on a vegas slot machine) To further drive the point home instead of just wrapping the measuring tape around my waist dressmaker style, because I am so HUGE the nurse stretches out the tape and I have to hold one end on my my belly-button and then twirl so the remainder wraps around me, as though the journey around my circumference would have been too exhausting to undertake without extra liquids and a power bar.

I get the once over from the doctor and a stern talking to about my sunburn. He actually asked me if it was on purpose. Yeah. Yesterday was the day I was going to start "cutting" but it was so sunny I decided to make my pain real by scorching myself ( on one side because I had to sit on a chair because the loungers are still in storage) under the sun.

Then I was told I HAVE to lose weight. At LEAST 20 pounds, but the more the better. Its not like it is a big secret I am over weight, but having someone stare you in the face and tell you as a medical fact you are fat was a lot more upsetting than I had bargained for. Oh and my boobs are huge. Big enough that he is willing to sign off on an OHIP paid for breast reduction. We agreed that after the weight loss if the girls are still as big as they are now we will put the wheels in motion for that option.

And then on that happy note I got to assume the oddest position ever for my pap test. Which involved not only a disposable speculum, a generous amount of lubricant and latex gloves that were very officially "snapped" on, but a lighted scope. Had I known I would have worn the diaphragm with the mirror ball attachment.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


1. Is anyone else as stupid as I am at tax time? I made up a spreadsheet of our gross income and expenses (both husband and I are gainfully employed but do freelance writing as well, makes for lots 'o' fun at this time of year) as a way of making life easier for our accountant, and hopefully earning a few brownie points with the guy (we're both scared of him, I don't know why). Anyway, I was looking at the income totals and thinking Sweet Merciful Crap, What Did We Do With All Of That? and got all depressed about how useless we are and how screwed we are as there's no way we'll have enough expenses to offset our freelance income, blah blah blah.

Until the husband reminded me that I was looking at the gross income, not net, and that the government takes a good chunk from us to pay for all sorts of services in this socialized nation of ours.

Am an idiot. But at least not quite as spendthrifty an idiot as I thought a few hours ago.

Update 4/30/09: The government owes me $520. Huzzah!

2. Kate e-mailed the other day that her husband's purchased a camper/trailer type thing. This heralds the dawn of a whole new world of blog posts as my extremely soignee friend (I've never seen her with less than perfect nails, and rarely with a hair out of place) who's often joked that she "may cottage but never camp", takes her husband and brood of 4 kids all under the age of 9 out into the wilds, such as they are here in Southern Ontario. I may submit a grant request to the Canada Council for funding to allow me to film Kate camping.

3. Susan Boyle has a pretty enough voice but not an extraordinary one and I think the "voice of an angel" type comments are going a bit far. Let me put it this way, I don't think she'd survive a university opera program. However, I am happy that something nice is happening to a woman who seems to have had a bit of a dull life and I do hope that she doesn't get taken advantage of or end up living in her vehicle as per some other televised talent show winners have. J. D. Fortune, I'm looking at you.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yes, Virginia, You DO Need A Room Of Your Own

I have a stomach ache from unbridled overeating today after 3 months of careful diet and exercise*, so this is going to be short and bitter, but here goes:

When I was a snotty undergrad, I took a Women In Lit course that mostly left me cold but did introduce me to a long essay by Virginia Woolf called A Room Of One's Own. In brief, Virginia's position was that compared to men, women are behind the 8-ball in terms of great artistic output because they have all the caring, cooking, cleaning, wife-ing and mothering to do first. In order for a woman to be a successful artist, she needs an income and a space of her own in which to work undisturbed.

Girlfriend was right.

My job is an uneven mix of completely fascinating and mind-numbingly dull. Unfortunately, with the economy tanking, the dull part is taking the lead. So every day, while I'm sitting in my cubicle, trying to stay focused on achieving at least some of my goals, part of my brain is skipping through the meadow called "If I Was At Home, What Would I Be Doing Right Now?", merrily picking the flowers called "Printmaking" and "Sewing" and joyously harvesting the fruit of the "Stuff I'd Like To Make And Sell At The One-of-a-Kind-Show" tree. A million projects come to mind, all eminently do-able and potentially so very satisfying.

These thoughts are the bright light that get me through, that help me tick away the moments that make up a dull day (thank you Pink Floyd), and the ambition to get started on one if not all (in my head, I'm a fabulous multi-tasker) lasts through the end of day goodbyes, the walk to the parking lot, the drive home, right up until the moment I turn the key in the door and walk in the house.

And then, poof, it's gone. I get home and our beloved, if slightly insane, dog (border collie mix, hence the neuroses) needs to be walked, like, NOW. Then the cats, who will poop in the dining room if not fed exactly on time, need to be catered to. Then dinner needs to be made, which is a pleasure as cooking is my primary creative outlet these days, but takes some thought as it needs to fit my weight-loss program and be vegetarian-friendly for the husband (pasta, our default dinner for years, is the reason I need to lose that 100 lbs). Then there's some form of housework to do, whether it's laundry or vacuuming (a major undertaking in this house of multiple pets and oriental rugs) or ironing, or it's a night that I need to get to the gym.

So, by the time I can even turn my thoughts back to all that stuff I wanted to do, it's time to go to bed and another day goes by without actually creating or making anything other than our meals. And it's not that I mind any of this stuff, I love our little furry children, I love our little home (even if I am a poor house-keeper) and God knows I love to cook and iron. But it doesn't leave a whole lot of time for creative pursuits.

Of course, Woolf was talking about great artists like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, and I have no need to be a great artist. I just need to do something, make something, create SOMETHING, possiby because it's in my blood (let me introduce you to my mother, the woman who can make ANYTHING), possibly because I need to create something to leave a mark on the world, possibly because I just need something that will exercise my brain and hands in a way that my day-job simply can't.

What I need to do, in the absence of Woolf's suggested private income and space, is get organized and just shut up and do it. But first, let me go empty the dryer.


*I've lost 30 lbs since January 19 and it's been remarkably easy. The next 70 lbs is going to be tough, for a number of reasons, but mainly because the screw-it switch has somehow been flipped in my brain and I've been combatting boredom with food for the last two days. In my defense, I didn't know that the "medium" soup at the Vietnamese place was going to be the size of a washtub, but I really didn't need to follow that up with fistfuls of fruit gummis all afternoon. Sigh.

** Whoa, I'm watching t.v. as I write this and I just saw LL Cool J shill for Old Spice. Oh my. Ladies do NOT love Cool James when he smells like the Captain. Not good.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Don't bad mouth the 'tame!

Today is a school holiday. My two youngest children are sick, so that means my oldest two are housebound until my husband comes home and takes over the babysitting duties. My daughter had 3 hours of dance this morning and son did an excellent job of entertaining himself at home. To make up for the lack of exciting field trip I decided to treat them to Happy Meals from McDonalds.

High fives all round. I am the greatest mom ever. Everyone loves me.

Hit the drive thru and place the order, 3 hamburger happy meals, 1 sprite, 1 diet coke 1 apple juice. And one # 6 .(Otherwise known as a McChicken Meal, sandwich ordered plain ( no lettuce or mayo)) also with a diet coke.

(The diet starts tomorrow, partly because I am frightened by my girth these days, partly because I just realized that I know the McChicken combo is the #6, which, I suppose brings us back to my frightening girth)

Pull through to window one to pay, no problems there. Pull up to window two to pick up my food. Little did I know when I decided to get the kids Happy Meals for lunch, that along with our Monsters vs. Aliens toys and treats of the week I was also going to get a little parenting advice from the sage and worldly 16 year old working the drive thru window.

God only knows what kind of ruin lay ahead for my children had Justin not been there to question my order of a child size diet coke. According to Justin I need to be careful with the diet coke as it "has aspartame and that's not good for the brain."

Really Justin. Thanks so much for that. Now, I know your busy Justin, but could you just take a look around and remind yourself who you work for. Granted, diet coke is not the healthiest thing I could be feeding my 7 year old, but considering that he will be using it to help wash down the all-fat-and-sodium-combo that we blindly refer to as a Happy Meal I think we can overlook my nutritional indiscretion here.

On top of that when I got home, instead of the plain McChicken I ordered I have a DOUBLE quarter pounder with cheese. I'm not good with math, but according to my calculations what I have here is one half pound of beef spackled together with 2 slices of process cheese.

Again, Justin, I don't like to beleaguer a point, but I firmly believe in life one has to pick their battles. I'm wondering if, given your current employment situation is the Aspartame battle is really your best choice. I am thinking the hole the aspartame is eating in my brain, is going to be greatly outpaced by the artery clogging effects of the half pound of fried beef and process cheese that has now become my lunch. Can you imagine what would have happened had I said " My God Justin, you're right! What am I doing feeding this to my children! Cancel my order! Get me a refund! We are off to the farmers marked for some organic fruits & veggies and a kefir chaser!"

Get a mental picture of Justin being toted off to the to basement for some Clockwork Orange style re-education. The lone 60 watt bulb, hanging bare from the ceiling. The one folding chair, the dank, the dark suited, fedora wearing man who represents the interests of the World Aspartame Consortium.

Aspartame Guy: "Now Justin. It is Justin isn't it? Yes, Justin, I hear you have been saying disparaging things about our product".

Justin: "Sir, I just.." (SLAP!) some whimpering in the shifting darkness as the lone bulb swings to a fro over head.

AG: "I have some friends who asked me to send you a message about how important it is for you to realize the benefit of our product. Do you understand Justin"

Justin: quiet sobs from the darkness, then " Y-hes S-sir"

AG: "Good Justin, I'm glad we have reached an understanding. I trust there will be no more of this crazy talk at the drive thru window."

Justin: "N-no S-sir"

AG: You are a quick learner Justin, we like that. But perhaps, just to make sure you remember this lesson I will give you a little preview of what our next discussion would be, should we have to meet under these circumstances again"

A roll of duct tape, several meters of medical tubing, and half a dozen containers of diet coke syrup are being wheeled into the room. The screams will stop shortly, but the silence is truly more frightening.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sing a song of pizza

“Now, tell me one of your recipes.”

“Right, this is a good one…Pick up the phone, dial a number, ask for a 12 inch,thin crust marinara with extra tomatoes, then – this is the vital bit – tellthem your address. And there you have it, a delicious meal served in underhalf an hour!”

Marian Keyes, Last Chance Saloon

Sadly, this kind of exchange is common where pizza is concerned. It’s all too easy to arrive home on a Friday night, take one despairing I-don’t-want-to-cook look at the kitchen and begin searching for the latest franchise pizza coupon. Which is not to say that a slab of commercial pizza can’t be good, but there is great, great pleasure to be had in making your own pizza to suit your own tastes.

Pizza from scratch is incredibly satisfying. For one thing, you can make it exactly to your own specifications. Unusual ingredients can be experimented with (the average pizza place doesn’t have thinly shaved fennel on their ingredient list and, trust me, it’s a wicked addition to any pie) and you can work to find the precise ratio of crust to sauce to cheese that elevates pizza from snack to perfection.

Secondly, there’s nothing quite like kneading dough to work out stress and tension. Had a bad day at the office? Punch some pizza dough. Its supple,satiny texture is really satisfying to the touch and it may, if you hit an airbubble, give you a resigned little squeak. Perfect.

Finally, pizza is cheaper to make than to buy. If you have flour, yeast, oliveoil, water, tomato sauce and some decent cheese, you’ve got a great familydinner for far less than the cost of ordering in. Add a bottle of red from your cellar, something velvety and zinful perhaps, and your family dinner becomes something sublime.

So the next time you’re tempted to call an order in to the local pizza & wingsplace, try making your own and use the money you saved to buy a better bottleof wine.

Pizza Dough for two 10-inch thin crust round pizzas

(I make this dough using a stand mixer and dough hook, but it can easily by made by hand)

One Tablespoon active dry yeast

One Teaspoon honey

One Tablespoon salt (some people say this is too much salt for the crust, so you might try just a teaspoon of salt the first time you make it and go from there. Me? I likes a salty crust to offset the creamy blandness of buffalo mozzarella)

Two tablespoons olive oil

Two cups all-purpose flour

Half a cup of white wine

Half a cup of warm water

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix yeast, honey, wine and water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for five minutes.

When you return to the bowl and remove the plastic wrap, the mixture will be a beige, slightly bubbly goop with a delicious yeasty smell. Add salt, olive oil and flour and begin mixing using the dough hook attachment. The flour should incorporate with the wet ingredients to form a dough that will wind its way around the hook, clearing the sides of the bowl. If the dough’s too wet, add a bit of flour, if it’s too dry, add a bit of warm water. Once it’s clearing the sides of the bowl, knead the dough on medium speed for about10 minutes.

Once the dough’s been thoroughly kneaded, it will have a springy, stretchy, satiny texture. Remove the bowl from your stand mixer, recover with the plastic wrap and place the bowl in a warm place to rise for about 50 minutes. The top of the clothes dryer’s a good spot, but more often I place the bowl in the sink and fill the sink half way with hot water, then cover the whole thing with a hand towel or two.

After 50 minutes the dough will have increased its volumeby at least half. At this point you’re ready to begin preparing your pizzas.

Pre-heat your oven to 475 degrees, ideally placing a pizza stone on the middle rack to heat up. If you don’t have a stone at this point, no worries, a heavy duty cookie sheet will do, but consider purchasing a stone if you think pizza making will become a regular menu item in the home kitchen.

If you are using a stone, let it get nice and hot. Sprinkle your kitchen counter with flour and turn the dough out of its bowl onto the counter. Knead it a bit with your hands by rolling the dough into a ball and pushing the heel of your palm across/through the ball. Then re-roll the ball and push again. Divide the dough into two balls, leaving one to rest.

Take one dough ball and place it in the middle of your floured counter. Punch it, right in the middle, with your fist. It should flatten in the middle and puff up around your knuckles. Punch the edges, going around until you create a disc of dough. Gently pick up the dough and stretch it over the backs of your fists, rotating the disc so that the dough gets uniformly thinner. If holes begin to appear, return the dough to your work surface, pinch the holes closed and use a rolling pin to further flatten out your pizza base until it’s approximately 10 inches across. If using a pizza stone, grab your mitts and remove the stove from the oven and place it on your stove top. Gently transfer your pizza base to the stone. Dress the pizza with your favorite combination of sauce, cheese and other ingredients and then return stone to the oven.

While you’re baking the first pizza (for 7 to 10 minutes – keep an eye on your pie), resume punching/kneading/stretching the second dough ball and repeat the entire process.

Kara (originally published in Vines Magazine, 2009)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Yesterday Oprah did a show about Motherhood, specifically how HARD it is to be a mother. So all these Oprah viewers Skype-d in with their confessions about letting babies cry it out and not interfering when teasing was going on in the hopes of the teasee getting toughened up and blah blah blah.

She had my attention when she opened the show with "Motherhood is the hardest job in the world if you are doing it right."

I hear ya sister.

Then she had this woman on who said that one day she was driving around doing errands with BOTH her kids in the car and they fell asleep, and she just could not stand the thought of waking them and she had to pee. So she pulled into a parking lot, got a diaper out of the diaper bag and peed into the diaper.

Liar. No she didn't.

I have never tried this. But think about the last time you had to pee. I mean really had to pee. Like holding it was no longer an option. I will guarantee you that when you peed you peed like a racehorse, and I will also guarantee you that if you were sitting on an infant diaper the speed of the flow of urine would greatly outpace the absorption capacity of the diaper and you would be sitting in a very warm pool of your own pee.

But the best part was, the panel of expert haggard moms was lead by Cheryl Hines of Curb Your Enthusiasm. She went on about all the hardships of motherhood, from her luxury home, introduced her live in Nanny to the audience and talked about how hard it was to throw a party for a 5 year old.

And then Oprah started in about how when you become a mother you need to grieve the loss of your old self.

Shut up. Shut up right now before my head explodes.

Ever think that maybe we are over thinking motherhood?

I mean really people? Grieving? Can we just take a minute to get over ourselves.

And all these mothers droned on about how most days you just keep it together for those 10 minutes in the school parking lot and then cry all the way home, and how there are all these expectations and (this was kind of my favorite) NOBODY tells you about how motherhood REALLY is.

First of all, if you have school age children and you are still spending most of your days crying then you have some kind of mental illness, depression or something. Get to a doctor and get it treated. Secondly, who, WHO has the expectations. Women have joked about June Cleaver and her pearls and pumps attire for housework for as long as I can remember. If you are driving yourself to misery because you want to leave hospital in size 2 jeans, and expect a spotless home every second of the day, you are watching to much Desperate Housewives.

But Finally, every mother on the planet will tell you about how great it is to be a mother and how hard it is and the challenges and what you give up and what you gain. The problem is when a person does not have children, and children are just an idea, the listener becomes like a kid wanting a puppy, You can tell them about standing out in the rain waiting for the dog to poop, and the stains on the rug and the chewed up belongings, but in their head they know their dog will be just like Lassie. The childless person listens to you talk about night time feedings and colic and mixed up days and nights and in their head they are nodding at you with a condescending look and thinking, "But my child will be on a schedule, I've read all the books. My baby will wear cloth diapers and I will make all my own baby food, and we will banish TV, and only listen to classical music."

You call me sister the day you give your 15 month old a happy meal and let them watch Yo Gabba Gabba by the hour just cause it makes life a little easier. I won't tell you I told you so. I'll tell you that's just fine.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Shut Up & Sit Down

On Friday, we went to see Andrew Bird perform at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on the CNE grounds. Now, I loves me some Andrew Bird, I think the man's a musical genius, and I was lucky to discover him quite by accident a few years ago when he opened for the (dreaded) Magnetic Fields at Trinity St. Paul's. At that time he was a solo performer, just him and his violin, his guitar, his amazing whistling ability and a selection of recording devices that he used to create these amazing layered songs. It was, frankly, love at first sight (in the musical sense, I'm happily married after all) and I've been kicking myself ever since that I didn't talk to him in the lobby while the (dreaded) Magnetic Fields were playing.

(Seriously, the Magnetic Fields make me apoplectic with rage. I just can't STAND them and my musically-cooler-than-me husband and sister-in-law like them so much, I just know I'm missing something. But try as I might, it's music to hang yourself by in my books. Coincidentally, this is what I once said, unknowingly, about Joy Division. Awkward.)

You can imagine my excitement when I saw that he was touring his new album this spring, and the sense of anticipation I had prior to the concert on Friday. I am delighted to report that Andrew Bird did not disappoint, it was a great show -- intricate, quirky, thoughtful, melodic, layered, lovely. I was enraptured by what was happening on stage.

I was not, however, enraptured by what was happening in the audience. I should note that I spent a number of years working for an opera company and then a couple of years working for a new music organization, so my expectations of audience behaviour are probably way off the mark. But still, when did people get so rude?

  1. The ticket clearly states that the concert begins at 7:30. I could understand a few stragglers, but the fact is that most people weren't getting into their seats until well after the show started. Which is just rude, not only to the artist, but also to all the people who got there on time and now have to stand up or get out of their seats so that latecomers can get to theirs. In the dark. Much mashing of feet, as you can imagine.

  2. Why would you pay $25 plus handling fees to go to a concert and talk amongst yourselves in hissing whispers of increasing volume? The four young women behind us could have discussed their employment problems at any number of other venues but choose instead to hiss at each other about overtime for the entire 90 minute show.

  3. On the subject of talking, unless the performer is actually asking you a question, kindly shut the hell up and keep your comments to yourself. Especially when the artist is introducing his next song which was inspired by "that guy you all know who sits at the end of the bar and makes everyone uncomfortable by inserting himself into your conversations", because you, Mr. Banter-From-The-Audience, are exactly "that guy".

I was gratified to hear from a 20something friend that my low-level outrage at the audience wasn't a sign I was getting old as she nearly punched a woman at an Iron & Wine show last year for what she called "Poor Show Conduct". About a decade younger than me, Sacha thinks there ought to be rules regarding audience behaviour, so at least I know I'm not becoming a raging fuddy duddy at 38. I just think that if you're going to a concert, you need to show some respect to the artist and be considerate of your fellow audience members.

Which is good advice for every other aspect of our lives, too.


Just so you all know, my very first blog post was posted without being proof-read, because my 17 month old decided to grab the mouse and click!

So bye for now, and I'll be back to finish my list of unfinished thoughts when the wee one is sleeping!



And Another Thing...

Alright, so it's not that I haven't wanted to post something, it's just that as Kara mentioned sometimes time is a little hard to come by around here.

What usually happens is I get some fabulous ( I think) blog idea and I run to the computer to jot it down, and some small person is esconced at the 'puter playing Dora and if I force them off, they stand behind me and talk to me, which is no so good for the concentration. I figure I will just get to it later. Unfortunately, by the time "later" comes around I remember the gist of the blog, but have no idea what the point of it was. I end up abandonning the idea and hope for something to strike me the next day, hopefully when all small bodies are either at school or napping. Thus far no such luck.

Today, I give a brief summary of all some of the things I planned to blog about but..well you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men...or bloggers and moms as the case may be.

  • Judy Blume - How I love the Judy. You could probably say this was my first introduction to chick lit. I was 11 years old, but this broad got me. She knew the deal. She gave me Margaret Simon, and Sheila Tubman, and Iggy. Even when the thought of first periods and first bras and first kisses were enough to drive to distraction, she thoughtfully game me Tony Miglione, with his raincoat and his school books held just so in front of him. Bring on the maxi pads with the little pink belts, at least I didn't have spontaneous erections to deal with. I credit Miss Piskur ( grade 1 teacher) Mrs. Mazzie ( grade 2 & 3 teacher) and Judy Blume with turning me into the book worm I am today.
  • Families - You know what, everybody has a wierd family. So get over it. You can't hide them, you can't make them go away. Learn to love them. Unsless of course your particular family is the Mansons, or your dad was the first to encourage people to "drink the Kool-Aid" they are probably no more or less wierd than onyone elses. Drop the self created drama, forget the revisionist history and make peace. You may need a kidney from these people one day.
  • Men with Pony-Tails - If you must, sport what Kara likes to call a "ponis" could you please secure your locks with a plain black Goody brand ponytail holder and for godssakes return the scrucnhie to your wife, girlfriend or daughter so that she can distroy it immediately or drop it in the nearest vortex to be shuttled back through the time-space contunuum to 1982.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

I (don't) love the 80s

But I do love the 50s.

Shopping last night with Kate (seriously, she does exist and will be posting here, it's just she has 4 kids and a hell of a lot less time than I do) in Old Navy and I'm rifling through the sale racks at the back of the store. I've got my hands on an acid yellow scoop neck t-shirt, a hot pink cotton cardigan, and a crisp little white cotton blazer on the sale rack. I'm holding up the blazer, appraising its possible usefulness in my summer wardrobe and suddenly have this flashback to my unhappy adolescence, because, you see, I've worn it all before.

Which is to say that in the world of clothing trends and styles, everything old is new again.

If that's the case, then why, oh why, can't we return to the silhouettes and styles of the 50s. Being a curvy girl (well, to be honest, let's call me Rubenesque) with an hourglass figure and terrible legs, I can't remember the last time that current trends actually suited me. Actually, I don't think they ever did. When mini-skirts came back in the 80s (with or without leggings), I was pooched because I've got terrible, tree-stump legs and a round-apple butt. When black tights, Doc Martens, and cut off jean shorts were de rigeur on university campuses in the 90s, I was also screwed, although I could (and did) rock the palazzo pant/scoop neck T look of the same era. And even if I wasn't too fat and old for low-rise jeans when they hit the stores at the turn of the century, there's no way I could have pulled them off with all the junk in my trunk.

As a result, I've been in fashion limbo for years. By necessity, I'm a big fan of dressing to suit your figure and not just what's in the stores, but there are times when it would be nice to run with the herd and just look, well, current.

And this is why I'd really like it if what was current was perhaps a bit more elegant and forgiving for those of us with hips and butts and boobs. Something a little more reminiscent of the 50s, perhaps, than the 80s.

Every time someone like John Galliano revisits Dior's New Look (technically from the late 40s but the silhouette lasted for years), I practically roll around on the pages of Vogue, trying to soak up some of that delicious glamour for myself. What I would do for full skirts that fall below the knee (my cankles would still be visible, but you can't have everything), fitted jackets and blouses that make your waist appear tiny, portrait necklines to show off your decollete. My God, the return of the waist would be revolutionary after nearly a decade of ever-lowering-rise jeans!

Of course, a true return to structured fashion won't ever happen because it just doesn't suit our fast-paced lifestyle anymore. For one thing, it requires proper foundation garments and snapping on a waspy before putting on your fitted suit for the morning school run just isn't going to happen.

(Although, in defense of waspys and other forms of corsetry, if you've ever worn one, perhaps for your wedding, you will know what heaven they are. You can relax against them and stand up straight all at the same time.)

But maybe, with the advent of things like Dove's Real Beauty campaign, whoever designs mass-market clothing will realize that skinny jeans and leggings aren't user-friendly to most women. That we are not all shaped like tubular columns, that round butts and big boobs should be flattered, not flattened.
I think I'll just have to continue bucking the trend and accept, finally, at age 38 that I will just never fit in. What I need to do is have some 50s inspired clothing made for me and I'll look so fabulous that it will inspire others to follow suit. Keep that in mind if you ever see a buxom blonde swinging down the street in a full skirt and fitted shirt, because it just might just be me.