Thursday, October 29, 2009

This title is actually for a different entry.

I had to become a professional costumer. It wasn't my first career choice, but I failed the height requirement to become Cher.

Just pausing for a moment to consider how many people have decided that I'm a drag queen after reading that opening paragraph.

I am neither of these people.

The majority of my professional career has been an ongoing attempt to compensate for the greatest disappointment of my life. It occurred when I was four. That's your first clue that I am not writing from a rational place.

It was my first Halloween. That's your second clue.

I don't know how my parents described the thing, but evidently my imagination took a lot of liberties when filling in a lot of gaps. I was going to get into a costume, and I was going to go outside, and everyone in the whole neighbourhood would be outside, and they'd all be wearing costumes too, and we'd all have a party. There'd be dancing and games and decorations and I couldn't wait to find out what else.

You're already getting a good idea of how terribly ill fated this was from it's inception. But wait! It gets worse! I hadn't even seen my costume yet.

I knew what costumes were. I loved costumes. They wore costumes in the Wizard of Oz. Glenda the Good Witch, now that broad had a costume! I was a reasonable, rational child, mind you. I didn't get my hopes up that high. I knew four year olds were supporting cast, not feature players. I would be satisfied with pretty much anything the chorus girls wore in any of the musicals my mother used to watch on Sunday afternoons. That's along the lines of what I figured a novice Halloweener would be outfitted in. Surely you didn't get feature dancer quality costumes until you were at least five. Fine with me. Anything would be an improvement on the big, brown, uncomfortable snow suit I usually had to wear when we went out.

The situation started to deteriorate as soon as my mother packed me into my big, brown, uncomfortable snowsuit. Not good - the primary caregiver was malfunctioning. Snow suit on Halloween? What would be next? Garbage for Christmas? Scrambled egg hunts for Easter? Cake for Thanksgiving? Well yeah I could live with that, but no! No snowsuits on Halloween!

"No, your costume goes on over your snow suit. It's cold outside."

Well dammit but, well, okay. After all, Glenda could have been wearing snowpants under her grand confectionary couture. Hell, she could have had a beach umbrella and two small men playing checkers under there. Yeah. I could pull off a snow suit as long as the costume was big enough.

Hee hee - Munchkins tickle!

My mother produced a small felt cape. And nothing else.

"What's that?"

"That's your little red riding hood!"

"What's my costume?"

"Little Red Riding Hood!"

"What am I dressed as?"

"You're Little Red Riding Hood."

"I'm wearing a little red riding hood."

"Yes, that's your costume.

"So that makes me a little red riding hood?"

"Little Red Riding Hood is your costume."

"Because I'm wearing a little red riding hood?"


This went on for some time, with my mother never figuring out that I had no idea Little Red Riding Hood was the name of a person, or that my four year old brain was not well enough developed to make that conceptual leap on it's own. Nobody I had never met had been named after an item of clothing. I thought I had just become the first. Why my mother had decided to name me after a small hood I had no idea, but what really puzzled me was how she conceptualized that small chunk of fabric as my entire costume. Clearly it would have been more appropriate to call me Big Brown Snow Suit. It really didn't matter, though. The costume sucked either way.

Never mind. At least I still had the party.

I was so prepared to be dazzled I didn't even pause at the giant bowl of candy by the door. I'd deal with that later. Opening that front door was more exciting than Christmas! Well, until it opened, obviously.

There were no decorations, no music, and nobody was dancing. There was just a strange teenage girl I'd never met before. She took me by the hand and she took me away from my mother.

Painfully shy children hate it when you do that.

She took me away from my mother and took me to a strange house. She made me ring the bell. She made me talk to people. Then the really bad thing happened. She made me accept food from them.

Another fun thing about me. As a child, I would only eat food from my own house. I'd been offered all sorts of candies and other delicious food at other people's houses on occasions when my family was visiting, and I always very politely refused with "No thank you, we have that at home." My parents had done a very good job of teaching me manners. They had also, unfortunately, done a very good job of teaching me that some adults like to feed children poison. Of course I actually did think we had every kind of food ever invented at home - both of my parents grew up in the depression, it's really quite likely we did - but I wasn't being entirely truthful with my hosts. The real reason I wouldn't eat their food was because the thought of eating their food repulsed me.

Child poisoning bastards.

Fun and games were clearly not on the agenda at all. My friends were all out, but unlike every other day in our incredibly safe neighbourhood they weren't running around and playing with each other. Every single one of them was with an adult and being led around by the hand. The possibility for fun didn't even exist - we were under more intense supervision than we'd ever been in our young lives. None of the adults (who I bitterly noted weren't even dressed up at all) were even taking us over to each other to say hi - just keeping to themselves and marching dutifully from door to door to make their children ask for food.

So that was Halloween. Getting stuffed into an ugly, uncomfortable snow suit, dragged around by a stranger, forced to talk to grown ups, not being allowed to play with your friends, and having to haul around a bag of poison all night. I was a bitter, bitter four year old. I just wanted it all to be over so I could get home to my mommy and eat the candy we had sitting by the door.

I really thought my mother was kidding when she told me she'd given all our candy away to other people's children. I really did.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bet you weren't expecting this title!

I used to live and work halfway up a mountain in Jasper National Park. It could be a hell of a thing getting groceries seeing as how I didn't drive or even own a bike.

The path to town,
and the reason I still double knot my shoes.

Photo Credit: not me

You know what? Why don't I just come clean right now. That last point about my not owning a bike was completely irrelevant. I need five cups of coffee just to pump a bicycle up a small hill. An adrenaline shot straight to the heart couldn't get me up a mountain on one of those infernal contraptions. Like I've always said, put me on a hiking trail and I'm as nimble as a cat. Put me on a bike and I'm as nimble as a cat.

A cat trying to ride a bicycle.

No, a bicycle wouldn't have helped me. Thankfully I did not live alone up on that mountain. During peak season there were twelve women living in the dormitory rooms above the Maligne Canyon Tea House.

Two. Yes, I understand. Anytime anybody hears about any quantity of women living together the first question is always "how many bathrooms were there"?

Yes, only two. Yes, I understand. It's commonly assumed that the correct ratio to prevent violence in any rooming situation is 3.5 bathrooms for every 2 women. In this instance that ratio was completely irrelevant anyway. The two we had really only added up to 0.5 in functional terms, and they only rate that high because both toilets flushed. How they managed to flush when the only supply of liquid coming through any of the pipes was a thin, brown, sulfuric trickle of mostly grit I have no idea, but they performed heroically indeed. What was in that grit I don't know. I'm sure a mineral analysis would answer the mystery of why everyone had copper tinted hair and black jewelry, though.

So the other good thing about having transportation equipped women around was that the closest supply of fresh water was also at the bottom of the mountain, at Lake Annette. There we found a pumping station where we filled gallon jugs for cooking and tooth brushing and a large, insanely cold body of water where we'd try and swim ourselves clean. What it lacked in convenience it did at least make up for in scenic properties. That lake was so beautiful I even named my cat after it.

Have you ever seen anyone use a flimsier excuse to post a picture of their cat?

The point I'm making is that for a shop in a heavily trafficked park, that place was pretty far away from civilization. As the season wore down and the traffic eased up there would be lulls where you and your dwindling population of co-workers could feel like the last people on earth.

No cars in the parking lot.

No hikers on the trail.

Just you and the mountain sheep.

Nope. The sheep left.

Just you and the trees.

Ksh. Clank.


Some tour guide found your shop at some point and decided they liked it. Now all of a sudden you can't move for visitors. They're all talking at once and they're all talking to you and they're all talking together because they've all been on an epic journey so long they're starting to read each other's minds. They're all happy to see you because their guide told them it's a great place to be. You're happy to see them because gosh, they all seem so happy and so friendly and you were just starting to think that maybe your little mountain had fallen off the edge of the world and you just hadn't noticed yet. Everything changed in an instant and everything's alive and it's breathtaking and fun and you hardly know what's going on but what the hell, you just go with it.

That kind of happened here on this blog yesterday.

I've only been back into blogging for two weeks now, and I've been thrilled and have savoured the joy of meeting every single reader who has done me the honor of following this thing. Then yesterday I sit down to a banquet of beautiful people here presented by the delectible Braja, and my head is still spinning from the new names and faces and all the wonderful new blogs to read. There are still a few I haven't sampled yet - mmmm dessert - but I'm delighted to meet each and every one of you. This is a great chance to say the same to everyone else that I've been lucky to cross cyber paths with over the past two weeks, too - very much including the friends from my old journal who left a trail of bread crumbs to find me again.

Okay, this is getting mushy. I better shut up before I post another picture of my cat.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wait - you mean everyone can see this title?

Stop licking your monitor.

Suddenly we all want cake. Or better yet cupcakes. No. You know what? Screw it. Just fill a pail with frosting and pass the spoon.

We're done pandering to adulthood. That means we're done pretending to like grown up food. Fusion cuisine makes us feel clever at parties, but it doesn't make us feel loved. Nobody's parents ever served lamb curry fajitas with Yorkshire pudding smothered in sweet and sour sauce at Sunday dinner. Fusion cuisine, like every other food trend to come along, romanced us, pantsed us, and left us fundamentally unsatisfied. There's no emotional connection there and we're sick of feeling clever anyway. Clever people have stress and responsibilities and stuff. That's icky. The planet's terminally ill, the economy's manic depressive, we're scared to death and we want our mommies. Barring that we'll settle for the crap mommy used to shove in our cry holes to shut us up when we got whiney.

So why cake? Why of all the childhood gastronomical favourites have we glommed on to this particular one? Why not pizza or hot dogs or white glue?

Simple. Cake has no calories.

Cake is special occasion food. We grew up eating it as little kids at birthday parties. Who counted calories at birthday parties? Nobody. Back then our only food related stress was having to elbow our best friend in the ribs to get the last slice with a flower.

Then we got older. Cakes were for kids. We were cool and ordered pizza at our parties, and oh my god I can't believe he finally looked at me and I had grease all over my chin and a slice of pepperoni stuck to my cheek and it doesn't matter anyway because it was my third slice and now I'll never get into my jeans again and I'm just going to spend the night of the prom at home writing song lyrics all over my wall in eyeliner anyway.

Then we grew up. Suddenly we were allowed in nice restaurants and invited to catered parties. Suddenly we were faced with critical decisions such as which would be the greater faux pas - turning our nose up at a rare, expensive delicacy or making a fool out of ourselves by chowing down on a table decoration in front of our boss's family?

Ice cream? Don't even get me started on ice cream. Remember what you were eating when you wrote those song lyrics all over your bedroom wall in eyeliner?

We like cake because cake doesn't have baggage.

Cake has sprinkles.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This Title is in Accordance With CRTC Canadian Content Regulations

As every Canadian knows, if you smell burning toast you need to remove all sharp objects from your pockets immediately. Try it sometime. Next time you're out in a tourist destination somewhere, burn some toast. See the people taking off their glasses, loosening their collars and lying down? Those are the Canadians. They are doing this because they are convinced that they are about to have a seizure.

This information was imparted to us by means of a 60 second epic historical reenactment, shown at regular intervals on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation channel for... oh time in the conventional sense has no meaning to Canadians. Let's just go with many moons. Anyway, the purpose of the production was to remind us Canadians what a proud, medical history we have of poking people in the brain to make them smell burning toast. There was also some bit about some surgeon guy who did something with seizure disorders, but mostly it was about poking brains to make people smell toast.

No, not that kind of brain poking.

Every Canadian secretly wants to try it, you know. Next time you're talking to a Canadian and thinking how polite they are, remember that - they're fantasizing about poking you in the brain.

So my point, anyway, is that I've been smelling burnt cotton candy all day, and I'm determined to find the Canadian bastard responsible for it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Remember the first time you read this title?

Roughly speaking, my childhood is as long ago now as the Second World War had been when I was a child. That means that the Second World War is roughly as long ago now as the First World War had been when I was a kid.

That means that the First World War is practically as long ago to children now as the Civil War had been to me when I was a child.

The kicker? It all just keeps getting further away.

Once you go that far back before your birth things start to take on an almost mythological quality. You have no living link to that time. To me, the people who fought in the Civil War are just as lost to history as people who fought in the Crusades.

The people who fought in the First World War, however, are still very real to me. Even though they are all just as dead and buried. I was born to older parents who were themselves born to older parents. People in my family on both sides seem to carry some kind of mutant giant tortoise gene. We take a long time to die.

I knew lots of people who were alive during the First World War when I was a kid. My grandfather was one of those dumb young kids who, filled with the patriotic flush of suicidal courage, lied about their age to enlist. His thumb rests in peace somewhere in Somme.

He was picking shrapnel out of the stump until the day he died. It was an elegant digital ballet when he hand rolled his cigarettes.

I'm sure he knew people who were alive during the Civil War. That era was as real and personal to him as he was to me.

Hm. Yeah. Hm? Sorry? Was I supposed to have a point?


Old people are pretty cool, and it would appear as though I'm definitely going to become one someday - whether I feel qualified to be one or not.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Express what this title means using only your face.

Workshopping new actors tonight. And me without any heroin. I'm just going to have to mainline caffeine until the whole world melds into one big streaky blur of movement and scream through the thing at 100mph.

Well okay, but it is fun. The first bit, anyway, when everyone arrives all eager and nervous and trying to impress you, and you get to just relax and enjoy the parade of characters.

Three hours later when you just want to confirm their contact information and go home and they won't stop auditioning for you and you're too tired to find a polite way to say no for the love of all that is holy I do not want to see your impression of Jim from Taxi the Ace Ventura ape shittery already got you close enough to being taken out of consideration already that it wears a bit thin.

It's times like that I reach for my mantra:

At least I don't work in the mall anymore
At least I don't work in the mall anymore
At least I don't work in the mall anymore

(and all respect to the good women and men still out there on those recycled air blown front lines).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guess what I was wearing when I wrote this title?

I recently met a woman who, like myself, works out of her home. She told me that she gets up at the same time every morning, goes through her normal morning routine, and gets dressed and ready for work just like she would if she worked in a public office.

I told her "Yeah, I don't do that."

I admire the ethic. It's an attractive ethic. Exactly the kind of ethic you can stand back, have a nice long look at, and say "Yep, damn fine ethic, that" about.

There's no way in hell I can emulate that ethic. I'm the girl who decided that a large enough sweater could turn a pair of flannel pajamas into a three piece ensemble back when I worked the sales floor of a furniture store. The likelihood of my wearing pants before noon any day that I don't have to leave the house is right up there with, well, probably the likelihood of my getting hired to sell furniture again any time soon.

So any time you're in the Edmonton area and have a pressing need for a magician or some other kind of live entertainment give me a call. You won't be talking to just another suit in a headset. In fact I'll let you picture me wearing anything you want.

My flannel's getting humid just thinking about it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ten reasons it took over a year to write this title.

Ten things I've been too damn busy doing to write in my blog for the past year:
  1. Wondering what the hell I should write about in my blog.
  2. Not writing in my blog.
  3. Forgetting that I even had a blog.
  4. Eating cookie dough.
  5. Giving up eating cookie dough cold turkey.
  6. Eating potato chips.
  7. Drinking Pepto Bismol
  8. Feeling guilty about not writing in my blog.
  9. Resolving to write in my blog.
  10. Still not writing in my blog.
Little wonder the days just flew by!

No really, though. I think I should start writing in my blog again.

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Alberta, Canada
Quality blog entertainments delivered in a convenient, electronic format, and widely read by the sexiest, most intelligent, and wittiest people on the internet - all of whom practice exemplary personal hygiene.