Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Growing Up Bi

Growing up I always knew I was different from other kids.  I spent years hiding who I really was and just tried to blend in.  Maybe no one would notice.  And for the most part, no one did.  I was in my twenties when  I couldn't conceal who I was anymore.  Nor did I want to.  I wanted to live my life out loud, just like everyone else.  But, there was a problem.  I was a quiet, understated Canadian girl living in a vociferous, excessive American world.  It's only now in my late forties that I can say that I'm proud to be bi-national.  (And maybe Justin Trudeau has something to do with that.)

It was the mid-sixties when my parents moved across the border from Canada to the U.S. on the outskirts of the bi-national city of Niagara Falls (both Canada and the States have cities named Niagara Falls) with four kids in tow.  It was in New York state that my youngest brother and I were born and registered as Canadians born abroad.   My shy, understated parents learned quickly not to draw attention to themselves.  They stopped saying "eh", pronouncing schedule as "shed-u-le" and referring to the letter Z as "zed".  I imagine part of the reason was to prevent our new American neighbors from taking advantage of my nice, defenseless Canadian parents by asking them for favors.  They had six kids, it's not like they had nothing to do.  But, obviously they found time to do things.  Which I prefer not to think about.  Did I mention I was raised Catholic? 

Though they tried to blend in with the crowd when we were out in public, things were very different at home.  My dad listened to the Canadian news on the radio.  All day.  Every day.  I was raised on Pierre Trudeau and the comedy sketch radio show Royal Canadian Air Farce.  (My dad was in the Royal Canadian Air Force when he married my mom.)  We crossed over the border into Canada frequently to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  (You didn't even need a passport to travel from one country to the other back then.)  Canadian Thanksgiving was the best because we'd go to my dad's parents house for a Thanksgiving lunch and my mom's parents house for a Thanksgiving dinner.   Then when American Thanksgiving came around the next month, we'd host a feast at our house.  And this is back  when I could three Thanksgiving dinners with three slices of pie loaded with whipped cream at each one of them without any guilt or gaining an ounce.  Those were the days!

But, there was a dark side.  My mom could never help me memorize the capitals of states because even as an adult, even after she'd lived in the states for decades and had become a citizen, she didn't know them herself.  She was always ashamed of that.  But, she wasn't ashamed of lying when we crossed the border into Canada.  She'd give us a debriefing before we approached Customs.  "When they ask what we have to declare, we don't mention the gifts for grandma's birthday.  We say NOTHING!"  I felt guilty for years.  But, not as guilty as when I crossed the border when I was in college when the drinking age was 21 in America and only 19 in Canada.  Not only that, the drinks were cheaper because they were in Canadian dollars.  And if a nice Canadian guy bought you a drink then it was totally free.      

When I was leaving home at 18 to take my first international trip alone to Holland, my dad (being protective of his youngest daughter) told me to tell anyone who asked my nationality that I was Canadian.  Which of course is a half-truth.  (He did not however, warn me not to fall for an American guy while I was traveling there.)  When I was 30 my dad finally trusted me enough to give me my official Canadian Born Abroad card that he'd held onto since I was born.  With the words..."you might need this some day".  And I laughed.  But, now in 2017, it's not funny anymore.  And today, I have that card in a very safe, but very accessible place.  Just in case I need it one day.  

Though my dad has lived here over 50 years, he's still very much Canadian.  He still over pronounces words like sorry giving it the long o that it's spelled with.  While I've been Americanized to pronounce words with an o as a short a.  Because it's the lazy American way I'm accustomed to hearing it pronounced.  Even with our differences, he's instilled in me some basic Canadian values.  First and foremost:  Don't be an asshole!  Being nice matters!  Sure, it might not make you successful, but it makes you substantive.  And that's actually more important.  

My mom passed away almost twenty years ago now and she's buried in Canada in the town her and my dad grew up in.  And when my dad's time comes (which is hopefully a long time from now), he has a plot next to her.  It was a choice that befits my parents.  When her funeral procession drove over the border into Canada, the traffic stopped to pull over for the hearse out of respect as is customary in Canada.  It's a civility that was not lost on my dad.  And while I understand why my dad chose Canada as their final resting place, when my time comes I want to be cremated.  Then have my ashes put in a barrel to float down the river, then over Niagara Falls, so I can float between Canada and America before drifting out into international waters.     

Dedicated to my dad.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Costco Conspiracy

Little known fact:  It's mandatory for Americans to buy a membership to a wholesale club or they lose their citizenship.  It's part of a covert government run economic stimulus plan.  Sam's Club is operated by the Republicans and Costco by the Democrats.  Ok, obviously this isn't true.  Or so the government would like you to believe.  Because they want to placate the public: distracting us from the fact that big business runs the government.  And they do it with large boxes of frozen burritos.  And we buy it every time.  Those massively delicious burritos.  Every damn time.  Because every American knows the best American food is actually Mexican.

I go to Costco right when the store opens, specifically to avoid the food samples.  For one very specific reason.  When the supply of free food increases, the intellect of humans decreases.  (It's basic economics.)  Costco shoppers will block an entire aisle that's the width of a California freeway with their cart that's the size of a cruise liner just to get a free sample of some tuna on a cracker.  Gosh, what does tuna taste like on a cracker?  IT TASTES EXACTLY LIKE TUNA ON A CRACKER, YOU MORON!

I try to make good, healthy choices when I'm shopping for food.  So, I make sure I eat before I shop, so I'm not tempted to buy some stupid junk.  But, somehow, even with a full stomach and the best intentions, I always do.  Like I'll buy the cereal my kids love.  Except, as of last week or 5 minutes ago or whatever, they don't love anymore.  In fact, they hate it.  It's the worst cereal they've ever tasted, which is why the ginormous box of it sits obtrusively in my pantry untouched.  Except to get around it to get to the tortilla chips.  Not only do I buy things no one likes, I'll also buy things that intrigue me on a whim.  Like drinking vinegar.   Because how intriguing is drinking vinegar?  It could be good.  Or it could be horrendous.  But which is it?  Then I rationalize that if it isn't palatable, vinegar is good for cleaning, right?  Maybe I just bought myself a big box of some environmentally friendly cleaning solution.  Which when I think about it is completely irrational, because I don't even clean my house.
Yes, I really did buy this.
And, yes, I'm still trying to convince myself I like it.
Among the things that I don't understand about Costco, is how they can have a whole aisle of nuts.  I mean, as Americans aren't we all insanely allergic to nuts?  Is this some domestic plot to kill us?  Or maybe the Russians have interfered with our food supply.  Putin just may be crazy enough to try to murder us with pistachios.  But, you didn't hear that conspiracy theory from me if anyone named Boris asks about it.  Also, why I do I continue to push my cart down the nut aisle and ponder this same thing on repeat every week when I'm shopping at Costco?  Do I have OCD?  Or another mental disorder?   WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Oh, I'm clearly nuts...
 but not crazy enough to buy pistachios no one will eat but me.
I've followed my preordained flight pattern through the store (all while judging how inefficiently and incorrectly other shoppers navigate the store) and now I'm in the check out line.  Hoping against hope that I'll get out for under $250, but knowing that's not likely.  Because that's not even possible.  Just like it's not possible to get through the whole store and NOT buy a hot dog at the cafe at the end.  (Which is what makes it an excellent super secret government economic stimulus plan.  And the hot dog is an Illuminati symbol.  I'm sure of it.)

(Also, did you notice everything on the menu at Costco contains gluten?
Do you honestly think that's a coincidence?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mother Trucker

I was driving my minivan down the highway through stop and go traffic in the pouring rain when it started to act up.  It being the only car we own that's both reliable and practical for my family of six.  My husband has a 1966 International Harvester that does currently run (this week at least) without a working gas gauge or windshield wipers (but I think we all know those are optional).  We have two old Volkswagens decorating driveway that are undriveable.  And my oldest is between cars, having sold his a few days before to buy his first car (a 1972 Scout) back from the guy he sold it to.  (I had just dropped my oldest off at college for a class when the car trouble started.)  Fortunately, I managed to make it home safely.  Unfortunately, the auto shop couldn't even look at it until Monday.  It was clear we'd have to rent a car until the minivan was fixed. 


My husband reserved a sedan over the phone, but when we arrived at the car rental office (in the Harvester, in the rain, without windshield wipers) to pick it up, there weren't any available.  All they had was a Ford Focus, which barely has room for a family of 4, let alone 4 teenagers.  The only other option was a big ass truck.  Which we originally declined, until the clerk said she'd give it to us for the same price as the sedan we'd originally reserved.  And bonus, it was available immediately and seated six.  My kids are going to be so excited.  And then dejected when they find out that the rental contract forbids them to drive it.   

You may not know that the only thing that unifies my kids is their new found love of country music.  (Which, by the way, I hate.)  But, now they have something else to bring them together: their shared love of this big ass truck.  And blaring country music from it's superior sound system.  I've never felt more like a stereotype.  While I'm talking about stereotypes, driving a really big ass truck around town makes me feel like I have a small penis.   Except, this shifter isn't particularly emasculating.  It's actually just a wee little knob.  Which is a huge let down: to have so much power under the hood and yet, to feel so ill-equipped at the same time.


So, there I am, driving a big ass truck.  Towering over other cars.  Occasionally, accidentally squealing my tires and then cowering from embarrassment in the cab.  Because, especially when I burnout, I know other drivers are judging me for thinking I'm a bad ass with a small penis.  When I'm just bad at driving this big ass truck  (apparently, I don't need to give it that much gas to get it to go.)  I'm just trying to get my kids where they need to go without killing anyone.  Which is harder than it sounds when people look like specks from 3 stories up in the driver's seat.  

And pulling into a parking space?  I can't even see the lines from the cab.  I'm so worried I'm going to hit another car, which is why I usually park on the far outskirts of the parking lot about a mile from my destination.  But, sometimes, I have no choice.  Like when I took my daughter to her basketball tournament last Sunday and by half time of the first game she'd already lost her water bottle.  So, I got in the truck and ran to Trader Joe's (the nearest store) to get her a bottle of water.   Do you know who's at Trader Joe's on a Sunday afternoon?  EVERYONE!  Leaving me no choice, but to carefully park the truck next to other cars in the lot.  Then, when I came out, I performed the slowest, most painful 30 point turn known to man to get out of that parking spot.  Without bodily harm or collateral damage of any kind, may I add.  Of course, by the time I returned from this pilgrimage, my daughter discovered her water bottle was inside her sports bag all along.


On Monday, the auto shop called.  Not only do I need a whole new, very expensive transmission.  It's going to take 7-10 business days for them to complete the work.  And I'm going to be driving this big ass truck for a whole other week. At least.  


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Vacation Disasters

Anyone can have a vacation disaster.  It's pretty easy actually.  But, not everyone can epically screw up a vacation before even leaving the house.  Multiple times.  And yet we keep traveling.  Quite the way that I can. I've kind of taken international blundering to a whole new level.  At least there's something I'm good at.  Which is why my motto is, go big or go home.  And the last place I want to go is home because there's so much cleaning and home improvement projects that I need to avoid doing there.  Which might be why I travel to begin with.

Let me recap some of my epic family vacation disasters for you.

There's the time I planned a dream vacation to Egypt for our family of six.  The timing was perfect, my oldest was in middle school studying Egypt in social studies at the time.  My youngest was in kindergarten, making her old enough to remember the trip for years to come.  We arrived at customs with our passports and visas in hand.  Except, we had the wrong visas.  No worries, we thought.  There's got to be an easy solution.  There wasn't.  We called the American Embassy in Cairo from the airport.  Our visa problem was political retribution for an Egyptian diplomat who was denied entry into the United States because he had the wrong visa.  There was nothing they could do.  We were confined to the terminal (like Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal) until they could deport us back to Morocco (where we were living at the time).   Which the Egyptian officials were in absolutely no rush to do.  So, we were prisoners in the airport just shy of two days.   Sleeping on the floor and eating at Starbucks with mosquito bites were our souvenirs for time served.  That and the exorbitant Starbucks charges on the credit card.

No, that's not the end of the Egypt story.  Because that's when I got even more obsessed with going to Egypt.  We jumped through so more hoops and red tape than at a rhythmic gymnastic competition to get the right visas.  We bought a second set of airline tickets.  And the week after I bought them...BAM...Arab Spring happened.  Egypt was under martial law and the The U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning urging Americans not to travel there.  Except now I've bought 12 airline tickets there and we have the correct visas.  And there is no way in hell we're not going to Egypt!  So, we did.  Not only did we see the pyramids, sphinx, tombs in the Valley of the Kings without the crowds, we also drove through the middle of a demonstration and saw the charred remains of the Ministry of the Interior burned just 4 days prior.  My sons were particularly impressed with the Soviet tanks and soldiers with machine guns that lined the streets.  (And I was a nanosecond from taking the perfect Time-cover worthy photo of a soldier with tanks lined up on the streets of Cairo behind him when I got reprimanded by an Egyptian officer.)

In comparison to the Egypt debacle, the London fiasco is going to sound boring.  I merely forgot to buy the return tickets and the apartment we booked turned out to be a scam.  We found out it was a scam when we arrived at the Sheffield Airport.  (Ryan Air is famous for cheap air travel and landing planes in a cow pastures nowhere near your actual destination.)  It was 1am and the apartment representative who was supposed to meet us at the airport and drive us into our accommodations in London wasn't there and she couldn't be reached by phone.  When we finally got to London, we ran into my brother (who lives in the U.S., but who was coincidentally in London at the same time).  And right after we parted ways when he was heading back to the airport, he looked left instead of right when crossing the street and got hit by a double decker bus.  Don't worry, he's fine.

So, why am I telling you all this?

Because every winter break we take an exotic vacation.  It's a lifestyle my youngest has grown accustomed to after all the travel we've done in Morocco.  She constantly brings up travel destinations we haven't been to yet as if we're the lamest parents for not taking a vacation to New Zealand, New Guinea or even New York City.  This is nothing new.  But, the fact that my husband thought we were on a travel break and going to stay home for Christmas this year is.  Yeah, right.  This might be the last year for us to travel with all the kids.  Because my oldest is in college and my second oldest is a senior in high school.  Who knows what next year will bring?  We have to have to go now while we can!  That was my plea that changed his mind.  

I started researching.  Places we haven't been.  That aren't $2600 per airline ticket, like New Zealand. Peru was the top contender.  It's been on our travel list for quite some time.  But, you have to book a guided tour to hike Machu Picchu.  And you have to reserve it a year in advance, apparently. Dammit!  It looked like we weren't going anywhere after all.  Until, we found it.  It wasn't on my radar at all.  I'd never even considered it.  But, it started to look really appealing, probably because it was our last-ditch effort for a family getaway.  So, we bought tickets.  And then we bought a guide book excited to plan our getaway.  

And two weeks after I bought the tickets, Hurricane Maria obliterated Puerto Rico.  But, on a positive note, this could be the cheapest holiday accommodations yet.  I'm  thinking we just pack some hammocks to tie between some palm trees on the beach and some Lifestraws.  

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Husband's Porn Addiction

It's not something we talk about.  It's something we live with every day.  The moment he gets up he gets on-line for his first hit.  Sleek lines and hard bodies flood his Instagram feed.  I'm sure he has other outlets to supply him the visual titillation he feeds off.  But, I know better than to search his on-line history, knowing I'll only find more porn.  And there's no way I can live up to his fantasy.

Because I don't look like this...

*surfboard and ocean with surfable waves required 

I didn't know about his obsession with Volkswagens and VW porn when I met him.  I was young and naive then.  I didn't know how many countless hours he'd spend with his head focused on the rear end of the object of his affection trying to make it to purr for him.  The thing about old broads is they're classic, but they're also feisty and unpredictable.  Which is why I've spent countless hours of my life helping my husband revive his mistress by push starting her.  Sometimes I get to push.  Sometimes pop the clutch.  I'll take whatever he gives me to make this marriage work.

There's been more than one side piece he's neglected me for over the years.  There've been several.  But, the first one is always the hardest to get over.  We were living in Hawaii when I found out about her.  She was a few years younger than me.  Aren't they always?  The thing was, she wasn't even prettier than me.  She looked like she'd been around the block a time or two.  Like a painted lady, if you know what I mean.  Everywhere we went on the island people stopped to stare at her.  It was like I didn't even exist.  Leaving me feeling humiliated.  

Through all of this, my biggest fear has always been that he'd pass his roving eye down to our sons.  Which is exactly what's happened; both of my sons are car porn addicts.  It was inevitable, I suppose.  After all, my husband shares this affliction with his two younger brothers.  His two brothers who are flying in today to help my husband resuscitate his old VW bus who flat lined in my driveway about 2 years ago.  So, for the next 5 days my husband will be in the garage with his brothers playing with his pickle.  

Pickle broken down on the side of the road.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Nudes

I'm enamored with nudes.  There's something so sensual and revealing about skin tones.  There's an honesty in having nothing to hide.  In being transparent and real.  About having the courage to expose yourself and not care how anyone sees you.  But, I don't do any of that.  Because I'm a fraud.

I like to give off the appearance I'm naked faced, while I'm actually wearing a face full of make-up in nude colors.  I go to unnatural lengths to appear natural.  To look like me, but way better than I actually look.  Without looking like I tried really hard, even though I did.   My dark circles, blotchy skin, age spots and zits aren't going to cover themselves, you know?

It all starts with the perfect foundation.  Which means it's completely undetectable.  But, I don't care if keeps it keeps my oily skin at bay for 24 hours or makes me look like Kate Beckinsale, I refuse to buy any cover up with the word beige in it.  Because I refuse to be defined as beige.  Now, if the color is called porcelain, buff, sand or tan, I'll buy it even though it's not even though it's no where near close to my skin color.  Simply because they sound more appealing.  Yeah, I know is ridiculous.  And, I know the only one who knows the name of the color foundation I'm wearing is me.  (Because everyone else is fooled into thinking I'm not wearing any make-up, obviously.)  And that the shade of my skin doesn't define me.  I also know I can't even read the name of the color on the bottom of the bottle with that super fine print.  Even with my reading glasses on.  So, it really, REALLY doesn't matter.  But, it still matters to me.  That's how insecure I am.

The eyes are the most important feature on anyone's face.  They are the windows to the soul after all.  So,  I want mine to convey that I'm nice and friendly.  But also, unapproachable and aloof;  to prevent people from talking to me.  Because I'm really awkward and socially anxious thus; prone to say incredibly stupid things when prompted to interact with other humans.  But, before any of that, I have to divert your attention from the dark circles under my eyes.  Which is why concealer is vital.  Lots of concealer, but still not enough to cover them completely.  Ensuring that I never wear blue eyeliner because the combination of black circles with blue eyeliner would make me look like an MMA fighter.  But, I bet if I was sporting the black eye look, I could avoid unwanted conversations even more successfully.  So, maybe I'll consider adding blue eyeliner to my stripped down neutral palate.  And maybe I'll add one of those gorgeous nude eyeshadow collections with 12 shades of naked for my eyelids that I always pine over in the cosmetic aisle.  But, I know I won't.

I'm just as picky and irrational about my lips.  I don't like the feel of lipstick and it looks too obvious, especially if it gets on my teeth.  Also, it always gets on my teeth somehow.  Which is when I realize it tastes awful and makes my teeth look yellow in comparison.  So, wearing lipstick would require that I whiten my teeth, again.  And the only thing more painful for an American with yellow teeth is the pain caused by a whitening strip on sensitive teeth.  That's why I wear tinted lip balm.  But it can't be too dark.  Or too bright.  Or too shiny.  Essentially, I want it to match my lip color exactly.  Which is why getting a tinted lip balm is ridiculous in the first place.  Because my lips are already my lip color.  I could just get a clear lip balm, but somehow that just wouldn't be good enough.

The truth is...
I feel naked without my nude make-up.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Things I Never Imagined

There are so many things that I never imagined would ever happen. Like the demise of truth and substance.  But, this post isn't about that.  This post is about stuff.  Things that I never imagined would be produced, let alone be popular and in demand.  And if there's one thing I know about, it's definitely NOT how to be popular and in demand.  Just ask anyone who knew me in high school, college, a job or in mom's club and they'll say... "who?"  Because I've always been kind of an outsider.  So, what the cool kids like has always both intrigued and mystified me.

When I was little I used to go grocery shopping with my mom and beg her to buy the sugary cereals that she didn't usually buy.  You know the kind.  The ones that are made with really cheap, coarse-grained sugar that tear up the roof of your mouth, but came with a cool prize inside.  Usually it was a bike clicker you'd stick in the spokes of your wheel that made a really annoying sound.  Those were the best.  But, sometimes you'd get a pedometer.  Those were the worst.  And they went right in the garbage.  Because who cares how many steps you take in a day?  Which is exactly why I would never have imagined that people would pay upwards of $60 for a Fitbit.  Which we all know is a glorified pedometer.  And I didn't even want one when I got it for free.

It was about this time in my childhood in the 70's when rompers and jumpsuits where all the rage.  Personally I blame Charlie's Angels for this.  Probably because I wasn't allowed to watch it back in the day.  But, I assume that they wore all kinds of sexy one piece polyester jumpsuits sensuously unzipped to expose some cleavage.  But, what do I know?  All I know is, I bought a jumpsuit from Banana Republic in the 90's from the clearance rack.  (Obviously, it wasn't a popular seller.)  It was beautiful and elegant and it's still hanging in my closet covered in a thick layer of dust.  The first time I wore it, I realized why no one in the 90's was wearing a jumpsuit or a romper.  Because, in order to use the toilet, you had to unzip (a challenge in itself if it has a back zipper like mine does) and strip down to your bra.  And if you're using a public toilet, you know you're going to get the stall with the big gap between the door, so the ladies waiting in line can see you mostly naked sitting on the toilet while cradling the top of your jumpsuit in your lap so it doesn't touch the floor.   So, can someone explain to me why are rompers and jumpsuits are all the rage again?

I remember when the Food Network first started.  And I thought 'you've got to be kidding me...who the hell would want to watch someone cook?'  I mean it's not like you get to taste any of the food.  So, essentially, you're just punishing yourself by watching the most delicious looking meal you've ever seen being prepared while you're on the couch in your sweatpants eating cereal from the box because you ran out of ice cream.  How freakin' sad is that?  Also, how freakin' sad is it that this is basically the majority of what I watch on TV these days?  And to make it even sadder, I'm usually eating seaweed crisps.  Because I already ate all the ice cream and all that's left is the healthy crap.

When Starbucks came on the scene, everyone jumped on the gourmet coffee train.  Personally, I can't get out of my house to go get coffee, without caffeinating.  Plus, you have to get out of your pj's and put clothes on because there's no Starbucks inside a Walmart.  Which is why I never got into going out to get coffee.  So, I just make a pot of coffee at home.  Which saves both time and money.  Not to mention, the planet, with all those disposable cups.  Then, they came out with Keurig so you can have a  fresh cup coffee at home, every time and simultaneously fill the landfills and destroy the environment with seemingly innocuous single serve coffee packaging from the comfort of your own home.  Without getting dressed even.  Cause we're lazy Americans.  Freakin' genius!

Back in the day, looking like a dog was considered a huge insult.  Enter Snapchat.  Where you can intentionally make yourself look like a dog.  Or a cat.  Or vomit rainbows.  Not that I'm on Snapchat, because I'm not.  But the photos and videos from there have migrated onto other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.  Both of which I said I'd never join because I just didn't see the point.  That's before I gave in and created accounts and became addicted, of course.  So, don't be surprised when you see a photo that kinda looks like me, only way better, wearing a crown of cartoon flowers next month on my Facebook.  Just kidding, I'm hardly ever on Facebook.

By now you've probably labeled me as both a feminist and an environmentalist.  (I won't mention the other labels to attempt to protect my ego.)  Like someone who would use the environmentally-friendly Diva cup instead of environmentally-reprehensible tampons.  But, this is where you're completely wrong.  I figure me not using a Keurig cup fully entitles me to use disposable feminine hygiene products instead of reuseable ones.  I believe this is called cognitive dissonance.  And lastly, I never imagined I'd tell you about my feminine hygiene product preferences, but here we are.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...