Thursday, September 30, 2004
Sorry, nothing more to read.
... Read the rest of "Snow Flakes"
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
I could have stayed at my folks’ another week or so. A chauffeur service, a chef service (that takes requests), and all the surreal conversation you can stand; I sometimes think that my parents inhabit an alternate plane of existence. Winnipeg is a great little city and I left just in time: Winnipeg is a great little frozen city as of very soon.
So I guess it’s fair to say that I’m fairly happy to be back, although I don’t want to start facing real life yet. I’ll do it next week. For the rest of this week I’ll continue to pretend I have no responsibilities and that I can live without need of trifles such as money before I really have to live without trifles such as food (except burritos).
In the meantime, however, I have plan to live like Martha Stewart on the tightest budget she could ever imagine (before that whole prison thing, of course). No going to bed until the dishes are washed, the bills filed, the recycling squished into the undersized box, and the clothes put away or placed delicately in the hamper. I will eat healthy food only and remember to take my multivitamins every single day. I will wash them down with fruit juice I myself will squeeze every morning as the sun comes up.
Why as I write, even, I am virtuously lunching on a sandwich made entirely of vegetables and – get this! – wild rice bread I brought back from one of Winnipeg’s one hundred thousand hippy bakeries. I so am enjoying the subtle vegetable flavours mixing in my mouth and if I were to desire to make even the smallest of critiques it would be to add only the delicate zest of bacon bits, and mayonnaise, and just a hint of roast beef. But just a hint, mind you. The fact that I have a side or Doritos next to the sandwich has no bearing here.
... Read the rest of "Virtue"
Sunday, September 26, 2004
I successfully fasted for twenty-four hours for Yom Kipur without pushing anyone into traffic or slicing anyone’s head off. The Yom Kipur fast is a nasty one: not only are you not allowed food, but you’re also not allowed any form of liquid whatsoever, including coffee. No coffee make Surly super surly. By the beginning of the afternoon it was as if someone where massaging my spongy brain matter with acid-tipped stiletto heels.
This is fast is not, as many believe to make you feel as horrible as possible for one day, forcing you into a subservient and repentant state until the end of your fast when you feel virtuous and righteous for having made it through the entire twenty-four hour period. This would logical since it is the Day of Atonement. It’s not altogether accurate, though; if you actually feel yourself to be virtuous and righteous, you’re not being very Jewish. If you’re Jewish, there’s always something you can be doing better or more of (or less of). The purpose of the fast is, while atoning for all the bad things you did during the previous year, big bad and little bad, to help you into the shoes of someone less fortunate than you – just to nail home the point that much more poignantly. A forced starvation is a very pointed way of achieving this.
I felt the caffeine withdrawal more acutely than I did the hunger. This does not mean that now I understand the hardship of those who cannot afford coffee. I’m sure they have other things on their minds than standing in Second C*p or Starfuck’s trying to decide whether to get the Brazilian Meadow blend or the Bolivian Mountain blend.
What I do understand better now is how a former colleague had to muster all his concentration at work as he suffered through a painful medical condition that eventually ended his life. I could barely read after just a few hours of no coffee. He worked full time and did a good job (although he did need help with detailed stuff occasionally). I was barely able to hold a conversation. I have a much better appreciation of what he had to do every single day and am in awe of what he achieved in such a circumstance. All the petty problems seem to melt away when you find another perspective, even if it’s only for a few hours.
And on the theme of putting yourself in others’ shoes, Radmila wrote something beautiful, something very few people in Canada or the States have ever had to deal with in quite this way. Read “Repost” (Sept. 25).
... Read the rest of "Caffeine Withdrawal"
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
I'm Too Lazy to Write Too Much
mmmmm . . . something . . .I got this recipe from my dinner host yesterday evening. I was disappointed she didn’t actually serve this though. The photo provided below is of the actual food item. Really. The guests at my next potluck, beware.
Kitty Litter Cake
1 box spice or German chocolate cake mix
1 box of white cake mix
1 package white sandwich cookies
1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix
A few drops green food coloring
12 small Tootsie Rolls or equivalent
Serving “Dishes and Utensils”
1 NEW cat-litter box
1 NEW cat-litter box liner
1 NEW pooper scooper
Prepare and bake cake mixes, according to directions, in any size pan. Prepare pudding and chill. Crumble cookies in small batches in blender or food processor. Add a few drops of green food coloring to 1 cup of cookie crumbs. Mix with a fork or shake in a jar. Set aside.
When cakes are at room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with half of the remaining cookie crumbs and enough pudding to make the mixture moist but not soggy. Place liner in litter box and pour in mixture.
Unwrap 3 Tootsie Rolls and heat in a microwave until soft and pliable. Shape the blunt ends into slightly curved points. Repeat with three more rolls. Bury the rolls decoratively in the cake mixture. Sprinkle remaining white cookie crumbs over the mixture, then scatter green crumbs lightly over top.
Heat 5 more Tootsie Rolls until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle with crumbs from the litter box. Heat the remaining Tootsie Roll until pliable and hang it over the edge of the box. Place box on a sheet of newspaper and serve with scooper. Enjoy!
wi jonny kant reedThere are already some blog writers who do this – unintentionally, I believe – but have a look at what the Simplified Spelling Society thinks we should do to increase literacy. Is is the language's fault, or the TV's fault?
Pleez leev al comments for thiss poast in Simplified Spelling.
... Read the rest of "I'm Too Lazy to Write Too Much"
Monday, September 20, 2004
Black Milk and Green Poo
But still, you’d think coming home late a little drunk and with a head shaved completely bald would stir some sort of parental tsk-tsking. After all, now I look exactly like the kind of thug you see quite regularly on British sitcoms and soap operas. But no. My father simply said “oh” and continued his back-stretching exercises. My mother had a slightly more involved reaction: she laughed at the fact that my face is brown and my head is white and that there is a very sharp line between the two colours and told me it looked as if I were wearing a tight costume from a bad sci-fi movie. No hysterics. No pleading to know why I had marred my beauty in such a fashion. Doing not so daring things when you’re 34 is boring.
Come to think of it, when I was a teenager my parents always seemed more concerned with things like my grades, like whether I had practised my viola (it’s like a bigger, better, deeper violin) that day, like why my sister was stomping around the house giving everyone a very loud silent treatment (“I dunno what her problem is. I didn’t say anything to her. Really. I didn’t . . . ”) and so forth. The length, colour, consistency of my hair, the music I listened to, the clothes I wore were never gigantic emotional issues for them. My mother even went with me to thrift stores to help me pick out everything black they had for tall, skinny art fags (still deep in the closet). Where was the fun and the shock in that? I had to find my angst elsewhere, something I managed to do quite well.
The whole head-shaving activity was inspired by my friend The Lizard Queen, whom I’ve known literally since I was only a few weeks old. She asked, admiring my simple buzz cut, if I had ever shaved my head completely bald. Nope. Wanna try? Ok. Ten minutes later I was bald, slightly drunk, and running my hands over my head in satisfaction and disbelief.
This kind of “let’s see what happens if we” attitude had always fuelled our activities with varying, though always entertaining, results. Inspired perhaps by the blue milk from “Star Wars”, we decided to see what would happen if we tried various hues of food colouring in our own milk. What happened is that our milk eventually turned black and was really gross to drink (although it tasted fine) and that our poo was bright green for the next few days. That, as you can imagine, fuelled conversations for years afterwards.
When we got older “let’s see what happens if” also caused us to things like smoke a lot of pot before and during really scary movies? Result: we both had to sleep in the living room because there were quite obviously zombies and possessed children in our bedroom). What will happen if we live together and work together and also live with The Lizard Queen’s boyfriend at the time, who also, by the way, worked with us (ah, stupid youth!)? Result: fun that quickly changed to anxiety, pain, duplicitousness, several threats to quit/move out, the beating of breasts and the slamming of doors, many statements beginning with the words “I will never again”, war, anarchy, the end of romance, the end of that job for The Lizard Queen, the almost complete destruction of our lifelong friendship. Ugh. What will happen if we invite two feuding former best friends to our party without telling each one? Result: a few snippy comments, but not the Alexis-Crystal Dynasty bitch-slap fest we’d hoped for. A fun party was the real result. But then again, all our parties were fun.
This “let’s see what happens if” attitude had sustained me throughout my life. Let’s see what happens if I move to Montreal and live with a Francophone who doesn’t speak a word of English. Result: I now speak French so well I’m told I have little accent, if any at all. What will happen after graduation from university if I decide not to go to grad school after all? Result: the balance of the universe remained unshifted. What will happen if I quit my high-paying job and try to become a professional writer? Result: utter poverty, complete joy.
The Lizard Queen is now a married homeowner with a job and everything and she is still very much the Lizard Queen. And I am still very much me despite my frequent swings back and forth from respectability to dreamy and artsy. She is my oldest friend who had never done me wrong (except maybe a little during the war alluded to above, but there was a lot of wrong being done by all sides). Despite the lack of frequent contact some things never change. My head is bald and I am happy to be from this city with its hundred-foot high elm trees, architectural nightmares right next to beautiful turn-of-the-(last)-century buildings, totally funky little cafes in strip malls, and old friends, even if I only visit every couple of years.
... Read the rest of "Black Milk and Green Poo"
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Days of Awe
And for those of you who care about such things (my parents' computer doesn't have Hebrew characters installed), Shana tova umetuka! A good and sweet year to all. Happy 5765!
... Read the rest of "Days of Awe"
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Take Off, Eh
I had been lucky to have been let on the flight at all. Left over from the days when I had a job that required be to carry the equivalent of an entire desk around with me everywhere, there was a pair of forgotten scissors in that very bag. As I reached to take it off the conveyor belt at security check-in the guard slammed her hand down on it.
“Sir, there are scissors in this bag. Can you show them to me?” Her eyes were firmly fixed on mine.
I know that not too long ago this might have been the reason to hold me for hours, and I calmly slipped into calm panic mode, where my voice gets all placid and serene while my mind fires off ten thousand non-sequiturial thoughts at the same time (Did I turn the coffee maker off?). I rifled through the bag, unsure of where I had left them months ago. I resisted the urge to say something like Well if I can’t find them, I can’t be too much of a security risk. I have found that people with supreme power don’t appreciate the questioning of their authority. I learned that when I was nineteen with a West German border guard (way back when the was a country called West Germany). You don’t need the story, but take it from me that the lesson was learned very, very well.
Once I had finally located them, the lecture began: I could still be charged. I have to be aware of what I’m doing. Did I leave my bag unattended for even a microsecond? I must learn to be a more responsible traveller. All the while, I hung my head contritely. I had no objection when she told me she would have to confiscate them. The scissors I bought at the dollar store?! Shriek!
I’m very glad for airport security, although it’s a great pity that a single pair of scissors could cause such uproar. I also suspect that if my eyes were brown instead of green or if my last name began with “El-” or “Al-” or had a “q” or two unaccompanied by a “u”, my treatment at the hands of the airport security guard for an innocent pair of scissors might have been quite different. What a world we have been born into.
And so here I am in the house in which I grew up. My old bedroom has become the computer room. My parents like spongey mattresses that give me a backache. I can’t get into my comments for some reason on this computer so I am temporarily mute. I have been stuffed with good food and good cheer. I sit typing in my former bedroom, looking out the window at Winnipeg’s beautiful, enormous elms and I remember why I used to think I would never leave this city.
***UPDATE - I am not totally mute. All I have to do is "edit" the comments from the Haloscan homepage***
... Read the rest of "Take Off, Eh"
Monday, September 13, 2004
Nanookie of the North
I don’t remember what September in Winnipeg is like. I know the mosquitoes and black flies are gone. Are the leaves turning yet? I almost called my parents to ask if I should bring shorts and sandals, before I realised that was a silly question. Have the leaves turned? Should I bring a hat? I almost forgot to pack a jacket.
Although at the tender age of nineteen we lived for months on end out of my backpack on various trains zipping through Eastern and Western Europe, I am nevertheless a neurotic traveller. I regularly check to make sure my airplane ticket still exists and hasn’t been sucked into another plane of existence by some transdimensional being who really really wants to go to Winnipeg. I had a bit of a scare when it turned out that The Safe Place I’d put it – the coffee table – turned out to be too safe and the papers on my desk suffered as a result before the ticket was located, lounging indolently in front of the television, just where I’d left it.
This is only my second post-9/11 airplane ride and I must say I’m a little nervous.
I have already jinxed myself from all Hollywood-type stories by imagining that the person next to me in my airborne sarcophagus will be a top publisher/literary agent, or really hot, sweet, perfect, kind, generous, edgy, funny, brilliant, humble (but not too humble), perfect, Jewish guy who lives in Toronto and will fall instantly as in love with me as I with him. Now that it’s been imagined, it ain’t gonna happen.
I will blog while there, although not as much. My parents still hunt the woolly mammoth and are connected to the Internet by dial-up.
As you are all so sad I’m leaving, here is a little picture that is easy on the eyes while you dry your tears:
... Read the rest of "Nanookie of the North"
Saturday, September 11, 2004
And also remember on this day that we still live on a beautiful planet.
... Read the rest of "Remember"
Friday, September 10, 2004
The Internet Ate My Brain
Here are some pretty pictures instead (thanks to new and speedy free image host ImageVenue so now it shouldn’t take as much time to load the site or click on the thumbnails). Click on the thumbnail for a larger image:
Dubai model Murtaza Moulvi
Iraqi traffic cop
Bollywood star Aryan Vaid
Israeli jazz bassist Avishai Cohen
Blackout, August 14, 2003
Shefali Shetty in “Monsoon Wedding”
British Olympic diver Peter Waterfield
Singer Yma Sumac
... Read the rest of "The Internet Ate My Brain"
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Cabeza de flan, comida por tiburones
I don’t know if I’ve already mentioned this over and over again without a break, but it was my birthday on Saturday. Most of the day itself was spent in a hung over, zombie-like state (that makes no sense! I’m pretty sure zombies don’t drink. See?! My brain has become so decrepit that I can’t even come up with good imagery anymore!) due to AlefAlef’s and Johannaburg’s insistence that I drink martini after martini. Apparently this is an appropriate old man birthday celebration: fall into inebriation and scream your sex life in great detail over the tumultuous thumpa-thumpa music. I suppose I should take advantage of the fact that I still have a sex life to discuss. Happy Birthday!
Now because I am very very smart, I had scheduled all sorts of activities for the actual day of birthday. This is something I regretted the instant my alarm plunged off the nightstand and jumped up and down on my head yammering. Who sets their alarm on their birthday? My mouth tasted as if an entire colony of spiders had lived and died for generations inside it and no amount of water could wash this away. My head felt as if my cerebellum had been scooped out and devoured (hence the zombie imagery . . . Get it? Get it?).
But none of that stopped me from enjoying my friends and the care they had taken to endure my passage through time. The celebrations began early last week and still continue. I have many incredible friends.
But the fact remains that martinis may no longer play an integral part of my life. And quite frankly, I will not miss them all that much.
The next on my list of old man no-nos is spicy food. A mere decade ago . . . not so very long ago (although I realise that this was still when some of my dear regular readers were still in their single digits) I used to like my food so hot it made me cry. I would gather with friends for Malaysian food, ask for it as spicy as it could come, and then drown it in Vietnamese chilli sauce. Last night for my birthday supper at a pleasant Mexican restaurant in Old Cabbagetown with Cute Capitalist Landlord, I only consumed a few bland chillies and some moderately spicy sausages. This morning I discovered just how much glop of all possible qualities and consistencies resides in the human body. Very educational. As odd as it is to feel as if I am expelling much of my body weight, I have no regrets. Cute Capitalist Landlord and I have almost ten years of friendship and that was the point of the meal.
Finally, I must consider very carefully my logic behind movie choices. More specifically, I must carefully consider my logic in all of my decisions related to personal edification. Movies, especially Hollywood movies, and edification don’t appear to be old friends, but one particular recent movie has intrigued me and terrified at the same time.
I am afraid of water. Although I am a strong swimmer, water deeper than my waist frightens me. When I was a kid, I couldn’t take bubble baths because I was afraid of not being able to see what was swimming in what I was sitting in. You will get me to perform open-heart surgery on myself before you get me on a cruise. I swear I saw a gigantic plesiosaur in the murk below me the last time I went canoeing.
Following the logic that if you’re afraid of heights you should go skydiving, I thought going to see “Open Water” with Medical Diagram Boy, a movie in which the bulk of the action takes places between two abandoned tourists floating in the middle of the ocean would help me get over this fear. And I’m sure most of you can already see the flaw in your logic. Going to see a movie about shark bait floating above a mile of ocean when you’re afraid of water is the same as going to see “Alive” to get over a fear of flying or “Silence of the Lambs” to get over a fear of psychopathic maniacs.
As we got our first view of the tip of a shark fin slicing through the water I understood the folly of my reasoning. Seeing the muscly boy with the sexy lip piercing and angel face – not Medical Diagram Boy, by the way – beside me cringing behind his fingers in the seat beside me made me feel a little bit better (even though he wasn’t accompanying me), but I spent most of the movie wishing that my bag of popcorn could somehow protect me from the sharks that were circling beneath my seat, waiting to drag me down screaming to the bowels of the Paramount and devour me.
This was the movie “The Blair Witch Project” was supposed to be, with its low budget, simple theme, tiny cast, and characters completely at the mercy of their horrifying circumstance. "Witch", however intriguing it may have been, was mostly a yawner for me. Shriek! Piles of pebbles! Stick figures! Snore. Not so with this one. The most you see of a shark is a shadow in the deep or the tip of a fin, but I could barely speak as the credits rolled. I am quite certain that I have caused myself even more trauma rather than get over my irrational fear. Showers are now terrifying to me.
So now I have a bigger fear, harsher dietary restrictions, but some excellent friends (not all of whom have been mentioned here, but my gratitude is nonetheless very much alive). So that’s a pretty good way to start a new arbitrary number.
... Read the rest of "Cabeza de flan, comida por tiburones"
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Mes chers amis, c’est à mon tour . . .
Age RageThirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.
- Oscar Wilde
Good thing I'm only 34 today
Wanda’s WisdomI am honoured to have been crowned Wanda Wisdom’s Blog Queen of the Month. I don’t know if this is related to my birthday, but I humbly accept.
Very cool. Thanks Wanda!
Austen’s PowerI would have gotten along very well with Jane Austen, I think (what a very gay thing to say). This isn’t directly related to birthdays, mine or anyone else’s, but it still seems appropriate.
One's consequence, you know, varies so much at times without any particular reason.
- Jane Austen
And Finally . . .
Happy Birthday to me!
... Read the rest of "Mes chers amis, c’est à mon tour . . . "
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Have a [ . . . ] Day
It first I was treated to action shots of panic-stricken Russian mothers. I can never know exactly what they are going through right now. I extend as much sympathy as I possibly can. However, showing weeping hysteria does nothing to educate me on the matter, inform my opinion, or challenge me to think up solutions. It merely serves as entertainment, like in that movie I saw a promo for where Kim Bassinger’s kid is abducted and she spends the whole time screaming and crying. Poor Kim! Pass the popcorn.
Next, there was a discussion around the potential banning of pit bulls. Instead of showing the interviewees and a few stock shots of pit bulls, the screen shot for almost the entire story was a night vision shot of paramedics clustered around last weekends horrific pit bull attack. As a bonus, they left the sound of this oh-so-informative shot on so that as the eggheads babbled self-importantly back and forth, I was therefore treated to the screams of agony of the victim whose life has been changed forever. Is that real butter or oil on the popcorn?
I need to know that Chechen rebels are holding hundreds of schoolchildren hostage. I need to know that there was yet another pit bull attack (a two-minute walk from my place, no less). I should be informed so I have at least a clue about the ways of the world. I resent newsmakers underestimating me, telling me that I am too stupid to expect them to appeal to my intellect, that I am just stupid enough for them to entertainment and make me feel smart because I watched the news and now I know. I think the general public is smarter than that and is capable of greatness when provided the right tools. Now I know that mothers cry when their children are in danger and that pit bull attacks cause intense physical anguish. And I also know that reporters have their brains liposuctioned out to get their jobs.
I came to the swift conclusion that Saturday’s birthday is enough horror for me for the week. I turned the news off and retreated into my little fantasy world in which four of my husbands (pictures below) made me breakfast in bed, all children are safe, and pit bulls’ teeth are made of cotton candy.
... Read the rest of "Have a [ . . . ] Day"