Sunday, December 19, 2010

Glutinous Miracles...

Hello, my friends...

Here I sit, on yet another frosty December night, surrounded by the remnants of my latest gift-wrapping blitz. Tidings of good cheer and sparkly ribbon abound! I have exciting news to share (which I will get to, in about 12 paragraphs of faux soul-searching and sardonic introspective).

I have just returned from yet another (but the final!) exhausting round of Christmas shopping. I find it astounding that even when one comes armed with a list and with a plan of attack, that you can still become beleaguered. Why? Why? Is a Chicken Dancing Elmo really going to make or break your childhood? Some would say that it might, but why are we worried about something, that for most kids, is less interesting than the box it came in?

I went to my local mall, list in hand (I did get a few things that weren't on it - I confess), expecting to spend a leisurely afternoon choosing thoughtful gifts for the people that mean most to me. Haha. Ha. Ha! This after a beautiful and quiet lunch date with Dear, Sainted Husband. I was lifted. Ready. I was giddy and singing. Excited to be prepared for Christmas. Like a grown-up. A married woman. I was so eboullient that I wished a 'Merry Christmas' and a 'Happy Diwaali' to everyone I saw!

Enter the Mall (also known as the Missing Circle of Hell). Where people are running around like squaking, headless chickens with Mastercards. Snatching up merchandise and arguing with one another. No mind: I knew that would happen. So I brought my iPod. I was wailing my favorite tunes from 'A Rosie Christmas', paying no mind, even smiling at the wailing children who usually grate upon my nerves so easily. Progress, indeed.

Until the lurching of my belly interrupted my Christmasy reverie (Note to readers: what follows...is just plain gross).  I dropped everything and charged for the bathroom... Apparently, my lunch wasn't as 'Festive' as our favorite local rotisserie claims. Because it promptly vaulted out of my belly and onto the floor....

End of festivities, friends.

However, in the true spirit of Mass Consumerism, I soldiered on (really, someone should consider giving me a medal). Marching my purchases and my face, green as our favorite Dr. Seuss character, straight up to the check-out line. I was not about to abandon the list!

Thank Goodness for Dear, Sainted Husband. He collected me from the mall and trudged home with my purchases, reassuring me that all was not lost (He, brave soul that he is, claims that I am 'gorgeous as always' when splashed with partially digested Festivity; that I smell 'wonderful', 'beautiful' and 'magnificent' (right, Dear); and that anyone who has a problem can...you know.)

He ever so kindly and patiently reminded me that I should keep up that optimism and positive attitude in mind for my pie dough making, later that night.

Right. Fuck (sorry, Mom). I forgot. Pie dough.

Fast forward about three hours and a shower later. I am happily ensconsed in my kitchen with the ingredients for said dough laid out in front of me (ever so lovingly - thank you, Saint Husband). He kisses the top of my head and says, "I know you don't like to hear this, but...(does he know me or what?) relax. Stay calm and enjoy. And in his best Julia Child-falsetto impression, he says, "you're alone in the kitchen. Who's to see?" (We've been watching a lot of 'The French Chef on DVD lately. God, I love PBS).

Then he leaves. I am left to endure the pie dough saga alone. Cue the terrifying-drudgery music.

For those of you who don't know, or don't read my blog regularly (which you should!), the last time I made pie dough, It was a mess. More specifically, I was a mess. A weeping, disconsolate, irate mess. I was so upset that my dough didn't turn out just 'perfectly delicious' (another Julia-ism) that I threw soapy water on it and tossed it in the trash. Did I mention that I have never made pie dough in my life (before then)? Uh huh. Apparently I missed the "you gotta crawl before you can walk" speech. Screw that. I was gonna sprint, straight off - and it was going to to be 'Martha Stewart Living' perfect/worthy.

Standards, much? Yes, for those of you wanting to know: I am a Capricorn. And a perfectionist.

Uh huh.

Anyway. Cue kitchen scene:

I measure the flour and salt. Add the lard....mush, mush, mush.

So far, so good.

Egg and vinegar? Check. Zen master. Add the water. Right on.  Ohhhhmmmm.

Bit by bit, I add the water mixture, with shaky hands and an overwhelming trepidation. The little voice in my head is quivering, admonishing me: "don't screw it up, don't screw it up, DON'T SCREW IT UP!"

I mix. My hands shake (really, they do. It's 8 pm. The grocery store is closed and there is no more lard. If this fails, there will be a National Emergency Situation (NES) in my tiny, little kitchen.) I mix a little more. And then just a bit more, for a little insurance. Startlingly, it looks just like pie dough. This is exactly how I imagine pie dough should look. I am so excited, I am near tears. I call Saint Husband. Actually, it was more like the bleating of a sheep being stunned prior to slaughter.

He dashes in the kitchen. Fight or flight mechanism on overdrive....

"LOOK! HOLY SHIT! IT'S PIE DOUGH!" He looks at me like I have recently grown a tail. Then he passes me a tissue.

"Of course it is, dear. Isn't that what you went in there for?" Like I was expecting chicken livers, or something. Reassured that there is no deadly fire or man-eating snake in the kitchen about to ingest his wife, he departs.

Saint Husband. A Saint, indeed. God. I love you.

 So tonight, we've experienced a Christmas miracle. There is pie dough chilling in the refrigerator. And no one's crying. Happy days!

Stay tuned: we'll see if it rolls out or not. Don't uncross your fingers just yet.

Good night, my beauties.  xo

Friday, December 17, 2010

Origami: The art of "Duh"...

Hello, lovely friends...

The DVP is calm tonight, and there is no snow. Not much to report on the silliness of Toronto drivers. Sadly. No clever musings tonight. Well, I'll see what I can do.

The weather here has been quite cold. Welcome to Canada, my friends. True North strong and free indeed. Where everyone has chapped lips and alligator elbows from January to April. Hat head and scarf static. No point in hair-doing before work, let me tell ya.

The good news is that Alligator elbows are easily cured by my favorite uber cheap lotion. Here I sit, slathered in Sugared Grapefruit body butter, happy fed and jammin' to the newest library find. Personally, I think that butter should be spread on toast, but I digress.

Family Christmas festivities are underway...or in the works. There is something about Christmas time that makes me feel like a kid for a good majority of the month of December. There are some that would argue that there isn't much change from the other eleven months of the year...

Good thing my Mother never reads this.

It seems like everyone is in a charitable frame of mind. Drivers let me pass without honking....the rental company holds my rent cheque hostage for an extra three days....people smile and wish me "Season's Greetings" while they stare....

Ah, Christmas.

There are Christmas parties at work - where people pretend to like each other even more than they do every other working day of the year... we cook lovely treats for each other and exchange gorgeous cards... then promptly return to status quo January 1.

Ah, Christmas.

Sadly, no Christmas raise. Damn. I feel like that Cratched guy. "Please. More coal." I just won't say that really, I just want a marble mortar and pestle, and those babies are not cheap. Channeling some Julia, there. I guess there's Valentine's Day.

I really have nothing to complain about. Sometimes being funny really isn't that funny. I work with a great team. For the most part, we know that we're doing something awesome each and every day and that Christmas really is no exception to the work that we do. Yay for us!

But then something happens to open your eyes to something else that you've been missing. It changes what you do, even on a level so tiny that no one else can see it.

I support people with disabilities. I work really hard each and every day to battle my own disability-realted demons. I go to work and tell the individuals that I work with that their demons are conquerable, too. Sometimes, I really wonder if I believe what I preach.

I work with one gentleman who has severe communication impairments. He has some really strange habits that put people off, and create barriers for him to make friends. I think he is fantastic. Although, I admit to a soft spot.

Yesterday, we were making Christmas decorations. I watched him cut out a super intricate pattern with a pair of giant scissors in about 30 seconds without breaking the paper. It was a marvel. I was stunned. Floored.

I took some home last night to try it. Melt-down City, friends. Holy bananas, Batman!

Such a small thing. But a marvel. I could not speak. Honestly. I had no idea I was signing with an Origami Master of the Freaking Universe. Get out. Are you kidding me?

Now, I sit here. Reflecting. Wondering how many other Freaking Awesome Things there are that I don't know about this guy (Actually, I thought about it yesterday. This blog has been percolating for a bit. Yup. New level of nerd.). Which got me to thinking - am I really doing as awesome a job as I think? Why didn't I know this already?

How many people look at me and marvel much the same way I did him, when I present a perfect Lemon Poundcake, or order my eggrolls in Mandarin (ps. Dialect Police: the lady at Mulan - the best dumpy Chinese takeaway in Toronto - speaks Mandarin)?

Which led me to reflect some more: I know how much it pisses me off to look at people and see that "oh, poor gimpy girl" look on their face. And I tell them. What if I couldn't - and I was stuck sucking up other people's stupidity for the rest of my life?

God help me. And you...

I think he thought that I was a moron for being so surprised. He had this look on his face like, "of course. Of course I can do this. Duh. Why are you so surprised? Um....duh."

And that was exactly how I felt for reacting the way I did. Duh.

Consider my socks knocked off, dude. And rightly corrected.

How's that for taking your work home with you?

Good night, my beauties. Happy Thursday night. The weekend is almost here... xo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Case Study in Battle Weariness: The Rolling Soldier

Hello, my lovelies!

The holidays are upon us. Christmas... Kwaanza... Chanukah... Solstice... Eid... Festivus for the Restivus....whatever you celebrate; may you too gain twenty pounds of holiday party fat and get an itchy sweater that you don't want.

Happy holidays to you and yours from your very favorite blogger!

I have delegated all of the less than fantastic tasks of the season (licking Christmas card envelopes) to Dear Sainted Husband to spend a few hours playing useless video games (I hear they're good for making essential neuronal connections relating to fine motor control and visual-spatial relationships. It might be a load of shit, but who cares? That's my story and I'm sticking to it!) and writing a long, boring blog that no one will read (save for Dear, Sainted Husband, whom I will park in front of the computer and bite my nails anxiously whilst he soaks it in)

I have not blogged in a while. Here I sit, hopped up on my favorite carcinogen in a can (aka Coca Cola), contemplating the big, esoteric things in life. The Don Valley Parkway is lit up like a Christmas tree on crack and Dear Sainted Husband has vacated the premises in favor of a leisurely stroll in that fresh -13 degree air...so I figure it's a good time to write.

Why is it that two inches of snow turns city drivers (most of them) into accidents waiting to happen? It seems that every night there's a backup as long as my intestines. I wonder about these people (and worry for their safety) when the real snow hits. Real snow - you know, the kind your grandparents tell you about...they walked to school in it. "Uphill. With bread bags on our feet because of the holes. If we were lucky enough to have boots. And a Coke was a nickle. If we had a nickle." You know exactly what I am talking about.

Anyway. I digress. I don't drive, so I guess I have no right to comment. But, I'm just sayin', is all.

Here at Casa Figment... we are busily preparing for Mass Consumer Day (ie. Christmas). We sent out our Christmas cards (okay, some of them), wrapped our gifts (some of those, too. We'll probably wait until 2 or 3 am Christmas Eve in reverance to tradition) and have been drooling over Christmas-related confection over which to file for divorce (or not quite - see earlier blogs, new readers).

I must be experiencing some post-academic withdrawal-Christmas shopping shock. I am a wreck. How does Santa deal with this crap?

Hire me some elves. I'm in.

Really. The "cold" (talk to me about cold at 8 am on a Monday in February in Thunder Bay) must be affecting my ability to function properly. Consider: strangely weird dreams that wake me up to my own mumblings in what I believe to be Mandarin, and cravings for things like McDonalds (barf!) "Jolly Green Apple" nugget sauce (dramatic heaving barf!).

Trust me. Don't go there. It's a lot less jolly over the toilet heaving at 3 am. Thanks, Ronald McDonald (ps. bionic slime colored jam is not for chicken, Sir! What would the great Julia Child say? Definitely not haute cuisine francaise!)

I had a dream that I was at my own funeral. (How "meaning of life" is that?) I saw everyone there - my parents, and all of my lovely friends...all of whom seemed to be rather indifferent at my passing. Anxious for the tea sandwiches and Tang.

How many times in our lives do we sit back and take stock of what we've accomplished? Does it ever measure up against what we had planned as idealistic and naive five year olds who thought that the world was our oyster?

I wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice. The Chief Justice, actually. The Big Kahuna of the Canadian legal world. Righting the legal wrongs of a justice system misaligned. I imagined myself showing up to work every day, taking on Goliath and prevailing, because it was right and just.

Pass me a barf bag.

But it set me to thinking: isn't that really what's happening with each letter I write, blog I post, debate I lose sleep over - demanding fairness and equality for everyone: on a bus, in an elevator, an accessible bathroom, old age home, blood bank, piercing parlour or at a Pride parade? It was a regular American woman who refused to give up her seat on that bus, because she refused to tolerate being treated that way - not any judge. How funny that she sat down for what is right?

Is it possible that I am right where I should be, writing letters that other people couldn't be bothered to...arguing the argument that some don't want to hear...smoothing the road less travelled for those who follow?

There are people that take each step and revolution of a wheel with me. I know that. I know who you are, and I love you. Each of you, in your own way, supplement my desire to carry on and push forward. It is for you that I fight, and for the people out there who do not have the strength to mount battle.

But let me tell you something: I was drafted.

Conscripted into a battle that appears to have nothing to do with me but with what everyone thinks is wrong with my existence.

I've been assigned a tour of duty that appears endless and the battle exhausts me. This equality soldier is tired. I feel like I need to give the battle axe to someone else for a while. It has crossed my mind more than once.

What will people say about me after I have taken my last breath? Am I to be remembered for the things that were important to me...or things that I don't even know I've done?

This year, I've been to four funerals. Each of those people fought horrible battles: three with cancer and one with life-long disability and then cancer. Every person at those funerals said something along the lines of "fought hard; never gave up".

So what of the soldier who wants to pack it in and go home? Is there a purse for the boxer who quits; a medal for the soldier who surrenders his weapon? No one ever talks about the people who fight and just can't take it anymore. No front-page spread or honorable mention for them. They're remarked upon with pity, an embarassed bashfulness.

Shakespeare - bless his heart - once said, "Some are born great; some achieve greatness; and others have it thrust upon them".

Which begs the question: which is it, and how do we know for sure?

I guess I'll have to wait to find out.

Happy Christmas; but war is not over.



My love to each of you. I am thinking of you. xo