Monday, December 10, 2007

Scene: a classroom at your local community college.

Event: Culinary Math. Even chefs can’t escape numbers.

Reason: Work, for me.

There’s an hour of class time left, but most of the students have filtered out in favour of hallway gossip and smokes outside. There are only five people left in the room: Me, my student Brian, a boy with a permanent open-mouthed gape, a girl in kitchen pants, and the instructor, a fast food chain owner shaped like a big eggplant.

Everyone is engaged in a conversation about formulaic bla bla that is usually beyond my scope. If I’d liked math in school, lord knows I’d be having coffee in a hospital doctor’s lounge right now instead of taking notes. Kitchen Pants asks some kind of question, Eggplant responds in kind, then shuffles over to our side of the room and to our table where he whispers loudly to my student, “She said it like that because she’s a woman.”

I’m not allowed to speak in class, but my mouth doesn’t often grasp this concept. “What did you say?”

Eggplant does a double take, since he’s never heard me really talk before. “I mean… I said… What I meant was…. Aren’t you only supposed to be an impartial observer?”

Ha! Like he’s familiar with the terms of my contract. I leaned forward and said, a bit quieter, “I can do a lot more than observe, you know.”

Eggplant blinked once, twice, then opened his mouth but nothing came out. He stared at me like that for a good half minute, then turned around and resumed with the lesson.

I love blindsiding assholes. Especially because I’m a woman.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Rant of the Skinny Girl

This will be my only post this week, because I think it hits a nerve that needs to be read, pondered and discussed. As a matter of fact, this post isn't even mine.

Adriana is a good friend of mine, a beautiful face with a firecracker mind on the best set of legs this side of the country. She is a business woman, a writer & model, and she wrote this piece about being thin.

While it seems everyone has gripes about being fat, many of us could never possibly imagine the physical complaints of a skinny girl. As it turns out, her world isn't that different from ours.

***

As a kid, I was always very skinny. It seemed to my parents that I was always too preoccupied with games, and never wanted to take a break to eat. I have always found eating to be a chore that took time away from my creative processes. Even though I liked all food I never wanted to stop, sit down and have a meal. My adrenaline kept my appetite in check so unless someone was shoving a piece of bread in my mouth while I was playing, there was no way to get me to eat. My parents tried offering me everything from my favorite foods, to bribes and then punishments. I hated the punishments! I was not allowed to leave the table until my plate was done, but my plate would be packed with more food than I could ever finish. It was ridiculous. I would sob and eat and sob and eat and then puke it up 30 minutes into playtime. Needless to say I grew up being at constant war with all the yummy things this world has to offer, which consequently turned me into a 5’8, somewhat malnourished 25-year old woman.

As I observe society around me, I am figuring out that a woman of my body type is, as they would say, in. It took me some time to realize why people reacted to me the way that they did, and no, I’m not completely oblivious to the way the world seems to work these days. I know that tall and thin is the shit. The model body is what everyone seems to be striving for, but all I have to say to that is “bull-shit”. Let me elaborate.

I am a tall skinny girl who did go to university and has traveled a significant portion of this world. I think and read and analyze and more than anything, I spend my time searching for people to share ideas, thoughts and opinions with. Now, I’m at the point where people are really starting to piss me off. Nine out of ten people I meet don’t converse with me beyond their thoughts on my becoming a model, or some other sort of “pretty” and ignorant female stereotype.

Now, if any of you out there are sitting there thinking, “What is she complaining about?” then let me welcome you to my world. On a daily basis I have cars honking at me, or even producing vile profanities (usually from the passenger side… scrub) Old men follow me on the subway and women nearly snarl when I’m dressed to go out which, needless to say, makes me feel like crap. I realize that there are girls who break their ankles trotting in heels, just dying for an offer; Little, socially-accepted hookers that have yet to realize what their calling is, but I’m not in their movie.

Why is it that the fat girls are always labeled as the ones with “great personalities?” To me that would be an awesome compliment. I grew up around intelligent and very funny full-figured women in an atmosphere that believed big is beautiful. It was like the Baroque era with voluptuous curves of angels painted all over the ceilings of some of the most famous cathedrals and chapels in the world. And there I was, a skinny, flapper-girl built like a 12-year-old boy trying to find a pair of jeans small enough and long enough not to make me look like I borrowed them.

Men don’t speak to me; they speak about my body and what they want to do to it. Women either don’t give me the time of day or they treat me like I was some sort of giggly half-wit aspiring to earn a title as some old rich dude’s arm candy. Please! I hate that, cause I’m here thinking, For once, be someone chill to talk to.

Now, aside from the emotional stresses forced upon me by society there are so many other shitty factors to being a skinny girl. For example: partying. Man, those fat girls can drink a shit-load, dance all night, laugh their asses off, keep drinking and not feel a thing in the morning. I have half a beer and a shot, dance to one song and there I am hugging the toilet until I have completely emptied out my system and am too dehydrated to continue walking. In fact, I have been known to pass out in my boyfriend’s arms, standing in the middle of the street after puking up a couple of beers and half a sandwich. Now, combine that with two days of shameless recuperation and you get pathetic.

Also, I didn’t want to have to go here, but I do: Shopping! I have worked in retail for 10 years and let me tell you, it is NOT easier for skinny girls to shop. In my experience, full-figured women stay away from certain fashions due to their own insecurity and most of the time they look better in them than any walking-hanger-type chick such as myself. Butts and boobs are great and that’s clearly stated by the seams on garments for women. Bellies are endearing and thighs are sexy while a barely “B” cup in a corset is neither. Narrow hips, a small butt and stork-like legs can easily be freaky looking if not dressed properly, trust me. Let’s not even discuss the never-ending search for a freakin’ blazer that fits. I mean come on, all sleeves are ¾ length to me and the ones that fit in the waist, my shoulders rip apart. I hear people all the time saying how clothes are made for skinny people. My ass! Where are those clothes? Please, someone guide me to this skinny people heaven-of-fashion where everything fits my bony ass perfectly. I can’t even find gloves that fit because I have these gross, skinny, alien-looking fingers that no one ever considered in the magical world of mitts. I learned quickly that “one-size-fits-all” does not apply to me.

But who gives a shit about clothes? Let’s get down to health issues. It appears that since I am in fact skinny, I am condemned to deal with a common three-day cold over a period of two weeks. I am incapable of surviving the winter without five layers on bottom and five layers on top, and sometimes I even sleep like that. Socks are layered accordingly to accommodate the desired footwear, not that it matters since my blood only seems to flow down to my ankles and back as soon as the temperature hits lower than 15 degrees. I have the same circulation problems in my hands; it’s just that the blood tends to reach at least the first row of knuckles. To sum it up, from November until April I turn into a mass snot-producing, half-dead ice queen; a corpse on stilts.

To make matters even worse, I have apparently lost my privilege to conceive. My ovaries seem personally offended by the lack of food I consume, and have chosen to rob me of my womanhood by refusing to ovulate. I’m not too worried about that, though. I’m engaged to a Persian. If a Muslim doesn’t get me pregnant, science will.

Now if you thought that the self esteem, emotional and health issues were bad, it doesn’t end there. As a skinny girl, I have learned and gotten personally acquainted with the word “frigid.” In fact, I wanted to shoot myself when I realized that I am party to this disgusting characteristic that strips me of everything that is great when it comes to sex. With direct relation to shitty circulation, I will get too cold to even consider removing a layer of clothing, let alone get naked. And in the magical event, with a half bottle of wine, that I do get hot enough to consider further layer removal, the entire process in itself turns out to be awkward, clumsy and sometimes downright ridiculous, which causes me to deny myself the best natural pleasure known on earth: the orgasm. This process in turn makes me the poster girl for frigidity. It’s at these times that I get the brilliant idea to roll a fatty which automatically deals with the cold issues and allows me to enjoy a few short minutes of foreplay which to me seem like hours and to my partner like seconds.

Needless to say, being the cheap drunk that I am, the wine and herb have gone to my head and now, not only do I not feel the cold, but in fact I don’t feel anything, but a tingly sensation on a momentarily unidentifiable part of my body. Noticing this, my partner wastes no time (having dealt with this before, poor guy), and we proceed to passionate intercourse, which instantly wakes me up and urges me to reciprocate. Ok, now we’re talkin’. This is good times; this is what I’m talking about. Grinding, sweating, moaning…yes! Then of course I start to feel subtle discomforts as all skinny bitches do. When he’s on top of me he’s too heavy, when he’s sitting up I’m too cold, I’m way too drunk to be on top and doggy style hurts my knee caps. He has barely any patience left for me and is in pain (severe bruising) from all those bones sticking out all over the place while attempting to please me. All I have to say is, Thank God he loves me.

Now that we’ve crossed all lines of TMI (too much information) I will leave saying this: Skinny girls have it just as hard, at least the ones with brains. We all have to deal with our own issues. You may not like the fact that your love handles spill over your jeans; well, buy better jeans, just like I have to layer extra tank tops so my ribcage doesn’t show through. Being called Fat is just as hurtful as receiving a belittling, so-called “compliment” about your physical appearance that consistently implies your ignorance and promiscuity.

Fat girls are a blast and some are some skinny ones, so please stop looking at me like a freakin’ mannequin because truthfully, my world is no prettier than yours.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Home

It didn’t take us long to pack and hightail out of our room at the Red Knight Motel. We were scared that if we looked in the closet again with alert & sober eyes, the dead hooker really would be there.

It was even quicker for us to check out, and ixnay the free continental breakfast. Axle grease coffee, day old bread and dispensable fruit loops in curdled milk just aren’t our scene. Food snobs, remember? Realists, too. So, we ended up going the way of motorists and truckers traversing scenic America: Drive thru McDonalds for egg mcmuffins, coffee and hash browns. We may be food snobs, but totally agree that breakfast is the best contribution McDonalds has made to the planet. When will they wise up and make it an all day thing?

We were still into our coffee when Sandy poked me in the ribs and said,

He: Cheech?

Me: Yes, Ace?

He: I really liked Target.

Me: I know you did, and I’m so glad!

He: Cheech?

Me: Yes, Ace?

He: Is there another Target close to here?

Me: Didn’t satisfy the craving, huh?

He: Noooo….

Shirley found us a Target in Buffalo, New York, conveniently located across the street from the Walden Galleria Mall. More Target AND other fantastic stores we are not privy to at home. Happy, happy shoppers, us.

When the number of bags in our hands got to a level of ridiculous (we’re in a Mini, remember), we decided that it was definitely time to go. In less than two hours, through some pretty poopy weather and all kinds of hilly roads, we finally made it home.

It never really hits me that a trip is over until that hour or so before I get to my front porch. I can be on a plane, in a car, whatever, but until that last hour I’m still in full vacation mode. When the skies opened up to rain down on us, as we made the last merge onto the highway that would take us home I thought, This is it. It was great, fantastic, but it’s over.

It’s never a very happy thing, coming down from your vacation high. But it’s nice at the same time, having that experience and knowing how it has, in some small way, changed you for the better. And so for my thank-you prayer:

There once was a girl in a bucket
Who decided to go Nantucket
She so loved her time there
That it made her swear,
“I’m coming back here someday, Fuck it!”

Crass, so crass. A poet I ain’t, nor bucket resident, but then rhyming really isn’t my thing. I think Sandy said it best, after we’d unpacked everything into his house, after the mess had been sorted and divided into His and Hers piles, when he pulled me in for a soft hug and quietly told me, “Thank you for this.”

I knew exactly what he meant. Getting away, seeing what we did, taking our time, sleeping well, not thinking about the daily grind if only for a few days, made all the difference in the world.

Conversations of a Road Trip


Oh, I love Target. I don’t care if it’s considered cheap stuff, I don’t care if the designer-savvy look their noses down on it. I love it I love it I love it. I love that it’s red, I love the stupid bullseye, and I especially love that even though I only go a small handful of times per year I always get the best stuff: paisley bedding, gorgeous frames, funky tees and kiwi-scented wipes for my dog, which he hates but of course, I love.

Sandy has never been to Target, but has plenty heard me talking about it. This was his inaugural trip, and I knew I’d struck a vein all of ten minutes after we’d walked in, and the cart was full of clothes for him, clothes for his son, clothes for the rest of his family and of course, car stuff and some snacks.

He: Cheech! Look at this awesome winter coat! It’s sixty dollars! Sixty dollars! What the heck is that all about?

Me: Wow, that looks great on you!

He: Did I mention it’s sixty dollars? For a dressy coat? Sixty dollars?

Me: Yeah, I caught that bit already…

He: Cheech! Sixty dollars! This is just the best store ever!

Etc. We were there ‘til they kicked us out at 11pm, at which point we threw our (multitude of) bags into the backseat and hightailed out. Bit of advice: Power shopping with a Mini Cooper is not the wisest thing in the world to do, but still very doable when absolutely necessary.

We are on the road, it is close to midnight and we are tired, so the time is right to look for somewhere to sleep. Most unfortunately, the only place available within the next 40 miles is the Red Knight Motel, personified by a masked & shielded knight in full body armor on the dimly lit sign.

We knew that the Red Knight Motel wasn’t exactly luxury accommodation - places that come with $10 off coupons rarely are – but we just wanted a bed to crash in for five or six hours, and free parking for Joey, so we took the plunge.

When you walk into a motel room and the very first thing you see is a burn on the carpet the exact size and shape of an iron, it’s usually not a good sign. Neither are the cobwebs under the chairs, the brown stains baked into the bathroom linoleum, or that really strange plastic smell permeating just about everything. We were half expecting a dead hooker in the closet but thankfully, that was nonexistent.

When in such questionable surroundings, it is fortunate to be in possession of alcohol. We had alcohol. Sandy cracked open those mini wines he’d purchased at the liquor barn, and we sucked down the lot along with our dinner of those vine leaf rice rolls, asiago crackers, and chocolate covered pretzel sticks.

Me: Fuck, this is good wine.

He: I know!

Me: More, please. I don’t want to remember this room.

He: Bottoms up...

After drunkenly giggling our way through the mediocrity of our surroundings, then showers in the cracked tub (taking care not to use the stinky motel soap, I might add), we got ready for bed. This normally doesn’t consist of pulling a bedspread off with ice bucket tongs and then tossing it to the floor, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Sandy looked at the bedspread, then at me and said, “Aren’t you going to be cold?”

Me: Yes. This blanket is paper thin.

He: Why don’t you cover yourself with the bedspread too?

Me: I don’t want to touch it.

He: Are we supposed to huddle together for body heat then?

Me: Okay!

He climbed into the double bed, then we wrapped our arms around each other and slept like babies. He’s just the best boyfriend ever.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ciao, Nantucket

Sandy and I left Nantucket at noon on a Thursday. We took that morning nice and slow, last minute packing, breakfast at the Inn, and just before lunch, boarded the ferry that would take us back to the mainland.

Again, I don’t do well on boats. I don’t like mass bodies of water, I don’t like cramped cabin space, and I especially don’t like the squalls and swells of choppy waves. It makes me sweaty and clammy, nauseous and icky, the lot of it. I bought us some hot chocolate and tried to discover Sudoku instead. I discovered I have no patience for it.

The Fall colours going home were just as beautiful as they were on the way up, and we got to enjoy them even more by spreading our journey over two days. And why are we spreading our journey over two days, when it’s just as doable to make it in one? To shop.

Nantucket has been good to us, but in terms of retail therapy, it sucked. It was great for pretty things and kitschy stuff; that hand-painted ornament I got will look really nice on Sandy’s Christmas tree, and the pumpkin beer was a blast. But for everything else, nada. Our shopping buds crave more.

Thus, we mapped out a few interesting stops to make our trip (and retail) experience all the more fruitful. First Luke’s Liquor Barn. Ta da! Discounted spirits in a gigantic aluminum sided fake barn! Sound cheesy? Oh it was, but another thing Sandy and I have in common is a passion for finer distilled products. When months ago I told him that I’ve been collecting old & unique liquors and wines since my teen years, he didn’t laugh because he does the same thing.

Purchase at the Barn: A nicely expensive bottle of pear brandy, ooh-la-la. I had to tear myself away from the Macadamia Liqueur and Kona Coffee Liqueur since there would be a border to cross, and I already had a bottle of Nantucket rum in the trunk. Boo. Sandy got a kick out of the miniature wines, and got himself a four pack of Woodbridge Estates. I laughed. Wouldn’t you?

Next stop: Ihop! We finally made it to the pancake house of glory and ordered... Steak! Isn’t all-day breakfast a scream? As tempted as I was by the mile-high stack of buttermilk babies topped with strawberries, the fruit looked suspiciously like canned pie filling, and so I passed. Our meals came with sides of small pancake stacks anyway, which we happily doused with maple syrup only after removing half the butter sitting on top. Really, who needs an ice cream scoop’s worth of milk fat?

Now that I’ve finally been to an Ihop, I can finally make my concensus: Alright. I won’t be going through Ihop withdrawal symptoms anytime in the near future, but I did really really like the bottomless coffee. By the time we left, my hands were shaking, I had a massive permagrin stapled to my face, and talked about everything under the sun, at a mile a minute. Sandy laughed. Wouldn’t you?

After this we get lost because our GPS system, which we have christened Shirley, decided she wasn’t up to working just then. While Shirley took over an hour to find a freakin’ signal, Sandy and I had no choice but to better discover the state of Massachusetts. Very pretty, very well put together, very nice during this time of year. A journey very full of profanities, because we really wanted to get that signal and on the highway.

After an hour Shirley finally got off her ass, found the signal and thus the highway. We drove for a few more hours, stopping only for the obligatory nature call, until it was dark and we slid into our next destination in Schenectady, New York.

Say Schenectady ten times really fast, Ske-neck-ta-dee, and you might just give yourself a headache. We didn’t exactly share a burning desire to go to Schenectady, New York, I mean it’s not like it was on travel list of dreams or anything like that, but we’re definitely here for a reason. You see, Schenectady, New York is home to the underestimated haven of cool, the pilgrimage of bargain hunters and the promised land of discount shopping: Target.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Nantucket

We docked at Nantucket Harbor around 10pm and our inn was a short drive away, so we parked Joey, hauled our bags up all three floors of the Inn we were staying at, and called it a night. So, our first real glimpse of the island was the next morning, from one of the outdoor wraparound verandas close to our room.

Here are some of the logistics of Nantucket: Settled in the 1600s, nicknamed the Grey Lady, huge in the whaling industry once upon a time, fodder for Melville’s Moby Dick; present day summer colony and subject of dirty limericks. Our Inn view, coincidentally one of the highest points on the island, is one of trees, sails and miles of ocean set against the October sky.

Nantucket amazes me; I find it near unbelievable that such places exist. It’s crazy quiet for one, since the only real noise comes from the two boats ferrying passengers back and forth, loud foghorns signaling either a docking or departure. There is really no traffic on the island, because there are not enough cars. There aren’t even all that many street signs, since the locals already know where they’re going.

The houses are built in the colonial style, shingled with beige cedar shakes that weather into gray over time. The doors are painted dark colours and adorned with knockers in the shapes of scallops, pineapples, or lightship baskets. The population of full time island residents is around the 10,000 mark; I’d say that at least 10,000 people walk by my window every day at home. There are probably 10,000 people walking outside my window right now.

Downtown Nantucket is a small neighbourhood surrounding Main Street, still paved with its original, ancient now very smoothed over stones. Walking on them is a lark, but driving on them is pure hell. Sit on top of a life buoy in a raging jacuzzi, that comes pretty close to the experience; Joey’s alignment will never forgive me. On either side of Main Street are the sweetest little shops and boutiques, harboring not-so-sweet prices: I saw a gorgeous little painting around the size of one square foot that I thought would be a wonderful little souvenir of our time there, but wasn’t about to part with $17,000 to pay for it. Sandy and I did a lot of coughing, then showed ourselves to the door.

Main Street leads right to the docks, which leads right to the ocean, which is beside the beaches and shores that cradle Nantucket. Shells wash up by the millions on these shores, and quaint lighthouses dot three parts of the island. The rest of it is trees, cranberry bogs, organic farms, sailboats in the harbours and the perpetual scent & tickle of salty ocean spray.

So what did Sandy and I do in this place, this very beautiful, very small, very quiet place abundant in natural charm and pretty much zero nightlife? What did we do in a place that, truthfully, is very renown for not having much to do at all?

Well, we started by doing something we don’t get to do that often: We relaxed. We went to bed early, we slept late, we took our evenings in the room to snack on tidbits and watch horror movies. We took long walks, perusing the shops for interesting (and affordable) items; we walked through the streets, up and down the hills and through the beaches, collecting seashells and picking up live scallops to watch them creep open, and then snap shut. We sat on the rocks at Brant Point to take in the boats, the sky, and the sea.

We took daytrips because we could, because we had Joey with us and because in small places, it always seems like you have all the time in the world. We drove to the other side of the island and saw the rose covered cottages of Siasconset. We went to Nantucket’s vineyard, distillery & brewery, all in one convenient location, to sample bourbon, rum & beer. We found the most obscure seafood market in the world and went back again and again for the unbelievable clam strips and oysters on the half shell. The day we went for lobster bisque it was so cold outside that we ate the soup in the car, and completely fogged up the windows.

We drove five miles for coffee for the hell of it, partly because it was good coffee, and partly because we had nothing better to do just then. We went to the bookstore around the corner and found our own treasures: Ringo Starr’s Postcards for Sandy, and Roald Dahl’s collected ghost stories for me. We had homemade chocolate chip cookies for teatime everyday at the lily leaf, wicker furniture, candle-bedecked veranda of our inn. We went to the pub down the street, an ancient whaling tavern, for dinners of clam chowder and cheese platters with strawberries and grapes.

We took lots of pictures, Sandy on his digital and me on Dad’s old Minolta, the one camera that year in and year out has never done me wrong. Perhaps the Resurgence of Photogirl is on the horizon at last? It was a promising (re)start.

Best of all, Sandy and I had time. We had nothing to do time, we had holding hands time, we had be mushy be funny be silly time. We talked about everything under the sun, because we do that. We didn’t rush, because we never get to do that. We lazed around and didn’t check our email, because neither one of us is so foolish to let something like that slide, at home.

There are many kinds of vacations in life. There are the vacations where you climb mountains, or go on daring adventures, or live in a tour bus for weeks on end, only experiencing what you’re allowed to experience when the bus comes to a complete stop. There are beach towel vacations, culinary vacations, spa vacations and weekend road trips just a few hours south.

But every now and then comes that special getaway that gives you the most important time of all: Each other time. It’s a funny thing, being swept up in the everyday, that even though you can see someone as often as you wish, you can’t really see them until you go somewhere else. There is no running around, no paperwork, no endless catastrophes to mend. The buzzing comes to a standstill. You can finally feel the wind in your hair.

For those few days, those good days, we had time for everything in the world, especially one another. I am forever grateful for them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


University was the first time I ever got to live away from home. In the months prior to my departure, I was crazy excited and got all kinds of kitschy things to decorate my shared room with: Mickey Mouse sheets, a beer bucket, and posters. One of these posters had a diagram of a two-headed turtle on it, and underneath that, The Procastinator's Creed:

1. I believe that if anything is worth doing, it would have been done already.

2. I shall never move quickly, except to avoid more work or find excuses.

3. I will never rush into a job without a lifetime of consideration.

4. I shall meet all of my deadlines directly in proportion to the amount of bodily injury I could expect from missing them.

5. I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries, and a reprieve from my obligations.

6. I truly believe that all deadlines are unreasonable regardless of the amount of time given.

7. I shall never forget that the probability of a miracle, though infinitesimally small, is not exactly zero.

8. If at first I don't succeed, there is always next year.

9. I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.

10. I shall always begin, start, initiate, take the first step, and/or write the first word, when I get around to it.

11. I obey the law of inverse excuses which demands that the greater the task to be done, the more insignificant the work that must be done prior to beginning the greater task.

12. I know that the work cycle is not plan/start/finish, but is wait/plan/plan.

13. I will never put off tomorrow, what I can forget about forever.

14. I will become a member of the ancient Order of Two-Headed Turtles (The Procrastinator's Society) if they ever get it organized.

In the student world of party-rather-than-study, this was a hilarious creed and I got many compliments on it. I still think it's funny, and look it up every now and again for a good laugh; my original poster has long since been given away.

In reality, it's scary how sometimes what seems like a joke can all too much mimic your life. In my case, that means my writing, health goals, work... everything.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Enter Road Trip

Sandy and I flip our vacation choices back and forth. San Francisco was my idea; Vegas was his. I get a week off every October, and if we’re lucky, Sandy gets to spend it with me. This October we got such luck, and my choice of destination was Nantucket.

Nantucket belongs to the state of Massachusetts, an eight or nine hour drive for us, and then just a ferry ride away from the port of Hyannis. If you look on a map, it’s right beside its better known big sister, Martha’s Vineyard.

I’m a big purveyor of the underdog. One of the huge benefits of traveling is that you get sick of tourist traps all too quickly, and choose the road less traveled. It was why I chose Sonoma over Napa; that bit of less glitter makes it more real.

Everyone and their mother has been to Martha’s Vineyard, has raved about Martha’s Vineyard, has come home with stars in their eyes from Martha’s Vineyard. I too have always wanted to see Martha’s Vineyard (and verify that it actually has a vineyard), but when the Cape Cod & Environs guidebooks kept describing Nantucket as the “Martha’s with less flash,” the itch began.

Besides, I’ve always wanted to go to Massachusetts. We’re talking the home of the Salem Witch Trials (not to be stereotypical, of course), New England clam chowder, and some of the most glorious Fall colours on the planet. Internet photos of beaches, lighthouses and whales tails poking out of the ocean surf did little to sway us in any other direction. We booked. We planned. And then, at 5am on a Saturday, we went.

The drive East was everything we thought it would be, with the mountainous reds and golds of Autumn at its peak. We didn’t stop too much really, only when it was necessary, and when we did stop for meals it wasn’t for the typical roadside grub but tasties from the picnic basket we’d packed ourselves. Sandy and I have sworn off fast food for the most part, a move prompted by some serious stomach upsets after our last weekend road trip. It was burgers & rings all the way through, followed by a night of rationing bathroom times. Very unglamorous, I can assure you.

Thus, we may have been in the parking lot of a McDonalds just like everyone else, but Big Mac combos made way for delicatessen salamis, fromagerie cheeses, seven grain breads, Turkish rice rolls wrapped in grape leaves, fuji apples, dark chocolate with almonds & cherries, and cups of hot butternut squash soup that I’d packed in a thermos that morning. Are we snobs or what?

The near-constant driving, already prepared food and our constant chatter made the hours pass like minutes, and nightfall saw us at the ferry dock in Hyannis, where my little Joey was packed into the belly of a gigantic ferry boat, beside dozens of 18-wheeler trucks and SUVs. It was dark by then and pretty cold, so we opted to spend most of the two-hour crossing in the car, napping.

Enter Ocean Neurosis, sister to my ever popular Airport Neurosis. Thanks to Oli putting me through Jaws when I was four, I have a deathly fear of boats in the middle of the ocean, at night. I don’t see land, I flip. I’m older now and more relatively able to talk myself through things, so I’ll put up with the occasional boat ride here and there to feed my love of travel, but if Sandy ever gets us tickets for a cruise, I just might have to kill him.

To make matters all that worse, I don’t have sea legs. I especially don’t have sea stomach, so being in the very hot cargo hold of a gynormous ferry feeling every little UP and DOWN and SIDE to SIDE while the suspension of my car rolled us BACK and FORTH was really, seriously gross. At least I’m smart enough to recognize my (many) flaws, and had Pepto Bismol chewables on hand. Viva pink drugs.

So, who guessed Nantucket (or was the closest), without prior knowledge of it? What shall your prize be?

Friday, October 19, 2007

.....aaaand my camera is really broken. Dead. Caput. Figures.

I'll have to borrow Sandy's camera to do this, and that'll be after a week or so. Why? Because in a few hours, we're packing up into Joey and heading on a road trip. Everyone gets three guesses as to where I'm going, and the winner receives a prize! (Unless you already knew, in which case, sit back and smile while everyone guesses away).

Booyah. I love you all, very much in fact, and will alert you upon my return.

Ain't life grand?

Monday, October 15, 2007

It wasn't until I actually logged on that I realized just how much I missed you all, this... thanks for all your well wishes, it was a bitch of a flu trek made better by the fact that it's OVER! What can I say, I'm not one for being sick.

There's a lot coming up in this little corner of my world: a new look, scheduled posting, a personal trainer, and pictures of the loft. In fact, if you cross your fingers super hard, I just might have them up tomorrow....

If you're reading this, thanks for still coming here and, as always, thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

This is where I normally apologize for being gone so long and I've been lazy and such and bla bla but all I have to say this time is:

Sick. So sick. So tired. Doing my best. Boo on the flu.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I was in the car with Oli, and we were making a quick trip to the store. As Oli pulled into the parking lot, we both noticed a retro silvery blue VW beetle, and that’s when she said, “Hey, isn’t that a vintage Bug?”

I saw it coming a second too late, by then Oli had already socked me in the arm with a whooping, “PUNCH BUGGY BLUE! No pun…”

Ah, the memories of our youth, when we would beat each other senseless in the back seat over beetles seen and unseen. Of course this time around, before Oli could get the “No punch backs,” out in full, I’d cuffed her right back with a, “PUNCH BUGGY SILVER NO PUNCH BACKS!”

“It’s not silver!”

“It sort of is!”

“Alright then, PUNCH BUGGY SILVER BLUE NO PUN… Ow, fucker!”

“You can’t just go and combine colours like that! And I said no punch backs!”

“I can combine whatever I want! You ignored my first no punch back!”

“Cause you didn’t get it out properly! OW! What the hell?”

“I said (punch) PUNCH (punch) BUGGY (punch) BLUE (punch) NO (punch)PUNCH (punch) BACKS!”

“What (punch) the (punch) fuck?” (Keep in mind that throughout all of this, she’s still driving)

“Okay then, (punch) PUNCH (punch) BUGGY (punch) BLUE (punch) BLUE ([punch) SILVER (punch) NO (punch) PUNCH (punch) BACKS!”

“That’s (punch) what (punch) I (punch) said! You (punch ) wanna (punch) be (punch) like (punch) that? PUNCH (punch) BUGGY (punch) PEWTER (punch) NO (punch) PUNCH (punch) BACKS!”

“Pewter? (punch) PEWTER? (punch) IT’S (punch) NOT (punch) PEWTER!”

“It (punch) sort (punch) of (punch) is!”

“Stop!” (punch)

“You stop!” (punch)

And then, in unison: “Why (punch) are (punch) you (punch) still (punch) hitting (punch) me?”

Needless to say, we went into the store both rubbing our shoulders. I forecast a near future of bruises. No one loves a sister like a sister.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Why? A bunch of reasons really, number one being, who would think that the smallest space would need the most work?

I have plans for this room. I want a desk, a good one, because I’m tired of using the pine thingamajig my dad bought when I was 15. I want to get rid of the carpet and put in flooring. I want to paint over the horrible blue I chose, and I want to wallpaper one wall. I want to hang up two pictures I took and developed years ago when I was doing photography. I want to make linen boards, I want to cover up that yucky fuse box; I want this to be my greatest space.

It takes time and it takes money to make a great space, both of which I ran out of before the relatives arrived. They had to be content with what I had so far, this wonderfully purple room which was blue not too long ago. The only things in it are a chair, two rolls of black and white wallpaper, the wallpaper kit to put it up, and two pictures I took over a decade ago, framed and waiting to be put up.

Good things come to those who wait, I’m told, and I really don’t want to rush this. I’m wild over everything else, that it looks so great, that it’s done. The completion of my den, my office, where I’ll do all my work, will have to wait just a little bit longer.

In retrospect, that’s not such a bad thing. After all, I get to be a décor nut for just a little bit longer.

Decorator's Handbook: Project Office

Later.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Project Living Room

I have a huge problem with the term Great Room. I recognize that it’s now in vogue to term your fanciest sitting room the Great Room, but really, what the hell makes it so great? Pompous furniture you almost never sit on? What if you clearly love one room more than your Great Room, does that mean it’s still great? Are any of your other rooms not as great? What about that episode of Designer Guys where one couple expanded their bathroom and pimped it out in post-modern Parisian to the point where it was the best looking and most expensive room of the house? Why wasn’t that the Great Room, especially when you realize that it now totally outdid the actual Great Room in function and finance? And, by calling one room Great, are you imposing roles on your other rooms, making them feel less welcome and thus, they won’t even try to be great?

Psychosis! Hence, I will call it what I’ve always called it: The Living Room. I know that there are a whole bunch of wrong associations stuck to that term too, but fuck it. That’s what I called it growing up, and that’s what I’m calling it now.

Getting back to the point: As soon as my bedroom, bathroom, steps, kitchen and book wall that was supposed to be a dining area were done, all that was left was the Living Room.

My downstairs, or main floor, is just one big room really. Living room and under-stairs crawlspace next to the dining area now book wall, next to the kitchen which is cordoned off by another little wall, over to the two doors leading into my furnace room, next to what I suppose you could call my foyer, next to the steps. It was a bit of a mess to figure out the layout, or more appropriately, where the TV was supposed to go, but I finally found my formula.

Rule #1: Abandon pretension. Remember I said way back that I was into the French boutique hotel look? Ixnay. Not that it didn’t work, I just wasn’t ready to spend the thousands upon thousands needing to get it. I have some great old stuff that, combined with great new stuff, can give me exactly what I want. Looking around at everything now, I do believe it did just that.

Rule #2: Piggybacking off Rule #1, don’t try too hard to be something you’re not. Am I French hotel? Until I can go back to France once day and check into a boutique hotel for at least a week, I’ll never know.

Rule #3: Make your space yours. Surround yourself not just with magazine ideas, but with YOU.

Rule #4: As quoted by my cousin Maggie, “Take what you like and make it work.” Of course this can be taken to excess – do you really need to display the pig figurine collection of your youth beside that Missoni vase? Nuh uh. But you do want to take those pieces you do love, and make them feel cherished in your home. When something truly belongs, it sings. Maybe people and furniture are just alike that way.

Why am I waxing philosophical about the Living Room then, especially after finishing all this other stuff before it? Because it’s an important place, the Living Room. It’s a busy area, the place your guests come to know well, the epicenter of your home where talking, entertaining, eating relaxing, just being, all come together. At the very least, it deserves some attention.

So, here’s what I started with: chocolate brown and creamy coloured walls, a couch, coffee table & end table combo, a fantastic painting, surround sound system & DVD player, a rug I hated and a platted I adored. My couch is the coffee coloured ultrasuede sectional you’ve all heard so much about, and the coffee & end table were the dark wood, black leather topped marvels I got at a very chic store in the city. Floor model sale. The painting was the huge one I picked up last year in Jerash, The Meeting, and had framed for not a small sum of money. I always find it ironic when the art is cheaper than the frame.

Surround sound and DVD player speak for themselves. I don’t hate the rug because it’s a shitty rug, I just hate it because it did nothing for the space. A nice coffee coloured broadloom that matched SO well with my couch, it blended everything a little too well together. No striking qualities, no pick-me up, no “Man, that bitch did a great job decorating,” but more like, “She sooooo screwed up the colour scheme.” Meh. I blame Oli the rug error, after all she was the one who convinced me it’d look great.

The fantastic metal platter I picked up at an African store near work. Not on sale. Very expensive, as a matter of fact. But hey, life isn’t just about sales, you know. As much as I’d love to get everything on discount, sometimes you just gotta splurge, especially on those pieces that ooze class.

What I needed: TV stand, TV to put on TV stand and plug all that surround sound into; possibly something a little extra to display more of my endless stuff and, my favourite, funky l’il accents to pull it all together.

Okay. The first thing I did was change where the couch faced. It used to face the book wall, but since that idea is dead and gone, now my couch faces the much closer wall to its right. Unfortunately, this involved a decorative casualty: the end table. No more room for it now, unless I want to bruise my knee every time I turn the corner. So with a somewhat heavy heart, I pack it away in the back of Blue’s room, the crawlspace. Only somewhat, though. Turns out it’s an excellent storage piece for all those extra serving dishes and kitchen things I don’t have room for. Rejoice! And yes, I covered it up with a tablecloth so the leather wouldn’t get scratched.

So I have a brown couch, a dark coffee table made darker with all that black leather, and dark walls. Too dark. White shag rug makes the space pop. White shag rug, excellent for shagging; also excellent for fluffing. Spend hours vacuuming up the soft white tumbleweed now littering my loft, until the situation is under control. Send coffee broadloom rug down to storage, where I’ll either use it someday, or find it a new home.

Shopping for a television on a limited budget sucks. SUCKS. You want a flat LCD, you want it big, but you don’t want to pay the couple grand to have it. Grant it, flats screens have come down nicely in price since their $15,000 inception, but nothing I looked at under $2,000 was really any good.

I refuse to pay $2,000 for a television at this stage in my life. I don’t have a huge place, a husband to help foot the bill, or an X-Box. But, I do have a wonderful boyfriend with a Costco membership. If you don’t mind not having a big name on your TV, which I certainly don’t, then $800 for a 37-inch Viewsonic LCD television is a bonus and a half deal. Having a wonderful boyfriend with an SUV is also a bonus and a half. Could you imagine me trying to cart that gynormous box home in Joey?

TV stand, back to Ikea. The Expedit is nice, dark, contemporary, and matches my bookshelves to a fault. The DVD player didn’t fit inside it (not shitty measuring on my part, I just liked the Expedit more than anything else) so it had to go underneath, but the spaces the stand itself provides show off my speakers very well. Sandy hooked everything up and arranged it nicely. Good boyfriend. On either side of the TV is a lamp, complete with dimmers. Hey, lighting is important. Don’t want to glare out the romance of horror movies, you know.

Over the television I had room for an espresso coloured floater shelf. I messed around with a bunch of things before deciding what to display and what to nix, and here’s what made the cut: Two silver glass candlesticks, a pile of old books, the kitschy antique volleyball from Portobello market, the pre-Communist camera I got in Europe but still have no idea how to use, and an old electric fan I found in a pawn shop.

It’s pretty obvious I love vintage.

As for accents, I toss some navy embroidered cushions on the couch, finds from a store near work. My silver platter goes on the coffee table and on that, a bunch of shells. I love shells, too. If you ever see me on a beach, 10 to one I’ll be elbow-deep in a sandbar, digging for shells. I found these great shells for half off at Pottery Barn, and some even better faux silver shells I scoped out in this adorable boutique near the units’ house. They’re supposed to be place card holders, but I like them better on my platter, mixed in with the real thing.

In my haste for accents I picked up a clear vase and filled it up with some cowrie shells, intending to put it on the floater shelf over the TV. It looked terrible there, too crowded, so I stuck it next to a lamp for the time being, just until all the boxes and mess was cleared up.

It doesn’t go with my theme of symmetry but looks good there anyway, kind of at home. Who would’ve thought?

It’s kind of the same as me and this loft, when I think about it. I won’t say that nothing turned out the way I intended, because some things did. Lots of things but, overall, not what I anticipated. A lot different, but I love it.

I’m comfortable.

I’m home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dear Moms,

Not an hour after you came over to see my decorating progress, I received a wonderful compliment from you. You looked at my book wall and said that it was absolutely stunning and that in fact, it showcased Me most wonderfully.

Imagine that. However, why is there always a however with mothers? Not five seconds into my glowing bask of happiness, you interjected with a crinkle of the nose, and asked me what sort of dining table and chairs I’d purchased, and when they would be arriving.

Oh, mother. Mother, mother, mother. Moms. I can see where this idea of yours came from, after all, this is the space in my loft provided for dining, and a place where I’m sure everyone else who has a unit identical to mine has placed their dining table and chairs. But when I told you that I hadn’t purchased any kind of dining set and would, in fact, not be getting one at all, the look on your face was akin to that of a perplexed flamingo.

Where am I going to SIT? Where am I going to EAT? Am I not aware that being sans table & chairs is perhaps the most unstylish, etiquette-less way of living? How can I expect to have any manners, in fact, how can I even expect to bear children with manners if I don’t SIT DOWN properly on a CHAIR, and eat dinner from a TABLE?

Ah but you see, I’d thought of that. I again showed you my pair of brown ultrasuede topped bar stools, pulled up to my extended kitchen counter (a.k.a Breakfast Bar), and said this, mother, this is where I am going to eat. It’s just me, myself and I living here you know, and I’d rather enjoy the full view of my shelves, books ‘n stuff, than swallow up space with furniture I’ll hardly ever use. (Note that I also refrained from telling you that I love sitting & eating on the kitchen counter).

Seeing your victory quickly fading you played the Sandy card, since you properly adore him, and asked me where he would be sitting when I make him dinner? Where will my boyfriend eat if I’m not properly serving him dinner on a table? The couch, I replied, and if not the couch, the floor. We really like to sit on the floor and eat off the coffee table, watching movies.

You snorted. Knowing you, snorting is trouble. You snorted, rolled your eyes and told me, point blank, how this type of living was for perverts and women of the night. Not only was I being a ruffian, but I’d just gone right ahead and RUINED my loft.

Oh, mother. Mother, mother, mother. Moms. I know that even trying to explain that this is my house and this is the way I like it would be totally futile, since you absolutely know your way is best, but what else can I say? This is my house, and this is the way I like it. Really like it, in fact. I value my space a lot more than a table, and some extra chairs that I really, really won’t be using. I mean, really.

Fine, then. Your defeat absolute you turned to leave, muttering all the while.

Oh, moms. I may not be a fan of dining sets at this age or with this setting, but never fear. I know which forks to eat with, and when I’m in restaurants, I almost always opt to eat sitting at a table. And I know that one day, should I ever bear children, you will sweep in and make sure they know how to sit properly on chairs, and eat even more properly off fine china plates, that are nicely set on a table. A far, far cry from their Bohemian mother, I’m sure.

Most very uncouthly,

Your daughter

Monday, September 24, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Living with Books

Note: I'm trying really, really hard to get some pics up here, but my digital camera is in a state of shock. Why does this always happen when I don't need it to? Anyway, I'm doing my absolute bestest to get it all up by next week. If not by then, rest assured - pics coming! Also, thanks for bearing with me during the decor phase. It's almost over. --WLFG

I love to read, hence I love books. I’ve loved to read all my life, or at least since I first learned how. So if loving to read means loving books, loving books means I have lots of them.

Anyone who ever wants to get me a present knows that a trip to the bookstore is never out of order. Combine that with my own huge weakness for the written word, and there are books, hundreds of books, mostly in boxes stacked kind of, sort of neatly in my parents’ basement. I’ve been adding to these boxes for years in the hope that one day, I’d have enough room to display my books properly.

I may call my loft a shoebox for all kinds of reasons, but one of the reasons I love it is for the east wall in my living room, a wall beside the kitchen and big enough for plenty of bookshelves, housing plenty of books. The wall itself is chocolate brown, and only a few inches more than I needed to fit five Billy bookcases.

Billy is your standard bookshelf, the pride and joy of Ikea. Billy is sold in a variety of colours and sizes, and the espresso shelves looked great against the chocolate. Why shouldn’t they? Coffee and chocolate are already great pairings in life. Three of these shelves are 40cm wide, and two are 80cm, so I sequenced them thin, fat, thin, fat and thin. The two wide shelves hold nothing but books, while the three skinnys hold part books, part stuff.

I’m a huge fan of stuff. Some might call this a tendency towards packrat-itude, but I think the far better word is Collector. Collector of stuff, that’s me. Collector of stuff that only I could find totally cool, while others harbour their different, varying opinions. About my stuff, that is.

So among my cornucopia of stuff are vintage piano music books, cigar boxes, an old clock (unwound, the ticking drives me mental), a Pastis bottle from the side of the street in Paris, a Coca Cola bottle from the side of the street in Amman (I thought the logo in Arabic was hysterical), a blue tin filled with Czech letter stamps that, once upon a time, used to set newspaper typeface. Black & whites of dad’s mom, mom’s parents, and mom’s grandfather, my great-grandfather who sailed to America in the dawn of the 20th century and worked for a farmer named Louis.

In short, stuff that looks great next to books. Stuff that’s familiar; stuff that I love. On the floor next to my shelves, kind of offset in the corner, are two vintage wood & metal crates that held bottles of some sort during WWII. They now hold several bottles of red wine that I’m sure me and several guests will be enjoying over the coming months.

When all was said and done and my Book Stuff wall completed, I sat back to enjoy the view. I’m very happy with it.

Decorator's Handbook: Project Kitchen

My big dream for the kitchen: Replace all cupboards with something darker, buy stainless steel appliances, a granite countertop, and tile the backsplash with something shinily funky. Replace lighting.

Reality: Accept that my cupboards will never math my floor (stupid condo developers), love my black appliances, accept my black formica counter, save backsplash tiling for when I have more $$, and put up two Ikea steel racks for extra storage. Keep dreaming about lighting replacements.

Boo. But at least on the wall right outside the kitchen, I have a most fabulous painting of a purple chandelier, bought on power sale at an art exhibit.

I love art.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Bathroom Bling

Ta DA!

I bought a stainless steel toilet seat! I'm kitschy, fabulous and fun.

On the other hand, I bought a stainless steel toilet seat. Have I gone totally insane?

(Note that the seat itself is plastic, it’s the lid that’s steel. I’m not stupid enough to rip my ass off a cold steel toilet seat in winter. Still though, have I gone totally insane?)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

100% Real Juice: Shirley Temple


Finally, our 100% Real Juice actually involves Juice. Note that I’m not talking about Shirley Temple Black, the actress and United Nations Ambassador, but her namesake, Shirley Temple the drink.

Though it should carefully be noted that anyone within their right minds would aspire to achieve even half of what Shirley Temple Black has throughout her life, me included. Moving along, then.

Shirley Temple is a cocktail and a virgin to boot, meaning there’s no alcohol. The standard mix is parts ginger ale, orange juice and grenadine, garnished with a maraschino cherry and orange slice. Many a bartender has played with the recipe since its birth though, and each new recipe is slightly different from the last.

I’ll never forget the first time I had a Shirley Temple. I was seven and having brunch at the country club, la-dee-dah. Brunch and country clubs for the seven-year old who was I wasn’t exactly the norm, no no, but more on the lines of our family getting a special invitation from Dad’s boss.

Mr. Harrington was a dashing British fellow in his 50’s, who always wore custom suits and was never short of breath mints. He had crisp blue eyes, perfectly behaved white-blonde hair parted to the left, and a way of charming women right off their slingbacks. Mr. Harrington always traveled with two things: the silver tipped cane he didn’t need, and Mrs. Harrington the second ,the model-turned-secretary-turned-mistress-turned-wife who was no less than 20 years his junior. It was heavily debated as to whether he really needed her, either.

This was all quite scandalous and thrilling for my sister and I, and we chattered excitedly about it for days on end. Just imagine, we would be having brunch in a country club with a British person who happened to be Dad’s boss, and a second wife with peroxide blonde hair. We could hardly wait.

It was much less thrilling but a lot more scandalous for our mother, who had to prepare a couple of mop top kids for this poo poo event. Two weeks, two new dresses, two haircuts, four shoes and endless etiquette lessons later, we were properly pruned, educated, and terrified of embarrassing ourselves and our parents. “And for crying loud (to this day moms says it, for crying loud), don’t say anything about swallowing your tooth!”

“Or where you saw it later,” Dad chipped in. I gulped, Oli snickered but faltered under the steely glare of our mother, and in we went.

It was magnificent. A huge, pastel ballroom with panoramic windows ornamented in creamy, gathered curtains that accented the glorious view of the green, green golf course. A string quartet played Beethoven to the sea of patrons in their diamonds, furs, Rolexes and tailored garb, as everyone politely nibbled their meals from heirloom flatware.

Oli and I had never seen such opulence in our lives. We were the children of immigrant parents striving to make it in a new world, after all, and our mouths dropped open in wonder and shock. A quick nudge from moms and our traps clapped shut again, just in time for the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Harrington.

They waltzed toward us, having come in from a separate entrance, he in his tweed suit and she in her silver fox. A liveried gentleman hurried over to take their coats as all the grown ups gave their proper greetings and salutations. Then, the Harringtons turned to us kids.

“You must be Olivia,” said Mr. Harrington, as Mrs. Harrington made a big to-do with kissing my sister on both cheeks. “It’s very nice to meet you.”

Oli replied as she’d been taught, coached incessantly by our mother at home: “It’s very nice to meet you too, Mr. Harrington. And Mrs. Harrington. You look lovely.”

Mr. Harrington then turned to me with a big smile on his face, and said, “The youngest of the family! Tell me, are you your father’s daughter, or your mother’s?

Uh oh. A trap. We hadn’t gone through this at home. I’d been all prepared with my, “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Harrington, I’m so very pleased to meet you. Thank you for inviting us today.” Everyone was staring at me, waiting for a response, and Mrs. Harrington was coming at me with her jingly jewellery and enormous breasts. “They’re both my parents, Mr. Harrington. At least that’s what they always tell me.”

The Harringtons burst out laughing, Oli looked down to giggle in peace without our mother noticing; Moms and Dad turned fifty shades of purple. And with that, we were led to our seats.

The table settings were as superb as the room; celadon green linens, then a smaller white tablecloth on top, Wedgwood china and about 835 forks that, thanks to Moms’ tutelage, I now knew how and when to use. No sooner were we seated, than a black tie waiter came over to take our order for drinks.

Mr. Harrington had a gin & tonic; Mrs. Harrington an olive martini, very dry. Dad ordered a scotch & soda and moms, white wine. Then, it was mine and Oli’s turn.

This part was supposed to be easy. Moms had drilled us on this at home, too: two drink maximum, in the form of 7-Up for Oli, and ginger ale for me. We were not to go for broke on Mr. Harrington’s tab, but ordering water was a no-no; we didn’t want to look needy. We were not permitted to drink Coke, thus 7-Up was perfect for 12-year old Oli, and ginger ale the perfect choice for me.

Oli ordered her soda and then the water looked at me. I asked for my ginger ale but was interrupted by Mr. Harrington. “Nonsense. She’s a lady, and needs a lady’s drink. Fetch her a Shirley Temple.”

Shirley Temple? Wasn’t that the kid in black and white singing and dancing around in The Little Princess, a movie Oli had taken me to see for free at the library last month? I was very confused by all this and started to ask Mr. Harrington about it, but a swift kick from my sister shut me up. I was left to stew with my thoughts while the adults made small talk and then, the waiter delivered everyone’s drinks and with them, my Shirley Temple.

I’d never seen anything like this before, much less tried such a colourful drink, complete with little paper parasol and plastic sword spearing an orange slice & maraschino cherry. I’d never even had a maraschino cherry. I stared at that drink, not touching it until Mr. Harrington lifted his glass with a, “Cheers, all!”

Moms had told us all about this and what to do so Oli and I lifted our glasses to clink along, as Mrs. Harrington squealed. “Look, they’re cheers-ing with us! Isn’t that just darling, darling?” My sister and I exchanged knowing looks and finally, we were able to try our drinks.

It was heaven in a glass, this Shirley Temple. It was fruity and tangy and delicious all at once, tasting like cherries and oranges with just the right touch of gingery, bubbly snap. Not too little, and not too much. Mr. Harrington was right. This was a lady’s drink, and as I sat there sipping my Shirley Temple, I felt very much the lady indeed.

Fast Forward: 25 years later, I’m at my cousin Seth’s wedding, hanging out at the bar drinking Bloody Caesars with Sandy. The bartender has been most generous with the vodka and hot spices so we’re happy and flushed, laughing at each others’ red lips.

My little cousin and flower girl for the night, Jinny, meanders up to the bar. Jinny is a very beautiful little girl and is even more so tonight in her white dress with chocolate brown sash, hair decorated with rhinestones and baby’s breath. She’s six-years old but will be seven in a few short weeks, and tonight, she’s at the bar to get herself a ginger ale.

This struck something in me, and I quickly halted her order. “Hey kiddo, would you mind if your Auntie got you something else to try? I promise it’s really good.” We may be cousins, but our huge age difference grants me the title of Auntie. Jinny nods, and I ask the bartender to whip up a Shirley Temple.

Carlos, the Costa Rican bartender of miracles, makes a very pretty drink in a highball glass, and adds a dash of pineapple juice for extra colour. I slide the drink over to Jinny, and she tiptoes up to the bar to get it, clasping the glass with both hands and taking her first sip through the red straw.

Jinny’s blue eyes widen as she looks up at me and her lips, still on the straw, curl into enough of a smile to betray her dimples. I know that look well, after all, I had one just like it at her age. “Oh, Auntie, this is so good. It’s…” and there she paused, lost for words.

“Positively ladylike?”

She smiles again and says, “Yeah!” then clasps her glass again, taking another sip.

How wonderful it is, to be young. How even more wonderful, when you are young, to find that first real taste of grownup in cherries, orange juice and a little paper umbrella. May it be as marvelous for every little girl, as it was for Jinny and I.

We left the bar then, Sandy with his arm around me, and Jinny with one hand in mine. The three of us and Shirley Temple head back to our table, our cheeks pink from vodka and first-ever kiddy cocktail giddiness, respectively. “Hey Jinny, want to hear a story?” I say.

“Okay.”

“It’s about a woman with big hair, big nails, and way too much gold jewellery that always makes noise when she walks.”

“What’s her name?”

“Mrs. Harrington the second.”

Jinny’s face scrunches up a little. “She sounds weird.”

“You don’t know the half of it.”

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Elegy for a Tape Measure


You were black on the outside
Yellow, in.
Centimetres, Inches
Millimetres too,
The man at the couch store gave you to me
Free with purchase
I thought after spending thousands
I’d get more.

Nonetheless we were happy
And oh, how we measured
From bookshelves to kitchens
Then ceiling to floor,
My bed in the corner
My desk not yet bought;
The pictures on the wall
You specified them all.

Then one fateful day
I don’t know what happened,
I packed you into my bag then thought,
“Just a quick double check,”
I pulled out your little sunshine strip then let go,
Woe, horrific woe,
When the stopper clip on end flew clean off
And too quickly,
You were sucked into the dark depths
Never to see light again.

I wailed for five minutes,
It did me no good,
Then ran to get dad’s trusty Old Silver,
Crying out in despair when I saw firsthand
That it only measured in feet.
Father, how could you?

Oh, my tape measure, how I adored you.
Oh, my tape measure, how I shall miss you.
Though broken you are still on my nightstand,
A testament to our time,
Numerals silenced; never to stretch again.

My home, not yet finished, craves your attention,
Untaken measurements quietly weep,
Centimetres unfulfilled;
Desolate portrait.

Oh tape measure, my life is incomplete,
My heart torn apart without you.
Had my sister not bought furniture at the same store,
Also receiving an identical free tape measure
(Which she has now given me),
I would be truly inconsolable.

R.I.P.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Project Steps

Never ignore your stairs. Many will tell you that a staircase is a staircase is a staircase, but I say your steps can be a wonderful window to your personality.

(I totally think the same goes for hallways, but I don’t have one of those just yet)

My loft is many things, including tiny and badly laid out, but it’s got some great stairs. Imagine this, if you will: open the front door to a small landing, with six steps up directly ahead of you, and eight steps down to your left. The steps going up lead to the bedroom, and the steps down, to the living room.

For starters, I’m a huge fan of the floor on my landing. It was one of the few things I splurged on, with my limited budget, when it was time to pick the finishes for my place. That was long before I moved in and very fortunately, the result was a happy one. My landing is covered in the most marvelous chocolate brown stone tile, happy happy joy joy.

A little more unfortunately, my steps are covered in light beige carpet. Boo. I’m not a fan of carpet, but the alternative, all wood flooring, cost megabucks that I didn’t have. But to make things all better again, the railing alongside the steps is some very charming painted white wood.

When you’re standing on the landing and look upstairs, you don’t see much. That’s because it’s a very enclosed space, it is; if it was open, right next to the stairs, on the second floor, would be my bedroom. But since that half-wall that gives the initial loft concept its name starts on the outside, and not in, that’s what’s on the side. I painted the outside of that chocolate brown.

When I said my loft is badly laid out, I wasn’t kidding. At the top of my stairs is a space that’s too big to leave empty, yet too small to fit anything substantial. What’s that all about? So, after much deliberation and tearing out of hair, I thought it a great cranny to fit my tallboy.

Oh, my tallboy. How I love it, bought at an outlet, all shiny sleek black with silver vintage-y handles on the drawers. It’s a fantastic piece rendered almost useless by its too-shallow drawers, a throwback to contemporary furniture. I forgive all its shortcomings by the sheer beauty of just being able to look at it. Gorgeous piece. I commend myself highly on its purchase.

On top of my tallboy is a white doily. I call it that because that’s what one calls a piece of fabric placed on top of furniture or a plate; just understand that I hate frilly shit, and my doilies are never frilly. I got my square, white, sheer doily at a vintage store for next to nothing, and it’s on top of the tallboy for a reason.

On the doily is the only garage sale item I have ever taken home in my entire life: a brown vintage typewriter. A good decade ago I was walking through the West Village just after getting my hair done, when I passed by a corner house in full garage sale mode.

I never stop at garage sales; you can decide if that’s a good or bad habit. But that day as I was walking by their hedge, my foot brushed something. I looked down and saw the most beautiful old typewriter.

A middle-aged wiry Englishman/bloke made his way towards me when I inquired about it; it was his typewriter, over a hundred years old he said, and he’d been putting it out at garage sales for years. At the last minute though, he’d always take it back. Too attached to the piece, you see. That’s why it’d been under the hedge, and as a writer, he just couldn’t part with that beloved machine.

I told him I totally understood, being a hopeful writer myself; we chatted for a few minutes and then, out of the blue, he gave me his typewriter. Gave it to me, just like that. Up and down I refused, but the man insisted. “The only reason I could never part with it, really, is because I didn’t trust anyone else with it. But I know a writer will treasure it. You’ll give it a good home.”

Through several moves, that typewriter has come with me. It weighs a ton but it’s great to look it. I’ll never write a book with it, of that I’m positive, but I’ll always wonder about the sheets of paper and words that did come out of it. It adorns my tallboy with pride.

Beside the typewriter, to its back right corner, is one more ornamentation that I threw together at the last minute: my now very dried up maid-of-honour bouquet from Oli’s wedding. It looks great in the small glass vase that once housed her centerpieces.

Looking down from my landing is a different story altogether. To your left is my chocolate brown wall with my two very long windows, ornamented in thick, white waffle drapes. The same drapes cover the window on my door, in Roman blind style. I really wanted Roman blinds for the windows too, but the moron installer kept insisting that the height of my windows would wear on the drapery track. Boo again.

The wall that ends my square footage, your view from the top of the stairs, I’m very happy with. Right beside my loft bedroom is a piece of wall with a shelf built right in, which I thought would be a great place for an objet, some art, anything funky. My something funky turned out to be a silver and brass astrolabe.

Underneath that is the corner belonging to my main floor, and in that corner I have several things. To your left, the minute you hit the bottom of the steps, is a very simple black and silver coat rack, the kind you anchor right into the wall. Hung on it, for now, is a red paisley cashmere scarf with red faux fur pompoms. I love that scarf, and thought it made the space look more fun.

Under that, nestled in the corner, is my porcelain French umbrella bucket. I only call it French because it’s got some painting on it, vis a vis Paris before the Art Deco age, and inside it are several umbrellas. Just a bit over from that, directly underneath the astrolabe, is my tall black wall mirror. And on the floor, beside the mirror, are two very tall Michael Aram silver candlesticks that look like tree branches, complete with two very tall white taper candles.

Just over from that, going into my living room, is the black French cabinet I got at that secondhand store last year, which is in turn bedecked with a white doily, silver and glass Indian lantern, and two black frames. One has a picture of Oli and Corey on their wedding day; the other is of my parents, circa 1969, when they were in Schlossburg, Germany.

When I open the door to my loft now, when I look up and then down at these little things that make all the difference, I love what I see. I feel at home.

That's a good thing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We have been lost to each other for so long.

Not my line, but the opener of one of The Red Tent, one of my all time favourite books. Scary enough I think I’ve used it here once before, again after a particularly long absence. I’ll refrain from using the search tab.

I haven’t forgotten you. I haven’t forgotten writing, and I haven’t forgotten this blog. But sometimes, every now and then, life hands you a typhoon of events that, to deal with properly, requires some slack in other areas.

Is that a proper excuse for being away for so long? Heck no. Just know that I’ve been busy, crazy busy, and while the weather is getting better here on this front, the winds will still blow for another odd two weeks.

I’ll be posting very occasionally until then, and taking you back in time to cover everything that’s been missed: the decorating, the wedding, my insanity. And hopefully, very soon, you’ll be greeted with a whole new look to this page as well.

Thanks for your patience. Stay posted for the story of my stairs.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Pet Friendly

Having crappy neighbours and their crappy cats (apologies, feline lovers) everywhere makes me appreciate my dog all the more. He's so good and he's so cute and dadblast it, he deserves his own special piece of home, too.

Underneath my stairs is a crawlspace. They couldn't have named those any closer to the point: You go through the tiny door, and access the space by crawling, but then I guess if you're short enough all you have to do is hunch down. Mine isn't too big, maybe three by eight feet, but it's great for storing just about anything. Until recently, it was full of boxes and paint cans.

When I bought my loft I got two things with it: A parking spot, and a storage locker. I didn't have Joey at time of purchase, but figured I'd get a car eventually and voila. Parking occupied.

I figured I'd need the storage locker, oh, just because. You never know when you'll need that extra bit for a rainy day and besides, it's a tidy little plus for resale, too.

A few days ago I was going through those boxes and paint cans in my crawlspace when I got an idea. It took me a while, but I emptied everything out of there, then carted it all downstairs to the storage locker (downstairs in the garage). Stupid thing to do in the month of August; sweat galore! But back in the loft, not an hour later, the nook under my stairs was completely revamped.

In the very back of the crawlspace is an end table I no longer use, holding all kinds of things like serving platters and cushions. Things I won't need unless I have parties or lots of guests.

Right in the front of the crawlspace, when you open the door, is Blue's bed, a few of his toys, and his special pillow. Just a little something for my little four-legs, a place for him to nap or just chill in general. I'm still trying to find his name in letters so I can tack them up on the wall above his bed.

Unfortunately, my opinion of the nook is quite different from Blue's. This little space has not gone over well with him, not at all, and when I ask him to lie down in his bed there, the look of panic on his face is priceless. Needy bum. I suppose he prefers stretching out on the sectional with mummy, and I don't really blame him for that. It's one heck of a sofa.

Then again, I wasn't totally wrong about a dog needing and wanting their own space. Blue doesn't think much of his nook, but Loulou's dog Petey thinks it's positively the cat's meow.

Hopefully, the next thing I do for a dog will be loved by my own!

**Just a small note to thank everyone for putting up with my frequent absences - getting everything together these past few weeks has been hectic at best. It's been a great break from writing, if only to experience a little more of life and collect even more stories to tell you all about! There's plenty more in the weeks to come, including pictures when all is said and done...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dear Cat Owning Neighbours,

While I do consider myself a dog person, I would never go all out to say that I actually "hate" cats. I do not hate anything. However, you are furthering my dislike of these creatures by letting your felines crap on my terrace.

While we must be at a certain odds with each other because that is the way between dog and cat people, I do not whatsoever appreciate wasting my very valuable time shoveling shit with a garden trowel. Let us take a tally of the damage thus far:

Monday: 7 turds
Tuesday: 5 turds
Wednesday: 3 turds
Thursday: 3 turds
Friday: 4 turds

I always found it amazing of the reprimand that dog owners face if caught not picking up their doodies, while outside cats are free to roam and do as they like. Remember this: Just because you don't see what your cat does, doesn't mean she isn't doing anything at all. You may not be picking up after her, but it's very likely that someone else is.

Furthermore, if I actually wanted to live in a litter box, I would let my dog run hog wild throughout my home.

Should this arrangement continue, I will be forced to resort to more extreme measures. Don't come crying to me when your cats are running through your townhouses with paws covered in chili powder. And should one of the village dogs all of a sudden become, oh, predisposed to terrorizing cats when he was never allowed to before, you all had it coming.

While I am sorely tempted to leave a bag of flaming dog poo at your doors, I must remind myself that I am out of grade school and this would reflect badly upon me, if discovered. Then again, I haven't been pushed past my limits yet. I ask you not to test that.

Sincerely,

The Ticked Off Resident

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I sincerely do apologize for my lack of posting recently; please believe me when I tell you that for the past couple of weeks, I've been in a perpetual chicken dance. Chicken without its head dance, that is.

My place has never looked better, but there's still lots to do. As for my relatives, the first wave arrives tonight...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Just yesterday....

"Ace?"

"Yes, Cheech?"

"As you know, my cousins start arriving in a few days, and my decor time is running out. So I was wondering..."

"Yes…"

"If just maybe..."

"Yes..."

"I could ask you for a few favours? Please?

"Sure, what's up?"

"Well, I have some pictures to be put up."

"That's no problem at all. I'll come over on Saturday and take care of that."

"Thanks! I have a coat rack that needs to be put up, too..."

"I can do that with the pictures."

"Towel ring for the bathroom..."

"Yeah..."

"Robe hook for the bathroom too..."

"Anything else?"

"I just might have a garbage can that needs to be installed to the cupboard door."

"Just might, huh?"

"And there's still the problem of the stiff window... but that's it, promise."

"Cheech, I will be happy to do these things for you. That's what the best boyfriends in the world are made of."

"Aww, thanks Ace! I may not know how to do much in the home repairs sense, but at least I have spectacular taste."

"Yes, you do. You know, we're like Home Depot, you and I."

"How's that?"

"You can do it. I can help."

"Uh huh."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Project Bathroom

Hateful things about my bathroom: A gold door handle, gold hinges and gold knobs on my vanity. Really, this isn’t 1989. What were the developers freebasing when that happened? I’m less than bonkers about that vanity, too. It’s wood and that’s fine, but a blond stain? Pfft.

Mediocre things about my bathroom: Blue tiles, as in Aegean sea blue. They’re okay and all, even if I had limited say in their choosing. I’d much rather prefer stone brown tiles, which would blend terrifically well with my second floor swathings of chocolates and purples, but they’ll do. Actually, they’ll have to do. Pfft again.

Bathroom love: What I’ve done to it. On the outside of my door are two small blue rectangular vintage bath signs, advertising baths and towels for 10 and five cents, respectively. They’re unique, and support that retro look I’ve dotted throughout my pad.

I also love my white waffle shower curtain, white shaggy rug, and truckloads of white fluffy towels. I love my shower rings capped off with replicas of vintage white Hot & Cold faucet taps, and corner of my vanity that’s home to my very small silver clock with its tall stand. Every bathroom needs a clock. How else are you going to know when you’re running vicious late in the morning? I love my white, blue and brown china bathroom accessories, and I love the rectangular silver tray on top of the throne that now displays my three most awesome cologness: Fig Cassis & Black Vetyver Café by Jo Malone, and Tobacco Caramel by Fresh.

I love even more what will be done to my bathroom and that is, painted. As I write this, Corey is over at my place, going above and beyond the call of Brother-in-Law duty by doing some painting (among other things) for me. So here it is: I have deep blue tiles, and plenty of white things that currently, are washing my bathroom out. My solution is to paint the walls to match the floors, giving me a big, deep blue space with striking white accents.

Okay, blue wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but this is okay by me. I’ll just pretend my bathroom is a spa. Remind me to throw in some lit tealights for parties.

As for the ridiculous gold door handle & hinges, throughout my entire place in fact, they’re on my To Do list of the future. Must concentrate on the larger things at hand for my almost-here relations, see. I’ll just have to ignore that tacky stuff for now, pfft again. But at least the vanity is getting new stainless knobs, so the old ones are going, going, gone. Phew.

Monday, August 13, 2007

So you want to decorate. So you’re a cheapass. Join the club. I’m one of the unfortunate many who likes the finer things in life, but detests paying for them. That said, it pays to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make the implausible, possible.

Here’s my personal dozen, in no particular order:

1) Gay Friends. Artistically inclined gay friends, or the severely fashion nitpicky, are even better. When in doubt over which colour or settee, gather your divas and mull on it over espresso.

2) School Thyself. The Home and Garden Network isn’t just there for your health, you know. Decorating isn’t boring and textbook like it used to be, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different ways to do things. Stick to a few shows or designers whose style you like, and watch an episode every now and then. Picking up a magazine or two never hurt, either. Take down the addresses of interesting boutiques or instructional sites, and educate yourself on the finer points of décor.

3) Good Maintenance. The cheapest, most incredible way to spruce your place up and give it that extra little something, is to really take care of your wood furniture. Don’t believe me? Go out right now, buy orange oil wood polish, and spend an hour or so greasing down your pieces. The rich shine is something remarkable, especially on dark furniture that picks up fingerprints all too easily. I’m telling you, that old piece of junk inherited from your older sister’s dorm room comes to life, and what once cost 20 bucks looks priceless.

4) Paint. Never underestimate a good coat of the stuff. It’s a quick, cheap way for a new look, and the most effective. Plenty of arguments can be made for white, and I do agree with some of them, but then I was never one to begrudge a wall of deepest red, either. Benjamin Moore says that every room has a perfect colour, and to find it. I say, every room has at least 10 great colours, and they’re not that hard to spot. Stock up on colour wheels and swatch books.

5) Wallpaper. It was greatly in vogue once upon a time, then suffered a bad rap. So did a lot of things in the eighties. But the resurgence of wallpaper is on the rise, and your creativity levels with it. There are some gorgeous patterns out there, not to mention great old patterns made new. Wallpaper is easy, cost efficient in a lot of cases, and totally fabulous. Just remember not to overdo it: often, an accent wall is the most striking.

6) Candles, Candles, Candles. A lot of people will say candles are passé, and they are if you go completely wax bonkers. But, done properly, they’re striking. A beautiful pillar arrangement is a simple, beautiful centerpiece on a dinner table, and candles in the bathroom gives that spa-calming effect. But if you intend on burning them, be careful with the scents you choose. I usually go for unscented candles, just to avoid mixing all the smells together. Not nice.

7) Eagle Eye, young paduwan, Eagle Eye. Shop around. Know the great shops in your neighbourhood, and all the greater ones in surrounding neighbourhoods. Also, it’s not where you shop, but when you shop. If there’s something you really love and really want but can’t afford it, don't just settle for something else: Stick around for the price drop. January and July have the best sales, and signing up for mailing lists is a step up. Also, take advantage of store credit cards, but only when they have those incredible offers like the, "no interest for a whole year" poo poo. And never, ever forget about outlet sales.

8) Think Vintage. Flea markets and antique sales are great places to find hidden treasures, and they’re easy on the wallet. That beat up old chair frame really just needs some TLC; sanding, staining & painting is easy enough for anyone, and a good upholsterer can make the ordinary, extraordinary. Just make sure to shop around for a good one.

9) Bargain Art. How many times have you heard me say that by now? Think about it this way: there are a lot more obscure, unheard of artists, than famous expensive ones. Go to arts shows, go to crafts shows, scout gallery openings and exhibitions. Go to an art school and see what the students can do. You don’t even have to frame a great painting either; just get the canvas stretched for a fraction of the cost and hang it that way. Wonderfully urban, minimalist, and doesn’t distract from the art itself.

10) Frames. There are times when frames are great though, and lots of them on a wall or assembled on a surface are a wonderful way to tell a story. Frames are sold for thousands of dollars, and frames are sold for a couple of bucks; variety of frames is virtually endless. Invest in a mat cutter for the customized look, and don’t forget to be creative, either. I’ve framed antique handkerchiefs, vintage stamps, and greeting cards. One of the pictures I get the most compliments of is an ad for a White Star Line ship, circa 1910. I printed that picture from the internet, on photo paper.

11) Ikea. Go on, laugh. Done? Good, shut up and read. If you can put up with the bullshit of hauling and assembling yourself, Ikea is a goldmine of finds designed to suit every pocket and every need. Be warned, though: it is very, very easy to be caught in the Swedish trap. While I do think Ikea is fabulous, I would personally die if I had to wake up every morning to what looked like their second floor, and not mine. Thus, use their looks to accent yours, and not the other way around. I didn’t even think of buying my coffee table or bed at Ikea. Then again, I’m not even thinking of getting my bookshelves anywhere else.

12) Finally, It’s the Little Things that Count. Your personal touches are what make your home yours, after all. Your memories, your finds, the little treasures that mean nothing to anyone but you, are what dazzle. I’ve been collecting interesting tins for years, and it turns out they look marvelous in my kitchen. The empty Pastis bottle I found in Paris, the ancient camera I got in Prague, and the even more ancient typewriter I got at a garage sale will all be displayed somewhere. So will the vintage volleyball I picked up in London, and the little statue from Amman. My big, lumbering sofa is awesome and all, but it’s these little things that are me all over. After all, I want to comfortable with my home, and I want my home to be comfortable with me. It’s these little things that get places of honour.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oli’s townhouse is behind my loft. I have discovered something interesting: When I’m not at my place for longer periods of time, she likes to spirit my things away. As per our conversation a few days back:

Me: Hi sis!

Oli: Hi sis!

Me: So chikita, you know I specifically came down this week to clean, right? Want my place all spiffy and slick for when the relations arrive?

Oli: Uh huh. How’s that going, by the way?

Me: Fantastic! It’d be going even better if I could find my vacuum cleaner.

Oli: Oh, that.

Me: Oh that what?

Oli: I borrowed it.

Me: When?

Oli: Dunno, a few months ago I guess.

Me: Oli, you have a vacuum.

Oli: Yeah.

Me: Oli, why do you have my vacuum?

Oli: Yours works better.

Me: Were you planning on returning it?

Oli: At some point.

Me: Great! While you’re returning it, would you throw in the Goo-Gone?

Oli: What do you need that for?

Me: To get rid of a small stain on the carpet, it looks like wine. Only Goo-Gone will do the trick.

Oli: But I have it.

Me: I kinda figured that.

Oli: I’m using it, you know. It works really well.

Me: Yes it does, that’s why I got it. Put it in the box that has my vacuum and bring it on over. Oh and Oli…

Oli: Yeah, sis?

Me: Do you have my iron?

Oli: Maybe.

Me: Don’t you have your own iron?

Oli: Maybe.

Me: Why do you have my iron?

Oli: It works better than mine.

Me: That too, huh? Well if we’re going out later, I’ll be needing to look presentable.

Oli: Okay.

Me: The Dryer look won’t do.

Oli: Okay.

Me: Do you have anything else of mine?

Oli: I don’t know, I’ll have to look.

Me: You do realize that by taking these things away, you’re hindering my cleaning process?

Oli: Yeah.

Me: What have you got to say for yourself?

Oli: I put scented beads in your vacuum. Now it smells pretty.

Me: Wonderful.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hi kids!

I must beg your forgiveness over the next little while, as I concentrate on scrubbing and finishing my abode, rather than writing. Relatives will be here very soon, after all, and my possessions must look presentable. Or clean, at the very least.

So think of me on these beautiful summer days, not enjoying the weather, but swearing my head off, elbow deep in wash buckets.

In the meantime, enjoy this corny joke that Sandy told me last night:

How do you please an Amish girl?

Three Mennonite.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Project Bedroom

I love art, you all know that. I love the picturesque qualities of realism, the daring of nouveau, and the raw strokes of abstract. I especially love the brilliant, economical finds of the undiscovered artists, either the up-and-comers or the forgotten, buried in pockets all over the world, painting and sculpting solely for the sake of creation.

I think I’ll forever fancy myself a Charles Howard, searching far and wide for his Seabiscuit, the looked over, tossed aside winner that he purchased at bottom dollar.

Why then, am I hanging up a canvas from Ikea?

The whole notion goes against what I believe in. Great art, bargain art, scouring the expanses of the globe etc., versus completing my bedroom with what’s been duplicated millions of times, and sold in a Swedish franchise. Why am I doing it?

Because it’s Audrey. Who isn’t just a little bit in love with Audrey Hepburn?

I discovered Audrey in high school, the years when I had a wonderful relationship with the VCR. My social life wasn’t exactly kicking, so on the weekends when I wasn’t studying or with friends, I rented movies. On a whim one Saturday I bypassed Ghostbusters II for Sabrina, and was dazzled by the big eyed, big smiled, slip of a girl telling the man she loved, with just the slightest of accents, “I have a lovely evening dress with yaaaards of skirt. Shall I wear it?”

She was beautiful, she was elegant, she was in a class all her own. She was a star of the silver screen, the goddess of the golden age, and she’s immortalized on canvas to decorate my bedroom wall.

It’s a picture of a scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a close up of Holly Golightly in the little black dress she wore to her own party, with her hair swept up. In one hand is a cigarette, her long eyelashes are lowered amusingly, and the half smile on her face make you think she’s up to something. I don’t remember if it was before or after this scene that she told Paul Varjak, “I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I’m not sure where that is, but I know what it’s like. It’s like Tiffany’s.”

It’s a great picture for a room. It’s a great picture for a girl’s room, especially if that girl has a room done up in the dark colours that one would think becomes a boy. She gives it that bit of sass, Audrey does, and will forever smile at anyone coming up my steps.

What can I say? She fits here. I’m asking Sandy to help me put her up next week. S’wonderful.