Oh Me Oh My

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Running to Regret

The week after my 14th birthday I got my first part-time job. I was the first of my friends to be working and I still remember buying my first item without my parents present--it was an overpriced green zip-up golf shirt from Eddie Bauer. The shirt was far too big for me and it sat in my closet for years under the assumption I would one day grow into it. I never did. My dad wears it to work doing construction now. 10 years later and some use finally came of it.

In grade 12 over lunch with my friend Holly, somewhere between the McChicken and the McFlurry, I made the decision to fast track through my final year. That afternoon I saw my counsellor and dropped all my unnecessary classes, stocking up on my OACs instead, with the knowledge that by June I would be free of the school I'd grown to hate.

Over lunch today I went to the bank and arranged my mortgage. The financial advisor had kind words to say about my willingness to save in a time when there is a lot of temptation to spend. Perhaps encouraged by her approval, (i'm weak like that) I set-up an extremely tight amoritization period with sizable payments that are going to be a challenge to meet, but not impossible.

When my friends were sleeping-in on weekends I was riding my bike at 6:00 a.m. to open the restaurant. I got a paycheck but I slowly grew to resent the place that wiped me out for $6.40 an hour, and resent even more the last-minute plans friends would devise for their weekends. Had they just given me an extra day I could have found someone to cover my shift, but 14 year-olds have no concept of "peniclling someone in". It wasn't their fault, I just started working a little too early.

I wandered around the campus at York desperately looking for an orientation I had scheduled work around. When I found it I realized that people were already mostly oriented with eachother. The majority were either living on campus or had come with friends from high school. Because I had fast tracked I didn't know anyone there. I sat in the back and listened to the Dean of Students talk about the plays put on by Vanier (I couldn't audition as they met on Tuesday nights when I worked) as well as the newspaper I always put-off writing an article for. Then he opened up the social part of the day; relay races and pub crawls, but it was almost 1:30 and my shift was at 2.

I wish I had continued with French. I wish I hadn't dropped interactive media. I wish I had lived on campus for at least a year. I had raced through high school to arrive first at a finish line that didn't exist. i was competing with no one and missing out on more than I understood.

I'm 24 now and I'm still doing it. As I signed over my life savings this afternoon all i could think about were the jobs I worked to gather those savings: flipping burgers, selling overpriced office supplies, shelving books, having people yell at me full-time. Then I thought of all the doors I was ostensibly closing: travelling abroad for long periods, being able to quit my part-time job. I guess life is all about choices and I've made mine, I guess I'm just worried I'm still running.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

How to Cure a Hangover

The curative properties of a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese should be studied with great enthusiasm by medical minds. There should be reports in JAMA extolling the virtues of this simple yet effective breakthrough. Quarter Pounders should be available at pharmacies and health food stores, shelved in the apothecaries betweeen the ginseng and eye of newt, because the magic this little package of fat and oil performs is nothing short of spectacular.

I first began to suspect that the Quarter Pounder could effectively prevent hangovers when it struck me that regardless of how much I drank the prior evening, if the night ended in a 3 a.m. Mickey D's stop, then I would wake the next day feeling healthy and refreshed, showing no symptoms of a classic hangover. I tested this theory with other greasy spoons; stopping for Denny's or Pizza never provided the same relief. I'd wake the next day bleary-eyed with a pounding headache, cursing myself for forsaking what had helped me so many times in the past.

This power isn't associated with their entire menu either. This Saturday my friend Jen was nice enough to drive my drunken ass to McDonald's after we came back from the club. Upon ordering that sweet greasy panacea we were told that they started serving breakfast at 4--it was like 4:15. After lamenting those lost minutes I settled on breakfast burritos (not as gross as it sounds) and headed home. Needless to say I woke up at like 9:45. Unable to sleep anymore with my faint nausea and throbbing head I took the bus back to where I'd left my car, wishing we'd left the club 15 minutes earlier.

Now many of my friends have jumped on the healthy living train, which is great--forgoing late night runs to The Grille for early morning runs through the park, and replacing gravy on the side with a light vinegarette instead. I know advising people to eat a greaseball burger before bed will send them to their calculators, inputting data to figure how this sinful indiscretion will affect their Body Mass Index, but on occassion isn't a little latenight "beef" and "cheese" worth a pain-free morning...or more accurately a pain-free 4 in the afternoon?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oh! Janice! Stop It!

Janice Dickinson is a terrible mess of a human being: she's bitchy, emotionally unstable and as self-absorbed as they come, so inevitably she is a gay icon. I'm not quite sure why women with horribly unappealing characters are embraced so wholeheartedly by the gays, but that's another blog entirely. I have watched the entire first season of The Janice Dickinson Modelling Agency except for the last episode which has not been posted and realize that Janice isn't the saucy, brazen, tell-it-like-it-is judge from ANTM, but the vulnerable, damaged, mildly psychotic and likely schizophrenic case study from The Surreal Life.

In one episode she caterwauls "My models aren't strippers Nikki" when a rep from the Virgin Megastore wants the models to be a bit sexy on the runway: a little dirty dancing, a little light spanking. This is fine if not for the fact that one episode later when a rapper needs girls for a video shoot, Janice makes them come in and grind with the air, crawl on the table towards him and pretty much striptease. In a different episode she even threatens to fire a girl who won't take off her pants since she's not wearing any underwear. She is late to every meeting, drunk for at least half of them, and her poor kids see it all unfold before them.

The best part is her sudden, almost violent moodswings. She is very physical. She'll push people, grab them, yell, throw tantrums, which is why the commercial below is so great. (especially the grandmother):

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Warm Fuzzies

Watch “Little Miss Sunshine”. If you have read any of the rare reviews that poo-poo the film for being a bit too sweet at the end, or for the characters being a bit too quirky, know that those reviewers are dead inside. They are the people who think flowers are tacky, nothing is fun and comment that your newborn baby looks kinda fat.

The movie had me and the 3 friends I went with laughing throughout. Abigail Breslin as Olive is so sweet without being saccharine which is usually really hard with child actors. The entire cast is brilliant and everyone has scenes and lines that are so memorable: “Sweet…Sweetness” being a group favourite. (You’ll have to watch it to know why). Everyone is damaged, from the suicidal uncle to the father fighting desperately to not become the “loser” he’s always preaching against. Even the bus they drive is falling apart, but it’s the perfect central motif for the movie. Even when things collapse and fail and disappoint, there is that bond that makes it easier to bear, when someone else matters more to you than yourself.

After the craptacular “Step Up”, the worse-than-possibly-imagined “X3” and the ho-hum ‘Superman” it was nice to watch a movie that brought some light to an otherwise bleak movie-watching summer.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Homesense of Self

I went to 8 Homesense stores spanning everywhere from Burlington to Vaughan in search of this print. I had stumbled across three in the series while at Vaughan Mills and knowing that somewhere out there was a missing link drove me crazy. I had a chef playing pot-drums, a chef playing a whisk-saxophone and a chef singing into a spoon-mic but there was a gap and it was slowly eating at my sanity. I couldn’t look at them with their missing counterpart; like I’d assembled some ragtag band sorrowfully saying “How can we play without strings?” I knew I would have to find the chef playing his rolling pin-guitar or shamefully return the lot of them—defeated.

Thus began my journey to Erin Mills, Rockwood, Etobicoke, Heartland, Oakville, Burlington and finally Clarkson, after psychotically ravaging each of their ‘Wall Décor” departments and coming up empty I drove to Rona to buy a laser level and call it quits. As I walked through the store I stopped in their home furnishings department and there sitting in an oversized frame was the print; it was thinner than the others, and didn’t have the same black backing, but it was about the same size and if I could get it out of the frame it would almost be a match.

My reaction when I got home was the same reaction Bart gets when Lisa returns his soul, while she is prattling on about the journey of man Bart just eats the piece of paper in an animalistic fit of relief—I did the exact same thing to the frame, tearing away at the binding, stabbing myself with industrial staples in the process. When it was done I looked at my completed set and literally sighed, as though I’d been holding my breath. In retrospect it was a bit psychotic driving around the entire suburban GTA for a tiny print, but part of the satisfaction was in the journey:

Hitting 9 different stores based on general impression of where they were and never getting lost (for the record I get lost in restaurants coming out of bathrooms). Stopping at the Oakville Gallery on the way to Clarkson and taking in the Warhol exhibit. Accidentally driving up to a drug bust in the woods and having both the officers and guys being arrested wonder who the weirdo in his grandma car listening to Kate Bush was. Even stopping in the final Homesense, realizing I’d hit another dead-end and punching my frustration: “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” into pillows in the linens department, was all a part of the journey that made the final result that much sweeter.

Plus the fact I drove a couple hundred kilometres in search of a painting that in the end was a 5 minute walk from my house didn’t make me homicidal shows a lot of growth.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Two Years in Bangkok and the World's her Oyster

What used to come to mind when I thought of Bangkok was whores--it was like word association:

Dog ~ House
Baby ~ Bottle
~ Whores

Thanks to shows like Dateline and plays like Chess my view of Bangkok pretty much resembles a film noir street set: dark alleys, smoke coming from the sewers and hundreds of asian sex workers pouring out of every door and window.

Now my friend Crystal has moved there for the next 2 years. At first I pictured her getting off the plane and immediately being waist-deep in prostitutes, while wearing like a white cardigan and ankle-length skirt, seduced by the sex and scandal and ending up an opium addict giving handjobs for 20 baht. Since then I have exposed myself to some non-musical based research and am a little more comfortable with the idea of where she is going. I am still going to miss her as this is much longer than we have ever been completely away from eachother in like 13 years, but I am so proud of her for making the leap.

At a party this weekend someone who just came back from Thailand informed me that her most vivid memory was attending a "lady-show" where she sat and watched some chick catapult ping pong balls from her cooter....so if the whole teaching thing washes out Crystal, it appears Thailand is quite the nation of opportunity.