Friday, January 2, 2015

Namaste, asshole.

"Mom, I don't think yoga is supposed to sound like that."

The resounding grunts emanating from the floor just outside his bedroom door, had awakened The Little Bastard, and he was messin' with my chakras.

"Fuck you," I muttered under my Ujjayi breath.

Like most people dealing with post-holiday remorse, I dove into January determined to change things up. I'd start by shutting my pie hole, then drastically reduce my bacchanal tendencies, followed by ramping up the physical activities beyond the usual hefting a blue bag full of empties to the curb every Monday morning.

I got busy – optimistically looking into potential outlets for pent-up poisons, such as: adult hockey, aqua fit, Pilates, spinning, Zumba (whatever that is), lane swimming, badminton, ladies doubles, gym memberships, and squash – all the while knowing that the moment I slapped my cash down on the counter and committed to something – I wouldn't go.

Thus forming the foundation of my first mantra: Know thyself.

Adhering to a schedule was another obstacle on the road to redemption. I already adhere to The Little Bastard's schedule, which leaves very little in the way of time, or money, for me to adhere to anything aside from living dangerously close to the poverty line.

Know thy self pity.

Then I saw the light. Yoga is like herpes in Havenot! In this city full of Buddhists and wannabe Buddhists – you can't swing a cat without hitting a yoga studio, or knocking someone's yoga mat out of their Lululemon backpack. Surely there would be an affordable "Yoga for Cynics" class nearby. Ommmm, this was it! But in the midst of that short-lived optimism, I had a flashback to an Ashtanga class full of hairy armpits, yellow toenails, inner peace, heavy breathing, and dirty looks that had me in fits of uncontrollable laughter, running for the door – never to namaste again.

Go fuck thyself, if thy can't laugh at thyself.

I had all but given up, when shortly after New Year's – with The Little Bastard happily off playing hockey in Quebec – I dashed to the store and bought a yoga DVD and the cheapest yoga mat I could find. With the house quiet and free from teenage ridicule – I began my path to enlightenment by pouring a big glass of wine, curling up on the sofa and watching the entire DVD. I sat and sipped through the 30-minute AM session, followed by the 30-minute PM session – my rationale being – how would I know what I was supposed to be doing, while I was supposed to be doing it.

Educate thyself.

The next morning – before coffee, and before opening the blinds – I rolled out my new yoga mat and hit "Play". My first deep yoga breath had me thinking I should have sprung for a higher quality yoga mat, since mine was off-gassing toxins faster than I was. I also had to contend with two dogs, who – unaccustomed to seeing me upside down on the floor – thought this was play time. I also self actualized the serious need for a pedicure – and with third eye open – spotted a sock and a ten dollar bill under the sofa.

And so, I followed along with the perky yogi, pose after pose, grunting and flailing about, focusing on breathing (when I was in fact, holding my breath), clearing the mind of all thoughts other than income tax bills, belly fat, a near-empty furnace tank, and is that a lump?, and never being able to retire, and I'd love a cinnamon bun – all the while taking extra caution not to flatten my poodle when I went – with a graceless thud – from plank to cobra.

At one point during the 30-minute AM session, the DVD yoga chick paused, hands in prayer, and asked for awareness – instructing us to focus on our intention for the day. She encouraged me to seek clarity. Guidance. Ease. Integrity. Forgiveness. And gratitude.

I just wanted to get through the day without killing someone.

When it ended with a soothing "Namaste", I was sweating like a pig, covered in dog hair and saliva, and painfully aware of body parts that should never be visable, especially hanging upside down. I was also oddly rejuvenated and proud of myself for the ability to bend and touch the floor even with a case of Cabernet Sauvignon and a few tubs of Imperial cheddar sloshing around in my abdominal region. I also perfected the 'softening of the face' and 'Savasana' (the frigid housewife pose) right off the bat.

Love, or least try to tolerate thyself.

Next Sunday, January 29th at 10am, grab your yoga mat (and your cheque book) and attend Hearts Opened for Honduras, a 1-hour yoga class that will help send the lovely and talented Meggie Reardon to Honduras for a little do-gooding with Global Brigades. Meggie is young and full of hopes and dreams that will, in all likelihood, get dashed – but before they do – let's get her to Honduras, where she will teach children without food or water to do the downward facing dog, or build mud huts or something.

Hearts Opened for Honduras will be held at Cornwallis Jr. High School, named in honour of the English colonel credited with founding Halifax, who subsequently authorized a bounty on the scalps of local Mi'kmaq men, women and children. After a bit of a hullabaloo by some First Nation folks – the school will officially be renamed after Clifford Olson, or some other notable Canadian, in due time, but not before next Sunday. But don't let that stop you.

Inner peace has always outfoxed me, but I'm 'at one' with that. My resolution for this Chinese New Year's Eve, is simply to recognize that I am, and will always be, a tempestuous Ox. According to the Chinese Zodiac, Oxen are antisocial, stubborn workaholics who rarely allow themselves time to relax. And, despite a genetic predisposition for being "big boned", Oxen (when kept away from mirrors or unflattering photographs) are quite happy in their own skin – and oddly compatible with Snakes or Roosters – both petite and easily flattened, when one sweaty palm slips on a cheap yoga mat, in the wee hours before dawn.

Which brings me back to 'know thyself'.

Watch Meggie's Honduras yoga benefit message on You Tube by clicking here.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The wandering I.

When proposing a book on nomadism, British travel writer Bruce Chatwin set out to answer the question, "why do men wander?" And I'm not talking philandering.

Restlessness is my nature. It is the carry-on cross I bear. Never am I more content then when I have an adventure on the horizon – 'adventure' loosely defined. A domestic airline ticket. A weekend in Annapolis Royal. A schlep to Machu Picchu. Like Bruce Chatwin, it isn't so much the destination, as the thrill of movement.

I suffer from motion wellness. No barf bag required.

My restlessness is genetic. My dad loved nothing more than pouring Sambuca in his coffee and hitting the road. Destination: who cares. Fitting then, when my stepmom called to see if the Little Bastard would be interested in my father's old 1994 Jeep.

To hell with him, I thought. I want it. My stepmother inherited everything when my Dad clutched his scotch-soaked banker's heart and hit the pavement. She claimed our father knew 'she'd always look after us", but that turned out to be bullshit.

This wasn't just a vehicle. It was my legacy.

So off I went on an adventure, clocking 4796 kilometres in 8 days. I could have easily flown up, or had the Jeep shipped to the Little Bastard's hockey team in Quebec – but where's the fun in that? I renewed my CAA membership, tossed the dogs in the truck, and hit the road.

I'd like to say this was a road trip worthy of a sequel to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ... in Mom Jeans but I am too fearful of an LSD/ menopause mix for that. I do have to agree with Hunter S. Thompson when he said, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

This trip put the whirl in whirlfuckingwind. Making nice with family before dumping my rental car and finally being handed the gauntlet – the keys to my dad's Jeep.

In 1994, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited was the cat's meow. Puffy leather seats. Cruise control. Full time, 4-wheel drive. Gold striping. Today, the V-8 engine screams environmentally-unfriendly gas guzzler. There was a rust spot where my dad bounced off the garage door after too many 'road pops". The interior sang like a motel bedspread and the carpet was wall-to-wall cigarette ash. And I couldn't have been happier.

48-hours later, I set out before dawn, tears streaming down my face – the spirit of my dad riding shotgun. He was the plastic Jesus on my dash – cracking cold ones with the seat belt, throwing caution and cigarette butts to the wind. The last time I had been in the Jeep, my Dad and I were cruising along St. Margaret's Bay, and he –  a New Yorker – was marvelling at how beautiful Nova Scotia was. It was the last time I saw him.

I had trepidations about this next leg of the journey. An 18-year old car. Winter road conditions. No warranty. Fuck it. I could get towed if the Jeep sputtered and died somewhere between Cornhole, Ontario and Riviere du Loup. I like Quebec beer and cheap hotel rooms.

But there would be no sputtering. I shoved a trashy James Patterson audio book in the CD player – and 7 uneventful hours and 120 bucks in gas later, I was in snowy Sherbooke. Mission accomplished.

Needless to say, just shy of his 17th birthday, the Little Bastard was thrilled to have his first car. His grandfather's car, passed down with love, (or to get it the hell out of my stepmother's driveway). With mixed emotions, I handed him the keys to the Jeep, and he handed me the keys to my truck.

"You know, you could keep the truck, and I can take the Jeep home." I said, with a heavy heart.

"No way!" he said, face aglow from the antique dashboard digital readout. "I love it!"

"I love it too." I said. To myself. Head tilted back, looking at the heavens, my tears catching wandering snowflakes.

Or ashes.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Foul balls.

Several August moons ago, I stormed up to the registration tent at the Nova Scotia Open and tried to remove myself from the tennis tournament.

“What’s the problem?” asked the official.

“My partner is an asshole.” I replied.

“What category are you in?” he asked.

“Parent and Child,” I said.

My child — an otherwise, mild-mannered lad — hates to lose. In what is intended to be a “fun” event at the annual tournament, my refusal to smash the ball at our five-year-old opponent had my doubles partner frothing at the mouth.

Never mind that the adult opponent spared no pace when directing shots at my kid. I just wasn't going there.

Directly after our match, Justin McDonough — son of Alexa, and poster boy for sportsmanship — pulled my little McEnroe aside, and explained why I had done the right thing.

“Winning is not as important as being a decent human being.” he said.

Hearing those words from Justin was the difference between me wrapping my racket around my kid’s neck, or buying him an ice-cream cone.

Later on — in the same Parent and Child category — I watched a father push his own son down and out of the way, so he could smash a winning forehand at the child on the other side of the net.

Evidently, the win-at-all-costs mentality is omnipresent. From the hockey coach who tripped a 13-year-old in a post-game handshake - to the infamous Tour de France - to questionable line calls in junior tennis.  

A recent survey for the British Cricket Foundation found that two-thirds of U.K. children feel under pressure to cheat.

At the inaugural parent meeting in Atom AAA, the coach announced that fair and equal play was his modus operandi — that is, until playoffs, tournaments (or against Sackville) — then he’d be shortening the bench. Any parent who wasn’t OK with that could “find another team.”

Nobody budged. Perhaps parental bragging rights to AAA was more important than pulling splinters out of a child’s butt.

Which explains the fat man yelling, “Pull the goalie!” at the Joe Lamontagne minor hockey tournament in Cole Harbour. The goalie was a little girl who could barely reach the top of the net to grab her water bottle. Sure, the score was lopsided — but this was Atom House League, not the NHL — and she was doing her best.

The fat man eventually stormed out, sparing me the effort of kicking him in the 5-hole. I later discovered that his son was the backup goalie. 

Thus confirming my belief that the misbehaving adult waving the ‘win-at-all costs’ flag, likely carries a suitcase full of squashed dreams.

Heck, no one is more resentful than myself, with parents who ignored my desire to be the next Chris Evert — resulting in me swapping my racket for a bong, at 14.

But eventually, you just have to let it go.

I played a “friendly” game of 21 recently. The mercury was pushing 35C and we had the tennis courts to ourselves. With 21 (and heat stroke) within reach, I asked the cute young pro to fetch us a couple of cold Smirnoff Ices.

My opponent — an otherwise intelligent woman (despite ridiculous porno moans with every stroke) — suddenly conceded, and began muttering insults.

Dumbstruck, I wasn’t sure if she hated life, hated vodka, or simply hated losing to someone who didn’t treat an osteoporosis-preventing game of 21 like a Wimbledon final.

What’s worse is, she made me hate the game — momentarily — and I felt like the little goalie trying to shut out the fat man.

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” 

If famed basketball coach John Wooden’s words ring true, then I am a foul-mouthed competitor, with a thirst for fun at all costs.

And at this stage of the game, I’m good with that.

Originally published by the Chronicle Herald.

The power of pink.

Cars spill out onto aptly named Vimy Avenue. Many a war has been fought here, and as we wander through the familiar door, I sense the fight against mould and memory is a losing battle. 

I choke up on so many levels.

I was six when this ol’ barn in Halifax was christened Centennial Arena, and this is where it all began. “It” being my life as a hockey mom. My launch into a foreign society that would become family — albeit dysfunctional — with a cousin or two you would happily run over in the rink parking lot.

In 1967, hockey was the only religion in our Chicago home. My dad dragged us to Blackhawks games, silencing us with cotton candy that I would throw up, faithfully, on the way home. Little girls didn’t play hockey in my world. I wonder what my life would have been like if they had.

Tonight though, we are spectators. My boy is beside me, wishing he wasn’t, and we have come to cheer on the Halifax Hawks midget double-A team — for no other reason than love and support — a little something I picked up along with rink-fry ass.

Tonight, things look like any other hockey game — except for the ponytails, and the provincial championship on the line.

From what I understand, the Halifax girls have their hands full with this corn-fed Annapolis Valley team. And, as fate would have it, this game had a history before it began. Two weeks ago, in double overtime, with a score of 0-0, the power went out.

The hockey community is notoriously quick to point fingers (just ask James Reimer). Crappy officiating. The goalie. The coach. The list is endless. But Nova Scotia Power?

Hockey rules dictated that the entire game had to be replayed. In the ensuing weeks, Halifax used their blackout momentum to upset the Valley in the league championship. But could they keep the sparks flying?

There’s a familiar face behind the Halifax bench. From my perch, I see a tiny patch of bald in what was a full head of hair when he began coaching my child a decade ago. Graham Burgess is a legend in this community. He is the encouraging word to the defenceman who turned over the puck. He is unwavering post-game praise.

While other coaches lead with the grace of Mayor Rob Ford, Burgess guides his troops with civility. Tonight, eyeing my son in the bleachers, Burgess’s smile induces my second wave of nostalgia.

Afterward, I asked Burgess how coaching girls is different. “Girls comprehend a system quicker,” he said. “And their egos aren’t as big.” He believes that “you can push girls, but you have to keep it positive.”

“This is a good thing for any coach to do — with girls and boys." He believes. "We’re managing positive thoughts and feelings to enable your athletes to perform better.”

I now understand why the jump from bantam to major midget was so hard for some boys. It wasn’t the step up in speed and strength. It was the leap from Coach Burgess.

The first documented women’s hockey game was in 1892, but enthusiasm has been skyrocketing since 1998. Last year, 87,230 girls enrolled in hockey across Canada — thanks, in part, to role models such as Hayley Wickenheiser.

I used to love watching Halifax’s Jillian Saulnier outskate the boys, until her career took a successful NCAA turn. Once, while stacking wood at a neighbour’s, Jillian was the first to put down her road-hockey stick and pitch in, working long after the boys quit.

It is that kind of feisty spirit that brings me to the rink.

Tonight, I'm cheering on a kid who “stands out,” according to Burgess, because she’s a “fierce competitor who plays as hard as she possibly can every shift.”

Sophie Kinley also has a smile that could light up a darkened arena.

As fate would have it, Sophie’s efforts weren’t enough to help stave off the vengeful Valley team. Or the ensuing tears.

For a few, tonight would be their last hockey game. The lucky ones will play varsity. Others may coach, referee or join a “wine” league. Some will simply “hang ’em up.”

What these players will never hang up are the life skills and memories gained from hockey. Teamwork. Respect. And a few stories to tell their granddaughters.

Burgess says the “power outage” game was one he will “cherish forever.” A game that exemplified “determination, emotional control and amazing sacrifice.”

Bitter, and lacking those fine qualities, I chirp, silently, “Screw you, Nova Scotia Power.” 

There’s enough sparkle in these players to illuminate the world.

Originally published in the Chronicle Herald. Cindy Schultz is a natural-born cynic who owns her own advertising and branding agency. Her son plays in the OHL.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

And by Centennial, you mean built in 1967?

“I want to play hockey.” My son said. Repeatedly.

“No you don’t.” I replied.

To say I was a reluctant hockey mom is like saying Sidney Crosby is a guy who plays hockey. When my son was born, my doctor friend said, “Bad hockey birthday.” I had no idea what that meant – nor did I care. But much like “good penalty”, “rink fries” and “50/50 duty” I was destined to find out. 

We were free spirits, my kid and me. Unbridled by schedules or fatherly influence, we traveled spontaneously, and spent winter weekends on the ski slopes. I grew up skiing – hockey was something people did because they couldn’t afford to ski. That stupid statement sounds even more ridiculous now, as I sit on a nest egg feathered with broken hockey sticks – their individual cost could feed a family of 4 for a week.

But the “I want to play hockey” whining eventually wore me down, so I figured a stiff pair of Canadian Tire skates and a few bounces off an unforgiving surface would put an end to this hockey shit once and for all. We chose a cloudy November day and laced up at the now demolished Dal rink. My kid hit the ice, and made Bambi look like Mario fucking Lemieux. I gave him 5 minutes before we’d be sipping hot chocolate, crossing “Play hockey” off his little bucket list.

No such luck. Even with kids half his height and age buzzing past him, my gangly six-year old barely stopped to lick the snot off his nose. I could tell by the glazed expression under his Hannibal Lecter cage, that I was screwed.

Enter Craig Moore, brother of Moosehead’s broadcaster John. Craig and I had worked together, and I was hoping to garner some sympathy from the bleachers. Instead, I got support. Craig said we had long missed Timbit registration, but he could likely get my kid on a team. I suddenly felt sick, and slid silently, sheepishly through the Tim Horton’s drive thru on the way home.

The sobering “call” came a few Friday nights later. I was knee deep in a bottle of wine, relaxing by the fire, when my world hit the boards. Someone named Coach McAdam said my son was to be at Centennial, in full gear, at 6:30 the following morning. Oh, and if he didn’t have a neck guard, he wouldn’t be allowed on the ice.

A neck guard? What the hell is a neck guard? Where is Centennial? 6:30?  

To say my son grew up without a father is a lie. He grew up with a dozen fathers and I didn’t have to sleep with one of them (which is a good thing considering one dare not shave their legs in February for fear of freezing to death in the Devonshire Arena). Donny. Graham. Steve. Kevin. I was about to discover that the roster of good men who volunteer their time, is endless. I was about to discover that this hockey journey would make my son a better man.

I was also about to discover that the roster of hockey parents is a socioeconomically diverse, and largely, jolly group – sprinkled with a few overzealous fanatics who think their kid is one growth spurt away from going to “the show”. Never mind that something like 0.1% of minor hockey players ever do. While sports bring out the best in children, it also tends to bring out the asshole in parents.

For instance, I watched in horror one tryout, as a ‘goalie dad’ openly high-fived his child every time the competition let a puck slide by. (And let’s talk about tryouts. Two months of heart-breaking agony, resulting in a team that could have been chosen by 5 moms over a box of wine.)

I was once pulled into a hotel room and instructed by a dad, to tell my kid, “When he starts to suck, to skate over to the bench and let his kid play.”

One “passionate” hockey mother claims her son was unjustly blacklisted, after it took the police to break up a fight – a mid-game Donnybrook between her and the referee.

And, it took a moment for the words, “We’re going to get a shut out every other game” to sink in. Did that son-of-a-bitch goalie dad, just insult my 8 year-old child… to his face?

Oh ya, did I mention that my little defenseman decided that having pucks shot at his face, padded by lost hope of ever having retirement savings would be fun? To quote our patriotic peacock, Don Cherry, “The most difficult position in hockey, is being the goalie’s mother.”

Welcome to my world. Throw on some coffee-stained sweatpants, empty your wallet, and sit by me.

The edited, censored version of this appears in the Chronicle Herald: April 20th.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A face more than a mother could love.

This has been a tough week to be an irreverent hockey mom.

Let’s face it. This has been a tough week to be a parent.

I don’t even have the heart to fight with my editor on whether “peckerhead” is an acceptable word, or if it will be watered down to “jerk” or “poopoo head” when I’m not looking.

And this week, I’m finding it hard to care.

With my own child away at a QMJHL camp, I’ve been one sip over the limit-away from jumping in the car and driving to Quebec, several times – just so I could give my smelly beanpole a hug.   

Ask any mother who has said goodbye to a kid this summer. To camp. To Canada Games. University. Europe. The little bastards you’ve been dying to get rid of, turn and walk toward their dream, leaving you blubbering in the airport parking lot.

Or in my case, drowning my sorrows with a Chickenburger dipped in gravy.

Then, Monday morning brought every mother’s worst fucking nightmare – and “the face” was everywhere.

The serious hockey photo face.

Jordan Boyd’s face.

“Why don’t you smile?” I’ve asked my kid year after year, when the annual hockey photo appears. "You've just made your dream team, yet you look like my passport photo."

“You’re not supposed to smile.” He replied.

“Who the hell says?” I asked, blondely. 

“I dunno.” He said, mouth full of a post-game sub.

As the hockey community and beyond now know, 16-year old Jordan Boyd died suddenly – doing exactly what I’d like to be doing when I die.

Fulfilling a dream.

Climbing Kilimanjaro. Necking with Jon Snow from Game of Thrones. Cradling a great-grandchild.

So, what – if anything – can we gain from such a heart-wrenching loss?

Mandated heart screening for athletes? The NHL screens only its top 100 draft picks. I can’t see it happening across lower levels.

But I think I know what can be learned from Jordan Boyd.

This otherwise unknown, yet talented young hockey prospect is now a nationwide hero.

#JB17 is trending on helmets and Twitter feeds, and “the face” is front-page news for all of the wrong reasons.

Jordan is celebrated as a ‘gentle boy’. A best friend. A fine, fine young man.

Had Jordan cracked the roster of the Acadie Bathurst Titan, he would have also been a "rookie". With that accomplishment comes the inevitable bumps on the road from minor hockey – to the business of major junior hockey.

Suddenly a public figure and 'fair game' – strangers lurking in rink corners may have called Jordan a ‘pylon’. Soft. Afraid to go into the corners. They of course, know jack shit.

Cyber bullies hiding behind web handles like  “Banjoboy” or “Habs4ever” would sit in stained tighty whities, chirping with like-minded underachievers on one of the many “fan” websites deemed as hockey forums.

Despite never seeing the child play, these knuckle draggers may have labeled Jordan ‘a disappointment’. A waste of a draft pick. Or, worse.

And when Acadie Bathurst rolled into Halifax, die-hard Moosehead fans might have yelled, “pussy!” if Jordan backed down from a fight to avoid a stupid penalty – never stopping to think that beneath the helmet was a ‘gentle boy’. Someone’s pride and joy.

If there’s anything we should take from this soul-numbing tragedy it’s this:

Young hockey players are children – not commodities – and not targets for your own failed hopes and dreams.

Every kid – elite athlete or otherwise – deserves the outpouring of love and respect that the entire country is feeling for Jordan Boyd.

If there’s anything we can take from this week, maybe it’s the next time you’re at a hockey game – instead of hollering,  “Hey, peckerhead, you afraid to fight?” ­– say nothing.

Or yell something like, “You’re awesome, gentle boy”.

I bet his mom – sitting two rows down – would really appreciate that.

A slightly oatmealed version of this appears in the Chronicle Herald.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

And another thing.

My kid wasn’t strapped in to a safety certified high chair. He was just sitting on the floor eating a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich.

A guest at our home asked me what he was eating.

“He’s not supposed to have peanut butter!” she shrieked, “And honey is toxic to babies!”

Thank Christ she wasn't around the week before, when the Little Bastard had a mouthful of kibble.

My point is this, and it applies to hockey as well as life: Stop.

Stop hovering and maneuvering and worrying. It doesn’t change the outcome.

Here’s a little advice.

Nothing you say will make your child feel better after a crappy game or performance. Just shut up and head to the nearest Dairy Queen. The coach has already said what your kid needs to hear. A double-stuff Blizzard will take it from there.

If your doctor says your kid needs a puffer, ask yourself how you ever survived driving in the backseat of your parent’s station wagon while they puffed merrily with the windows rolled up. Today, when the coach yells for a puffer – half the parents run frantically to the dressing room.

If another parent criticizes your child during a game, do not confront them. Walk away. Show them you are a better person. Go out to the parking lot and look at the stars. Then slash the tires on their fucking minivan.

Be there. I don’t know how many times people said to me “Can’t someone else take him?” Yes, someone else could take him – but is anything you have to do more important than being in the stands when your kid looks up? In 2008, I missed the Quebec International Peewee tournament because I thought I couldn’t afford to go. I regret that. Find a way.

If your kid says he wants to play summer hockey – take a deep breath, and be thankful he doesn’t want to build a bomb in the basement. You can golf when you retire.

Never, ever, cut up your kid’s favourite hockey t-shirts and make them into a quilt. Bad idea.

Keep score. The no-score policy rampant in youth soccer is another attempt to raise children who are ill prepared for the real world. Life isn’t fair. Equal work doesn’t always mean equal pay. Sports teach kids how to win with grace – and more important – how to lose with grace. It’s hard to do that without a scoreboard. And you can bet your ass, every child and every parent is keeping score anyway.

Oh, and if your kid does one of those knuckle dragging celebrations in front of the other team’s bench, they will soon be saying things like “for the boys” and wearing a flat-brimmed hat to grandma’s house for dinner. Beat that shit out of them early.

And finally, know when to push and when to not to push. My kid stopped eating corn when he was five – shortly after I forced him to try creamed corn. Gagging ensued. And he hasn’t eaten a vegetable since.

In his book the “The Gold Mine Effect”, athletic advisor Rasmus Ankersen says, “The parents who criticize the idea of pushing children hard […] are often the same parents who go to wine tasting on Tuesday and yoga class on Thursday while their children are engaged in other activities.”  

Be there. Push. Love.

That’s my advice to have with your weekend coffee. Do with it as you will. 

All I know is, my kid survived. He is a kind, happy, 6’7” young man who has a peanut butter sandwich before every workout.

I must have done something right.

This appeared in the Chronicle Herald, minus a few "naughty" words.

Monday, December 3, 2012

No matter how you slice it, life beats the crap out of the alternative.

The first thing I did after the doctor called, was cry. No, wait... that was the second thing. The first thing I did after the doctor called, was solemnly swear that I would consume nothing but icing and carbohydrates and liquor until I could barely squeeze through the gates of Hell. Then I cried.

There was nothing funny about last week.

Grace and courage are two words you won't be reading in my obituary. Mine would go more like this: Cantankerous to the end, blah, blah, blah, pain-in-the-ass drama queen. Her final words were, "Fuck you, Revenue Canada."

Of course I wrote, and rewrote this scenario over and over in my head this past week after a routine mammogram detected something "suspicious". "Probably nothing" said my doctor, which were the last words I heard before the world started spinning and I fell off.

I'd always imagined myself more of a heart attack person.

Funny thing, life. The night before I got "the call",  I was tucking in to kir royales and steak frites at the Victory Arms. Over dinner, we chatted about the usual girlfriendy crap – and I mentioned  being at such a happy place in my life, and how I was planning another adventure.

Irony is a cruel bitch.

For a week, I wept and worried mostly about one thing: I did not want my child to be sad. Ever. I did not want my child to suffer in life (any more than the poor bastard already has) because of me – because of my ill-timed departure. At least before I had a chance to despise his future bride, or refuse to babysit his horrible offspring.

I also didn't want anyone to be overjoyed at my demise, which was a very distinct possibility as well.

For a week, the world was reduced to appreciating simple pleasures – like waking up. Poached eggs on toast with salt and cold butter. Hanging laundry on the line. Raking leaves. Texts from my kid. Chatting with neighbours. Hot baths. My new sheets. Sleeping with my dog's nose pressed against my cheek.

Climbing Kilimanjaro and tennis camp in Florida suddenly took a backseat to watching my apple tree blossom in the spring.

For a week, I relished over pleasures I had denied myself – like bread. Julien's Good Hearth, and sourdough from the Ginerbread Haus. I drank coffee with cream, instead of the low fat milk that makes it a bitter, gray concoction instead of something you jump out of bed for. And for a week I languished over cake. Duflett's lemon coconut from Pete's Frootique. New York style cupcakes from Sweet Janes. Carrot with cream cheese icing from the Italian Market. Waiting for a birthday seemed suddenly, ridiculous.

Thursday loomed and I could think of little else. I have watched friends die, and live graciously with cancer, and after glimpsing the overwhelming fear and sadness they must have kept tucked away for private moments – sparing others their pain – I now love and respect their stoic beauty even more.

I wore my fear like a fur coat in August, and it began to fester in my abdomen, as my stress often does. By 3am on the morning of my follow up mammogram/ultrasound I was sweating and doubled over on the kitchen floor. I was scared shitless, in pain, very angry – and determined that nothing was going to cause me to miss my 8:20am appointment.

I'd rather die first.

A roomful of women on a pinot grigio drip, is a room full of laughter and common denominators. A roomful of women in johnny shirts is also a supportive club – a club I had no intention of joining. The scent-free air was heavy with eau de fear, and I removed myself from the claustrophobic, nervous chit chat – to agonize in the hallway until my name was called. I didn't want this cross section of beautiful, brave women to assume my obvious struggle with pain had anything to do with what they were going through.

And I had no intention of going gently into the good night.

After what seemed like a lifetime, I had 5 "slammograms" on my right boob... and I didn't care. Lop 'em both off! Whatever was festering in my belly was going to kill me anyway. I left the Dickson Mammogram Department and went straight to Emergency where I basked in the warmth of Nova Scotia's healthcare system until my stress-induced bowel spasm subsided, and I was able to make my way home; humbled, beaten, and very sad.

Happy endings are a funny thing. Exactly one week from the first call, came the second call. "How are you doing?" my lovely doctor began.

"You tell me." I said.

Ten minutes later I was walking in Point Pleasant Park with my dogs, just like I do every day. The icy cold wind on my face felt fabulous. And I hadn't noticed how truly navy blue the water is at dusk. I will climb Kilimanjaro godammit! I had been given a hall pass – for now – but it was hard to be 100% happy, knowing millions of other women aren't so lucky.

So tell me, why does a woman with a needle sticking out of her breast have to wait in a crowded room until she is transported, by male ambulance attendants, to another building, to have her surgery performed? With the gazillions of dollars raised by the pink ribbon campaign, can we not, locally, do something about the fluorescent corner pen of the hospital where women are stored like cattle to await their fate!? I have no issue with the quality of medical care, but the Leave Your Dignity at the Door Lounge needs a fucking makeover.

This will be the best Christmas, ever. And with any luck, next Christmas will be the best Christmas, ever. And the one after that. And the one after that.

I'm even looking forward to fruitcake.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Red, whities, and blue.

The red stain, slowly leaking through the big-girl electoral panties was sickening to watch.

Fortunately, I have lived through enough American elections to have faith – that west of the Honey Boo Boo belt – common sense would prevail, and redneck would give way to blue. But, who will ever forget 2000? We were living in California, and I watched in horror as Florida exposed its scraggly Bush to the world.

This was going to be a long night.

In an election where women, and families, and the gay community had so much to lose – I admit to being a bit terrified. America, lead by the Church of Moron, was an America I wouldn't want moving in next door. The Obamas, on the other hand, were good neighbours. The firefly glow of Barack's Marlboro on a late summer night was somehow, reassuring. And I would miss Michelle, puttering in her garden. Besides, how long before photos surfaced, of Mitt snorting coke off the ass of 15-year old believer?

As the evening evolved, I finally felt confident enough in Obama's numbers to shut off the television, and fall asleep, wondering what it would be like to pop in a TicTac and neck with the Commander in Chief.

But at 3:40 am, I awoke with a start and reached for the flicker. Before my eyes could adjust to the light of the television glow, I heard that beautiful voice, and burst into tears. Genuine tears. Not only did Obama win – Richard Mourdock and "legitimate rapist" Todd Akin lost. Binders full of women had kicked the Republicans to the curb!

So, this morning – there's another optimistically gun-shy Kennedy stepping up in the familial way. Boston is firing up doobies for arthritis, and sending Elizabeth Warren where no Massachusetts woman has gone before. There's an openly gay Senator. Heck, even Havenot has a Mayor we can be proud of – Mike Savage, winning handily – and the charismatic Fred standing tall in the polls, even after the hair was swept up off the campaign floor. There's a new Bond flick. And, after a year of rebuilding, White Point is kicking open its doors. Thornbloom have settled in their new Trillium location, and they're all bedazzled for the holidays. The Greek Village is going back to its cozy old location, and I've been so busy since The Little Bastard moved to Quebec, I've barely had time to miss him, or bitch about how he can still suck the life out of my bank account from two provinces over. I even used my Big Day Downtown $100 bucks for good – instead of evil – introducing a newbie to the glory that is Le Bistro Coq hollandaise, and falling in love with Inkwell Boutique. But that's another story.

Life is way too busy, but good.

Now all we have to do is get rid of the Harpers, with their constant peeking out from behind faded, balloon curtains. Steve mows the lawn in loafers, and his wife – Whatshername – well, let's just say she doesn't stroll over with a glass of pinot grigio like Michelle does. Besides, one day I saw a row of tighty whities billowing on their clothesline, and I haven't been able to look him in the eye since.

And nobody wants a neighbour like that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Because is the cause.

It seems, of late, I have been preoccupied with climbing things. Take for instance W. Brett Wilson at today's 7 Virtues Middle East Peace perfume launch.

But that's another story.

Even the 20-something plumber looked climbable today. Maybe it was his prognosis – that my 40-something furnace would survive another minus 30º-something winter. Or, maybe it was his working man's hands. Hands that could snake a drain without buying it dinner first.

But that's not my point.

I think I want to climb Kilimanjaro.

I know! How fucked up is that? I schlepped the Inca Trail, lost 3 toenails, and swore I'd never sleep in a tent or shit quinoa out my ass at 100 mph whilst hanging on to a tree. Ever. Again. Waking up at 3am to race the last 6km to catch the sunrise on Machu Picchu. I hated it.

I loved it.

The Peruvian sky at 4am. The Southern Cross. Dazzling – like the Christmas tree lights – just before you toddle off to bed – broke, drunk, and exhausted, allowing Santa time to work the room.

To quote Cousin Sarah, when I asked her to be my wing man on Africa's highest peak. "Climbing Kilimanjaro involves the two things I hate most : Walking. And vomiting."

Vomiting is a symptom of Acute Mountain Sickness. More common at 19,341 feet than on a lounge chair at a Caribbean all-inclusive. The success rate for reaching the summit is around 60%, although most adventure travel brochures crank it up to between 80-95%. The last time I entertained conquering Africa's tallest bitch, coincided with Martina Navratilova's failed attempt to ace Uhuru Peak – which prompted the Little Bastard to say, "Mom, if that she-man can't do it, you haven't got a chance".

But toenails grow back.

And the world is full of naysayers. If I listened to them, I wouldn't be who I am. There would be no Little Bastard. There is always someone willing to piss on your Corn Flakes. And there's a little voice in my own head saying "the Cayman Islands are nice." But as much as Kilimanjaro scares me to death – I have a few friends fighting cancer right now. If they can face that miserable C-word with courage and grace – who am I to let a mound of earth, diarrhea, and oxygen deprivation stop me? In a twisted way, I am more afraid of NOT climbing the stupid thing.

My cause is because.

Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" has a scratchy, woolen underlayer of death and regret. "Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain [...] said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai 'Ngaje Ngai', the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude."

I don't think it was a leopard. I think it was a cougar. And it wasn't seeking anything. It was just looking at the stars.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Private parts.

Census Canada Twat: Okay, let's get started. How many people live at your current residence?

Me: Three, including two dogs, and not including the Little Bastard, who moved to Quebec.

Census Canada Twa: The Little Bastard?

Me: Long story. Worst roommate EVER. Move on...

CC Twat:  So... one?

Me: One what?

CC Twat: How many people live at your current residence?

Me: You do the math.

Twat: Are you employed?

Me: That depends.

Twat: That depends on what?

Me: That depends on how you define sitting alone humped over a computer all day, fuckin' around with people.

Twat: Who is your employer?

Me: Some bitch who underpays.

Twat: I'm sorry?

Me: Don't be sorry. The perks are fabulous. Just look at this place! And the dog farts under my chair.

Twat: What kind of work do you do?

Me: Advertising

Twat: What do you make?

Me: Not enough.

Twat: No. What kind of advertising do you make?

Me: Ads, silly.

Twat: Where do you work?

Me: Here, in this chair. Above the dog.

Twat: Where is here?

Me: Here, in this chair. In my office.

Twat: Where is your office?

Me: Here.

Twat: So do you work out of the home?

Me: Huh?

Twat: DO you work outside of the home?

Me: I mow the lawn.

Twat: So you work at home? Are you a housewife?

Me: Didn't we just establish that I work at making ads, not fucking pot roast?

Twat: How many hours a week do you work?

Me: That depends.

Twat: So, on average, would you say you work 20 hours a week?

Me: I would not.

Twat: So, on average, would you say you work about 40 hours a week?

Me: Warmer...

Twat: Do you have any aboriginal blood that you are aware of?

Me: Whoa! Where is that coming from?

Twat: I'm sorry?

Me: Don't be sorry, no one is holding a gun to your head making you ask these stupid questions that cost taxpayers a goddamned fortune, when kids can't even make art and eat yummy white glue at school because of cutbacks.

Twat: Let's continue... Do you have any aboriginal blood that you are aware of?

Me: Only when I drink gin.

Twat: I'm sorry? Do you have any aboriginal blood that you are aware of?

Me: My mom does have really brown eyes and apparently could run really fucking fast barefoot when she was a kid. And she smokes. So there could have been some teepee tipping down the road, if you know what I mean.

Twat: So you do have aboriginal blood that you are aware of? Is that a yes?

Me: Only when I drink gin.

Twat: Is that a yes?

Me: Or tequila. Oh, and egg nog. That shit makes me want to burn your fucking holiday wagon.

Twat: Okay... I think that's it.

Me: Wait, I was just starting to have fun!

Twat: Someone will call you in the next five months to confirm how many hours you are working at that time.

Me: They never call when they say they will, don't ya find that? Especially after you sleep with them.

Twat: I'm sorry?

Me: Don't be sorry. And, hey, keep in touch. Maybe call back in a month or two, will ya?  Late at night. Even dinner time is fine. Hell, call me on a weekend like the good ol days. I may get lonely.

Census Canada: Goodbye.

I am sure the poor woman hired to chase me to take the mandatory Census of Canada survey is a sweet soul, but she asked for it. And $500 or three months in jail for refusal to expose my privates seemed a little harsh.

I am back.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dear Mrs. Feenstra,

So where was I?

June was a blur of cake, and acclimatizing after a delicious vacation. Routine turned to summer, and plastic glasses were hoisted over and over in recognition of milestones: Birthdays, graduations, Tuesday, arrivals, and departures.

June saw the Little Bastard squeaking through Advanced Math 12, and I finally had my day in Small Claims Court  – with that, came the opportunity to say "soulless douchebags" – out loud.

June marked the return of climbing rose blossoms, trashy summer reading, and Friday afternoon ladies doubles, or Gin & Humidity as it is sometimes called. This past Friday was no exception, and aside from the usual excuse of "really thirsty" – we had a 50th birthday to anoint, and the welcoming of new hairs, sprouting after a nasty round of chemotherapy. Needless to say, I feel no need for an excuse to cavort these days, when merely waking up seems like cause for celebration.

Yesterday the conversation went from kitchen lighting, to "new to you" lululemon spotted at Halifax consignment shop Crimson & Clover, to progesterone cream and where to rub it. Our banter sure as hell won't save the planet, but I'd be lost without my girl friends. After another round of doubles (we're talkin' gin, not tennis) the conversation went south ever so slightly, as it often does – then, we got on the topic of mothers, and the parenting style of the 1960's. Our mothers were glamourous-looking creatures who smoked a great deal, and played a mean hand of Bridge. None of our mothers worked, and looking back – we bet that our fathers were having more fun than their spouses. My own father struck off for Manhattan every morning, and was greeted upon return with a perfectly-timed, frozen blender full of whiskey sours and a pot roast simmering on the harvest gold built-in stove top. We, the children, weren't allowed near him until he was oiled enough to face the bumpy transition from downtown to domesticity. My mother was the well-coiffed buffer.

Our mothers, we agreed, lost their identity when they promised to obey. But they seemed okay with that. Maybe because, like us, they were not alone.

Ice cubes melting in the sunshine, I commented how the feminist movement has managed to somewhat emasculate men by handing them keys to the minivan. The poor fuckers don't know whether they should open the door for a woman, or not? Sure, today's fathers are more involved than ours were – but gone are the Don Drapers and Roger Sterlings, banging the secretaries while Betty cries into the Duncan Hines cake mix. But are they really gone? I told them about the secretary, er, personal assistant, who threw her minimum wage mentality into my Small Claims Court case, nodding her head in agreement with whatever her three male bosses said. She even introduced herself to the adjudicator as "Mrs. Feenstra" – a nameless, over-accessorized bobble head setting the women's movement back a girdle or two. No wonder she couldn't look me in the eye.

Mrs. __________________. Generations of dreamy-eyed teenage girls writing their names over and over as "Mrs. Someone" has gone the way of asbestos insulation. I don't know any self-respecting woman – aside from the china doll-like elderly woman down the street – who wouldn't be offended by the "Mrs." handle, two seconds after deep throating a chunk of wedding cake.

My own mother eventually got her mojo back after her divorce. She dropped the dust cloth, shed a few pounds, started her own business, and dated with abandon. I haven't seen my mother in over a decade. It's a long story, but she's been having a few heart issues, and we've started a new chapter. I was waiting to hear whether I'd won my Small Claims Court case, to see if I could afford the luxury of a new laptop for a lengthy road trip. I need to see her, and proudly show off her only grandchild – but court decisions take time, and I didn't want these ridiculous men (and their Mrs.) to hold power over me, any longer. So with the last dying breath on my credit card, I booked a flight.

June was a corner piece with butter cream icing and extra roses.

July is empowering.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson.

If ever there was a shit-eating grin it belonged to Gary Robinson. And because, over the years, there was occasionally spillover – from his birthday, on to mine – I always wake up on May 31st and remember to say, "Happy Birthday, Gary Robinson".

Shortly after my parent's marital shit hit the fan, my brother and I found ourselves living miles from our comfort zone, in the ski resort area of Collingwood, north of Toronto. Gary was one of the "city" kids, or "skiers" – a group of supervision-free teenagers, displaced for one reason or another, to our respective shag-carpeted ski chalets north of Toronto.

There was Stephen Rawn. And John Laughlin. The Sterio kids. And Reggie Margesson. The Bryce boys I remember fondly because Andy, the eldest (now a Priest) used to climb through my bedroom window. And then there was Michael Moore, who came to live with us shortly after the Toronto School Board strike, and never went home. I love Michael Moore.

Together, we rode Mrs. Dawson's school bus – the stereotypical bright yellow tube of hormones that would pick us up from Blue Mountain and Georgian Peaks – hang a serious left to pick up a few country kids on gravel roads overlooking the Bay – before looping back toward Georgian Bay Secondary School, where we would quite often eat a muffin, then hitchhike back home to go skiing.

But that's another story.

Gary and I were just pals. Gang members of a Club drawn together by place and time. Besides, he would never be interested in a tomboy like me. Like a sister, I think he took me to dances so he could ditch me and go after someone a little more "fun". I haven't seen Gary in years, and I hope he is okay. Last time I saw him was at a funeral – and it was a funeral held at a bar – so it was a fitting place to bump into someone like Gary, who always enjoyed a beverage or two.

I tried to find him on Facebook just now. Apparently there are thousands of Gary Robinsons in the world – but none of them appear to be mine. Anyway, the Gary I know wouldn't be sitting at a computer desk, reaching out for cyber friends. Unless he'd changed. Alot. If there was a Laughbook, I bet could find him. Gary had a 1940's gangster's laugh. More of a rolling, sinister, chuckle – and as you can see from the above photo (if you can get past the glare on my forehead and that centre part and hey, note how fucking perky I was) – his laugh was always accompanied by a grin.

A wonderful, shit-eating grin.

Gary and I share this birthday season with Inkwell Boutique on Market Street. In these days of hasty emails and text messaging, maybe it's time to slow down, and catch up with old friends the old-fashioned way: Drunk dialing at 2am. Or write them a letter on Inkwell's custom letterpress stationery. This unique little shop is celebrating their first year of business, this Saturday from noon until 6. They are promising cupcakes, and who doesn't appreciate a good cupcake.

If you happen to bump into Gary today, tell him I said Happy Birthday.

Tell him, I hope he's happy. Tell him, I am sorry I don't get "home" very often. Tell him, I regret losing touch. Tell him, I hope he has plenty to chuckle about, and healthy kids (and a healthy liver) and good friends who love him. Still.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Off the coast of Happy, heading toward Bliss.

Once again, RRSP season came – and went – securing my bed in the government assisted nursing home.

And I don't care.

I am currently between the Croatian islands of Vis and some other island I cannot spell, nor afford. It is just past 9 am, and I think it is Wednesday.

But again, I don't care.

It is hard to explain the happiness one feels surrounded by this much beauty, fun people who were merely strangers a few days ago, and a happy kid – no longer a reluctant traveler after a few days of cycling and living on a luxury yacht.

Take for instance this morning. After a few tippy yoga moves on the upper deck – breakfast was a United Nations of fresh yogurt, plum jam, kiwis, tomatoes, cheese, strawberries, crusty bread and liverwurst – with a little Nesquik cereal the Little Bastard found in the local market. Broken English, German, Aussie laughter, some great 'Monty Python meets Rumpole' British humour, with a cup of coffee or two to wash it all down. Islands drifting by. The occasional porpoise. Sunshine.


Yesterday we cycled on the island of Vis, only recently opened to tourists after several years of military occupation. Tito (smart fella) hid from Hitler on Vis. I hid from reality, although the first 10 kms were a test – an uphill battle after a morning of heaving seas and stomachs – and there was a bitchy head wind messing with my mind. I wanted to turn back to the boat, and have Robert pour me a glass of wine. What the fuck was I doing out here? My knees were sore. My ass was sore. I felt old.

Then I thought of my friend battling cancer back home. She would love to be here – and we'd be laughing, and pushing each other up the hill. Her laughter rang in my head. That amazing, throaty, mischievous laugh. And, so, with that laugh in my heart, I kept pedaling.

Like Dori, the annoying fish played by Ellen Degeneres in Finding Nemo, I just kept swimmin'... all the way to the top, where the island did a big "Ta da!" – opening up the curtains to a 5 km ride downhill into a sleepy seaside fishing village, and a pistachio gelato. Or maybe lemon. Or maybe blueberry.

Standing up on the pedals like a drunk 5-year old, I succumbed to gravity, letting it pull me toward the sea. Ignoring the brakes, and leaning into the first corner – my bicycle bell suddenly started ringing itself. Brrrrrring! Another corner. Brrriiiiiiiiiiiiing! All the way down to the village – past churches, and vineyards, and yawning cats – my bell was laughing at me. With me. For me.

For her.

At the bottom, the Little Bastard was already tucking in to 3 scoops of chocolate gelato, and he was smiling. Or maybe he was laughing.

It didn't matter.

The boat is pulling in to our island of the day. 50 kms ahead with a 9 km climb before lunch. A late lunch hopefully.

Before the nursing home, there is Tuscan Tennis. And a Bhutan trek. Maybe a well-earned stomach bug or two in India. Skipping along the Great Wall. A safari? Prague. And tomorrow.

Just keep swimmin' and the bells will ring themselves.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Raising lovely little bastards.

I watched and chuckled this week, as a navy-blazered father smugly taught his children that doing what is right, is not as important as getting something for nothing. That lying and condescension and bullying are funny, and that money and appearances and a free ride, are more important than integrity, respect, kindness, or hard work.

Oh well, fuck them.

This week, I also had the privilege of lending a hand to two teenagers whose parents have taught them to "give more than they take" from this life. The 'give more than you take' message is also the mantra my Little Bastard has been hearing since he could reach for the last cookie.

Laura Hebb and Grant Millier aren't spending the summer sailing, or sitting in the basement playing Xbox. In a few short months, the Halifax neighbours will be embarking upon a “Journey for a Lifetime” with Coalition For Kids International. As ambassadors for Canada, Laura and Grant will travel to some of the shittiest areas of Poland to grant wishes to underprivileged and terminally-ill children.

Let me repeat: Grant wishes to terminally ill children in Poland.

I don't have alot of spare time to wax on about how great these kids are, but my laundry list of things to do before I go on a completely selfish adventure of my own, is nothing compared to getting these kids on the road to what already appears to be quality lives.

So let's cough up, shall we!? Laura and Grant need to contribute $3900 bucks each for the Foundation, and it's easy to help. Trust me when I say, you are not funding a European holiday for these two! Even the smallest donation will make YOU feel better.

And it's not even about you.

Click on the sentence below:

I want to help raise amazing kids and not assholes, because the world has enough assholes already.

Please be sure and enter Laura Hebb and Grant Millier's names in the JFAL Participant area so they can assign your donation to these special kids.

Wow, I feel better already... and I earned the right (tongue in cheek of course) to call Laura and Grant's incredibly warm, funny, and selfless mothers the honorary "Douchebags of the Day."

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May day.

The Little Bastard has been watching back to back episodes of Mayday, which can only mean one thing: We're going on an airplane.

It took 3 Lorazepams and a gin and tonic to get him on our flight to Peru last year, and that was just for me. The kid is a nervous flyer  – who isn't? But he also loathes my idea of a so-called vacation.

Unlike many people content with a swim-up bar and seven days of all-inclusive Caribbean bliss – I prefer a bit of an adventure with my umbrella drink. If I am going to get traveller's diarrhea, I want it to be memorable – for instance – outside my tent, in the middle of the Urubamba. Finding the Southern Cross is easy when the nearest softly-lit washroom is 2 days away, by donkey. My child on the other hand, prefers 5 stars, 800 thread count sheets, a toilet, and tickets to a professional sporting event.

To thine own self be true.

Since writing the above sentence, I drove the Little Bastard to school and witnessed a cyclist being struck by a car. The cyclist had an apparent death wish – no helmet, and he was wearing headphones. The driver was elderly, and hopefully wearing adult diapers, as she likely shat herself when the blue haired asshole landed on her windshield like a bug. The kid was okay, and the old gal will likely lose her license – but my point is – life can change in an instant.

Why sit around a pool, when you can dive in?

Take for instance, Halifax Investment Advisor, Bernard Miles. To him, a bull market means running his ass off, down the streets of Pamplona – inbred bovines in hot pursuit. Bernard's idea of a holiday is participating in July's annual Festival of San Fermín's running of the bulls. According to him, "What guy doesn't have a bit of an inner Hemingway?" Too many of them, I say.

Bernard doesn't invest any of my money, because I am spending it – but if I had two nickels to rub together, I'd give it to someone who is wise, and knows how to live. Like Bernard. My child will inherit a big fat sense of adventure – hopefully not for a while – although I admit to a recent obsession with The Big C – in real life – and on television. Watching Laura Linney dealing with her destiny is not only brilliantly funny – it leaves me in tears. Screw RRSPs and tucking money into a 401K. This is it.

So, off we go, in 13 days. Plenty of time for my clients to load me up with work, on the off chance I fall off a cliff or get run over by a drunk Croat. And, while this next adventure is what I call "soft" compared to last year's schlep to Machu Picchu – it does involve 6 flights, 3 days of 'Anne Frank goes to a coffeeshop' in Amsterdam, and 7 days of biking the Dalmatian Islands. The fact that we'll have our own washroom onboard a yacht, means this next adventure is my attempt at striking a happy balance.

If you're feeling somewhat under appreciated and in need of an adventure – call Maritime Travel, or consider joining this weekend's Merlot Militia in Annapolis Royal. The old HMCS Cornwallis military base has gone through a bit of a renaissance since closing its doors back in 1994. Today, as the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre, this multi-functional property – nicely situated on the Annapolis Basin – is host to a series of Boot Camps. I use the term Boot Camps loosely, as this first 2-day retreat is designed for those whose idea of a push up is a demi-cup underwire bra. To enlist, or to design your own Boot Camp, call 1-888-830-4466.

Not content to sit around eating bonbons all day, Annapolis Royal is where explorer Samuel de Champlain wound up, on his scurvy-riddled search for beaver. As we all likely will, Champlain eventually stroked out – shitting his pants one final time – leaving his relatives to bicker over his estate.

My bet is, Champlain left this world with a smile, no regrets, and some fucking incredible stories.

Happy May Day, May Day.