Friday, March 11, 2011

I can't even think of a title.

It's not often I am rendered speechless, so mark your calendar with a big gold star, because it likely won't happen again.


I don't even know where to begin.

See? Still voiceless, and it was my plucky, 93 year-old Aunt Ruby who had the stroke this week – not me.

I'll begin in a strip mall, I guess. Good things seldom begin begin a strip mall. But that's where it happened. Dumbstruck by a simple question in a suburban strip mall.

Silenced I was.

See, I am stalling. This hasn't been a good week. Okay I am just going to spit it out.

"So... Cindy," the perky girl said, "Are you retired?"

Everything fell silent, at least inside my head. The room was actually quite noisy, with blaring dance music and 30-second intervals of a voice yelling "change stations".

Retarded? I thought to myself. Did she just ask me if I was retarded?

I prayed she was inappropriate and said retarded. Please, make her have said retarded. Yes! I am retarded, I thought. I've always been retarded. I've been retarded for as long as I can remember. I'm here training for the Special Olympics. Clearly I must look retarded or she wouldn't have asked me. Pleeeeeease tell me you meant retarded. I have never wanted to be retarded so badly in my entire life.

"Are you retired?" I heard her ask again, in what seemed like slow motion.

I saw her youthful lips moving but I was deafened by the voices in my own head. I would have cut my arm off like that guy in 127 Hours just to get the fuck out of there.

I finally spoke. "Retired?" An inaudible whisper, after what seemed like hours.

"What kind of work did you do?" she continued, cheerily.

"Did?" I said in a whisper.

"Really?" I pleaded meekly.

Out of sheer desperation I found myself at Curves. Curves! The gym where women supposedly change their lives 30 minutes. Mine changed in less than 30 seconds flat.

There I was surrounded by women – so old and fat in some cases – that I felt like a starlet on the red carpet. Or at least I did. One simple question and suddenly I felt like I belonged there.

And I didn't like it.

The rest is just a blur. I went through the motions like I was shell shocked. The instructor introduced me to the weight resistance machines, and to some of the ladies bouncing up and down for 30 seconds in between each brittle-bone "workout". Everyone was so nice and supportive, but I couldn't move past the voice in my head that kept assuring me that I was indeed quite obviously retarded, and didn't look a day over 35. Retarded people have such a youthful glow about them – always jolly and eager to please. I am often mistaken for being politically incorrect and retarded. It happens all the time.

Will I go back?

I don't know.

That's a difficult question.

Curves has several locations in HRM. For a free week, and a fitness evaluation click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jesus for Dummies.

Yesterday was a mish-mash of wonderful excuses for doing nothing at all.

First, it was sunny and hovering slightly above freezing. After suffering through a schizophrenic weather pattern of rain, ice and snow – anything remotely close to pleasant was worth basking in. Yesterday was also the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, but until it's officially a paid day off for women, who really gives a shit. It was also Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, or unleavened Tim Horton's Breakfast Sandwich day, as it's now known in our house.

I mashed them all together and declared it Fat Women's Tuesday, and proceeded to avoid my long list of things to do, quite merrily.

Yesterday, my pal Norman asked me what I was giving up for Lent. Silly goose. He knows perfectly well my attendance in church is spotty at best – mostly forced, and resulting in a great deal of time spent staring at the ceiling, sweating up my good clothes wondering if I'm about to be struck by lighting to organ accompaniment, and what kind of crustless sandwiches will be dished out afterward, and am I supposed to be standing up or sitting down, and thinking there just has to be better hymns with rhythm out there, and do they wash that filthy chalice, and what page are they on, and why did that weird couple with the ugly baby suddenly turn around and offer limp, damp handshakes – mumbling something about the force being with me, all the while avoiding eye contact, lest I be the Devil.

I don't have to give anything up for Lent, but if I had to give up something it would be shoveling.

According to the Bible, a bestseller likely because of all the hotels: Jesus (the hero) took off somewhere for 40 days and went without Sportscentre to prepare for the playoffs or something. I think this is when he grew that scraggly beard. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't it also rain cats and dogs for 40 days and nights? Were those 40 days when Jesus was off a-Lenting, the same 40 days during which Noah was "told" to build an Ark and blow town? The plot is so hard to follow. And where does the Easter bunny come in? And if Jesus really rose from the grave like the book says, does that mean there's no heaven, and no Philly cheese angel? Because rising normally suggests a coming up from below. But hey, you know what they say – go to Heaven for the weather and Hell for the company.

(Note: My friend (and hero) *Kelly is a breast cancer conqueror, and a big-time believer and maybe the two go hand in hand, but my guess is I'll be hearing from her real soon.)

Maybe I'll give up coffee for Lent. Oops, too late.

Does the word relentless stem from Lent?

I know! I'll give up giving up. I tend to give up every winter. By give up, I mean "let myself go". It means succumbing to gray skies and brittle nails and middle age and a serious case of the "poor mes". By giving up giving up for Lent, I can still embrace Cadbury mini eggs and vodka and doing unto others. It's fucking perfect.

Come to think of it, I snuck in a quick giving up on Monday, just under the Lent wire. I gave up on ever having my flowing long locks of youth, or an elegant senior citizen chignon. I left my pubic-like gray curls happily on the floor of Flaunt Hair Salon. While I was there, I picked up some self-esteem and Kevin Murphy shampoo for "extremely tortured" hair. Oddly enough it's called Born.Again.Wash. Fitting for this period of religious highlights and damp weather.

With my sassy new church lady hair and 40 days of emotional sunshine, I can walk on frozen water, breathe fire, repent, repel, revel, regurgitate, rejoice – anything but give up, goddammit.

It's gonna be a miracle.

*Check out Kelly's inspirational blog about kicking the shit out of breast cancer at: Gingerbreadguts. I think her page design would look better though, if Jesus' face appeared in the latte foam.

Flaunt Hair Salon is at 2166 Windsor Street. 902.425.0020.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The jet lag was a bitch, but well worth it!

It seems everyone is posting their fabulous winter vacation photos online (Costa Rica, Hawaii, Punta Cana, etc) so I wanted to share mine as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The perfect day.

What the hell was I thinking?

My idea of the perfect vacation day would go something like this: Wake up in a Tuscan villa with a mild, Brunello di Montalcino hangover. Go for a wake-up swim, then bike through fields of poppies to the local village for cappuccino. Stock up on wine, salami, cheese, and bread before biking to the villa. Wave back at handsome old Italian men who think I am beautiful, because they are 90 and think anything that moves is beautiful. Play tennis with Antonio on the sun-soaked clay court. (Hey, it's my dream holiday.) Swim and read by the pool all afternoon. Play tennis with Benito, then knock back some icy cold Prosecco with Campari in the shady olive grove. Take a nap with Ricardo before the cook/housekeeper, Agnese rings the dinner bell. Dine under the Tuscan stars. Scampi. Pesto. Anchovies. Take a hot, lavender-scented bath. Go to bed early and alone – tired, sunburned, and very, very happy.

But, oh no. Instead of the above, I am dragging the reluctant Little Bastard to South America where we will camp and schlep up some godforsaken Peruvian hillside – likely with a pack of belligerent Germans, altitude sickness, and diarrhea from eating beans and rice off a filthy tin plate. The goal: to instill in my child a sense of wonder and adventure, and to reach Machu Picchu without having a stroke, or a massive hissy fit because my sherpa dropped the birthday wine.

Again, what was I thinking?

Machu Picchu. An abandoned city. Where did everyone go? Why did they leave? Likely because it's a shithole with no jobs, plumbing, wi-fi, or oxygen.

Maritime Travel have a sweet tour of Italy leaving mid May – around the same time I'll be loading up my backback with antidiarrheal and blister pads for my indoctrination into middle age. Italy's Best is 14 carefree, air-conditioned days traveling to some of the most breathtaking Italian landscapes: the Amalfi coast, the Lake Maggiore, Venice, and, sigh, Tuscany. Screw RRSP's. You should go.

Turn off that bloody Xbox. Make your bed. Stop picking at that. Don't roll your eyes at me. Wipe your feet. Hurry up! Get in the car. Cut your toenails. Because I have no money, that's why. Do your homework. Sit up straight. Excuse me?! Stop eating like an pig. Hurry up.

For a brief moment, I'd like to replace that with: Holy fuck, is that my personal donkey? I'm not eating that. What do you mean there's no toilet. There was no mention of snakes in the brochure. How much further? Go on without me. I thought it was you, but my armpits really smell. How do you say "asshole" in German? It's way too quiet here. Feel my stubble. I really should have hired a personal trainer. Eduardo, pour me some wine, por favor. You play the zampona beautifully. What kind of bird is that? Smell this flower. What a beautiful view. This sleeping bag smells like cat pee. Jack... honey... look at the stars.

Oh. That's what I was thinking.

If I can afford to go, you can afford to go. Make 12 months of equal payments, interest free – exclusive at Maritime Travel. Click here to get going:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You know who you are.

March. And about bloody time I say.

February in Havenot was a hormonally imbalanced housewife. Hot. Cold. Snow. Rain. Binge. Purge. February was an evacuation to Hawaiian islands, with me left holding the neighborhood shovel. February was a wet basement, 28 days of missed education, 8 new pounds, and 56 trips to a variety of rinks in worse shape than I am. February took the lives of two people I really enjoyed sharing the planet with – on Valentines Day – just to rub in the absolute finite shittiness of it all.

And then came the email.

I get quite a bit of email from wacky, wonderful people who have happened across this blog. Most emails are positive and supportive and sent as a way of saying, "Hey thanks, it's nice to know that I am not alone... I too have a fat ass, ungrateful teenagers, and reach for a wine bottle before heading to parent teacher meetings!" Emails from strangers routinely brighten my day in a weird, cyber sort of neighbourly way.

I won't go on at great length about the person who wrote the February email, because they aren't worth any more of my precious time. My brief exchanges with this February person were cordial, and a response to their kind banter about this blog. It seems I had a new fan, struggling with the usual life shit, career, dreams, etc – all the while living in Halifax (although originally from "away").

I was wrong.

Let's just say, while this blog is intended to amuse, support small businesses, piss people off, and bolster attendance at dreary events intended to inspire and create awareness of something bigger than we are – in February, this blog was used as a vehicle for evil. Well, evil may be pushing it, but thanks to the power of the internet, a whack job with serious emotional issues stumbled upon this blog and subsequently ripped off one of the businesses I support.

Gracious as the owner of the business is, she chose not to press charges, or embarrass this nasty person at their place of employment. The classy small business owner chose to be positive, and move forward despite being insulted and wronged by a soul-less person (with shifty eyes and a fat ass I am told). I cannot help but feel horrible, angry, and somewhat responsible.

I am also not nearly as gracious. I can hold a grudge almost as well as I retain water. People I care about were treated like crap because of information gathered from this blog. Someone I admire and respect is out-of-pocket because some miserable, fucked up, lonely person happened upon these silly rants.

But this is March. A new month of hope – and hopefully better weather, although if this morning's slick-ass sidewalks are any indication, March has come in like a bitchy, rabid lioness.

March is also home to March Forth, a pancake, mimosas, and sausage breakfast celebration of the 100th Anniversary of International Womens' Day, hosted by Havenot's very own Dragon slayer, Barb Stegemann. I am told there will be no pancakes, sausages or mimosas at March Forth, but there will be kick-ass speakers and high-heeled trailblazers swilling coffee and inspiring us all to stop whining and BE the damn Gandhi-esque change – if for no other reason than we are women, and we create life and have breasts like beer taps, and can outsmart 97% of the men on the planet whilst battling inadequate daycare and lower wages and hot flashes and cramps so bad it feels like shitting a rocking chair. Throw on your good sweats and feel the energy from Molly Duignan, producer of CBC’s Dragons' Den, Senator Yonah Martin of British Columbia, and Lee Malleau, smart cookie and CEO of Vancouver Economic Development.

March is swallows returning to Capistrano. March is dog shit resurfacing as daffodil fertilizer. March is heading to Flaunt for a tune-up. March is Irishmen all pissed up for a reason. March is a new Pine Cone Hill duvet cover from Thornbloom. March is playoffs. March is Premium Dog Food month at Tailwagrrrs. March is baseball's Grapefruit League and knicker-clad men scratching their youthful balls. March is good karma, if there is such a thing. March starts my countdown to a trek up Machu Picchu. March is 31 days of not February. March is happy, goddammit.

Because I know where you live.

The March Forth fun starts, d'uh, March 4, at 8 a.m. at the Halifax Club, 1682 Hollis Street. Keynote speeches from Duignan and gang are slated for 9 to 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $25 and available by clicking here, or on the empowered woman to the right.