Thursday, December 31, 2015

Escapee Santa and palm trees - Christmas in Europe

How to be productive: travel to Europe from Canada. Lose six hours. Stay overseas for two weeks. Adjust to that time zone. Come home. Gain six hours. Wake up at 5 am because I'm still on European time. Get shit done. By 9 am, my day is done and I can justify watching Friends reruns for the next 8 hours.

How to eat guilt-free: go to France. Cheese, bread, charcuterie, creamy sauces and wine are plentiful; and you may want to pick up smoking, otherwise, you'll stick out like a sore thumb. For some reason, it feels like if you smoke in France, you won't get cancer because everyone is doing it and they make it look so cool. It's like eating bacon in North America. Don't fight it. It may give you cancer but a life without bacon is not worth living.

How to justify sleeping in: go to Spain in December. The sun doesn't rise until about 9 am. I got up for a bathroom break in the darkness of what I thought was the middle of the night. I checked my phone. It was 8 am. Also, there are palm trees in Spain. I didn't know this until very recently.

Can you spot them?

How to confirm North American food has been f*cked with by evil corporations: eat pretty much anywhere in Europe. The food just tastes better. I can't even say precisely what it is but the food there tastes more... real, and less like chemical soup with a strange aftertaste.

In France especially, I seemed to ignore my body's signals of "If you eat another bite, your gut will explode all over this table." The food was so good, I was willing to gestate a food baby on many occasions, hence the frequent wear of stretchy leggings and loose tops. In my defense, I did a fair bit of walking but it by no means seemed to equal my fitness regimen at home, as evidenced by my tight fitting clothes and rounder bod at yesterday's yoga class - my first in about a month.

Amusing discovery: the "Escapee Santa" seemed to be a very popular festive decoration overseas:

It's every make believe man for himself!

This was the first year ever I was away for Christmas. I didn't even bother decorating our house because we would barely see it, and also, our cat would have destroyed the tree by the time we got back, as evidenced by years past:

She doesn't yet know to leave the scene of the crime.

Christmas in Europe, or at least in Spain and France, was tastefully understated. You knew it was the holiday season but it wasn't shoved in your face at every corner. There seemed to be some kind of restraint, unlike the unbridled retail glee at home, complete with Black Friday trampling hoards and the like.

That being said, it's always nice to come home, especially when perfectly timed with the first snowstorm of the season and a record snowfall and continual shoveling of the driveway and...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

No complaining for 30 days. And you thought the pepper and lemon juice cleanse was tough...

The boyfriend and I were out recently with a dear friend of ours who mentioned he had recently been on a cleanse. "Pepper and lemon juice?" says the boyfriend. "Not quite" says our friend, "No complaining for 30 days". "Whoa", I say, and the idea stuck with me, either because I was completely traumatized by it or I thought it was brilliant and I should probably try it.

Except that I'm a misanthrope, through and through. If I stopped complaining, I would basically stop speaking. I mean, what would I talk about? Our friend raved about this cleanse, claiming it transformed his thinking and writing (he's an actor and playwright). I wondered if my playwriting would improve if I attempted this cleanse. It's a daunting prospect. Complaining is my main mode of communication. If I can't ridicule, mock, cut down, berate or criticize, what do I have to live for?

But I can't shake the idea. It's a challenge and it's enticing. Would I be a completely different person if I never complained or would I just go stark raving mad, shouting "Serenity now!" while walking the streets in my underwear. It's only 30 days. I can stop after that if I don't like it, right? I suppose my biggest fear is that I'll become a happy person.

A trusted mentor told me recently that I falsely assume misery will make me a good artist, that happiness and creativity are not mutually exclusive, and that being happy (contentment and inner peace also apply here) actually generates creativity which would, in turn, make me a better artist. I had to ponder that for a while; I wasn't completely convinced.

Generally speaking, happy people annoy me. Maybe I'm envious. Maybe I want to be happy and don't know how. Maybe I like being in a constant state of mild misery. So I guess I'll try this cleanse which I assume also includes retraining the voice in my head that's constantly nattering away, feeding off its own negativity. Will that voice go silent, and if there's silence, will there be more space, and if there's more space, will there be more room for brilliant ideas? I shouldn't kid myself - I'll be going cold turkey in mental rehab. No complaining for 30 days. Maybe I'll start tomorrow...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Yoga rage, Birkenstock rejection and ibuprofen

You know when you attend a yoga master class with a world-renowned teacher and you're really looking forward to it and then you're jam packed in a classroom with too many people and you've got someone's smelly feet in your face for most of the class which is highly irritating and taps into an endless supply of rage that then seeps out of every pore until you're just a big, badass ball of seething anger? Namaste.

Then, on our lunch break, I realize I can't go and gorge myself on gourmet donuts from my favorite shop next door to the yoga studio because I don't want to be puking all over my mat during the afternoon session. So I had to make a healthier choice. I balanced that out with alcohol by evening's end. Detox / retox, yin / yang... it's all about balance.

I'm a Birkenstock reject. I've tried to wear them and like them but they reject me. They tear at my flesh, sand and rocks somehow edge their way in constantly, and my feet just can't get comfortable in them. This surprises me since they're a product of German engineering which typically, one would assume is of superior quality. I see them everywhere. People seem to love them. Maybe it's me... I'm of too inferior quality for my sandals. Time for a trip to Dollarama for some flip flops.

Ibuprofen has become my new best friend. I've been getting frequent headaches, probably from an inoperable brain tumour, or inordinate amounts of rain we've been getting (those low pressure systems really f*ck with my head) or hangovers. I haven't forgotten who I am, used swear words at completely inappropriate times or spontaneously lost bladder control, so I can probably rule out a brain tumour. Although, my love of corn dogs and Cheetos remains unexplained.

I've always had a love of TV show intro songs but HBO's new season of True Detective takes the cake. As soon as I heard Leonard Cohen's haunting Nevermind, I was hooked. I had to watch the show because the intro was so creepy, it drew me in. Lera Lynn's My Least Favorite Life, performed in the very first episode, was also utterly mesmerizing. Thank you Shazam for basically revolutionizing how I find really cool music. Of course, marketers have figured this out too. They know people are gonna Shazam that shit. It's music video as television program. Brilliant.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Happiness Disease

I've noticed of late that there is a clear preference for "happy" people, keeners, positive thinkers, extroverts; as if everything can be glossed over with a smile, a friendly nod and an optimistic thought. That would require an acknowledgement that everything is indeed ok, which frankly, is rarely the case.

"Happy" is not my default setting. I usually wake up with some degree of melancholy and general unease. Happiness feels like work, and I'm not about that. Maybe I'm just lazy, or unmotivated. Are those synonyms?

I'm most certainly an introvert. There seems to be a general misunderstanding of introverts since extroverts are valued so much more. Introverts make people uncomfortable. I'm guessing it's because others can't understand why we would more often choose to be alone than with other people.

It seems pretty obvious to me. Other people are usually really f*cking annoying, especially those sickly sweet, jazzed up extroverts who are basically asking for a punch in the face. It's not that I aspire to be a recluse. I'm just very particular about who I spend my time with, and much more so as I age, and realize that life is short so why would I spend it with people I hate or find generally irritating?

The one beautiful thing about aging is that you start to care less and less what other people think. If everyone is basically obsessed with what everyone else thinks of them, no one is paying attention to you, so why should you care what others think because they're not thinking about you at all. They're only thinking about what you think of them.

I tried to get on the "positive thinking" bandwagon a few times. It's much easier to be bitter and cantankerous, and frankly, much more interesting and entertaining. Being steeped in anger and resentment feels natural to me, and fuels my drinking habit, which I treasure dearly. Also, being a happy writer just sounds like an oxymoron. What would I write about if I were happy? How to be happy? Puke. Besides, that market is completely saturated... with extroverts.

I recently had a profound revelation. I thought my life would miraculously change once I was a playwright with a production under my belt. Well, I'm now a produced playwright, and guess what, jack shit has changed. It's been a very humbling time.

I thought all this "positive thinking" would ensure an unprecedented success for my show. Well, it was a success, but not unprecedented, not entirely unique, and everything is basically as it was before, i.e. me wondering why I even write at all when it feels like I'm losing an uphill battle, then deciding I may as well start drinking before I get swallowed whole by my existential angst. Maybe I'm not visualizing enough or I'm doing it wrong. I was supposed to be an international sensation by now. Perhaps my 104 Twitter followers think I am, and I suppose, for now, that will have to do.


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