Monday, November 29, 2010

It Tastes Like Home

When I express anxiety about my eating habits to my beloved people they don't really take it all that seriously, so I try not to worry too. Yet today I ate a Cadbury's Dairy Milk bar as an appetiser before lunch.

I don't think that's a good sign.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Important Decision

I forgot something on that list of stuff that happened:

13. I got a twitch in my right eyebrow that lasted about 12 hours. It's hypnotic if you stare in the mirror at your eye twitching.

My body has subtle and obvious ways of saying 'Dear Cass, you are managing to have fun because you have buried all the things that concern you way down beneath your stomach. I will remind you periodically that you need to deal by twitching your eye, withholding menstruation indefinitely, providing a tight knot between your shoulder blades and giving you episodic bouts of tinnitus. love, Your Body.'

It's nice to know it cares about me.

Time for a pop quiz!

When you are 29 almost thirty, which is the most viable option for prolonging your youth, thus giving yourself more time to do the things you thought you would have accomplished by now?

a) get married
b) get a real job
c) get a Master's degree

If you answered a) or b) please go back and read this whole blog before I get all snot-and-bullets on you, yell that it's like you don't know me at all and slam the phone down.

Obviously the answer is c) and I have decided to go to graduate school. It is not called 'grad school' in England, and to my English ear that sounds faintly obnoxious. However the term postgrad is even more pretentious sounding, because it reminds me of postmodern. By the way, I appreciate pretension in small portions so this is not a slight.

The best thing about this decision so far is that it gave my Dad an uproarious laugh on the phone when I told him. He managed to sputter in his delerium, which was so infectious I couldn't stop laughing either, that I'd be able to pay off my student loans from my pension and skip the bother of working in between studying and old age.

Last year I couldn't decide whether to move to London (again) or Paris, or Vancouver. This year I can't decide whether to study in London (again) or Paris, or Vancouver. I'm going to apply everywhere and see who'll take on my poor brain.

What's Occurring?

I just got home from walking the dog through 6 inches of slush. It rained all over the beautiful carpet of snow I was too chicken to go out in. I was afraid my fingers, used to a milder climate, would fall off since it dipped to minus 20.

Eleven days flew by since I last wrote. Here are the highlights:

1. I got a new crush due to this hilarious advice column/lip synching duo.

2. I re-ignited an old crush due to no.3.

3. I caught up on Season 6 of How I Met Your Mother.

4. I went to a supermarket for the first time in 5 months. Actually I went to Wholefoods recently too but that's more of a social occasion.

5. I was asked if I attended the local high school. ! . By a guy on the bus. I was so startled I blurted 'I'm 29!' somewhat indignantly. He responded that that was ok, it doesn't matter. Thanks buddy. I wish I'd pointed out to him that if I did go to high school he is definitely too old have been attempting to chat me up on the night bus.

6. I discovered I can still bind a book (sort of) even after 3 glasses of wine.

7. I caught up with WK and discovered he's realised he lives in Van and is thus still coming to terms with issues I have long since managed to drown out by singing along loudly to Tegan and Sara and accepting that the internet is a legitimate avenue to making friends here if you don't harbour a penchant for cycling or smoking* like everyone else in the vicinity.

8. I found out how much I hate it when the lids are left off things. Like, it's actually possible in this house for someone to open a jar of honey (or worse, yoghurt! That stuff needs refrigerating dudes!) use it, then leave the lid off and the jar standing naked, and then leave the house. This happens all the time.

9. I witnessed someone roast a chicken with a lid on. My little heart broke a bit for all the skin that wouldn't go brown and crispy. Then the lid came off for the last 10 minutes and the fat spurted out and flames roared. That's what a gas oven does, apparently.

10. I asked Robin Sparkles to 'civil union' me and move to London. I didn't get down on one knee since it was via gchat. I want to steal her so we can live together in a commune forever and adopt children and bake. I guess her beau Swarley can come live in the commune too once he graduates.

11. I was surprised and kind of embarrassed to think that my country is way behind Canada and that a 'civiil union' even exists. Especially when so many unions are uncivil.

12. I made an important decision.

* not cigarettes, duh, Vancougarites are too healthy for that

Monday, November 15, 2010


I wonder what it's like to have children.

One of the sweetest things my Mum has ever said to me happened when I felt a pang of guilt for the fact me and my brother have failed (and will continue to fail for years to come, probably) to bestow any grandchildren upon her. She had just returned home from a neighbour's house that positively groans with the patter of many tiny feet spawned from all three of their kids.

Perhaps spawned is not the right word. Sprung forth from their loins? Whatever, it either sounds needlessly grotesque or absurdly acrobatic in those terms.

My Mum defended her own babies valiantly, in the only real way that counts, by slagging off the breeders.

"Well, you two aren't boring like they are.'

I have never loved you more, Mum. And no one will ever love me more than you do, which is the crux of the desperation most children have in light of their parents' affection. Love for us will never come easier to anyone than our mothers, which is why there is such ambivalence connected to their approval; is so yearned for and at the same time dismissed as something we don't need because we are each our own person. We don't want it to mean as much to us as it does. There's too much at risk. Your mother wants to love you. Even if she can't, even if she fails, she wants to be able to.

So if someone who is predisposed to think well of you doesn't, it is so much worse than what anyone else thinks.

This is why your mother will always be able to make you cry. No matter how old you get.

My mother has not made me cry in a long, long time, but I am thinking about this because it occurs to me how strange it must be, and how difficult, to have a child that grows up and turns into someone you don't recognise.

I have my mother's face. Since I was tiny we have probably been stopped in the street about 300 times to be told how much we look alike. There isn't anyone that knows us both who hasn't commented on our similarity.

But that's mostly where the similarity ends. (Aside from sharing mannerisms and a knack for making each other laugh.) How weird it must be, to grow someone up with a face just like yours, and then hear them say things and feel things that you would never say or feel. It is like I am a reflection of my mother and yet it's a lie, I don't reflect her at all.

I hope it's exciting and she likes it. Because that's all I've got to give. At least until I spawn another one of us.

In a Pickle

At home, my family would never dream of trying to advise me on who to date. They wouldn't think it was appropriate, nor would they want the responsibility, of finding a mate for me.

Thank goodness.

Yet here I am on the other side of the world, working amongst another family who have known me just a few short months, and dating guidance/encouragement is issued at least once a week.

Previously the lady of the house (I am the leading lady of my own life, at least, but in this house I am the understudy) was steering me towards a local Mexican business owner she took a fancy to.

Since I remained uninspired to go and check out Jose at his workplace after many weeks of prodding, I think she got the hint because now there is a new flavour of the month.

His name is Pickle and he has a lazy eye.

These are the primary bits of information relayed to me. Following this, I also learned that he is English (because I couldn't find an English guy in England!) and he is from the north. I am from the middle of England, so if you think of English land as a caste system like in Hinduism then the north is the Untouchable part. (If you are from the north then it is the south that would be considered the Untouchable area.) There is a considerable divide, not as politically strained as in Italy, but a cultural reality nonetheless. The people up north are warm like buttered crumpets, but the rest of the country doesn't care, because it rains more and the car exhaust sticks to the sandstone and makes everything look dirty.

Or maybe it's just me. I never said I wasn't a total snob.

Anyway, Mr Pickle is a Health Inspector. I was treated to one of his fecal tales of Health Inspectorism, from Mrs X, who raves about him. Apparently he bakes which is no good to me as baking is one of the feathers I was hoping to bring to the cap of any relationship. Everything I bake tastes like crap compared to when Robin bakes it, but whoever I am with will never get a chance to try any of Robin's baking while I am around to scoff it all so my baking-mediocrity may never be revealed.

The lazy eye factor is a curious one. I hear I had a lazy eye when I was six years old, but I don't remember it. I don't think I had a lazy eye at all, I'm just generally lazy and maybe that one eye just really couldn't be arsed. Not that Ptosis can't be peculiarly attractive but if I were trying to sell someone I might not have mentioned it as many times as Mrs X has referred to it.

By the way, 'Mrs X' comes from that nanny movie with Scarlett Johansson and it occurs to me it would be easier to use a moniker so I'll steal this one.

For one thing, I'm kind of unnerved and slightly insulted that Mrs X thinks I can't find my own man. I'm pretty sure if I were looking I'd be able to scare up all kinds of unsuitable specimens right here in Van (you know; musicians, 18 year olds, those with serious defective personality disorders - the usual).

Maybe I should just bite the bullet and say 'You know what? Penises are not my friends right now. Keep them to yourself.'

On the other hand, I may not need to get so dramatic. I accidentally brought up same sex marriage over breakfast. (It wasn't my fault, I went to see T&S again and Mrs X asked if they were married. Come again? I have never been to see a band before and been asked whether the musicians were married or not. It's the least relevant question I can think of. Maybe there are more single health inspectors she is taking it upon herself to hook up.). Anyway, I talked about how progressive Canada was with it's same sex marriage equality and then, lest it became apparent that it was a subject close to my heart, felt the need to cover it up by getting randomly political about other things like the fox hunting history at home and illegal dolphin hunting in Japan.

There's a good chance Pickle will bake himself into marriage sooner than I get the gumption to ask that the impromptu dating service be retired.

I Only Want Everything

I've been thinking about an earlier post and that line from the song Floorplan.

I wonder why I am not honest about what I need and want in relationships. It must be because I am afraid I won't get it. And because I am afraid it is unreasonable. I have been so well trained in politeness and the understanding that unreasonable behaviour is unattractive, that I have frequently put what I really want on the shelf and ignored it. It's not ok to ask for what I want, or to expect it. Because what I want is a bottomless pit and you might fall in.

It can't be true that unreasonable behaviour is wholly unattractive because I have a history of being attracted to people who have ultimately behaved quite unreasonably in various circumstances.

Maybe I don't think I deserve to get what I want, that no one would give it to me anyway. And yet there are scores of people out there singing and painting and writing and wailing about wanting and needing and demanding the kind of attention I want too.

These whiney, clinging, needy creatives are just being honest. I'm a whiney, clinging, needy creative, I just pretend I'm not, because it's unreasonable and I know it. It's unattractive. You can't very well meet someone and once you fall for them admit the truth of what you expect in return. Not if the truth is something along the lines of I want you to hang on my every word for the rest of your life.

However much attention you give me it will never be enough.

I want your lungs to stop working without me.

I love it when I meet someone upon whose words I am willing to hang. I want that much back.

Did You Know... is possible for oatmeal and cranberry cookies to taste good even when eaten directly out of the freezer?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Black Apple Wannabe

Does anyone know why the 'e' is left out of the words tumblr and flickr?

Whenever I used to look through my clothes deciding what to wear, I would frequently get the feeling that elves had snuck into my wardrobe at night and replaced everything with ugly things that looked horrible on me. Shopping makes me come over all Rebecca Bloomwood, I can feel my pulse racing the moment I step into Anthropologie. This may account for some of my historical inexplicable decisions made under harsh flourescent lighting about what to buy.

These days, I love my clothes. Maybe because I have so few of them in Canada compared to at home. It's still true that my outfits could double as costumes for intrepid circus performers - I like colour and print and texture. I'm not afraid to mix them. For the first time though, I feel like I'm dressing as myself, and I get slightly sad thinking that there is no record of this era when I am snuggled up cosily in hats and cardigans like I jumped out of a Christmas time Gap ad or I'm swathed in silky flippy skirts and layered in jewels and chains.

There is no record because there is no one on hand to take photos of me. Taking pictures of myself resluts in something too close up with one fat arm (the arm holding the camera). I need someone as devoted to me and my wardrobe as I am. My beautiful friend who is soon to be a bride, let's call her Bridal Betty Page since her style channels icons of the past with a lovely freshness and effortlessness, has a love/hate relationship with the Black Apple. The woman behind the Black Apple is so into her clothes she documents many of her outfits. BBP's irritation stems from the sideward coy glance that every single photo of the Black Apple incorporates while I am just envious of all her shopping at clothing heaven Anthropologie.

I also recently stumbled onto Fit For A Femme. This interests me even though I hate the word 'femme' and loathe to use is to describe myself. It brings to mind only 'femme fatale' which instead of 'hot' makes me think 'I am going to have sex with you and then bite your head off' like a praying mantis. Ugh. Anyway I was interested in what a self confessed femme wears as well as other peoples' self obsession (being rather self obsessed myself). Fit for a Femme is married so she clearly has someone on hand to document her cute outfits and cover girl poses. I was struck by the sheer number of pictures and FFF's personal exposure. I was raised in a climate (family/culture) where modesty is prized, obsession is impolite. Genorosity and interest in others is important so surely admitting to your own total fasciantion with yourself is not on, and neither is your need for other people to love you as much as you do.

There is a lyric I have been thinking about a lot recently, in Floorplan (Tegan and Sara) that goes 'I want your lungs to stop working without me.' Somehow it's ok to admit these things in art and no one is freaked out, because maybe everyone secretly feels that way sometimes. I'm feeling powerfully inspired lately, to not only dress as myself, but also to be myself, so maybe art will become the focus of my narcissism. As well as this blog, haha.

Economical vs Ecological

Here is something I don't like that I have been exposed to here: fake ecological concern.

British Columbia, and Vancougar in particular, seems to have a reputation for environmental awareness. Even way back in the countryside where my hometown is nestled (among people who actually miss fox hunting) recycling has become second nature.

So it doesn't surprise me that I am constantly refilling small containers from big containers of oil/soap/everything else to save packaging (and presumably money). This is good.

The smallest member of the family (the smallest human member, not the cat) requested some yoghurt in small pots. Our yoghurt is mostly homemade so is stored in giant vats that need decanting for a packed lunch. (It's delicious.) The smallest member's mother gave a detailed explanation about the environmental impact of packaging and how she didn't believe in buying small pots of yoghurt.

The next week small pots of yoghurt filled up the fridge. It turns out the small pots were on sale. So, the real issue is small pots are a waste of money, but when they are on sale the environment can go to hell or wherever.

Maybe I'm just being pissy because I get made to feel guilty about all the nail varnish remover I use and how 'it gets in the water and contaminates it'. I gave up meat for 10 years, but the thought of giving up nail varnish is just too much. (I'm currently favouring black, it's the last vestige of my teenage years and I plan to cling onto it for as long as it doesn't look ridiculous.)

Friday, November 5, 2010


America, did you know it was National Sandwich Day for you the other day?

I hope you celebrated appropriately and ate sandwiches with fillings 5 inches thick.

In England, we like to solemnly remember war time rationing by keeping sandwich fillings as sparse as possible, especially if the sandwich comes from a supermarket.

During a recent online search for things that Vancougar might offer me other than walks in the woods and opportunities for uncharacteristic flirtations with hairy dudes, I was looking for an alternative bookshop where I might source my copy of the new Erika Lopez book. Ok, ok so I was looking for somewhere I might spot cute girls in Van who can also read, but anyway, I found an ad for a gay establishment that included the initials GBLT*.

My only thought was:

Gay Bacon Lettuce & Tomato?

Maybe they were just really happy to be celebrating the upcoming National Sandwich Day.

Of course to be truly gay this sandwich would have to be made using Fakin' Bacon.

* for the uninitiated, the initials usually used to denote gayness or gay friendliness in an establishment/publication/service or whatever are variants on LGBTQ with Q being a relatively avant garde addition. I have never, ever seen GBLT before, but it does promote my status as 2nd in the line up as opposed to 3rd, so who's complaining?

In, Out, In, Out, Shake it all about

Dear Beloved Readers,

I've started feeling really self-conscious about the direction in which my writing is going. It's reflecting my life in Van of course, so the gayer life here gets, the gayer this blog is likely to get. I love you for reading this and I don't want to alienate you. Mimi is the only person for whom this isn't weird, because when we met I was busily living with one girl while falling in love with another. She introduced me to all her friends and they had a mutual friend with the same first name as me. They differentiated between us by naming her the German one and me the Lesbian one.

I recently met a woman who sounded thrilled to be bisexual, she talked about it positively, while I have hidden from it for years because the reaction the word gets mortifies me.* I never once went to Gay Pride with my friends in London, even when I lived with a woman. Why? Because I'm too lazy to march? Because I was afraid people would look at me and wonder what the heck that straight girl was doing there? The simple answer is, I didn't go to Pride because I wasn't proud. As much as I stolidly held to my high expectations of everyone around me, looking to them for support and acceptance, I was busy raging against homophobia while realising I harboured internalised homophobia against myself.

This seems deranged.

It has only recently struck me though, that I actually don't know what it's like to be straight. You think everyone thinks like you until you find out they don't. My newly minted bisexual friend recently married a dude and only later she realised her love of girls in not something all straight women have on the side. She's happy with that, the self knowledge and understanding and experience of meeting other women who feel the same way is enough for her.

Being bisexual for me is like doing the bloody Hokey Cokey for the rest of my life. I wish I knew where it would lead. I wish I didn't have to follow my heart because it is suddenly expansive and wide and taking me places I am afraid to go. And I'm taking you with me. Maybe it'll be fun, think of it as an anthropological case study.

I hope I'll learn to embrace being the unicorn of sexuality; that mythical creature: the bisexual. The gayness is actually not a problem for me, nothing makes my heart jump and down in excitement more than the realisation that the whole world makes sense to me from that perspective, it's just the alignment of it with my ungay self along with all my expectations of growing up to be like Samantha from Bewitched, minus the magic.

In related news, I recently saw WK for the first time since my birthday and told him he was off the hook, that while most of my heterosexuality is currently used up on my crush on him (the rest is still for Lee Min Ho) I would be exploring other avenues henceforth. I didn't actually use the word henceforth, because who does? There's something delicious about employing fancy pretentious language in the written word that you can't get away with in real life speech.

Kind salutations,
Me x

* I am possibly referring to the reaction the word gets from me, myself. Go figure, as they say on this side of the Atlantic.

p.s. edited to add this note - sometimes I just love people so much, like the people who created Bisexual Index, it makes me want to do a better job of not disparaging my own people.

p.p.s. it would be easier not to disparage my own people if their t-shirt section did not look like this. (Although I may have spat something onto the screen laughing at the 'Bi-furious' one, WTF?) Totally 'mo t-shirts are way cooler. Please get me one for Christmas or I could be single for yet another year/the rest of my life.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Breaking News

I went for a run.


It was more of a run/gasp for breath/walk/run/gasp/stumble cycle than a straightforward run. It's been 18 months at least since I attempted such a thing.
(I do frequently run for the bus however.)

I would like to thank my Fellow European for the suggestion. Little does she know that she was instrumental in making one of the least likely events of the year actually happen.

I would also like to thank the left over chocolate frosting sitting in the fridge.
Dear, luscious frosting, once I caught myself eating you off a spoon, I knew it was time to get off my bum.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Be Cool, Sodapop

I have been caught out. By none other than the worldliest of Vancouverites, Douglas Coupland. I was mentally cheering my local library again for the 27th time this year when I discovered a copy of his book City of Glass.

I loved his wry portrait of Kits ( a neighbourhood of fit people from a beer ad/commercial) and his insight into the Pot-a-holic side of this city.

But then I felt suddenly alone, as if my integration here is a distant and perhaps impossible thing. (Of course I am also slightly perversely pleased at this.) The reason for this is Doug's insistence that no one but people from the far reaches of the east coast (i.e. clueless folk) call Vancouver 'Van'. I do it all the time. Think of the hours I save not typing the whole thing out every time. Doug insists that since the neighbourhoods of North Van, East Van and West Van are so specific, no one would dream of being so generalist as to call any part of it merely Van.

Also, apparently, it is 'dweeby' to be carrying an umbrella. Nevermind that my umbrella is the most adorable thing I have ever seen and it was good enough for Paris, the chicest wet city of all time. However, I am, despite being made to feel like a moronic foreigner, able to see that it is the lot of the hardcore Vancouerite to be under the impression that an anorak is man's best friend.

No; that would be a credit card. Or an umbrella.

Mix Tape Memories

I miss mix tapes.

They were such a labour of love. Making tapes for people, or even for myself, I was always obsessive over pressing stop on the tape recorder at the end of a song at exactly the right moment. The transition had to be clean. It wasn't until I met NME (his pseudonym, after the magazine), who became one of my greatest friends, that I realised there was even more to consider; like the notes one song ends on and the chords the next song begins with. The tapes NME made for me during our sweet and hidden courtship (it was that long ago that seems the appropriate word) are some of the best compilations of songs ever to grace my ears.

On this nostaglic note, I have to go. The cat is retching.