Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Family Affairs

* Please note that you may want to smoke something before reading this.

My son probably doesn't realize it, but he is having all of the life experiences I longed for at his age. Which makes me wonder, how does he see his life - and view his family?

Psychologists say that a common fantasy for children, teens and young adults goes something like this:

  • There had to be some sort of mix up at the hospital, maybe they sent me home with the wrong family.
  • This couldn't possibly be my gene pool, who are these people!
  • Am I adopted?
  • Someday my real family is going to find me, they'll be totally hip and cool. After all, I had to get it from someone and it sure as hell wasn't these people.

For example, my husband loves the sun - our family joke has always been that if he doesn't start using sunscreen, people are going to think he is George Hamilton’s love child.

Life is a complicated business. Even happy, loving families are going to have challenges. I'm not so naive as to think that all children are going to have kind loving families - but if you are blessed, you will eventually realize that your parents did the best they could and acted out of love. You will learn to forgive and accept that all of it - the good and the bad - shaped and made who you are.

To love your family is to love yourself.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Boot Camp

I owe my friend Carla….big time.

I go to Hawaii in a few weeks - let’s just say I’m not exactly ready for the beach. Picture the “before” photo and you get the general idea.

So when someone e-mailed me info on an intensive, four week boot camp, it seemed like a good idea. With my usual “no holds barred” approach to life I signed up within minutes.

I should have left it there, instead I went on a recruiting mission. Most people feigned interest, but were not really enthused about getting up at 5:30 am for an ass kicking. Carla made the fatal mistake of showing a glimmer of interest. It took quite a bit of persuading, but I finally convinced her to sign up with me. The irony being she doesn’t even need boot camp, she looks fabulous and is probably a measly size 3. I think she just joined up to give me moral support.

Over the weekend I managed to convince myself that maybe boot camp wasn’t such a good idea. Trust me people, with a little work you can talk yourself out of anything.

I opted to stay in my comfy bed this morning – but by dawn’s first light poor Carla was in boot camp Hell.

Sorry girl friend! Even though you may not be feeling the love, I’m with you all the way – if not in body, at least in spirit! And just to make you feel better I'll send you a photo of me on a Hawaiian beach

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Surreal Life

I grew up in a small West Texas town, one of those little places you drive through on your way to somewhere else.

Growing up there was surreal, a page from a David Lynch movie, with a few more churches and beauty shops.

Most of you probably remember the school fire drill - at my school we had atomic bomb drills.

The gist of it went something like this - upon hearing the warning bell go into the hallway and kneel down - don’t forget to put a book over your head (nuclear fallout).

George Bush also grew up in the same area, he obviously hasn’t realized how absurd it all was.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Adios Tony

There are only three more episodes of the Sopranos left, I am going to mourn the loss.

I know it’s not cool to admit to watching TV – but the truth is, I’ve loved every minute of the Sopranos and Six Feet Under. Now that both programs are going off the air, what will I watch?.

Damn it, I guess this means I’ll have to start doing something more productive with my life.

This is sad, because I think you can learn a great deal from TV. Here are a few of the things it's taught me

  • Tornadoes have a “thing” for people who live in trailer parks
  • People who have been abducted by aliens are also regularly seen on shows about Big Foot
  • TV evangelists and swingers often have the same hair-do
  • People who work in crime labs are hot – who knew cleavage and science were so closely related
  • People who are being interviewed about reincarnation are always descended from royalty
  • You know it’s going to be a really bad day if you go to work and find out that the crew from “60 Minutes” are waiting for you.

Prozac Pug

In a strange twist of fate, scientist are finding large quantities of anti depressants in wildlife.

It seems that more and more people are in need of a little help – which eventually ends up in our creeks, ponds and waterways - medicating local aquatic and amphibian species.

Maybe we should take the pugs for a swim, because lately we’ve noticed that Tex has the blues.

Tex is a creature of habit who thrives on routine - so you can see how our recent renovations have been stressful on him.

This weekend we did all of his favorite things – played on the beach, built a great pug fort, ate a few french fries – all in an effort to cheer him up.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Over the past few weeks we’ve been living at a construction sight. A group of handsome men have been hard at work replacing the floors in our house. (Well...they aren’t that handsome, but typing that made me feel much better.)

I have to admit, we were not ready for this chaos. When I was in Boston our contractor called Tom with the good news, they wanted to start early. At first Tom thought it was a joke, maybe our son put one of his friends up to it - seriously, when have you ever heard of contractors who start ahead of schedule?

This meant he had less then 24 hours to get ready for them, so in desperation he crammed everything into one room. I could probably live with this, if it wasn’t for the fact that all of my clothes seem to be on the bottom of the pile. Let’s just say that getting dressed for work has been fun.

Things have to get better, because two nights ago we hit rock bottom. At midnight we were still hard at work, trying to move an old box spring mattress to a construction bin in the yard. Sounds easy, but it was too big for the staircase and wouldn't fit through any of the windows.

I admit, neither Tom or I will ever be confused for a handy man – but this seemed like something even we could handle. Besides, how did the original movers get it in to begin with? .

In an act of desperation we had to take it apart - two hours later we managed to get what was left of it, up the stairs and out the door. Right as we started to hi-five each other, Tom accidentally bumped into our neighbors doorbell. For a split second we thought about hiding in the bushes – but considering there was a mutilated mattress on the porch…well, it just didn’t seem like the best option.

The next day Tom couldn't move his neck and I needed a tetanus shot - but the floors are beautiful!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On the Edge

Summer is here, which has inspired me to watch what I eat. Damn it, I'm hungry!! I'll just let this video do the talking for me.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Earth to Mika

Several years ago Douglas Coupland wrote a wonderful essay about the Apollo space program. He pointed out that the most significant outcome of those missions was not the moonwalk - far more momentous was the fact that mankind was given it’s first full view of planet Earth.

The moon was a cold, barren place - but the view from space changed the way we look at our home planet. A ‘big, blue marble’, suspended in space, and which could only be described as a living, breathing entity.

Here on Earth, we are at an important cross-roads. Scientist say that if everyone consumed the way we do in North America – it would take 7 Earths just to provide the natural resources required. Even if you aren’t concerned about the environment, you can certainly understand that it comes down to a simple formula - supply versus demand.

I do care, which makes this part all the more difficult to admit. In the process of simplifying my life, I’ve come to realize that I have so much more than I actually need. Seriously, you should see all the stuff in my closet, it’s truly embarrassing. I usually justify it by telling myself that all these clothes are a requirement of my job - but not to this extent.

So I’ve decided that for the next three months I’m not going to buy anything other than the basics. No clothes, magazines, shoes, books, flowers, wine, (well….maybe a little wine). My hope is that by making this resolution public I will really have to follow through. I’ll keep you posted.
Postscript: My husband really found this post amusing, and pointed out that I start out sounding like David Suzuki and end by channeling the voice of Paris Hilton. All I'm saying is that I know I'm part of the problem -and by giving up shopping I'm certainly not going to save the world.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Freakin Mother's Day!

Our little family moved from the Southwest to Vancouver, with all the remnants of our desert life – huge pieces of lodge pole pine furniture that never really fit with our new urban lifestyle. As part of our current desire to organize our lives, the old furniture goes. We’ve been longing for sleek, modern and minimal.

Part of our plan is to repaint the house, so today we started with our bedroom. At first it was fun, both of us singing along to the tunes, playing a little air guitar. Late afternoon found us swearing like two characters from the Sopranos. Happy freakin Mothers Day.

You see, we didn’t realize how much primer it takes to cover bright red paint. Let’s just say things were bad - at one point I even noticed my honey had Plumbers Crack. I never thought I would see the day.

So, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, here is a story for our beautiful son Tyler – who was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and spent his baby years living in the high desert.

Tyler, when you were just a little baby, we often went to the public library. Like many young families, money was tight and buying books was a luxury we couldn’t afford. One day as your father and I were browsing the book-shelves, a handsome old woman came up to your baby stroller - and without asking permission, picked you up.

I wouldn’t say she cuddled you, as people tend to do when holding babies – but she did hold you up to the light, and looked deep into your eyes. She left as abruptly as she came - and I don’t think we ever even spoke.

Your Dad seemed a little shook up, and he couldn’t understand my calm reaction - until I explained that the little old lady just so happened to be Georgia O’Keefe. His response was “Cool! So.....who’s Georgia O’Keefe?”

We love you baby boy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Sweet Dreams

I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m a really good sleeper. Seriously - once my head hits the pillow - its lights out, no tossing and turning for me.

The only time I have trouble sleeping is when I’m on a plane, which is a problem when you fly as much as I do. It gets even worse, because when I do manage to doze off - it always ends badly.

More often than not, I jerk awake with a piercing little scream – which goes over really well with the passengers in 24a and 24b.

So last year when my husband and I travelled to Chile, I was desperate. How was I going to go from Vancouver to LA to Lima to Santiago without sleeping? Especially considering that within hours of landing in Chile I was expected to attend an industry conference – its not easy to network when you are so exhausted you can’t even remember your name.

So I decided to take the advice of a good colleague and friend, who is the ‘King of the Long Haul Flights’ - and take a sleeping pill. My doctor prescribed a mild sedative and I was good to go.

As far as I’m concerned it was a great flight, but my husband says it was the flight from hell! Apparently, after taking that little sleeping pill in Los Angeles, I was comatose. Hours later, preparing to land for a stopover in Lima, Tom did everything possible to wake me up. I don’t snore, but it seems on that flight I snored like a drunken sailor. It got to the point where the stewardess asked Tom to prove he was my husband, just in case he had drugged me. Fortunately, we knew several people on the plane who reluctantly vouched for him.

Prior to landing, Tom had to get help from other passengers in order to prop me up, so he could put my seatbelt on. Everyone else deplaned in Lima for a 4 hour break, and poor Tom had no option but to stay on the plane, with me – curled up on my seat - happily snoring away.

I did eventually wake up when we landed in Santiago, our final destination - and I felt fabulous! It seemed like a 20 minute flight from Los Angeles to Santiago! I couldn’t wait to get out and explore the city. My exhausted husband checked into our hotel - and went straight to sleep.

Tomorrow I go to Boston for a few days. Needless to say, I’ll skip the sleeping pill

Monday, May 7, 2007

Somewhere Else

When I was a young girl, our family holidays centered around either a camping trip or a visit with relatives. Even though we always had wonderful adventures, I couldn’t wait to grow up and discover the world outside of west Texas.

I’ve always been a traveller at heart, and in those early years most of my ideas were influenced by books. It started with my flipping through the encyclopedia, pausing at images of Mount Rainier or people happily floating on the Great Salt Lake. Eventually, I devoured everything from Hemingway to M. K Fisher.

It wasn’t just the dream of travel, it was how I imagined myself in those exotic places. When you grow up in a small Texas town, you look around and have a pretty good idea how your life is going to unfold. I longed to be a painter in Paris, dance as a ballerina in Russia, become a resistance fighter in Spain or a rock star in London. I wanted to work alongside Jane Goodall in Tanzania. Most of all, no matter how much I loved my family and friends, I just wanted to be somewhere else.

I consider myself lucky as I’ve been able to travel to many of the places I used to only dream about. The world hasn’t disappointed me and many of the countries I’ve been to have exceeded my expectations.

The difference is now I live in a place where I know I belong. I love everything about Vancouver, the funky neighborhoods, the incredible natural beauty, the way the fresh air smells when you step out of the airport - and yes – I even love the rain.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Help Wanted

I’m going to be honest with you, Tom and I are in dire need of a wife - nothing would make me happier than to come home and find June Cleaver at the door.

Is it just us, or do other couples with two careers and family struggle with this balancing act?

Lately I find myself daydreaming about a life where everything really does have a place – I’d like to get up at night without stepping on a chew toy.

So in the next few months we are going to purge – get rid of half of what we own and strip down to only that which is essential.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Universal Truths

There are many Universal Truths that govern our lives, most of which we are aware. However, I’m tempted to start a list of a few that are not so obvious - the ones that have to hit you in head before you actually get it.

Let’s start with the principal that “When saying you are never, under any circumstances, going to do something – you will eventually find yourself doing the very thing you so adamantly opposed.”

It’s true. As soon as you say “No thank you”, “I don’t think so” or “no fucking way” - you’ve invited fate to intervene. Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn this the hard way.

My brothers and I used to make fun of my poor dad, who would often fall asleep in front of the TV - going so far as to speculate that maybe he was watching it with his eye teeth. Fast forward 30 years and what do you know – here I am, sleeping on the couch, CSI blaring in the background.

It can actually be very rewarding watching this principal swing into effect, as long as it isn’t happening to you.

For example, we’ve all known the childless couple who are quick to give parenting advice – letting everyone know that they will not tolerate certain behaviors when they have children. According to the principal, once you go down that road its only a matter of time before giving birth to a Tasmanian devil.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Everyone has a Story

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the state of the world.

The truth is it’s disheartening when you look at the horrible things some people are capable of - making it easy to forget that one good person really can make a difference.
So from time to time I’d like to tell you about people I meet along the way - people who remind me of how life should be lived - starting with one of the most interesting woman I know:

Name: Dannielle Hayes

Location: Lives in both New York and Vancouver

Occupation: photographer / bohemian / world traveller

Dannielle is:
- One of those rare people who are not defined by age.
- A very talented artist, her images are seen in some of the top museums in the world - she also does work in third world countries, for the United Nations.
- A femme fatale – men adore her – including my husband.
- A person who gives the men in her life funny little nicknames. There was Train Guy – a man who seemed to do most of his romancing on exotic train trips, and who can forget the guy who started out as Bobolicous and morphed into Bad Bob.
- A minimalist, she isn’t materialistic.
- A person with an interesting family - including a father who died in a mysterious plane crash in South America, and a daughter who has written and directed several successful movies.
- A widow - for months after her husband died she kept having a reoccurring dream in which she was trying to park two cars in NY – she eventually realized it was more about her dual role as both father and mother to her young daughter.
- A three time cancer survivor.
- A person who dances with abandon, drinks Campari and Soda in the summer, and gets up very early every morning.
- A great storyteller- don’t forget to ask her about the time she lived by Diana Arbus, was an artist in residence in Morocco or tried iawaska in South America.