Hot Time, Summer in the City

Summer is here in full swing.

We've gone through our round of graduation parties, including but not limited to my son's 5th grade graduation. No one warned me 5th grade grads were such a big deal. I'm guessing that means I should start saving for tuxes and limos now, because in 7 years time, I can only fathom how huge a deal it's going to be. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing at all the pomp and circumstance attached to his ceremony last week. I'm surprised they didn't choose a class valedictorian.

Anyways, with that grad party and the obligatory PTA after-grad finished, it was on to my own Advancement of Excellence grad a couple of days later. Some of you may recall that I have been attending a seminar series these past several weeks/months and last Saturday was about celebrating our successes (whilst minimizing or eradicating our failures) and/or accomplished goals and tasks we set out to achieve all those many weeks ago.

Mine was about vitality, given that I've been feeling very sluggish (there's that word again) about my/our lot in life south of the border. Anyways, I decided to practice a little law of attraction stuff by changing the radio station from the country twang station (I can't get a job, I need to start getting pedicures with flowers to fit in, it's expensive here, and there ain't nothing on the home market available) to a more upbeat tune (God Bless America). OK, so maybe it wasn't so upbeat (I was actually singing God Bless My Underwear), but that's elementary, dear Watson. You sing America, I sing my underwear - potate toe, potat toe. My tune had changed and that was the important shift. And then I started saying a little affirmation statement to myself in the mirror. Check it out - I'm slim and trim and love the gym, je m'adore from core to limb.

I heart affirmation statements. It's like looking in the mirror and telling yourself that which is so not true but when delivering in such a way that you feel good believing the audacious lie, it brings a smile to one's face. So anyways, I started doing that because well, because I've never said nice things to myself before. I've never been narcissistic that way ~ admiring myself and murmuring, whoo, you are SOME hot...you should go out! So anyways, that's been fun. And I've been getting little notes from "The Universe" in my daily e-mail. On average, I get about 10 to 15 e-mails show up overnight but without fail, when I see that lone note from "The Universe" each morning, I feel compelled to click it open first. I mean, it's from the Universe. Universe trumps Target e-flyers and all the other junk that comes in. Just a tad. So that's been uber fun too...

Anything to keep my vibe away from radio goo goo, Radio ga ga, and tuned in, instead, to a more positive vibe like say Electric Avenue. I could have chosen REO Speedwagon but Beast Mom beat me to it.

Anyhoo, so back to my grad party. We all gathered in our small support groups and were ushered to the front of the room, group by group, to present our schtuff. Our group was introduced with Born to Be Wild blaring, because we were the RiCH Renegades (a team of individuals investing in Relationships, Career & Health), and our team action was a motorcycle rev. So here's a pic of us acting out a little silly dance choreography I orchestrated and somehow managed to talk everyone into following my lead to. Picture doing the hokey pokey in front of a crowd of perplexed and confused onlookers.

That's me - the shy, introvert, front and centre stage there.

Thank God for red wine on an empty stomach, that's all I can say.

I bragged to everyone in the room about the amazing things I attracted - an amazing group of fellow Renegades for one. A 30-year all-time high exchange rate (or low, depending on which way you're transferring your dollars), a house I shall easily call home, and the biggie of all biggies, the final frontier of our green cards. So it would seem that my course focus - which was vitality - is now coming to me in droves because I live now on pure adrenaline, barely getting through the list of daunting tasks in front of me each day.

Blah blah, goo goo ga ga, it was a fun night in what has otherwise been a rather un-fun time.

I know, I know. I'm supposed to be excited (and I will soon, I promise) about house purchase, green cards, and this business of finally setting in - I've been blogging and lamenting about straddling the border for so long, a balancing act that has been relatively easy up til now, but wait until B&C Inc. put up the Great Barbed Wire Wall of America between the Canadian & US borders. Then you want to hear Electric Avenue. That's a brand of vitality I never wish to experience. Like the dudes coming across from Tijuana who were hiding out under the engine hood. Now that's a Darwin Award waiting to happen.

But back to vitality. My friend, Rahul, the lean, mean, trading machine featured in the above images, stage right, presented me with the coolest gift as part of a little gift exchange we did. He's a self-professed Holy Schmidt blog lurker but I don't mind because he has the good grace to admit he lurks. And so he combined elements of what I consider my blueprint for success - things like vitality, passion, pride & joy, and he attached them to images that speak to those (my) success elements, including one of my fave pics of my kids walking down a mountain 4 or 5 years back, and he made a t-shirt out of it. How. Cool. Is. That?! Rahul, you rock. Thank you again!
So anyways, that's about it. Busy finalizing the house deal still. The bank is now in a flurry because they can't decipher my Canadian social insurance number (SIN) from my fake SSN (I now have the IRS on my ass, don't I?) ~ which is a a temporary number called an ITIN which doesn't have credit info linked~ and thus, they may not be able to attach my name to the loan. I gave her a quick lesson in SIN vs. SSN but it was all Greek to her and frustrating as hell for me.

I will be glad to finally get a SSN this fall because the hoopla of trying to be taken seriously in this country without one is staggering. Fighting to have a bank account and in fact, I still can't have a picture on my debit card because I don't have a SSN. Thank God for Safeway and Blockbuster and Starbucks cards, otherwise I wouldn't have any credible ID in this nation. :)

Changing the subject ~ (I know, that's so not like me) ~ we're going to the Mariners vs. Blue Jays game tonight with some friends who are coming down from Canada to catch the game.

I'm hoping to be able to stand up and sing the Canadian national anthem. If you've been reading my blogs for the past couple years (if so, God bless you, you're tenacious and perhaps slightly twisted and clearly have the patience of Job to endure my run-on sentences and nonsensical ramblings - there will be a spot reserved for you in Holy Heaven) - you know that one of the first things that struck me as odd when I moved here is that no one sings the national anthem at games here. (Hey, I'm from hockey territory, remember?) They stand with hands upon hearts and look up to the sky (wth? - looking for God, perhaps?). Whereas we Canadians take great karaokean pride in bumbling like drunken idiots at sporting events through our changed-lyrics anthem. So if you're watched the game on TV tonight, look for us way up in the nosebleeds, alternating between waving our Mariners fingers and root, root, rooting for the home team, and half-ass cheering on our primordial national home team. I'm not a Blue Jays fan - I'm from the west - 'nuff said, but this is Canada Day weekend, after all, so it will be any excuse to show my national pride.

On that note, I'm off to get ready for a Canadiana weekend with all things red & white - drinking red and white wine, bbq'ing both red & white meat, eating red & white potato salad, and enjoying desserts of raspberries & cream and even saskatoon pie (had to get some blue in there somewhere). We will honour Canada's 140th b-day on Sunday but we'll be celebrating a day early with our friends in town and our son off to boy scout camp on the Sunday.

So if you hear national news reports of people shooting off fireworks nauseatingly early (ie. Saturday), don't be alarmed - it's just us crazy Canucks, making up for the fact that fireworks are illegal where we come from.

And heh, don't go blaming me for my oppressed pyromaniac tendencies - blame Canada.


Slugs, Thugs & Drugs

I woke up talking to myself today. Not out loud although that's not necessarily uncommon. No, I was having all these monologues in my head. Anomalistic thoughts, ideas and proto-essays were beginning to form a union and picket to be let out.

It's as though they were on vacation or a long season's slumber or something because I have not even had barely a moment since mid-May to think let alone unleash these unconscious, proletariat anarchists outside my cerebral confines.

So then I looked at my last blog post date and I nodded my head. Ten days since my last post. It's enough to make me want to gesture a sign of the cross. I can only have the theme song for all's quiet on the western front on the auto-loop for so long before I begin to go stir-crazy. There you have it and here I am. And it's raining. Which is just lovely and I mean that in the most puritan sense of the word. It smells divine. And rain and blogging go hand in hand. Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory, falling on my head like a new emotion.

And with rain, comes slugs.

An entire row of slugs are knocking at the back door, begging to be let in. As if. I've been wondering about this lately. Why do slugs slither up to my door(s) in the early morning hours and plaster their pathetic little faces against the glass, pressing their gooeyness to the glass in hopes of eliciting human sympathy? Yet they seem to completely disappear at night. Where do slugs go at night? I ponder this sometimes. I think it's a book dying to be written. If Jamie Lee Curtis can write a bestselling children's book, Where Do Balloons Go?, then I'm quite sure Where Do Slugs Go? could be equally as popular amongst those of us who have dormant gastropod-voyeuristic tendencies.

Where do slugs go when you ply them with salt? Do they melt into liquid yet still keep slug gestalt?

Or even call it A Slug's Life. I could follow Mr. Banana Slug (Mr. BS for short) around my yard, documenting his meanderings. Slugs actually move much quicker than we think. Now you see them, now you don't. I'm convinced they only pretend to be sluggish and slow when we're looking at them. But then the minute you turn your head and then look back, they're gone. They may even have magic properties we don't know about. Certainly, their chemistry when mixed with sodium might suggest so.

So yeah, I could maybe follow Mr. BS around and then post it on YouTube. Somebody somewhere would watch the entire documentary. This I know for sure. In fact, I'm betting quite a few somebodies and nobodies who don't even know how to spell entomology might easily entertain themselves in this fashion.

But here's the thing about such slug documentation which is at the crux of everything for me. I would if I could but I can't so I won't. Did you ever used to say that as a kid? I did. All the time. I used to trick myself into thinking it was an empowering statement about choice. It felt powerful when I said it, especially since I was given to emphasizing every auxiliary verb with iambic rhythm, full stop pause and a whole lot of attitude. And then I'd do an accompanying hip check, hand on the hip, chin up, hair tossed over the shoulder, lip curled action thereafter so that there could be no disputing that such a statement was all about choice.

Did you notice my little segue from slugs to choice-based propositions? Suffice to say, when it comes to choices, I am a slug. Because I've since come to realize that whenever I'm confronted with a good idea or in the case of my slug epiphany, a novel idea, I then must admit to myself that OK, it's not so much about choice as self-limitation. Enter sluggish, slithery behavior, stage left.

How do I limit me? Let me count the ways. My slug idea is a rather good example, I think. My first stopping place is to ask myself, hmmm, has this ever been done before? And so then I research my original idea, only to find out it's been done before. Google "a slug's life," for example, and you will see what I see, a star, a star, fizzling in the night. An Amazon link for A Slug's Life by John Himmelman. It makes me think that Himmelman must also have glass doors and live on a greenbelt amongst slugs too. Don't we all though?

So in most cases, I don't even need to go beyond this stage because this is where most of my so-called great new ideas, which I thought were so a priori and brilliant, die their awful death like slugs in a pool of kosher salt. Someone else has already been there, done that. Hence, why reinvent a perfectly functional wheel? It's much easier to say I would if I could, but I can't so I won't. The 'won't' or 'will not' denotes a kind of deliberate choice as though I've thought the whole thing through and know I could do it, but alas, I choose not to. So I won't. Aren't I clever?

That's a rhetorical question, fair readers.

Speaking of slugs (a word whose meaning now switches from harmless gastropod to slimy, worm-like creature more closely resembling a thug) I've been up to my ass...ets in alligators with securing mortgage financing, undergoing additional property inspections, dealing with a realtor who suffers from frequent elevator malfunctions, sourcing money changers and securing insurance, security and related-house deal expense quotes, on account of the fact that we've bought a house and the deal closes in 3 shy weeks. These are all the necessary evils of buying a home in this great nation, where debt is revered above all else (give us your debt as you daily deliverance, and we'll forgive that you're a foreign trespasser, they chant, to which we are then asked to bend over in anti-genuflective response).

But Hay zeus H. Christos, it's bloody exhausting. Add to that boy scout outings and Brownie meetings and school field trips and baseball and soccer and concert and dance recitals and my looming Canadian tax deadline in two weeks and the little matter of needing to get all final paperwork and medical exams done for our green card paperwork due at the end of the month, to say nothing of the packing and purging that still needs to be done, and I'm ready to admit my true properties right about now: if you poured salt on me at this instant, I, too, would reduce to a pool of boiled banana-looking fluid.

So I'm just trying to make it through each day and handle only what's in front of me. Much like the slug outside my son's window who taunts same son with his very existence. I mention my son because this is the kid who won't let us kill spiders in the house since to do so is to harm one of God's great creatures (I point out the oxymoron but he hears only moron and then starts to call me names in response, at which point the conversation is at an impasse until such time as he turns his head and I secretly squish the spider). And yet this same son thinks nothing of taking the salt shaker out to torture one of God's greater creatures: the forest decomposer.

It's enough to make me want to turn on, tune in, drop out. Can you believe it's been 40 years since the Summer of Love? Like wow, man....check it out, man. What goes around, comes around. This donned on me as I looked in the mirror on Tuesday and happened to spot my tie-dye and paisley floral 60s style smock complete with brown sparkly headband holding back a near-boufant, retro-housewifey-looking do reflection. All I needed was a martini (something I never have nor ever intend to try - I discovered in grade six that gin gets in my mouth and more to the point, my bloodstream which then causes me to crawl down back alleys pretending I'm a wild creature. I have no intention of replicating that experience - been there, done that aka I would if I could but I can't so I won't).

I should note here that the only reason I'm permitted this retro-look is because I did not experience it the first time around. I was a babette in the late-60s and not a very fashionable one at that.So I suspect that's why they've decided to do the anniversary celebration up big this year to say nothing of the fact that many of the hippy doper freaks may not make it another ten years, on account of their psychedelic youth and all.

And here we are, after all, smack dab or should I say crack dab in the middle of another counter-cultural era. We're anti-war, anti-Paris Hilton, anti-religion, anti-agnosticism, anti-Democrat, anti-Republican, anti-consumerism, anti-socialism, anti-everything. There's always someone, somewhere upping the anti and arguing semantics over evolution versus revolution, even while my guitar gently weeps. So I think it's the perfect time to ressurect the human potential movement that was so much a part of the social mileau of the mid to late 60s. We're still firmly entrenched in a me versus we worldview; far more than ever, in fact.

Michael Moore speaks to this headspace in his new documentary, Sicko, scheduled for release in a couple of weeks. And along this same head up 'me' butt syndrome, I happened to catch a clip of him on Oprah last week, in which she was exclaiming a newfound enlightenment and light-bulb moment because of the ideas he expresses in his film about the notion of how snafu health care is in this nation. Her reaction reminded me exactly of how a sheltered, battered and neglected child might react, upon stepping outside their unsafe haven and discovering that being starved, punished and physically abused by one's parents is not the norm. My response to Oprah? Hellllllooo? Earth to Oprah, come in Oprah.

Of course she is not with the program precisely because she happens to be totally with the program - her top-notch HMO program, that is. And/or she has her good health, personal trainer and frequent full body scans. And/or access to the best of the best that her wealth can buy. But check in with Jane and Joe Schoe American who aren't exactly living the American Dream and they'd clue her in. Health care in this nation sucks. Everything about it - from the corporate, for-profit structure to the power that pharmaceutical lobbyists wield in Washington to the supreme dysfunction of the insurance agencies.

I first learned how rotten the state of Medland was back in the late-80s and early 90s, when I first began working in hotel sales for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, booking large incentive travel groups, most of which were medical insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Incentive travel is the most lucrative of niche-market segments for the convention industry, because no expense is spared and every luxury lavished on ensuring an unforgettable champagne wishes and caviar dreams travel experience. Guess who ultimately pays for those trips?

So naturally, Moore travels outside the US to investigate how other countries structure their health care systems. What a novel concept. And of course, he discovers that yes Virginia, it is possible to have a universal health care system without having to become a card-carrying socialist party member. He glamorizes Canada's system just a tad too much but then it's easy to don rose-colored glasses when anything looks better than the current American medical crisis.

Sure it's "free" north of the border, but there ain't nothing free, honey. Income tax is astronomical and good luck ever getting in to get that emergency hip surgery done. It's like Robots meets Tim Burton....everyone is walking around north of the border praying they don't have to end up near dead in an emergency room looking for some spare parts. Wait times are double-digit hours, at best, and all the good nurses and doctors flew south on the wings of the geese long-ago in search of more lucrative wages.

But it's time someone let the dogs out on this issue. We need to put the care back in health and stand up for this, the most basic of human rights. And more importantly, we need to go back to the roots of the word and reclaim the holy and sacred heart of the issue.

health ~ O.E. hælþ "wholeness, a being whole, sound or well," from PIE *kailo- "whole, uninjured, of good omen" (cf. O.E. hal "hale, whole;" O.N. heill "healthy;" O.E. halig, O.N. helge "holy, sacred;" O.E. hælan "to heal"). Healthy is first
attested 1552.

The industry is terminally ill and in need of a holistic burial and by that I mean a wholly integrated and participatory vigil. We all need to wake up from the anesthetic fog, if only to stop those annoying pharmaceutical ads. I even saw an ED ad on tv last week (a metaphor for an industry out to stiff us if ever I saw one), and it actually flashed a subliminal image of a you know what. Couldn't believe my eyes. I'm being cryptic but you get my point without the explicit I'm sure (I don't need to attract more sluggos, thuggos and druggos into my life through weird and wonky search engine strings).

Anyways, that's my sex and drugs and rock and roll cautionary tale of the day. Moral of the story? Whether it's sprinkled on a slug, paired with a tequila shot and left to fester bitterly on your tongue, or poured in embalming fluid, salt is the quintessential spice of life. That's my story and I'm sticking to it like a slug to a glass door.

When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.

Herophilos, Greek physician (335-280 BC)


Serenity Prayer

When the hell am I going to get this? I could use a little serenity about now. Life has been a bit stressed of late. We just put an offer on a house and the thought of it has me feeling excited and an intense urge to vomit.

The only thing that brought a smile to my face today and the reminder to breathe, was this e-mail from hubby:

Subject: Inner Peace

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives.

By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace.

Dr Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a bottle of Vodka, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel. Please pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner peace.
On that note, I see a bottle of Bailey's calling my name about now. Wish us some serenity, courage and wisdom in even doses. Or a whole lot of drunkenness - whichever comes first.