Sunday, 25 February 2007

Please Join Nicole and Me on March 14th!

Feeding Our Addiction, One Sugared Drink at a Time

When my friend Muffin stopped by for lunch the other day, she asked where Peter had wandered off to, since he wasn’t at his computer where she usually finds him to say hello.

I informed her that he’s doing some soccer thing, but really, all I cared about was when he was coming home with my iced cappuccino. She laughed at me, but doesn’t know how serious I was, how serious both Peter and I are about our daily drinks.

Requests for the sweet, frothy, icy plastic cup of nirvana usually begin somewhere after breakfast, our Iced-Cap-Fulfillment-Mission starting out something like this:

“Are you going anywhere today?”

Peter always asks this question first, because I am the one that usually does the errand running, the shopping, etc.

If met by “No, I’m chaining myself to my desk today”, an inevitable sigh will follow. I know he’s thinking that there will be no sugary drink to suck on today. If I’m honest, I’m thinking it too, while furiously wracking my brain to see if there are any last minute errands I forgot about that will take me near either of the dealers in town.

A ‘no’ will get Peter thinking of some magically remembered errand he needs to do in town. Sometimes we both have to live with the disappointment of no coffee-drink-Today Syndrome. Those days aren’t pretty. I recommend that you stay away.

You’ll know if you’re around us. We’ll complain of headaches, fight strange urges for large doses of white sugar, and will undoubtedly be making up an errand-a-day calendar so we won’t have to go through the pain of Jones-ing again.

Sometimes we don’t even need conversation. When shoes are put on, when coats are buttoned, there will be an eerie echo of ‘Yes please!’ floating from somewhere in the house It’s a secret code. And now that you know, I’ll have to kill you.

It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside. That cold drink is the only thing that will feed the monkey on our backs.

One of the dealers in town makes a better drink than the other. Oh yes, my friends, there is a difference. We even have it down to a special, coded language in order to get our Iced Caps just the way we need – er, want them.

Creeping in the door, standing in what seems to be an interminable line, waiting for our fix, I mean, to place our order. I look around, almost frantic. Is Darlene there? Joan? If they aren’t, there could be trouble.

Finally, it’s my turn. I lean forward and whisper, “Two medium iced caps, please…Darlene or Joan style, if you don’t mind, please?” I try to keep the desperation out of my voice. Satisfaction is so close now.

Only when that first sip through the straw hits my tongue do I think that I will be okay. I’d better hurry and get Peter’s home to him, before I find him convulsing on the floor.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Coronation Street, Home Away from Home

Before I moved to Canada, I had no idea where Coronation Street was. I had zero knowledge that an English street was going to hold me captive for two-point-five hours every Sunday morning, or that I would soon love how it made me feel so good about my own life.

Even though most might think this column is directed towards the female population, I have to give a hollah (current slang for holler) to the men who love the show as well. After all, Coronation Street would still be a Map-Quest mystery if not for my husband Peter’s addiction to the happenings on this cobblestone strip.

There are even a few dear memories that involve Peter and our friend Steve talking about what’s been going on in the lives of those fictitious folks. Isn’t that something we women have been teased about? Getting wrapped up in the soap characters’ lives?

Peter says that he’s been watching this show for more than twenty years now. A long-time character, Mike Baldwin, was just put to rest, and Peter swears it’s the end of an era. I’ve only been addicted to Coronation Street for four years now, so I am in no way qualified to judge the death of such a character. All I know is that his son Danny is going to get what’s coming to him, the greedy little….oh. Sorry, I digress.

We all know that for the most part, television is a mindless escape from our daily lives. I am happier to escape than most, but I never knew that watching this English soap opera would make me feel so empowered.

I can’t relate to American soap operas. The characters are all too genetically perfect, too designer dressed, and way too wealthy with nary a work hour between them to be even slightly believable. And the children on those soaps are pumped with some weird genetic growth hormone to go from newborn to 16-year-old within two seasons. It’s just too creepy, way too Stepford for my tastes.

But oh, comforting Coronation Street. Where the characters rarely know how to wear colours that match and are blissfully ‘normal’ looking. Teeth are crooked, hair is frizzy, and makeup is not stage quality. Even the wealthy characters live in narrow, cracker-box walk ups. That’s what makes it real, and relatively easy to identify with.

There are no over-achievers on Coronation Street. They are happy to exist on the middle-class level of café workers, sewing machine operators, bar maids, taxi drivers and garage mechanics. It’s comfort on the tube, my friends.

Of course, like all soaps, the murder rate is a little high and creepy serial killers send birthday cards from beyond the grave, but all in all, my life is Utopia compared to the happenings across the pond.

So, if you are having a bad day, feeling like your life isn’t quite what you wanted it to be, tune in to Coronation Street and see how much better you feel about yourself after a half hour or so on their Street.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Valentines Day, Evil or Innocent? states that a guy named Valentine may have been killed after it was discovered that he’d fallen in love with the prison warden’s daughter. The warden discovered a love letter signed, Your Valentine and had Valentine beheaded.

I’m not an overall fan of V-Day. I’ve been the girl at grade school who gets Valentines from all her classmates but doesn’t understand why some of the other girls get bigger Valentines.

I’ve been the girl at work to receive a dozen brightly coloured balloons along with a fragrant bouquet of pink carnations. Swoons of my female coworkers crowding around me fade to disappointed sighs as I open the card to read
From Your Valentine – Mom

I’ve been the girl who sits in her house in the pitch black, who doesn’t answer her phone so her ‘aww, no Valentine?’ pity calls will go unanswered and maybe all my friends would think I had a hot date for a change on that hated night.

I’ve been the girl who received a fragrant single red rose on her doorstep from the cutest guy in her group of friends. I thought I was special until I discovered that the most beautiful girl in our group got three roses from the same guy. Sigh.

I’ve even been the pathetic girlfriend who had to listen to her boyfriend tell her how funny it was that his ex received two bouquets from a standing order he’d forgotten to cancel, while the new girlfriend (me) read a card about why a remote control is better than a Valentine. Let me add that we were on a road trip, and there was no reasonable way I could push him out of the car and hope he’d die from road rash.

I can tell you that my Valentine’s horror ended when Peter showed up in my life, but it doesn’t mean I’ve been reformed to a believer in the ‘romance’ of Valentine’s Day.

When a person is in a loving relationship, how is it that the only way to ‘truly’ show our love is on one day when we’re commanded to buy jewelry, chocolate, flowers and sparkly cards. Don’t we show each other daily, with our actions, our words, our hugs and kisses how we feel?

If you don’t show your love in the above ways every day, then you deserve to get nailed on Valentine’s Day for thousands of dollars while you’re trying to make up for a loveless relationship.

However, for those of us that show our warm fuzzies every day, it’s time to take a stand against this madness, and here’s how we can conquer Valentine’s Day and all its relationship manipulation!

You can spend hundreds on flowers that die, candy that moves to the hips and never leaves, and cards that get old, dusty and thrown away. Instead, think of the money you can save if you’d just offer to cut off your head.

Sit your honey down and bring up the origin of Valentine’s Day. Let her (or him) know that the only way you can show how much you truly love them on Valentine’s Day is to cut your head off, just like Valentine himself met his end. If you can look at your lover with a watery tear in your eye, even better.

Wait for the look of shock, awe and utter amazement. Wait for arms to be thrown around you, the hug of acceptance that shows yes, you really do love your sweetheart. If you’re lucky, and your ardour is returned, you won’t have to cut off your head at all, and this Valentine’s Day will be recorded as the most romantic in your relationship history.

And please, be good to those that love you, all the time. You don’t want next Valentine’s Day to come around, only to find a shiny new ax with a red bow on it, do you?

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Doctor King Isn’t the Only One Who Had a Dream

Last night I had a crazy dream. I was driving down Highway 7 towards the Independent when all of a sudden all these great big boxes started popping up on either side of the highway, all around me at dizzying speed.

Giant tractors laughed at me from beside the boxes. There was a Rona’s box, a Home Depot box, a Wal-Mart box and other boxes that were not yet recognizable. The tractors looked hungry, like they were circling for more open fields to chew up.

The highway got wider as I drove along, almost to my destination. As the lanes widened, a rumble sounded in the distance. A thick cloud of dust preceded something kind of scary. I didn’t know what it was, but it sounded crowded. I didn’t want any part of it, so I headed towards downtown Carleton Place, where it’s usually pretty quiet.

It was too quiet. There was a lone car parked in front of the post office, but beyond that car and me, the street was desolate, there wasn’t a soul to be found. The stores were all empty, the windows dusty and unused, the locks rusted over. Downtown was gone, a ghost town now.

I looked up in time to see a tumbleweed float across the road near the bridge.

What happened? Where did downtown Carleton Place go? Why was it so cold here? Where did the sun go? I looked up into the bleak, grey sky.

A small child walked towards me, carrying a key. She handed it to me. I took it in my hand and it vibrated, shimmered, shiny and gold.

“What should I do with this key?” I asked the child.
“Put it in that door.” She pointed to the Town Hall.
“What will it do?”
“You’ll see.” She turned and looked down Bridge Street.

I ran to the door of the town hall and put the key in. I turned it.

A blinding light that had me shielding my eyes with my arm glowed up and down the whole street. I pulled out my sunglasses even as the warmth of the sun beamed down on my shoulders.

As the mist of gold cleared, a rainbow of colourful activity greeted me. People crowded Bridge Street now! Gone were the cars, the stoplight outside of St. James Gate.

The street was now paved in lovely cobblestones, for pedestrians only. Picnic tables and benches, colourful umbrellas and bistro sets placed outside the many quaint galleries, boutiques, cafés pubs and coffee bars.

There was not one empty building, no for rent or lease signs. Merchants greeted their customers with smiles and appreciation. A few that I know waved at me as I passed.

Page & Turners was teeming with people, the smile on Donna’s face a reflection of her emotions at the change in downtown traffic.

The alarm annoyed me awake before I could paint any more of the images in my dream. But that’s no big deal, I guess. After all, it was just a dream.

Our town:
Our newspaper editor:

Thursday, 1 February 2007

A Serial Killer Among Us

What I am about to confess to you could shock you, but I have to get it off my mind.

Hi. My name is Joyce and I’m a serial killer. There it is, out in the open for all to read. Finally, it’s off my chest, my heart. Confession is good for the soul, right?

It started small enough, innocent enough. I didn’t plan on becoming the killer that I am. I thought my DNA was coded differently, that I wouldn’t go through my life being a ruthless murderer, but it’s not to be. I will always have this black stain on my soul, but there seems to be nothing I can do about it.

I didn’t start on small animals like most killers. No, I started even smaller than animals. I started with seeds.

Tiny little innocent seeds whose only hope was to someday grow big and tall and to bloom in a riot of amazing colours. Little did they know that when I got my hands on them, all hope of a future was immediately lost.

It was easy for me to unknowingly murder a seed. I’d just stick it in the dirt according to instructions and watch it not grow. Dead as soon as they are buried.

When I lost interest in watching the death of the little seeds, I moved on to seedlings. Small, infant plants that were excited about possibly realizing their big, tall, blooming futures. Not even in the adolescence of their sprouty little lives do I have mercy. I plant them in a bigger pot and set them in front of the front window. They grow a little taller before they realize that the world outside that big window will never be theirs. I can almost hear their pathetic whimpers before they shrivel and give up, losing their will to live.

There is one banana plant left, one that I have been slowly torturing to death for more than four years now. It’s a sturdy little fella, but it’s slowly giving in to my unwitting plans. It’s lovely to see a victim with such a strong will to live, one that’s held on for so long.

The banana plant has seen many come and go in its sunny little corner. They never last long, these others. That poor banana plant has seen so many murders. So many slow, wilting deaths. It’s a wonder that plant hasn’t simply jumped out the window and ran away from me.

I don’t know how to stop this killing spree. It doesn’t matter how many self-help books I read, how many people I confess to, how many tips I hear on how to avoid this murderous life I lead.

The words will sift through my mind like ghostly warnings as I look at a gorgeous, full, perfect plant that will look so lovely next to the banana plant.

Then again, maybe I should just finish the job on the banana plant. It knows too much.