Monday, February 27, 2006

You are looking very New Wave these days...

I went out with two friends the other night to see a film. At the theater one of my friends ran into a very important professional acquaintance. However, it was clear from the outset that my friend did not recognize this acquaintance because instead of saying hello she stared blankly when the aforementioned acquaintance looked directly at her and said, “Hello. It is so great to see you. How have you been?”

After a few seconds, and a quick nudge from her partner, my friend returned to form, and responded to the initial query with, “Hi. It is great to see you too. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you. It must have been the new haircut.” At that moment it seemed that the conversation was salvaged and was to move in a new, less awkward, direction. However, to my surprise my friend continued, “Your new haircut makes you look very New Wave.” This remark was met with silence.

In a fleeting attempt to seek validation for her “New Wave” comment, my friend turned to her partner and said, “Doesn’t she look new wave.” Her partner responded, “New Wave – yeah, like the Pet Shop Boys.” This remark, too, was met with silence. My friend tried once again, “You look really good. I really like the new haircut – it is so modern.” At this point the acquaintance seemed a bit perplexed and moved away from our circle of red-faced embarrassment and onward into the theater.

Once the acquaintance was out of earshot I said to my friend, “I don’t think telling someone their haircut looks New Wave is in any way a compliment. Especially when said person is in her mid-50’s.” She responded, “Why not? I think she really looked like Morrissey, what is so wrong about that?” At that moment my mouth fell open and I said, “Morrissey is still alive? Hot diggety, I had no idea.”

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I feel dirty...

While working out on the treadmill at the gym today I witnessed a 16-year old boy straddling his 16-year old girlfriend as she worked up a minor sweat on a recumbent bike. As the girl sat on the recumbent bike seat, her boyfriend sat behind her on the portion of the machine normally used to move the bike seat closer to and farther away from the bike pedals.

As I watched in horror, I observed the girlfriend turn her head and ask her boyfriend to place his hands on the heart monitor handles when prompted by the machine since she could not be bothered. As a result, each time the machine beeped he would dutifully place his hands on the handles, wait for the computer to register his heart rate, and then remove his hands. When his heart rate was no longer needed he would move his hands away from the heart monitor handles and move them to his girlfriend’s stomach, neck, face, and hair.

This off-putting pattern continued the entire time I worked out my machine – the machine directly across from them. I tried to look away but much like a bad car accident it was nauseating and yet weirdly compelling.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Lesbian Ex-Pat Bridget Jones?

While talking to a friend yesterday she said, "Don't take this the wrong way but your blog is like Bridget Jones's Diary. You are the Bridget Jones of the lesbian ex-pat haus frau community."

Hmmm, I am still trying to grasp the meaning of this commentary. I wonder, is that a compliment?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I will own the Olympic podium in 2010

Since the 2010 winter Olympics will be held here in Vancouver, BC I decided that this would be my chance to compete on the world stage and impress my newfound Canadian friends. So, in an effort to be ready to compete in 2010 I began my rigorous training last week.

First, I called a local ski resort and signed up for a beginning snowboard lesson. When I called to sign-up for the lesson the resort employee requested my credit card number and proceeded to tell me that the $80 lesson fee was non-refundable and non-transferable. I responded, “Uh, ok but what if I throw my back out the day before or decide to see a limited release documentary on the same afternoon or cannot find my long underwear and snow pants.” She responded in a tired and bored voice, “Tough luck.” I spent a few seconds mulling over her pithy response and responded, “Ok. Then I guess it is officially on.” She was silent for a few seconds and responded, “Uh, does that mean you want to take the lesson or not?” I said, “Yes. Sign me up.”

As the transaction neared completion she asked, “Will you be renting all the snowboarding equipment or will you be bringing your own?” I informed her that I would be renting the equipment and went on to say, “You probably get this question a lot so excuse me for my obtuseness but do you know if the rental folks spray the snowboard boots with anti-fungal spray like bowling alleys do when you return rented bowling shoes?” I believe I heard a faint guffaw on the other end and then she informed that in the two years she has worked at the resort that she never received that question. As a result, she did not know the answer but she would give me the number to the rental chalet if this were a major concern of mine. In true risk taking fashion I told her that I would not need the number to the rental chalet and that I would make sure to wear thick socks to avoid any fungal diseases. However, as soon as we got off the phone I had second thoughts about this newfound risk taking behavior and looked far and wide for the rental chalet number on-line but to my chagrin was not successful in finding it.

The night before my first training day I lay awake in bed thinking of all the positive feedback ahead of me the next day. I envisioned the snowboard instructor taking me aside and informing me that I was the most talented beginner he had ever seen. I also imagined him telling me to follow my dreams of being the oldest snowboarder in the 2010 Olympic competition.

When I awoke the next day I put on my winter gear and headed to the mountain. When I arrived at the rental chalet I informed the rental attendant that I needed a size 8 women’s snowboard boot. She subsequently informed me that they do not differentiate between men and women’s boots but she would bring me a size 8. I took one look at the mammoth boot and realized that this shoe could envelope my entire head and was thus likely too big for my foot. I mentioned this realization to the attendant but she pooh poohed me so I put the boot on to humor her. The boot went on my foot with ease but since the boots were too big I tripped over myself and landed on my hands and knees as I tried to walk toward the attendant. Once I picked myself up off the floor I took my right boot into my hand and pulled it off my foot. At that moment I got a whiff of the boot and knew then and there that they do not spray anti-fungal spray into their boots. I was a little disturbed by this fact. Once both boots were off I returned them to the attendant and asked for a smaller size. This cycle repeated itself three times until I found the right size.

With the boots firmly on my feet I went upstairs to retrieve my rented snowboard. The attendant asked if I was “regular footed or goofy footed”. I looked at her perplexed and she said, “Is this your first time snowboarding?” I responded that it was and she informed me that I should start out snowboarding “regular footed” with my right foot guiding the board. She also informed me that she would highly recommend I rent a helmet, wrist guards, kneepads, and butt pads. This time I was the one to pooh pooh and I informed her that I would only need the helmet. She looked at me skeptically and said, “OK but remember we take no liability if you break something.” She then handed me the snowboard and the helmet and I proceeded outside.

I proceeded to walk, with the snowboard in hand, to the ski school. Once at the ski school I waited for my class to gather. As I stood waiting, I observed a school group of second and third graders on snowboards barreling down the mountain at top speeds. The sight of this school group strengthened my resolve to go forth and conquer the slopes. Five minutes later the instructor arrived and he brought the class together. There were six of us in the class and he asked that we all introduce ourselves. It was at that moment that I learned that at thirty-four I was the oldest member of the class by fifteen years. This information, however, did not deter me and I ventured onward with my goal of owning the Olympic podium in 2010.

After the introductions the instructor asked that we each buckle our left boot into the snowboard. I fumbled for five minutes with the board and looked at the others in the class to learn the proper technique. After falling on the ground three times the instructor finally came over to me and buckled me in. He then showed us how to use our non-buckled foot, the right foot, to move across the snow with our buckled foot on the board. He and the rest of the class easily glided up and down the snow moving backwards and forwards. I, however, fell on my knees, my butt, my wrist, and my back every time I tried to move. In an effort to be helpful, a 10-year old boy in the class came over and tried to explain the concept to me again. I thanked him for his assistance.

Once we “mastered” this concept the instructor demonstrated another technique we could use to move around on the snow. This technique required that we twist and contort our bodies in such a way that our non-buckled foot faced forward, in a normal walking style, and our buckled foot was to be placed in a 90-degree angle to our lead foot. I tried to use my yoga breathing to relax my muscles so that I could manage this Houdini-like contortion but needless to say this tactic did not work. Instead, as I “moved” through the snow I felt an immediate and searing pain rise up from my ankle all the way to my knee. This pain felt like my calf muscle and all the accompanying tendons were being torn from my bone. At that moment the overly helpful ten-year old came to my assistance again and sought to teach me the proper technique. I informed him that regardless of how it might seem to him as an observer that I actually understood the concept. I then, through gritted teeth, asked if he might be so kind as to unbuckle my left boot from the snowboard binding. He obliged.

Once my boot was unbound I picked up my snowboard, walked back to the rental chalet, and returned my equipment. As I left the rental chalet feeling defeated by my lack of snowboard acuity I looked up and noticed a few kids whizzing across a frozen pond of ice. It was at that moment that I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I too could whiz and glide. I decided then and there that I would hang up the snowboard forever and take up speed skating. I mean really, how hard could it be?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I care about crap!

As I was walking down the street yesterday I smelled a distinct combination of burning paper and metal. Within seconds of recognizing this smell, I spotted a great cloud of smoke billowing from a newspaper box. The burning newspaper box housed a free daily paper that recently began running television commercials with the in your face tag line, “We cover what you care about unless you care about crap.”

For close to five minutes I stood in the vicinity of the newspaper box considering how to proceed. Without a cell phone or car I was not much help. Eventually, a fry cook from a nearby diner came out of his restaurant holding a coffee pot full of murky water. He opened the newspaper box and dumped the murky water on the burning embers. This tactic put out the fire but also increased the level of smoke in the air.

Through the thick cloud of smoke I asked him, “Why do you think someone set fire to this newspaper box?” He responded, “I guess they care about ‘crap’.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kids these days....

As I listened to the NBC coverage of the Olympics I heard one of those ubiquitous athlete back-stories. This story was about Michelle Kwan, the prolific US figure skater. As the story began, I heard the narrator remark in a serious voice, "When did Michelle Kwan become old?"

This question prompted me to look up from the dirty dishes in my hands and take note. I immediately jumped onto the computer to find a biography of Michelle Kwan. During my intrepid quest for information I found out that Michelle Kwan, born in July 1980, is just 25 years old.

As I shook my head muttering to myself, “25 she is only 25…” TW walked into the room with a bag of frozen corn serving as ice for my back and shoulders. She said, “I know you hurt yourself lifting those 10 pound weights at the gym yesterday so this corn should help with the swelling.”

After TW handed me the corn I turned to TW and said, “When did 25 become old?” She looked at me with a serious expression on her face and said, “You are 34 years old and are holding a bag of corn on your you really need to ask about getting old?” Point taken.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Another day in the neighborhood

While walking down a blighted, drug addled, downtown street last night, TW and I experienced three very peculiar occurrences in less than 15 seconds.

First, as we walked toward the Church of Scientology we were privy to a conversation between an L. Ron Hubbard true believer and a ZZ Top look-a-like. The Scientologist yelled out to the ZZ Top look-a-like from her perch, a table publicizing free stress tests, "Do you want to discover how much stress you have in your life?" The look-a-like responded, "I already know, I am very stressed." The Scientologist retorted, “We can help you." The look-a-like pretended not to hear those words and kept on walking past the table. The Scientologist tried again, "You don't have to live with stress." The look-a-like stopped, turned around, and said, "If I take the test can I meet Tom Cruise?" The avowed Scientologist responded, “Well, no.”

As soon as we cleared the Church of Scientology we stopped to look into a store window. In the window we took note of a peculiar lamp. The base of the lamp, which stood about 9 inches tall, was molded plastic in the shape of women’s legs. Miniature fishnet stockings and high heels shrouded the tiny plastic legs. The lampshade, in the form of a miniature bustier, stood atop the legs in an effort to mimic a woman’s chest and body. Shocked and amazed at this sight we continued to gawk in horror. As soon as our disbelief ceased we continued walking down the street.

Within two seconds of departing from the store window we spotted a gaggle of Asian teenagers wearing street clothing but holding snowboards. The teens did not hold the snowboards under their arms in the usual manner of most snowboarders but instead held the boards directly in front of their faces. The awkward placement of the snowboards obstructed their ability to see other sidewalk denizens walking toward them. Thus, as they walked their steady, forceful pace those around them, including TW and I, were forced to bob and weave as they approached. During our acrobatic dance maneuvers to avoid the gaggle, TW was almost knocked in the head by one of the snowboards. She, however, managed to avoid the collision when I set a basketball-style pick whereby I stood between TW and the snowboard in question. This pick forced the snowboarder to move to the right as TW moved to the left. However, what I did not count on was that the snowboard would then sideswipe me in the backside.

Ah, the city's economy at work.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Raccoons of Unusual Size

Today while walking down a sleepy neighborhood side street on the way to the gym I came face to face with a raccoon of unusual size. Even though it was a warm beautiful day the raccoon was still holding tightly his winter weight. The raccoon’s body mass index was likely equivalent to that of a plump 12 year old loathe to give up his baby fat.

I tried to walk slowly past the raccoon unnoticed but I was not so lucky. The raccoon lifted his head out of the trash bin and immediately spotted me. He then proceeded to stare at me with his confident, beady eyes. I tried to match his gaze but instead of appearing confident I stared back with my “deer caught in headlights” look.

As I looked into the raccoon’s eyes I could not help thinking to myself, you sure do look like that Davie Crocket replica cap my parents bought me at Disney World when I was 8 years old. As if sensing my daydream about his ancestors, the raccoon edged ever closer to me.

When the raccoon came within five feet of me I realized I had to do something. I thought back to my days as a Brownie and tried to remember the lessons I learned in “Wilderness 101”. I, however, soon realized that the only lessons I could remember for those halcyon days included how to macramé a beer cozy and how to make s’mores. Since I did not have the materials on hand to make a macramé cage nor did I have the ability to distract the raccoon with some delicious s’mores I opted for plan B. Plan B involved following the advice of all those know it all wilderness guides that tell you when you see a bear to “make yourself big”. I figured if it works for bears then it should work for raccoons too – I think.

In an effort to make myself big I raised my hands in the air and stood on tiptoes making my total height close to 7 feet instead of my normal 5 feet 2 inches. The raccoon, undeterred, continued to edge closer and closer to me. It was clear to me by the raccoon’s reaction to my “bigness” that bears and raccoons are very different animals – no pun intended. The raccoon, now within three feet of me, sensed my complete and utter terror.

At the very moment when my panic was the greatest a car backfired forcing the raccoon to turn his head and look to see the origin of the noise. I took that fortuitous opportunity and I ran like the wind leaving the raccoon behind. When I finally stopped running I looked back but did not see the raccoon anywhere near me. I then thought to myself, “Take that raccoon. You aren’t half the raccoon that went into making my beloved hat."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Strong Like Ox

As TW and I waited for the bus yesterday a man turned to me and commented on my hat. The hat, a blue winter hat emblazoned with a "B" on the front, demonstrates my outward love of the Boston Red Sox. He said innocently enough, "I like your hat." I nodded and said thank you and proceeded to continue talking to TW.

A few seconds later he turned back around and asked about my relationship to TW. Specifically, he said, "Is she your friend, friend or your sister, sister?" This question baffled me since TW is Asian and I am a Jew of Eastern European descent an aside from our hair color we look nothing alike. Perplexed, I turned to TW to seek some insight into how best to answer this question. She, however, just shrugged. Wanting to say partner, partner but fearing a geo-political discussion about gay marriage I responded, “Friend, friend.” He seemed contented by this answer and turned to look for the bus once again.

However, within five seconds he turned to me once again and said, “You must be a strong woman. Are you a strong woman?” I responded, “I guess I’m strong. I mean, I am no Wonder Woman if that is what you are implying.” He laughed and responded, “I like strong women.” It was at this point that I feared he would ask about other, more personal attributes of mine, so I turned to TW seeking her assistance in extricating me from this conversation with one of her pithy retorts. She, however, had no pithy retort to speak of at that moment.

Luckily for us the bus arrived within mere seconds of this final question. We allowed him to board the bus first. He took a seat near the front in the wheelchair ready seats and we moved close to the back so that he could no longer see us. Once we were well out of earshot of him TW turned to me and said, “Do you think he was hitting on you?” I looked at her with my steeliest gaze and said, “No. I think he wanted to know if you were my woman and I was your man.” TW responded, “Ah. That was my second guess.”

Saturday, February 04, 2006

It's for the animals!

On a recent trip to the Vancouver Aquarium, I suggested to TW that we purchase memberships. Upon hearing these words escape from my mouth TW informed me that I am a “joiner”. Her derisive tone of voice when she said the word “joiner” made me believe that she thought all joiners were bourgeois and that I, by virtue of my desire to “join” the Aquarium, was also bourgeois.

In an effort to counter TW’s effrontery I asked her, “Why are you calling me a joiner?” She immediately retorted, “Lest I remind you that you ‘convinced’ me to join Costco even though we do not have a car and have no way of getting the large-scale food items to our home.” I harrumphed and responded, “That is not a problem. We can just take the bus.” She retorted, “Actually a trip to Costco will require three buses and a 1 kilometer walk.” I sighed and said, “Don’t sweat the details.”

In response to my dismissive reply she launched her counterattack. “You seem to forget that you ‘suggested’ we join the movie theater down the street just so we could save a few dollars. To date we have paid $10 each to see one movie, $12 each for our memberships, and have saved just $2. At this rate we will each need to see six more $10 movies to recoup our $12 membership fee.” In response I stammered, “Don’t forget we saved $0.75 on our purchase of a large popcorn, medium drink, and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.” TW continued with her point, “Right. We paid $8.50 on top of our movie tickets and membership fees for the privilege of saving $0.75 on a few food items that would cost us $4.00 in the grocery store.” I conceded the point, “You may be right about those previous membership blunders but an Aquarium membership is a good deal.”

I proceeded to regale TW with the benefits of an Aquarium membership. I began, “Since it costs $17.50 each to go to the Aquarium we will easily pay off the $44 membership in just three trips. We will also get unlimited admission for a year, one free guest pass for each of us - a $35.00 value, and 10%, guest discounts on subsequent visits.” TW was not convinced so I pulled out the big guns. I continued, “We also get a 20% discount at the Aquarium café. Come one you know you love the institutional cafeteria food served at museums.” She responded, “Well I did quite enjoy that meal at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.” After this remark I knew she was on the ropes so I continued, “Yes, exactly. You will love the cafeteria food here.”

TW spent a few moments working out the math in her head. She then relented. Before she could change her mind I went to the membership desk and requested two individual memberships. The sales person asked if she could include them on the same receipt since we lived at the same address and I agreed. She then processed the memberships and we each paid the $44.00 fee.

As we were about to leave the membership table I took a cursory look through the membership package given to us. I immediately noticed that instead of the two free guest passes we were promised there was only one. I turned back around to the membership salesperson and made note of the mistake. She informed me, “Our policy is one guest pass per household.” I responded in kind, “Your policy is one pass per membership and we purchased two memberships so even though we are living in the same household we are two different members.” This tautological argument continued for close to five minutes until another, more senior, membership salesperson entered the fray.

This senior membership salesperson, a man in his early 20’s wearing a black concert t-shirt evoking the primacy of “Queens of the Stone Age”, asked if he might be of assistance. I explained the situation to him and he responded with the party line, “We provide one free guest pass per household.” I pulled out the literature provided by the Aquarium and pointed to the section on membership benefits that states, “Each member receives a free guest pass.” He looked at the passage in the brochure and responded, “This is for the animals! Are you really going to deprive the animals of $17.50 by making me issue you another free guest pass.” I responded, “I am here for the animals too. I used to watch ‘Flipper’ on TV religiously and saw ‘Free Willy’ three times.” He seemed content with my response and begrudgingly gave me an additional guest pass. TW and I victoriously ventured into the Aquarium with our head held high.

On our way out of the Aquarium I turned to TW and said, “I am really craving salmon for dinner tonight. How about you?” She looked and me and said, “It’s for the animals.”

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Who knew copyright issues could be so cool?!

TW and I went to a lecture on copyright issues at the library a few days ago. The lecture, given by a man in his early 60's who likely polishes his shoes every morning, focused on the thrilling topics of the use of copyright in educational settings and the amendments to the copyright act.

I remained awake throughout the lecture out of sheer force of will since TW picked two seats in the front row. When the lecture finally ended I began to pack my bags but TW shushed me and motioned that she quite enjoyed the lecture and wanted to stay to hear the questions. I reluctantly agreed.

When the speaker opened the floor for questions I turned to face the others in attendance. Of the eight other people present in the room each of them seemed to have a question. The speaker pointed at a slight woman in her early 20's to be the first questioner. She immediately stood up and said, "Right on." She then raised her fist in the air and continued, "More power to you." She then finished her thought by bringing her index and middle fingers to her mouth, kissing them, and then raising them in the air in a v-shaped pattern, reminiscent of Sammy Sosa after hitting one of his ubiquitous homeruns. The lecturer looked at her quizzically and responded, "Thanks...I think."

Once the questioner sat down I turned to TW and said, "Did I miss something?" She responded, "I guess some people get really jazzed about copyright issues in the same way that you get really jazzed about National Public Radio." Aghast, I responded, "There is no comparison. You may think NPR is stuffy but in my mind it is so cool. Oh how I dare to dream that one day I will be important enough to make the cut. Sigh."

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