The Wicked Witch of Winter

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Well, here it is, March 16th, a day like any other; an ordinary Monday, unless you live in Newfoundland where you are toughing out the blizzard that comes every time this year. I don’t even have to check the Weather Network to see if the place is socked in with snow. The reason I know is because I was raised there, and for almost every one of my 30 years spent on the Rock, there was some sort of weather apocalypse on or around this day—a special nod from the universe, the heralding of chaos, a reminder for everyone of the power of the gods. Naturally, it is the day that marks my entrance to the world, and those gods have been laughing ever since.

The magic number of snow storms is now at 47. I cannot recall a childhood birthday party or an adolescent, alcohol-fuelled, dance ’til you’re dead rampage that was not marred by the plague of a North Atlantic Winter (yes, capital W, you just have to live it to believe it). Now my people, the Irish, call it “Sheila’s Brush.” Sheila, my arse. This is totally about me, as is everything on this good earth: Bobbi’s Blizzard. You’re welcome.

But on this particular birthday, I’m aging (exponentially I might add) among the daffodils and cherry blossoms. It seems wrong somehow, an act of treason for which I may never be forgiven by my brothers and sisters shovelling while cursing my climactic influence. Too bad suckers. I did it for 30 years, I’ve paid my dues. Of course, someday I may find myself back in the land of Nor’Easters and spend my birthday hiding from the townies wielding torches and pitchforks. To those who will bay for my blood: have mercy on an old bag who can’t decide what the frig to do with the rest of her life or find pants that fit.

Until then, I promise I’ll feel badly while stuffing my face with chipotle pulled pork fajitas and chocolate fudge cake, my requested birthday meal this year, a gift from the talented and equally old Rusty. He’s cooking up a storm, as he should be. By the way, did I ever tell you about the time he was standing at the stove, stirring and sautéing when the sleeve of his robe caught the edge of a gas flame? Well, the terry robe lit up, and without missing a beat with his spoons and spatulas, he dropped it on the stone floor, stomped on it, and kept right on cooking, buck naked, for like half an hour. Fierce I tell you. He’s braver in the face (and lower bits) of hot splatter than I would be. But I digress.

So, despite me being responsible for the current state of the east coast, it wouldn’t kill you to send me your good wishes. In fact, unless you want an epic snow-nado-cane for Easter, you better send a fat check as well.

 

 

 

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All Madness, No Method

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28 days into 2015 and already any resolutions I could have made (don’t believe in ‘em, by the end of this sentence you’ll know why) would have been torn to shreds (as resolutions always are, and there’s your answer). I have eaten every piece of chocolate in British Columbia; I have become a champion avoider of exercise; the wine has been flowing freely; every movie on Netflix has been watched, twice; I’ve stayed up late and emerged from my cozy bed later still; my swearing is worse than ever. If I’d made a resolution to become a doughy, foul-mouthed layabout, then I’d be the Queen of New Year’s Day.

My dereliction of duties has arisen from a situation known all too well to me: funemployment. My job here in Victoria finished up in late December. And even though I knew the end was fast approaching, I made very few concrete plans beyond lounging and gorging and wearing sweatpants morning, noon, and night, a few lunches with clever girlfriends thrown in here and there. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t been entirely neglectful of my responsibilities as a sensible adult. I’ve had my teeth cleaned, been for a full physical, and the mammogram and annual gynaecologist visit are set for next week (ladies, it’s a goddamn mardi-gras for us, isn’t it?).

And so, it is time to turn to the The Great Matter, The Big Question, The Dilemma of 2015: what’s next? Once again it appears that all options are on the table. Naturally, your first idea for me will be a return to France. To that I say non, merci. The thought of facing French bureaucrazy and verb conjugation again makes me feel sweaty and weak and 98 years old. Now Italy or Vienna, that might would be worth the paperwork. Again, language rears its ugly head. England calls to me as well. I already have the UK passport, and I just know I could give that Dowager Countess at Downton Abbey a run for her money.

Of course, being the chaosaholic that I am, the oddly radical choice would be simply to stay put in Victoria. I walked to the bakery today for the regular ration of dark chocolate ganache tartes. The sun was shining, the thermometer hit 15 degrees above zero (Americans, that’s Celsius for spring), the smell of freshly cut thick grass wafted on the breeze, and daffodils made a cheery appearance. This is a typical January here making it hard to argue with the logic of settling in for the long haul.

Now before all my east coast friends start hurling their snow shovels at their computers, let me say that there has actually been some loose talk chez nous about heading back to Halifax, a move that would give Rusty a hometown advantage, and I suppose he deserves some measure of consideration in all this despite my now well developed phobia of the True North Winter.

But then again maybe he should stick to cooking and supporting my wifestyle, and leave all major decisions regarding our future to me. The other day, fresh off a Skype call with a buddy working in Ho Chi Minh City, he asked me what I thought about us possibly living in Vietnam. Ever the open-minded soul, I responded with, “Sure, we could do that.”

True, I wilt horribly in humidity, speak no Vietnamese whatsoever, have a deathly fear of giant tropical bugs, details, details. I was particularly encouraged by the obvious job prospect for me there. Let’s face it, a pale, silver haired giraffe could make a killing as a side show attraction; people would fork over millions to gawk at such an exotic creature. Christ on a cracker, imagine me standing in a circus tent, soaked in sweat, covered in heat rash, randomly screaming, “COCKROACH!!!!!” No, even I can’t sell that mess.

Once again, I have no idea what the future holds. Does anyone ever? I’m in the weeds with neither map nor compass to return to the world where mature people know what the hell to do with themselves. I’ll “offer it up” as Catholic mothers are fond of saying. And by that I mean wait for one of you to make a case for where I should go and what I could do there. At any rate, it’s clear my next book will be another runaway best seller: When Good Shrinks Go Mad: A Cautionary Tale From the Couch.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eight is Enough?

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Allow me to tower above you while on my soapbox for a moment. Oh who am I kidding, any one of you could be on stilts and you’d still be looking at my bellybutton. The point is I am celebrating eight years of wedded bliss today and I have something to say about marriage. Of course when I say bliss I mean eight years of clothes on the floor, bathroom doors open at all times (him, not me, I favour medieval padlocks), and one word answers to probing, philosophical questions—Me: “Do you think that the rise of ISIS is related to the increasing depth and breadth of global female empowerment?” Neil: “Dunno.” But I digress.

I don’t know why people get married. I’m not even sure why I got married for the second time. Perfectionist I suppose, get it right or die trying I always say. So far, this union is going reasonably well. We’re still speaking to each other for whatever that’s worth.

Maybe folks get hitched to have kids? Silly really since you can put an ad on Craigslist, have a tupperware jar of sperm dropped right to your door and away you go. Or pay some random woman ten grand to carry and deliver, a bargain as far as I’m concerned. Shotgun wedding? Seriously, nobody gives a crap anymore. The ladies have landed and the religious crowd just needs to deal. Continue reading “Eight is Enough?” »

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No News is Good News

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Well, Finders, it has been a while now hasn’t it? Not much has been going on in my little world, more work than play but balanced enough. Although, I did go to an intensive work conference in Banff, only to return home to find Rusty laid up with a pulled back and the bloody World Cup in full swing. Honestly, I had to get the groceries and everything. Seven more days of soccer to go and this marriage is hanging on by a thin thread. Continue reading “No News is Good News” »

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Self Sacrifice

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Me, me, and more me. Then, just when you think you’ve had enough, here comes more about me. Blogging is often a narcissistic endeavour to be sure. Sometimes it seems that it’s a giant verbal selfie (the fact that I even know this word makes me cringe) that says “look at me!” over and over again. I don’t know much but I do know when it’s time to take a break from the festival de moi. Plus, loftier rationales aside, my life is pretty boring these days. Although, World Cup madness and mayhem is about to descend upon my home at which time I will likely be announcing my next book, Hooligan Husband: One Woman’s Story of Survival.

I should be writing about this beautiful city (now one of my favourite places in the world), posting inspiring photos and all that jazz. The trouble is I’m too busy looking at it with my eyes to stop and capture it on my iPhone. I could entertain endlessly with stories about my job and colleagues, however, I’ve become unexpectedly attached to paycheques and health benefits, so that’s out. Add in my profound laziness and you’re left with stories about my husband’s 80/20 split of awesomeness/stuff that drives me ’round the friggin’ pipe. Continue reading “Self Sacrifice” »

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One-derful

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Today’s post is brought to you by the number one: one year of living in glorious Victoria and one year of being employed outside of medicine. Congratulations to me for making the transition from the couch to the cubicle with relative ease (and very little grace), and to my husband for making the transition from sugar daddy to semi-kept man. Naturally, I remain in his debt still, yadda, yadda, yadda, but sooner or later the score will be even and the planning for that happy day is well underway in my scheming brain.

I must say, despite having a grand old time lolling about Europe, this past year has been one more to love. The Victoria move turned out to be a brilliant decision (must have been mine) on many fronts. Sure, it wasn’t easy to leave the beauty of France and Switzerland…

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And not a day goes by when I don’t miss having regular access to these…

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But I’d say I’ve been making up for lost tarte by stuffing myself full of sushi, pulled pork tacos, pad thai, dim sum, and whatever else this great multicultural country called Canada can place on a plate. I’ve replaced Swiss Alps with snow covered peaks rising from the Pacific, the same ones I see every day on my way home from work. And maybe my former neighbourhood nestled near the vineyards of Lavaux are but a memory (conveniently stored in an iPhoto file)…

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No matter, I’m making up for lost wine by sampling the fine local vintages, and I’m currently planning my next adventure (vacation, not moving!) sponsored by the letter S: San Francisco, Sausalito, and Sonoma. The frequent flyer plane tickets are booked and the on-the-cheap accommodations have been reserved. I never met a Chardonnay I didn’t like so California, here I come, well, after a few months of guarding my loonies and toonies (non-Canadians, Google it).

What the next year brings is none of my business. My job is to rise to what meets me, Neil’s job is to feed me, and I guess everyone’s job is to make it count wherever we find ourselves. Raise a glass to the year to come.

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Making Up for Lost Mail

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As many of you may know, I don’t have children, well, unless you count that fool I live with. Honestly, sometimes it’s like having an enormous toddler—someone who crashes through your tidy home daily, has no insight into the damage they inflict, with the added bonus of grown-up man smells, round-the-clock golf watching and, unfortunately, the ability to form full sentences…

Me: “Someone told me today I looked like a movie star.”

Him: “Really? Were they drunk?” (to be fair, I do attract more than a fair share of admiration from our local vagrants, but still)

Me: (after a frustrating and futile day of trying to find a spring coat made for a six-foot woman) “Geez, if only I were five-foot-eight my life would be a whole lot easier. Of course I’d be the same weight so a lot rounder.” (chuckle, chuckle and the ‘I crack me up’ tone was used)

Him: “Yeah, five-foot-eight but 160 pounds.”

Me:  “I believe the number you are looking for is 140. I weigh 140 pounds you moron.”

Him: Silence followed by frantic and pathetic back-pedalling.

And those are the gems from last week alone. If I were the matriarch of this house he’d be on an indefinite time out in the corner with no allowance for a month. Continue reading “Making Up for Lost Mail” »

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Ten Million Bucks and Change

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Yes, it’s true: I’m a lot to manage on any given day—big mouth, big opinions, and not often graced with tactful diplomacy. The people in my life have survived me to date; I offer no guarantees about the future. Like everyone, I’ve made my share of wrong turns and outright catastrophic blunders, but who gives a crap. I’ve learned along the way, left some things better than when I found them, and that’s all that counts. I’ve said before that I don’t believe in regret and guilt, too bad, all those years in Catholic schools wasted.

Will I lie on my deathbed and harbour grievances toward myself? Who the hell knows. What I do know is that even if Satan himself comes to poke a pitchfork in my face at the end of my days, there are moments in my life for which an apology will never come.

Back in my shrinky heyday, I was involved in a project of massive proportion: the start of a transformation of an inpatient unit for severely mentally ill children and adolescents. The unit (like most things in mental health) was underfunded and definitely not a place that anyone would associate with healing. The rest of the hospital looked like a resort in comparison to our dreary space. I joined a crackerjack team of unbelievably dedicated professionals and we rolled up our sleeves to bring about changes to better serve our youth and their families during the most difficult periods in their lives. Continue reading “Ten Million Bucks and Change” »

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Foresight

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At the risk of alienating the Finders still suffering out snow, the park across the street from my place has been blooming for weeks…

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I realize it’s ridiculous to have any grumbles at all when the forecast looks like this…

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Except that my husband has fully embraced west coast weather by becoming a golf lunatic. Every time I turn around he’s heading to the driving range or hitting the links at some ungodly hour. When I mentioned he was at risk of breaking a body part from dragging a gigantic bag of clubs around 24/7, he went out and bought this… Continue reading “Foresight” »

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The Height of Joy

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Recently, another short work trip appeared on my agenda. As I was going through the motions of packing and so forth, I thought (for the millionth time) how great it would be to teleport everywhere like on Star Trek. I’m not known for my patience, especially when any kind of travel is involved. I’ve yet to decide on a life motto, although “instant gratification takes too long” (Carrie Fisher) is definitely in the running.

And then I saw this and developed a whole new outlook. Maybe the joy really is in the journey.

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Good Night, Nurse!

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From time to time I get emails from folks who’ve read Finding Me in France offering their reviews. They are incredibly kind and gracious and say things like, “Oh I laughed and laughed,” or, “You’ve inspired me to travel more,” or, “Overuse of the word arse gets tiresome.” That last one has been my favourite until now.

The other day I got a curious email from a name I didn’t recognize (let’s call her Florence). Her message was fairly direct, in fact, one sentence: “Does the name So and So (again, to protect the innocent) from Corner Brook (town in Newfoundland) ring a bell?” I saw that the email was cc’ed to So and So. Intrigued, I wrote back, “Yes, my head is always ringing with bells.”

It became clear that these two women worked together with the next reply, ” I have just put your book down…magical…laughing out loud in the middle of our recovery room for the last few days…driving So and So crazy…I think my two favourite Newfies should get together for a drink.” Either they both worked at a hospital or my book is currently being used as an anesthetic agent for major surgery. Continue reading “Good Night, Nurse!” »

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The Eyes Have It

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Overall this aging business is what I would describe as an up/down affair. I do enjoy being past the years of giving a rat’s arse about what other people think; the times of doing what was expected of me, of being the person I was ‘supposed’ to be. On the other hand, yesterday I woke up and it was hard to pinpoint something that wasn’t creaking, aching, or sagging beyond recognition. Granted I have a few war wounds that render me more decrepit than the average middle aged woman, but still. I expect I’ll need a full time nurse by the time I’m 50 just to haul me out of bed in the morning.

And as if I didn’t have enough going on, a new problem has emerged. I was sitting among my young snappy coworkers when I asked for the blurry presentation projected on the boardroom screen to be brought into focus. Turns out I was the only one a little fuzzy around the edges. So I dragged myself off for a proper eye exam.

Christ almighty it was like a NASA testing lab in there. By the time the 12 year-old optometrist came I was practically blind from all the flashing lights and arrays of letters and numbers to decipher. The young doctor then showed me how clear my world could be with the addition of spectacles and I resigned myself to joining the ranks of girls who wear glasses. Continue reading “The Eyes Have It” »

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Rights of Spring

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I’ve been a West Coaster for just under a year now and already I feel entitled to the chorus of songbirds outside my window in late March. Even the assaultive grind of a lawn mower from yesterday morning was welcome. I feel like all my winters spent in the North Atlantic have granted me the right to peaceful enjoyment of spring when it’s actually supposed to arrive. I say this with respect for my friends and family still slugging through the snowpocalypse, but too bad suckers, I did my time. Now I stand under trees and look up to this…

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I wonder how I lived so long without a sea of pink clouds everywhere I look, however brief their appearance may be. I’ve always pored over pictures of Japan during blossom season and longed to go there just to stand in a shower of wind blown petals. Certainly living here is a lot more convenient than jetting off to Kyoto, but my dreams of Japan are still alive and well. I’m fascinated by the culture, the history, the language, the possibility of udon noodles 24/7. One of my best friends lived there for a year and her stories have fuelled the desire over the years. I think a gigantic, silver haired woman crashing through the streets of Japan might prove interesting for all concerned.

And now All Nippon Airways has announced daily non-stop flights from Vancouver to Tokyo. Sounds like a sign to get my arse in gear. All I have to do is convince Neil that he wants to go to Japan as badly as I do (easy, he knows by now resistance is futile), cough up a squillion dollars for airfare, grab a float plane or a ferry to Vancouver, fly 10 hours, figure out how to get to Kyoto, maybe Osaka, no problem. Oh, and of course, I’ll have to learn Japanese before I go. How the hell am I going to eat my way through another foreign country if I don’t know how to say, “I’ll pass on the jellied eel, thanks.”

My problem is there are too many places I want to visit. Yes, I’m entitled to spring and also to the independent wealth I feel somehow has been wrongly denied me. So, who’s been to Japan? Let’s hear all about it. I’m jacked up on this idea and once I latch on to something, look out. As the Japanese like to say, shouganai: it cannot be helped. There’s no taming Bobbizilla.

 

 

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The Decline of Civilization

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I have nothing remotely exciting to relate on this fine day. Instead I offer you a load of rant and righteous indignation. And let me say that I feel fully entitled to it, perhaps because another birthday has come and gone for me. No big deal really as I have collected 46 of them. Now, I begin in earnest my metamorphosis into a crotchety old bag as I ask one simple question (for dramatic effect I yell with a thick St. John’s accent: “WHAT IN DA JAYSUS IS WRONG WIT PEOPLE?” I’m not talking about war criminals and serial killers here. No, no, I’m referring to everyday people, Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary Citizen. Ladies and gentleman, I implore you: Has decency and decorum abandoned us for good?

It started a few days ago when a completely harmless looking, reasonably clean, appropriately dressed man was walking toward me on the street in downtown Victoria. It was a bright, sunny afternoon with a cool breeze floating up from the Pacific and I was feeling the spring in my step that only Spring itself can create when WHAM! the contents of this man’s nose were sprayed at my feet. The offending blob was forced out at Mach 3 speed as he pressed his thumb against one nostril and blew for all he was worth through the other. Charming. Continue reading “The Decline of Civilization” »

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Friends in Dry Places

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At first glance it appears my book may have actually bored some poor soul to death. I’ll admit that’s entirely possible, but in this case I’m blameless albeit shameless. How much mileage can someone get from one goofy book you might ask. Well, it all depends on how clever that someone is when it comes to hiring crackerjack marketing staff. And, as I remind my husband quite regularly, I am a giant smartypants (for the record he agrees about the giant part).

Way back when I was putting Finding Me in France together I had the good sense to include a chapter on my French neighbour, Jean-Claude. He was pleased that I did so and he takes a copy wherever he goes. I’m happy to announce that he is now officially the Head of International Marketing and Publicity for the world’s least famous book.

Once again he’s upped his game. This time my doodles were dragged to a desert in Morocco where the movie The Hills Have Eyes II was made. A savvy marketing ploy given that the plot of the film (a group of National Guard trainees find themselves battling against a vicious group of mutants on their last day of training in the desert) is almost exactly what happened to me in France. And speaking of highly trained mercenaries…

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What team of mutants could even hope to conquer this warrior? He could kill anyone in his path with kindness. Every time I get an email from him that has attachments I take a moment to savour the anticipation of clicking them open. I never have a clue what’s coming next and he makes me laugh out loud every time. I am instantly transported back to our petite rue in the small Burgundy town where I spent so many happy hours in his company.

I imagine fancy New York publishing houses have publicity departments with enough employees to make Walmart look like a corner store. But me, I’ll take my leather clad Sultan of the Sand with a heart the size of the Sahara. Well played JC, well played.

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