Doctor’s Orders

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Time for an update on my adopted Mexi-mutt, Lulu. Not much to say really, unless you count my entire life upending, my bank account being rapidly laid to waste, and my playing second fiddle to my husband’s girlfriend.

The perils of pet ownership at the best of times have been lightly likened to those of parenting. The closest I’ve come to that mess is training husbands. I took the first one as far as I could then left him in the capable hands of his next wife for fine tuning. The second is a work in progress as you all know, but I must say he does particularly well with the stay and fetch commands. Now not for a moment am I comparing men to dogs, I’m merely making a statement about the level of experience I have working with sentient creatures in my home.

This Lulu business is an entirely different kettle of kibble. What cannot be denied is my love for her. I mean just look at her…

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She’s a darling companion who does her business outside, sleeps through the night, and neither chews nor destroys anything in my home. She wants nothing beyond smelly wet dog food and ’round the clock body contact. That’s seven eighths of the battle won.

However, and there is always a however, right? Lulu has been officially diagnosed with a health problem by two of the finest minds in the land: one, a psychiatrist of some repute, the other, a highly recommended vet, Dr. Eva. The disorder’s name? Separation anxiety. The root cause? Previous trauma and a man named Neil. Turns out the very reason we thought we’d be good for a dog—Neil working from home—is the same reason for her new name: Ankle Magnet.

If Neil leaves the house she goes on high alert, whimpers, then descends into petulant melancholy complete with occasional mournful howling. No amount of soothing from me will do. I could be covered in meat and she’d still ignore me, yet a faint whisper from the man brings her racing forward like some sort of super dog. Feminist of the year she is not.

We’ve done it all to fix this: rigorous exercise, pheromones, herbal supplements, treat filled puzzle toys, music, a therapeutic sweater thing called a Thundershirt, and timed absences with video recordings of her behaviours. It’s just sad to see her splayed out by the door, absolutely bereft with her head buried is one of Neil’s ratty sneakers. She must have picked that up from me.

Despite the investment of time (and not a small amount of money), I brought her to the vet as clearly daily sessions on the couch with a washed up shrink were not cutting it. The doc was very clear: “It’s time to try some medication. Oh and get rid of Neil.” “Tempting,” I said, “but he cooks.” She understood my dilemma very well as she also suffers from kitchenophobia, and in the end it was decided that sending Lulu to a dog sitter one day a week was the way to diminish Big Red’s animal magnetism.

So, I now have to pay for meds and someone to babysit a dog despite having a perfectly good husband at home most of the day. Nothing to do but laugh. I’m broke, can’t leave my house for more than 15 minutes at a time, never mind the indignity of snooty disdain from a creature who licks her own butt. Christ all friggin’ mighty, I’m the one who needs pills. Next thing Neil will be ignoring all my commands. Or worse, throwing liver treats at me and rubbing my belly, exclaiming, “Good girl!” I hope they can both fit in the doghouse.

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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.

Perhaps it’s to please parents? Well, maybe so but I haven’t met a person born after 1980 who gives a damn about what their parents think. For that matter, I suspect more people get married to irritate their parents than the reverse motivation. A tattoo or a strategically placed piercing will do the trick for less money and less pain. At any rate, it’s coming to me, what exactly drew me toward marriage to this man: food.

As I write this, he is preparing my anniversary dinner of Chinese food: Won Ton soup, Char Siu fried rice, lemon chicken, and stir fried snow peas. So look, this is all you ever need to know about marriage. Marry not for looks, for charm, for money and position. Marry for food. Someone who will ask you what you’d like to eat; someone who will walk to the grocery store and then cook all day to offer you sustenance. Also be on the lookout for a cook who cleans up the disaster that ensues from turning your tiny kitchen into The Golden Dragon Restaurant.

Next year, assuming eight years are indeed decided to be less than enough, I’ll ask for multiple dishes from India. What the hell, I might even ask for that next Wednesday. I know he’ll be down for whatever I desire, he’s funny that way. Congratulations to him on surviving me thus far and good luck to him for the future. Menopause is nigh and he’s gonna need more luck that he knows how to ask for.

I never quite know how to capture the weird and wacky magic that is my husband. I am forever turning my psychiatrist eye toward him in a futile effort to try and figure him out. I’ll need another eight years for that one. I thought about him a lot the other night while I was watching a charming movie called About Time. It tells the story of a redheaded man searching for a bride, and on the day of his wedding his sage father gives his advice on how to marry well. Maybe it really is just that simple. Most things in life are. Happy Anniversary Rusty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Three Amigos

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Anyway, don’t you just love September? After months of silence, like the good Newfie I am, I begin with chatter about the weather—relentless sunshine with cool breezes off the Pacific, perfect temperatures for just about everything. The whole summer has been like this. In fact, I can’t remember a better summer in my life, well, maybe that summer of 1987—denim cutoffs and the legs to pull them off; a frosted spiral perm; tall, lemony double vodka cocktails and dancing ’til dawn at Club Max with the girls.

Now, with my legs fit for medical support hose, and my grey helmet of hair, a double vodka coupled with vigourous dancing would likely lead me to lapse into a coma. What of it. I’m working semi-hard, playing super soft, and I’ve still got it, whatever the hell that means. I mean it’s not like I’ve become a rickety retiree, frantically fretting over my RRSP in between golfing and baking. No, that would be Neil.

As I write this, it is 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning and he’s already on the 3rd hole fantasizing about being handed a tacky green blazer and hoisting a silver cup above his head on ESPN. Good on him I say, he could use a break from domestic bliss, especially now that our life has changed somewhat. He’s been doing double duty on the caring for a female front. There’s a story here and it’s a lulu. Continue reading “The Three Amigos” »

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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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