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.

Then they starting talking to each other and copied me on the exchange:

So and So: “This is one small crazy globe we live on!!!  Love it:)”

Florence: “Yes…I will get some AirCanada passes and we will hunt your fellow Newfie down if she agrees …”

Turns out they’re nurses at a surgical hospital. Florence has become an instant fan, and she must be a good nurse because she gave me a megadose of the best medicine with her next email: “ Trust me…I cannot stop talking about this book….a fabulous antidote to that piece of shit “Eat, Pray, Love”….finally!”

Ladies and gentlemen, if there is a better book review out there I haven’t seen it. Where the hell was she when the cover was being printed? I would’ve begged my publisher to splatter that in red paint right across the front. Oprah herself would’ve been on my doorstep. Instead, two nurses are likely to show up, definitely a more useful scenario for someone in my state of decrepitude. I hope they’re prepared for the amount of care I require. I also hope they make everybody in that hospital buy a copy. Something tells me those two won’t come cheap.

 

 

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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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Spring Forward, Fall Down

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Well, another hour of daylight means winter is on its last leg. Here in beautiful Victoria the signs of spring come on early and come on strong. The towering B.C. cedars are growing greener by the minute and the cherry blossoms (one of my favourite things on the planet) are bursting open with the white and pale pink hues that herald the arrival of happiness. Victoria has more cherry trees than I ever imagined possible, a lovely bonus of the decision to settle here.

Normally, I’d have a mess of pictures for you, however, I’ve only seen the blossoming beauties them from my car on the way from my apartment to the drug store. My recent work trip took me to the heart of the polar vortex. I took a total of five flights and on the last one about half the passengers appeared to be suffering from some sort of wintery plague. So it’s not surprising that a few days after touching down I was struck down with a fever, sore throat, and a tidal wave of mucus unlike any my poor head and chest have ever seen. It began as an amusing mental challenge: me versus the virus with the odds of victory stacked heavily in my favour. I mean how bad could it be I thought as I forged ahead into battle.

Four days later, as I lay on the floor in a fetal position in sweat soaked pyjamas, nose rubbed raw, surrounded by empty NyQuil boxes and a mountain of crusty tissues, I conceded defeat. It’s absolutely incredible just how much phlegm one human head can produce. I was no match for that beast. At one point I was moaning and groaning and whining and whimpering so much I thought oh wonderful, not only am I dying, I’m turning into a man. Continue reading “Spring Forward, Fall Down” »

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Tour of Duty

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And so the Olympics have finally come to a close. Those were the longest two months of my life, although I have to admit being completely impressed by Team Canada, especially our women representatives. The marriage remains relatively intact, a feat deserving of a gold medal (me, not him). If I’d had the budget I would’ve had my own closing ceremony, fireworks in the living room and everything, just to celebrate the removal of that red-headed lump from the couch. Ironically, as he rises like Lazarus and returns to his regularly scheduled baking, I’m off on a multi-city work trip that’s jam-packed from start to finish.

Speaking of work, my co-workers often refer to me as Big Buzzard, and this Feathers on Fire Tour is unplugged, sans laptop. I know, I know, why would anyone attempt something so dangerous? Well, I am proud to say that I am a devoted, hardworking, excessively compliant employee, so naturally I won’t spend a moment writing goofy posts or Googling luxury Italian villas or watching flamenco dancing videos on the company’s time and dime. I make special note of this on the off chance that my boss is reading or plans to have me under surveillance. The surgeon will be here momentarily to separate the great machine from my upper thighs. I’m hoping for a painless extraction and minimal withdrawal. If anyone happens to spot me wild eyed and sweaty in an Apple store this week feel free to stage an aggressive intervention.

My rambling point is that there will be a short blog break. I’m confident that all 14 of you who hang out here on a regular basis will be able to find novel ways to entertain yourselves in my absence. I’ll start you off with this bucket list of travel destinations. All you have to do is decide which one you’d hit first after your lottery numbers come up. To those of you who are independently wealthy: decide which one you need me to scope out for your next moneybags festival. I can vouch for the stunningly charming #3, and when you hit #13 you’ll see where my fancy pants globetrotter husband completed his high school education at The School of Hard Knocks. Until we meet again…

 

 

 

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War of the Winters

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Yesterday I saw buds on a few trees. No big deal, right? Except yesterday was February 15th. Today, while Rusty was off golfing, I spoke to my mother who is toughing it out on the Rock in the North Atlantic: Newfoundland, ground zero of the Polar Vortex. Gale winds, ice pellets, freezing rain, snow drifts, the works.

I admit to feeling a little guilty about basking in a fairly mild winter as my fellow Newfoundlanders (and half of North America) battle Mother Nature in what appears to be a one-sided fight. In my defence, there were two days last week where the temperature dipped below zero, and it is currently too windy and rainy to actually sit on my balcony, so really we’re all suffering.

I suppose it’s entirely possible that this is yet another example of the media blowing things out of proportion, or maybe the 2014 snowpocalypse is actually happening elsewhere. In the absence of any interesting blog material today (I’m too busy determining if a husband watching luge, curling and figure skating for 10 hours straight is grounds for divorce), I’m asking to see first hand this calamity everyone is talking about.

Send me your best winter warfare photo and I’ll add it to this post over the week, provided it’s not a shot of you naked while shovelling your driveway, although I could be persuaded if it’s artful enough. Let me know if you prefer to remain anonymous and I won’t use any personal details like name or location. Best (worst?) image of the season from hell wins the title of Winter Warrior Supreme and an all expenses paid 7 day trip to a Caribbean resort of their choosing where Neil will cook gourmet meals between Olympic hockey periods. Okay, I made that second one up, but the first should be enticement enough. Send your photo to bobbi@findingmeinfrance.com and show me what I’ve been missing.

Here’s mine to get you started. I call it Hard Times in Victoria (and yes, this is current)…

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A Sporting Chance

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True, I once abandoned my home country for France and Switzerland, but that doesn’t mean I can’t muster up a bit of national pride as the Olympics get under way. I like to back a winner and Canada “owned the podium” at the Vancouver Games, so I expect good things again. This year, there’s a lot of “we are winter” chatter. I’m more than happy for the Russians to take on that mess.

Even I, apathetic about athletics at the best of times, have a strong desire to see our young Canuck snow boarders and skiers and skaters swoosh and swish their way to the top. I can’t explain it, it just is. In general, I like for all to be included in the glory. But given that the games are being held in a place where persecution persists for loving a person with the same parts as your own, inclusion doesn’t seem to be high on the priority list this time.

At least some strides have been made in terms of equality. This year women will be graciously granted a ski jumping competition for the first time, a battle hard won after the International Olympics Committee shut them out last go around. Sounds like a strategic ski pole thrust would’ve been helpful as that debate raged. If a bunch of women are foolish enough to hurl themselves toward a mountain of ice at breakneck speed, praying to land upright on two skinny strips of fiberglass, and do it in a spandex jumpsuit, I say throw a bunch of medals at them and call it a day.

Of course, I won’t grow roots to a couch and watch every event until my eyeballs are seared from the glare of HDTV snow and ice. No, that task will fall to my husband. I can’t fully embrace the Games, probably because I can’t fully relate to all the events. Like the ski jumpers so sensibly excluded (everyone knows that ovaries render one useless for speed and strength), I too feel left out in the cold. Again, perhaps ovaries are to blame, in this case glands that have long been useless for sport of any kind.

My rambling point is this: The theme at Sochi is “Hot. Cool. Yours.” Well, fine then, where are my events? How can I possibly support a celebration of humanity that doesn’t include the feats I’ve spent a lifetime mastering? When the Olympics FINALLY recognize the oft pooh-poohed events like Reading While Reclined on a Luge, the Alpine Chair Lift Ride, Ski Lodge Brandy Sipping, maybe then I could really get into it.

I think what’s needed here is a Middle-Aged Lazy Arse Games. I just know if only I was given the opportunity to compete, I could be a contender for gold. As long as I don’t have to travel too far or get up too early; as long as I get to wear a cellulite minimizing suit and have thick, expensive moisturizer for my face that looks like lizard skin from October to April; as long as the medals are dark chocolate discs wrapped in shiny gold foil, then I’m ready to lead Team Canada to greatness. First up, the Pie-athlon.

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Enter the Dragon Lady

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According to Chinese astrology, I was born in the year of the monkey. Makes sense, as those of us classified so are said to be fun loving, cheerful, energetic, charming, humorous, clever folks. In fact, one zodiac source I read said give a monkey a boring book to read and she’ll turn it into a musical. I’ll be auditioning gangly chorus girls and red-headed chefs for the Finding Me in France Broadway show next weekend if you’re interested.

Apparently, I’m also a terrific problem solver with impressive listening skills. Maybe I should start a Dial-a-Monkey hotline to work out whatever issue is at hand for the masses. I’m likely to become famous, have a food fetish, and be a passionate and devoted lover. Sounds like yet another interesting career option in that triad. I skipped past the part that warns about monkeys being flighty, self-centred, and opportunistic because everyone knows astrology is only right half of the time.

Anyway, this silverback gorilla and her sheep husband went downtown to Victoria’s Chinatown to usher in the Year of the Horse…

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Crap Shoot

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Uprooting your life can be a daunting endeavour, especially if you do it repeatedly as I have. Kids, don’t try this at home, remember I am a professional idiot. But in the grand scheme of gambles I’ve made, I’d say the payoffs have outweighed the perils. Sure, I’ve seen many wonderful people come and go as regular fixtures in my life. That doesn’t mean they are far from my heart. I’ve lost many material things over the last few years yet gained experiences and memories to which I couldn’t even attempt to assign a price. It’s all more precious than gold (Dear Universe: do not interpret this to mean I am above a lottery jackpot. I remain open to the challenge of becoming a charitable squillionaire à la Oprah).

This past weekend I continued racking up new life experiences—home dinners on Friday and Saturday night with Victoria folks, cooks so good Neil spent all day Sunday baking/roasting/stewing to maintain his status as Top Chef in my life. If this gets any worse (better?), I’m going to need a forklift to drag my doughy self around the apartment.

I also reached back into the past, catching up with people I met in Switzerland. It was a most illuminating Skype session. See, back in my days of gazing upon majestic Alps and Lake Geneva…

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a friend who works in leadership training and executive coaching put me together with a successful man who was looking to turn his life upside down to see if the joy he was missing was really out there. He hired me to coach him through the scary process of mid-life change. Together we carved out a path that would suit him, and by our last session he had resigned from his solid job, ready to walk away into the Great Unknown. Our chat on Sunday was the update on what happened next. Continue reading “Crap Shoot” »

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Precious Cargo

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One of the best things about living on the West Coast of Canada, well, apart from the balmy winter weather (I’ve been keeping mum on that out of respect for my Newfie peeps battling an apocalyptic winter) is the mix of many fascinating cultures, what with Canada being so wonderfully diverse and all.

Last week my work took me to Vancouver again and this time I was lucky enough to travel with my lovely colleague who grew up in the city and knows it well. If you don’t know a lot about Vancouver, it boasts a very large Asian population. After years in rural France desperate for decent dim sum I felt it was a golden opportunity. So before we left, I asked my traveling companion (who also happens to be Chinese) to help source out a spot for delicious Chinese fare. And she did not disappoint.

With only a short time to spare before our flight, we hit the Shaolin Noodle House on Broadway, an understated place where the chefs still believe that handmade is best made. They make all their own noodles and the kitchen is in plain view through a giant window.

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This chef is holding a giant roll of freshly pressed dough and with a machete like blade he is slicing long ribbons at a frenzied pace into the vat of boiling water. The result is a bowl of irregularly shaped and sized noodles so fine they are almost translucent. Then they get passed to the next station…

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Get With the Program

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Well, I don’t know about you, but I had me some swingin’ holidays. I took a little leave from work and so began my first holiday as a working person that didn’t involve being on call. At one point a fit of nostalgia took hold and I thought about heading to the nearest Emergency Room to relive the medical chaos called Christmas. Instead I stuck to intellectual endeavours like sleeping until ten everyday, watching classics like The Apartment, reading thick, wordy novels, and, of course, eating. How much Yuletide crap can one woman eat? Turns out quite a bit. Case in point…

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I take full responsibility for store-bought nonsense, but that husband of mine must bear the rest—cakes smothered in dark chocolate ganache, a ham bigger than a car, a roast beef bigger than a truck, and now my arse is bigger than I ever dreamed possible. This is what happens when there’s no racing around a hospital during the holidays. Continue reading “Get With the Program” »

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In Praise of Canadian Men

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I’ve featured some of my favourite men here before, Rusty taking centre stage of course. He’s easy fodder for humour, plus he’s the only man I have. To be sure he’s European at heart despite his love of fleece and hatred of skinny pants and scraggy facial hair. Just in case you forgot this gem of a photo, here’s the one where Neil is trying desperately to fit in the south of France in 1986, long before I met him. Obviously, is this a man who dressed with a woman anywhere near him? I think not. Continue reading “In Praise of Canadian Men” »

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