Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yeah, What He Said

And that's not to say that I still couldn't achieve something grand, but somewhere along the way we all twig to the fact that we are uniquely, splendidly ordinary. (Palinode, "Growing Up Disappointed")

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I haven’t been posting, and I’m unlikely to post much, because we’re being treated to a stiff dose of chaos. After four years in Toronto together (Trev’s been here for seven), we’re packing up and moving back to Saskatchewan. Last weekend the landlord showed the place, which is always a huge disruption. I don’t know why he’s showing it. We’re not moving out until the 15th of next month. If he'd just wait, he'd be able to show a sparkling clean, empty place for the first of October. I dunno. Addicted to the rent, man.

Also, I can’t believe he’s advertising it as a two bedroom again. It means a lot of hopeful-faced couples tramp up the sinking and crooked front steps only to find what is obviously a one-bedroom. Worse, it's only a one-bedroom if you don’t care to have a dining room. Or a living room.

Oh yeah, and Landlord? You can’t call the basement room a bedroom if it's not even finished. When I saw that young family with the baby coming to look at the place, I made doubly sure the mold on the walls was clearly visible. You're welcome.

Our landlord isn’t a mean guy and I don’t even think he’s that greedy. But he is utterly clueless. Trevor compares him to Elmer Fudd. His response to the mold situation was to apply a thin bead of caulk around the exterior of the house. To quote the irate neighbour, “that is one half-assed job” (picture this being muttered by an older, gentlemanly East Indian man).

But never mind all that. We’re moving. We’re packing up seven or so years worth of crap, including the controversial stack of unread magazines that Trevor wants to hang onto for whatever reason, loading it into a rented truck and driving back to Saskatchewan.

Only I don’t have to do any of that because I’m actually driving the car back by myself two weeks earlier. I got a job offer and I have to be there for September 2nd. So it’s up to Trevor and our friend Garry to do all the heavy lifting (this is particularly ideal for Trevor because he can pack whatever the hell he wants and I can't say a word about it).

Oh, and I’m not exactly traveling solo. I’ll be taking the animals with me. A cat and a dog in a small car for three straight days. Wish me luck.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

14X365 Dr. Woods

You were our geriatric family doctor when I was little. Thing is, I can’t really remember you. I just have a vague notion of an old man with a stethoscope. The only other memory I have is of Mom saying that her two illegal, mid-wifed home births made you very, very nervous. It worried me that you were worried. Luckily, it all worked out and I have the siblings to prove it.

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Olympic Meat Sacks

It’s been raining so much that we had to move our bed up from the basement bedroom. There is actually a black coloured mold forming on the basement walls. Gosh, I can’t wait to move. Bye-bye, all the rentals of my life! Hope I never have to see you again.

Anyway, I like to stay up late to watch the Olympics, but it means I have to watch it in the dark, on mute, with the closed captioning on and I can’t cheer ‘cuz Trev’s sleeping right there. Only he has a cold so he was snoring last night and I got to turn up the volume a little for the Men’s 100 meter heats.

Man, those beautiful, hard, muscular bodies. Between the sprinters and the swimmers, it’s enough to make one think about getting off of the couch. Almost. But one feature they have in the coverage this year is the close-up super slo-mo shot. And no matter how hard bodied you are, the close-up super slo-mo shot shows your skin all loose and flappy, lips and cheeks and thighs sloshing liquidly over your skeleton. We really are just a bunch of meat sacks. Beautiful running, swimming, couch-sitting meat sacks.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tarot Moment: Seven of Pentacles Reversed

It was one of the most powerful moments I’ve seen in the Olympics so far. Canadian veteran fencer, Sherraine Schalm, was set to fight Hungary's Ildiko Mincza-Nebald. She’d lost her first match in Athens and after four years of hard training, she seemed excited, almost hyper-active, determined to kick some ass in Bejing. She lost her first match in nine minutes.

The camera caught her as she was leaving. She said she didn’t understand what happened, or why it happened again. She said she was sorry to her coach, to her family, to the Canadian people. What caught me was that she wasn’t just disappointed, she was angry. Her disgust with herself was palpable. Her fury pure and raw, her words uncensored for camera.

This is a Tarot moment, I'm just not sure which one. Think about it; you've made mistakes. You've done everything you're supposed to do to learn from them. You've made it to the top once more, only to fall again, hard. Seems to me it belongs to the sevens, that part of the path that comes after the summit victory of the sixes. Tired, defeated, so much of the journey left to do.

After researching the sevens, I was surprised to come across this description of the Seven of Pentacles (Reversed) in Zach Wong’s Revelations Tarot Companion:
All your efforts seem to be in vain, which feeds your frustration. Patience is tossed out the window and anger resounds in your paced steps. Tension and anxiety, which have been felt every step of the way, have compounded into a terrible knot in your stomach. The only release seems to be to vent. (Source, pg. 116)
I did not know this level of darkness could exist in Pentacles. I guessed Wands for sure, but the Seven of Wands was more about inner strength in the face of challenge. So, is this a Seven of Pentacles (Reversed) moment?

Or, do you think there is there another card that describes it even better? Let me know.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On Tarot: Follow Up

I recently posted an entry featuring a controversial (all right, downright mean) quote. I should have expressed more clearly that I do not agree with the definition of the term or the radical views of the person who said it.

But it sure got me thinking. I determined that there are things about the industry (and it can be called that) that make me uncomfortable.

Look, anything that gets us thinking, debating and determining our own boundaries as readers is valuable. Again, it goes back to my point about going to places that might be uncomfortable. It's worth it. So long as it remains respectful. Which he clearly wasn't.

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On Tarot: Sigh UPDATED

I spent a couple of days reading a very harsh Tarotist and critic. It put me in a truly dark mood so I had to stop for a bit.

I thought I was over it. But today, I came across Mary Greer’s blogged interview with someone who created a new Tarot deck:
[Mary Greer]: What was the initial inspiration for this deck?

LIZ: My stubborn, determined & picky Taurus rising! I wanted a deck with everything I find pleasing in tarot, and with nothing I find displeasing. I wanted Kings and Queens to look in love with each other, not angry or constipated looking, or on the verge of divorce.
I have so many concerns with this premise. Trevor just said it reminded him of a film called The Last Supper, made in the 90s and which I vaguely remember. In it, a group of liberal graduate students kill off extreme conservatives "to make the world a better place," basically, the way they want it. Of course it backfires.

In this person's description of her deck, she seems to want to force the world (as Tarot represents) into the exact mold she wants. Well, why would you even want to restrict it to only those things that please you? How can you learn more about yourself if you're never challenged, never made to feel a little uncomfortable?

Look, the God, Goddess, or the Big Bang (take your pick) created the good along with the bad. Death, rot and despicable human behavior is all a part of it and I can guarantee 'the bad' is going to be part of whoever you read for. So how can a deck be truly complete without the expression of human frailty? We-the-World have big freakin' problems, big ugly spots on our apple. We must not be afraid to look at them.

Now that said, Tarot is tough because cards are Art. Anyone should be able to create art without censorship. But can a deck like this, with a clear mandate, then be trusted as a tool and used on people? The fact that there even is an expressed mandate sounds off major warning bells for me.

(Side note: I never considered the Kings and Queens divorcing because it never occurred to me they were literally married (see my rant on masculine / feminine vs. male / female interpretations of a deck). Plus, I tend to see the harsh in them only when I need to see the harsh. The possibility must remain)

Now, before anyone gets angry, I understand the good intentions behind any deck and I appreciate anyone with the guts to get their art out there. I’m kind of surprised at my own reaction to it. Must be my Angry Bitch Rising. But it's an honest reaction, so I'll put it out there. This is part of my challenge, helping me decide what kind of reader I want to be. Luckily, the world is big enough for all of us.

p.s. I realize that I contradict myself between this post and my rant. I call the Hierophant misleading. But since I was raised a Catholic and read for many who are so familiar with the Western Christian tradition, perhaps it is the perfect image for me after all. I am inherently familiar with the good and the bad in this card. The blessing of everything that is good in a spiritual / religious community versus the warning of a system gone awry. For me to truly understand both, the Pope should probably stay, especially because he's uncomfortable.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Working and Trevor Fill Out a Household Survey

TREVOR: Am I the male head of the household?


TREVOR: For this survey.

WORKING: I don’t understand the question.

TREVOR: It asks, ‘Are you the: 1. Male head of the household. 2. Female head of the household. 3. Shared head of the household, or 4. Other member of the household?’

WORKING: It seriously asks that?

TREVOR: I’m putting “shared head of the household.” Right?

WORKING: Uh, yeah. I would have put down “Female head of the household”—

TREVOR: You would put down “Female head of the household” when I just put “Shared”?!

WORKING: Let me finish! IF you had put “Male head of the household,” I would have put “Female head of the household.” But you put “Shared,” so I will also put “Shared.”

TREVOR: Riiiiight. You think you’re the only head.

WORKING: No! You are the male head of the household and I am the female head of the household.

TREVOR: So you’re the head of the females and I’m the head of the males?

WORKING: Uh, sure. So… “Shared,” I guess. Man, that’s a weird question.

TREVOR: “Marital Status.” I’m putting “single.”

WORKING: Oh come on! I wasn’t questioning your maleness.

TREVOR: No. But you are questioning my head…ness.

WORKING: Let me see that.

TREVOR: No! You can’t copy me!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Just A Little More on Tarot

Okay, one more thing on Tarot so I don't forget it. I started my study of Tarot through the books and workshops of Mary K. Greer and Rachel Pollack. Mary Greer particularly likes to throw out the centuries old Tarot reading rules, encourages reinvention. I think the approach adds value, a chance to play in the waves.

But what's the saying? You first must know the rules to break them? I believe learning Tarot is a life-long process, including study. I don't begrudge it; throwing myself into deep study is a way of practicing. It can only deepen my connection to the subject. Any artist knows that understanding the greats only improves one's own attempts. Know it, then reinvent it.

A lot of Tarot readers today do like to say "I read intuitively. I just trust my gut." Study not required. Shit, it's advice I've even given to people I've read for. Well, folks, we all know that George W. Bush governs by gut instinct. Look how far it's gotten humanity.

Trusting your gut is a good start. But to do it exclusively is just plain lazy. And I've been lazy.

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13X365 Anita D.

We were coworkers at the cable company. I was in my early 20s, working my way through University. You were a mother of four with a husband on disability. At times I would complain about the amount of homework or how my family problems were getting me down. You would gently remind me that there were practical solutions. Then you would crack me up somehow, a wicked sparkle in your green eyes. Once when I behaved particularly reprehensibly, you firmly told me you expected better of me. It couldn’t have hurt more if it had it come from a family member. It meant the world to me.

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On Tarot

cartofeminism: noun; the exploitation of playing cards and particularly Tarot, usually by post-menopausal "white" Western females with an abundance of animus-ity, to achieve allegedly feminist objectives, often by dishonest means.
Wow. What an interesting quote. I have time these days to beef up my Tarot study and I just came across this Tarotist and critic. I’m still sifting through his general ideas but so far what I’ve read is intriguing. I do love a good controversy.

If I’m understanding correctly, his contention is that Tarot is being ruined by ‘carto-feminists’, Tarotists with a shrill anti-male agenda. He does tend to generalize rather harshly. Many of the readers I've met are entirely responsible and open-minded. But parts of it do echo my own vague discomfort with some aspects of Tarot literature.

What initially drew me to the Tarot was the lovely harmony I saw between the masculine and feminine. I am not talking about Man / Woman. Yes, gender can come into a reading, of course it can. If you’re a heterosexual woman, we can read about the men in your life, right? Why wouldn’t we?

But when I talk about masculine and feminine aspects of a deck, I am talking about traits that anyone can have, regardless of gender. Ever met a woman who has masculine traits? Or a man with feminine interests? I’ve always felt a pull towards the masculine. Martial arts, good beer, super hero movies, knowing how to fix the plumbing, to list a few cliches. If I look at it as a masculine part of the world we all inhabit, as opposed to ‘a man’s world’ exclusively, then I can damn well participate as much as I please. Just like a daddy can fit into the decidedly feminine world of a little kids’ playgroup. We all have the capacity to nurture, to varying degrees, just like we all have the capacity to fight, when it comes down to it.

It all matters to Tarot. If you and I read the cards together, I can get a good read of which combination of the masculine and feminine makes you you. What is your reaction to the Hierophant, for example? Do you see a rigid, oppressive, male-dominated religious tradition? Or do you see the best characteristics of the wise, aged, old sage you aspire to be some day? Or do you see something else entirely, like a grandfather you loved? A teacher you hated?

The problem is that as student, I’m more likely to come across the ‘cartofeminist’ (for lack of a better term) definition of the card. The masculine cards are almost always defined negatively or assigned a bland, pseudo-feminine, non-threatening meaning. The feminine cards, like the Priestess, are treated with a kind of reverence. As in, the Priestess can do no wrong. The feminine inherently trumps the masculine. But that's not how I see the world. The world is masculine and feminine, capable of being both weakened and strengthened by each.

Frankly, it relies a lot on the art work, and yes, the art work can be problematic. If you see a man or woman in the card, it's hard to get past the literal interpretation. I think the image of the Pope in the Hierophant is misleading and loaded with negative meaning. As I've said, this can be a very positive card. This is why we readers chose our decks so carefully and why there are some decks I will never be comfortable with. I never want to push meaning onto my querent.

I see a blessing and a warning in every card. And I need the masculine as much as I need the feminine. They are both a part of me and both a part of my readings.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

13X365 Nat

You were a Massage Therapist in Chiang Mai, Thailand. You worked as part of a co-operative of visually impaired Therapists. I can’t adequately describe the treatment you gave me, except maybe to say that it was intense and completely intuitive. I have yet to find anything like it since and yes, I’ve been searching.

The next day I dragged Trevor along. As I was getting an vastly inferior massage from your colleague, I looked over at Trevor. His face was contorted in a silent scream.
“Breathe,” I whispered across the aisle. In truth, I was insanely jealous.

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12X356 Kid With the Gloves

Estonia, Winter of 2001. You were my first fight partner in Kickboxing class. You smiled a little at me before the round began. I just felt sorry for you because you were so young and I had some fight experience. Then you clocked me. As I ran to the bathroom, bleeding all over my gloves, I didn’t feel sorry for you anymore.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

11X365 Guy At Welsh Cemetery

For some reason every time I think of my grandmother’s grave, I think of you. And when I think of you, I picture Simon Pegg.  Except I think you were much older, taller and darker than Simon Pegg.  In fact, you probably didn’t look like Simon Pegg at all.

Anyway, it was January of 2007. After years of estrangement, I’d finally plucked up the courage to go see my mother, who was living near Manchester at the time. She wanted to go to Wales to visit the little mining village where Grandma was raised. It was a long drive from the Yorkshire Dales to the Rhondda Valleys (we took side routes, making it even longer and more twisty, but also more beautiful). We found a couple of modest rooms at the local pub (con: ancient, bowed mattresses. pro: cold beer on tap just down the stairs).

The next day, we set out to find my great-grandparents' graves, over which Mom had sprinkled Grandma's ashes. Now, it turns out that a Welsh hillside in the middle of January is just as miserable as anywhere else. And I had seriously underestimated winter in the UK. But my mom is not one to be deterred by, oh, hurricane force winds. Unfortunately, she also had no idea where the graves were. So we walked around and around hundreds and hundreds of them, squinting through the sleet, trying to find three 60+ year-old tombstones. Needle in the ol' haystack to be sure.

Finally we stopped in at the cemetery office to ask. I seem to remember it was housed in an ancient stone building. A former church? We must have looked like crazy people, drenched and shivering. But you were so efficient, professional and lovely, offering us maps detailing the exact location of our dead relatives. You even gave me the copy that I have to this day.

Now when I think of you, Welsh Cemetery Man, I think of cozy havens from the rain (and Simon Pegg). My descendents thank you. We shall never lose Grandma again.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bye Bye?

I’m going back to school.

My school-weary 22 year-old self drops her book bag in astonishment, “WTF did you just say?”

I’m going back to school. Well, if I can get in.

“You gotta be kidding me.”

I’m not.

“We swore that once we were finished this damn BA Hons. we’d never look back. Full time jobs, full time school.  It's too much.  Besides, how old are you, anyway?”


“Gawd.  You'll never make it.”

Maybe.  Maybe not.

“And what have you been doing for the last, oh, decade? Besides eating, by the looks of it.”

Oh, little of this, little of that.  I’ve been working my way up in TV. I got married. We live in Toronto.

“Toronto?!  I hate Toronto!”

Yeah, why was that again?  You'd never even been here. But listen, it’s not bad, not bad at all.  You're gonna love the neighbourhood.

“So television, eh?” There’s a gleam in her eye.

Yup. You’ll soon get a chance to volunteer for a local cable show.  Take it.  It leads to good things. The whole industry was good to us. Well, except for that one gig.

“What happened?”

Oh nothing. Just that we got our dream job, a chance ‘look behind the curtain’, so to speak.


I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Just remember that sometimes it’s better to remain a fan than to become an employee of something. Oh, and, keep your chin up. You did a damn fine job. Just remember that.

Rolls her eyes, “whatever. Hey, did we marry...," she pauses, "did we ever hook up with T--?”

Stop right there. I know who you’re going to say. Forget about that man. The relationship doesn’t work out, he moves on, and you will thank your lucky stars for that. Especially when you meet our dear husband.

She looks like she’s about to cry.

Don't worry.  It all works out.

“So, what are you gonna to do now?”

Believe it or not, I think I'm going into Nursing. Well, if I can get into the program. It could take awhile.

“Wow."  She thinks about this.  "You know you’re going to be older than all of the other students.”


“You’re going to be, like, 40 when you finally graduate from any sort of specialty.”


“I don’t get it. I just want to get out of here and you’re sending us back.”

I know. I know. I'm worried, too.  But it just feels important. I’ve spent a career moving towards this kind of evolution.

“Well, I think you’re being stupid. Television sounds waaaay cool.”

It was. Enjoy the hell out of it, my darling.

"Yeah, well.  I gotta get to class."  

Me too, I hope.

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10X365 Ian R., DOP

You were the first camera guy I ever went on the road with. Six European countries in six weeks. You were quiet and shy, determined to do good work. Unfortunately you suffered a major case of insomnia and jet lag. It got so bad that at one point I thought you might actually lose it completely. For a week straight I had my finger poised over ‘dial’, ready to tell the Producer to call it off.

But somehow we persevered. Memories of you include the ever-present Tilley hat and stories about your family, which got us through hours and hours of being completely and utterly lost in six countries. I will never forget that cold, rainy day when you almost got smoked off by a nearly silent high-speed train. As you slid down the Italian mountainside, you yelled at me to save the camera. We limped back to the village, bleeding and swearing and giggling, our professionalism having finally given way to exhaustion and madness. 

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dear Sirs

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter regards the job posting that the stupid &^$%’ing Government alert service sent to me a day after the deadline. I am gambling on the notion that you won’t notice. Also, please find attached my resume, on which I’ve performed nothing less than major cosmetic surgery.

I must now spend this paragraph convincing you why I am the one for the job. This will be difficult, considering I’ve managed to hit that vocational sweet spot of being both over qualified and under qualified for this position. Luckily, I’ve trained as a mind reader and I’ve dissected every line of your ad to anticipate what piece of information I must now wave in front of your face.

Not ‘as is', of course. This little precious nugget will be made over to within an inch of its life so that you receive an enticing yet tasteful snapshot a la boudoir.  Only I will know it’s really mutton dressed as lamb.

Here’s where I bring it home with a heartfelt blurb about making a difference. Maybe in my heart of hearts that’s exactly what I aspire to do. We all imagine the perfect job. Maybe you were picturing the difference you would make, Ms. HR Person, when you first won the lottery with this not-for-profit organization.

But let’s be honest.  You’re likely undefunded and overworked. You live from coffee break to coffee break. You spend your entire week thinking about 5PM on Friday. And you are certainly not in the mood to see yet another late application land in your overflowing inbox at 10 AM the Tuesday morning following the long weekend.

So in conclusion, I’m still going to hit 'send' because what the hell. And now it’s gone. But not forgotten, oh no! I will click obsessively on my 'sent' folder, reading and rereading what I’ve written here, even though it’s clearly too late. Oh, look, I over-edited sentence missing chunks no sense. Crap. Oh well. The email likely got netted in your junk filter anyway.

Please feel free to contact me anytime.  I'll be sitting here trying to convince another organization that I'm the perfect one for them, and they're not even into brunettes.

Yours Sincerely,

(Not) Working

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Self Soothing

Saturday morning I was awake and anxiety ridden by 5AM. To make myself feel better, I spent two hours researching jobs and schools. I didn’t feel better.

I heard a great term today: “self soothing”. The technique of talking oneself down. It describes the weekend perfectly.

First, Trev and I packed up approximately 20% of our stuff. Turns out it was the 20% that was making me feel claustrophobic.

Second, we drove to the west end for some great BBQ at G.’s. G. will be sharing a uhaul back to SK with us. He looked so sad last night. But I was heartened to hear my own reluctant husband offering him the pep talk.  

Third, we watched some great frickin’ television this weekend. I highly recommend The Band’s Visit, a sweet little film featuring very good Israeli and Palestinian actors. And then, Californication. The entire season in a weekend. It was that good.*

So, I consider myself soothed.  

P.S.  If you have a line on Graber brand olives, let me know.  The Big Carrot was the only place I knew that carried them in stock.  Not any longer.  I'm starting to get the shakes.

*That is to say, right up to the very last scene, which wasn't good.  As Trevor likes to say, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!  Did they think they weren’t getting renewed or something?

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Gnarls Barkley

This is rip-your-heart-out good:

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

9X365 Ivan

When my family left Africa in 1987, you’d just arrived. You were a young teacher, a Ukrainian farm boy from Saskatchewan. That was the crazy part, that you were not only from Canada, like us, but the very same province.

You were idealistic. You were going to save the world. Well, that’s how you described your younger self to me when, in 2001, I once again sat at your kitchen table. All this time you stayed in the Kingdom of "Khotso, Pula, Nala”. You married a local girl. You had two kids. You laughed cynically at your original naïveté. “Those development projects never lasted,” you said, shaking your head. You’d know better than most. Over the years you’d watched every kind come and go, spearheaded by the latest generation of well intentioned but completely naive do-gooders.

And yet, all of these years later, your school is truly impressive. Eight courses including mechanics, plumbing, sustainable watershed management, solar power, masonry, and more. Students have to pay to attend and somehow they find a way. When I left, I think your Fall semester was booked up. I hope it took.

UPDATED: It's him! You Tube is so surreal:

And these ladies are walking through my old stomping grounds:

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8X365 Lady My Dad Dated

I was a teenager, probably 15 or 16. You were the first woman my dad brought home after he divorced Mom. He might have met you at a single parents' support group. Or maybe he met you at the bar where he used to go line dancing (this was the late 80s). Regardless, it must have gone well because he never brought women home to meet us.

And apparently once was enough cuz I never saw you again. You probably took one look at the line-up of five unhappy and disheveled children and politely took your leave. Or, Dad took one look at his line-up of five unhappy and disheveled children, another look at you, and decided it just wasn't going to work.

And if that didn’t decide it, then I'm sure my patented Glare of Raw Hatred probably sent you running.

I just wanted to apologize.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

7X365 Fran the Stylist

I’ve been dying my hair since the early 90’s*. So I’ve had dozens of stylists. But you were my favorite and I think of you often. You never gave me a Becky Conner hair cut. You never neglected to dye the entire right side of my head. You never boasted to have run your last salon into the ground. And you never ranted about how much you hate being a stylist and how you just want to go home, prompting me to ask you not to take it out on my hair**. You simply gave me good colour and good cuts every time.

Then you quit. Something about opening a dance school and it’s a big success and blah-blah-blah. Well, Fran, I’ve never gotten over you and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

* Prior to that, I was addicted to do-it-yourself spiral perm kits with the world's smallest rollers.
**  This actually happened to me this morning.  Hence the entry.

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