Monday, March 27, 2006

The First Cut is the Deepest

In the summer before my final year of university I cut off all my hair. I don't mean that I trimmed it up, or styled it differently, or went for a cute little bob. I mean I cut it ALL off.

Boys hair. Almost buzz. Very, very short.

I wore it this way for about six years after that and I absolutely loved it. It was very liberating, especially for me, because I had always been somewhat defined by my long, blonde, frizzy, curly head. To cut it all off in one sitting was like snapping my fingers and changing how everyone identified me. I was "the girl with the hair."

Sure enough, when I went back to school in the fall, many people had no idea who I was until I re-introduced myself. It felt great, like starting fresh.

My hair stylist, not the one responsible for the original cut, but the one who cut and coloured my hair for close to five years afterwards, passed away suddenly from complications due to Hepititas C in 2002. It was a tragedy and I still miss my quartery hair cut appointments with her. She was a wild spirit, kind, creative and lovely. She was a friend.

My short hair never looked or felt the same once she was gone and so, after a few months, I decided it was time to grow "the hair" back again. It was somewhat of a tribute to her, but also time to do it for myself.

Anyone who has chopped the way I did knows that the grow out stage is a nightmare. Mine was no exception. Luckily, it went quickly and now, just a few years later, my big old mane is back. You can guess where this is going, can't you?

That's right. I'm itching to chop it again. Dont' freak, I'm not going "boy cut" again. Oh no, that ship sailed away with my twenties. But I am considering an above the shoulders, but just long enough to still pull back, spring time bob. Something fun and fresh and different. I need a change.

I don't have any good example photos of myself to post, so instead I turn to my celebrity hair lookalike, Sarah Jessica Parker. She's the only one who has hair that even comes close to my own, and I've always loved to watch what she does with it, how she styles it, what works, what doesn't.

So here's Carrie Bradshaw, circa season 1, sporting hair that's close to how mine is today. Keeping in mind, of course, that she has a 24-hour stylist on board and I have, well, nothing of the sort.

And here's what I'm thinking of doing to my hair for spring. The Carrie Bradshaw, circa season 5. Focus on the curly versions (#5, 7, 8), I'm not much of a straightener. And again, remember, I'll have no stylist, so realistically will it look this cute? Hell no.

I've only got until Saturday to decide. I'm leaning towards cut, because I'm craving something different, I'm longing to get out from under all this weight and now that I've reached my long hair goal, I feel like, what's next?

SO? To cut or not to cut? That is the question.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Drugs Don't Work

Despite my battle with a really nasty cold, Crown and I ventured out into the core last night to take in the second night of the sold-out Coldplay show at the Air Canada Centre.


We originally got tickets via Ticketmaster auction several months ago (proceeds go to charity, so I felt better about the extravagent expense) and both really wanted to see Richard Ashcroft, who opened the show with an hour-long set. Mostly new stuff off his recently released album (so-so) but also a few "hits" from the Verve's last album: "The Drugs Don't Work", "Lucky Man" and of course "Bittersweet Symphony". The latter got the entire AAC up on their feet, and although Crown was disappointed that it took "that song" for people to stand up, I got my usual rush of adrenaline from a room of 30,000 singing together as one.

And what a rush that is. For me, it's as good as any drug I've ever done. I can't imagine what it must be like for whichever performer happens to be up on that stage at the time.

Richard may be down, but he ain't out. He sounded amazing and is as hot (in that skinny rocker way) as ever. I hope he'll find some well-deserved success and acclaim in the near future.

Chris Martin definitely got it right when he told the crowd that for them to play following Ashcroft, felt like Michael Bolton following the Beatles.

The Coldplay portion of the evening exceeded all my expectations with a beautiful show, some really fun effects (giant balloons filled with gold ticker tape dropped from the ceiling during "Yellow") and even a heart-felt tribute to the late, great Johnny Cash.

As with the recent Depeche Mode show, the normally reserved, quiet Toronto crowd out did themselves last night. It probably helped that Chris Martin stroked out egos by coming out on stage half an hour before showtime to tell us that they were filming the show for the concert DVD. He claimed this to be his favourite city to perform in. Truth is probably more along the lines of cheaper production costs, but I'm trying not to be cynical today.

Either way the sold-out crowd was on their feet and singing together for the entire show. I had goosebumps, especially during slower songs when instead waving burning hot Bic lighters, the enire stadium waved open cell phones. It sounds kind of sickning I know, but the result was honestly quite breathtaking. Glowing blue lights from nearly every person in the crowd. It may say something about the priorities in our city, but I was still thrilled that people were on their feet and feeling the moment.

I took a few minutes here and there to turn around and face the rest of the stadium (we were on centre floor, 13th row) and just take in the crowd. It's awesome in the truest sense of the word.

The night was, what I like to call, a GTM. Good Toronto Moment.

I love this city more than I let on and sometimes it takes a near-Spring evening in the downtown core with 30,000 singing Torontonians to remind me just how much.

Crown and I have been dealing with the expensiveness of living in this big old city a lot lately, but last night, holding hands a little buzzed from bass and beer, walking through the bustling streets with throngs of satisfied concert-goers and cabbies hunting for their next fat fare, I remembered what makes it all so worthwhile.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Panic Song

Ready for a cheap escape
On the brink of self destruction
Widespread panic


(Continued from previous post, The Roof is On Fire).

Here's the low-down:

Wednesday night I get my nails done after work. Am relaxed, happy, polished and looking forward to a hot bowl of soup and some serious catching up on blogs time.
Crown is going out to see a movie with GParty. The house is all mine.
I get in the door at approximately 7:30pm.
There's a "smell" in the air, possibly smoke, burnt food, exhaust, I can't place it.
Fear is triggered.
I am frozen for a few moments, glancing around the main floor, I check the oven and stove, both are turned off. I notice a pan in the sink and it registers.
Crown cooked something.
I do a sweep of the house, all floors, there's no smoke, no fire, everything appears to be fine.
I begin to relax a little, but my instinct to get out of the house is still strong.
I have not put down my bag, or removed my coat, gloves or scarf. I put the collar on the dog and go outside.
The first thought in my head once outside is, "maybe we'll just wait out here until Crown gets home."
I realize that is probably about 3 hours away.
After walking around with the dog for a few minutes, I force myself to go back in the house.
Once inside, I feel a little better.
I open the windows on the main floor to air out the smell. It works.
I realize that I still haven't taken off my coat, or let the dog off the leash and I laugh at myself because clearly I have lost my mind.
I go to take my coat off and for some reason happen to glance up at the main floor fire alarm.
Big mistake.
The red light the indicates "smoke" on the alarm is flickering. I've never seen it flicker before, except for the one and only time our fire alarm actually went off, when we cooked a chicken.
Fear comes flooding back, this time with a vengence.
I cannot remove my coat. I'm frozen in place. A thousand thoughts are racing through my head, most of them are logical, yet I can't control the physiological reaction.
"There's no smoke."
"Why is the light flashing? I must be missing something."
"It must be carbon monoxide."
"Maybe the neighbours are cooking something?"
"The alarm is not going off, surely flashing can't be a warning?"
I decide that the alarm is clearly picking up some toxin, fire or not, and I turn off my furnace.
Why? No clue. It made sense at the time.
I still have the dog on the leash and my coat on. It's after 8pm.
I leave a message for Crown, then call my best-friend Weirdo.
I want him to come over and I tell him I'm freaking out.
He's sick and can't come.
I get off the phone and sit, coat and all on the edge of the couch for about an hour, staring at the fire alarm and convincing myself to stay inside.
I don't make food. I barely drink the glass of water that I've forced myself to pour.
I'm shaking and my mouth is dry.
Finally, I have had enough and decided to "do something normal."
Laundry. I go upstairs and am folding some laundry and feeling a little better. Nothing like a little cleaning to relax this kid.
Until, that is, I glance up at the second floor fire alarm just in time to see the red light for smoke AND the white light for CO2 flash.
The alarm still does not make a sound.
Game over.
I'm out of the house in like 30 seconds. I take only enough time to open the rest of the windows in the house, grab my wallet, my keys and my cell phone.
Good thing I still had my coat on.
It's just after 9pm. I call Weirdo again. This time I'm outside, freezing, and I'm NOT going back in the house.
I'm in full panic.
I'm close to tears. I don't know what to do. I don't know who else to call.
My mind is blank.
Weirdo tells me he's going to call his sister, she and her husband are fire fighters.
I say okay and hang up. I try Crown again and he answers.
I tell him what's happening and beg him to come home right away.
He tells me to calm down, he's sure everything is fine, and asks me to please go back in the house.
I say I will, but I don't.
I walk around in the cold for another 10 minutes or so. I take the Momes down to the parking garage because it's warmer.
I actually pretend that I have garbage so people won't think I'm weird.
The thing is though? I AM WEIRD.
Finally, after about 25 minutes, I force myself to go back in the house.
It's really, really hard to do.
I take the dog off his leash. Even he knows I'm going crazy by now.
He is seriously looking at me like, "What is up with this bitch?"
I stand at the counter still in my coat and wait for Crown.
Weirdo calls back and is talking to me about what his brother-in-law has said to do.
I can barely listen, I only hear " 911 if you're that worried...ask for a check-call... only one truck will come..."
Crown walks in and asks why all the windows are open. It's freezing in the house.
I hang up with Weirdo and show Crown the flickering lights.
He says the alarms have always done that. It's normal function and is meant to show you that they are working correctly.
I don't believe him.
I still can't stop staring at the alarms. I ask him to find the manual and prove it to me.
He can't find the manual. I look up the company online. Many of my symptoms disappear as soon as Crown gets home. I feel safe for the first time all night.
I confirm what he said online.
They are functioning normally. Unlike, me.
Then I ball my eyes out.

I can honestly say it's one of the most frightening things I've ever been through. Worse even than the time in our old apartment, when our idiot of a downstairs neighbour set a fire in her wood stove "just to see if it worked" and then put it out with WATER and promptly left the house. Of course my entire house filled with smoke and I ended up banging on my landlords door at 11pm, dressed in my PJs a touque and Crown's running shoes.


So why this panic attack? Why now? It's not like there were any really strong triggers. No smoke, no alarm sounded, no nothing. Just sheer, irrational panic. Well, I hate to beat a dead horse, but I blame The Pill.

I told Crown that night that I thought I was extra anxious because of the detox and then today I read Scarb's post, Scrambled Eggs, about her panic attacks and how they began after she quit The Pill and are especially severe during ovulation.

Just guess what I was doing for the first time in 12 years on Wednesday? Go ahead, three guesses and the first two don't count.

Coincidence? I think not.

Insanity? I think so.

The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is on Fire

I’m afraid of fire. And this will be a long-ass post.

I’m not sure when or why it started, although I know that more crippling aspects of my fear started sometime in my late teens. I’ve often thought about what might have triggered this fear and have so far come up with three possibilities.

1. There was the time when my mom, my sister and I were hanging out in the living room together, I recall it as being around Christmas time, but that’s not definite. My mom was starting a fire in the fireplace so we could all snuggle in and enjoy. She had it going nice and strong and smoke was starting to billow into the room. She had opened the flue, but something was blocking it. She tugged and pulled and jiggled the handle, trying to get the flue to open completely. After a few seconds of struggle the handle came free and the flue snapped open. And a pigeon fell through the chimney, into the roaring fire and burnt up in a flash of feathers and agonized shrieks. I’m so not kidding.

2. There was the time when my parents took my sister and I to a fancy hotel to swim in the pool and enjoy the services and just have a fun night away from home. I’m pretty sure we were in the city, we used to stay in hotels a lot because Ron got free rooms while negotiating for the union (OPSEU). We could have been on route to Florida though, I don’t remember. Point is, my parents left my sis and I in bed, in our room on the 16th floor of the hotel and went downstairs to the lobby bar for a drink. I was young, maybe 10 or 11, but we were asleep and I was old enough to stay with Chops, who would have only been around 5. We were sound asleep when the fire alarm went off. It scared the SHIT out of me and I remember having the sense that I was responsible for making the decision to leave the room or stay put. I remember panicking about, “Do we change out of our jammies? Do we just leave in bare feet? Where were my shoes?” We ended up leaving the room, both afraid and crying, and thankfully a wonderful woman in a room down the hall came over to us and held on to us and told us not to cry. That it was just an alarm, but if we needed to leave, she’d go with us. That we were safe with her. I get teary just thinking about how kind she was. My mother ran full speed up 16 flights of stairs that night to get to us and found us in the hallway dressed in our PJs and bare feet, clinging to this extraordinarily kind woman. I think Mom was more distraught than we were.

3. There was the time when I was about 17 or 18 years old. It was crazy hot summer day and I was sitting with my mom and a friend on the front porch enjoying a cold drink and smoking ciggies. Suddenly we noticed that the house across the street, a detached home for lovely family with four young kids, had smoke coming from the back portion of the roof. Seconds later, chaos. The parents were screaming for all the kids to get out, kids were screaming for the family pets to get out. One kid ran back inside the burning house to save his cat. The mom, clearly in shock, brought the dog over to us so we could hold her while their home, quite literally, burnt up. It was extremely traumatic and sad and it turned out that one of the kids had actually set the fire while tossing burning paper airplanes out his bedroom window. I distinctly remember it striking me as extra horrifying that such a stupid, childish act could have such detrimental and dangerous affects.

So, maybe one of those three events triggered my fear. Maybe not. I found something somewhere that says:

Like all fears and phobias, fear of fire is created by the unconscious mind as a protective mechanism. At some point in your past, there was likely an event linking fire or flames and emotional trauma. Whilst the original catalyst may have been a real-life scare of some kind, the condition can also be triggered by myriad, benign events like movies, TV, or perhaps seeing someone else experience trauma.

But so long as the negative association is powerful enough, the unconscious mind thinks: "Ahh, this whole thing is very dangerous. How do I keep myself from getting in this kind of situation again? I know, I'll attach terrible feelings to fire or flames, that way I'll steer clear in future and so be safe." Just like that fear of fire is born. Attaching emotions to situations is one of the primary ways that humans learn. Sometimes we just get the wiring wrong.

The actual phobia manifests itself in different ways. Some sufferers experience it almost all the time, others just in response to direct stimuli. Everyone has their own unique formula for when and how to feel bad.

I don’t think that I have attached “fire of flames” to any other dangerous situation. I think I’m just honestly scared to death of burning the fuck up, of my loved ones burning the fuck up, and of all my stuff burning the fuck up. That would just so suck.

I respond directly to stimuli, that's for sure. Smell of smoke is the strongest trigger. Sight of smoke is another. Fire alarms and sirens are also triggers for me, but slightly milder than the smell of smoke.

I'm okay with flames, oddly enough, as long as they are controlled and where they are meant to be. I can sit next to a fireplace. Campfires I'm not so good with, too wild and unpredicable. I can light candles, although I'm starting to do that less and less lately and I often blow them out minutes after lighting them, "just in case." I'm still getting used to the gas stove in the new house. I don't like the open flame on the burners or in the oven. And, since getting the gas stove, smell of gas has become another trigger.

My reactions to any of the above stimuli are instant and physical. Increased heart rate, sweaty palms, dry mouth, flight instinct (get OUT of the house). One site I found describes it like this (and it's BANG ON):

Symptoms of Fear Of Fire:
breathlessness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full blown anxiety attack.

Which brings me to the real reason for this post. Everything so far has just been providing the background leading up to what I really want to talk about. Feel free to quit now, if you like, but I swear, the next part is pretty good. Because while I've suffered from this fear of fire, arsonphobia, pyrophobia, whatever you want to call it, for a long time, this week I had my first full-blown panic attack.

See the next post, "Panic Song" for the complete low-down.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Live to Tell

Crown swears that the damage "looks a lot worse" than it actually is. Maybe so, but I still almost lost my lunch when I saw these photos. Makes you realize that regardless of the hassle and drama involved in dealing with a crash like this, we really should just shut the hell up and be happy that we're both here to tell the tale.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Go Ask Alice

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all

And the one pill that Alice doesn't tell you about causes infertility and controls your body's hormone production and when you finally decide to go off of it after many, many years, it makes you go insane.

The first "pill" post seemed to strike a nerve with all my lovely female readers (and apparently a guy named Harold, hi Harold!), so I thought I'd provide you all with a quick Q&A update:

Condoms? Purchased.
Fatigue? So, so tired.
Libido? See "fatigue".
Anxiety? Sky high.
Bloating? Worse than ever.
Bad Hair Days? Continue.
Mood swings? Slightly improved, but did I mention the anxiety?
Crying? Totally stopped. I'm dead inside.
Weight loss? Afraid not.
Weight gain? Afraid so.
Acne? Not bad yet, but my hopes are not high.
Body image? Does "I'm a giant smelly buffalo" about clear it up for you?
Pregnant? NO WAY.

So, am still "detoxing" apparently. Granted, it's only been a week. I'm praying that things will improve soon and I'll keep you posted for sure. I also think that this may have been a bad month to try and clean up the ol' system. Too many things going down, changes and stresses are not helping my situation any.

For instance, our car is still fucked and sitting all battered and bruised at the body shop, waiting on insurance adjusters and the fucker who hit Crown to sort out liability issues. We're also closing on our house at the end of the month. A stressful and expensive step in the wonderful world of condo ownership.

Finally, I've just been promoted at The Job. This should be a positive thing, and it is; however, it's still "change" and I don't deal well with change of any sort, positive or negative. The added responsibility, new colleagues, new boss, etc. are all adding up to a whole heap of uncertainty and apprehension. I don't think my recent cold turkey adventure into the world of the fertile is helping me much.

I'd love to tell you all more about The Job and the promotion, but as the wise and well-schooled Dooce would say, "WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT OUR JOBS ON THE INTERNET."

There you have it. Week one. I'm fat and uncomfortable, but I'm surviving. It's kind of wild to realize how much those tiny little pills affected me and I'm sure that the fun is just beginning.

Special shout out to Bendy and Guru. It was so nice to hang with you girls last night and have the chance to really talk about women stuff. I love my boys, don't get me wrong, but there's nothing quite like a night with your girl-friends to keep matters in perspective and to realize that you're so not alone in your insecurities, worries, wishes and dreams.

Sappiness? Extreme.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My Humps, My Humps, My Lovely Lady Lumps


My lovely friend and colleague, from over at Baa Art (Artsy), took me on a field trip this week to this place on the Danforth where a special woman, who we'll refer to here as "The Boob Guru" (TBG), runs a store that I can only describe as Boob Mecca. Bras for freakin' days, people! Most of said bras are a little too, um, fancy pants for my simple taste in boob fashion, but I digress... the point to be taken from this story is, she's a Boob Guru, cool?

So Artsy had recently made a pilgrimage to Boob Mecca and ordered a fancy pants bra and had to go and pick it up, invited me along and it's Boob Mecca so how can I resist? She filled me in on TBG's talents on route and I simply had to have her take a look at my lovely lady lumps and grace me with her wisdom. Obviously TBG's combo of special skills is something along the lines of "fit and sell." She's quite amazing to behold.

To get to the point, before long I find myself half naked in a cozy corner change room with TBG, she's turning me front and back and sizing me up, literally, and then she dashes out for a moment and dashes back in with a couple of fancy pants bras. I can barely contain myself as I take them in my hands and ask, "What size?!"

She's half way out of the room when she turns back to me, smiles and says, "34C."

34C?! 34C?! 34C. Hm.

I look down at The Girls and I'm like, "I feel like I don't even know you anymore."

I've been wearing a consistent, and apparently bad-fitting, 36B for a few years, before that I might have been into the odd 32 or 34, but always B. Always B! And suddenly, with a wink and grin from TBG, I'm a C? Seriously, dropping a bomb like that can really change shit up.

My humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps are a full cup size bigger than they were just a few short days ago. Imagine the possibilities!

People, listen to Oprah, go find yourself a Boob Guru. The Girls deserve it.