I have made a huge mistake

Today I went to take a Pepsi from my mum’s fridge and was instead completely duped by a can of Compliment’s brand club soda.

I’ll tell you – nothing messes with your mind more than expecting a VERY distinct cola flavour, and you are instead gifted with vaguely salty-tasting carbonated water.

It’s amazing that I didn’t keel over with shock.

But how was I to know?

Take a look at these cans from behind – they are practically mirror images.

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It’s not until you turn them around (or in my unfortunate case, open one up) that you can clearly see that they are two different products.

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As we were laughing about my mistake – and I was thanking my mum for taking one for the team and drinking the club soda – I got to thinking about some of the other times in my life where I have either witnessed someone drinking something they were not expecting, or experienced a jarring episode myself.

For instance, the first year of Marc’s and my courtship I was drinking vanilla steamed milks on the regular.

(I was about ninety years old.)

Because of this, Marc just began to assume that anytime I purchased a drink it would be some iteration of this hot beverage.

One morning, after a raucous night of cheap booze and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, we dragged our bedraggled bums out of his apartment and shuffled our way to the (now long gone) Bread Garden down on Broadway and Ash.

Since it was early April and the weather had recently shifted from winter’s cold perma-drizzle to the soft, cherry-scented winds of spring, I decided to change things up.

Instead of my usual, I ordered a lemon smoothie.

As we were taking our seats outside on the patio, I asked Marc if he wanted a sip.

He said yes.

And even though I passed him a cold cup with a straw, the dude still expecting the warm, sweet, liquid of a vanilla steamer.

Honestly, I thought he was going to die of a massive coronary right then and there.

He coughed and hacked, trying to both keep in the smoothie and spit it out across the table.

His faced reddened; his eyeballs bulged.

After a good pounding on the back, he turned to me and said, “Holy crap, that’s the shittiest vanilla steamed milk I’ve ever tasted.”

We both laughed so hard I thought we were going to topple over in our chairs.

The other great memory I have of acquiring the wrong drink is a doozy from when I was fourteen years old.

I was participating in a theatre camp down at Granville Island with about five or six other high school students. We were all between fourteen and seventeen, and we are all actors.

(This makes me laugh just typing out these words.)

One day after class, one of the guys asked me if I wanted to get a coffee with him.

Nearly toppling over in shock that a boy would ask me to do something as grownup as purchase and drink caffeine with him, I excitedly accepted.

We walked over to the market’s JJBean, yammering on about the different plays that we had done, and what we liked most about the class, and what we wanted to be when we grew up (ie. very famous and very serious thespians.)

When we got to the café, Aiden ordered a large coffee, and I, deciding that it was time to either go big or go home, ordered a double espresso.

A double espresso!

Other than a sip of regular brewed light roast when I was eleven and opening my first bank account, I had never drank any kind of coffee, espresso or otherwise.

To this day I can only handle lattes, and only because they are mostly milk and I am ridiculously liberal with the sugar.

“Wow!” remarked Aiden. “I thought espresso was a dessert drink.”

“Nah,” I responded. “I drink them all of the time.”

His eyebrows jumped to the top of his forehead, a mixture of both disbelief and incredulity.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know what a double espresso was, so when the barista placed a cup of coffee on the counter, I reached out to grab it.

“Umm, you ordered a double espresso?” Asked Aiden.

“Oh yeah!” I laughed, nervous as hell. “I forget.”

His eyebrows now reflected the type of confusion that only teenage boys can convey so well.

“Double espresso!” shouted the barista.

“There it is,” I said, eager to try and get Aiden back.

My success – if there was any to be had – was completely short lived because the moment I took a sip of that java I thought I was going to die.

That double espresso was literally (LITERALLY) the most disgusting, overwhelming, and completely horrifying drink I had ever encountered in my fourteen years of life.

Trying so hard to keep up my mask of maturity, I just shot the entire drink.

One gulp.

Bam.

Aiden just stood and watched, bewildered.

“You don’t like to, you know, sip it?” he asked.

“Nnnn – ope!” I sputtered. “I like t-to drink it fff – ast.”

I could feel my heart pounding like crazy and my eyes watering.

“Riiiiiiight,” said Aiden. “Soooooo, see you next week?”

We never got coffee ever again.

But honestly, I can’t really say who was more relieved.

What about you guys? Have you ever done anything like this?

In the meantime, I’m going to go searching for another blue can.

And hope against hope that this time, it’s the right one.

Life. Period.

I recently wrote about the time I spent completing Camp Potlach’s “Leadership in Training” course.

Here is a short, seemingly unbelievable, (but one hundred per cent true) anecdote from my time spent as a camper.

You’ve been warned.

During the summer of 2001, myself and five other teenagers – along with our two counsellors – camped, kayaked, canoed, and hiked our way around BC’s beautiful Howe Sound.

While our group had a base location about a twenty-minute hike away from the camp’s regular cabins and common rooms, this space was rarely used, and we spent the majority of our three weeks together sleeping under the stars on the many different islands and inlets populating this stretch of provincial land.

It was a magical time, truly.

The weather has hot, but not blindingly so; our skin cooled by an ever-present breeze and the long reaching shadows of sky-high Douglas firs and willowy evergreens.

In the mornings we would hike, or complete long (and sometimes treacherous) channel crossings. In the afternoons we would swim, or write in our journals, and in the evenings we’d each take turns practicing our fire-starting skills, while others would perfect their bear-hangs.

One morning, about two-thirds of the time into our course, I started my period.

I approached my counsellor Jane and asked her if she had a tampon that I could use. Although sympathetic to my situation, she informed me that I would have to do without, seeing as though one of the central tenants of our program was to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

We were to produce minimal waste.

Smiling a smile that clearly articulated, “I’m feeling for ya girl”, Jane handed me the next best thing: one of her unused bandanas.

“For inside your shorts,” she explained.

“Oh.” I said. “Thank you.”

So for the next two days I ran about with a balled-up piece of cloth in my underwear – washing, rinsing and drying it during my afternoon dips in the Pacific Ocean.

It was the most ‘White Fang’ I’ve ever felt in my life.

The morning of the third day, we awoke at the crack of dawn in order to pick blackberries before setting off on a three hour channel crossing.

We had been eating plain instant oatmeal every morning for almost two weeks, and as such, we were eager to add anything adventurous flavour-wise to the mix, in order slow what was our rapidly deteriorating interest in this staple.

As I hastily ran off into the bushes to pee one last time before we shipped off, I noticed that I had a huge stain on the back of my shorts. However, being susceptible as we were to tide charts, and cruise ship courses, time was of the essence, and I didn’t have time to change.

If you remember from my earlier post, my canoe partner was named Christian – a Denis Leary loving, would-be paramour (in his dreams only!), who would sing me “German” opera in the morning (think Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda), pick me “wildflowers” (weeds) and regale me with an endless litany of racist, sexist, and all-around offensive jokes.

The minute I sit down in the canoe Christian noticed my spotted shorts.

Immediately he began to make fun of me, despite the fact that he’d majorly missed the point.  You see – he thought that the red stain on my clothing was, if you can believe it, blackberry juice.

His highly original, and completely obtuse commentary included gems such as:

“Jeeze Vanessa, it looks like you took a handful of blackberries and smeared them all over your ass!” and “Oh man! What did you do?  Sit in the bush for fun?”

Cue more of the same derivative, inane one-liners for three whole hours!

At one point I even turned around and told him, as icily, and as calmly as I could: “Okay, thanks Christian.  I’ll be sure to wash my shorts as soon as I can. That way, you’ll be able to go back to living your life.”

Unfortunately, this did nothing but encourage him.

Finally, we arrived at our destination.

An absolutely beautiful little moss-dotted inlet, home to the most beautiful collection of driftwood I have ever seen, and a number of different heron nests.

We all got out of our boats and either began tying them together or unpacking for lunch.

We’d planned on eating and then hiking up to a river where we would all go swimming.

I thought about how I’d be able to soak my shorts once we got there.

It was just as these thoughts were entering my mind, and as I was getting all of my gear together, that I noticed out of the corner of my eye, Christian walking over to my canoe seat.

And it was at this point, that everything seemed to start taking place in slow motion.

I turned and watched as Christian bent down and wiped his index finger along my seat.

He then brought his finger to his mouth, paused – and then he licked it.

LICKED IT.

I swore I felt the earth both rumble and sink between my feet. I don’t know if I was going to faint, or turn to stone, or explode from a tsunami of laughter.

What he said next, I will never forget.

Christian said: “Shit. That tastes like blood.”

It was at this point that I completely lost my mind.

The tsunami won out.

I started laughing, and laughing, and laughing and I could not stop.

No one in the group could figure out what was wrong with me.

Paralyzed by what I could only imagine to be the most epically insane thing ever to have been witnessed by a human being in the history of human beings, I couldn’t even eat my lunch.

My giggles came so fast, so furious.

Unfortunately, I started laughing even harder because in Christian’s completely clueless mind, he thought the blood he ate off of the seat came from a cut from a fellow camper’s finger – the one she had gotten while tying up her boat.

He actually sat down next to me and asked me: “Shit man.  Do you think Amanda has anything wrong with her blood?  Do you think it’s okay that I just ate it?”

This just made me howl even the more.

Now, the whole scenario should have just ended there, but it didn’t.  During the post-lunch hike, Christian just wouldn’t leave well enough along and instead of badgering me about my shorts, he now wanted to know why I was laughing.

“What are you laughing about Vanessa?” and “WHAT’S SO FUNNY VANESSA?”

He repeated these questions, until finally I reached my breaking point.

I turned around and faced him, and yelled, in front of the entire group:

“OKAY CHRISTIAN!  OKAY.  I have my period!  I have my period and I perioded all over my canoe seat!  My period was on my seat and you ate it! YOU ATE MY PERIOD CHRISTIAN!  IT WAS ON MY SEAT – AND YOU ATE IT!”

All I can say was that the look on his face was absolutely priceless.

Abject horror mixed with confusion, anger and amazement.  He then immediately took out his water bottle and rinsed out his mouth – as if my menstrual blood was somehow still in there – before just taking off, like a shot.

Up the trail to the river, never to be seen again.  (Just kidding of course – it was Christian after all.  He was back after about thirty minutes.)

And I just kept laughing for the entire day.

At one point Amanda came up to me as asked me, incredulously, “Aren’t you at all embarrassed?”

To which I responded, “What? No! Why? I didn’t eat period off of a dirty canoe seat.”

And I definitely never, ever, ever will.

Roll the clip

Alright folks, let’s get a few things straight.

Today is September 20, 2014.

We are approximately three days away from the beginning of the Autumnal season.

I am twenty-nine years of age.

You are whatever age you currently are.

This is where I am sitting:

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Everything is both beautiful and terrible. Everything is both unadulterated brilliance and unmitigated bonkerness.

Everything just is.

Sometimes, whenever I start to get really down by all of the fuckery that seems to dominate our world’s discourse (not to mention actions!), I just really try and focus on all the amazing, beautiful, and breathtaking things and events of which I am privileged enough to both behold and partake.

And sometimes, I just think about the quiet world of my early morning, pre-work runs.

When the sky is a mottled blend of purples, pinks, greens, and blues.

When the sky is the most beautiful bruise.

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I run down along the boardwalk with my heart in my throat, and my tears in my eyes. My legs feel as though they are six miles long, and my arms pump, just like my blood pumps, and everything feels right and strong.

And I know that I am flying.

Sometimes I feel silly and trite writing again and again what it feels like to run. How propelling myself forward as hard and as fast as I possibly can brings on such infinite joy.

But I can’t.

Just like running itself, I cannot stop.

I cannot swallow these words.

They are a compulsion.

They are a joy

Work has been a little batty of late (50+ hour weeks), spent zipping about like zipping things (zippers!!).

However, seeing as though my fellow colleagues are gentlewomen and squires of the highest order, I cannot bring myself to complain.

The fact that I am passionate beyond a thought about my job and the work that I do is, of course, another boon.

However, this is not to say that we can’t have a great laugh at our own expense, especially in the lead-up to a very large event, of which we have been working on since March.

March!

Case in point:

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I, like we all, have the capacity to be a grumpy cat.

Hence, I am actually grumpy cat.

Remember movies?

I do, but barely.

And this leaves me feeling a little melancholy.

Because movies used to mean so much. They used to mean so much to me.

I recall the first movie that I ever saw in a theatre.

Beauty and the Beast was everything a movie should be (in my very discerning six year old mind). It was funny and scary. There was a beautiful, brilliant, strong female lead who loved to read and who wouldn’t take crap from all the ridiculous idiots who populated her “provincial town.” She, rightly, loathed Gaston, and held her own when it came to The Beast’s infantile temper tantrums.

In truth, it’s probably the only Disney princess flick I’ll ever be okay showing my future kidlets (but that’s another post for another time.)

I am fairly certain it was my nanny Suzanne who took me to the movie, and it was her gift to me on my sixth birthday. We went to the old (and now sadly demolished) Capital Six, back when Granville Street was in its full grunge-tastic glory.

Memories!

The first “grown-up” movie I ever watched in theatres was when Shona Langmuir, Patricia Beckerman (aka “The Girls”), and I went and saw The First Wives Club when we were in grade five.

Note: please let me emphasize the term “theatres” in the above sentence. My family were rather lax when it came to flicks seen by us kids, and we were viewing adult movies at a very, very early age. I remember watching the Fugitive on Easter Monday in grade two.

Nothing like collecting a bunch of chocolate eggs and then sitting down as a family to watch Harrison Ford clear his name!

Good grief.

But I digress. Holy damn did I ever dig The First Wives Club. Sure I didn’t get a lot of the jokes, and the scene where Brenda eats dinner by herself absolutely destroyed me. But it didn’t matter. It was three women who loved each other, out in the world, kicking ass and taking names.

Too this day I re-watch it at least once a year.

You don’t own me!

Looking at both this film and Beauty and the Beast would you say that there seems to be a pattern emerging as to the type of movie that really resonated with my younger self?

Oh to be that wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, newly emerging feminist!

There are so many more movies that, collectively, with the thousands of books, songs, and other miscellaneous artistic detritus that I’ve encountered and loved along the way, have helped inform who I am as a young woman today.

For instance: I LOVE Forrest Gump.

Next time you see me, ask me to quote the entire movie. I will do this for you.

I also love Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and A Fish Called Wanda, and I will always adore Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

I saw Amelie in grade eleven with my first boyfriend and spent the entire summer pretending to be her.

I adore Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy. My favourite of the three films being the darkest and most brilliant black comedy of all time, “Blanc.”

I will go to my death extolling the cinematic virtues of The Big Lebowski. For me, nothing will ever be funnier than this brilliant pieces of the Coen Brothers subconscious. I quote it all of the time and there are total parts of my and Marc’s vernacular made up solely by movie lines. I can also never look at a bowling alley the same way again.

It’s weird.

I love dramatic films as much as I do comedy, however I just am never one to really revisit these masterpieces, and as such they don’t influence my life to the degree as my favourite comedies.

And it’s not as though these two genres cannot exist simultaneously. In no uncertain terms are they are not mutually exclusive concepts.

It just takes one hell of a filmmaker to pull this off.

(Like the Coen Brothers.)

But isn’t movie watching also so much about the experience? The memory of that time spent in the theater? Where you were? Who you were with? Where you were in your life?

Probably one of my most cherished movie related memories is from the first few months of Marc’s and my courtship. Only four months into what is now an eleven year love affair, the two of us went to see Love Actually on a dark, went and very cold Vancouver November afternoon.

I had spent the night at his place and, because I was in my weird “only skirts, no pants” phase, I was wearing a pair of his cords because I didn’t have a clean pair of tights. They were absolutely huge, and I looked a bit of a sight. We had spent the morning at a community theatre on the Westside where I auditioned for a part in an upcoming play (spoiler: I didn’t get the part!), and then had bussed downtown. Arriving at the theatre (also the Capital Six!), we ran up the escalator so we wouldn’t be late for the previews.

I so wish I could properly communicate how much I felt watching that movie, sitting next to the man (the boy!) for whom I felt so, so, so strongly.

My body completely electric as I held his hand, I laughed at Bill Nighy’s amazing portrayal of Billy Mac and felt my heart break and break and break for Emma Thompson.

I just loved it.

I hate that I am even typing this, but for me, at that moment in my life, love truly was all around.

(I’m sorry!)

But it’s true.

And that’s why movies matter.

And why, despite the fact that I never go to the theatre anymore, and I only use my Netflix to watch old episodes of QI and MI5, I’ll never let them go.

I couldn’t even if I tried.

No post on Sundays!!

On this Oscar Sunday, to celebrate all things cinematic, I made this:

Presentation1It’s not over!

IT’S NEVER GONNA BE OVER!

(Man I never even watched this movie, yet this exchange has been making Marc and I laugh like loons for years! At the time of its release, he was working as a projectionist at one of our local theatres and according to him, he’s seen the film as many times as Ryan Gosling, “wrote those goddamn letters.”)

I DIE.

Happy Sunday all!

Looking back, but moving forward

Holy smokes.

In three days’ time it will be 2014.

How did that happen?

All’s I got to say is: WHERE ARE THE FLYING CARS YO.

(Am I right, or what?)

If my life isn’t like an episode of The Jetsons in the next year or two, I am going to be very, very disappointed.

Also I cannot really believe that it’s been fourteen years since we rang in the millennium and everyone ripped their heads clean of hair, worrying about whether or not they had enough canned food and water to outlast the Y2K apocalypse.

(Remember the insane fear mongering that just ran rampant on every news channel leading up to the ball drop that year? PLANES WERE GOING TO JUST BE FALLING OUT OF THE SKY AND ALL THE COMPUTERS WERE GOING TO BLOW UP BECAUSE NO ONE KNEW WHERE TO PUT THE EXTRA ZERO!)

Good grief.

Actually, I remember that New Years as if it was just yesterday.

What I wore: a delicate, pink slip of a dress, that cinched at my waist and fell just below my knees.

Who I celebrated with: My then best-friend Mira who was – and still is – an amazing violinist, my little sister, and her best friend Emily.

Where we were: The Hard Rock Café Vancouver’s all ages party. (We were fourteen and twelve years old, respectively.)

What we did: Ate dinner, drank fake-champagne, and danced will all the other kiddos who were too grown-up (in their minds) to spend another December 31st with their parents, but too young to actually party like those grown-ups with whom they refused to, well, party.

Mira and I bussed back to her parent’s house around 1am, and as we crammed in with many other revelers I remember thinking “THIS is what it feels like to be an adult!”

And heck, if taking public transit with a bunch of intoxicated weirdos a grown-up makes, that I definitely have achieved this title ten-fold over the years.

Achieved this in SPADES.

As we teeter on the cusp of 2014, let’s look back on the year that was blogger-style:

2013 – An Overview

In January Marc and I flew back from Halifax after spending nine days there over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

I wrote about a light hearted piece about my weird relationship with body hair and it became one of my most popular and stumbled upon blog posts.

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In February I performed at the Vancouver Comedy Festival, turned twenty-eight, and that mad man to whom I have pledged my troth and I entered the Amazing Race.

Come March, we ran away for a weekend and I wrote about learning how to drive.

In April this happened, and I won $500 in a comedy competition. Writing about Ray Bradbury saw my second foray into the world of Freshly Pressed, which was super awesome and totally unexpected. I came seventh in the Sunshine Coast Half-Marathon and talked about all the ways in which I have grown-up on the outside, but not on the inside.

May meant talking about all of the things that scare me (irrational and not) and writing some fiction about my days as a love-struck eighteen year old. We also covered politics, and all of the things I like to do by myself.

In June I quit my old job, and procured a new one (alias Dream Job). I ran the Scotiabank half-marathon and raised $1,135 for Big Sisters, celebrated five years of marriage to my one true love, and flew away to New York for my big sister’s wedding.

In July I talked about the importance of taking risks and wearing less make-up. Marc and I hike A LOT.

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August came and went in the blink of an eye. I hardly had time to write a blog post or three what with the two weddings I was in (bridesmaid x2 and MC x2), the other weddings I attended, the insanity of a new job, and doing all of the comedy (upwards of five shows per week!)

It was enough just trying to keep my head on straight.

In September I tried to get back in the grove of things, writing about great friends, and the importance of Terry Fox (as a Canadian, runner, and just, well, human being.)

October = BEST HALOWEEN OF LIFE.

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We also visited the place we got married one last time before the gardens closed forever.

Oh, and I made this.

In November I fell in love with Helen Mirren and kick some butt in the Fall Classic 10k. I also aired my beefs with Love Actually.

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December has brought so many things I haven’t even had the chance to write about, but I think this sums it up pretty darn well.

And to top it off, two photos that never stop making me smile and laugh:

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A million thank yous for sticking with me friends.

I so very much look forward to another year of blogging – you inspire me, make me laugh, and leave the best comments a gal could ask for.

Happiest of New Year’s to you all!