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.


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.

No post on Sundays!!

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

Presentation1It’s not 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.”)


Happy Sunday all!

Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.

Five things that are making me laugh.

1. In Act V, scene i of Much Ado About Nothing (my spirit animal in play form), Benedick calls Claudio “Lord Lackbeard” when confronting him on his wrongful scorning of Hero.

Now, I’ve always thought this to be a terrific insult, and I laugh at it every time I either read it on the page, or hear it used live.

This past weekend, I made a joke about the fact that I’ve pretty much run my breasts into non-existence. Building off of this love, Marc didn’t miss one beat, and immediately called me his “Lord Lackboob.”



I’ll be laughing about that for YEARS.

2. This Lonely Island song.

Angela Merkel is a lyric.


I can always do with more Merkel in my life.

3. I was speaking with my mum on the phone yesterday and she told me how she was helping out at my sister’s store when she went to the washroom to use some of my sister’s hairspray.

(My sister practically lives at her shop, so she keeps an assorted array of housekeeping materials in her bathroom – toiletries, changes of clothes, shoes – it’s a veritable treasure trove of her stuff.)

Anyway, my mum nearly gave me a laugh-induced stroke on the skytrain when she followed-up with, “only what I thought to be hairspray turned out to be industrial grade oven cleaner!”

And people wonder why I am the way that I am.

4. This photo of my sister and I from Christmas this year.



It’s really amazing Ford Models isn’t blowing up my phone trying to sign me.

5. Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars.

This lady is one heck of a great writer, and funny to boot. Ever wondered how hard it is to use a toilet in zero gravity?


Me neither.

(But you’ll definitely not want to miss her chapter on just how hard it can be. I mean – they actually have to practice, on earth, with cameras, before launching themselves into orbit!)

I mean, who knew that there would be such a science, to well, this part of science?

So that’s all she wrote my darlings.

I’ll just be here in my little corner of the interwebs, silently shedding these tears of happiness.

And I’ll probably be here for a while.

Going to the chapel, and we’re, going to get married

I’m not the best with surprises.

Almost six years ago to this day, on a deserted beach on Oahu’s north shore, my now husband Marc asked me to marry him.

Believe me when I say that I didn’t have the faintest clue that he was going to propose.

I mean, we had been together for four years, so it was inevitable that the topic would come up in conversation from time to time, and I knew that there was no one else in the world that I wanted to be with – I was just never one to think about it.

Growing up, I never day dreamed about weddings, sketched dresses, or play acted happily ever after.

I just hoped to heck that one day I would actually have a boyfriend, and all that practice kissing the back of my hand in the shower would amount to something.

So when this beautiful, kind, brilliant man, kneeled in front of me, and told me “I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” I briefly stood there shocked.

My mouth opening and closing like that of a stunned trout.

And then I burst into tears.


I cried so hard and for so long that Marc actually had to ask me (quite nervously at that) if my tears were a good or bad thing.

“Good…thing…” I managed to croak, before the next wave of sobs took over.

It was a very good surprise.

Marc began to laugh, and eventually I did too (although it was through my tears), and then he took my hand and placed a ring on my finger.

My engagement band has three stones – one larger, framed by two smaller ones. He explained that he choose this ring because the two stones on the outside are meant to signify us, and the middle stone is our life that we will build together.


You can imagine how quickly my tears dried up after hearing that. I’m pretty sure that I severely dehydrated myself standing there on the beach that night.

But it was magical.

The sun slowly setting, melting into the rich greens and blues of the sea; giant turtles watching us as they sunned themselves in the warmth of the white sand.


I told him that I would love him until the end of the world.

When we arrived back at the house where we were staying, we surprised all of our friends by revealing the good news.

Then we phoned family back in Canada, before doing the thing that every good 21st century couple does – updating our profiles on facebook.

Arriving back in Canada, I remember Marc turning to me and saying, “So when shall we do this thing?”

I was still in such shock over the actual engagement, I hadn’t yet wrapped by head around the fact that that the end result of this whole thing would be, well, an actual wedding.

But as the days ticked by, I eventually came to grips – happy grips of course – with the idea that with engagement eventually comes a marriage, and I threw myself whole hog (for lack of a better expression) into the planning of our wedding.

We agreed that we didn’t want too long of an engagement so after a somewhat surprisingly stressful consultation period with both of our families, we locked down June 28th, 2008 as the day we would official tie the knot.

We would have the ceremony and reception at Minter Gardens, just outside of Harrison Hot Springs.

As a certified type A personality, who likes things to be just so, I found that once I engaged myself in planning mode – no pun intended – it was terrifically hard to think of anything else.

Everywhere I went, I was thinking about food, and invitations, about bouquets and buffets. I became slightly obsessed with getting the absolute nicest possible things, for the fairest price possible.

I remember standing in Ikea in front of an entire shelfing unit of glass bowls, agonizing over whether or not they were too expensive for our center pieces. I then did the exact same thing at Superstore, before driving back to Ikea, and then back to Superstore, where I eventually purchased the bowls.

But more importantly, I wanted our wedding to be an absolutely joyous, fun, and exciting day – for not only Marc and I, but for everyone involved.

I wanted all of our guests to feel like those sea turtles on that beach in Hawaii – witnessing, but also taking part in something wonderful, kind, and magical. (And most likely watching me cry my eyes out the entire time.)

By the time the big day rolled around, I had planned every little thing, down to the minutest of details.

Everything was under control. Everything was going to be perfect. There were going to be no surprises.

The day before, Marc drove out to Langley, where he would stay over with his best friend Matt, while I drove out to Harrison that afternoon, with my my two sisters, long-time best friend, my sister’s partner, and my mother.

In our hotel suite, we ate sushi and drank diet coke. My sisters gave themselves pedicures in the bathroom, and I practiced putting in my contact lenses.

The Perfect Wedding 137

That night I slept, but the butterflies in my stomach and the persistent buzz of a malfunctioning air conditioner ensured that I slept little.

The morning of the wedding broke absolutely beautiful. It was to be a hot, sundrenched day, perfect for a garden ceremony and dinner.

The first person to arrive was our photographer, my soon to be sister in-law Vanessa.

“Getting here was crazy!” She exclaimed. “There’s this crazy burnt-out semi-truck taking up space on the number 1! Traffic was moving so slow, I didn’t think I was going to make it on time!”

A burnt out semi-truck?

I immediately phoned the woman who was coming to do my hair and makeup. My sisters twittered in the background, telling me that I had nothing to worry about.

“Don’t worry Vanessa,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “We’re on our way. We’ll be a little late, but we’re almost there.”

For some reason I truly believed that as long as my hair and make-up got done, everything was going to be okay.

Official Wedding 030

And everything was okay, until around twelve o’clock, when I began to get more phone calls.

First, from my friend Jake, who was supposed to be one of our ushers.

“Yeah…I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the highway is completely backed up. We’re stuck just outside of Langley and we haven’t moved in a long while so…”

I told him not to worry. Guests would be able to find a way to get to their seats. I just hoped that he would be one of those people sitting in a seat.

He told me he hoped that too.

Next, Kristy, my bridesmaid’s parents phoned. Same message.

Then Marc’s sister and brother in-law.

“I don’t know what’s happening but…”

Phone call after phone call. From friends, relatives.

My father.

I still get a sharp pang of guilt when I remember that phone call because a tiny voice inside my head immediately shouted out: “BUT HE’S THE ONE WHO HAS OUR CAKE!”

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We tried to push back the ceremony as far as we could, but in the end we had to start. Our justice of the peace had another wedding, and there was another ceremony happening after ours.

Out of 140 guests, we were missing 40.

This was not in the original plan. This was a HUGE surprise to me.

As I walked through the gardens, up to our beautiful ceremony site, I tried to hold back my tears.

Was this actually going to happen? We were actually going to let this happen?

As we convened at the start of the pathway that would lead us to our ceremony site, and right as a fresh wave of tears was about to crash over me, my older sister Kate took my hand, looked straight in my eyes and said: “How much do you love Marc?”

“With…with all of my heart,” I answered.

“Then that is all you need to know” she said. “Today will be perfect.”


Right at that moment, the bagpiper began to play, and she and Marc’s groomsmen locked arms and began to walk together. I watched as the next pairing did the same, and then the next.

And then it was time for me. Little old me, walking as I had actually mean to walk, alone, approaching the man I was meant to marry.

After making it to the front of the aisle, I caught out of the corner of my eye, our bagpiper absolutely hoofing it out of the gardens, eager as he was to make it to his next gig. I’ve never seen a man move so fast in a kilt.

Which made me laugh, albeit through my tears. Just like on that beach in Hawaii.


In the end, we redid our vows at the beginning of our reception for all of those who couldn’t make it to the ceremony. And the most amazing thing was, no one complained, or remained sad about missing out on the start of the day.

The only thing anyone said to us was how much they loved the day, how much they loved us, and how much fun they had celebrating our marriage with us.

Which in the end, was the best surprise I could hope for.

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Keeping them in stitches

Big news sports fans!

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I have been invited to perform a set at the upcoming Vancouver ComedyFest!

Oh. My. Goodness.

You might have guessed that I am more than a little excited.

But what else can I say? It’s only been two months since I started this journey to Stand-Upsville, USA (Stand-Upsville, Canada just doesn’t have the same ring to it) but every step has been simply tip top, candy shop.

To be completely blunt – getting up on that stage and telling jokes is pretty much the greatest adrenaline rush that I’ve ever known.

It’s interesting: I’ve written at length about the runners high that I’ve experienced, both on training runs and during races, but this sensation is something completely different.

Right before I go up on stage I get so cold that I can hardly stop myself from shaking like a mad shaking thing (imagine me as a Polaroid picture, if you will.)

My teeth chatter, my knees lock – I sometimes even lose partial circulation in a few of my fingers. Seriously, I never know if i’m going to turn to stone, or just pass out.

But after telling that first joke, and getting that first laugh, I might as well be flying ten thousand feet above the city, whizzing past cloudscapes, dodging meteor showers and shooting stars.

I go from living in a block of ice to feeling like every fiber of my being has been set alight, set on fire.

Simply put: it feels good. It feels like it fits.

Now, please don’t take this as me saying that I am some kind of professional or unstoppable hot shot. I full-on recognize that I am greener than the Jolly Green Giant’s left thumb and still have much to learn.

I’m just so happy that I finally got up the courage to take the plunge.

I mean, since my days as an absolutely barmy little girl I have always loved to make people laugh.

Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in a room – yammering on like a monkey in a tree – playing comedian for a group of adults and absolutely relishing in the attention.

I learned quickly that if I was smart and deft enough, I could get away with saying terrifically mad things, just as long as the end result was a solid guffaw (or guffaws.)

I might not have been born a drama queen, but I developed the sensibility at a very early age.

As a dreadfully self-conscious teenager, the only way I was going to get through my awkward high school years was to constantly crack jokes and make people laugh.

And now, my delightfully hilarious husband and I are in a constant battle of one-upmanship to see who can give the other person a laugh-induced hernia first.

Sometimes when I am working on bits, M and I jam on the joke together and I am literally left breathless (but also thinking HOLY SMOKES WE ARE DEFINITELY THE WEIRDEST COUPLE IN THE HISTORY OF COUPLES.)

I can only hope that my brand of humour has the same effect on the audiences for whom I perform (the breathless thing that is.) I really do try and present a show that is both funny, smart, and thought provoking. Seriously, for me, I like nothing more than a joke that makes me think, and makes me continue to think.

And this will never stop being my goal every time I set foot in front of a crowd, in front of a microphone.

Well, that and keeping my knees from knocking together too hard.

Because goodness knows, I bruise so very easily.