Eyes firmly on the prize

Here’s a weird thing that I did once.

Last November I got eyelash extensions.

The impetus behind this decision?

“The Holiday Season.”

And just to try something different.

The process of getting them done was more bizarre than anything else. Beyond being uncomfortable, it was also weirdly vulnerable. Lying on a bed in some woman’s 400 square foot bachelor apartment, as she slowly separated each of my eyelashes and glued monstrously fake lashes to their roots, I was acutely aware of how little room for error there could be in this procedure, what with her disproportionately sized tweezers so close to my eyeballs.

I was sure that one rogue sneeze would see them forever lodged into the base of my optic nerve.

Halfway through I remember thinking, “THIS ISN’T WORTH IT.” This reaction is, of course, my modus operandi when it comes to all aesthetic services. At some point I always find myself wishing I hadn’t committed to whatever hair I am having removed, or roots I am having having dyed, and had instead bought a big muffin and went for a walk in the sun.

But getting back to eyelashes – as I studied myself in a small hand mirror (passed to me after the glue had hardened on the last lash) I marveled at how many of my natural lashes it seemed I had lost in the process. Eyelash extentionists (and their proponents) claim that eyelash loss during the procedure is a myth, because all they are doing is attaching a longer lash to the ones you already have. However, I am suspiciously sure that I had way more eyelashes walking into that apartment, than I did walking out.

Of course, this didn’t matter in the slightest, because what I did have in their absence were synthetic masterpieces so utterly grand that they not only took over half of my face but gave me powers of flight every time I made the mistake of blinking too hard.

Once I got used to the heaviness of the lashes during my normal day to day, and the utter wretchedness of not being able to scrub my face in the shower, I really did start to enjoy them. Of particular note were the reactions they solicited from both friends and the general populace. People seemed to think they were pretty neat.

Because the lashes were so big, I wore my glasses almost exclusively, under the belief that my large black rims would tone down some of their impact. Whether this was the case, I have no conclusive evidence either way.


In the end, the biggest problem with my lashes was how long it took my normal set to grow back once they all fell out. The extentionist had guaranteed that as I shed my prosthetics, my regular lashes would grow in at their normal rate, and the transition back from fake to real would be seamless and unnoticeable.

This was a big old lie. For weeks I was terrified that my vanity-driven decision to try out absurdly giant eyelashes had resulted in permanent, spiky, stumps, where once my lovely, natural lashes had flourished.

I even bought some stupid tube over the internet that advertised itself as an “all-natural, pharmacist approved growth serum“. A small part of me believed that I was fighting fire with fire, sure that I was going to end up both blind and eyelash-less; but I was desperate, and succumbed to the temptation.

I used that tube until the serum ran dry.

And in the end, my eyelashes did grow back – longer and thicker than before. Now, whether this is due to the serum, the fact that I had lost them all, or just luck of the draw – I don’t know.

What I do know was that I enjoyed my one exercise in tempting ocular fate. I won’t be getting extensions again, and have almost completely stopped wearing eye makeup. I figured best to lay low on the windows to my soul, and just let the sun shine through the way it was intended.

Plus now I can just fully commit to my lips.

Because there is no way that I would ever do anything to make them bigger.

And I like lipstick more anyway.

Beep, beep, beep, YEAH

I learned to drive at the relatively regular age of seventeen.

By this point in my life, my parents had split up, and both of them drove manual transmission cars. This meant that I either learned how to drive a stick shift, or, well, take the bus for the remainder of my days.

Now, driving may come naturally to many a-folk, but for me, the double whammy of being a new driver, and having to learn how to (properly) use a clutch, was a little overwhelming. I was the kind of kid that forgot which pedal was the brake, and which was the gas, much to the chagrin of every person who sat shotgun for the first couple of months of my driving career.

So throw in a third, very finicky, but very integral mechanism within close reach of these already confusing foot-operated instruments, and you had a pretty excellent recipe for disaster.

Recognizing the need for extra assistance, my mother signed me up for classes with the craziest driving teaching ever to grace the face of the planet.

First, the name guy’s was named Shaf.


Like, Shaft, but without the T.

Oh, and he didn’t have a last name.

(Also like Shaft.)

During our hour long sojourns about the city, I would sing in my head “SHAF! He’s one bad motherfu….”

(You can imagine just how concentrated I was on my education.)

Anyways, the problem with Shaf was that, without telling me as much, he was doing the majority of the shifting/gear changing during our time together.

This ended up giving me a crazy over-inflated sense of my own driving skills, so by the end of my third lesson, I thought that I had pretty much mastered every gear shift – not to mention the always trickiest thing to learn: getting the car going again WITHOUT STALLING after coming to a complete stop.

With my giant ego in full effect, I told my mother that I was ready to start taking out our car for real-life practice runs.

Luckily, she was still a little weary of just how far I could have progressed in a mere three hours, so she told me that I could take the car, but I could only drive around the parking lot up at UBC, and then the (maybe) five minute drive home, from the campus to our driveway.

Also, I would be accompanied by my older sister, so she could both supervise, and give me pointers and tips as needed.

Now, it should be mentioned here and now that Kate, though a terrific teacher, had recently undergone major surgery to repair a torn ACL, which made her competently incapable of taking over in case of an emergency.

Thinking back, I’m pretty sure my mother’s thinking was something along these lines:

Well, if Vanessa doesn’t know how to drive when I drop her off at the parking lot, she certainly will by the time she leaves.


Anyways, the afternoon ended up being a complete gong show and a half.

I right away realized that I really still had absolutely no idea what I was doing behind the wheel, and Kate, desperate and completely uncomfortable sitting in the passenger seat as I stalled six thousand times, just kept yelling out, “YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE!”

Wiser words were never spoken.

The drive home was harrowing and a half – I tried everything in my power to never actually stop, for fear that I would never get the car going again, and then somehow ended up parallel parking the car in our driveway.

But like all things in life, I eventually learned.

Up until recently, my long-serving and much loved steed.
Up until recently, my long-serving and much loved steed.

I passed my learner’s test of my first try (the fact that I did it on a standard is this silly little gold star in my life that will never, not make me smile), and then passed my graduated licensing test, also on my first attempt.

(Here in B.C. you are required to pass two tests.)

I even taught M how to drive stick shift in the early nascence of our courtship.

(I figure that’s a pretty good test of whether or not the relationship is made for the long haul.)

Now, I absolutely love driving, and can’t imagine myself ever commandeering anything but a manual car.

And sometimes when I’m behind the steering wheel, I still catch myself singing, “SHAF! You’re one bad mother…”

But only when I stall.

Which thank goodness, is rare indeed.

And now for something completely different

[Disclaimer: I am feeling particularly bonkers this afternoon.]

So I was motoring about the downtown core, playing my usual, much loved lunch-time game (you know, the one called “Try on all the clothes and photograph yourself like a total weirdo”) when I espied the below sandwich board:

It was the weirdest moment because upon reading this I actually felt like I needed to prove to the sign that I could actually, you know, speak English – like I had to show the (strangely) threatening advertisement that this was something I had already mastered.

But then I kind of went completely nuts.

In my mind I was all: HAHAHAHAHAHA! I already CAN speak English! English, English, English! Bet you weren’t exactly expecting THAT, were you, you sandwich board you! Not only that, but I can also speak French and have a highly unstable grasp of Russian and German!




What’s wrong with me?

Also, on a slightly less bizarre note, shouldn’t the sign read “Learn English now!” and not “Speak English now”?

I mean, anyone can speak a language – I could probably speak Korean or Portuguese as the day is long – I just wouldn’t know what the bloody heck it was that I was saying.

And at the risk of sounding like the Old Spice Man, or Lady Gaga penning her obituary via Madlibs, it’s definitely always best to know the meaning of the words coming out of your mouth.

I mean, if someone actually came up to me and told me they wanted my leather studded kiss in the sand I would think they were totes mcgotes cray-cray.

But then I’d be all “SPEAK ENGLISH MAN!” not “LEARN ENGLISH MAN!”

And then I’d remember this day and concede defeat to the language school sandwich board.

And then I’d make a sandwich.