I really wouldn’t eat that

Today I bought a rice crispy square from the vending machine at my work.

This is not an unusual occurrence. I purchase a lot of things from machines that require loose change because I have a palate that easily forgives bagged or wrapped goods.

I would wager a guess that I eat anywhere between two and four rice crispies a week, and am completely non-discriminatory between those procured from vending machines and those created in our cafeteria’s kitchen.

This lack of discernment is a huge black mark on my character, I know.

Anyways, today at noon I rushed downstairs to buy this snack, and as I hadn’t yet eaten anything, I was feeling particularly ravenous.

I inserted my dollar fifty and greedily eyed the package as it fell into the machine’s retrieval void. As I picked it up, I noticed that the wrapping was a little suspect. There were no rips or punctures, but its rather ramshackle appearance did give me pause: what the hell had happened to this bar during its transportation from the factory to its final destination?

Unfortunately, I didn’t wax long on these thoughts before tearing right into it.

As I sat at my desk and munched away at my “lunch” (like the depraved feral animal that I am), I noticed that there was a strange colour coming out of the second half of the packaging. Upon closer inspection I could see that it was, in fact, a hair.

A long, black hair.

A long, black hair that had wrapped itself around my snack, like some angry, follicly-born anaconda (a real medusa-like foe) that was all too ready to squeeze the life out of me and turn me to stone.

I turned to my colleague and said, “I don’t feel so good about this.”

And she said, “That’s because you definitely shouldn’t.”

My stars.

No doubt I am probably going to contract some kind of tropical fever and all I will have to show for myself is the contents of my work waste paper basket.

Talk about a legacy.

This is not the first time something like this has happened.

When Marc and I were living in England in 2009, we spent a week in Scotland scampering about Edinburgh and St. Andrews. When we weren’t hiking Arthur’s Seat in severe windstorms, or running along the beach Chariots of Fire-style, we were doing the things that most twenty-four year olds do when travelling: drinking too much and staying out too late.

One night, I asked Marc to take me to the Oxford Bar – the drinking establishment frequented by Inspector Rebus, the fictional detective and misanthropic protagonist of Ian Rankin’s best selling novels. You see, we had very limited internet access in our flat back in Birmingham, and in the absence of ever being online, I read about fifty odd Rebus books during the months that I was studying at the city’s university.

Now that we were in his city, it was imperative that I drink at the bar in which he like to drink.

We started out at the Oxford – me with white wine and Marc with a dark, bitter beer. It was there that we decided, being as it was that we were poor as hell students, that our nightly budget was to be spent on alcohol, and alcohol alone.

From there, were began our own Scottish bar crawl, venturing into both the shadiest of underground establishments and the absolute poshest of speakeasys – though we made a point not to linger in the latter.

At one of the bars, we were invited to join a Marks and Spencer’s Christmas party where I was gifted many glasses of wine, and Marc about one million shots of whiskey.

By the time we were sitting in the last bar of the night – a cozy little space right off of the royal mile – I could hardly feel my face. When the waiter came over to take our orders, it was all I could do to croak out: “One glass of water please.”

Marc, steadfast and brazen, ordered a scotch.

I’ll never forget picking up my water, taking a sip, and blurting out, “This water tastes like a shoe.”

It was a quarter to 3am, and it was time for bed.

But the problem being – there was no way in hell that we could return to our hostel in such rough shape. We needed food and we needed it right away.

There was a late-night diner just up the road from where we were staying, and having completely forgotten our plan of “no food, only booze” we both ordered burgers and milkshakes.

I had ordered a veggie patty with melted cheesed and when it came I didn’t even hesitate. I tore into that thing like David Attenborough was narrating my life. What I didn’t expect however, was to pull out a very orange, very plastic looking thing from inside the bun.

Puzzled, I turned to Marc and whispered, “What the hell is that?”

Marc, hammered, and intensely focused on consuming his food, looked me straight into the eyes and replied, “Oh man. Babe. That’s a piece of cheese with the wrapper still on.”

Horrified, but also cognizant of the fact that I was inebriated up the yin yang and insecure that the staff already thought me a belligerent American, I shuffled up to the counter and shyly inquired, “Ummm, excuse me? Is this cheese with the wrapper on?”

The woman stared and me for a long beat before answering in her strong Scottish brogue, “That’s a roasted bell pepper.”

“Oh,” I said. “I see. Thank you. So sorry for the trouble.”

The total embarrassment I felt in that moment precipitated an almost immediate sobering. Marc and I grabbed our milkshakes and beat a speedy exit out of there.

Back in our hostel we laughed ourselves silly before falling into bed. I remember drifting off to sleep thinking if this was the last night of my life, it would be one for the annals.

And now, compared to my imminent rice crispy doom, a much better way to go.

Beam me up Scotty

This morning, I felt the cold in my bones.  We have been lucky for the most part this winter – while it has been colder than usual, it has been remarkably dry, a nice change from the expected (and therefore, albeit grudgingly accepted) monotonous rain and overcast skies.

Sun, Sun Mr. Golden Sun IS ON VACATION

Growing up in Vancouver you acclimatize pretty darn quickly to the damp. If you’re not careful enough, you may start to sprout mushrooms sometime around mid-March, due to the relentless onslaught of drizzle and murk.

Constant vigilance and a darn good umbrella are needed to combat this problem.

Well, that and a good pair of rain boots.

Remember folks, it’s the reason David Duchovny forced X-Files to move down to L.A. (And boy did that show ever go downhill after that.)

Anywho, this is the first Christmas in three years that M and I are sticking around town (at least for the big day) which is pretty darn exciting. The past two years we have been far and yonder – first in London and then in Halifax, respectively, where we not only enjoyed the fantastic seasonal flavour of these two brilliant cities (and the people who live there), but the always enjoyable stress overload of travelling on Christmas Eve.

Nothing makes giant masses of people, into giant masses of asses, er – I mean, as jolly as they can be, like overcrowded, delayed airlines can!

We are however doing our (small) share of travel this year, having been invited to go check out all the sights and sounds of balmy Palm Desert – my father and step-mom own a time share and live there for part of the year and this will mark the first time we have visited them in their fruit-treed, half-year-home.

I’ve never actually been to California, other than Disneyland when I was eleven years old, and I am not ashamed to say that the thought of twenty-seven degrees and sunny skies, tickles my little, frozen-solid heart silly, especially in the wake of today’s cold.

Now to find that pot of gold...

Yet on days like this, I also cannot help but be transported back to the streets of Edinburgh, where M and I walked and walked and walked and then walked some more in October of 2009.

The moment we exited Waverly Train Station, the skies opened up and just as the rains began to fall, a rainbow spread its way clear across the sky.

For the rest of the trip, the rain and wind whipped and lashed our bodies in earnest – every night as we fell asleep in our little hostel, tucked away off of the Royal Mile, I was so exhausted I could actually feel my heartbeat inside of my calf muscles.

We climbed to the very top of Arthur’s Seat, and then to other side of the Old Town, up to the national monument; we drunk ourselves silly doing our own version of a pub crawl, beginning at the famous Oxford Bar, the favourite haunt of the fictional Inspector Rebus, and his creator Ian Rankin. We day-travelled up to St. Andrews, where M ran across the sand à la Chariots of Fire, and took part in an underground tour of Mary King’s Close where we readily accepted “gardy loo!” into our everyday vocabulary.

Really excited! REALLY DRUNK.

(I am also still trying to figure out whether or not I could fashion a plague doctor Halloween costume if I put enough energy into it.)

Nova Scotia! The gift that keeps on giving.

I had never been to Scotland before, and yet I somehow felt as though the country was home. I knew for so long that I had some sort of innate connection to the land and the people, whether it was forged from spending time in Nova Scotia, or through my highland dancing, or my fascination with Celtic music and mythology – I’m not sure, but I always felt that I just needed to go.

I can still smell the salt air.

And just being there, I felt very grounded and safe.  Like it is a country where I could live a life with less anxiety and doubt – or at least feel as though I could lay down some serious roots.

We had such a brilliantly amazing visit and did in fact walk so much that I had to purchase new shoes – shoes that to this day remind me of the visit each time I put them on.  (My old ones had developed a serious case of the heel-mouths and the water trickling down the cobble streets had begun to seriously trickle down my stocking feet.)

Even in the face of a bloody gale, I kept turning to M and saying to him, “Isn’t this the most enchanting city you have ever been too?”

I truly felt as though there is magic there, running through the air like an invisible current, transported along those fierce, fierce winds because it feels as though its blowing right through you, right through to the depths of your being, penetrating deep inside your soul.

Be still my heart.

But instead of cold, it warms you.

So on days like today, where I feel the dampness in my bones, I doesn’t bother me.

I think about my ancestors, and my travels, and I take comfort.

I take comfort in it all.