A certain place and time

It’s so crazy to sit down and think about all of the “I was there when…” moments of your life.

In the twenty-nine years that I’ve inhabited this planet, I’ve lived through a couple of these.

For instance, I (obviously) will never forget where I was on 9/11. I woke up to my regular morning DJs talking about the fact that a “small, commuter jet” had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.

I had just entered the kitchen when the second plane hit the second building.

I won’t ever forget the morning of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011, the Thai tsunami of 2004, or the Boston bombing attacks of 2013.

I remember Donovan Bailey winning the 100 meter track finals of 1996 like it was yesterday.

I can close my eyes and re-live the relief, shock, and unbearable happiness that surged throughout my tension-wracked body when Sidney Crosby scored the Olympic game-winning goal in 2010.

I (oh so strangely) remember when Kim Campbell beat Jean Charest for the Progressive Conservative Leadership in 1993. I was eight years old, and had stayed up the entire night watching the conclusion of the convention (because obviously I didn’t have parents and Canadian CSPAN was the next best thing.)

I will always recall the intense flood of incredulity and glee when I found out I had been accepted into the UBC creative writing program, or when I was shortlisted for a Rhodes scholarship.

I treasure the heart-bursting joy from every job proposition I’ve ever accepted over the phone.

I remember my first kisses like they were yesterday.

For some very strange reason I remember exactly where I was when I found out that Heath Ledger had passed away. I was in the basement of the UBC student union building, checking my email on one of their truly awful PCs.

These contraptions were held together by nothing more than food crumbs, pizza grease, coffee stains, and sheer will power.

I was using a Yahoo email address back then, and when I signed out I was re-directed back to the site’s landing page. There was his face, a snap of his pre-Batman life, framed by the years of his birth and death.

I recall feeling awkward by just how saddened I was to read this news.

I vividly remember the morning that the United States invaded Iraq. It was the spring of grade twelve and I struggled to make sense of the massive print, splayed across the cover of the Globe and Mail. I can recall thinking to myself that this decision seemed so completely arbitrary and out of the blue. Where in the heck had Iraq – IRAQ? – come from? Weren’t we just talking about Afghanistan?

There are of course moments I wish I didn’t remember: emails sent; words said; secrets betrayed.

These are few, but they cut. Sometimes I’ll be out for a run, and the memory of these moments will hit with such strength that I feel as though all of the breath has been knocked from my body.

Oddly enough, one of my most vivid “world changing” moments is the night that Princess Diana died.

The detail in which I remember this evening is staggering.

August 31. 1997. Sunday night.

Patricia Beckerman was sleeping over. Jessi’s friend Emily was also staying the night.

We’d spent the entire afternoon swimming in our neighbour’s pool. Lois didn’t ever use her backyard, so she loved having us and our friends over for the day. My hands felt like two giant prunes, and I couldn’t stop brushing my fingers tips across my cheeks and nose.

Everything smelled of sunshine and sunscreen.

We’d eaten pizza for super, and my mum even allowed us to drink pop with our ice cream.

We were just about to put on a movie (Anastasia!), but we had to change the TV to channel three in order to press play.

Channel three was CBC, and the news was on.

This was strange as it was not yet ten o’clock. The woman at the news desk was looking so grim. Peter Mansbridge then entered the shot, and he looked like he’d just burst into the studio and clamoured into the nearest suit.

But really, he seemed sad more than anything else.

And then we heard the words.

“Princess Diana has died tonight in Paris.”

And for some reason this news absolutely destroyed me. I didn’t think twice about Diana prior to her passing, but holy crap did the ensuing weeks (and omnipresent media coverage – how apt!) ever throw my pre-pubescent self for a loop.

I bought every Newsweek magazine, cried fat salty tears, and stayed up the entire night through watching her funeral procession.

I was sure I would marry William and help mend his broken, broken heart (while mending mine too in the process.)

To this day it still baffles me why I had the reaction that I did.

But there are some things you just can’t explain.

There are some things you just have to say, “I was there when.”

Taking up arms

Okay.  I haven’t had cable for a while, so I’m not sure exactly when the Food Network went the way of MTV.  Does anyone know when it stopped showing people actually cooking?  There isn’t one program that features a chef in a kitchen, for as far as the eye can see!  It’s all reality shows.  Granted some of them are awesome – two that I particularly like are Ace of Cakes and Top Chef – but most of them are ridiculous, relying on schlocky, orchestrated drama and the casting of stupid/bland/catty/[insert stock “personality” here to fulfill common but expected stereotype] to make them marginally watchable.

This whole scenario disappoints me for two reasons.  The first being that this television station used to be a solid promotional tool – it made healthy eating, even healthy living, stylish, sexy, easy and fun.  It was a way to ease into culinary adventures.  Intimidated by the sophistication of Martha?  Take up with the Inn Chef (Michael Smith).  Interested is checking out the East Hamptons?  Take a trip to visit with the Barefoot Contessa herself – Ms. Ina Garten (how good is that?)  If you were feeling frisky, you could easily get naked with one Jamie Oliver, or if it was heat you craved all you needed do was turn it up a notch with Emeril.  BAM!  Most importantly, it promoted the self-affirming mantra that, if Yan could cook, so could you!

So it’s dang unfortunate that the overall strategic vision of the network has moved away from the building and sustaining of a strong relationship between the watching public and the food they eat.  Especially in this day and age when there are so many factors adversely affecting this partnership.

Yet as much as I lament this dearth of programming focused on the acquisition and preparation of food, it is the new shows that have taken the place of the golden oldies that drive me batty.  The biggest crimes these shows commit?  Found, perhaps not where you would first look for them – in their names.  Every single one of these programs is some kind of “war.”  DINNER PARTY WARS!!! CUPCAKE WARS!!! Tonight I was cooking dinner with the TV on in the background and an advertisement came on for a Halloween special airing this Sunday afternoon entitled HALLOWEEN WARS (!!!)  Halloween wars?  For serious?  What the fricken heck is a Halloween war?  All I could summon up what the image of Arthur Fonzarelli soaring over a giant shark head.

Really, it just reminds me again how destructive, while at the same time, diluted our language has become.  Only individuals who have never experienced armed conflict could possibly think to name a television program about a baked goods competition a war.  I just want to scream through the television to the producers who came up with this name: YOUR PRIVILEDGE IS SHOWING MADAMSANDORSIRS.

Although, what can you really expect from someone (or multiple someones) who operate and thrive in a society whose own government is constantly waging wars on intangible entities.  Because remember folks, we are currently at war with TERROR!!! DRUGS!!!  HOMELESSNESS!!!  FOOT ODOR!!!  MALE PATTERN BALDNESS!!!

I suppose I should look forward to whatever else we arbitrarily pick to be in conflict with next (as long as my blood pressure can handle it.)  The feeling I`m getting in my bones tells me that this is going to go the way of women`s Halloween costumes – the more inane and mind-boggling, the better.  TROPICAL FRUIT PLATTER WARS!!! NON-FAT LOW-FOAM HALF-CAF LATTE WARS!!! IT SAYS THIS MILK WENT BAD YESTERDAY BUT I`M WILLING TO RISK IT WARS!!!

Yep folks, just wait and see.  Yo Ina – How good is that?