Welcome to the Era of Perfect Parenting.

I’m late to the party, as usual, but would still like to wish everyone out there who qualifies, a Happy (belated) Mother’s Day. All the moms, grandmas, aunties, friends, foster moms, step moms, teachers, and anyone who has a maternal influence over our children. Every small moment counts. Every reassuring word and kind gesture, and even discipline, counts towards helping our children reach their full potential. Sometimes the simple things are the most significant.

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In today’s world of online groups, expert blogs, parenting magazines, Paternal Expert Facebook Warriors, and the abyss that is perfection via Pinterest and Instagram, I actually feel bad for the moms with young children. The quest for ‘mom goals’ and ‘life goals’ hashtagged to be subtle, but still screams ‘wanting perfection’,  is glaringly obvious and constantly being chased, and no one can even do it in privacy anymore. Just scroll through Instagram and you see these bohemian Moms with their blonde, tanned, long-haired children running carefree on the beach, near their perfect little boho bungalow that is full of fresh plants, home-baked, gluten-free, paleo cookies, and not a speck of dust or dog hair to be seen. Read the comments, that range from ‘My Life Goals’ and ‘I hope my kids look like that when I have them!’ to ‘put some sunscreen on that boy. Cut his hair!’ and it is apparent that judgment and expectations are higher than ever when it comes to the world of Mommy n’ Me.

My youngest is almost 15, and it feels like a different era (hell, a different planet!) when I recall his toddler years. I hate to sound like a middle-aged cliché, but times really were different ‘back then’. Sure, we had internet and parenting magazines, and Mommy & Me playgroups, but we also had big backyards and trampolines without nets; cookies made with flour and real chocolate chips; time-outs and spankings, and free-range play, where the kids could ACTUALLY play, whether with a friend or by themselves, without a parent having to construct or schedule it. They even gobbled down granola bars with peanuts in them! Oh, the audacity of my early parenting years.

If this seems so bizarre, imagine what our parents are thinking!? When we were little we had childhoods without helmets, car seats, and sunscreen, and we ate foods rich in red food colouring and high fructose content! To top it off, we spent a lot of our time unsupervised. Outside! Without cell phones and Ipads. Can you even entertain the thought? I am sure many new moms shudder at it.

I am not writing this post to poke fun of new moms or to reminisce about the good ole days of parenting without Pinterest; I am, however, concerned for all the new parents out there, trying to get through each day without feeling like a failure (no matter the era, we all had this feeling), while juggling the perfect career, house, marriage, wardrobe, dinner menu, and of course, the perfect children. I see so much emphasis on what moms should or should not do, with their child’s school, food, vitamins, mental state, birthday parties, and so on….it seems like it is a constant uphill battle to raise perfect human beings according to the new study going viral on the web or the latest article in Today’s Parent.

I wouldn’t want to raise my kids again in this new era. I applaud all the moms and dads out there, trying to get it right, loving their kids even if they yell at them or let them eat KD for dinner because they forgot about the other kid’s ballet recital and they have a paper due at work the next day. I am in awe of the parents out there, commuting to work, working nights or weekends, paying thousands in daycare just to have daycare, never mind knowing if it even cracked the top 100 of “The Pretentious Harvard Daycares” list; those parents who still manage to pull off near-perfect birthday parties complete with healthy snacks and homemade goody bags, while cooking dinner once or twice a week that may or may not include real vegetables; and those parents who worry about buying a home with a yard for those kids to play in, and their college educations that will probably cost about six million dollars per kid, per degree. I salute the parents out there who have to read countless Facebook horror stories, complete with pictures, depicting children with tick bites or strange rashes that caused death; the news that tells them each time they attempt to make wholesome food for their children, the food turns out to be ‘toxic’; the magazines they read that give them lists of how to be a perfect parent and raise the next Prime Minister all while showing them all the ways they are doing it wrong. I praise the moms who scroll Instagram only to see perfect size 2 moms in their white bikinis with their tanned toddlers and still take their own (untanned) kids to the beach while donning their non-white gym shorts and baggy t-shirts. I do not think I could do it. Every single day.

It’s a perfect world out there and all of you moms and dads and step parents, keep on rocking your imperfect world, just like those of us who raised sometimes perfect little assholes before you. We may not have had Pinterest, but we did have alcohol. And sometimes, each other.

So raise a glass (or bottle, realistically) to all those flogging Mom duty. Raise one for yourself! Not just on Mother’s Day, but everyday. And do it with other moms. It’s a tough job, a dirty job, an important job. Don’t try going at it alone. It takes a village to raise a child. Preferably a tropical one. Cheers!

My Random Confessional: James Spader

In my 42 years and counting on this wonderful planet, I have realized there are many things I do not know for sure; my multiplication table being one of them, but at this stage in my life, who cares? I also don’t know if there’s a god or not (I am still on the NOT side of things), and I still wonder how the fuck airplanes stay in the sky.

But if there is one thing in my life that I know for sure, it’s that I have an unwavering love for James Spader.

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*photos courtesy of Pinterest

Some in my life, might say it’s a bit of a creepy, unhealthy love for a middle-aged, pudgy, bald man with a peculiar sense of style and film choices. I argue that is the reason I love him. Not the pudgy bald part, but the peculiar film choices. Over the last couple of decades, I have followed this man through his bizarre movie roles and his crazy antics on television, and I find myself constantly amused, surprised and entertained by him. I also realize I am a strange bird when it comes to being a fan of ‘movie stars’, as my fondness for character actors and strange men such as Sam Rockwell, Michael Madsen, Michael Shannon and Tom Sizemore, may not be the norm. My husband says I have weird taste in men. (I am not going to tell him how that sounds). Don’t get me wrong, I love George Clooney like the rest of you, but Michael Madsen or Sam Rockwell in a movie? It could be so horrible my eyes and ears are bleeding, and I would watch, riveted. At least for their scenes.

That being said, James Spader could be filmed doing a creepy love scene with puppets and I would PVR that sucker! All you young ladies can gush about “Fifty Shades of Grey” all you want, but the ORIGINAL Grey was James in “Secretary”; if you don’t believe me, Google it. You might find Maggie Gyllenhall on all fours with something in her mouth. I don’t think I have followed an actor’s career like I have with Mr. Spader, and his is a storied, quirky one; some say it’s bordered on perverse, and I’m ok with that. There is no other actor that can make you feel so many emotions at once, with a click of his tongue against the roof of his mouth, while he murmurs a perfectly executed diatribe about death in the African savannah or some sexual innuendo with a fifteen-year-old babysitter from his youth.

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Boston Legal had me from episode one and it never let me down. James Spader never let us down. It didn’t matter WHAT was written for an episode, but Alan Shore was the perfect amount of scuzzy arrogance and uber-intelligent wit, and because of this, his receding hair line and Dad Bod still oozed sex appeal. Face it, women are suckers for strong, confident and funny men. And James Spader is funny. He is also jarring, puzzling, charming, and I’m pretty sure, according to many other actors, very intimidating.

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It is all of these things that, no matter how he looks with age, he is enigmatic and often, downright sexy in any role he plays. The man can make you love his character, not despite their flaws, but because of them. We love “The Blacklist”s  Raymond Reddington because he can recite an English Lit poem while hunting down elusive adversaries, and can convince his soon-to-be victim of his affection for them, shoot them in cold blood while he looks them in the eye, and have us not only justifying his actions, but accepting them…well….because, after all, who couldn’t love Raymond Reddington?

From “Pretty In Pink” where we found ourselves enjoying Steff’s nastiness contrasting against Blane’s nice guy, to “Avengers: Age of Ultron” where we see a computer generated,  over-the-top villain be brought to life, JAmes Spader has the power to not just fill a role successfully, but make us feel that no one else in Hollywood could portray that role. Every single role he has inhabited has felt like it was written just for him. Even his supporting role as William Bilbo in “Lincoln” seemed particularly fitting. It wasn’t. He just knew exactly how to portray that character, even in a limited fashion.

In this day and age, where we have so much to choose from in the entertainment world, and an overwhelming amount of talent flooding the gates of Hollywood, it’s nice to know we can still rely on some familiar faces who aren’t just eye candy for the Leading Men award categories. It doesn’t matter to me whether James Spader receives an Emmy or not, or if he garners the big roles in franchise movies; what matters to me is that he continues to hone his craft in the manner that we have become accustomed to. It matters to me that he still doesn’t take it all too seriously and he just continues to act, period.

With or without puppets.

*photos courtesy of Pinterest

Where Did Humor Go?

It seems that humor is hard to find these days, even with the onslaught of political “alternative facts’ filling up our news feeds. Even Bill Maher can’t make me laugh like he used to. What used to be political satire with harmless jokes aimed at harmless leaders, now seems too damn real to be anything but scary. It’s hard to laugh at someone who has the power to destroy the free world (and I’m just a worried Canadian, imagine what those poor Americans must be going through?).

But all is not lost (yet). There is beauty and humor in the mundane occurrences of everyday life. I still giggle when I hear a toddler ramble in nonsensical serious talk; still laugh when I watch a Youtube video showcasing Nigerian Pygmy goats jumping in someone’s yard; still enjoy a good chuckle at a bad joke texted to me by my brother because it’s too offensive to go on Facebook. The humor is there, we just have to dig a little deeper to find it. And by dig, I mean anything but Saturday Night Live, because other than Alec Baldwin’s eerily perfect Trump schtick, I’m not even sure what the hell happened to Lorne Michaels’ show? Wasting an hour so late in your day waiting for something funny to happen on SNL should be criminal.

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Nowadays, I skip the sitcoms entirely and find humor in places such as blogs, men’s magazine articles, Youtube, and from the news itself, when I can stomach it. HBO can throw “Girls” episodes at me all it wants, but nothing makes me laugh more than someone’s well-written sarcasm! Those people are the true heroes in today’s unfunny world.

To those who can craft a joke out of war and make us laugh in the face of uncertainty, I salute you. Let’s face it, today’s world is full of dismal facts, devastating photos, depressing studies and political injustice, and the people who can continually use the crap from the diaper that is our world to make us laugh, well these people are just plain magic.

To all the freaks and geeks, outcasts and misfits, who dare to say things the rest of us wouldn’t, and do it in a way that is both intelligent and funny, I demand you get a medal! Or some kind of award, anyways. Maybe they could make a new Nobel Prize category after all? And maybe someone could ask Jimmy Fallon to present it? At the very least, it would garner some much-needed interest for the Nobel people. Whoever they are.

So, in these trying and depressing times, remember to take time out of your day to watch, listen to, or even do something that makes you laugh so hard you pee a little. I urge you to surround yourself with those people who can make you laugh so hard you snort, helping you forget about the shitstorm that is life.

If you’re having a hard time finding things that make you smile these days, just remember, that Lenny Kravitz, one of the coolest people in Hollywood – honestly, on the planet – is named Lenny. This gorgeous, stylish, talented man was born with the name Leonard. Kravitz.

If that doesn’t make you smile, then you might as well skip the Nigerian Pygmy goat videos too. I’m sorry, but I cannot help you.

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Parenting: A Lesson in Hypocrisy.

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I have come to the realization that when it comes to parenting, I am the biggest hypocrite there is. I know many of us can stake that claim on a few occasions over the so-called blissful years or rearing those little assholes we call our ‘love of our lives’. But really, I know this one thing for sure– I do not follow rules. In fact, I abhor them. Most days of the week, my husband usually has that fleeting thought of “well, today is going to be the day she gets arrested.” Don’t ask for what….the list can be endless, especially over the years he has been with me! Don’t panic,  murder isn’t on the list (yet).

All those pesky rules thrown around with authority by people of some sort of authority; there in lies the biggest problem. I have a huge issue with authority. Always have, always will, I am sure. I know, you’re wondering, what is the big whine about hypocrisy then? We all have issues with rules and authority every now and then. Well, here is the big, shiny sign of hypocricy–I am hyper diligent when it comes to rules and authority with my children. Not just my rules and authority (that goes without saying), but ANY type of the two.

It hit me like a ton of bricks this evening when I was lecturing my son about his homework and the guidelines and what the teacher expects, and that he needs to listen to and follow the rules. I swear, I could see my husband silently beating his head against the wall as I spoke. I simultaneously thought of my high school years and all of the classes I skipped, the tests I never studied for, the notes I never took. I recalled the times I yelled at my teacher, got kicked out and put in the hallway for an entire semester for not following rules. I remember the bottles of liquor and the drugs I did in the Girl’s washroom on ‘study break’. For as long as I have been alive, I have been that person who constantly questions the authority figures and consistently bends (breaks, if we need to get technical) the rules. Some of them are worth bending, but for the most part, looking back on my life, alot of the them were probably not worth it. Breaking and bending them just caused me more grief in the long run. I would love to say I learned from that, but full disclosure here: I have not. I am still that 14 year-old stuck in a 42 year-old body!

Surely, she must be exaggerating, you think to yourself; I am afraid not. My oldest would be happy to sit you down and tell you all of the times her mother pulled crazier stunts than she could even dream of, usually in front of her. She will reminisce about the time we went to a Rihanna concert in Vancouver for her birthday; she was 15 I believe. Well, not only did I order us drinks and hid them by my seat and kept an eye on the security guard for her, but we ended up wrestling with a fountain in the middle of the night, drunk as skunks, and we were both terribly hung over on the drive home the next morning. Ya, I got a big ole “Mother of the Year” trophy for that stunt. It took up the entire mantel. I bring this up, because my son is dying to see Kendrick Lamar and of course my husband is tempted to buy the tickets. He isn’t a fan of Kendrick, so me being the generous partner, I offered to chaperone this event for our 14 year-old son. Innocent enough. Until he reminded me that “you are the one who needs chaperoning and I’m pretty sure the Rihanna concert with her mother is the gateway to our daughter’s drinking.”

Ouch. Possibly right but there is no way to prove that, so I will let it slide. Besides, we had a great time! Mother-Daughter bonding at its finest. I assured my husband that I would NOT get drunk and I would not even offer our son a sip (especially since he can’t stand alcohol and finds it useless). Somehow, he wasn’t convinced.

Yet, when it comes to my children I have instilled in them how important it is to be on time, follow doctor’s orders -finishing antibiotics is a big one for me- read signs, follow safety rules everywhere, and abide by the law at all costs. Except, of course, when they are with me and I am the one not reading the sign or following the law to the letter. Then it’s “I am an adult. I pay taxes. I get to do what I want.” Or my favourite: “it’s not illegal if you don’t get caught.” That last one is in jest, and in my defense, I joke a lot.

So all you parents out there fretting over the hypocrisy of your parenting, like the little white lies you tell your children to keep the peace and the bribes you endure to get the screaming to stop or the room cleaned, just remember, you could be worse. You could be me. Or my children.

You’re welcome, people.

Racism has it wrong. (or: Why Black People Are Better Than White People)

I have a big, white bone to pick with the racism still going strong south of the border. To be blunt, I have a problem with racism anywhere (including here in Canada, where we pretend we don’t have it). But that is an entire post in itself. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be afraid of a police officer when being pulled over or stopped on the street. I can’t imagine what it is like to be turned away or automatically judged because of the colour of my skin. I am appalled and embarrassed at the history of treatment that my white communities and politicians have given to those who are black, latino, aboriginal, or any other ethnic background other than Caucasian.

This particular bone I have to pick is with the Caucasian race somehow seeing itself as a superior race, especially over their own African-American neighbours and colleagues. I’m not sure that white people got the memo, but they are most definitely NOT superior. In fact, if any race is inferior, we could argue the opposite of what we have been taught.

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Right now, I”m sure there are a few tighty-whiteys all tied up in a bunch over those words! However, I shall proceed with my evidence of the contrary. Here is my list of reasons Black People are more Superior than White People:

Reason Number 1: Music. Hands down. Have you been to a predominantly black Church service on a Sunday? If so, you’re one of the lucky ones. Full of happy noise, music, dancing and ‘praise the lords’ in joyous voices! Walk across the street to the predominantly white church, and you’re either terrified or bored to death. And you have to be so damn quiet. Just sit there, shut up and recite your Psalm or you will go to hell.

It doesn’t end there. All that great music we hear on the charts, too many genres to list, and 75% of the time, it’s not a white person performing.

I haven’t even began to discuss the entire genre that is hip hop. White people cannot dare to say we had any part in the evolution of hip hop culture. It stems from African music roots and it is a part of the black community that white people cannot take from. Those of you screaming “Eminem is the greatest rapper alive and he’s white!”, I respectfully disagree. I love Eminem. I have seen him live and I credit his talents to bridging the racial gap within hip hop music; but Marshall Mathers himself will tell you, without Nas and Biggie and Tupac, there would be no Eminem. If you don’t know who those guys are I will give you a hint– they’re not white.

I also hear those of you who don’t listen to hip hop, yelling: “What about Elvis? The King of Rock n Roll!?”  Sure, he was white. But where did he get his chart-topping (and controversial) hits from? Oh, that’s right. The African-American music community! At one point, early in his career, many people thought the voice they heard was that of a black man. Of course, if you want to talk about music, then we must carry on to dancing. Elvis sure had moves…..the Christians were up in arms about his gyrating hips and sultry moves that were so, how should we put it?……black.

There is no doubt about it, white people can’t dance. Or at least not like their black friends and neighbours; and if they can dance, you can bet your last mighty dollar they learned from the best –people like Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Josephine Baker, Gregory Hines and of course Michael Jackson and his sister Janet. Music and moves go together in the black community so effortlessly and we in the white community just don’t fully understand the influence they have had over our pop culture.

Number 3: Sports. Yes, yes, I know….many people of all backgrounds have excelled at sports (including white people), but I am just throwing it out there for those of us who are not on an NBA or NFL team. White people tend to struggle a lot more at dribbling and tackling than black people. In fact, most NBA teams are primarily made up of black players, and NFL teams consistently have more black players than white; this cannot be due to the fact that it’s so easy for black students and athletes to get in to University or even good high schools. We know for a fact the opposite is true. Therefore, we must recognize that young black athletes and students face adversity and lack of opportunity every step of the way, yet their determination and talent propel them forward.

Number 4: Dress. Some of you might be scratching your head at this one but I dare you to picture any white male you know dressed in a pink polo shirt. I bet you want to picture Leonardo Dicaprio’s character from ‘Wolf of Wallstreet’ but you are delusional. You should picture Jonah Hill’s character instead. Complete with the bad hair and sweater thrown over the shoulders for the ultimate WASP effect. Before you say ‘Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air’, let me remind you that even Carlton rocked that look better than any white man. In fact, have you ever seen a black man look awful in a pink shirt? I rest my case.

Before I finish this post, I want to ask: “Did I offend you with these comparisons?”

Did I strike a nerve that hits you like a brick? Are you screaming “How dare you throw these statements out there without cold, hard facts!”

If I offended you, then  –Good.

Imagine how everyone who isn’t white feels when we as a society, constantly base our opinions and comparisons of them on nonsensical theories and historically inaccurate ideologies. How dare we, as one and the same, decide that we are better or superior than anyone else? Especially when we base it on colour of skin, religion, or sexual orientation? We are all different yet the same on so many levels and if we could reach out to each other and help each other succeed rather than push each other down, we would be in a much better place. And we might all end up better dancers.

Lessons Of Inner Peace at the Grocery Store.

2017 has been all about learning to see the world through peaceful, positive eyes and to practice patience and appreciation of living in the moment. I have my essential oils, my meditation altar, my favourite healing crystals and modified yoga poses complete with breathing exercises; I have started the journey to a new, calmer me. I mean, I feel like some days I’ve really got this Zen shit down.

And then I go grocery shopping. On a Sunday afternoon. Like an idiot.

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I clearly never seem to learn my lesson when it comes to certain aspects of adult life. Like the one lesson that I should never grocery shop. I mean it. I need to surrender and pass this one domestic chore off on my husband — or the dog. Who ever is brave (or stupid) enough to take it on.

In my defense, if I even have one, the last few months my grocery shopping has taken a nose dive due to a couple of fractured vertebrae, and I have only just recently started venturing out into the world of produce and feminine hygiene products with my Big Girl Panties on. Apparently this particular Sunday, I went commando.

Nothing can burst that bubble of zen and inner calm like a packed Superstore, complete with screaming babies, Nascar drivers bulldozing over anyone in search of a perfect parking spot, and of course, the entire university and its international exchange students stocking up on Ichiban and Cheezies. At first, I try my hardest to be polite. I stand and wait for the little asian lady to sniff and poke every single piece of bok choy while her husband dutifully waits for her with his buggy, right next to the mushrooms I am waiting to get to. He sees me; she sees me. They carry on with their own bizarre shopping ritual. I try to be coy as I reach for the paper bag to put my mushrooms in, reaching over the husband who is standing right in front of them. That hint still was not seen. But the best part? I stand waiting, and the little lady, finally satisfied with her bok choy selection, decides to move on to her next target, and actually pushes me aside to go through my path! Let me tell you, the old me would have lost it and probably tripped her husband, but no…..the New Me, well she just smiled and stepped back.

After that, I was narrowly run down by a first-grader running with the cart her dad so graciously allowed her to ‘drive’. When I say run down, I mean it. She was literally running full speed down the aisles, screaming and sliding sideways, running into soda displays and people, while her young dad smiled and said ‘you’re so fast Zoe!’ Again, I tried to take the high road. Buddha would be proud of me. I just said to little Shithead Zoe “wow you will make a great race car driver one day!” Shithead Zoe stared at me like I had just spoken Alien and she was not impressed that I was in her way.

Ok, on to the next aisle. At this point, I am trying to decide if I should just abandon my cart right there in the store and walk over to the liquor store. Or the bar. But no, the New Me has resolved to get through this painful exercise with a smile on her face and a calm demeanour, even if it kills her. I bravely maneuver my cart through the cereal aisle, which on a Sunday afternoon is like walking through the main gates of Disneyland with 6 toddlers and a tandem stroller during Spring Break and it’s half-price ticket day. There are kids everywhere. I mean, it’s an infestation! And carts, and buggies and moms in their Lulu Lemon’s and Starbucks double-shot soy lattes standing around chatting with each other about some goddamn Pinterest Birthday theme or something ridiculous like that. This could be an ‘alternative fact’ but at this point, my brain is beginning to implode with ‘zen’! Again, I ask ever so politely if I may get by. Nothing. I ask again. One mom looks up at me and I swear she gave me the once over; by the look on her face my blue pixie undercut, facial piercings and pink Converse are not warranting any type of reciprocal politeness on her end. She makes an attempt at moving her cart, kind of like an 80’s Air Band competition, and her child promptly blocks my way to stand on the end of her cart and bug her about the cereal.

At this point, I have begun to picture every gruesome Tarantino-style attack I could throw down upon this mom and her equally annoying child. I mean, there is bloodshed people. In my imagination, I don’t stop at kicking babies and puppies, people. There is no end to the violence in side of my head sometimes. Hence, the reason for my new zen-like attitude. Just as I imagine myself mopping up the blood of the mother with the backside of her child, they move over.

I smile, nod and mouth ‘thank you’, all of which are completely ignored.

I feel like I weathered that storm pretty well; I did have some violent fantasies, but it’s not like I ACTED on them. This in itself, is a pretty big victory for me. That liquor store is looking mighty fine.

After a few more close-calls with visiting grandmas in the toilet paper aisle and the obtrusive line up of people waiting for some food sample, I make it to the check out. I can see the end of the tunnel, people, and I’m almost gleeful. If it wasn’t for my screaming back pain and my increasing thirst for something that tastes an awful lot like vodka, I might have broken out in a quick little song and dance number while I waited in line.

And I waited in that line. Realizing I am an impatient person to begin with, and that one of my new goals in life is to learn how to actually be patient, I did a quick breathing exercise and attempted to focus my attention elsewhere. I pretended to enjoy being in the moment like I’m supposed to. And I waited. Apparently the lady at the till decided she did not want to pay an extra 11 cents for the bacon that she swore was advertised as way cheaper in the flyer, and the cashier had to grab said flyer and call the manager and price check somewhere on Mars for this particular brand of bacon….while the rest of us waited. I figured she would at least pretend to apologize for holding up the line, but nope, she just berated the cashier and the teenage assistant manager and decided to pass on the bacon all together. If I was close enough I would have picked up that package of bacon and hit her with it.

I finally get through paying and bagging my groceries and at this point, struggling with my inner peace and my lack of vodka, I bust it quick to my vehicle. Just as I am about to approach my truck I realize a speeding Prius is about a foot away from ramming me and my cart. I finally cave as my inner peace has now been crushed by my scathing hatred for both the Prius and the chick at the driver’s wheel who is talking on her phone, rather than driving that stupid Prius. I let go of my cart and scream, “Hey you! Cut butter bitch!” I don’t even know what that means, but I was hungry. Another broken cardinal rule of grocery shopping right there.

The Prius Bitch barely noticed as she sped along, and I learned some valuable lessons in my new adventures with inner peace and zen-like patience. I learned that I absolutely will let my husband do the grocery shopping. And that ZEN actually means VODKA. In my world, anyways.

“They’re not real Mom”. Our Strange Relationships with Fictional Characters.

My dream as a child always centred around the arts, whether it be writing or acting or music and paint. I always joked that my dream job would be working at Blockbuster, recommending all the great movies I could watch with abandon, and writing on the other days. Like Quentin Tarantino, only minus the talent. And the script.

I have been told, on more than one occasion, that I get way too invested in fictional characters. I must confess that this statement is a gross understatement of epic proportions. Not only do I become way too invested in characters in books, movies and even the odd television show, but I end up in mourning, despondent and inconsolable when some of these characters die or the book comes to an end…which ever is first. My husband reminds me of my ‘creepy empathy for people who aren’t real’ all of the time and I gladly acknowledge it. He also reminds me that if I worked at Blockbuster I would have been unemployed by now. Touche.

I think the magic of books and movies is their ability to let us fall into another time or era, another person’s mind, and wander through different countries and cultures while embracing a different reality. I am not really a TV person, (that has sort of changed thanks to cable tv), but I could watch movies anytime. And I do. Hell, I’ve seen Pulp Fiction and Snatch at least 120 plus times. I literally have Pulp Fiction memorized, yet I find myself watching it again and again. I just recently watched Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea, and I’m certain I was not the only one to use up a box of Kleenex while watching these movies. However, I might be the only one who actually analyzed the main characters and agonized over their pain and loss for days after I watched them. I literally felt sick to my stomach for Casey Affleck’s character when he suffered flashbacks of the tragedy that derailed his entire life. (Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans and ruin the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it). Of course, my son reminded me that it wasn’t real and that I was being ridiculous. I snapped back to reality rather quickly after that. Damn kids anyways.

I’m confident  I am not alone in my empathy for fictional characters, otherwise all of those  books, movies and television series would not be as popular as they are. It would be too easy to change the channel or close the book if we found ourselves not caring at all about the people we are following, no matter how exciting the plot is. Movies and books especially, have the ability to blanket our thoughts with an entirely different realm of emotions and feelings and they force us to think about things in a different light, and to view the world through someone else’s eyes. They teach us how to understand our fellow man, good bad or downright evil. How else can we explain the phenomenon of Breaking Bad? Sure, the plot was exciting and different from any other mainstream television series, but it was Walter White and Jesse Pinkman that truly captivated our hearts and minds every week. We fell down that twisted rabbit hole of  fear, power and addiction with them and we felt intimately connected to the timid, inept science teacher and struggling addict as they slowly evolved in to entirely different people as crazy circumstances dictated their lives. Sure, some of it was pretty far-fetched, but we didn’t care. What we did care about, was how Walter White became increasingly powerful and volatile and how Jesse was becoming more conscientious of others and suddenly aware of his partner’s thirst for power over everything else. Okay, I will stop now, as I can go on and on about this for days, proving my ‘creepy empathy for make-believe characters’. And when the series ended? Ya, how about we don’t even go there. Exit stage left…

tv

I can make a list of books that have impacted me from my teenager years onward, and my Top Ten Movie list has over twenty movies in it. Apparently I suck at Math.

My family may make fun of my strange affection for anything to do with the arts, whether it be a play we saw, an amazing art display, or that movie on Cheap Tuesday, but I have come to think of it as a gift. I cherish my memories that I have of certain books I read, and even music that I listened to will transport me back to the story and the characters of a certain plot. Everytime I hear songs from Kings of Leon I am reminded of the summer vacation that I devoured Norman Mailer’s “Executioner’s Song”. Apparently I am a glutton for punishment, because it’s a very long, painfully well done book. And Derek and the Domino’s “Layla”? You may hear a great instrumental showcasing Eric Clapton’s mad skills during the last part of that iconic song, but all I see is the scenes where bodies show up in garbage trucks and sleazy apartments all over Brooklyn when Robert De Niro’s character starts killing everyone off after the airport heist in “Goodfellas”. Every. Single. Time.

At the risk of sounding weirder than I already I am, I share this post with you to let others know that you are not alone in your loving propensity towards fictional characters and made up scenarios. Without us the arts would be just another ‘Creative Writing’ class that no one actually takes. So go ahead, cry when Bumble Bee from the “Transformers” movie is being tortured by the US Military, even if he is just a car. Go ahead and mourn the loss of such greats as Tony Soprano and Walter White. And cherish that final chapter of the latest British page turner that reveals the twist you never saw coming! It’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with you. It just means you’re special.

It also means you probably should read “What She Knew” by Gilly MacMillan and probably check out HBO’s “Big Little Lies” which ended last night in an explosive finale that tied up every single loose end….and still has me shuddering and grinning and screaming ‘Girl Power’ like a lunatic.

The End. Until next obsesssion.