C’est L’Halloween

I don’t know about you guys, but today really kicked my ass. I had lofty goals of coming home from work and finishing an awesomely hilarious post about zombies I started this weekend, but instead I just lay on  the couch, ate pizza and watched 3+ hours of entertainment news programming. (Side notes: how is Chris Brown still a free man? Julianne Hough is an idiot, and I cannot wait for baby WildKis.)

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Anyway, since I stupidly vowed to write a blog post every day this month, here is an awesome link that’s been making the rounds on Facebook today-

‘C’est l’Halloween’: the story behind the greatest French Halloween song ever

Those who know, know. And if you don’t know, now you know.

I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.

Read the post, watch the vid, feel nostalgic, get in the Halloween spirit.. and maybe sing and dance a little. Or don’t- and say you did. That’s cool too.

Question of the Day: Did you take french classes in school?

A Climb To Remember

Looking back, the summer of 1990 was a rough time for everyone involved. The Gulf War was in full swing, a sharp recession swept the global economy, and MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” was a number one single.

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As if these atrocities weren’t enough, it was also the year my mom went back to work part-time, leaving my dad with five wily rug rats to contend with during one of the hottest summers on record in Nova Scotia.

My sisters, teenagers at the time, could mostly fend for themselves; however my brothers (10 and 12) and I (only four) required constant entertainment to keep from tearing each other’s heads off.

Dad tried taking us to the playground; but the monkey bars proved too perilous. Our trips to the beach resulted only in jellyfish stings and heartache. Eventually, he gave up, bought a bucket of KFC and took us to Greenhill Provincial Park. A picnic in the park, he (undoubedtly) thought, what  could possibly go wrong?

The park offered panoramic views of the entire county, and in those days there was a tower several stories high you could climb to get a better look.

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Immediately upon arrival my brothers rushed to the tower, with me following right behind them.

“Where do you think you’re going?” asked my brother Kristin, “This isn’t for babies!”

“I’m not a baby!” I protested, “I’m four and a half!”

“You’re not allowed!” contested my brother Stephen.

“Can I dad?” I pleaded

“Go ahead,” he sighed, lifting a drumstick defeatedly, “but be careful.”

With a satisfied grin, I began climbing the ladder, taking the first few rungs with vigor. I was feeling quite smug- until I looked down. The ground appeared miles away; my dad and his bucket of chicken nothing but a red and white dot on the horizon. Above me, the ladder seemed to extend infinitely.

My lip began to quiver.

“Hurry up!” shouted Stephen, a few rungs ahead.

“She’s scared,” chimed in Kristin. “I told you she was a baby!”

Tears burned the backs of my eyes, but resolve stirred deep within me. I was Jack, and this was my proverbial Beanstalk. I would climb this tower if it was the last thing I did.

Somehow, through sheer adrenaline, blind faith and four-year-old will, I made it to the top. Ready to bask in my accomplishment, I stepped onto the platform, took a long gaze around, and…… immediately began to bawl like a baby.

“DADDY!!” I wailed, “IT”S TOO HIGH!!!”

Inconsolable and paralyzed by fear, my father was forced to abandon his chicken and momentary peace to climb up the tower and rescue me.

“It’s ok,” he said later, wiping away my tears with a half soiled wet-nap. “You can try again next year.”

But I didn’t. Not that year, or any year after. Instead, I developed a life long fear of heights (and, vaguely, wet-naps). However, I did learn one important lesson that day which continues to guide my decision-making process: when given the choice between taking a risk and staying firmly on the ground with a bucket of fried chicken- always, always ,choose the chicken.

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Question of the Day: What Is Your First Memory?

Throwback Thursday: High School Style

Aah High school: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

……..But mostly the worst of times. At least when it came to my fashion sense.

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What I WISH I looked like in high school

Looking back on the years 2001- 2004, there are many outfits of which I’m not proud… and by that I mean all of them. But who wants to peak in high school anyway? As Ashley Cardiff puts it in her book “Night Terrors: Sex, Dating, Puberty, and other Alarming Things“:

“As soon as anyone ever says that high school years are the best of your life, you should just X them permanently. They’re done; they don’t have anything to offer you”.

True dat. Here are just a few of the things I wore in high school that make me never want to relive those years:

1. All Puma Errthang

So back in high school I had a slight (ok, huge) obsession with Missy Elliot.

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My love for the irreverent female rapper manifested itself in several different ways – all of which equally unfortunate. Like my desire to, despite being a white girl from small-town Nova Scotia, collect and wear as much Puma gear as humanly possible.

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I had at least half a dozen puma handbags and several track jackets; all of which I saved up for and bought with the money I made working as a cashier at a Sobeys grocery store (which mostly involved taking extra-long breaks and flirting with the tattooed parcel pick-up guy). I would get decked out in all my Puma and drive to school in my parents huge Dodge Ram truck, blasting Under Construction at eardrum-shattering decibels.

….uh, yeah. I was THAT cool.

2. Sk8Er Shoes

My fashion identity as a teen (if you could even call it that) was schizophrenic at best. Despite being a hip-hopapotamuswanna be, I also fancied myself as a bit of a skater girl. (What can I say, Avril Lavigne was big at the time).

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Luckily, I kept it skater-light, so this mostly involved wearing skater shoes and the occasional pocket chain. I had a pair of baby blue suede Vans with maroon V’s that were my prized possession. I used to clean them every night meticulously with a toothbrush. I also had a pair of black Etnies with bubblegum pink accents.

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I told you I am not proud of this.

3. Hawaiian Ginger Body Spray

If there’s one thing every 16-year-old girl needs, it’s more self-esteem a signature scent- and Calgon Hawaiian Ginger body spray was mine.

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Though I dabbled in both Satsuma from the Body Shop and Gap Dream, Hawaiian ginger was my tried, tested and true.

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A pungent mix of exotic fruit, white orchids and broken adolescent dreams, the stench was enough to put hair on your chest.

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 I can’t even smell this sickeningly sweet concoction without being transported back to a time of secret parties, bottles clinking in backpacks (sorry mom & dad) and Pony by Ginuwine.

4. Low-Rise Jeans

If there is one thing I have learned in my old age, it’s that low-rise jeans flatter no one. Except for maybe pre-2007 Britney Spears.

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Now, if I just had that DeLorean I’ve been asking for, then I could go back in time and tell my high-school self this and save us all a lot of embarassment.

Dear 17-year-old BreezyK: Hip Hugger flares have never been, nor will they ever be, your friend. Love: 27-year-old BreezyK.

5. American Eagle

I grew up in a small town where, aside from a sad Sears department store and a Northern Reflections, there was no clothing shopping whatsoever.

After 16 years of wearing nothing but Point Zero jeans and sweaters with loons on them,

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I was stoked when an American Eagle Jeans store opened up about two hours away in Halifax.

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For the rest of high school, I wore nothing but graphic tees and pre-distressed jeans.

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I remember once while shopping, another customer asked me if I worked there. It was hands down the best moment of my life.

6. Chunky Highlights

Why, pray tell, did anyone ever think THIS was a good idea?

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I could go on- but I think we’ve all suffered enough. Oh, and don’t even get me STARTED on my prom dress. That’s a whole other post right there.

Question of the Day: What embarrassing things did you wear in high school?

Love Lessons From My Childhood Pen Pal

I got a letter in the mail the other day. It was a bit of an unexpected thrill, considering my mailbox is usually filled with nothing but Domino’s pizza flyers. (Which, don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate.) 

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While reading it, I was reminded of a time in my life when letters weren’t quite so infrequent.

………. Cue the flashback (you knew it was coming)

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The year was 1995: I was 9 years old, bookish, and heavy into Blossom Hats and The Babysitter’s Club. I was teetering on the verge of what would soon become my five-year “awkward phase”, but didn’t know it yet. Life was good.

It was also the year I made my first Pen Pal.

*Not me or my dog.

*Not me or my dog.

I acquired my Pen Pal through somewhat unusual circumstances. My father, the son of Croatian immigrants, liked to keep ties with his Eastern European heritage. This manifested itself mostly in three ways: cooking obscene amounts of cabbage, hoarding things, and subscribing to a Croatian newsletter called  Zajedničar. 

Zajedničar, as I recall it, was a bizarre publication filled with ads for life insurance, way too many consonants, and people in weird costumes playing Tamburitzas.

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 I never paid much attention to it until one day, my dad showed me an ad offering a PenPal service connecting Croatian children across North America.  

Now this was something I could get down with. The opportunity to correspond with a real live girl in another country? Sign me up!

I immediately submitted my information to the magazine, and a few weeks later, received my first letter.  It was from a girl named Jessica in Erie, Pennsylvania. She was 10 years old, and loved Barbies, gymnastics and stickers- in that order.  She even sent me her school photo, in which she was wearing one of those Western bolo shirts that were popular at the time.

This was the best I could do on Google images. In reality, she looked nothing like this.

This was the best I could do on Google images. She actually looked nothing like this.

Her long, sandy blond hair was tied into a side braid with a fluffy white scrunchie on the end, and she accessorized with dangly troll earrings, gummy bracelets and a toothpaste-commercial smile.

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To me, she was impossibly cool.

I immediately began crafting my response. Besides just telling her my entire life story, I also spent hours researching her hobbies and interests in order to prove what a thoughtful and conscientious Pen Pal I could be. I even had my dad pull out the atlas to show me where Erie was on the map. 

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I was certain she would be impressed by such informational gems as:

Did you know your town is named after a lake??!”; and 

I heard toothpaste is great for removing sticker residue!” 

We corresponded for the next few months, sending letters as well as other totems of our respective 90’s childhoods: stickers, colorful erasers, POGS, temporary tattoos.We never spoke a single word about Croatia, but that was OK. 

Eventually, things kind of fizzled out. Ok, I’m lying. Jessica just straight-up stopped writing to me. I don’t really know what happened. I mean, maybe I was a little overzealous in my pursuits- spending hours drafting elaborate letters, consulting atlases and whatnot. And maybe I should’ve seen this one coming when my 10-page anthologies met with only a few measly paragraphs in response. “Maybe she’s busy practicing her tumbling,” my mother would say. But deep down, I knew the score. 

While being blown-off so coldly hurt at the time, in a way I’m thankful, because it probably prevented me from becoming a full-on stage 5 clinger in future romantic relationships.  

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Now I’m just incredibly closed-off and distant. I think it’s working out pretty well for me.

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So thank you, Jessica, for teaching me that there is such a thing as coming on way too strong. I  hope you finally found that Sailor Moon sticker sheet you were looking for, and that somewhere, out there, you and your side braid are tumbling off into the sunset.

Question of the Day: Did You Have A Pen Pal Growing Up?

When Did Valentine’s Day Get Such a Bad Rap?

The other day, I got a package in the mail from my mom and dad. In it, was a little Valentine’s day gift (yes, I know I am 27 years old.. what is your point, please?), as well as this vintage looking card with Raggedy Ann on the front:

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Curious, I opened it up to reveal that this was one of the cards I had given away myself in elementary school.

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Cute, eh? I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure I gave these out in grade 3. I also dressed up as Raggedy Ann for Halloween that year, so the timeline (and sadness) of it all would make sense.

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Grade 3 was a bit of an awkward year for me.

Anyway, it all got me to thinking about Valentine’s days past.

I will take any excuse to use this flashback image.

I will take any excuse to use this flashback image.

Back when I was a kid, Valentine’s day was invariably awesome. I’d wake up to some little treat from my parents; a card with some chocolate, some new barrettes, maybe even a Barbie (!!!) and then sit down to what I can only assume were my dad’s attempt at heart-shaped pancakes.

He tried.

He tried.

Then, I would deck myself out in red from head to toe (even the socks. I was a Valentine’s day extremist) and head to school, where we’d spend the morning fashioning little envelopes out of construction paper to hang on the edge of our desks to collect our Valentine’s bounty.

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After lunch was when the magic happened: Everyone brought in some food item to share with the class; (homemade cupcakes if your mom was fancy; a box of Oreos in my case) and there was often a bowl of punch, which, as a kid always made you feel very grown up.

Then, when it was time, you’d walk around the room and drop your painstakingly chosen Valentines into the newly minted envelopes of each of your classmates. No one was ever left out; as the rule in my school was that everyone got a Valentine.

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When all was said and done, I’d lay them all out on my desk; analyzing my haul the way I would my Halloween candy. Disney cards were always a constant; The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast. Other themes varied from year to year. One year Power Rangers was big; another year I distinctly remember getting 6 separate Sailor Moon cards.

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I can’t help but wonder; when did it all change? When did Valentine’s day go from being this awesome day filled with treats, kitschy cards and self-assurance; to the polarizing, commercial holiday it is today? When did we start calling it “Singles Awareness Day”, rather than just “Best Day Ever”?

sadWas it once elementary school ended, and the safety net of everyone getting a card was cruelly ripped out from under us? Or was it even sooner? Come to think of it, I remember as early as grade four, poring over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles card given to me by my crush, analyzing the cryptic message inside. “You have a Pizza My Heart” it read. Did this mean we were officially an item now? He had pushed me in the mud earlier that day…

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I can’t say for sure, but I kind of long to have those days back. I want to make sh*t out of construction paper again, and dress in monochromatic red with reckless abandon. I want to drink Hawaiian punch out of a fancy bowl and gorge myself on Grocery store slab cake. (Ok, that last part I will probably still do; though it will be in the solace of my own home rather than a classroom setting. And the punch will probably be spiked with the good stuff). Who’s with me? Let’s find a DeLorean and make it happen.

Question of the Day: When did your perception of Valentine’s Day shift?

It’s Not A Party Until Somebody Busts out an EpiPen

“Someone call 911!!” my Father shouted, “and for God’s sake would someone go calm down your mother??!”

It was Thanksgiving 2007, and I was standing in the upstairs bathroom of my childhood home, staring down at the (seemingly) lifeless body of my older sister Marija.

Just a few moments before, she had returned from her annual Thanksgiving 10k run and  gone upstairs to take a shower. The rest of my family and I were busying ourselves in the kitchen when suddenly, we heard a telltale “THUD” . We rushed upstairs to find my sister, passed out cold on the bathroom floor, sweatband and dry fit gear still firmly in place.

What she had neglected to tell any of us was that for the past four days, she had been subsisting on nothing but a cayenne pepper and maple syrup concoction (laced with speed, evidently) in an effort to pare down for the holidays. Apparently, this was a diet Beyonce swore by.

Right. So that makes it a good idea.

Unarmed with this essential information, we all feared the worst and launched into full-scale panic mode. My brother hit the floor, attempting to revive her like a scene from a bad Nicholas Cage film, while my mother screamed bloody murder in the background. I, in my usual helpful fashion, did nothing but stand there and sob uncontrollably. My father had just gone to send up an emergency flare in the backyard when my sister came to, staring into the faces of 6 crazed lunatics.

“Guys, I’m fine” she said. “But can someone get me a Gatorade or something?”

I wish I could say that this story was one of a kind; a blip on the radar of an otherwise unblemished Thanksgiving history. But sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Growing up the youngest of 5, Thanksgiving, much like any other holiday, was basically a shit show. If someone wasn’t passing out, they were splitting their hand open with a carving knife, or arm-wrestling over the last drumstick. Just getting us all in one place was cause for celebration in and of itself.

Despite all of this calamity,  I continue to book the overpriced ticket and go home for Thanksgiving every year. Why? Because there’s always the distinct possibility of one of my siblings getting their head stuck inside a turkey. And if so, I’d really like to put sunglasses on it.

Another Thanksgiving debacle in our family is the annual debate over who will say grace. The pre-dinner prayer was a necessary precursor to every Thanksgiving meal growing up, and one my siblings and I avoided like the plague. My Father would take up his post at the head of the table and ask, “Now, whose turn is it to say grace this year?” And inevitably, 5 collective heads would lower, eager to escape this cruel and unusual punishment.

I’m not really sure why we hated it so much. You reference the grub, thank the Big Man upstairs and move on. I mean, sure, there are are some weird, Latin old-timey words in there, but it wasn’t like you had to announce that you still wet the bed or something. Regardless, it was an unwritten rule that the one who had to say it would be forced to carry around a lifetime of eternal shame.

As the youngest, I was often the scapegoat. My siblings would team up against me and insist “It’s Bree’s turn! It’s Bree’s turn!” conveniently “forgetting” that I had recited it the previous 5 years in a row. If I ever thought about objecting, I only had to look at my brothers to know that one peep would result in a year’s worth of Smurf bites and figure four leg locks. Inevitably, I relented, left to mumble “Bless us o lord, for these thy gifts…” into my mashed potatoes as my brothers snickered in the background.

Things only got worse for me when one year, I decided to make a Thanksgiving centrepiece. I was 11, and going through my short-lived “interior decorating phase”. I watched home decorating shows religiously, rearranged the furniture in my bedroom daily, and, if permitted, would have sponge-painted every available surface area in our home. I had seen an amazing centerpiece in a copy of Martha Stewart Living  and was hell-bent on making it, despite my mother’s objections about the mess it would cause and my brothers’ taunts that “no one cared about a stupid centrepiece anyway”. It consisted of fall leaves artfully arranged in a cornucopia made out of a single piece of birch bark: all sprinkled with a hefty dose of glitter. It was magnificent. I just knew having it on our table would make for the best Thanksgiving ever.

Determined, I set off  in search of the perfect fall foliage for my piece de resistance. What I neglected to consider, however, were my chronically severe seasonal allergies. About 20 minutes into rummaging through leaf piles, I was sneezing so hard I could barely see straight, hives popping up on every inch of exposed skin. Think McCauley Culkin in My Girl, minus the anaphylaxis. I was barely able to stumble back home and limply drop my leaves onto the table before my mom gave me a hefty dose of Benadryl and sent me to bed. This was not, as Martha had suggested, A Good Thing.

Luckily, I only had to wait one year for my embarrassing Thanksgiving moment to be eclipsed by my brother Kristin performing what was perhaps the most notoriously stupid act in our family’s history.

We were celebrating our first Thanksgiving in a brand new home, and my mom brought out her gold-plated wedding china for the occasion. We had all been served, and were just about to sit down to dinner when my brother decided to warm up his turkey dinner in the microwave.

Not being an idiot, I of course knew that the combination of gold plating and microwaves did not mix, but despite this did nothing to stop it. Why? Because the irony was much too sweet. My brother; the self-described “science prodigy”. Boaster of many a math and science accolade. Dropper of frequent and unsolicited periodic table-related puns. This was much, much too good.

Just as I (and every known law of physics) predicted, within seconds sparks began flying and the Microwave lit up like a fourth of July picnic. He quickly rushed to press “cancel”, but not before leaving a sizeable hole in the newly microwave and a strong sulphuric tinge in the air. I had never felt so validated.

Shockingly, the mayhem is showing no signs of slowing down, and year after year, our house continues to resemble another instalment in the National Lampoon series. Just this past Thanksgiving, my mother claimed to have taken an allergic reaction to my sister Sherene’s homemade preserves, and proceeded to fan her face and sneeze dramatically throughout the entire meal. She says it was because of the nutmeg. I say it’s because they sucked. Oh well, I guess the old adage is true: it’s not a party until somebody busts out an EpiPen!

           Question of the Day: Any Good Thanksgiving Fails to Share?

*Ok so I know it’s not technically Thanksgiving for me. But I thought I would share this one for all my Amurrican friends. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

What Happens at Summer Camp….

What do you get when you take 100 young professionals, a few stocked coolers and an unlimited supply of house music and put them all on a secluded, picturesque island in Muskoka for a weekend? The makings for a really great blog post, that’s what. Also maybe a reality show. Or the sequel to Shark Night 3D.

It was the perfect summer vacation……

I just took that to a really dark place, didn’t I? Moving on.

Since moving to Toronto, I’ve been introduced to a group of friends who I would describe as “active fun-seekers”. Unlike my prudish, brooding self who likes to stay home and look at old movie stubs on the weekends, these guys are all about planning their next incredibly fun, outrageous adventures. If they’re not jetting off for ski weekends in Mont Tremblant or Vail, Colorado, they’re planning all-day beach parties on Toronto Island, or themed fundraising galas. The majority are lawyers, accountants, MBA’s and other professionals who like to work hard and play hard, and firmly believe that if you’re not wearing a costume, then you’re not having a good time.

For their latest project (enticingly dubbed “Summer Camp for Adults”) they rented out an entire children’s summer camp about 2 hours north of Toronto and invited over 100 friends to attend. Each of us paid a fee that covered the cost of transportation (by schoolbus of course), meals, and lodging for the weekend. Sounds sort of epic, right?

I’ll admit that I was a little wary of how I would fare with the whole “camping” thing. I never went camping as a kid, mostly because my mother despised it. Her war-veteran father had been convinced that spending time close to nature helped “put hair on your chest”, and forced my mother and her 5 siblings to spend a portion of each summer in the woods of Nova Scotia, “roughing it”. Because of this, she vowed never to put her own children through that same hell.

Perhaps because it had taken on a bit of a forbidden fruit element, I longed for the camping experience as a child. I remember having romanticized notions of what a family camping trip might be like. My siblings and I would roast hot dogs and make each other daisy-chain headbands while my dad regaled us all with local ghost stories. Then we’d all sing Kumbaya and go to sleep in our giant, 7-person tent. It would be just like in The Parent Trap.

One summer, I finally convinced my mother to let me go to sleep-away camp. I was 13, painfully awkward, and still firmly within the grasp of that unforgiving b*tch they call “puberty”. But nevertheless, I believed that this was going to be the best summer of my life. I could hardly contain my excitement about all the friendship bracelets I was going to make.  And the boys! So many boys to have “crushes” on! Or at least that’s what my YM magazines told me.  Needless to say, it was not exactly the summer I had imagined. 13 year olds can be a vicious bunch, and I struggled to fit in amongst a group who had been attending camp together for years. Also, somehow, the fact that this camp had a strong, Presbyterian mandate eluded both my devoutly  Roman Catholic mother and I… and when I came home singing “Ezekiel saw a wheel a rolling” and talking non-stop about some dude named “Calvin”, well, let’s just say that was the end of that.

We didn’t make this craft. But I wish we had.

But after a 13 year hiatus, I figured it was time to give camping another shot. A few friends and I opted to make the drive to Muskoka, rather than take the commissioned school bus,  but unfortunately didn’t leave the city until 4pm. AKA: Traffic Armageddon O’Clock. The drive, which should have taken approximately 2.5 hours, took us almost 6. We arrived at 10pm, in pitch darkness, and began unloading our stuff onto the dock, where we were to be transported to camp by a short boat ride.

The fact that I was a camping novice became immediately apparent when I looked around at what everyone else had packed.  Instead of a practical, and travel friendly sleeping bag, I had chosen to bring  a duvet and 400 thread count sheets. Rather than Bud Light Lime and local Ontario craft beer, I brought Rose. Although the darkness prohibited me from seeing the contents of the other campers rucksacks, I was quite certain they didn’t include a curling iron, half the contents of the Holt Renfrew beauty counter, and enough clothing to last the entire summer.  My foray into camping was beginning to look about as promising as Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s “cut the waist” challenge.

I quietly shoved my two blackberry devices out of view and under the copies of US Weekly in my designer handbag and focused instead on the faint noise of motor approaching in the distance. What appeared to be a glorified canoe pulled up to the dock, and we were met by an enthusiastic young man named Daniel wearing nothing but a smile and a camouflage Morphsuit. “Welcome to Camp Tamawkwa!” he said.

So this was to be our captain. Our good-times Sherpa, if you will. Meh. I thought. He’ll do.

I struggled to load each of my bags onto the boat, while  saying a silent prayer to the Saint of $17 Eyeshadows that all of my MAC would make it across alive.

Not Daniel. But this is what he looked like. Actually, it could be Daniel. Who knows what’s going on under there.

Now let me just say that being on a boat in the middle of the night in total darkness is not my idea of a good time. Although I’m sure the scenery was beautiful, I did my best to block it out, along with the scary noises and shadows, and focused instead on Daniel’s Morphsuit. How did he get into that thing? And why did he need to be in camouflage? Was he planning to hijack a pirate ship after this? Unfortunately, Morphsuit Daniel’s role of serenity began to unravel when he started regaling us with tales of “Axe-Man Jack”, the Axe Wielding, infamous ghost of the island. Great. Not only did I have foam mattresses and outdoor showers to contend with, now I had to deal with an axe-murderer too? What was I going to do if he approached me, smother him with my duvet??

Luckily we soon heard the sound of house music and the glow of mini lights from a distance.  The night’s planned festivities,  a “grade 8 dance”, was already in full swing. “The party’s been going on for a while,” said Daniel. “I’ll take you to your cabins so you can get your costumes on and join the others.”

We looked at each other blankly.

“Wait…” he said, “You did bring costumes, right?”

Things, it seemed, were about to get interesting.

Stay tuned for part two…………….

Question of the Day: Did you go to Summer Camp as a kid?

Dear Diary: Old School Edition

As my friends Young American Wisdom, Our Life in 3D, H.E. Ellis (and I’m sure many more) can attest- the mind of a child is a fascinating, complex- and most of all, hilarious thing. Often, when hanging out with my 7 year old niece, Lola, I find myself wondering what’s going on inside that little miniature brain of hers.

Actually, I know what she’s thinking about:  those babies she’s always carting around.  It must be stressful having like, 10 kids. I think she sings herself to sleep every night with What would you do” by City High…  I would.

For you this is just a good time, but for me this is what I call life....

Well, if you, like me- have wondered the same thing about those smaller-than-average-humans in your life- then do I have a treat for you today!

Back in the summer, when cleaning out my childhood bedroom , I came across this little gem:

 

What is behind that glorious Lisa Frank cat encrusted cover? You might ask.  That, my friends- is my childhood diary.  Given to me for my 7th birthday, it has preserved all of my little childhood secrets for almost 20 years…….. it’s sort of like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Only with worse spelling… and of no cultural, historic or religious significance.

Anyway, after I rescued this gem from the brink of obscurity last year, I sort of forgot about it… that is until last night, when, during a wine infused house-cleaning blitz (always a good idea) I stumbled across it again, and spent a good half hour reading it and laughing hysterically to myself.

So I thought I would share a few excerpts with you guys. Keep in mind, my objectivity may have been (definitely was) compromised, so you might not find it as funny as I did… but I’m still going to post it because I guarantee it’s much better than anything I could ever write now.

But before I get into the good stuff- a few disclaimers:

  • I was a highly unusual child.  (You’ll see)
  • For some reason, in the entries below, I felt the need to be incredibly profound, and at times, poetic. Just go with it.
  • Most of my friends were imaginary. I cannot guarantee that any of the names you will see below refer to actual, real live children.

Now that that’s out of the way- here goes (I have preserved original spelling/grammar for your viewing pleasure. You’re Welcome. )

November 16, 1992:

Today my mom got me my first diary. I can’t wait to write more stories. I am shure  I will have an exciting year. today we started practicing for our christmas concert. Mrs. Renouf said that she was proud of us for learning that song so quickly. We were in the lead because we have the most stickers. We are talking about bed time in school . I have a cruch on two people. Brian and Dillon. but I geuss none of them will ever like me”. [Ed. note: Chin up, little breezyk! boys dig confidence! You will learn this by 26. ......someday.]

November 17, 1992:

Today I fell in the mud twice. I  was humilyated by all my friends. [Ed note: does anyone remember falling in the mud as a kid? totally humilyating] The worst part is that I fell two times. [totally the worst part]. I wish people would learn that if they laugh at someone when they fall, the next person might be them. Besides, it’s not nice to laugh. I was lucky Dillon didn’t laugh at me…….. I try to make the most out of life. It’s the only one I have. These secrets are for your ears alone, so keep them secrets diary.

I can't even make this shit up

December 2, 1992:

Today I had a horable brainstorm. [Ed. note: hate those!] You wouldn’t believe what happened. Ashley said I made her troll fall. And she started to cry. I was not even there. And now she doesn’t like me but I still have friends. Then two boys started muttering to me. Then on the bus every body was pushing me. Then when I got home I dropped my Mr. Misty all over the floor [ed note: looking back, this was probably fate saying: "newsflash: you're mildly overweight. Put down the Dairy Queen, kid"]  Then I talked to my mom about it and she said It’s all right, it happens all the time. I felt better after I told someone. I have to say, I really wish my mind would make up its own mind. [Amen, sista].

My horable brainstorm involved drawing Jesus fish, apparently

December 19, 1992:

I feel terrible because I hurt my brother. It is the worst thing I ever did. It would be horible if any thing like that ever happened again. Although we fight alot I really love him. He is very nice in some ways I hate to say this But he’s one of a kind. [ed note: Kristin- don't say I never said anything nice about you]

There’s way more, but to be honest, that’s about all my self-esteem can handle for today (I considered posting the “About me” page, on which I list my favourite song as being “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t enough” by Annie Lennox… but the remainder was just too embarassing. Even for me).

Question of the Day: Did you have a diary as a kid?

P.S. if this is the second time you are receiving this post in your inbox- I apologize. My fat, hongray fingers accidentally hit “publish” before that shit was ready. my bad.

You’re Not Real Until Some Crazy Kid Loves You

Can you imagine Simon as a kid? His imaginary friends probably never wanted to play with him

- Paula Abdul

When I was a kid, I had a best friend named Jenna. Now, Jenna was a lot of things- it’s just that “real” didn’t happen to be one of them. Yep, girlfriend was about as imaginary as Brooke Mueller’s sobriety, but that didn’t stop me from loving the hell out of her anyway.

Growing up, we lived on the outskirts of town, and there weren’t a lot of other kids around to play with. Sure I had 4 older siblings, but they were way more into practicing the choreography to Kriss Kross and making out with their NKOTB posters than playing barbies with me. So I was sort of left to my own devices. Enter, Jenna.

Jenna was a slightly older, slightly cooler version of myself. She was 6, while I was 5, and had long, luxurious hair, rather than the stringy-ass front mullet I sported from grades 1 through 5. Her eye for fashion was enviable, and included such pieces as blossom Hats, slouchy socks, and overalls with one strap down. (I tried to copy this one. It usually resulted in said strap being dipped in the toilet).

By far the coolest thing about Jenna though, was that she was American.

As I child, I was obsessed with American culture. I blame this on the fact that we Canadian children of the early 90′s were inundated with American television. Almost every show on TV was set in a Santa-Monica high school or a  midwestern suburb. Rather than feeling alienated though, I longed to be an American. I saw Americans as worthy of the biggest brass ring I knew: being on tv.  I absorbed everything about the United States like it was my job- studied maps, learned the names of all 50 states, and begged my parents every year to take me there.

Jenna was effortlessly cool in a way that only Americans could be. She used terms like “freeway” instead of highway, and “soda” instead of pop.  She went to “kindergarten and first grade” instead of “grade primary” and “grade one”, and  had all of the coolest toys that you couldn’t get yet in Canada… She could enter contests that were only open to the residents of the 50 territorial states,  shopped at JC Penney and Macy’s and (get this) had Thanksgiving in NOVEMBER.

I can’t quite remember when it started, but at some point, I made the attempt to cross Jenna over from the fictional to the real world, and started name-dropping her like she was a real person:

“Oh, you have Teen Talk Barbie?? Well, I have a friend who has SUPER Talk Barbie. She says 100,000 things (ed note: all of which equally a feminist’s nightmare). You can only get her in the states”

“Did you know they call Chicago the windy city? Yep.. Jenna  lives there. She told me that”.

"Math is hard!!"

Jenna had taken on a whole new life of her own. It was like that quote from the Velveteen rabbit- where the rabbit asks the skin horse what it means to be “Real”, and the Skin Horse says:

“When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real”.  

Well, if by “love” the skin horse meant “projects her delusions upon“, then that sounds about right. I used my many layers of crazy to transform Jenna  into a walking, talking (and, arguably somewhat pretentious) real child. Eventually, however, my story began to wear thin. How did I know Jenna? And when was she coming to visit?? And wait- she lives in California?? I thought she lived in Illinois??

Uh-oh.  

I still remember the day when, after barraging me with a number of questions, a particularly horrendous girl said, in front of all of my classmates:

“There’s no such person as Jenna. That’s just her imaginary friend!!”

Blinded by hot tears, I ran from the playground.  The jig was up.  It was time for Jenna to retire.

For a while, I found other ways to ween myself off American culture… I had a penpal from Pennsylvania for a while, but I think I overwhelmed her with my constant questions and multiple small tokens of affection, and one day the letters just stopped coming. I made my parents take me Christmas shopping in Maine every year, and stocked up on Baby Ruth bars and clothing from The Limited Too. I even tried a few American regional accents on for size. But it was no use. At the end of the day, I was still as Canadian as a maple leaf made out of beavertails, snowshoes, and coloured money.

Eventually I learned to embrace my Canadian culture. Around 1999, the Canadian government would wisen to the fact that it’s country’s children were being brainwashed and Americanized through television,and pass a Policy  mandating specific levels of Canadian programming on tv. Then, when I was a teenager, Molson Canadian put out those “I am Canadian” ads, increasing patriotism and Canadian flag tattoos 10 fold nationwide (also potentially underage drinking. Not that I would know anything about that).

But despite all of this, to this day I think that Jenna lives on inside me. She’s there everytime I cross the border, and get a little surge of excitement from packages labelled in ounces rather than litres…. she consoles me when I realize that, despite all the progress we as Canadians have made- I  STILL can’t audition for cycle 16 of ANTM due to my nationality…. and she gives me a silent little high-five and an approving nod whenever I proceed to the checkout at an American outlet mall and pay the shockingly low suggested retail prices. I imagine she’s saying in her head “well done breezyk……. well done”.

Question of the Day: Did YOU have an imaginary friend growing up??  

What are you supposed to be, the Witch’s Brew?

The most magical day of the year has finally arrived- and you know what thaaaaat means: time to put on your “The one percent” costume and act all clever and relevant. Don’t worry, I won’t make fun of you (To your face).  It also means that it’s time for me to present, for your viewing pleasure, some of my  favourite Halloween clips of all time. Enjoy, all my little slutty angels, Muammar Gaddafis and GOP Presedential Candidates- and happppy Halloween!

The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror V

“No tv and no beer make Homer go… something something” 

I could devote a whole post to the best Simpsons Halloween specials- but I gave the 5th installment of Treehouse of Horror (which originally aired in 1994) the win here for its  parody of The Shining (clip), and  also Time and Punishment- where  Homer gets his hand stuck in a toaster and gets transported back in time. Ned Flanders as dictator of the world? God help us all.

 

It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

Poor Linus. Kid has big time delusions of meeting “the great pumpkin” – but I love him for it. And for the fact that he drags Lucy to the pumpkin patch on Halloween night to stand guard for  this fabled creature. When they wait all night and the Great Pumpkin doesn’t show up, Lucy freaks her freak and has a stage 5 meltdown, being all  “I gave up my Halloween candy for this shit??”

As Linus can attest – “There’s nothing compared to the fury of a woman who’s been cheated out of tricks and treats”.

Noted.

 

Homestar Runner- Pumpkin Carve-Nival

When I was in high school, I had a serious obsession with the cartoon “Homestar Runner“. It makes no sense- I realize this. It’s borderline obscure to the point of not being cool, and the  characters have ridiculous names like “Marzipan” and “Strong Sad”.. but for  some reason I just can’t get enough.  Especially of the Halloween 2002 special: “Pumpkin Carve-Nival” where the characters compete in a pumpkin carving contest, and everyone’s pumpkin looks like “the witch’s brew” and gets last place.

 

Hocus Pocus

I also couldn’t get enough of this 1993 film starring  Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy (yes- the ho from “Sister Act“) and Sarah Jessica Parker as “The Sanderson Sisters“, a trio of bad-ass witches who are resurrected after 300 years to terrorize Salem, Mass. It’s up to two teenagers, “Max” (Omri Katz) and “Dani” (Thora Birch) to save Halloween, and at the same time hopefully put an end to SJP’s attempts at trying to sing:

 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

So normally I HATE MUSICALS (it’s a lack of continuity thing) – but I make an exception for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.  It’s a Halloween tradition (which, if you live in Canada you will see every Halloween night on MuchMusic)- plus, vintage Susan Sarandon? Say no more

 

Question of the Day: What are you being for Halloween??

Timely? Slutty? Relevant? Let’s hear it