My Real-Life Elizabeth Taylor Moment

A couple of months ago, I turned 29. I didn’t make a big fuss about it because, who celebrates turning 29? It’s one year closer to 30 and, let’s be honest: 

 I figured I’d just pour myself a big glass of red wine, slather my face with anti-wrinkle cream and spend the day flipping through old Facebook photos, lamenting the dewy, uncorrupted skin of BreezyK past. 

My boyfriend however, had other plans for me.  He suggested we both take the day off work and hang out, which sounded good to me, because shameless self-pity isn’t really my best “office look”. 

I knew we had dinner reservations at 9pm, so I figured we would just kick until then. We were watching old SNL reruns when he turned to me and said “I have a surprise for you, but you have to pack an overnight bag”.

 “What is this, a Bachelor Fantasy Date?” I asked “Where are we going? And (more importantly) “how much time do I have to get ready?” 

 

“You’ll see” he said, “Just pack something to wear to dinner tonight, and some comfy clothes. We’re leaving in an hour”

Suspiciously, I began to pack. I am a notorious overpacker at the best of times, but with few parameters, this reached new extremes. I literally packed everything I own; including my passport (in case we were going to Paris), 6 pairs of socks (in case it got cold in Paris), and two different hair straighteners (in case one didn’t match the Parisian outlets).

“Whoa, it’s not like we’re going to Paris,” he said, correctly reading my crazy. “We’re staying at the Drake Hotel overnight.”

The Drake, if you’re not familiar, is a boutique hotel, restaurant, concert venue and general Toronto institution. I’ve been there many times to eat and drink, and have often said, “wouldn’t it be cool to stay here for a night?”

So I was really disappointed it wasn’t Paris pumped we were going there! (No really, I was. I don’t even look good in berets anyway.)

 Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so the concierge offered us complimentary cocktails at the hotel Bar. We sipped our Moscow mules and pretended we were fabulous people who regularly drink cocktails in hotel lobbies at 3pm.  

“Sorry for the wait,” said the concierge after we had finished, “we upgraded you to our nicest suite, and were just getting it ready. Looks like you have just enough time to change before your couples massage”.

Couples massage?

 

Our room had a very retro, mid-century modern feel with low light, teak wood furniture, and a big, sprawling chaise lounge. A bottle of champagne was chilling on ice. He must have mentioned it’s my birthday, I thought, adding two points to the mental tally I was already beginning to lose track of.

After our massages, he suggested we start getting ready for dinner early. “That way we’ll have time to drink champagne before we leave”, he said.

I was like,

 

He changed into his suit and I began the arduous process of getting ready. Two hours An hour later, with my smokey eye perfected, I emerged from the bathroom in my plush Drake Hotel monogrammed bathrobe. “I think I’m just going to wear this while we have our champagne,” I announced. “Then I can sit on that chaise in my robe and get lipstick on my champagne glass. It will be a very Elizabeth Taylor moment”.

Ok so she’s wearing a ball gown here. Whatever, you get the idea.

“Ok,” he responded, not missing a beat. After knowing me for nearly 5 years, he is used to my delusions of grandeur.

I sauntered over to the chaise lounge, folded my legs up under me in my best “White Diamonds Commercial” impression, and held out my champagne flute in front of me.

He smiled and poured us both a glass, raising his for a toast.

“Cheers,” he said, “I am so happy to be spending your birthday with you this year”.  

“Cheers!” I responded, clinking my glass against his and proceeding to down half of it in one fell swoop.

“Wait,” he said, “I’m not done yet”.

Something about the way he said it stopped me dead in my tracks. I slowly lowered the glass from my lips, dribblig the offending champagne back in. 

He reached behind the champagne bucket, and pulled out a jewelry box. Before I knew it, was down on one knee. He said a few sweet things, all of which I’m sure were carefully planned but now are a complete blur, before hitting the punchline:

“Will you marry me?” 

And how did I respond? Did I jump up and down? Cry beautiful, heartfelt, mascara-stained tears as Liz Taylor undoubtedly would have done? 

Nope.

I laughed.

And laughed.

And laughed. To say I was surprised was an understatement.  After about 30 seconds of solid giggling, I caught a glimpse of his face, which was registering pure terror, and I realized I still hadn’t actually SAID anything.

“Oh my god yes!!” I responded “Yes of course!! Sorry, it’s not funny, I’m just happy!”

 We decided to keep it just between us for the night, and to let our friends and families know the next morning. We went for a lovely dinner where we were so distracted by the enormity of what had just happened that we could hardly enjoy the delicious food. Just a note to newly engaged couples- TELL EVERYONE. Seriously, MILK that sh*t. We stupidly didn’t mention it until after our meal was over and had paid, and the chef literally ran out of the restaurant after us saying “Why didn’t you tell us! We would have given you free champagne and treats!”

 When we arrived back at the hotel, a long line was snaked outside of the Drake for their annual Halloween costume bash. We walked right to the front with our room card, and told the bouncer we were guests of the hotel. “Of course,” he said, lifting the velvet rope.

 “You know,” he said, once we were back in our room, “with our reservation, we have access to everything in the hotel, including the party. I think we should go- but we need some costumes.

 …….. Good thing I brought some!” to my utter disbelief, he pulled two costumes out of his seemingly endless bag of tricks- for him, a Mountie, for me, a Chef. (which was a relief, because I worried for a split second I was going to be The Pioneer Woman).

 Laughing, we switched into our costumes and made our way downstairs where we danced to 90’s hits and partied with kids too young to remember them. Although I had never imagined the night I got engaged to end like this, it was, strangely, perfect.

 So, in the end I guess I did get my Elizabeth Taylor moment-just not quite the way I had planned it.

meLiz

Question of the Day: Are you engaged? Tell me your proposal story!

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The 10 Best Books I Read in 2014

While my reading tally this year didn’t quite stack up to the 52 books I read in 2013, Intellectual Dachshund and I still managed to get through some 30-odd titles.

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This proved to be a much more manageable number, and one which actually allowed me to leave my apartment once in a while (whether I liked it or not.)

Also, can I just say that 2014 was officially the year of the female author? 7 out of 10 of these titles were written by unbelievably talented, smart, funny women.

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K I’m done now. On to my top 10 books!

1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

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What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

That is the question posed by Kate Atkinson in her wildly inventive novel Life After Life. Like a slightly heavier Groundhog Day, the book follows Ursula Todd as she lives- and re-lives- the events of the 20th century. From the opening paragraph, this book had me captivated and completely hooked. I had no idea what turn would come next, which kept me turning pages wee into the morning hours. More addictive than a Chopped marathon on the Food Network, I would highly recommend this for an exciting read. 

2.  Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

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In this funny, ambitious novel, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, best friends and 12-year business partners, must save their beloved used vinyl shop Brokeland Records from the new “Dogpile Thang” music megastore opening two blocks away. It’s like a High Fidelity and Empire Records mash-up, with the end result becoming something new and original entirely.

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 3. The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

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Way back in 2008, before Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize, she wrote The Rehearsal- a gripping little story (about 1/8 the length of the Illuminaries– a major reason why I chose to read it instead) set in the aftermath of a local scandal involving a young female student’s affair with her music teacher. Told from several different viewpoints in a non-linear plotline, I found this book inventive, captivatingly dark, and twisted. Definitely worth a read if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path.

 4. Us by David Nicholls

In Us, well-intentioned-yet oblivious scientist Douglas Petersen attempts to win back the hearts of Connie, his artist wife of 20 years, and the affection of his brooding, 17-year old son Albie, all against the backdrop of a family European vacation.

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I’m a big fan of David Nicholls, and loved his previous books Starter For Ten and One Day. I had high hopes for this one as well- but after reading several books this year about middle-aged marriages in crisis (see: The Vacationers, I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You), I worried the theme might be a bit played out. Happily, this book differentiated itself for me with its clever plot twists and laugh-out-loud humor.  I expect this one to be adapted into a screenplay any day now. I’d cast Colin Firth as Douglas,  Rachel Weisz as Connie, and Ansel Elgort as Albie.

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See, don’t they look good together? I’m really in the wrong line of work.

5.  The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill

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19-year-old twins Nicholas and Nouschka Tremblay, offspring of Quebec folk singer, and notorious playboy, Etienne Tremblay, spent their childhood in the public eye. Now they are grown up and making their own mistakes on the streets of referendum-era Montreal – all of which ending up in the French Canadian tabloid Allo Police. It’s a slightly-offbeat coming-of-age tale with a hefty dose of family drama, and a side dish of Canadian politics.

6.  The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman

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I have a special place in my heart for this book, even though it is responsible for the one and only sunburn I received in 2014. (Seriously I’ve gotten much better on the tanning front since winning the nonexistent Miss Hawaiian Tropic competition in 2008). I could feel my shoulders getting redder in the mid-July sun, but my heart just wouldn’t let me put the damn book down. I didn’t want to stop reading about Nathaniel, the self-absorbed future literary star, with a similar penchant for breaking hearts.  This is also maybe one of the best books I’ve ever read told from a reverse gender perspective. I found it amazing the way Adelle Waldman really got into the mind of a man and wrote Nathaniel so convincingly. Seriously worth a read.  (And if you don’t believe me- according to her Instagram, Kate Hudson liked it too.)

7. My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

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Part memoir, part coming-of-age story, part love letter to New York City, My Salinger Year  tells the story of Joanna Rakoff as a starry-eyed twenty-three-year-old who moves to New York with the dream of becoming a writer. Instead, she winds up in a crappy Williamsburg apartment with a crappy boyfriend and a crappy job as assistant to the literary agent for J.D. Salinger. Her task? To answer Salinger’s endless pile of fan-mail with a stock response. At first mind-numbingly boring, she soon becomes engrossed by the letters, inspired to craft her own replies.  As they say in the publishing world- it’s a “small story” , but it’s got a lot of heart, and is a great, light, entertaining read.

8. Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler 

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Fed up with the way his life has been portrayed by others, and in the media, thrice-married, aging TV producer Barney Panofsky decides to set the record straight by writing his own memoirs.  Rich in themes- including life, love, family, friendship and aging- I thought it was excellent. Romantic, captivating, hilarious, and uniquely Canadian, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great read.

9. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Confession: I kind of want to be best friends with Amy Poehler. And if you don’t already, you will too after reading her hilarious book Yes Please. A hodge – podge of personal essays, life advice, Bossypants-esque memoirs from her time on SNL and Parts and Recreation  and straight-up randomness, it will both endear you to her, and leave you laughing uncontrollably. Do yourself a favor and read this one.

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10. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

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This short story collection by indie darling Miranda July (she also wrote and starred in a movie Roger Ebert cited as one of the best films of the decade) is weird, captivating, and slightly disturbing. Any summary I would give wouldn’t do it justice- so check it out if you’re in for a very different read.

Other Books I read in 2014 (In no particular order):

  • Office Girl -Joe Meno
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tart
  • Fangirl– Rainbow Rowell
  • Listen to the Sqwaking Chicken– Elaine Lui
  • Transatlantic– Collum McCann
  • One more thing – BJ Novak
  • Run Rabbit– John Updike
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- James Joyce
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil- John Berendt 
  • Not That Kind of Girl -Lena Dunham
  • The Vacationers – Emma Straub
  • I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You – Courtney Maum
  • American Pastoral- Phillip Roth
  • No Relation -Terry Fallis
  • Dear Leaves: I Miss You All – Sarah Heinonen
  • Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers– Mike Sacks

Question of the day: What was the best book you read in 2014?

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Brow So Hard

You may recall that a while back, I was the victim of a horrific crime against brow-manity.

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You can read all about it here, but in case you find that too traumatizing, here’s the cole’s notes version: some b*tch named Tina at The World’s Worst Salon waxed half my eyebrows off and burned me like a blank CD.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Anyhoo, it’s been nearly four months since that fateful day, and with the help of countless dollars’ worth of miracle growth products a little patience, regular exfoliating and nightly prayers to Saint Jude, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, my eyebrows are FINALLY starting to grow back.  

The only problem is, now that I’ve been burned once before (quite literally), I’m a bit gun-shy. I’ve been scared sh*tless to let anyone else touch my brows lest I suffer the same fate.

And let me tell you- four months of regrowth ain’t pretty. My brows began to slowly take over my face like misshapen, wayward caterpillars.

When she heard my harrowing tale of woe, a friend recommended that I check out the Brow House in Yorkville, a salon dedicated exclusively to eyebrow maintenance in Toronto’s most chi-chi neighbourhood.

“They put me on a ‘brow plan’,” she told me “I love my eyebrows now”.

A brow plan? Well if that isn’t exactly the type of ridiculous, first world sh*t I live for, then I don’t know what is.  Sign me up!

I booked a “consultation” on Saturday afternoon, right between my hair and nail appointments (the struggle is real), and spent the rest of the week with visions of full brows dancing in my head.

The salon is tucked-away in a brownstone walk-up on a quiet Yorkville street. Inside, it is is minimalist and chic: all white with a few, well-spaced red salon chairs, mirrors, and a coffee table stacked with aspirational lifestyle magazines.

I was introduced to my “brow artist”, Natalia.

“How can I help you today?” she asked.

I proceeded to recount my traumatic experience.  “That is horrifying” she said, taking my hand and looking in my eyes seriously. “I am so sorry you have gone through that. You have come to the right place. ”

She proceeded to explain that, despite their current Anthony Davis status, my brows were actually in OK shape.  She drew a line on my face to show me where my brows should be, and said that for the most part, they were growing back nicely. After a couple more months, my arches would be good as new.

As she waxed away the stray hairs, she told me about the Brow House philosophy. “We take a lot of factors into consideration when providing a brow recommendation,” she explained, “your hair texture, color, face shape. If you have a round face, you will need longer, more arched brows to balance it out. For a longer face, we recommend flat brows with a low arch”.

I nodded enthusiastically, amazed by this brave new world of brow theory.

Like me, the ladies at the Brow House are firm believers in the “full brow lifestyle”.

“Have you ever considered getting a tint?” she asked. “That way you won’t have to fill them in every day?”

I was skeptical. What if I looked like one of those old ladies who colored in her eyebrows with a Maybeline eyeliner?

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“No no, it will be subtle” she promised. Reluctantly, I consented, and held my breath as she coloured in my brows with a miniscule paint pot.

The result was, just as she had promised, natural and awesome.

“I feel like a whole new person!” I squealed, taking in my (arguably incrementally) changed appearance in the mirror.

I paid my bill (yikes) and booked another appointment in four weeks. Hook, line and sinker.

Exhibit A: Awkward After Pic I made Colin take of me in front of the microwave.

 

The price of beauty apparently knows no bounds, but god damn if I just bought me some good lookin’ brows.

Question of the Day:  What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for beauty?

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A Million and One Things To Do With Leftover Pumpkin

I was deep in the middle of my Saturday morning routine (painting my nails and watching PRV’d weight loss shows), when my boyfriend announced he wanted to make pumpkin muffins.

“Great!”I said, “Love pumpkin muffins!”

“Want to help?” he asked

My immediate reaction was:

 

…but, in an effort to be more domestic, I decided to bite the bullet. Plus, he has  been watching a lot of Pioneer Woman lately, and I’m starting to develop a bit of a complex.

Damnit, Ree Drummond! Stop making the rest of us look bad!

“Sure” I responded, Tis the season right?

Since canned pumpkin just “wouldn’t do”, step 1 was  heading to the market to pick up an actual, real-life pumpkin. There, I entertained myself by taking autumnal instagrams

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while my boyfriend agonized over the perfect gourd. Since they were all $2, we ended up walking away with the biggest pumpkin we could find. Literally, it was like, country fair-winning, radioactive isotope variety.

It could happen.

With the help of a wheelbarrow, some patience, and a LOT of complaining on my part, we eventually got the beast home and set about de-gutting the thing.

“You want to do the honors?” he asked me

In my head, I was like:

But deep down I knew that the Pioneer Woman wouldn’t be afraid of a few pumpkin guts. She’d get her strong, ranch hands in there and tear those guts out with her award-winning southern smile. So, I got myself a rubber glove, and was like:

Suffice to say, it was not pretty- but in the end, we got the thing cleaned out, and used the pumpkin flesh to whip up these delicious muffins:

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Only problem was, even after making the muffins, we still had about 98% of the mutant pumpkin left.

“So, what are we going to do with the rest?” he asked “We can’t just throw it out”

Both my patience and will to live were severely compromised at this point, but instead of getting down, I thought to myself: WWRDD – What Would Ree Drummond Do?  B*tch would get in there and whip up some more delicious pumpkin specialties.

“Of course we won’t throw it out!” I choked, “let me Google some ideas!”

I found a website devoted to “50 things you can do with leftover pumpkin” and my mind was literally blown. Up until that point, my experience with pumpkin was  limited to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and the occasional Pumpkin Spice Latte, if I was feeling frisky. This website had everything from pumpkin risotto, to pumpkin flavored margaritas.

I found a recipe for lamb and pumpkin stew that sounded delicious, and decided to attempt it. Guess what? It turned out AMAZING.

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Next, I roasted the pumpkin seeds with some olive oil, smoked paprika and cumin:

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But despite these two further recipes, we had still barely made a dent in the pumpkin. I knew I had to take drastic measures, so I decided to roast the remaining pumpkin and make pumpkin puree.

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At this point, I was starting to get really into it.  I had become obsessed with using every last inch of the pumpkin – even the peel. My boyfriend looked at me with shock and awe as I peeled off the skin of the roasted pumpkin for later use.

“It’s for facials,”  I said, “Did you know pumpkin is amazing for your skin?”

“I think I’ve created a monster,” he replied.

With the pumpkin sufficiently disposed of, the only question remaining was: what to do with all of this damn pumpkin puree?

Um.. smoothies obviously!

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I started with this pumpkin pie smoothie recipe and it was damn delicious.

Ree Drummond better recognize!!
Ree Drummond better recognize!!

Things were going so well, I decided to try another smoothie- this time a “Green” variety. This one included pumpkin, spinach, frozen banana and almond milk.

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Uhhhh… guys- do not try this one at  home.

When I told my best friend about all of this, she couldn’t believe my domestic prowess, and challenged me to use the leftover pumpkin for her birthday cake.

Even though I had never baked a cake in my entire life , I’m not one to back down from a challenge- so I got my apron on and set to work.

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I won’t lie that the process was a little touch and go….

 

But with a LOT of help from my boyfriend, we did it:

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A three-tiered, pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting:

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The cake was a big hit at the party (mostly because I forced everyone to eat it while repeatedly yelling “Can you believe it?? I MADE that sh*t!!” in their faces) – and thankfully I have used up most of the remaining pumpkin (I was seriously starting to worry I was going to turn orange there for a while).

Do I have a future in food blogging? Probably not- but I’d still like to think I could give the Pioneer Woman a run for her money.

Question of the Day: What is the most ambitious thing you’ve ever cooked?

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Haircut Regret

My entire life I have coveted long, luxurious hair.

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Maybe it’s because of my childhood obsession with Barbie dolls, or maybe it’s the steady diet of Saved By The Bell I consumed as a kid, but for whatever reason, I grew up thinking  that shiny, cascading locks were the consummate and only ideal of female beauty.

Unfortunately for me, my impossibly thin, pin-straight hair refused to achieve great lengths. I blame bad genes. And the two unfortunate “perm incidents” I had in grade three.

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No matter how hard I tried to let it grow, I could never achieve anything beyond shoulder-length.

….Until I got to law school. I’m not sure what changed, but after more than 20 years of feeble growth and breakage, my puny hair suddenly began to grow like a weed. By second year, it was halfway down my back. What can I say? I guess a steady diet of Alexander Keith’s and 3 a.m. donairs does a body good.

I felt like a whole new person with my long hair, and for almost two years I reveled in its glory. But then, I went and ruined it all.

For Halloween in third year, I decided to dress up as Snow White. I had a hairdresser pin my long locks up into a bob to complete the look, and the results were, in a word, spectacular.

You guy- I was the fricking FAIREST.

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So true was the likeness that random people came up to me and suggested I apply for a job at DisneyWorld.

I was so in love with the attention I was getting that I started to think that maybe a REAL bob would be a good idea.

And that’s where I should have pumped the brakes.

But I didn’t. Instead, I made an appointment the very next day with the same hairdresser, and allowed her to chop off of my long beautiful hair. I was convinced I would love it- that when I looked in the mirror I’d see Snow White and her glossy black mane staring back at me.  But instead, when she turned around my chair, I was like:

Not only had she cut it about 2-3 inches shorter than I intended, without all that extra hair pinned up underneath, it just looked flat, puny and lifeless. It was actually so thin that you could see through it.

I immediately started to cry (apparently crying in salons is a thing for me), while the poor hairdresser tried to convince me it looked great.

But I knew in my heart that it didn’t. I mean, you know a haircut is bad when NO ONE compliments you on it. And it’s not like they didn’t notice. I cut 8 inches off! 8!

Even when I asked my mom what she thought, her mouth said “it looks great!”  but her eyes said:

My self-confidence plummeted, and I’ve been trying desperately to grow it back ever since, while at the same time dealing with the  awkward in-between stages that follow a short haircut. I’ve tried everything- vitamins, special oils, prayers to Saint Agnes, the Patron Saint of all hair.

I even tried gluing hair on a vodoo doll. (I think I might have been doing it wrong.)

I was beginning to fear that I was destined to spend the rest of my days looking like the sad, “before” girl in Pantene Pro-V commercials:

But just a few months ago, it miraculously started to grow again.  I guess Agnes must have snuck into my room while I was sleeping and sprinkled some chia seeds on that noise.

Anyway, I won’t question it- but I know that the next time I get the ridiculous urge to cut my hair, I’ll remember one thing:

Question of the Day: Have you ever regretted a haircut?

When It’s OK To Ask A Woman If She’s Pregnant

On the scale of most embarrassing things that could possibly happen to a woman, being matched with your coworker on e-Harmony is probably about a 6.

Having a “wardrobe malfunction” in front of millions of people, on the other hand, is a definite 10.

What happened to me fell somewhere in the middle.

My boyfriend and I were on our way to his parent’s house for dinner, and due to (yet another) subway closure, we were crammed onto a clown-car like shuttle bus with hundreds of other disgruntled passengers. All the seats were occupied, so we were forced to stand and hold onto the hand-rails.

This was particularly challenging for me, as after imbibing a bit too much at a wedding the night before, balance was not exactly my forte. I was minding my own business, trying not to topple over, when suddenly the young man sitting next to us took his headphones out of his ears, and looked up at me.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, “please, sit here”.

“Oh, no that’s ok” I said awkwardly, not wanting to leave my boyfriend to stand alone.

“No, really-I was on my phone, I’m sorry I didn’t notice before” he apologized.

I looked back at him, perplexed at his polite insistence.  He must have been about 20, with a head of shaggy, unkempt hair and a complexion resembling the lunar surface. He wore ill-fitting khaki pants and a t-shirt with an anime logo; possibly Pokemon.  He didn’t immediately strike me as the old-school-Southern gentleman type.

And then I noticed him gesturing towards my stomach, and a wave of understanding rolled over me like nausea.

Oh my god. I thought, Homeboy thinks I’m pregnant.

“No really, I’m fine” I stammered, struggling to hold back tears, “thank you though”.

Realizing what had just gone down; my boyfriend led me by the hand to another area of the bus, far away from my the Pokemon-sporting perpetrator.

“Are you ok, babe?” he asked tepidly. (It was clear that he was terrified.)

“I’m fine” I mumbled, “just give me a minute”.

For the remainder of the bus ride, I tried to maintain my cool as I cycled through the five stages of grief.

1. Denial

2. Anger 

3. Bargaining

4. Depression 

5. Acceptance 

I looked down at my slightly protruding belly. It wasn’t impossible to see where he was coming from. In my hung-over state, I had chosen one of those long, flowy maxi-dresses often sported by pregnant ladies (or Mrs. Roper). And I had overindulged quite heartily at the wedding the night before (late-night burger bar much?)

I would have said this was the most mortifying moment of my life……….. had it been the first time this happened.

A few years ago, when I was an articling student at a law firm, I had pretty much given up on putting myself together after a particularly bad stint of late nights. It was 11pm, and I was hunched over my desk, trying to finish a memo when the night cleaning lady came by to empty my garbage.

“Oh!“ she said, smiling and pointing to my ever-expanding midsection “Congratulations! You are pregnant, no?”

If two mistaken pregnancies aren’t enough to get your ass in gear, then I really don’t know what is. In an effort to “lose the baby weight”, I’ve started a new diet and exercise regime, which includes a horrific bootcamp class featuring countless burpees, tire flipping, and smashing things with a sledgehammer (which I imagine to be Pokemon dude’s face).

So for those of you who were wondering just when IS it ok to ask a woman if she’s pregnant?

The answer, my friends, is NEVER.

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Although you may be well-intentioned, it’s just not worth the risk.

Not only will it be super f*cking awkward if you get it wrong,

You could also cause some serious damage. At the very least, a slight ego bruise; but it could be much worse. You never know what that woman is going through.  Maybe she can’t conceive. Maybe she just had a miscarriage. Maybe she’s just having a really hard time right now and is coping with a family-sized jar of Nutella.

…. I know all about that  not that I know anything about that.

So mind ya bidness, ok?

All this being said, it has come to my attention that people will never, ever stop being idiots.

Which is why I have developed a few potential responses you can use if this extremely unfortunate situation were to happen to YOU.

BreezyK’s top things to say when someone asks if you are pregnant (and you’re CLEARLY not):

  • Yes and your husband is the father.
  • No… are you?
  • Nope, just fat
  • No, pregnancy would require me to stop drinking
  • I’ve been possessed by an alien lifeform! *Run screaming* It’s alive!! It’s alive!!!
  • Only if you count food babies
  • It’s an immaculate conception. JESUS HAS RISEN!!!

Question of the Day: Have you ever been mistaken for / mistaken anyone else for being pregnant?

When Bad Brows Happen To Good People

When it comes to eyebrows, my philosophy is “The Bigger The Better”.

Elizabeth Taylor, Cara Delevigne and Lily Collins are just a few of my big-browed Icons.

I trace this preference back to my mother, who instilled in me from a young age the importance of a strong brow. I was taught that eyebrows frame the face, and to fundamentally distrust anyone with thin, sperm-like brows.

Turns out I’m not alone. Thick eyebrows have long been thought to connote youth and status; so much so, that in 18th-century Western Europe, upper-class women stuck mouse hair above their eyes to make their brows appear fuller. A recent Financial Times article also noted that brows can reveal a surprising amount about the economic climate. In boom times, eyebrows are dense and thick (think the 1960s and 80s), and during recessions they become thin and highly arched.

Given my strong opinions about brows, it should come as no surprise that I am extremely particular about my own. I go to the same salon religiously every 3-4 weeks where a lady named Gia takes care of my every waxing need. Despite having a club foot and limited English capabilities; Gia still manages to give the best damn brow I’ve ever had. She knows exactly what I like, and always succeeds in perfecting the full but manicured look.

So this past Saturday, after realizing my brows were crossing over into Anthony Davis territory,

I decided to pay Gia a visit. Much to my dismay, however, Gia wasn’t in that day.  “Kim can do for you!” said the manager, “Kim is great!”

This was a conundrum. My instincts told me not to chance it; but I had a party to go to that night, and was really hoping to leave the furry caterpillars taking over my face at home.

“Ok,” I said reluctantly, following Kim into the back room. “But just clean them up- don’t change the shape!”

Kim nodded and smiled. I had a sneaking suspicion Kim’s English skills were even worse than Gia’s; but I had no choice but to put my faith in her.

Within seconds of the first strip, I felt scalding pain. “Ouch!” I screamed “Oh… Too hot?” she asked,

Well, this is off to a great start, I thought.

The next few strips passed without incident; until suddenly, I heard those two fateful words- the words that no girl wants to hear while in the esthetician’s chair:

“Oops. Sorry!”

A rush of panic ran through my veins. “OMG what?? what happened?” I screeched “Let me see!!”

I rushed to the mirror, and was horrified at the reflection staring back at me. Not only had the b*tch taken a full chunk out of my right eyebrow, she had also burned  the skin under my left brow so badly that it was flaming red and raw.

I immediately began to bawl like a baby.

“uhh.. wait right here” she said “I’ll get the manager”.

After what seemed like a lifetime of crying into a sheet of industrial strength paper towel and envisioning my inevitable future as a circus freak show performer, Kim finally returned with the manager, Tina.

“Why are you crying?” asked Tina, a little too harshly; “Don’t worry, we can fix for you!”

Tina took the reins; and spent the next 10 minutes tweezing my eyebrows aggressively; pausing only to snap “Please stop crying!” at random intervals. I knew I was causing a scene; that I was likely traumatizing all the poor girls out there just trying to enjoy their $35 mani/pedis in peace; but I didn’t care. If I was going down, this whole Salon was going down with me.

“There. Much more better” Said Tina. I tepidly checked my reflection once again, only to discover that her definition of “fixing” meant tweezing my brows into impossibly thin twigs.

Also, as a nice bonus, she had made my left brow approximately 2 inches higher than my right and insanely arched. Which is great, because who doesn’t want to look like the Joker at his own surprise birthday party?

Cue second crying sequence.

I literally looked like I had developed Alopecia overnight.

You know on America’s Next Top Model, when Tyra gives girls makeovers and bleaches their eyebrows to look more “Editorial” but in reality, they just look like freakshows?

Yah, That’s what I looked like.

“Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay” said Tina, accurately reading my horrified expression.

“Uh I won’t be!” I responded, gathering my things and storming out. I felt the heat of a million eyes on me (or maybe that was just the third degree burns) as I walked out of the packed salon and home to do some immediate triage.

Luckily, with the help of my Chanel Brow Kit, some trial and error, and a few prayers to Saint Jude (the Patron saint of Lost causes) I was able to make my brows look somewhat close to normal again. (Seriously ladies, if any of you are considering buying this product, do it. This puppy is worth it’s weight in gold).

My friends at the party told me I looked fine- but I’m still not convinced.

So, to recap: not only can I never show my face in my regular salon again, an extra 10-15 minutes of my morning routine must now be set aside for “eyebrow realignment”.

I spend large portions of my days now just staring at my brows in the mirror, thinking:

Thankfully, I found a sympathetic ear in Mindy, the Shoppers Drug Mart sales associate who had been through a similar brow mishap. She recommended RapidLash, an eyebrow and eyelash growth serum which I have been applying religiously every night,

She also gave me a free sample of some anti-scar cream for my viscious burns. So, if all goes well I should be looking good as new in……. 8-12 weeks!

Question of the Day: Have you had any bad salon experiences?

 

How to Read 52 Books In One Year (Without Going Insane)

I just finished reading my first book of 2014 – Barney’s Version by Mordechai Richler.

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It was excellent. Romantic, captivating, hilarious, and uniquely Canadian, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great read.

(Or, you could always just watch the film. I won’t tell.)

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Anyway, as I delve into book #2 of the year (A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man… which I’m reading solely so I can use the term “Joycean”), I’m considering making a similar reading goal to last year.

As you may already know (because I can’t get enough of saying it), I read 52 books in 2013. Insane? Maybe; but it also was really great for me. Not only did having a goal keep me reading regularly, it also helped my writing, as well as my general conversation skills.

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I’m not going to say it was easy, because honesty there were times I thought I’d rather glue my eyelids open and watch a marathon of Hollywood Game Night than keep reading.

But like Tom Arnold with a particularly tough charade, I persevered! And if you’re feeling masochistic ambitious, here are some ways you can do it too!

1. Find The Time

I know that you’re thinking: This bitch cray! 52 books in one year?

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And I get that. You’re busy. I was too. (Mostly watching TV and Youtube videos on how to perfectly apply liquid eyeliner). But regardless, here are a few ways I squeezed in some extra reading time:

  • Always Keep a Book With You. Treat that baby like it’s your American Express Card (or- in my case, 17 different lipglosses) – never leave home without it!  You’d be surprised by the amount of reading you can get done waiting at the doctor’s office, in line for the DMV, or just generally avoiding human contact. It’s a lot more productive (though not necessarily as much fun) than playing candy crush on your iPhone.
  • Make the most of your commute. Read on the bus, train or subway on your way to and from work. Unless you get carsick.. because….

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Aaah Sweet Brown. I can never get enough.

  • Read on your lunch break. This was my specialty. Every day at lunch, I’d take my book to the food court and read for 30 minutes.

goal8I kept waiting for someone to write me a Craigslist Missed Connection but… no dice.

2. Always Have Your Next Book Lined Up

Making a list of books I wanted to read in advance helped keep me on track. It also motivated me to read faster, as I was always excited to get to the next book on my list.

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I found Goodreads to be an excellent resource for this, as well as suggestions from friends and blog readers.

Another tip is to check out the  “people who bought this author also bought….”. and “suggestions for you” tabs on Amazon.

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…….Or you could just read the entire Baby Sitters Club series (again). No one blames you.

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3. Don’t Torture Yourself

As the saying goes, “If you hate a book set it free”…..Or something like that. In other words- if you start a book that you really don’t like or just can’t get into, move onto the next. Otherwise, you’ll just get discouraged and lose excitement and momentum.goal12

I struggled with Infinite Jest for about 50 pages before eventually realizing that a David Foster Wallace dissertation about a missing VHS tape was not the hill I wanted to die on.

There’s 75 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

4. Mix It Up

Although I was seriously tempted to read nothing but 52 emo romance novels in 2013, I knew that, like all great pop stars, I had to get a lot of plastic surgery and a white cane mix things up in order to keep it fresh and exciting.

Exhibit A
Exhibit A

Accordingly, my 2013 reading list was a serious hodge-podge of short stories, novels, memoirs & non-fiction. I also alternated between bestsellers like Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (wait for the movie) to contemporary classics, like On The Road by Jack Kerouac (must read), and the occasional Penguin classic, like Howard’s End by E.M Forster (there’s a reason I didn’t major in English Lit).

5. Break It Down

Let’s face it- the number 52 just sounds horrifying. (Unless it’s being used to describe chocolate bars, glasses of wine, or issues of US Weekly).

mmm... chocolate.
mmm… chocolate.

The point i’m trying to make here, is that the idea of reading 52 books in one year can seem a bit daunting at first- so break it up into smaller goals. 52 books in one year works out to toughly 4 books a month, or one a week. You can even set a number of pages you’d like to read each day.

You know that acronym about goal setting? SMART?

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Yeah- Use that!. But don’t tell anyone you’re doing that, because, well… it’s kinda lame.

So those are my tips! And remember kids, above all else- do it for yourself, and your love of literature!

…and maybe also to rub it in people’s faces.

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Just a little 🙂

Question of the Day: Have you set a reading goal for 2014?

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The Top 10 Books I Read in 2013

In case you missed my previous post, I read 52 books in 2013.

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I know, I’ve been trying to repress it too.

In all seriousness- setting a reading goal was actually good for me. I spent way less time watching reality TV and checking Craigslist Missed Connections. It also gave me something to talk about at cocktail parties, instead of just standing in the corner, mindlessly hoovering canapes and white wine spritzers, counting down the minutes until I could go home.

I also had the pleasure of reading a lot of really fantastic books…so many that I had a hard time narrowing it down to just a few. 

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But alas- despite being a millennial, I recognize that not everyone can win the prize.. so here they are: 

 The Top 10 Books I

Read in 2013 

1. Middlesex

by Jeffrey Eugenides

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I’m not one to make gushy statements, but this multi-generational masterpiece about a Greek-American family in Detroit may be the best book I’ve read not just this year, but EVER. (You can read my initial review here).

I will caveat my glowing recommendation with the fact that it is a bit of a saga. If you’re looking for something a little shorter/less dense, check out Jeffrey Eugenides’ other books, The Marriage Plot and The Virgin Suicides (since adapted into a film by that boyfriend-stealing b*tch Sophia Coppola).

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by Milan Kundera

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This book made me feel a lot of feelings. 

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………. Which is saying a lot, because I sort of pride myself on feeling as few feelings as possible.

A love story set in Eastern Europe during the infamous Prague Spring of 1968, this book is chock-full of romance, tragedy, metaphors and emo-goodness. It made me want to curl up with a fuzzy blanket, a glass of wine and a big-ass box of Kleenex. 

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3. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

by David Sedaris

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The latest collection of humorous essays by my hero/life model/favourite writer ever David Sedaris did not fail to disappoint. As I mentioned in my initial review,  I was lucky enough to attend a reading of his back in April when the book came out. He responded to fan questions, told funny stories and read from the book aloud.

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What a treat.

Someday I will become his straight, female counterpart…. and no that is not weird.

4. How Should A Person Be?

By Sheila Heti

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If you like artsy shizz and the HBO show Girls, then this book about a young writer struggling trying to find her way in the world is most definitely for you.

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It’s also set in Toronto, which endeared me to it further. Maybe once you read it, you will finally be able to answer the age-old question:

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5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts

By Susan Cain

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Reading this book about how introverts are undervalued in today’s society made me feel empowered and (ironically) less alone in the world.

I even stopped wearing this sweater all the time:

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If you fancy yourself an introvert- even a closet one- do yourself a favour and read this book.  

6. A Hologram For the King 

By Dave Eggers

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This book follows Alan Clay, a middle-aged divorcee who, in a last-ditch effort to turn his luck around ,goes to Saudi Arabia to sell the elusive King Abdullah a new hologram technology.

Think Tupac at Coachella
Think Tupac at Coachella

Although it’s not big on action (most of it takes place in a single room), the raw, effortless writing made it a standout for me.

Aaaand if you’re really lazy, you can always just wait for the film adaptation  starring Tom Hanks. (It’s gotta be better than Saving Mr. Banks.)

7. The Rosie Project  

By Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Project centers around Don Tillman, a 39-year-old genetics professor who is somewhere on the autism spectrum- he just doesn’t know it yet.

Citing scientific evidence that “married men are happier and live longer”, Don sets out to find the “perfect” wife by creating an extensive, detailed questionnaire. Women who do not score 100% are summarily disqualified.

This book has all the makings of a great, offbeat romantic comedy- and in fact it has already been optioned by Sony Pictures. It would make a great book club pick, or to read on the beach for all you lucky b*tches going on tropical vacations this winter.

8. The Last Girlfriend on Earth

By Simon Rich

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You can check out my initial review of Simon Rich’s hilarious short story collection here. Each piece was incredibly clever, witty and well written- like a Saturday Night Live skit playing out right in front of me on the page. Loved it.  

 9. The Sun Also Rises

By Ernest Hemingway

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I feel like sort of a hipster try-hard doofus listing this as one of my top 10, but I swear that was not my intention. In fact, I initially chose this book because it was under 200 pages.

But as I started to read it, I was captivated by the beauty in Hemingway’s prose as he described a group of artistic expats attending the Running of the Bulls in Spain.

I even found myself quoting lines to friends- before realizing how much of a pretentious dink this made me sound. So instead, I just wrote them down in my journal of lame, private thoughts that are way too embarrassing to post on my blog. You know you want to read that, don’t you? Well you can’t! So go read this book!

 10. The Interestings

By Meg Wolitzer 

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The Interestings centres around a group of 6 friends who first meet as teenagers at a camp for the arts in the 1970′s, and follows them  throughout their decades-long friendship. Lives become complicated, relationships become strained, issues of class, money and power ensue, and in the end everyone is richer for the experience. You should read this book IF:

a) You have ever dreamed of a career in writing/the arts

b) You find New York City impossibly romantic.

Question of the Day:

What was the best book you read in 2013?  

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