Friday Confessions.

Hello, and welcome to another big helping of absolution. Without the Catholicism, of course, because I am not Catholic. And I wouldn’t know what kind of penance to assign. Three Hail Marys? Five? A pilgrimage? Ehn, it’s just too much work. So gather round, while I hand out indulgences like they were candy.

Me? I confess to the following:

1) I am high on cold medication and have been most of this week.

2) The drifty, cotton-wool feeling I get from the cold medication kind of makes me understand serious substance abuse.

3) This week I have made some very bourgeois value judgments. I really dislike that I am classist in any way and would like to change, but I fear I may be too old.

4) I have now been present so much while CSI is on that I can watch an episode for three minutes and then say, “Oh, this is the one where there’s the neo-nazi experimenting on people in his basement.” And be right.

5) I regret being so whiny in the “Open Letter To Some Parents” post. I should just accept things as they are and move on.

6) I am bad at accepting things and moving on.

7) The father of one of my students caught a turtle at the UBC golf course. They are keeping it in a rubbermaid container. I am plotting how to set it free.

Your turn. Good week? Bad week? Any kind of week?

An Open Letter To Some Parents.

Over the past little while, I’ve had several conversations that have led me to one conclusion. Going Home For The Holidays is not the joyous, Normal Rockwell experience it is sold as. Rather, it is a suck-ass ordeal for many people. Not all, obviously. But quite a few. This post is for them.

Dear Parents,

I’m sorry to bother you in your affluent retired or semi-retired lifestyles, but there’s something I have to get off my chest.

Your children and their spouses find it uncomfortable, inconvenient, and impoverishing to come to your house for Christmas. I know you get a lovely warm feeling, having all the children and grandchildren gathered about you. And how nice for you. You set up the spare room and put some tape across the cupboards so the baby doesn’t get in, do a load of shopping, and anticipate the Fun Family Times.

You know how it’s so expensive to come and see us? Well, it’s just as expensive for us to come and see you. Maybe more so, if there are kids who need their own seats on airplanes. And with the Christmas jack-up of airfares. A young couple already in debt are hardly going to relish spending a few more thousand dollars to get to you. A working couple, not even in debt, will still have trouble covering the cost of airfare. For grad students, already living on stipends as thin as a dime, it means more money on a credit card they’ll be able to pay off sometime after they get Tenure. 20 years down the road. The gift of Debt. How lovely, I’ve always wanted one!

Instead, why can’t you dip into your ample RRSPs and come and see us? Let us do the prep and the cooking. It’ll be fun. What’s that you say? There’s nothing like having the children come home?

News Flash! This is not their home anymore. Don’t take it personally, but they have built their lives and created their own homes. They don’t really yearn for yours. Particularly if you have moved from the home they grew up in. That’s not coming home, that’s just going to someone else’s house where your parents happen to be. In some cases, your aesthetic sense makes them break out in hives. And going to your house often means going back to your rules. We don’t live by them anymore.

So you’ll help with the airfare? Great. Now what does this Christmas visit net us? Uncomfortable spare room beds, endless ‘advice’, and critical comments on our weight, our lives, and our careers. Interminable inane conversations about your fascinating hobbies and charity boards. Sideways glances you think we don’t see. Christmas gifts that show us we are utter strangers to you.

And sure, we’ll go, because we are dutiful offspring, or maybe we are still buying in to the rosy glow of Holiday Family Time. Maybe we just drank away our memories of how awful it was last time. Whatever the case, the idea that going home for Christmas is a delightful experience is a myth. The reality is that it will put many of us in debt, until springtime at least. Our spouses will be in unfamiliar family cultures. We will try to relax, but you may get on our nerves quite badly. We will be, in turn, bored, frustrated, claustrophobic, and irritated. Merry Christmas! Doesn’t that sound fun?

Sincerely,

Liz.

KFC Expanding?

I just noticed there’s a new KFC ad soundtrack. It is that great Southern classic, Sweet Home Alabama. But KFC is Kentucky Fried Chicken, not The Whole Southern US Fried Chicken. Is Kentucky taking over Alabama? Should Alabama be worried? Should I?

Sabrina, or Never Lived Up.

When I was young, when I got sick and had to stay home from school, I would watch the movie Sabrina, which my mother had recorded from the TV. The ads got more out of date, but the film itself was so timelessly perfect in everything: David sitting down on the champagne glasses, the French cooking school, her cooking Linus something using crackers and olives. Then there was the dress. The one Sabrina wore to the party at the Larribee’s house. It was Givenchy, I think. The most elegant garment ever created. Of course, the only woman who could have worn it was Audrey Hepburn.

Well, in 1995, they remade the movie. Mom and I agreed that it wouldn’t live up to the original. How could it? They put in the champagne glasses, but they changed everything else including the dress. And, of course, Julia Ormond is beautiful, but she is not Ms. Hepburn. Even with the added presence of Harrison Ford (and I do love me some Harrison Ford), the remake does not compare.

Some time after it came to video, my boyfriend at the time and I were thinking of what movie to watch. I wanted to check out the remake, but he wanted something else. I said, “Oh, okay, get your movie,” but he went and got Sabrina, and surprised me with it.

Whenever I see the remake now, I remember that one sweet gesture of his. It made me think that the eager, dreaming boy I knew was still there somewhere inside the man. Of course, his insecurities strangled that boy, and in time, I found my boyfriend disappointing and somewhat hollow, just like the remake of Sabrina.

Both remakes never lived up to the originals.

Friday Confessions.

It’s been a long week. Dad had a cat scan, but they probably won’t have any results until late next week. Also, school’s back and new kids are wandering into my room. Faces from last year are drifting in as well. K, my erstwhile bush baby, has grown a foot. His voice is beginning to crack. Hye Rin LOVES Grade Eight because there are so many cute boys to check out! Emily had a list of all the animals she saw in the Rocky Mountains this summer. In short, I’ve been too tired to get up to any shenanigans. However, I do confess the following:

1) The Great Karaoke Debacle. I meant to go home. But beer was cheap and the entertainment was plentiful. I thought less-than-charitable thoughts about Ward’s rendition of “Don’t Bring Me Down”.

2) Looking forward to the weekend. Since Wednesday.

3) Seriously considering letting Gen go to work for me as a Special Guest Teacher.

That’s about it for me. What did you get up to?

Public Service Announcement.

Friends don’t let friends sing karaoke.

I didn’t; I am firm of purpose, and I have a healthy regard for public comfort.

I’m just saying.

Sensitive: Canadians Are Not Friendly.

I’ve lost it now, but in a recent Macleans “Canada’s National News” magazine, there was an article from an American ex-pat woman living in Vancouver who has started a support group for other American ex-pats, because Canadians, allegedly, are unfriendly. As someone who prides herself on directing lost tourists and helping the elderly off buses, this came as a shock to me.

I re-read the article, and there were some inconsistencies. For one thing, she alleged that Canadians are unfriendly. However, she lives in Vancouver. I have heard that Vancouverites are less friendly than the rest of Canadians, but I do not know how true that is. Second, it says she lives in Vancouver. Lots of people say they do when they really live in White Rock or Maple Ridge or some other suburb that the rest of the world thinks of as ‘part of Vancouver’. So I am at a loss as to where/how she is collecting this unfriendly vibe.

Then there’s the issue of the support group. She started it so American ex-pats ‘could speak their minds’. Because apparently, Canadians don’t. IMO, that doesn’t make us unfriendly, it makes us reticent. I admit it: We are. Canadians generally will not approach strangers and state their opinions, especially not controversial ones. We tend to like that about us. However, the writer of the article doesn’t. She says it’s nice to relax and ‘be loud’ with the other ex-pats.

I am not sure what bothers me so much about the article. It did not state the reason for her move, so perhaps she was transferred to The Great White North against her will. Perhaps she chose to move here for economic or social reasons. Whatever the reason, I cannot believe that our entire nation has excluded her from our ranks in a consolidated act of froideur.

I wonder how she is presenting herself. She freely admits to being a ‘loud’ American, but how is she being loud? There is a difference between guffawing loudly in public and, say, decrying homosexuality on Davie Street, or complaining about our gun laws at the United Church jumble sale.

Readers, what do you think? Are Canadians unfriendly? Are Americans more likely speak their minds than Canadians? Am I being oversensitive? Tell me.

Totally Inappropriate!

Over at Milkbreath and Me (pretend that’s a link, people. I’m not a real blogger, more of an essayist with an internet connection), Rachel has a post about the music she bellydances to that is not, in fact, Middle Eastern. I thought I was the only pelican in the wilderness who bellydanced to The Immigrant Song, but apparently not.

So, in the interest of furthering the Totally Inappropriate! series of bellydance albums, here’s my album:

Gett Off—Prince

Couldn’t Stand the Weather—Stevie Ray Vaughan

Crosstown Traffic—Jimi Hendrix

Tales of Brave Ulysses—Cream

When the Levee Breaks—Led Zeppelin. This one is good for taxim moves because of Bonham’s 1/2 time drumming.

Subdivisions—Rush

Wildflower—The Cult

Money for Nothing—Dire Straits

Crazy Train—Ozzy Osborne

Superstition—Stevie Wonder

But wait, there’s more! There’s the Totally Inappropriate! New Wave album, featuring such stellar classics as Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf and New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle, not to mention such beloved melodies as Lovecats, by The Cure, and Depeche Mode’s Master and Servant. Who could resist these fabulous songs? Not you. Not me.

If we all work together, we can embrace the Totally Inappropriate! music to bellydance to, and reclaim it and bring it into the light, as Totally Appropriate! Just think of the endless possibilities: Bellydancing to Klezmer music, Country and Western, even Didgeridoo! Who says we can’t?

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