Now I am in Trouble.

I went to a party at Morgan’s last night. A decade ago, that meant something a lot different, but these days, it means tremendous hors d’oeuvres from his amazing wife, free legal advice from a lot of lawyers, and Morgan mixing the (strong) drink of his choice, for all to consume. Last night it was Mai Tais. I always thought they’d taste of chewable aspirin, because of their colour, but it seems they mostly taste of alcohol.

Amidst the lawyers and Mai Tais was our old friend Lynsey. She was Morgan’s roommate a decade ago and has since become a highly succfessful wine rep. She rents a cheapish apartment on the East Side, and invests in wine. She is neither pretentious nor haughty. She simply loves wine. She drinks a lot of it, but since pretty much her entire lifestyle is a tax write-off, she has money to invest in wine.

Trouble is, she wants to educate my palate. This could become a problem, because I tasted some mighty fine wine last night. I want an educated palate, now. I want to be dedicated to wine. I want to say things like, “Of course, the Gewurstraminers from that region are red-clay wines,” and have people regard me with awe.

The problem is, I am not rich. And so I would need money to have this fine hobby, drinking good wine. So I will have to start:

a) selling E’s gear to make money and room for wine (“Honey, where’s my Martin?” “You never had a Martin. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”),

or b) Become a wildly bestselling author. The latter appeals because then I could also swan about in marabou-trimmed mules, drinking fine wine and speaking at conferences about ‘my craft’.

Actually, that sounds all right, come to think of it. But for now, I think I’m going to have to stick with cheap wine, a second bedroom full of guitars and amplifiers, and writing for fun, not profit.

You Got That Right, Kid.

The student was writing a paragraph about the duties of congressional pages. She read the article carefully, detailing how the pages spent time in the cloakroom, taking down phone messages and distributing information.

Then, in her careful, round script, she wrote,” Pages gives some of congressman massages.”

Yes. How many congressmen ARE getting massages from the congressional pages?

Rest in Peace, Maddy.

One of my online ‘internet weirdo’ buddies is a young man in the UK. Early Friday morning, his fiancée was killed in a car accident.


I cannot begin to understand how my friend must be feeling and I am frustrated that there is nothing I can do to help this person I care about. I am across the world from him, but human emotion doesn’t have boundaries or get jet-lag. I hurt for my friend.


People, life is cruel and random. Tell the people you love, that you do love them, that they are a part of your life that is cherished and important.


Because you don’t know when you might not have the chance to.

Tour De Kits

So I was sitting in The Fringe last night, having a glass of wine and watching American Dad with Nigel, Bryce and Dee Dee. It was quiet and in between TV shows, the talk turned to Real Estate, major appliances, and politics. Yes, we are all so grown up over here. And, to be honest, we were a little bored. But then we were saved!

All of a sudden, five guys storm in. They are wearing bike helmets, bike jerseys and shorts, with long underwear underneath, (Except for the guy with the inexplicable capri pants) and one guy was also wearing a Canada hockey jersey. “Nous wantons le special, si vous plait. Nous are on the Tour De Kits!”

Their evening’s mission was to bike around the neighbourhood, drinking in each establishment, and talking in bad French accents. These were not finely tuned cycling machines. There was some paunch, there was some beanpole. Just regular guys who found a way to have fun on a Sunday night.

We chatted to them for a while, and we all tried to keep up the French accents. Nigel’s slips into a Bavarian one after a sentence or so, but that was okay as well. We discussed how many testicles Lance Armstrong has, and whether or not the rough terrain of the sidewalks could be counted as ‘mountainous’.

And then their beers were done, and they were racing to the next establishment, the tallest and gawkiest and most scrofulous-bearded of them dancing a crazy hip hop dance out the door.

Magic, Ducks, and Farts.

So this world famous magician has come to do a stint in Vancouver and E has been working to set the show up. He also got show call, which means that all day, he stands around at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre during performances and tries to look able to spring into action at any time.

It’s pretty boring, as Mr. Copperfield has a lot of people to do stuff for him, and E, like the rest of the local crew, doesn’t have much to do. I guess the people who do the cooking for the crew recognize the ennui of the local crew, so they feed them all a lot of delicious, rich food every three hours or so. Not bad.

E had to sign a waiver to say he wasn’t going to talk about any ‘trade secrets’ he saw there, and so far, he has been true to his word. However, I have discovered one or two useful tidbits of David Copperfield-related information.

1) Mr. Copperfield is a quiet guy. He walks around backstage and is completely un-Diva-like. Oh. And he swore when one of the ducks pooped on him.

2) There are ducks. They poop a lot. Mr. Copperfield vanishes them and makes them reappear, and so perhaps the poop is a nervous incontinence thing. I don’t know, but if I were to be repeatedly vanished and then re-appeared through magic, I, too, would have a measure of gastric distress.

3) If the crew has to fart, they go beside the duck cage. Then when they toot, the ducks think they are quacking, and they quack back. So far, the local crew has bonded much better with the ducks than with Mr. Copperfield.

Reading Old Journals.

I am one of those people. Even before blogging, even before the advent of computers, I kept a journal. I didn’t write every day, and often skipped months at a time. I started at age thirteen, and back then, I wasn’t actually writing about my life. For the first six months or so, I wrote about what my best friend was doing, since my life was so dull.

Over time,my journal became the place I could vent about things like how unreasonable my parents were (in hindsight, they actually were sometimes) and pick apart my latest relationship (“Is he too needy? I think so. But it’s nice to be needed. But his best friend is so cute, too…”).

My journals were the places I could be myself. In a life where I was expected not to rock the boat, all my ecstacy and vitriol and fight had to go somewhere. It went into these books. They were spiral notebooks, but I decorated their covers religiously with pictures from magazines, headlines from The Weekly World News, and stickers from the cannery.

Over the last decade or so, I have periodically weeded out the journals I didn’t need anymore. The ones from ages thirteen to sixteen went quickly, (Too embarassing to even exist; I burned them) but I have kept some of the later ones. And, may I just say, I’ll be chucking most of those soon as well. Holy Self-Absorbed Girl, Batman! Also, why was I so in love with Loser X, or even Needy Boy Y? How did I ever think Z was cute at all? My God, he looked like Mr. Ed!

I’ll be keeping a few pages where the writing doesn’t suck, or ones that have funny stories. And I’ll be keeping the covers. Some of those are pretty cool artworks.


I was going to write something. I cast around in my brain for some jewel of a memory, some student funny, anything. But I’ve got nothing. I can’t remember what happened fifteen minutes ago, let alone an ancient and heartwarming memory dredged from my hindbrain. Do I even have a hindbrain? I may have coughed it out at some point last night. If anyone sees it, can they send it back? Thanks.

Anyway, ever since I’ve been hermetically sealing my students in vaccuum bags wiping my tables at work down with anti-bacteria stuff, I haven’t been sick. Yes, I know, I’m building super germs that will eventually overcome us all. But honestly? I’m willing to do that if it means I don’t spend two weeks out of every four all a-sniffle. I’m selfish, I guess. I get enough germs in my time outside of the classroom. I don’t really need the extra helping.

What was I saying? Oh. Right. So I can’t remember the last time I had a cold. When E got a sore throat last week, I took my vitamin C and carried on. I thought I had this sucker beat. But I had a scratchy throat yesterday morning and by the time I got home from work, I was a catatonic mess of fatigue and disorientation. I guess I should have wiped E down with anti-bacteria stuff as well.

And now I am going to purchase and consume an amusing cocktail of cold medication. Oh, yes, we are Party Central chez MonkeyPants.

Dear Mothers. (A Rant)

Dear Mothers of my students,

I appreciate the fact that you’ve come halfway around the world to give your children a better chance in life by learning English in Canada. Believe me, I appreciate that, especially since these kids are my paycheck. However, you and I have some fundamental differences in outlook, and I really need to get them off my chest right now.

Your children are not computers. I cannot upload any magical Learn English programs into their already pulsating brains. Neither can I wetwire them a la William Gibson to be able to understand, process, and put out university-level English. Yes, a babelfish would be nice. But I don’t have that technology either.

It’s not just me. I keep telling you that you cannot expect your child to be able to learn 150 new vocabulary words per week, and then use them effectively. English doesn’t work like that and brains don’t work like that. Let’s get them writing in complete sentences first, okay? And having them do twenty grammar exercises per day? Ditto. They need chances to use these new words and skills in non-textbook situations.

But you still push. You can micro-manage your childrens’ time, so that they study until 2am, but it makes them too tired to do anything proactive in school. And let me tell you, ladies, they need the ability to think critically here. Unlike the model of education in your country, (pitchers that need to be filled), here in Canada, we require critical thought from our students. I cannot and will not tell them what to think, what arguments to use, or write their damn essays for them. I’m a teacher, not an essay mill. You have to pay more for the mill, which is a flaw in the system for another rant.

Speaking of how your children spend their time, you are hadicapping them there as well. If a kid doesn’t have enough life experience to address an essay prompt like “How can we be good friends?”, or cannot remember the last time he or she had a fun time doing something, they’re not going to be able to write on the topic, and they will lose marks.

As for reading material, I’m glad that you understand that reading is an important part of learning the language. But why do you push them to read such inappropriate books? No, your seven-year-old is not going to enjoy “Treasure Island”. Yes, it’s a kid’s book, but the language is too difficult. Our English has evolved significantly from the language of that book, and there is too much specialized vocabulary. Give them something with pictures so that they can grasp some kind of meaning and work the text out from there.

Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching your children. But I wish you’d stop wittering on about how their work needs to be harder. It doesn’t. You need to chill.



Ken You Dig It?

So the other night I stopped in for a drink at my favourite bar. What I like about this place is that I know everyone, provided it’s not Friday or Saturday night, when it’s full of drunk university kids, who clog up the place and make it loud. It’s the kind of bar where, if someone leaves a Christmas present there, we will hang it up on the wall so whoever’s present it was, can come and get it. I’m serious. It was a picture of some Canucks jerseys, with Canucks’ names on them, except for the one in the middle. We reckoned that ‘Phil Ho’ was not a Vancouver hockey player. Phil, if you’re reading, your picture is hanging above the soccer penalty flag.

Anyhow, I was waiting for E to come and meet me, and in walked a guy and a girl. The guy looked suspiciously like my friend Ken from high school. In fact, I was pretty sure it was, but since I hadn’t seen him for fifteen years, I wasn’t 100% sure. But he and the girl sat down not four feet away from me, at the end of the bar. I listened for a moment and I was sure. it was Ken and his sister Alex, and they were drunk.

I wasn’t sure if Ken would recognize me or not, so I kept reading my book and chatting to Amrys and Fran. E came in and started talking to some musician friends. Eventually, the awkwardness of having Ken right there got to me and I turned and made eye contact.

“Hello, Liz,” he intoned. Ken perfected a tone of ironic accusation sometime in Grade Nine and has kept it ever since. It makes him sound like an arch-villain confronting a foe. Just hearing his voice threw me back to my late teens, a time of great enthusiasm aind stupidity. I was overjoyed.

Ken’s been teaching in Korea and has an apartment and two motorcycles over there. He likes it because it’s far from his family. It was nice to catch up, but the real fun came when we started reminiscing. Now, Ken was more than a little schnockered, so his details were hazy. But we did remember the following escapades:

Getting bored at lunchtime and nominating him for school president. Our campaign centered around making totally ridiculous promises: Vote for Ken and get a free puppy! Vote for Ken and he’ll come to your house for breakfast! Vote for Ken and he’ll shave his eyebrows! He didn’t win, but we had a good time.

Setting fire to things. I don’t know what it was, but Ken had a gift for fire. Once, he shot a Roman candle out of his bedroom window and set the curtains ablaze. Another time, a bunch of us went down to the beach and made the biggest bonfire we could drag logs to build. Naturally, some rich old people called the cops, so when they came down, Ken told them, “We found it and didn’t want to let it burn unattended. That’s dangerous, Officer.” I think Ken was also responsible for the flaming muffins at Muffin Break, but I can’t remember which of his friends was working in the kitchen at the time.

Team BCP Jesus. Ken loved mountain biking. His best friend, my boyfriend for some of that time, was his partner in some mountain biking races. They never did get around to matching shirts, so they just called themselves a combination of whatever was on their shirts at the time. For one race, Ken had a shirt with a close-up of Jesus’ crucifiction face. Motion had a B.C. Plumbing shirt. And Team BCP Jesus was born.

It was fantasatic to see him, and great to remember the asinine ways I spent some of my youth.

Save this House!

So the wind is currently blowing at a brisk 70km/h, gusting at a little more than that. The rain slides in horizontally under my hat and slaps my cheeks like a peeved Hungarian grandmother. Brrr!

I’ve just been upstairs to check on the upstairs cats and dump out the drip catchers. The cats are freaked, because their owners are off on holidays, so there’s me (a poor substitute) to squish up their food with a little bit of warm water and change their water. No, I’m not spoiling them, I promise.

Also, worryingly, in the wind, the house feels like it’s moving. I know it’s not going to blow away from where it stands in a row with all the others, but on the third floor, when I sit still, I can feel the house shake and hear the snap of the tarp over the roof fighting to fly away.

There are no leaks in my part of the house, I can’t hear the tarp down here, and, obviously, int he basement, I’m not feeling any movement. But I keep thinking, what am I going to tell Marilyn if I wake up tomorrow and her apartment has blown away?

Man, she’d be pissed off.

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