Thursday, August 19, 2004

101 Fascinating little facts about me...

I threw this together because another blogger ( suggested a challenge. Or perhaps not so much a challenge as he did it and I wanted to do it too. It was fun... you all should try... copycats...!

1. I come from a family of five.
2. Both my parents are dead. My mother since 1982, my father since 1995.
3. My brother and sister live on Vancouver Island – my sister in Victoria and my brother in Duncan. They don’t speak, but I speak to both of them. My sister is 18 months older, my brother is 7 months younger.
4. I was born in Montreal, but we moved when I was 4. I’ve been back three or four times since, but I don’t really know it at all.
5. We moved, on average every 2 years when I was growing up.
6. The order was this: Montreal, Toronto, Nassau, London, Toronto, London, Seattle (Bainbridge Island) Calgary.
7. I went to 17 different schools before University.
8. I spent two years at the University of Calgary before leaving to act in the movies.
9. As an adult, I’ve lived (in this order) Calgary, Los Angeles, Calgary, London, Menton (France)London, (also Uppingham in Leicestershire – Rutland if you prefer) Victoria, Toronto.
10. I am 5’ 3” tall and weigh about 116 pounds.
11. I have shockingly bad eyesight (distance) but can read without glasses.
12. I had a pony when I was 12 – his name was Paintbox.
13. I have won prizes for show jumping and I won a real horse race on a real racehorse. It was terrifying and exhilarating.
14. I pretended I was a dog when I was four. My name was Alfred and I’m pretty sure I was an Irish Setter.
15. I pretended I was a pony with friends at school in England. We’d set up jumping competitions in the school grounds and have horse shows. Then we’d go to the stables and ride real horses.
16. I have never felt I fit in anywhere.
17. I love clubhouse sandwiches and French fries and if I were to be executed, my last meal would probably be entirely fried, and would also feature soft shelled crabs. I wouldn’t order desert, unless the prison guard wanted one and was too polite to ask for himself.
18. I hate my hair.
19. I am pathologically shy, though most people wouldn’t believe me – I’m good at social situations because of all the moving I suppose, but I am horrified at the thought of going to a party where I don’t know anybody.
20. Strangely, I love auditions.
21. I have a great voice for radio, commercials and (I think) phone sex – though I have only been employed professionally to perform the first two.
22. Virtually my entire life has happened by accident; perhaps this is true for everybody, but I am constantly aware of the magic of timing and the power of having an open mind and saying: “I could probably do that. Let me try.”
23. I liked working in radio, but I didn’t love it.
24. I loved working in television, but I don’t think I’d want to do it again.
25. For a time I suffered from panic attacks – and no one knew.
26. I want to write another column and eventually, a book.
27. I miss my mother every single day.
28. I never appreciated how honest and decent my father was until a few years before he died and then not properly until a few years after that.
29. I have terrific breasts which some people think are fake, but they are completely real.
30. I am too short.
31. I have a dog – Lily, a Yorkshire Terrier – who is so adorable, she has actually stopped traffic and from time to time has been swarmed by people who shriek: “She’s just SO CUTE!” I agree with them and she holds this over me.
32. When Lily almost died I was shocked at how devastated and hopeless I felt.
33. I’m afraid when I die, no one will remember me because I forgot to have children. (Lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, dog food, shoelaces, dishwasher soap, children... whoops...)
34. I have never cheated on a boyfriend.
35. I thought I’d been in love half a dozen times, but really it was only once.
36. I’ve been engaged three and a half times. The half a time was because there was no ring.
37. I returned all the rings. But kept the stones. (Ha ha – not true…old Zsa Zsa Gabor joke…)
38. A diamond ring can loose nearly half its value when returned to the store where it was purchased. Even the next day in some cases.
39. My idea of bliss is a great book and someone to love.
40. I read my favourite books over and over – I read 'The Grapes of Wrath' every year, and all of Jane Austen every other year. ‘Persuasion’ is my favourite novel and comes close to being my favourite film of all time.
41. But my favourite film of all time is either ‘All About Eve’ or ‘Now Voyageur’. Both Bette Davis movies.
42. The greatest source of some of the smartest lines ever is ‘Broadcast News’. Fact.
43. I cannot tell jokes and should never try.
44. My favourite place to live is London, but it’s tricky as some of my memories are rose-tinted.
45. New York takes my breath away. It is absolutely thrilling.
46. I would love to live for a while in Hawaii. Preferably in Maui.
47. I cannot smoke dope – it makes me paranoid and miserable.
48. Cocaine is just stupid.
49. I still smoke. But hardly at all now. I just feel quitting would be quitting.
50. In a mass exodus some of my closest friends left Toronto in the last two years and I wonder often why I stay.
51. I have been rejected for not being Jewish.
52. I am forgetting how to do math.
53. Sometimes, at the strangest times, I will forget how to spell words. I still have to think hard before writing ‘forty’ to remember there’s no ‘u’, and to write ‘ninety’ and remember there is an ‘e’.
54. Salt and Vinegar is my favourite flavour of potato chip. Though Hedgehog flavoured comes close.
55. I have many watches, but the one I always wear is the cheapest because it has indiglo. I’m not really comfortable without indiglo now.
56. Volunteering is an enormous part of my life.
57. I love children – but not in that ‘oh – I love little children!’ way. I have friends who haven’t yet hit puberty. We hang out, write, phone etc.
58. I don’t have natural style. But every now and then I can pull a look together.
59. I am panicking right now because I am not working. Except a little.
60. I have broken most of my toes a lot of times.
61. I had my appendix out when I was 10 and my tonsils out when I was 14. I had a private room with my own nurse in a Harley Street clinic.
62. I despise all things cheese.
63. I never have anything to wear.
64. I cry at the drop of hat – or when I see someone else cry (the way yawning makes you yawn) I am too sentimental, which cheapens it, but I can’t help it.
65. Lighting is very important in life. I don’t think enough people appreciate this – not to look good, but to create a comfortable and comforting atmosphere.
66. My role model is a widowed lady in her sixties who is absolutely brilliant at bringing out the best in people – even the horrible, irritating, tedious ones you just want to smite.
67. I am often inspired to write just so I can incorporate a great word. Like 'smite'.
68. I don’t actually like most of the friends of my friends. Some though – I like some.
69. I love sex but haven’t had it for a long time.
70. I broke up with the last fellow I went out with because he spit. I get an involuntary shiver just thinking about it.
71. I follow American politics closely and am constantly amazed at the rock bottom quality of individuals who put themselves forward for election.
72. I am bored with people who don’t like Joe Clark because he was plain and Jimmy Carter because he wasn’t charismatic enough.
73. I am hooked on a few reality-based television programs, but won’t say which because of the shame.
74. Okay. Survivor – but most of all Big Brother.
75. I feel a lot of shame.
76. I have never stolen anything except change off my father’s dresser.
77. I feel guilty about everything.
78. I was baptized Protestant – which is a good thing, because the year I was born, they weren’t giving out birth certificates and a baptismal certificate is the only way I managed to get a passport. Otherwise, I pretty much think religion, and particularly those who feel righteous about their beliefs are at the centre of all that is wrong with the world.
79. I am a homebody.
80. I cook a few things really well and make the most delicious salad dressing you ever tasted. I made Boeuf En Croute once, which is the tenderest filet of beef, covered in sautéed mushrooms and onions and surrounded by pastry.
81. I love going out to restaurants. It’s still a great treat.
82. I don’t really like sweets and ice cream and such.
83. I can pick things up with my toes. Even the broken ones - though they are the ones from which I'm most likely to drop stuff.
84. I live in fear of breaking my teeth.
85. I am a good driver and only like to drive standard.
86. I work out 5 - 6 times a week so that I can continue to eat French fries once a week.
87. I like my eyes and my cheekbones.
88. I was known for having a great ass in high school and it’s still pretty good.
89. I have a higher set point body temperature than most people.
90. I can type fast but I still have to look at the keyboard.
91. I need a good small suitcase on wheels. The one I have is too big for short jaunts.
92. I like to sleep on a completely white bed.
93. Right now I am reading three books and I am on the waiting list at the library for ‘The DaVinci Code’. I am #316 of 599 people waiting and I’ve been on the list for two months. I am not holding my breath.
94. I wish I had finished university.
95. My car has a name. It is Sylvia.
96. I still wear clothes I wore in high school. They still look good.
97. I am pretty good with a hammer and screwdriver. If you show me how to do something, I’ll probably do it reasonably well.
98. You want me with you in an emergency or during a diaper change. I’m not afraid of blood or a little poo and a couple of friends have named me their power of attorney because they trust me to make the right decisions when they are non compos mentos. (A condition that has nothing whatsoever to do with mints.) They have made a wise choice.
99. I hope I marry a man with children.
100. I hope I marry a man.
101. I hope I marry.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

It's your duty to be beautiful...

Sephora is coming! Sephora is coming! Let the bells ring out and the banners fly – Sephora is com…
Oh wait; check your pants. (For your driver’s license! License in pants = man; in purse = woman…) If you’re not a woman, you may have no idea what Sephora is – so let me be the first to tell you: it’s paradise. Paradise! Paradise with enough lip gloss to lubricate the parched pouts of a thousand dried out dames.
Sephora is to make-up what an idol is to a savage: an object of worship – an earthly symbol of heavenly delight.
Sephora (and doesn’t the name just evoke a hundred heartfelt sighs?) is the marketing brainchild of European luxury goods retailer Moet-Hennessey Louis Vuitton, a gang of designer shilling thugs who have reinvented the art of selling cosmetics by shifting the context in which they’re sold.
It’s brilliant is what it is – by simply refocusing the way in which make-up is displayed, from brand to use (from separate department store islands of Dior or Chanel or Estee Lauder presenting every product they make, to separate islands of lipsticks, peninsula’s of eye shadow, isthmuses of mascara – in every brand and shade ever imagined…altogether!) Sephora has created a make-up ‘experience’ that invites women to play and experiment and try every product until they find exactly what they want – or simply have a wonderful, colourful time. An Aladdin's cave of cosmetics. Acres of lip-gloss… great, sweeping swaths of blushers… aisle after aisle of perfume and concealers and enough brushes (tiny though they are) to clean and curry-comb the entire Canadian olympic equestrian team. And probably the humans too. Am I being clear? Sephora has EVERYTHING.
Until recently, though Sephora operates nearly 500 outlets in 9 countries, Canadian women were shut out – unable to purchase Sephora’s products even over the internet: the American site was sorry but adamant. If Canadians wanted to test one of the outlet’s hundreds of lipsticks, they had to leg it over the border to shop at one of Sephora’s 91 US outlets.
But last autumn, Canada got its own Sephora web site and now we’re just a couple of varnished-nail biting months from being able to shop in person at the new retail outlet set to open at the Eaton Centre.
I first came across Sephora in 1999 on a visit to New York with a newspaper Style editor (Ottawa Jane) and was knocked nearly breathless with the desires it aroused in me; Shopper’s Drug Mart – The Bay, Holt’s – whatever. No cosmetics department, drug store display or fashion magazine had ever touched off the feelings of completeness and excitement that this altar to alteredness created within me. I had found the Promised Land… and its name was Sephora.
Funny thing make-up. In North America and Europe, its use by over half the population is now near ubiquitous. Like it or loathe it, most women in business would as soon go without underpants as eye shadow. Piled on, smeared on, delicately applied, or the result of an hour of work to achieve the no-make-up, make-up look, a professional appearance just isn’t complete without the refining touch of a smooth complexion and a moist pink lip.
And most of us don’t do it just because we feel we have to – the way men wear neckties to work but can’t wait to wrest them off the moment the day is done and the martini appears – most of us do it because we enjoy it, some of us love it… but still, a great many of us think that we need it – and need it in a way that doesn’t feel so good.
It starts when you’re a little girl. How long before we realize the two defining characteristics of womanhood are a bra and a lipstick? (Some other time - remind me - have I got a bra story for you! You'll laugh, you'll cry...)Sometime after toddler-hood – whether we have the words for it or not, the transformational quality of cosmetics is apparent and the desire to take part is almost irresistible. TV tells us, our mothers show us, our dollies prove to us that bigger eyes, bigger lips and softly blushing cheeks symbolize not just beauty, but a certain ‘rightness’ of womanhood that eschewing make-up puts into question. Little girls who can’t even say ‘lipstick’ without lisping, will be reaching for their mother’s ‘Cherries in the Snow’ before they can tie their shoes.
So most of us, (even the ones on their way to eating the requisite three pounds of lipstick some list-maker or other figured out we’d eventually consume through licking of lips, eating and drinking etc. ick…) are also somewhat ambivalent about the stuff. Subtly (or not so) the message is sent and received that without it, we just won’t be pretty enough or polished enough to compete; that intrinsically, our plain faces just aren’t as attractive as our made-up ones.
Though cosmetics have been around for centuries, it’s only in the last hundred years or so that mass market make-up became available, and a little less than that since it became respectable. But as mass marketing grew, so did the sale of make-up and the branding of beauty… and so too did the product go from luxury to necessity.
For myself, though I admit ambivalence – and a near-unshakeable belief that my naked face just won’t do it – I also equally love the stuff. I’m hooked.
Because it is transformational. When a man gets up in the morning, that’s pretty much as good as he’s going to look all day. For a woman, it’s ground zero – with options galore to perk up that tired old phiz. We can make our eyes look bigger – and deeper and less saggy. We can cover up any little blemishes or bags. We can make our cheekbones more prominent and our lips look plumper and lusher and… to a certain extent, by brightening and tightening and perking and plumping – look younger.
I like it because it’s a little meditation, a little how ya doin’? a little centreing on me. The mirror creates a connection and the smoothing and highlighting and glossing can be physical and tender and care-taking. By doing it, one becomes worthy of care-taking. I usually feel better after the near-daily ritual; as I shadow my eyes or colour my lips, I’m having an inner dialogue – about me, about the day, about what lies ahead. By the time I’m done, I’m prepared in a way that has to do with coming in touch with myself – with smoothing down my feathers and stroking myself into calm readiness.
I may be a pawn of the mighty cosmetics giants, a victim of advertising and magazine images of unattainable perfection and the unspoken deal that though I’m not good enough without their products, with them I just might improve, and that with enough of them, my chances are better… and that by re-purchasing again and again, I own a little piece of that glamour. Maybe. Possibly. Probably.
But like a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome, I have come to love my captor – I just can’t wait for Sephora to open the Toronto doors.
Sephora is coming! Sephora is coming!

Monday, August 16, 2004

I'll stumble for ya

Britney did it, JLo’s done it and now 20 year old hotel heirette Nicky Hilton is the latest to sign on to the ubiquitous 'ill advised celebrity marriage'. At 2:30 AM, Sunday morning at the Las Vegas Wedding Chapel (and what good ever came of any venture entered into at 2:30 AM in Las Vegas?) Hilton and New York Money Manager Todd Meister got spliced, and according to Hilton’s spokesperson, are “doing well.” Imagine! Less than a day and a half after the nuptials and they’re “doing well”. Who could have predicted such a smashing success?
The fact that absolutely no one would bat an eye if I were to stumble into a kitsch Vegas chapel in the dead of night to tie the knot with a virtual stranger indicates simply that I have done the wise and elegant thing: waiting until I was in my middle years (or at least legal in all 50 states, 10 provinces and two territories) before attempting a second childhood.
But for me the tumble into late life infancy hasn’t been evinced by a mad marriage, or a predilection for dotting my i’s with hearts, or staging a temper tantrum in a supermarket (yet) but rather by behaviour more consistent with an accident prone toddler, tripping and falling and doing everything save wedging my head between the stairway banisters.
Since Saturday night I’ve been in a car accident, broken another toe (middle, right foot) and had a nasty fall, injuring my hands, skinning my elbow and banging up my knee. Whatever is left unbruised, unwhacked, or similarly unscathed doesn’t actually amount to a whole hell of a lot. I am a mess.
This is nothing new.
I’m convinced it’s genetic; my mother was an inveterate burner of hands, cutter of fingers and bumper of hips. I myself rarely get through a week without the appearance of a mystery bruise or two – the deep purples, sunset yellows and fading siennas simply a palate of technicolour tributes to coffee tables, desk edges and drawer corners.
The toe thing though has been my most consistent accident site. I’ve actually broken two chasing the dog around the coffee table (she likes it) one live on the radio (it’s a talent of sorts) and the most recent one the result of a lead crystal juice jug slipping through my fingers. (I screamed and jumped around like a cartoon character for a good five minutes – stars, tweeting birds, the lot. Then I took three Advil and slugged back a glass of wine. The toe is now just a dull red throb, but the juice jug is solidly, squarely, heavily unmarked. Bastard jug.)
The car accident really shouldn’t merit a mention since everyone in the car (me, my friend and her three children)survived the rear-ender unscathed – though my neck is a wee bit sore and frankly, my biceps ache – and the car came through without a scratch. (At least on the spot we were hit.) I was surprised by how much I wanted there to be a dent when I pulled over and squeaked at the guy who drove into me. “There are little children in the car!” I exclaimed. (Though all are in the double digits age-wise, and all are taller than me.) But I was rattled. Seriously rattled. Shaken even.
But the fall was the worst. I was crossing Bay at Dundas with the friend and the three whatevers yesterday afternoon, when I caught my toe on an uneven bit of paving stone. I absolutely flew through the air – in slow motion – and had time to think about how it would feel when my face hit the pavement and my front teeth all snapped off and the blood started to flow and my lips swelled up and bits of street embedded themselves in my poor blameless face. I could actually hear myself saying (through a mouth full of shattered shards of teeth) “Really (reweewy) I’m fine (Ah’mm fahhn)”. And how I’d smile through the pain and insist we go on to lunch. (“I’ww jusht haff the shoop.”) As it turned out, I just banged and bruised and scraped my hands and elbow and knee, and scratched up my handbag. But it could have been worse! And I was shattered.
So what’s next? Mistaking some under the sink poisonous cleaning product for a tasty treat? Slamming my fingers in a door? Flying off a swing and landing awkwardly, shattering both feet? (They couldn’t look any worse.) Falling down the stairs like a bag of laundry on speed? Your guess is as good as mine.
For now I’m just glad my flat is all on one level – no stairways or banisters of any sort. Though perhaps something can be arranged by wedging my head between the decorative iron bars of my headboard… an ill advised marriage to a cute fireman come to my rescue sounds an infinitely more amusing and potentially less painful way to celebrate my return to immaturity.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Alligator Pie, or More than you ever, ever wanted to know about Secret Storm

That bloody President has gone and done it again, and I swear if American voters don’t catch on soon we’re going to have to muster all the forces at our disposal and… well, make a phone call or something. Possibly collect.
Much like the ‘America is safer from terrorism’/’America is in grave danger of terrorism’ Presidential flip-flopping over the past few weeks (one imagines he looks over at Cheney during a campaign stop in Ames, Iowa: “Quick Dick – is this the group we comfort or scare?”) the “The economy is strong and growing stronger” pitch just doesn’t match up to the actual facts. According to Bureau of Labor statistics, actual jobs grew by only 32,000 in July, which in an economy the size of the US is tantamount to standing still. Things don’t look good – the stock market sucks, tax cuts aren’t helping and the poor job outlook is taking its toll on wage growth. The only thing trickling down in America is its crap economy dribbling down into ours.
I should know – I’m looking for work.
I’ve had 4 and ½ careers in the last 20-something years (5 altogether if you count a short but disastrous foray into selling sponsorship of the England International Football team – though I hasten to add, this was pre-Beckham)in radio, television, voice-overing and writing, and the ½ split into equal parts film acting and specialty book writing.
Interesting you say? Absolutely. Exciting? Without a doubt. Fun? Well, fun – yes, but with such abrupt detours, also disconcerting, bumpy and at times really, really scary. My life: a ride through an amusement park haunted house; listen closely – the laughter verges on hysteria.
But this is the life of the peripetath (my word – brand new! I see a possible extra 1/8th of a career: wordsmith…) the mercurial change from one career to the next, leaping as if from one alligator head to the next to get over the swamp, praying I don’t slip off and become done like alligator dinner.
Way back when, I took a year off after high school; I didn’t know what I wanted to do or be and I was bored at that moment at the thought of carrying on academically. Come the following September, I was in enrolled in University faster than you can say ‘knife’, realizing the world would never be all that kind to the under-educated.
But a couple of years in – and quite by accident – I was cast in a big Hollywood movie that came to town and the idea of taking off, dropping out and pursuing HOLLYWOOD STARDOM was just too delicious to ignore. So I pursued.
But Hollywood (for me) was straight out of a Jacqueline Suzanne novel – the seedy parts, which come to think of it, was all of it – and I came across randy agents, casting couch scenarios, hookerish type women and ugly Los Angeles news. (Babies found dead in garbage cans, the freeway killer popping people off from Van Nuys to not so very Nuys on a regular basis.) If it hadn’t been for my boyfriend, I’m not sure what would have happened; I’d grown up traveling all over the world, but was anything but a seasoned sophisticate. I was a nice, sheltered, Canadian goody-two-shoes girl, and the horror of Hollywood was way beyond my ken.
But luck stepped in with an actors strike, making a move back to Canada a necessity that also saved face. Hallelujah! And so the boyfriend transferred out of University at UC (University of California) Northridge, and back into U of C (University of Calgary… Calgary…) and we toiled back up north, me with still only a couple of years of Uni behind me and no actual skills, talents, qualifications or contacts to call upon.
Thank heaven for the boyfriend once again – “You should be in PR,” he said. “I think it’s like having lunch and being nice – you’d be good at it.” Then he drove me straight to a local radio station and tipped me out into the street, figuring (I guess) that all I had to do was appear and the gates would swing open. It didn’t happen that way; they had no need for a PR person (to this day I don’t know what PR folk do, but if all it is, is having lunch and acting nice, I think I’m ready to seriously look into it) but they offered me a job as a disc jockey and within 6 months I was off the all night show and into first mid-days (11-2), and then became the first woman in Calgary to host and afternoon drive (4-6) program.
I was at the radio station 3 or 4 years (my memory, like my life is just the teensiest bit fluid) and was anxious to try something new – but to do it in an old familiar place – so I convinced the bf to pack up again and we moved to London England; he to the University of London and me… to France as it turned out. (Surprisingly, London was not waiting for me with open arms: “We have enough bloody yanks on the air – piss off”. I was, to say the least, a little disconcerted. We didn’t know anybody and those we did, didn’t want me.)
But like so much of my life, rescue came again by accident; we were walking down a street we’d never walked before and came across a newspaper kiosk displaying an absolutely enormous broadcast industry magazine (huge – as big as The New York Times at least) which was advertising on the Situations Vacant page ‘WANTED FOR RIVIERA RADIO STATION: ANNOUNCERS – BRITISH OR AMERICAN – APPLY TO:” and so on, giving a name and address to send tapes and C.V.’s. With the almost unearthly speed of British Post (at least at that time) I heard back from the fellow the next day, met him on the day following that, and was hired then and there.
Aidan Day his name was. I never saw him again, but he was altogether great.
So the bf packed me up (again) drove me across the channel over to France (he’d had his beloved car shipped to England from Calgary) found me a flat while I got acquainted with the radio station and instead of driving back, surprised me with his car, saying he’d feel safer if I had it, so would I drive him to the airport in Nice? (Where is this guy now you ask? Married – to somebody else - with three children. Quite possibly the luckiest children in the world.)
So I lived on the Riviera for about a year, and then bored living in a holiday town, moved back to London to live with an English (Welsh if you want to be sticky) girl I’d worked with at Riviera 104. Numerous adventures and romances later, I managed the promotions department of Hereward Radio in Cambridgeshire for a time, hosted a morning show for BBC Network Africa, took on the (hideously wrong for me) job of promoting soccer teams, then was asked by a man of questionable reputation, (though thick wallet) to write the copy in a book of photographs of interesting jobs.
I met the keeper of the Panda at London Zoo (as well as a little troop of baby chimps running around the Monkey House in teeny tiny Pampers) went down a mine in Nottingham, interviewed the world’s oldest bell making company (Liberty Bell, Bow Bells etc) and was on my way to chatting with the owner of city’s oldest butcher shop (1600’s if you can believe it) when I accidentally came across my employer emptying shopping bag after shopping bag of money onto his desk. Huge tottering piles of used and dirty pound notes, stacked almost to the ceiling. Things I hadn’t understood before suddenly made a horrid amount of sense (why did a private business man/photographer need a full time bodyguard?) and I hightailed it back to Canada as fast as British Airways could carry me.
I had no idea what I would do next. I was 27 years old, not really interested in radio anymore and living temporarily with my father and my brand new wicked stepmother. The fairy tales are all too terribly true - but I have to give Margaret her due; she shamed me into applying at a television station, which against all odds hired me to host a daily, hour long, LIVE news and public affairs show. Until our first show, my entire television experience was as a 4 year old birthday guest on Montreal’s ‘Magic Tom’ TV show. I suppose the portents were all there…
For three years I hosted that show, with just one producer and an assistant. 3 – 5 interviews a day, 5 days a week, on anything from Native land claims to environmental issues, and from national politics – Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, Paul Martin, John Crosbie, Sheila Copps, Michael Wilson, (and more) to local politics – B.C. Premier Bill Vanderzalm at his nuttiest, Gordon Campbell at his then Mayoriest – the lot.
I interviewed Robertson Davies (charming) WO Mitchell (naughty) and Margaret Atwood (haughty – until we began talking about her child).
I chatted with Linus Pauling about the healing power of vitamin C, and Norman Cousins about the healing power of laughter. (Linus smelled exactly like a big brown vitamin bottle and was aboslutely adorable.)
I did all the research and wrote all the questions and scripts. It was totally Dickensian – the best of times and the worst of times. I was permanently exhausted, but totally engaged.
After 3 years, Canadian content rules changed and my show was cancelled. I could have done another show, but I didn’t like the ideas, and anyway it was time to move. This time to Toronto, where once again, I landed in town waiting for the parade and the keys to the city and instead suffered in ignominy for nearly a year, before a magical accident brought me to the best paid job of my life – as staff announcer for CTV. I won’t tell you how much it paid because it was ridiculous… and all for about 20 minutes of work a week. 3 years into that, I stupidly trusted someone with my career (I can still get sizzlingly warm on cold winter nights just thinking about it…) and made a huge mistake which cost me my job, but was able to get on as staff announcer with the new Life network.
During that time I was experimenting with writing – scripts and show ideas for CBC, pitches to advertisers for teen magazine shows… all sorts of stuff. And then another one of my storied accidents occurred when I managed to get a try-out for a column in the National Post. I got it. And not only wrote the weekly advice column, but articles for the entertainment, style and children’s pages as well.
Sadly, those were the days of the Weekend Post, which was shelved along with all the freelancers about a year in. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was. But then, the Toronto Star offered me another advice column (and a syndication deal) which was going swimmingly until Ellie Tesher, long time editor (and first class cow) decided she was being called to replace Ann Landers (who died on my birthday – a bad day for Ann too, I suppose) and though there was space and an interest from other editors in my column continuing, had me knocked off with the stated reason that I was writing something too similar to what she was planning.
That sucked.
But then I happened to park in my lucky parking lot and accidentally bumped into a man who got me a job writing for an international medical publisher – a job that paid stacks! And this was a publisher that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 4 hundred years ago published Galileo. From Galileo to me! (A virtually straight line I would tell everybody…)
I talked to Nobel Prize winning researchers and writers, and contributors to The Lancet, and authors of the cutting edge text books and computer programs that are teaching the next generation of specialists. Every day something new, something fascinating. I loved it.
All was going well – until George W Bush went to war and my international company decided to cut off its contract consulting ties to North America.
Since THAT ignominious day (and I believe I’m not the only person who has suffered as a result…) I’ve been freelancing, doing a little research here, a little pamphlet writing there, and a whole lot of being turned down for published writing gigs.
All of this to say, that I resent the President.
I dislike his manner, his attitude and his grammar. I am unhappy with his international policies, his domestic policies and the way he smirks. I hate the war, I loathe the economy he’s trying to suggest is a triumph and I remain incensed at the fact that he seems to be getting away with it.
I blame him for the fact that I’m not working, even though it isn’t, strictly speaking, anybody’s fault but my own.
I think my old boyfriend should be President – though he’s unlikely to be considered, seeing as he’s (sadly) a successful, decent CANADIAN lawyer. But maybe it’s time to change the rules.
Otherwise, I'm going to need another miraculous accident... or at least a job in P.R.
I’m hungry, and I think it’s fair to say that on a good day I’m quite nice.
Finally – something I’m actually qualified to do.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Sitio Secreto de la Tormenta Secreta

The above, as I recently discovered, is the name of my site translated into Spanish.
Great eh?
It’s so much more evocative than boring old ‘Secret Storm’s Secret Site’. I picture an idealized version of myself (my bangs have grown in properly and I’m wearing a pair of high-heeled black slingbacks I’ve had my eye on for months) writhing in exquisite anguish… sort of a cross between the heroine on the cover of a gothic romance (all heaving bosom and wild eyes) and cranky Medusa – just without all the snakes and bitterness of course.
Why so tormenta-ed Secreta? Is it because you’ve just read about the letter issued by the Vatican (and approved by the Pope) written by chief papal advisor Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, blaming women for everything from original sin to homosexuality?
Why yes, come to think of it, that’s exactly what vexes me!
The Vatican would probably disagree with my characterisation of the document titled “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and the World”. No doubt they’d emphasize the positive nature of the title and the few sections paying lip service to the notion of equality of the sexes, but the central message, the res ipsa loquitor – the full, flaming implication of the letter, is that feminism is at the root of all evil – surpassing money and war, not to mention testosterone, as factors in the equation.
The (no doubt unintentional) irony of comment on the missive - as interpreted by the church’s Toronto office – was the sex of the spokesperson designated to deal: Suzanne Scorsone, representing Archbishop Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic in the religious imbroglio.
Scorsone (who hopefully did not abandon her children or husband in order to nip down to the diocesan headquarters to deliver the message) points to the ‘lethal effects of feminism’; the thinking that the more drastic arm of the feminist movement has made it less about equality in human rights, and instead that “…male and female relationships became all about the domination of one or the other.” She further elucidates (using the charming if decades outdated phrase ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’ to back up the contention) that women began to equate getting married with “…wimping out.”
And get this: Scorsone further extrapolates that this way of thinking “…could be what led to many homosexual relationships.”
I have to say right off the top that I am almost 100% certain that homosexuality pre-dated bra-burning by at least a few million years – to be fair though, I’m speaking without the searing scientific proof of ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’.
(Actually, women need men like homosexuals need the Pope – without love and acceptance and equality, it’s about as incongruous as a trout in the Tour de France.)
It’s hard to know where to begin. Perhaps with the date – July 31st, 2004. In case you were wondering, this letter isn’t some sort of amusing historical document, pulled from the dusty Vatican files and shared with the public as a sort of “ha ha – look how wacky and backward we were back in the 70’s”. No. This is a discussion paper, issued to church officials the world over, pointing out the inherent dangers of a movement created to lift women out of virtual societal bondage.
It seeks to identify (and vilify) what are referred to as two current strands in feminism: One that “…emphasizes a radical rivalry between the sexes, and the other that seeks to cancel the differences between the sexes”.
It’s propaganda like this that incites rivalry. Identifying the most radical element of an organization and characterizing everyone within it as supporting that agenda. (See: Muslims = terrorists.)
Feminism is at the root of divorce. Feminism is at the root of single mothers. Feminism is at the root of unemployment… impotence… crime… Athlete’s Foot.
Feminism is at the root and is the cause of men being forced to turn to homosexuality. If only we’d known that men were that malleable!
To be lectured on the evils of feminism by a group that eschews females in every way from marriage to ordination, is a bitter pill indeed. It’s bitter because it’s divisive. It’s bitter because of the decidedly strained quality of mercy the Catholic priesthood has traditionally distributed among those it has so horrendously abused – from buggering alter boys, to denying poverty stricken third world women access to birth control, to ignoring the starving, diseased children they later bear – offering instead blessings and bibles and laminated photographs of the Holy Father.
I could (as ever) go on. But what really makes Secreta Tormenta-ed is the fact that all this crap about feminism and the destruction of family values and the bewildered subjugation of men is nothing more than a red herring - with or without a two-wheeler. This isn’t about women. This isn’t about feminism - this is about same sex marriage.
This is about the traditional family, living in obedience and obeisance to the church – the family being the currency of the Catholic church, it’s continued propagation the continuation of the faith. Altering that image, creating a new definition that includes virtually any type of loving adult relationship raises fears of bankrupting the spiritual account, a situation the church is loathe to allow.
So in the end, this isn’t about women at all. It’s what it’s usually about - men and power.
That’s the sitio secreto that torments me.