Friday, April 28, 2006

I Swear

I sometimes watch Inside the Actor’s Studio. At the end of the interview, the host – a wonderfully fawning James Lipton – gives the guest this questionnaire. I always thought that my answers would depend on a number of factors and likely change with time/mood/etc. Except for the fifth one: “what is your favourite curse word?”. For a long time, my favourite swear word has been the lovely expression ‘fuck’. I love how explosive it is, it’s versatility is unmatched and the way you can change meaning with the slightest shift in inflection is… well, fun. There’s nothing about it I don’t like.

I blame my father. Well, actually I blame both my parents (hi, mor!), neither of whom met too many curse words they didn’t like. Growing up in Denmark didn’t help, either – swear words don’t have an awful lot of power there and are often blithely incorporated in everyday speech, so one could say I was primed for corruption by my nationality.

Before the whole family moved to Canada, my father spent a few years working here, coming home for visits every 3 months or so. And he brought ‘fuck’ with him. I instantly took to it – the whole family did, including my sister Janne who was between 7-9 at the time. A huge benefit was that hardly anyone knew what it meant, which not only freed us up to say it in almost all situations, but also lent us a certain cachet. As I was at the time a bit of a dork, every little bit helped. (p.s. I’d like to think I’ve since become a smidgen cooler, and if you disagree, please keep me in the dark)

Of course, coming to Canada put a bit of a crimp in our freedom of expression. Janne was entering Grade 4, so quickly learned to moderate herself at school, whereas I entered university – not exactly an environment known for decorum, although I did manage to censor myself around professors. At home, however – and I’m sure my mother is thoroughly enjoying reading this – things didn’t change. In fact, people at times told us of a mysterious blue cloud hanging over the house, which we figured was the fumes from a seemingly nice family of four regularly sounding like dockworkers.

As the years progressed and more of our friends had children, we somehow managed to filter out most of the more colourful language, at least around the wee ones. However, a while back, I found out from one of the kids (now a teenager), that my efforts to appear civilized have been less than spectacular. He was totally on to me and strangely enough, apparently had known about my – a-hem – tendency to drop the odd expletive in conversation. Damn. Er… I mean… um… well, you know what I mean.

However, over the past year or so, the words that come out of my mouth have gradually become less peppered with obscenities. Can’t really explain why - it’s not like I’ve made a concerted effort to clean things up. Perhaps I’m finally becoming an adult? Or maybe it’s the concerted effort I make to be bleedin’ (oops) positive since the Enbrel. Or maybe it's because I say things like 'shite' and 'arse' now - as we've already established, it doesn't count if it's in a different language. Dialect, too (yes, really). But ‘fuck’ is still my favourite and does occasionally make an appearance.

If you were on Inside the Actor’s Studio, how would you answer the fifth question?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Random April

It's time for another random post. Which is another way of saying that I've been too busy watching Battlestar Galactica to have time to write anything coherent and meaningful. Although, I would like to note that after spending 765 minutes in an alternate universe - that's 12 hours and 45 minutes of the past week- I am now officially Done! I enjoyed every minute and I am also glad to that season 2 is halfway over, so I have to wait for the DVD. I think I’m a little Battlestarred out. Likely not for long, but nonetheless, it’s time for something different. Like random babbling.

First, movies (smooth segue, eh?). I’ve recently watched three movies I’d anticipated to the point of staking out my video store on their release date.
King Kong. Thought it might be too bloated but then, when they reached Skull Island, I forgot to breathe for about an hour. Best entertainment I’ve had from a movie in ages and I was very happy to watch on my TV instead of the big screen. Based on how nervous I was during the middle part, I think seeing it on the big screen would have killed me. Besides, it allowed me to fast-forward through the insect scene. Always a good thing.
The Chronicles of Narnia. I’d really looked forward to this and it is good. Just not as good as I’d hoped. It definitely needs a large screen.
Brokeback Mountain. Broke my heart.

I’ve scored tickets to see Etta James at the Hummingbird Centre and am beyond excited. I love Etta James. The woman could sing the phonebook and I’d be enthralled.

Last summer, I was mocking The Weather Network for their new term for thunderstorms. They changed it to “tornadic activity”, which they trotted out at the slightest murmur of something that could develop into the teensiest thunderstorm and which I’m sure made everyone feel much less anxious. Don’t get me wrong – warning of the possibility of tornadoes is a good thing, but do they have to jump on the “let’s scare the populace” media bandwagon with quite that much enthusiasm? This year, their latest brainwave is – get this – hourly forecast! Who the hell needs an hourly forecast?

Speaking of erratic weather, I recently read in a paper – I forget which, either this or this – that leading scientists have revised their estimated of the “tipping point” of global warming, i.e., how long we have until it’s too late to reverse it. The new estimate is 20 years. This makes me worry. A lot.

I’ve always thought that a prerequisite for being a mail carrier was the ability to read. Two recent events have persuaded me otherwise. First, there was the guy who for a solid week missed the wee note about my mailbox being moved (to a place where I could reach it) and who with great abandon stuffed all my mail into the wrong box. Then a week after, there was the enveloped marked in big letters: “handle with care” that I found squished up and mangled in my mailbox. Sigh.

Earlier this month, Tiger Woods used the word ‘spaz’ on live TV and nothing much happened this side of the Atlantic in terms of an outcry over his rather offensive language (the British went apeshit, though and rightly so). The lack of reaction was probably partly due to print media changed the quote, substituting ‘wreck’. Regardless of everything else, the media changed a quote! Read more here.

I’ve discovered a new way of playing with my voice. It came about purely by accident one day when I was talking to Mojo. And after she got bored and left with a saucy swish of her tail, I kept going, laughing myself stupid. Then I called my mother and demonstrated The Voice. Then she tried it. And then we both laughed like hyenas. It’s a weird otherworldly, whispery sort of thing, with an added bit of maniacal glee. Kinda creepy. It hasn’t gotten old yet - still makes us laugh until we cry.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Geek Heaven

Sometime last week, I swung by a blog - alas, I have forgotten which by now - and found a link to a test called How Nerdy Are You. Naturally, I couldn't resist and promptly took it. I am 46% nerd, a number which I was surprised to discover quite disappointed me. It appears that I take some sort of perverse pride in being a geek. So I sent the link to friends and family, fully expecting to be out-nerded by several people. So far, not so much. Two of my friends, who I think it's safe to say consider themselves geekier than I, were 3 and 11%. I felt better. I think. Better or a little concerned, I'm not quite sure which. How nerdy are you?

Speaking of things geeky. For while now, I've seen mentions of the show Battlestar Galactica - the recent remake, not the original - but largely ignored a it, thinking I’d “moved on” somewhat from the sci-fi. I used to be a Trekkie (still am - do you ever really outgrow that?), although I preferred the newer shows. The original Star Trek wasn't part of my childhood, so all I ever really saw was the atrocious acting and the styrofoam sets, without the patina of ecstatic memory. However, give me The Next Generation, Voyager and Deep Space 9 and I'm as happy as a dog with two tails (that's a family expression. I make no excuses for it). Then, in short order, I saw an article extolling the show's virtues, a friend acquired a back injury while spending days compulsively watching Season 1 on DVD and last week, another friend told me that Battlestar Galactica surpasses Trek.

(Now I know that they may be some of you out there snickering in your coffee at these geeky obsessions. Please remember that I do not make fun of other people's obsessions. Like stamps. Or yarn. Or really groovy lint collections. At least not today, I don’t)

This past Tuesday, as I was wandering around the video store, checking out the new releases, I saw that Battlestar Galactica had just been moved to the seven-day shelf. So I got the first one, the miniseries that started it all. And two days after that, I got the next three discs (because I couldn't bear it if 3 & 4 were out when I needed them). And truth be told, I haven't really had time for anything other than watching the damn thing since. I haven’t cleaned, I haven’t done anything on my to-do list (other then the things that were necessary for sustaining life), I’ve barely stuck my head outside. It's really good. Really, really good. Within a few minutes of starting, something so incomprehensible and taboo-breaking (in terms of what you see on TV shows) happens that makes you realize how alien and threatening the Cylons are (the Cylons being the Big Bad of the series). The acting is great, the writing is fantastic, there are strong female characters and I am utterly hooked. I have to spend the next three days finishing season one, I have no life, but I don't care. It's that good.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with my DVD player.

Monday, April 17, 2006


The day before, I had walked home from an appointment, instead of waiting for WheelTrans. It had been a good walk, a nice day with sun and a bit of warmth in the air and although I hurt when I got home, it wasn't bad. I knew I'd have to sit still for a couple of days to recover, but it was worth it. I then got my shot of Enbrel, bought groceries and did the usual that you do in a normal day.

The next morning I woke up in a good mood, feeling remarkably uncreaky considering the activities of the day before. I puttered about my usual morning routine and it wasn't until a small amount of Tylenol made me feel a bit funny, that I realized I hadn't needed it. That I felt funny because there was no pain to absorb the painkiller. Kinda cool.

So I decided to push it. I decided to pop down to Staples to look at a printer, maybe bring a camera and see what I could see. So I popped, I looked (and bought - retail therapy at its finest), I laughed with the sales clerk and then I wandered around the neighbourhood. The sky was blue, the sun was warm - really warm, the first real warmth of the year – and I could hear the chirp of sparrows, singing the praises of spring in a frantic mass chorus. And there was green. Green and purple crocus, tiny green bumps on bushes, so light, so tender it made my heart ache and lift at the same time. I took pictures, lots of pictures - somehow the known becoming unknown as the world was born again, adding colour nourishing to the eyes, where none had been for so long. I hummed to myself, enjoying connecting visually to the world, enjoying my mind being light and nimble, unencumbered, not weighed down by the grey fog of pain.

As I walked home, I could feel the wind lifting my hair, caressing my face with the warmth of the sun and I didn't flinch from cold, as we have all done since last fall. I was almost home before I noticed it. Or rather, before I noticed the absence of it. The place in my right shoulder that had spend all winter screaming in protest when I made it push the joystick on my wheelchair to go places, was almost silent. All it did was let me know that it was contracting, working, doing its job, without protest. My feet weren't howling at every bump, my neck wasn't in spasm. I wasn't ignoring pain, because there was hardly any pain to ignore.

That was the moment I realized I was having a great day. That was also the moment I cried a little.

That day was last Tuesday. Sure, I've hurt like a sonofabitch since and gotten myself a shoulder injury from pure stupidity, but the pain hasn't gotten me down. I know now that where I was last summer is possible again. That one great day connected me to hope, to believing that anything is possible, to remembering that some things are within my control, that I can help the healing. I've begun to remember all the things the pain has obscured for so long.

Reborn indeed.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Today's a statutory holiday in Canada and I'm using that as an excuse to not do much of anything, including think about blogging. So.... happy whatever holiday you're celebrating and enjoy the spring.

Monday, April 10, 2006


"Hope is the thing with feathers"
- Emily Dickinson

A while back, I wrote about being angry at my body and struggling to find a way to appreciate what it gives me instead of berating it for not doing what I want. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately and might be closer to figuring out the next step. But there’s a problem.

When I sat down to write about it, the first three paragraphs were about how angry I was. In some detail. That is, if by ‘some detail’, you read ‘extended and excrutiating close-ups’. I’m still more than pissed and it occurred to me that maybe, I should take a closer look at the angry, as it’s clearly blocking my way.

I re-read the post from about a month ago and was struck by the image of waiting for the universe to stop harassing me. I realized that I feel an immense sense of being ripped off. Apparently, some part of me have always believed that the universe wouldn’t be so mean that it’d give a 4-year-old a disease that would intermittently and regularly ravage her body for decades, without there being some sort of implied deal that it wouldn’t be for life. Turns out that in my head, 40 years is a long enough sentence for whatever karmic debt I incurred in my last life and now that I am in my 40th year of sharing my body with the arthritis, I somehow expected to be released. Except so far, my letter from the universal Department of Corrections has not arrived and the Enbrel, on which I have placed all my hopes, has, due to side effects, not measured up to expectations. Don't get me wrong, I am better than I was before I started it, but I seem to have stalled out on the progress. And that makes me angry. As well as – let’s be honest here - making me very sad.

So I started looking at the possibility that perhaps this was as good as it gets (which took a lot of deep breathing). That maybe my task was to accept where I'm at. I thought about how there is a fine line between opening up to possibility and waiting so hard for a future that you forget to notice the now. That getting caught up in what could have been, what should be, what isn't fair, in railing against the loss of yet another ability is counterproductive. That only being happy when my body cooperates is a recipe for being unhappy much of the time. And finally – and I have a feeling I’ll be working on this one for some time - that the arthritis isn't a punishment that will be over if I just stick it out long enough, that there is no purpose to it. That it just is.

The problem is this: I don't know the difference between acceptance and giving up. I am afraid of letting go of the anger - in some ways I think it is what fuels my fight, that going on, getting back up after another metaphorical fall is rooted in the anger. That hope - of all things - is related to my anger and if I let go of the rage, I will not just lose my feathers, I will give them up.

That was where my post was going to end, but then three things happened on Saturday. First, in my haze of sadness, I remembered that being on antibiotics for 2 weeks or more makes me weepy and depressed. I’ve been trying to carpetbomb the neverending sinus infection, in the hope that it’d go away. Regardless of whether it has, I have stopped taking the meds. Second, I watched Brokeback Mountain, which made me even more sad and in doing so, somehow accessed a truth. When I’m upset, having a peptalk doesn’t help without first being allowed to express my pain – the upset blocks forward motion and only when it has been expressed, can I see the path clearly. I thought again of how I expect my body to take it on the chin and only say nasty things to it when it hurts. I've started to, when I remember, thank my body, but this weekend, I tried something new: I gave my body the compassion I would want and listened to it express its pain and frustration and when I did, the muscles in my shoulders relaxed.

The third thing that happened was that I noticed the side effects to the increased dose of Enbrel I started a few weeks ago had likewise increased. Mostly, othe rthan the sinus issues, I noticed that I've lost weight again. At first, I was feeling pissy about it, but then I remembered that, in me at least, Enbrel seems to eat calories. Then I realized that in the last few days, I haven't been taking as many painkillers as before and that when I hurt, instead of taking a pill, changing what I do often decreases the pain. And that's when I realized that maybe, just maybe, this means that the Enbrel is blocking a little bit more of the arthritis.

So I think I may have sprouted a wee bit of feathers again. Perhaps it will be enough to get me to the next step.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Old Movies

I love old movies of all kinds, but there’s a special soft spot in my heart for old, old movies. Movies from the beginnings of moviemaking, movies from so long ago, that the world was a different place. And not the kind of different place you get in the 50s or 60s, those times weren't different enough (hey, I was born in 1962). No, the kind of different that makes a tiny corner of your brain feel like an anthropologist watching a different culture. In my undergraduate days, I once took a film course which covered the period from the start of moviemaking to 1930. Four hours of classes a week, two spent talking about old movies, two spent watching them. It was heaven.

One of the things I like about old movies is the pre-Method acting techniques. Watching the actors gives you a sense of what stage acting looked like in those days. And then there’re the gestures and looks clearly left over from the silent movies. Just as the angles and light were more dramatic when filming in black and white, so was the acting. It was not merely dramatic, it was Dramatic! The intrepid hero wouldn't embrace his girl, he would grab her by the upper arms and crush her to him, while she swooned. It was all so intense. No semblance of reality (I assume), it was Bigger - a world to disappear into, a world to make you forget your troubles. That’s why I go to the opera. It’s the same Bigness.

I once saw an interview with Cate Blanchett where she talked about studying to play Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator. She mentioned how she had to learn to not only move differently, but speak differently, because in those days, language was different (how I miss that crisp, snappy dialogue). After this weekend's activities - and no, I'm not talking about the birthday celebrations - I started wondering how much of the difference in spoken language in old movies and in our modern world was due to acting technique and how much was a reflection of the language of the time.

I had an old movie extravaganza this weekend. First I watched Alfred Hitchcock's 'The 39 Steps' (1935), then 'Holiday' (1938) – one of my favourites, finally released on DVD as part of the Cary Grant boxed set - and 'The Mummy' with Boris Karloff (1932). These people all talk very fast, very clipped, enunciating very clearly and with a completely different cadence then we are used to now. One thing in particular made me curious. In these movies, people often pronounce the word actress almost as 'ectress', the word bachelor as ‘bechelor’, etc. And it got me wondering whether that was a technique thing or whether that was how ‘a’ was pronounced in those days. Anybody know?

What’s your favourite old movie?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Tink Fix & A Triple Birthday

I’ve been jonesing to see the kidlings and this weekend, the TDT mobilized to bring the darlings to Toronto for another round of Tink introductions. Both Liam and Morgan have a habit of sporting a look of deep concentration and we tried to figure out what they might be thinking about. Cold fusion? An end to hunger and disease? World peace? None quite fit, but looking at the pictures from yesterday, I think I know.

They’re plotting to take over the world. To render all who meet them helplessly enslaved to their cuteness, capable only of besotted smiles. They have a teamwork that is not only impressive to behold, but incredibly effective.

They start out slow. First Morgan works the cute angle, while Liam pops on the helpless look and gets a cuddleburp.

Then they ramp it up and send Morgan out to wrap Ken & JP around her tiny little finger (which took about 3 nanoseconds - please note the satisfied look on her face and the goofy smiles on the adults').

After that, they watch while normally fairly dignified adults make faces and contort themselves and giggle as the plan proceeds apace.

Use your powers for good, my lovies.

Oh, and there was also a birthday. Or rather, three. Three members of the family – mor, Janne/TinkMama and Ken all have birthdays within a month of each other, so we do a Triple Birthday celebration. There was cake. Danish birthday cake: