Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best Last Day of 2008, Ever

Ahhh. Here I sit at my desk at work, enjoying some classic rock jams with the 5 work colleagues that deigned to come in to work today. We just listened to Fire and Rain by James Taylor (I may or may not have been singing along at the top of my lungs...) and Candle in the Wind by Elton John is up next (apparently we're on the "songs about dead women" portion of the playlist?).

Not a bad December 31st, 2008 if I do say so myself.

So before I kick off my 2008 recap list, I want to recreate a little dialogue between my Nan and I on Christmas Eve that will be relevant to tomorrow's post (you may want to take notes, class).

Picture it: we're all sitting around the dinner table, my Nan, my mom and dad, my brother and his girlfriend and her two kids, and my uncle and aunt. We just finished a big meal and we're chatting about the plans for the next day.

Nan: Meliss, are you staying over tomorrow night?

Me: No, Nan, I'm leaving to go back to Toronto after Christmas dinner.

Nan: Oh. (Pauses.) So soon??! (Gives me the winky eye.)

Me: (Eyes her skeptically.) Yeah...

Nan: (The winky eye picks up speed.) Hmm. (Pauses. More winky eye.) You gotta a boyfriend to go home to, is that why you're rushing back??!

Entire family: (Leans in, hangs on every word.)

Me: (Racking brain to try to come up with an answer that doesn't hint at the truth of the matter - ie that I'm rushing back because I don't want to sleep on her uncomfortable goddamn pullout couch and because I hate leaving my cats alone on Christmas. In other words: I care too much about where I sleep and I'm too much of a cat lady to have a boyfriend, which they obviously do NOT need to know...) Uh, no. That's not why I'm "rushing" back, Nan.

Nan: (Folds her arms and pauses dramatically.) Well, why don't you have a boyfriend, then? (Winky eye goes into overdrive.)

Me: (Dies.) Uh. (Dies.) I. (Dies.) I? (In a flash of genius.) Because no one is good enough for me Nan!!

I flashed her a triumphant grin, but I don't think I fooled her. I don't think I fooled her at all. She's a good Nan though, so she steered the conversation over to why my brother doesn't have a job and with that I was off the hook. Phew.

So aside from that little moment of awkwardness, 2008 was a pretty good year. Yeah, there were the usual dramas (some bigger than others) but all in all everything worked out pretty good for me. In fact, I would probably say 2008 was my best adult year yet. Here's a recap of some of the monthly highlights for you.


Cali-fucking-fornia! Every year on the Martin Luther King weekend I join my American friends in Oceanside for a long weekend of revelling, singing, dancing (stealing things-ing?), ocean-ing, laughing, eating, not sleeping. Add some acid washed skinny jeans and an adorable accoustic rhymer to the mix, and you've got a weekend dreams are made of. Firsts for me on this trip included going boogie boarding, eating In-N-Out, and seeing Leon's long ball. Needless to say, it was awesome.


Was boring. Did nothing but work. I don't even remember what I did for Valentine's Day. Knowing me I probably hung out with my cats and talked about how much I love them.


Birthday month! This year my birthday feel right smack on Easter Sunday. This was both good and bad: bad because it meant that my normally lame and lonely birthday was even more so as everyone was out of town and not in the mood to get me wasted, but good because I could make a lot of jokes about Jesus and because I could finally drink Coke again as Lent was over. I'm not a crazy Catholic (despite the recent mentions of going to church) but I do enjoy giving something up for Lent and making jokes about giving stuff up for Lent (ex: "Oh, sorry! I can't work today because I'm giving up work for Lent." Or: "Can I have the elevator key, please? I gave up going up stairs for Lent." Etc. etc. etc.). So the timing was kind of perfect, all in all.

I also went to Florida right before my birthday and took advantage of the profitable exchange rate by buying my Canon XTi digital SLR. As you can tell even by a cursory glance at this blog, I take a lot of pictures so my "good" camera, as I call it, has come in mighty handy. I also stocked up on Vitamin Water, Yankee Candles, and adorable outfits from Target. The highlight, however, was the marathon 13 hour day at Magic Kingdom with my little cousins, which was capped off by 8 consecutive rides on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, AKA my favourite roller coaster EVER. It's got just the right amount of scary-to-fun ratio.

Look how much fun those adorable FLDS members are having at the front of the train!


This month marked the beginning of my 2008 Mrazventures. I drove to Pennsylvania for a couple of shows and hit up a show in Montreal and Toronto. Despite being what others affectionately call "a superfan", I hadn't really seen Jason live since 2005, so I was due for a good run of shows. April also marks my first hardcore solo roadtrip experience. I drove by myself for 7 hours to get to the shows in Pennsylvania and then turned around and drove the 7 hours home overnight. I love to sleep and am a bad night driver so it was a mark of my new-found fortitude that I was actually able to complete this drive in one piece.

I was also at my first Mraz show with a girl-on-girl fist fight this month. Word to the wise: do not fuck with a drunk 18 year old at the University of Pittsburgh. She'll fuck you up.


Not much notable aside from my roadtrip to Detroit for another Mraz show. I also met and saw Justin Nozuka and Matt Nathanson for the first time. Similar to the University of Pittsburgh show, don't fuck with a drunk 16 year old that wants to get a picture of Jason singing I'm Yours. She'll attempt to crawl between your legs, making it look like you're giving birth to a surly 16 year old. And then she'll fuck you up.


My best month of 2008, if only because on June 4th one of my biggest goals in life and something I never expected to ever to come true happened: I met my hero Rosie O'Donnell. I know, I know... Half you reading the blog might sorta get it, and the other half will probably be like "oh, I never knew Melissa was a lesbian!" Well, no, Nan, I am not a lesbian (ha!), I just happen to really really like Rosie. I was a big devotee of her talk show back in the day (even being lucky enough to get to see her live twice, once in NYC and the other in Florida when she did her yearly week-at-Disney treks) and really appreciated her sense of humour. More than that I feel like I just get her, like on some level I connect with who she is.

Anyways. The point is is that I finally fucking met her. And not just met her, but was blown away by meeting her. I was the most nervous I've ever been for anything in my life ever at any moment and was starting to obsessively go over the different things I would like to say to her when we met. I've met people that I've loved and respected a lot before and so I've learned by experience that you have to go in without any expectations or pre-conceived notions whatsoever or else you'll end up being disappointed everytime, so naturally my pre-meeting nerves were starting throwing off my good sense. Thus, I ended up scrapping all my scenarios and decided to go in with something funny and non-commital and came up with the best schtick I could considering my nerves: I was going to make a joke about drug addiction. It was risky, but it was all I had...

So it's finally my turn at the gate and manage to make it up the stairs (a minor miracle considering I couldn't feel my feet) and I head towards her and the fan that they had set up to cool off the stage area (there were a lot of bodies crowded in there and with the lights and everything it was very, very warm). I sort of pushed my face into the fan a little and let it blow through my hair and then I turned to her and said "Rosie, I am the world's most nervous girl right now!" and because she's nice she grabbed me and hugged me and then I said to her "I feel like Marilyn Monroe, except 50lbs heavier and not addicted to quaaludes!" She didn't laugh at all (boo! I bombed!), and we sort of carried the conversation on and chatted about me seeing her show in NYC (and how I didn't get picked to be the opening announcer even though I made an awesome sign that referenced Elaine motherfucking Stritch). After a small lull in the conversation and as I was about to thank her and turn and leave, she looked at me and said simply, "you should be a comedy writer."

I died. I mean, she didn't even laugh at my quaaludes joke or my Elaine Stritch story! I thought I bombed!

Not to mention that the first thing that popped into my mind in the moment was "Barbara Walters is right. Rosie O'Donnell is on fucking crack! I could never be a comedy writer" but what came out of my mouth was "Oh my God, Rosie! That is my biggest dream!" Um, really? I had no clue...

Our conversation continued for a few minutes, but that moment stayed with me. In fact, more than any other single moment in my life thus far, it spawned a movement within me to reach towards my goals and become the Melissa I Was Meant To Be. All very dramatic for a joke about quaaludes, right?

And if for a second you don't believe that any of this is true - look over at the side bar. Do you see when this blog really started taking off? That's right. JUNE. I rest my case.


It was hot out.


Uh, August was interesting. Mostly for the job drama I so bravely endured. But that's a story for another blog at another time when I can talk about such things freely (if you catch my drift). Suffice it to say I got to sleep in a lot and read the entire Twilight series in a week. And yes, the chaste vampire sex in book 4 was worth it.


See August, but add in a happy ending. Life works in mysterious ways, my friends.

This was also My Most Awesome Month of My Boyfriend Michael Cera: I got to go to the Nick and Norah premiere and ask him a question that made him really super awkward (kicking off the theme for all subsequent encounters I'd have with Michael Cera: me making him really super awkward), and found all those amazing videos of him online. Little did I know at that point that it was only a preview of things to come...


More Mraz, more Cali-fucking-fornia. I had originally planned this trip during the dark period of August and September, when I wanted to kick the writing thing into high gear and get my butt to LA to visit with my cousin (who is a very talent and successful screenwriter) and see if I liked the city enough to live there someday. See November for my verdict on whether or not I could ever live in LA.


Verdict? Totally fucking liveable. Everyyyone complains about how awful LA is and how they hate living there. Maybe it's because I'm Canadian and thus tend to see the best in people, maybe it's because I hate the fucking snow so much that I would live anywhere warm, or maybe it's because I was spoiled by staying in West Hollywood the entire time and thus was not exposed to the grit and grime that is the rest of LA, but fuck I liked it there. They have Jamba Juice! And Pinkberry! And The Griddle! And James Vanderbeek in a comedy club! I mean, what's not to love??!

Now all I need to do is find a desperate American that is willing to trade my health care for their work permit and get hitched to me. I could make it worth their while in poutine........

And this brings us to.............. DECEMBER:

December was definitely a feel-good month for me, looking back on all I've accomplished and the major push my life has given me to move forward with my goals and dreams. I feel more content and at ease than I ever have before and so I am really looking forward to 2009 with this amazing forward momentum I've got going.

Plus, I mean, I fucking was on a plane with My Boyfriend Michael Cera. If that doesn't make 2008 the best year ever, then I don't know what the fuck would.

Happy New Year, friends! I hope 2009 brings you Your Boyfriend on a plane.

PS - Wipe the crusties from your eyes, down some water and aspirin, and check the blog tomorrow for my Official 2009 New Year's Resolution post. It's the perfect cure for every hangover!*

*No, it's not.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

So That Was Christmas

So I am finally able to waddle from my couch to my desk and sit down without significant breathing issues to type up this blog.

I ate.

A lot.

But who can blame me when there was bacon and roast beef and stuffing and potatoes and nacho dip and pie and buttertarts? And that was just one meal! (Ha!)

My holiday trip up north started, unfortunately, on a sour note. After a significant snowfall on the 23rd, my driveway was predictably a mess on the 24th. After spending the better part of an hour digging my car out, I triumphantly headed back towards the house to load up and hit the road. I was just about to step inside when I saw it out of the corner of my eye: the worst, heaviest, dirtiest, tallest snowbank piled into my driveway by the city snowplows, blocking my exit to the street and effectively killing any Christmas Spirit I had managed to amass in the preceding days.

Actually, that's not true. The thought of shovelling that giant pile of snow killed most of my Christmas Spirit: the rest was killed when none of my neighbours came out to help me and when a truck drove by me as I was shovelling and went through a huge puddle (it was more like a Great Lake, really...) and splashed me head to toe in freezing, dirty, Hepatitis C street water.

I believe the exact words that came out of my mouth were "JESUS HOLY MOTHERFUCKING CHRIST!" as I stood there in my soaking wet boots and started sobbing instantly.

Merry Christmas, right?

Anyways... My pants and my tears eventually dried and I hit the road. The first thing I noticed when I got out of the city? They have a LOT more snow up north than we do.


And keep in mind these pictures were taken after 2 days of mild weather that made a lot of the snow melt. Yeesh.

Anyways. Christmas Eve was lovely. We watched some second rate movie about a retarded reindeer that couldn't fly and got chased by angry gay German wolves (??!). I also kicked my Nan's ass at Jeopardy, which is a favourite hobby of mine. I even rocked the Final Jeopardy question when 2 of the other contestants (and my Nan!) couldn't get it right. What is A Christmas Carol, bitches!!

After my rousing tivia victory, a little snack, and some more Christmas TV fare, we hit the hay fairly early in anticipation of Santa's arrival. I actually even managed to sleep in until 8am, which was in itself a sort of Christmas miracle. I was totally the kid who was up every hour on the hour and then was out of bed by 6am, on pins and needles in front of the tree waiting for the rest of the house to get up. It truly is a testiment to my maturity and patience (right...) that I am now able to sleep in until 8am.

Actually, not only did I sleep in until 8am, but I also went to church Christmas morning with my pops, which I'd never done before. Sometimes we go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve but we've never actually gone Christmas morning, what with the present opening and bacon eating and fighting with my brother-ing. It actually felt kinda good, like maybe I really am getting more mature and patient after all. Plus I really, really like to sing all the carols. I'm just saying I know all the verses to "O Come All Ye Faithful" in Latin. No big deal. I'm a genius. No big deal.

In a Keown/Joseph family record, we didn't get to opening presents until nearly 11am. My bro slept in so we all had to wait around for him to get over to Nan's before we could tear into our parcels. Apparently it's uncouth to just get started without the whole family there? Sheesh. So many rules.

I was a very lucky girl this Christmas and walked away with many, many wonderful gifts including:

1. camera lens (more on that later)
2. Uggs (in the new, trendy grey! Adorable!)
3. digital photo frame to showcase all my fine, fine pictures (it'll probably just end up being filled with all my airport Michael Cera pictures though. Let's be honest.)
4. the best perfume ever - Warm Cotton by Fresh (mmm... Laundry!)
5. books (Edgar Sawtelle, which I started already and am loving, and Waiter Rant, which I know I'll love due to my 8 years of slavery as a waitress at East Side Mario's)

And a few other things that were equally as lovely but probably boring for you to read about.

So regarding my new camera lens... I really think I never truly knew what love was until I got this lens. Within the first 2 frames, I knew it was meant to be. It's sleek, it's fast, it makes the background super blurry: in other words, it is the perfect lens for me.

I mean, really? Who knew a picture of jam could be so lovely??! And yes, that is my Nan's blueberry pie. Swoooon.

So because we got a late start on presents, we got a late start on breakfast; before I knew it, it was time to load the car and head over for dinner at my Uncle Barrie & Auntie Anne's place. They live out near lake Rosseau in a beautiful house on the water. It has heated floors, which is exactly what my idea of heaven is: as long as my feet are pleasantly warm, I will be a happy girl.

Dinner was a typical family event: lots of food, lots of kids, and too many dishes that I got guilted into drying instead of playing with my little cousins downstairs. There was even a wii in house this year so it was extra hard to pull myself away. Actually, it was probably a blessing in disguise as I am fucking terrible at MarioKart. I played an entire round against my cousin looking at the wrong screen... Whoops?

My no-longer-so-little cousin Sydney, in the reindeer antlers I forced her to wear.

My neice Haley was happier about the headgear.

Syd and her new Canon - the brand that gets the Melissa seal o' approval (for whatever that is worth...). This was also my attempt to deflect her taking a picture of me. Sneaky!

The most adorable dog on the planet and stealer of my heart: Nash.

The Nanster and the Momster.

Despite all the glad tidings and season's greetings and camera lenses and Uggs, the best gift I could have ever asked for was actually given to me quite unexpectly on my drive home from Parry Sound after Christmas dinner. Did you know that there is a store on the 400 (link for the non-locals - it's a highway, FYI) called - wait for it - DOCK IN A BOX??! I shit you not... Dock? In a Box!

I obviously read it as Dick in a Box (aka my favourite holiday song) when I first spotted it: it appeared from out of the black night like a beautiful, hilarious mirage. I just about died - literally as I swerved out of my lane a little from laughing so hard and almost ran into an SUV (whatever, yuppie bastard, it was hilarious).

So if ever you are in the market for a dock anytime in the near future, please I beg of you, purchase one from this cheekily named store. Do it for me and for all people who took one look at the sign and thought immediately of Justin Timberlake sporting a fu manchu with a present affixed to his crotch.

Hope you all had as happy and as bacon-filled (seriously, I think I ate about 13 pieces of bacon... I would apologize for my gluttony but I'm not sorry. Not sorry at all!) a holiday as I did.

And as my Nan did. See below.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cats Love Christmas!*

*No, cats don't love Christmas. Especially whilst wearing reindeer hats and elf collars. And certainly not whilst being wrangled by their owners into posing for Christmas family portraits.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I think I've now allowed enough time to pass to recover from my 30 minute sob-fest at the end of this movie. I went in ready to be swept away and, oh but I was!

First, you should read this excellent review that variety posted. It gives you more background on the story, as I won't be going into specifics about plot details.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which immediately gives the film the kind of pedigree that makes people sit up and take notice. Throw in an Academy Award-winning writer (Eric Roth - Forrest Gump, Munich, The Good Shepherd, amongst others...), an acclaimed director (David Fincher - Zodiac - one of my favourite movies incidentally, Panic Room, and Video Hits: Paula Abdul. Wait. What?), and Brad Pitt and you've got yourself near-instant Oscar buzz.

Do I think that it'll win? My guess is that it has a fair shot at Best Picture. It's the kind of story that the Oscars love - unique yet universal, sad but not depressing, set in the English-speaking world and against the backdrop of a lovely love story. Going by the Golden Globe noms that have already been announced, I'm thinking that it will likely take the big prize - especially considering the other movies in the category seem too real (Frost/Nixon), too sad (Revolutionary Road), too foreign (Slumdog Millionaire & The Reader).

As far as Brad finally getting his elusive Oscar? I don't think it'll be his year. He's covered in make up for most of the movie and, even though he does a fantastic job, I feel like people think that the role sort of acts itself - it's easy to act old when you are covered in age spots with tufty grey hair poking out of your ears. Though, to his credit, I've never seen him this vulnerable in a role. It was the kind of performance that stays with you long after leaving the theatre.

It's a shame about Cate Blanchett (Daisy) not receiving a Globe nom - she was fantastic in this movie, as she is in everything she does. I guess folks just wanted to give the newcomers a shot? Meryl Streep, this might be your year! Regardless, she was flawless in this role and the movie would not have been what it was without her.

Set primarily in New Orleans, the movie's sweeping scope also take us through New York City, Paris, and Russia, giving the story a stunning visual backdrop and Brad Pitt a chance to look hot on a tugboat in the middle of frozen tundra (anything is possible, truly). It clocks in about 15 minutes shy of 3 hours, which I suppose accounts for the fair bit of globetrotting done by the characters. I started to feel shifty about 1/2 way through, but in retrospect I can't think of anything that they could cut to shorten the running time.

To address the biggest question I know you all have - yes, Brad Pitt was stunningly handsome. I'm talking take your breath away, want to emit a high pitch squeal kind of hot. You have to wait about an hour and change before you actually get to see him as his normal self, which creates this gigantic build up that finally gets released. And, let me tell you, a better scene could not have been picked to debut the make-up-less Brad than him on a motorcycle, steering casually with one hand, bespectacled and in leather. As my friend Stephanie so succinctly put it, "I've actually never wanted to applaud so loudly in a movie before!"

Cate Blanchett also looked absolutely ephemereally stunning. Whether she was the 23 year old Daisy or the 70-odd year old Daisy, she was a vision. And I have a feeling she also did most of her own dancing in the film, which leads me to ask the heavens above why one woman should be so blessed? And nakee scenes with Brad to boot??! Sheesh.

Both Brad and Cate had to age 60 years in the film, some of which looked like it was done with little to no assitance from a visual effects team. I'd say there was a good 20 year span where the both of them played Benjamin and Daisy respectively from their early 20s to mid-40s with little more than some eye make up and some scotch tape. Brad Pitt truly did look like he was 20 again... it was amazing - and also, frankly, a little disconcerting as it left me wondering if I can recreate that kind of magic with my scotch tape at home. I'm pretty sure this is how bad ideas are born...

What stays with you, though, isn't how long the movie is or where they go or how hunky Brad Pitt looks on a motorcycle - it's the universality of a story so unique that at first glance it seems impossible to find yourself anywhere in it. We know going in how different Benjamin is from the rest of us, but what we don't know is how alike we are to him.

Most interesting to me was the fact that his difference, though central to the story, was rarely touched upon with the kind of emotional gravity you'd expect: Benjamin ages backwards, it's a matter of fact and dealt with accordingly. Little time is spent in speculation about his condition or why he has it, rather the story focuses on how he reacts to the world around him reacting to him.

In fact, that's what makes Benjamin so endearing - he's not an active force in the movie, he passively accepts the world around him and deals with the cards dealt to him as they are dealt. Sure, the twists and turns of fate bring him to some terribly sad decisions, but they are acknowledged as a part of life: Benjamin accepts the bad with equally as much levity as he accepts the good. I suppose that's what comes from growing up the way he did in an old age home - life and death, good and bad, are eventualities and cannot be actively controlled. He is fully in the moment at all times, not worrying about what's to come or what's already passed.

So while his unique life challenges and his attitude towards them differentiates him from the audience, he still manages to reach out to us by connecting to the universal story: we are born, we love, we die ( a nutshell, right?). This is as true for Benjamin as it is for the rest of us, though we take very different paths to get there. So when Benjamin falls in love with Daisy we understand the connection, even while he looks like an old man and she looks like a young woman. When Benjamin faces the reality of having to leave his child before he becomes too young (old?) to parent her we understand the loss, even if we age parallel to those we love.

It is perhaps in this way that we all have something to learn from Benjamin: "life, being what it is, a series of intersecting lives and incidents" should not be fought against or controlled but rather accepted moment to moment. Whether we are born old or born young, we will all end up in diapers, hopefully craddled by the one we love in our last moments. And in between, "we can make the best or the worst of [it]." As Benjamin so wisely advises, "I hope you make the best of it."

Go see this movie, friends. It opens Christmas Day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's a Snow Day. What's a Girl to Do?

Step 1: Throw on some heavy-duty, yet adorable, snow boots.

Step 2: Grab your camera.

Step 3: Head outside with your coworker for a photoshoot.

Step 4: Forget your gloves inside.

Step 5: Come up with a variety of inventive snow poses with coworker. Realize that none translate well to film.

Step 6: Kick the snow in anger and disgust; discover that this looks cool on film.

Step 7: Take 30 pictures of coworker kicking snow.

Step 8: Gloveless hands too frozen to continue clicking the shutter; switch with coworker and become the model.

Step 9: Realize you are not a model and so twirl in the snow over and over until she gives up trying to take your picture.

Step 10: Review photos from photoshoot. Take in the pasty skin, and sallow eyes and realize "put on make up" should have been Step 1.

Step 11: Head to Sephora to see what kind of free make up can be scored for Photoshoot Part Deux.

Step 12: Spend 45 minutes putting on free make up and $25 on the Cherry Bomb lipgloss from Clinique that you really liked and now cannot live without. (Note to stores: free sampling works!)
Step 13: Head out into blizzard again for Photoshoot Part Deux. The wind has picked up, however, and you can no longer see 2 feet in front of you.

Step 14: Duck into an alley; realize that it not only provides shelter from raging wind, but also perfect backdrop for Photoshoot Part Deux.

Step 15: Take many adorable photos.

Step 16: Run back to office at a rate of -60km/h. Wind too strong to walk so you go backwards.

Step 17: Freeze to death on the mean streets of Toronto, but because of the free Sephora make up that you scored, you make a beautiful corpse. All is right again in the world.

"That's a lot of snow dude!"

The LadyBeckham?

"Maybe if I spin real fast she won't see my face?"

I'm smiling, but inside I'm saying, "Holy fuck it's cold! I shouldn't have forgotten my gloves!"

Thank you, Sephora, for the free foundation, concealer, blush, eye shadow, lip gloss, and mascara. Oh, and the 16 squirts of Warm Cotton.


It's the Clinique Cherry Bomb lipgloss, I swear!

Happy snow day, friends!

PS Benjamin Button review will be up this weekend... I'm still not over my 30 minute sobbing breakdown at the end of the movie and need time to process.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lost & Found: The Christmas Spirit

Although I don't look it and I certainly don't act it, I'm quickly approaching my 28th birthday (it's March 23rd, in case you want to start looking around for the perfect diamond or pony named Cupcake now...). This is depressing to me for many reasons (that's a whole other blog post right there), not the least of which is that there is so little whimsy left in my adult life.

So often my money woes, my life goal woes, my single-ladies-put-a-ring-on-it woes, and my I-still-live-in-a-basement-apartment-and-have-hand-me-down-furniture woes clutter my brain and don't leave much room for surprises. As an adult, I always seem to get caught up in realities; when you're a kid, you have the luxury of time to imagine and wonder and believe.

So it's probably no surprise that the hardest part of being an adult for me has been the slow erosion of my Christmas Spirit. When I was little, Christmas was all I lived and breathed from November 25th until Boxing Day. I carefully planned my wish list, meticulously hung every ornament, and basked in the glow of the twinkling lights nightly until the Big Day. There was always snow on the ground, cookies in my belly, presents under the tree, and joy in my heart.

It wasn't just about the gifts either. I loved the thought of seeing all of my extended family at once, eating dinner all together around a big table, and watching cheesy movies with my cousins. I never felt more at ease, more comfortable, more content then I did on Christmas surrounded by those that knew and loved me more than any other people in the world. And when they left at the end of it, they took part of my Christmas Spirit away with them, which even my presents couldn't replace.

I remember the first signs of the slow decline of my Christmas Spirit. I was fairly old, all things considered - probably about 23? My parents sold our house and moved us into an aparment off of Regent street in Sudbury. While it was a lovely place, we were quite cramped (fitting in a house full of furniture into an apartment half the size will do that...) and there wasn't even really room to put up a Christmas tree. Besides, we were spending Christmas at my grandparents' house in Parry Sound so we just felt like there was no point in decorating when we weren't even going to be home. It was the first time that we were well into December and yet I couldn't find even a trace of the joy of the season.

As the years went on, the changes kept coming and kept driving a wedge between me and the Spirit: we lost an uncle to cancer, a grandfather to old age, and a brother's ex-girlfriend to awkwardness (again, that's a whole other blog post...), I stopped getting a stocking (truly, if we're being honest, this was the present that broke Santa's back), moved out on my own, and started showing up Christmas Eve and leaving Christmas night.

In other words, I was becoming an adult and my family was getting older. Gone were the sleepovers and Nan and Pop's basement on Christmas Eve, waking up at 6am and tearing open my stocking with my cousins. Gone were the big presents from Santa that were put out in the middle of the night. Gone was my insomnia keeping me awake all night in fervent anticipation of the mornings' delights. Instead the day became pragmatic - drive, sleep, get up. Unwrap, pile up, put away. Eat, drive, sleep. Just another couple of days.

In some ways, the distance is comforting - with the joy of family also came the overwhelming family dynamics, with the eating also came the pants-not-fitting. Now I can get in and get out and don't have to be the last to leave the party. It's also nice to be an adult at Christmas because I can afford (or rather in theory can afford) to give better presents, which has become my favourite part of the day (after the Eating of the Bacon).

But like a drug addict chasing her first high, I've never stopped looking to find the Christmas Spirit again. To feel again that intense joy and internal satisfaction of the season, the sense that all is right and all is good with all I know. And last night, at the kids' Christmas party at work, I think I might have come as close as I ever have to finding it again.

There were 30 coworkers' kids running around the office (and violating my Hunk Tree, might I add. What's a Hunk Tree, you might ask? Well sit tight, because I have a blog post a-brewin' about it. You'll be impressed, trust me!), hopped up on sugar and pizza and anxiously awaiting Santa's (ie my other coworker Paolo dressed up in a red suit and fake beard) arrival. As one of Santa's elves, I was lucky enough to have a front row seat for one of the most touching exchanges between child and adult that I've seen in my life.

Santa: (packing up his stuff after distributing presents and getting ready to leave) Well kids, see you in a week! Ho! Ho! Ho! Be good little boys and girls!

Coworker's son: (runs up to santa with the MOST joyful smile on his face, tugs his sleeve and hands him a christmas card he just made) Here santa, this is for you! I made it!

Santa: Why thank you, son! It's lovely. I'll be sure to put an extra present under the tree for you!

Son: (flabbergasted by his good fortune, staring up at santa in awe, pauses dramatically before saying) MERRY CHRISTMAS SANTA!!!!!

He meant it with all of his heart and soul, and it was so sincere and innocent and sweet. And it wasn't even about the present, it was the fact that Santa - the coolest guy on earth to this kid - thought that something he did was cool, too.

In that moment, I was reminded what it was like to be a little kid at Christmas again. Even if it only lasted a minute before I had to start rushing around being an adult again, the pure connection and heartfelt sincerity that happened between that little boy and Santa will be enough to last me a few Christmases yet, I think.

And in the spirit of the season, dear blog-reading friends, I've got a few presents up my sleeves for you. Tonight I see an advanced screening of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and will be happily bringing you my review tomorrow. I'm also about half way through my write up about my Michael Cera airport adventures, which is sure to be a crowd pleaser and excrutiatingly hilarious.

So carve out some time in your busy shopping-wrapping-drinking-merrying-caroling-eating schedules and stop by the blog between now and next week week to have a laugh.


PS - for the only other "serious" blog post I've written in the year and a bit I've been at this thing, click here. It's about kissing, if that makes it any more enticing for you...

Monday, December 15, 2008

What My Mind Sounds Like at 7.41am

Mmmmmmmm. Sleep. I like to sleeeeeeeeep. I just want to sleep foreveeeeer.

It feels later than 7.15, though. Maybe I should turn around and look at my clock?

No. Nooooo. No. I should just stay here and keep sleeeeeping. My alarm would have gone off, so it can't be past 7.15....

....But I can hear my neighbour in the shower. So it's gotta be past 7.15. I probably didn't set my alarm last night. I can't be late for work, I should really look at the clock and be sure.

Mmmmm... I'm so comfy, though. And warm. And it's dark. I mean, I'm pretty sure God wouldn't have made life so awesome right now if it was past 7.15 and I had to get up. Right?

No, seriously. Time to turn over and look at the clock. It's definitely past 7.15.

Fuck. It's 7.41.

...Is it too late to call in sick?

(For the record, I went in to work. And I'm going to triple check my alarm tonight so I don't start my mornings off with a debate followed by a let down anymore. It's bad enough waking up in the pitch black to the pouring rain and freezing cold. Right? Am I right?)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm an Ass, Or Why a Christmas Party on a Wednesday is a Baaaad Idea

8: first drink of the night
8.30: it's my jam! britney plays for the first time
9: i find out the waiters' names and try to decide which one i'm going to make out with later
9.30: can no longer use brain for things like counting drinks. only works for putting drink to mouth and swallowing drink, and dancing
10: tell friends to get on the dance floor or they will be layed off
10.30: move on from mixed drinks to shots
11: don't remember
11.30: don't remember
12: don't remember
12.30: remember one of my friends grinding on me??! she will not look me in the eye today...
1: have decided to make out with the waiter with the parted hair, but now i'm thinking he might be gay?
1.30: dancing to britney again, another round of shots
2: i'm in a cab on the way to another bar?
2.30: my friend is pretending she's french and i go along with it. i tell the bartenders that she's from paris and that if they play their cards right that she'll give them a beej in the bathroom later. they seem intrigued
3: got in a fight with a cab driver regarding who should get dropped off first. i lose.
7.20: oh fuck, i'm going to puke
7.25: am i still drunk?
7.30: please stop spinning, earth!
7.35: i'm going to puke!
7.40: mmmm. bananas make me not want to puke anymore.
8.05: fuck, i should get up for work now
8.10: hmm. i don't feel so good, despite banana
8.15: whyyyyyyyyyyyy god are you makinggg meeee puke in my sinnnnnnnk
8.20: i hate bananas
8.30: the subway is even worse when still drunk and sorta nauseated
9: i can't believe i made it into work on time!
9.30: everyone loves my stories about how i told the waiter he was cute and that he and i should make half waiter/half donkey babies together
10: everyone is so impressed that i'm still at work and yet i puked only 2 hours ago!
10.15: hell yes, work-sponsored mcdonalds is here! i take two hashbrowns and begin to love life again
10.30: oh, no wait. yep, want to die.
[repeat 10.30 until either dead or leave work early to go home and crash on the couch to episode 6 of True Blood.]


-It was a theme Christmas Party - we had to come as "Winter Festive". I was a donkey, not a Christmas mouse, not a rabbit, and not Eeyore. A generic (albeit adorable) donkey, made famous by the fact that Mary rode me to the inn in Bethlehem where she popped out that kid. It would have made more sense had my Mary and Joseph not gotten the stomach flu and cancelled out on the party at the last minute.
-No waiters were actually made out with during the making of this blog
-I'm not naked in the second to last picture, I'm wearing a strapless dress. Just so you don't actually think I take this cougar thing for really reals serious.
-I'm never drinking again

Monday, December 08, 2008

California: The Rest of the Rest, Minus Michael Cera

I think the timing is just about right to finish up my grand California vacation wrap up: it's cold, dreary, dark, snowy, and frozen here in Toronto and I think we all (mostly me, probably) could use a little written sunshine.

So, drop the parka, spit out your hot chocolate, close your eyes, and picture yourself in a studio on the Culver City lot, about to see a taping of The Bonnie Hunt Show. And wouldn't you know it, but I end up sitting beside another Canadian! And for those who have never travelled internationally with me, as soon as I leave the country I become obsessed with being Canadian and try to work my quirky foreigness into every conversation I have. Obviously this strategy was slightly thwarted with my new friend.... until I realized we could team up and be doubly-Canadian/interesting together. So when the warm up dude asked if anyone had travelled for the show I of course shot my hand up right away and proclaimed proudly that I was from Toronto, knowing full well that I probably was from the farthest away and thus 10 times more interesting than everyone else. Things were going great for a while, until I dared to mention gay marriage into the microphone (well, the warm up dude asked me what the differences were between Canada and the US and with it being the day after the election I couldn't help myself but to mention it... And don't worry, my other answer was poutine. I know my priorities!) and he quickly lost interest in me. I mean, we're so open with stuff like that here, I didn't realize it would be taboo... Though, I probably should have guessed given the overwhelming abundance of white hair in the audience.

Anyways... The show itself was funny and - dare I say it - way more interesting than Ellen! The best parts were when Bonnie interacted with the audience. She is a freaking riot and so witty. And watching her try to sing and keep screwing up a song for like 1/2 an hour was definitely the highlight of the whole experience (she does have a lovely singing voice, by the way... the band just kept throwing her off). And, unlike some other hosts coughEllencough, she came out to the audience and thanked us all and took pictures with us post-show.

Behold, continuing the tradition of awful faces I make in pictures with celebrities, my photo with Bonnie Hunt!

I feel slightly less bad because she also looks a little off.

Oh, also interesting was that after all the Canadian stuff, it turns out that my new friend Michelle was from, of all the places in the world, SUDBURY! How crazy is it that two former Sudburians ended up in the same audience at a Bonnie Hunt show in LA??! And yes, the first thing I asked her (after how she is able to legally live in LA, which is the same question I ask every Canadian living in the US. Yes, I am desperate for a work visa....) was which high school she went to. Answer, Lasalle. (We didn't speak much after I found this out. Cough.)

Continuing with the fabulous comedy-themed day, I hit up a show at the Laugh Factory, which lucky for me just happens to be down the road from my cousin's place. Jon Lovitz was headlining a show, and we all know I'm a sucker for the Jewish folk so I had to hit it up. The Laugh Factory is also home to the infamous Kramer racism rant, so I was eager to check a notorious piece of pop culture. Sure enough, Jon actualy referenced the incident in his bit, after he noticed that someone was videoing his set. Things got really awkward for me when they girl proudly told him in response to his asking her to turn the camera off "But I'm from Montreal, I came all the way here to see you!" This was one instance where I told no one I was Canadian and tried to look like I fit in by drinking my watered-down Bud and looking like I was loving it.

As a bonus to the legend that is Lovitz, I also got to see Ashley Hamilton bomb as the emcee (just FYI, jokes about your brain injury and how orange your dad is aren't funny, dude...) and - wait for it - James motherfucking Van Der Beek! I guess Dawson likes him some random Wednesday night comedy and he showed up with his really really exuberant wife for the set. She kept laughing EXTRA loud during the show and clapping really loudly, even when no claps were necessary. I have a feeling that she really really likes being Mrs. Dawson's Creek and likes everyone to notice her. I actually made eye contact with the 'Beek during the show and didn't recognize him at first. His creepy "I'm a celebrity, please recognize me" stare tipped me off though so by the time the show as done I had put two and two togeths. FYI - he has a lot of facial hair now (I assume this is a rebellion against playing a teenager for half of his 30s).

Okay so on to Thursday! I lazed around during the day (and by lazed around I mean went on a mini-shopping spree at Target!) and then headed back over to Hollywood Boulevard and hit up a couple of shows at the iOWest. I also got to try out valet parking for the first time in my life ever! So that combined with the Purple Haze beer I was talked into ordering combined with some of the most mind-blowingly amazing improv I've ever seen made for a pretty motherfucking monumental night, let me tell you. So the first set was a rep group, and they were pretty funny - they did this bit centered around a hobo and let me tell you, nothing much is funnier than a hobo who'll blow a dude for a can of beans teaching kids at a Catholic school about sex. If that doesn't say game of the scene, I don't know what does.

But the second show, oh the second show... it was a thing of beauty, quite unlike any other thing I've seen before in my life. Dasariski may be awkward to say, but trust me when I say it's funny as shit to watch! It was basically three dudes on stage for 45 minutes straight, riffing off of one suggestion and creating some of the most detailed, thoughtful, and fucking hilarious shit I have ever seen on stage. Gushing? Why yes, but most deservedly. I dare you to go up onstage and do what those dudes did with the suggestion "The Dance of the Midnight Swan". It totally made me want to step up my improv game (how making up scenes about my jugs was supposed to accomplish this, I know not... but that's a story for another blog). If you are ever in LA on a Thursday night, see this show. Trust me.

So after the crazy week I had, it was time for a little R&R, a little sand, a little sun, and a little try-out-my-new-bathing-suit-in-public so I headed over to Venice Beach. Actually, first I headed over to Samuel French to pick up some scripts (American Beauty? Yes please! Superbad? Duh.) and then I headed out. Of all the beaches in LA, be sure that it was no mistake I chose Venice Beach. How could I not visit a city that was designed after Venice, complete with canals? And I figured that this Venice would probably smell better and be less pigeon-poop-filled than the real thing, so it was a no-brainer, really. And, well, a single lady such as myself could not resist the allure of that mysterious creature that is Muscle Beach... so I decided to try my luck and hit the road.

The canals were lovely and, as I predicted, much less stanky than the ones in Venice.

The beach was, you know, not bad too......

Ah, who the fuck am I kidding. It was magical. God, I love the beach. I could seriously move my entire life and just live there every day, subsisting on the pity of strangers and any scraps they might leave behind... Uh, okay. Maybe not. But I'm about as close as I could ever be to that vision when thinking about the beach. So whatever.

So I basically just sat around baking in the sun for like 3 or 4 hours. My new bathing suit is decidedly more boob-y than I normally wear so I can safely say that some of my body was seeing sun for the first time since I used to swim naked in my parent's pool in Oakville when I was a babe. Sunscreen is a fair gal's friend though, as I didn't burn at all and even managed to tan a little (that truly is a victory all things considered).

I even went for a little dip by myself - I buried my bag in the sand and put my towel overtop (god, I'm crafty! Or, um, you know, crazy.) and then hit the waves. It was cold, but not January in San Diego sans wetsuit cold, and actually a little refreshing after sitting in the sun all afternoon. Mission: test new bathing suit in the ocean for top stay-up-ability completed!

After my swim (well, it was really more of a bob and jump) I walked around and enjoyed the sunset and pretty sunset lighting and snapped some photos of the beach, the people on the beach, the surfers on the beach, and the crackheads who make up Muscle Beach.

Yeah, can you say let down? I wanted hot, tanned bods pumping iron, sweating and grunting and being manly. Instead I got smelly, old, errant hair (no one should have a freaking mop of hair growing out of their ear... seriously), and addicted to many many kinds of dirty drugs. Damn you and your false advertising Muscle Beach! I haven't been this disappointed since finding out Lance Bass was not simply " super sensitive" but in fact " super gay".

I did, however, manage to find this and sneak attack a couple of good shots. I mean, they are kinda old, but when you're faced with them or Juan the 250lbs homeless dude pumping iron in a cut off tee with a picture of Winnie the Pooh on the front, it was an obvious decision.

Not surpringsly given the caliber of athletes that frequent Muscle Beach, the rings remained unused.

On an adorabler note, isn't this beach couple cute??!

I hope he doesn't give her VD and break her heart like all men tend to do. (Let's not talk about it.)

On a for-serious-now positive note, check out the pretty sunset!

And once the sun goes down, all the surfers come out to take advantage of the sweet swells (I guess surfing is sorta like photography that way - it's best at dawn or dusk, but not so good in between). Note the decided lack of crackheads surfing. Apparently they stick to their free weights and lunges?

So that pretty much wraps it up... I was off to the airport and back to the cold and reality (boo!! reality!! boo!!) the next day. Honestly, if it wasn't for the glorious vision of Michael Cera in that airport, I might have cried the entire ride home...

Next up, the retelling of the fateful Cera airplane ride (Ceranide?) and how sometimes opportunities aren't meant to be freaked out on a plane while filling out their customs forms, but rather just appreciated for what they are (ie adorable).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Beginning of the Rest of California + An Apology

Dear Blog,

I am sorry for being such a bad writer and not updating you, linking to pictures of vaginas, and posting pretty pictures all over you. Life has been crazy and I've let myself fall behind. I know that in I promised you late last summer that I would spend more time with you and that I wouldn't get sidetracked... but I got, well, sidetracked. I promise I won't abandon you again and - even better! - find even more dwarf porn for you to enjoy. I have a tonne of stuff to write about (two subway delays in a row! improv shows where I managed to do a whole set of scenes about my jugs! the Midwest!) so I promise I'll be around more. For you, and for the kids. And for the fame. And the money.... and the blog-f*ckers.*

*some or all of these things may not exist.

So, on to business. I'm sure you remember, fair Blog, that I was in California at the beginning of November. Last we left off, I was describing for you my VIP experience at the Ellen Degeneres show (meh, not VIP at all really), an awkward encounter with Kyle Riabko re: humping (yep, still embarassing 2 months later...), and Rikki's parking skillz (major improvements in the midwest, I have to say!). So now we cut to Tuesday at 4.45am where I'm driving back to my cousin's house from LAX, having just dropped Rikki off so she could go home and vote.

Frankly, I'm pretty bummed that I'm flying solo so the minute I get back home I crash so I don't have to think about how lonely it is. Except in my early-morning stupor I manage to finally figure out how to work the heat and in my zeal turned it up to approximately 100 degrees (F or C, it matters not... it was bloody hot!). So of course I woke up not only lonely, but sweaty and grumpy... There was nary a moment to waste, however, so I got up and headed over to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at Sunset & Fairfax, enjoyed a pumpkin latte and wrote this blog. Then I hit up The Griddle again and enjoyed one of the best grilled cheeses avec a side of steak fries I've ever eaten. For a city that has so weight-obsessed, they sure do serve the best (read: fatteningly delicious... fattenlicious?) food. I assume that this is like the fact that I am not a lesbian, despite my haircut and fondness for sweater vests and Rosie O'Donnell - ie another of life's little ironies.

So apres eating, I hung out with my cousin and her super famous friend (not mentioning any names... God, I'm so LA...) and - in what is possibly the highlight of my entire trip after freaking Michael Cera out in the airport - got papparazzi'd. I mean, I doubt that they were there to film me, but you never know how many Los Angelenos read my blog (shout out to my WeHo peeps!) and might want to see the face behind the brilliant words. Cough.

So, on to the evening. Like any Canadian in America on the biggest election night in history, I decide to do something very patriotic and saw my 7th performance of Wicked. I am happy to report that there were no shoes lost or fellow musical theatre patrons harmed in this particular viewing of Wicked. Yes, it makes for a less interesting blog, but on the flip side it makes for a more wants-to-die-less Melissa. So it's sorta win-win.

The theatre Wicked is playing in just happens to be in the tourist epicentre (epicenter for my Yank friends) of the city so I was able to stroll (stroll = walk really really fast so I don't get mugged) along Hollywood from Vine to Highland and take in the sights.

Man, is that street a fucking trip. You've got everything from Beso (owned by Eva "I'm not pregnant, just fat. And by fat I mean 1/4 of Melissa's goal weight" Longoria-Parker) to boarded up store fronts with some of the bummiest bums I've ever seen in a city. In other words, it's very much a street of extremes.

(I'm loving the juxtaposition of the I LOVE AMERICA stickers beside the literal translation of the boot of Italy.)

So all along Hollywood (beginning at Vine, actually) is the walk of fame. Now, most people would assume that you're walking along and it's a fairly small stretch of street with the names of the most famous and notable people in Hollywood through the years.

In reality? The street goes on for blocks and blocks and you maybe reconize every 6th or 7th name (and that was me, and I care about things like Hollywood and movies and which celebrity couple has a transgendered son - I'll never tell! - and so would probably recognize more names than the average person). I'm sorry Joe Fitzstevens, but I don't know who you are and why you deserved this star in front of a store that sells crack pipes and bobblehead kitties. Again, another one of Hollywood's many extentricities.

Most notable on this swath of street, however, is the following:

1. the Scientology presence
2. the lights
3. the Kodak/Grauman's theatre/mega shopping complex at the corner of Hollywood and Highland

Did you know that there is such a thing as the L. Ron Hubbard Life Center? Oh yes there is! And it looks just as creepy as you'd expect it to look. There is at least 2 Scientology centres on Hollywood that I noticed and, as compared to the Scientology Centre in Toronto at Yonge & Bloor, those bitches are swaaaanky in LA. I'm talking chandeliers and ornate furnishings and pretty buildings (Toronto? Crappy building that's 50 years old and hasn't been kept up in the last, oh, 47). Dang, LA, you win this round, even if it's just for the creepy "religion" factor.

And, like the rest of the street, there are crazy giant lighted signs prominently announcing the Scientology presence. In fact, it felt like every single store/theatre/restaurant/souvenir shop/sex toy depot had a giant, lighted marquee. So in case anyone asks why California is having an energy crisis, you can confidently answer that "Ron's Dildo Emporium" is probably partially to blame. (Sorry, no pictures of Ron's. By this point I was practically sprinting down the street to avoid altercations with the many colourful locals.)

I am happy to report that I felt marginally safer at the corner of Hollywood and Highland. There was a GAP there, and I figure that muggings are statistically less likely to occur within eyesight of a GAP (mostly because who would want to take down a yuppie who has a penchant for khakis and overpriced sweaters??! Any mugger worth their corrugated cardboard knows that these things have no resale value on the streetz). Before arriving at this corner, I expected there to be a prominent Kodak theatre presence - like it would be obvious that I was staring at the place where the Oscars are held annually. But.... not so much. I think that without the 45 foot tall gold men & star-studded line up, it's less, um, clear.

I did hit up the Grauman's Footprint Yard (<-- best made up title ever?) and marvel at the teeny tiny starlet feet and the presence of Eddie Murphy's footprints (really??! Sorry, I just figured that they'd be a little more discriminating than to let legends like Judy motherfucking Garland hang out beside the dude who sang "Party all the Time"). Highlights were the aforementioned Judy Garland prints (I really should have been born a gay man), Meryl Streep's super skinny feet (or are my feet just really really fat?), and the Harry Potter kids' prints (oh, Daniel Radcliffe! They called me creepy when I said you were hot at 14, but look at you now!).

Gloria Swanson (ie the "old" Rose from Titanic) had the world's tiniest feet.

*insert joke about the size of Daniel Radcliffe's feet here - note that he was only a teenager at the time of these prints and thus still growing!*

(God, I am so creepy.)

My hero Meryl Streep and her skinny skinny feet. Note my adorable shoes, however.

RIP Paul Newman. I enjoy your salad dressing daily!

So that was my Tuesday, Blog. It was a pretty fun day all things considered (even though in addition to the loneliness I also lost my debit card by leaving it the ATM machine... eep!). I'm going to try my best to condense my Wednesday (highlight: running into James Van Der Beek at the Laugh Factory!), Thursday (improv at the iO West!) and Friday (Venice Beaaaaaaaach!) into one post. Mostly because I don't want to rub my awesome adventures in your face and also because I have Chicago to get to yet, plus all the other fun things that have been happening (think: Christmas family portraits with my cats!).

I hope this makes up a little for not posting in forever and also shutting you down for a couple of days. And if you'd like to get me a welcome back present, may I suggest diamonds or a crisp new $1000 bill.

Just saying.

All my love,

PS I don't want to ruin the surprise, but I picked you up something from "Ron's Dildo Emporium" that I think you'll really enjoy.