The Sorry

November 19, 2014

I’m not talking about the Hasbro board game, where 2-4 players attempt to get all four of their colored game pieces from start to “home” before the other players.

I’m also not talking about the novel by Gail Jones.

Or the song by Guns N’ Roses.

I’m talking about the most over-used word in the Canadian vernacular.

Sorry.

A recent study from Queens University tells us what we all already knew: Canadians are the leaders in official apologies. The study found that Canadians are more likely to say “sorry” than any other nationality, and Canadians use “sorry” in contexts that do not require an apology because: “Canadians are overly concerned with maintaining their self-image as a tranquil, multicultural, peacemaking nation.”

There was a recent National Post article that caught my attention: The use and abuse of ‘sorry’: Americans do not say it, the British do not mean it, and Canadians overdo it.

Having lived in all three countries, I know this to be true. When I was living in England someone once told me that I apologized too much. My response was, “sorry”. I immediately apologized again – another reflexive, uncontrolled “sorry”.

Sorry. The word is meant to convey regret, sympathy, pity.

Sorry I slept with your fiancé the night before your wedding… Sorry you’re not able to get the deposit back on the reception hall… Sorry you’re all dressed up with no place to go… Sorry you’re going to have to do online dating, again… (these are some examples of things you could and should say “sorry” for).

Instead, “sorry” has become a thin, limp word that Canadians rely on (like their obnoxiously free National health care system).

We Canadians need to stop apologizing, officially.

In fact, Canadians need an addendum to the Canadian Constitution Acts, 1867-1982:

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize                                                     the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Every citizen of Canada has the right not to apologize.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the                                                     person and the right not to apologize except in                                                             accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

I’ve been saying “sorry” my entire life, and I’m done. From now on, I’m only going to say “sorry” when I’m really sorry (which is hardly ever).

If you don’t like it, I’m sorry (not sorry).

#sorrynotsorry

+++

An early apology note (there have been many since):

Sorry 1

 

 

 

The Mindy Lanka

November 12, 2014

Once upon a time there was a woman named Mindy Lanka.

Before we move on, I should mention… this is a true story!

Most of my stories are based on a true story, circumstance or incident. However, sometimes (96% of the time) I use my creative license to amuse and satisfy my clever, discerning, and attractive (!) audience (that’s you).

This one is completely accurate, with actual, factual information.

Back to the true story about Mindy Lanka

Okay, so her name isn’t actually Mindy Lanka, but to protect the identity of this woman, I will refer to her as Mindy Lanka. If I used her real name, you’d know who she was, and then it would be awkward when you saw her at the supermarket.

I happen to know this woman very well. Very well (extremely well). I also happen to know this woman’s husband and her daughter very well. I have known this woman my entire life (and also: the nine months previous).

But, as I said (and I’m saying again), I will not be revealing this woman’s identity. I will respect her right to remain anonymous.

Anyway, the year was 1975 and Mindy Lanka and her husband Yelnats (I am also protecting this individual’s identity, as per his wishes) were debating whether to expand their family.

Mindy Lanka and Yelnats had been married about five years when they started to feel that yearning. They both felt that they had lots of love to give, and that they would make great parents…

To a dog.

To be clear, Mindy Lanka and Yelnats had already conceived and produced a child, and that had turned out to be a bit of a letdown. The child was no “Man’s best friend” and could hardly manage to fetch the newspaper from the front step, not to mention the child’s inability to catch a Frisbee in her teeth (she had no teeth).

Mindy Lanka and Yelnats were feeling slightly disillusioned with the whole experience… Caring for the child had proved to be challenging. The child required regular feedings, diaper changes, supervision and fresh air.

They hadn’t signed up for this!

(I should note, that while no formal documentation was signed… they did decide to have sexual intercourse – and between Mindy Lanka’s thickened uterus and Yelnats’ capable sperm – the likelihood of impregnation was high.)

With all of that in mind… On a windy, autumn day (it was actually a humid summer’s day, but once again, I’ve taken creative license), Mindy Lanka and Yelnats went to the animal shelter and picked out a dog.

When they brought that dog home, they were over the moon (when I say over the moon, I don’t literally mean “over the moon”. Mindy Lanka and Yelnats were not astronauts. Mindy Lanka worked part-time at Sears and Yelnats was a carpenter).

They finally felt that their family was complete… Almost.

Four years later, Mindy Lanka gave birth to yet another child. This one was worse than the other one.

They had really hoped to get another dog (or a parakeet!), but the two children took up most of their free time and resources.

Alas, a complete happy family was not to be for Mrs. Mindy Lanka.

+++

Three decades later I asked Mindy Lanka and Yelnats if they would do it all again if they could…

“No.”

That pretty much covers it.

+++

But, also:

If you (like me) think that Martin Short is a Canadian treasure and you are super excited about his new book, “I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend”… Then you (like me) can go out and purchase his new book, which was released yesterday!

The Love/Hate Relationship

October 29, 2014

I’m in one.

A love/hate relationship.

A relationship which finds me with alternating emotions on a regular basis… Sometimes love, and sometimes hate.

Now before you accuse me of airing my relationship laundry in public… let me explain!

It’s not with my husband. He’s great… Like, really great! Like, the best thing that has ever happened to me, the best gift I have ever received, proof that a God exists, blah blah blah.

I have a love/hate relationship with other thingsSpecifically:

  1. Real Housewives
  1. Facebook
  1. England
  1. Ikea

I don’t understand it.

How is it that one day I can care for something so deeply, and the next day wish it never existed?

Take the Real Housewives (Orange County, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, Atlanta, New York City) for instance. The show is pure, unadulterated entertainment that occasionally crosses the line into public humiliation. I find it both mesmerizing and upsetting. I don’t know why I watch it, but I do.

Facebook. I live in Los Angeles and many of my friends live elsewhere. Facebook is a way of keeping in touch with them… Sort of. Facebook is full of people’s highlight reels: concerts, crazy nights out, family gatherings. Facebook gives users the ability to present an edited picture of their life, which might make you think your own life isn’t as exciting. A recent study showed that Facebook use is linked to depression and a feeling of life dissatisfaction. So, while Facebook appears to fulfill a need for social connection, it actually corrodes it and makes you feel worse about yourself. But!!!!!!!! There are cute pictures of KITTENS and BABIES and sometimes, MONKEYS WEARING SHEARLING COATS!!!!!!! ;) 

England. I lived there for three years and I definitely have a love/hate relationship with it. Sometimes (very occasionally) I’ll find myself missing certain, specific things: the Marks & Spencer’s Dine In for £10, the Queen, and RAIN (the Beatles song – not the atmospheric water vapor). However, I would have to say the best thing about England is the convenience to leave England. They have multiple low-cost airlines and it’s really easy to travel to Europe.

And then there’s Ikea. Yes, you might see an adorable monkey wearing a shearling coat and yes… you can get a Billy bookcase right now… But is the 4-hour argument about who was supposed to be holding piece A, and where the other bolt went, and how he’ll never measure up to the man your father was, and subsequent divorce worth it? Sometimes (because your books aren’t going to hold themselves).

Love… Affection, Appreciation, Enjoyment.

Hate… Animosity. Loathing. Objection.

I don’t understand it… So opposite!

So, how is it possible to feel both?

I’m asking you.

I thought you were smart (someone told me you were smart).

If you figure this out, let me know. But don’t call on Mondays at 9pm because the Real Housewives of Orange County is on.

*

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Awwwww…

The Magnitude

October 23, 2014

There has been a lot of debate about the BEST DAY EVER…

Was it Roald Dahl Day, when we went to Roald Dahl’s house in Buckinghamshire and looked inside his writing hut and held his ball of candy wrappers and went inside Danny’s caravan and sat in the Wonkamobile and then met his widow Liccy Dahl, who sold me some first-edition books from Roald’s personal collection?

Possibly.

Or, was it the day we visited Gruyeres, when I climbed the stairs up to the Château de Gruyères with its cobblestone streets and quaint shops and then toured the cheese factory and learned about the process of making Gruyères (which was extremely informative!) then had the best fondue (moitié-moitié) I have ever tasted in my entire life and THEN went to nearby Broc-Fabrique to tour Maison Cailler, where we felt like Charlie in Willy Wonka’s factory as we were guided through room after room of amazing sights, sounds and smells and ended up in the tasting room, where you could eat as much chocolate as you liked?

Possibly.

Or, perhaps it was our Wedding Day, when we committed our lives to one another in front of close friends and family in a simple service officiated by my Grandfather at Vancouver’s airport?

Maybe.

Hindsight is 20/20… and I feel like I just had an eye exam… because there’s a new BEST DAY EVER in the running.

Sometimes an event takes place and you don’t fully understand the magnitude until much, much later.

Like seven months later.

We had an earthquake back in March. There was no damage, and we carried on with our lives as though we weren’t living on a major fault line… Until today… Today I looked in a rarely used cabinet and noticed that a beautiful antique teacup had fallen on its side and cracked. I’ve decided to blame the earthquake back in March so that this particular metaphor works as an illustration for my purposes…

Sometimes an event takes place and you don’t fully understand the magnitude until much, much later.

The BEST DAY EVER might just be the day we spent in Stockholm, Sweden… December 1, 2012!

Picture it… Scandinavia. Snow falling quietly on the old town…

You can also “picture it” with the following pictures…

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Architecture dating back to the 13th century!

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A snow-covered monument amongst a lovely, tranquil scene!

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A lively Christmas Market in the world’s first “park”, Skansen!

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A frozen lake! Is this heaven? Maybe!

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A real, live Scandinavian wolf!

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A band playing real, Swedish Christmas carols!

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A traditional Christmas table setting in a 500 year-old cottage!

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Swedish baked goods!

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Pony rides!

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Two gnomes in one place!

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Swedish meatballs!

It was, quite simply… the second or third BEST DAY EVER!

The Fuss

October 15, 2014

I guess it’s true. You don’t know if you like something until you try it.

Something might be the best thing on earth, but you won’t know unless you try it.

Saying that, there are several things that I refuse to try. They might be the best things on earth… they might change my life and make me a better person, but I am not going to find out. Examples: lobster (I’m very allergic), skydiving (I’m very afraid of heights), meth (I like having teeth).

Recently I tried two new things, and I loved them both. Like, really loved them… Like, loved them enough to write a blog about them.

The first is Hawaii.

I used to think that people made an undue fuss about Hawaii. I thought Hawaii was just beaches and palm trees and a wonderful climate.

Having recently moved to Southern California, I thought I had it pretty good. I thought that it didn’t get much better than SoCal. I already have blue skies, sandy beaches, palm trees and a wonderful climate. So why would I ever need to go to Hawaii?

How wrong was I? Answer: Very.

Now I know what all the fuss is about.

Hawaii is literally the best place on earth. I’m so glad that someone (or two) convinced me to book a trip to Hawaii.

Like California, Hawaii has amazing beaches and palm trees and a wonderful climate. But Hawaii is so much more than the sum of its parts… It’s epic sunsets, cool breezes, drinking Mai Tais, swimming with massive sea turtles, and the aloha spirit. It’s bare feet, no make-up, wearing your swimsuit all day, and finding yourself smiling for no reason.

Hawaii: I get it.

The second is jazz.

I used to think that people made an undue fuss about jazz. I thought jazz music was just noise made with horns.

Having grown up with grunge rock, alternative rock and plain old rock, I thought I knew what music I liked. I already have an extensive collection of music, so I didn’t think I needed to expand my horizons.

How wrong was I? Yes, very.

Now I know that al the fuss is about.

I’m so glad that Amazon didn’t take my previous purchases into account at all, and recommended Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

Jazz music is literally making my world better.

Like rock, jazz has its roots in rhythm and blues, and incorporates a variety of musical instruments. But jazz music is so much more than the sum of its parts… It’s romantic, surprising, eclectic, and whimsical. It’s making me feel elated and melancholy at the same time.

Jazz: I get you too.

Also, avocados: Turns out, I like you too.

Unknown

(Not to the extent I would get a tattoo like this person did… but still, a lot.)

The Mixed Tape

October 8, 2014

I don’t make mixed tapes.

You might be thinking, “Nobody makes mixed tapes anymore! They make mixed CDs.”

Okay, yes. You’re right (as usual).

My reference to audio cassette tapes is definitely out of date. Cassette tapes were a widely used format for recorded music until the 1990s, but are not widely used anymore.

But guess what? Your reference to CDs is almost as out of date… Compact discs are definitely going the way of the dinosaurs (very few).

I digress (I do that a lot).

I don’t make mixed tapes anymore… since the “incident”.

You might be thinking, “What was the incident?”

I’m getting there…

I should start by reminding you that I love everything about Christmas (except tinsel).

I love the smells, the sights, the lights, the giving, the getting, the sharing, the caring, the swearing, the cocktails, the turkey… etc.

But I especially like the music, and one song in particular… O Holy Night, and I am partial to Mahalia Jackson’s version. It’s very stirring.

Back to the story…

The year was 1997 (and cassette tapes were still the preferred audio format).

I was sitting up in my bedroom thinking, I should make a mixed tape of Christmas tunes for my English teacher as a Christmas present.

I know what you’re thinking, “Kim was obviously in love with her English teacher because you only ever make a mixed tape for someone you love.”

First of all, I wasn’t in love with my English teacher. Geez.

Second of all, you don’t have to be in love with someone to make them a mixed tape. Sometimes you just want to share music with them… So you stay up all night creating the perfect Christmas mix (new and old, slow and fast) and collaging a custom cover with photos of you and him under a spring of mistletoe, and filling the liner notes with poetry about yearning love that you wrote in his class.

Third of all, shortly after the “incident” my English teacher did end up running off with a student (not me).

I digress (again).

So after spending all night working on the mixed tape, I handed it to my English teacher and said, “I made you a mixed tape of Christmas music”.

He said: “Thank you”.

I said: “You’re welcome”.

You could have cut the unrequited sexual tension with a knife.

After our lesson, he asked the class if he could put on some Christmas music while we worked on our assignment. Everyone agreed. He popped the cassette tape into the player and pressed play.

There were a few seconds of silence as the cassette started…

This gave me time to think about how once my English teacher listened to the tape, viewed the cover art and read the liner notes… he’d fall in love and beg for my hand in marriage.

Of course I’d say “no” coyly, and tell him that I’d like to wait until I’m 19 (but if he simply had to have me then and now, I’d get Stan and Linda to sign off on it).

The music started.

O Holy Night by Mahalia Jackson. My favorite.

But then…

I noticed it wasn’t.

It wasn’t Mahalia.

It was me.

It was me singing O Holy Night.

As I ran toward the cassette player, the class started laughing.

They knew. Everything.

They knew that I had made the mixed tape, they knew that I had accidentally recorded my own voice instead of transferring tape to tape, and they knew my voice would never get me far in life (limited range and very pitchy).

But worst of all… they knew I was in love with Mr. Berg (and now you do too… Geez).

The Stan Smith

October 1, 2014

WARNING: For those of you expecting a humorous, satirical essay… look away now. This is a sappy, sentimental blog post dedicated to one of the best guys I know…

Stan Smith.

I’m not talking about these awesome sneakers.

 Unknown

I’m also not talking about this tennis player from the 1970s, although I can understand why you’d think that… (because his name is also Stan Smith).

 080731_StanSmith_1971_h

I’m talking about this guy…

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Stan Smith.

He’s my Grandpa and he’s turning 90 this week!

He was born in 1924… before World War II, rock n’ roll, the moon landing, and the internet!

Yes, at 90 years YOUNG, he may be considered an “antique”, but he’s still sharp as a tack and has more energy than people half his age!

When people meet my Grandpa they immediately love him. Not only is he friendly, kind, compassionate, warm and incredibly wise… (this list could go on and on and on), he’s got this indescribable brightness in his eyes… I’m pretty sure he’s an angel.

After my Grandfather’s mother passed away in childbirth, his Grandmother Annie stepped in to raise him. Annie was an incredibly strong woman with a gift for poetry. My Grandfather wrote about her life in his book, The Life and Lines of a Pioneer. 

An excerpt from one of her poems, “An Angel Unawares” seems fitting:

As he sat unfolding the scriptures

And told of God’s goodness and grace,

A light of reflected glory

Shone on his dear old face

 

The theme of God’s goodness and mercy

Was the one he loved to record,

No teacher on earth has taught him

But I knew that he walked with the Lord.

Like my Great-Grandmother Annie (and me!), my Grandfather is a writer. He shared his wisdom and experience with several published books, including Coping with Life Victoriously.

I have learned (and continue to learn) so much from my Grandpa Smith. Our weekly phone call is always the highlight of my day, as he continues to be such a great source of advice, encouragement, love, and support.

One of the things I love most about my Grandpa is his laugh… it’s always genuine and generous… kind of like him.

My Grandpa has had a fascinating life… he served for almost twenty years as a pastor before becoming a probation officer. He went on to work as a prison chaplain, before eventually returning to pastoring a church. He devoted his life to others, and continues to bless others wherever he is.

He’s my mentor, my guide, my hero and my friend.

Love you Grandpa! IMG_2864

He’s also an amazing gardener… check out that pumpkin!

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Young Stan and young Elsie with even younger Linda!

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FaceTiming with Gramps!

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My mom and I hugging our special dads.

The Bumpersticker

September 24, 2014

When I was young…

Wait. With all this “When I was young” talk, I’m sounding like a grandma, aren’t I?

I assure you, I’m no grandma! I’m a “young lady” according to the bus boy at the Mexican restaurant I dined in last night. He was actually a “bus man” because he was definitely a man and not a boy. There was nothing boyish about him… He was all man… Muscular, confident, and handsome… but not cloyingly so.

I digress.

Anyway, when I was young…

Okay, I am like a grandma in many ways… I love Christmas and housecoats and hard candy, but I am also still very youthful, fresh-faced and just a tad immature.

I digress again (it happens).

Anyway, when I was young, my family regularly went camping.

I love Wikipedia’s definition of camping:

Camping is an outdoor recreational activity. The participants (known as campers) leave urban areas, their home region, or civilization and enjoy nature while spending one or several nights outdoors, usually at a campsite. Camping may involve the use of a tent, caravan, motorhome, a primitive structure, sporting camp or no shelter at all.

(I couldn’t have said it better myself… so I just went ahead and cut and pasted it.)

You might hear “camping” and think, “Oh, spending time in the Great Outdoors sounds like fun! I can roast artisanal marshmallows over the cinnamon-scented campfire (it’s real thing) and then fall asleep on my Coleman self-inflating sleep pad, while listening to Nature Soundz radio on iTunes (because why listen to actual nature when you can listen to Nature Soundz?). Also, I can catch up on Breaking Bad on Netflix because the campsite has wifi!”

And to you I would say, “Hells no. It was NOT FUN. It was the 1980s.”

It was hot dogs made of pig-snouts, swimming in leach-infested lakes, starting a fire with gasoline, and having conversations.

It was the worst.

I’m not really an outdoors kind of gal, and I wasn’t an outdoors kind of kid either. Luckily, our family had a camper, which made “camping” slightly more bearable.

The set-up looked a lot like this:

10-1

The camper was small, but it did the job (keeping us from being eaten alive by bears, mosquitoes, etc.), and it was considered state of the art at the time.

It featured:

  • a curtain separating my parent’s bed from our bed (surprisingly, the thin layer of polyester did not muffle the sounds of my parent’s canoodling)
  • a flushable toilet (necessary)
  • a self-cleaning oven (my mom cleaned it)

And, most importantly:

  • a very declarative bumpersticker on the back, which read:

honk-if-you-love-jesusI remember a lot of people (A LOT!) honking, and then speeding up to catch us, and then looking directly into the vehicle, and then pointing up to the heavens with their middle finger.

Apparently, a lot of people love Jesus (which is nice).

All of my fond “camping” memories took place inside the camper, and most involve playing board games and eating Chex Mix while it rained outside (none of my fond “camping” memories involve outdoor recreational activities), so it was a very sad day when my parents sold our beloved camper.

Now when people honk, I just assume they’re angry with us for not signalling when we change lanes, leaving our high beams on, parking in a handicapped spot, etc.

 

The Present

September 17, 2014

I like gifts, presents, etc.

(If you were wondering.)

If you were debating between donating to a charitable cause (ie. humanitarian, philanthropic) in my name, OR buying me a large, thoughtful, expensive present… wrapped in fun paper with a well-crafted bow… debate no more.

I’ll take the gift.

(Please and thank you.)

When I was about eight or nine years old, my parents got me a particularly original, thoughtful, expensive Christmas present… a big sack of money.

No, my parents hadn’t robbed a bank! They are fine, upstanding citizens who abide by the Canadian legal system. They went to a bank and got 100 loonies, and then put them in an old, burlap money sack and then put that sack under the Christmas tree.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “loonie”… I don’t mean these:

common_loon_joshmerril

I mean these:

25Loonie_Security

Canada’s one dollar coin.

(So you can stop with your petitions and boycotts of Stan and Linda! They would never hurt a fly – let alone stuff aquatic birds into an old, burlap money sack!) (Actually, that’s not entirely true. They have both definitely hurt flies… Killed them even.)

I digress (what else is new?).

I remember opening the burlap sack and fully expecting to find coal (I was a naughty child), so when I saw those 100 loonies, I was very excited. My parents then told me that the next day they would take me to Toys R’ Us, and that I could buy whatever I wanted with my burlap sack of money!

Stan and Linda certainly earned my love that day!

In case you’re wondering: I bought a Cabbage Patch Doll with my sack of money.

I think it’s pretty obvious: My love language is presents.

Apparently… according to author and self-professed “relationship expert” Gary Chapman, we all speak different love languages… with regard to love.

As in, how we give and receive love.

(No, not just through intercourse.) (Yes, I was surprised too.)

There are five love languages:

  1. Word of Affirmation – saying that they are great, nice, good-looking, etc.
  1. Acts of Service – bringing them a cup of tea, bringing them a cookie, etc.
  1. Receiving Gifts – buying them something thoughtful, expensive, etc.
  1. Quality Time – spending time with them, watching TV beside them, etc.
  1. Physical Touch – patting them on the back when they have a cough, etc.

First you must determine your love language…

If my in-depth description wasn’t enough, here is an online quiz to help you determine yours.

Something to keep in mind: Other people may not speak the same language as you… They may only speak French or Portuguese. This is an important thing to keep in mind because you don’t want to be that a$$hole who shows up in Paris not knowing how to say hello, good-bye and thank you in French.

(Bonjour, Au Revoir, Merci.)

Just as some people may not speak the same language as you… some people may not speak the same love language as you.

For instance (and in case you forgot) my love language is presents. I like receiving presents. I also like giving presents (though much, much less).

Some people aren’t bothered with receiving presents. They prefer to be told that they are great, nice, good-looking, etc.

Some people don’t like cilantro. Different people… different preferences.

I like presents.

Hint, hint.

Also: Christmas is 98 days away.

Hint, hint.

*

WISDOM:

Some people say, “there is no time like the present”. I think what they actually mean is, “there is no present like the time”. Which means they prefer to receive a wristwatch or timepiece.

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