The Modern Descartes

A few months ago, as I was flipping channels, I came across a very interesting TV program called “Genius by Stephen Hawking.”

The TV show promised that it would teach you how to think like a genius. (Obviously, I am already pretty much there… A near-genius, if you will… If you won’t, I don’t care.)

The first episode discussed cartesian coordinates, a coordinate system that, “specifies each point uniquely in a plane by a pair of numerical coordinates, which are the signed distances to the point from two fixed perpendicular directed lines, measured in the same unit of length.”

So, yeah… that.

The cartesian coordinate system was invented by René Descartes (pronounced day-KART), a 17th century Philosopher, Mathematician, Scientist, dubbed the father of modern western philosophy (and not to mention a major hunk).

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Am I right or am I right?

The documentary discussed Descartes numerous contributions to philosophy, religion, mathematics, and science… It also talked about how he slept for 8-10 hours each night, and then spent the first few hours of his day lying in bed, thinking.

It was at that moment that I turned to my husband and said, “I should do that.”

“That” being… spending a lot more time in bed sleeping, and thinking.

Descartes had it pretty easy… It’s not like I’m hanging out in the Netherlands in the 17th century, with loads of time on my hands, being a merchant’s wife, working on a needlepoint… I have got a job, and responsibilities, and bills to pay, and plants to keep alive, and a husband to satisfy.

If I had more time, more quality sleep, and some time to ponder, analyze, and reflect… I could do all kinds of thinking and dreaming and writing and philosophizing … And most likely come up with a new idea that would change the world, or a new mathematical coordinate system that would really shake up the world of nerds.

I have a lot of ideas (tons).

I am a modern day Descartes… If you will excuse the pun (and the burp I let slip earlier).

Just like my main man René, I am a Thinker, Dreamer, Writer…

So I started this Twitter account, where I can tweet all of my fantastic #ideas to a captive audience (28 followers and counting).

And maybe, just maybe… Something will go #boom.

The Chance

When I first met my now-husband, then-boyfriend, one of the first things we found out we had in common was our deep, abiding love of the tour de force AKA chef-d’oeuvre AKA masterpiece that is Dumb and Dumber*. In fact, the husband said he knew I was the one when I quoted it verbatim on our third date.

In other words…

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I could go on and on and on about Dumb and Dumber, but instead I’ll get to the point… (eventually.)

Several years ago the husband and I decided to “summer**” along the Aegean Sea on the island of Rhodes, famous for its beaches and ancient ruins.

I should note: the husband and I (mostly “I”) have a habit of befriending strangers while on vacation. People seem to flock to us (like the salmon of Capistrano). Maybe it’s our dynamic, winning personalities? Maybe it’s our open, friendly faces? Maybe it’s the fact that we buy the first round? Whatever it is, it’s working for us – because we love to meet new people!

When we arrived to the resort, we were immediately and profoundly disappointed, as we noticed the resort was full of rich, bloated Russians, and chavvy, pasty Brits.

At first I was willing to look past my prejudice… While laying poolside, I overheard a fascinating conversation about free trade between a large, hairy, bejeweled Muscovite by the name of Алексей and an OAP from Leeds named Margo. I felt it was my responsibility – nay – duty, to interject and offer an opinion on a topic that I know very little about. I soon realized the Russians and Brits were equally uninterested in pursuing a friendship with me.

The husband and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that we weren’t going to be making any new friends… “I already have like, six friends,” I told myself, as I stared into the mirror and tried not to cry.

About mid-way through our vacation, the husband and I were in a local convenience store when I heard it… a sweet, dulcet, Southern drawl.

I rounded the corner, narrowly avoiding a tower of Paprika Pringles (delish)… and found three friendly faces staring back at me.

“Hello?” I Lionel-Richied them… Hoping, praying, anticipating their response.

“Hello!” they replied. I couldn’t even

Within a day or two, we were pretty much besties. Five peas in a pod. Sisters and one brother from another mister or mother. So, when the three of them invited the husband and I to come along on a road trip to the village of Lindos, we were all over it***.

The next morning, we all piled in their “economy” rental car, which would have been perfect for the three of them, and which was extremely cramped with the five of us. But we didn’t care… We were excited and ready for an EAT. PRAY. LOVE-esque journey of enlightenment and discovery. We high-fived as our new friend Pam turned the car onto the main highway, and then we immediately slowed…

Maybe it was the fact that it was a Namco****? Maybe it was the fact that Rhodes has a surprisingly mountainous terrain? Maybe it was the fact that we were all North American, and we all enjoy fried chicken on occasion?

Whatever it was, the minute we encountered our first slope, the car slowed to a crawl.

As other vehicles tried in vain to pass us on the one lane road, I nudged my husband and said, “What movie does this remind you of?” Knowing exactly what movie it would remind him of… He nodded, and then even though he totally did not need to say it, he said it: “Dumb and Dumber.

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Dumb and Dumber?” The question sounded all the sweeter with our new friend Taryn’s thick Georgian accent.

“You know the movie?” the husband inquired.

“Yes. I actually know the Farrelly Brothers. I used to be a nanny for one of the brothers.” The husband and I exchanged looks…

I mean, what are the chances…? 1 in a million?

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Dumb and Dumber is the kind of movie you can watch 247 times, and it never gets old.

** Spend one week of our “summer.”

*** In Hindsight, they could have been murderers. But they weren’t, and for that we are grateful.

**** The premiere Greek vehicle manufacturer.

The Celebrity

The other day I overheard a conversation about “celebrity” sightings. The pair were getting very, very excited as they “upped” each other’s star sightings.

“I saw Vikram Vij riding the skytrain.”

“Oh yeah? I saw David Usher eating gelato in English Bay.”

As I overheard names like “Bif Naked” and “Fiona Forbes,” I first thought to myself, “who?” and then I thought about how weird it is that people get this excited about seeing a celebrity.

I remember the first “real” celebrity I saw when I first moved to Los Angeles… I walked into a coffee shop in Brentwood Village and there, sitting at a table in the back, was Goldie Hawn and her daughter Kate Hudson. I nudged my husband in the ribs, tilted my head in their direction, and finally said, “two o’clock”… because my husband was just not getting it.

Over the next half-hour I found many reasons to look casually in their direction, and then quickly divert my eyes when Goldie’s met mine.

I’ll admit it… I was intrigued.

As my husband and I drank our “skinny” lattes, I wondered aloud, “Why do I care that I am seeing Goldie Hawn?” “What about my own life is lacking when I get excited about seeing Goldie Hawn at a coffee shop in Brentwood?” “What makes these two people more important than anyone else?” I was asking some hard questions.

And then I came up with some answers.

I care that I am seeing Goldie Hawn because she reminds me of a film  that makes me sentimental about a particular time of my life. (Overboard was my Citizen Kane.)

No, I didn’t have a lot going on, and yes, it would have been a great story to tell my mom (instead of the usual stories of failure), but I should stop staring at Goldie Hawn and analyzing her sandwich choice (tuna on cranberry walnut??????) and just let her live her life. (No, but really, tuna with the sweetness of cranberry? and then nuts?)

And finally, these two people are not more important than anyone else. Goldie, Kate and the thousands of other people that are famous for being on TV or throwing a ball around, are just people, and people are all just human beings, and human beings are all just members of the homo sapien family, and comprised of approximately 100 trillion cells. We all sleep, we all dream. We all want to be loved.

We are all the same. (Except some of us are rich and on TV, obvs.)

(Full disclosure: I did get weirdly excited in my body when I met Larry David.)

 

 

 

The Father’s Year

So it was Father’s Day on Sunday, and I have one (a Father) and so I celebrated him on Sunday.

I bought him a card* and I made him a magnet** and put them in an envelope, and then put his name and address on the envelope, and then went to the post office, waited in line, and then mailed it off to him. Then, on Sunday (Father’s Day), I called him and asked him if he had received it. (He had.)

Because maybe it’s just me… But I think fathers should be celebrated!***

Presumably, they:

  1. helped produce you
  2. helped raised you
  3. paid for things like shoes
  4. attended your sporting activities
  5. gave you a hug on Christmas Day

(If they didn’t do any of these things, they should not be celebrated.)

My dad gets four out of five (I’ll let you guess which ones) so I thought, yeah, let’s do this… (get the $4.99 Father’s Day card instead of the $3.99 card – because that extra dollar says, “Hey Father, I want to celebrate you…” which sounds kind of weird and creepy, but I mean it in a very non-weird and non-creepy way.)

You might be asking, “what do you mean by celebrate?” Good question… It could even be considered an excellent question, and because of that I will say, “well done me,” because frankly, I don’t get a lot of positive reinforcement.

For some, celebrating their father means cooking and eating meat. For others, it might be throwing around the ol’ pigskin… And for the remaining few, it might involve sitting in the same room and watching men on television tackle other men while eating pretzels and/or chicken wings.

However you celebrated that Father of yours… I hope you were reminded of all your Father gave up and sacrificed for you (all of his dreams, aspirations, hopes, money, etc.)… And I hope it prompts you to celebrate your Father all year long (minus the chicken wings because those shouldn’t be eaten in excess). Otherwise it was all for naught, wasn’t it?

 

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* Father’s Day cards are weird. Did you notice that BBQs, ties, tools and cars are featured prominently? What if your dad isn’t into BBQs, ties, tools and cars? Then again, my dad is into all of these things.

** With this on it:IMG_3950

*** Okay, I’ll admit it… it was a super weak present and a super weak way to celebrate the best dad in the world.

The Aloha

So the Lloydster and I were in Hawai’i last week… on the big island, which for your reference – is appropriately called “The Big Island.”

Since we’ve returned from our trip a lot of people have asked us, “How was your trip?”

When people ask me this, I think it’s very thoughtful and courteous, but it’s also kinda funny – because you will NEVER not have a good time in Hawai’i. FACT.

(At work when I was asked this question by a co-worker, I replied “terrible,” just to see their reaction. The co-worker took it at face value and said, “That’s too bad. Was the weather bad?” And then I had to explain to them that I was trying to be witty/sarcastic/funny and I failed* and I wound up apologizing and running off.)

In truth, our trip was friggin’ amazing.

We saw giant green turtles, black sand beaches, a giant canyon formed a million years ago, a single lizard, multiple mongeese (what is the plural form of mongoose?!), an eel, lava flows, volcanoes, coffee plantations, millions of palm trees, macadamia nut trees, gorgeous sunsets, and celebrities (Michael Gross AKA Steven Keaton from Family Ties!).

It was perhaps the best vacation ever.**

You might be saying, “You’ve been on a lot of vacations Kim. Why was this the best vacation ever?”

First of all, you’re right. I have been on a lot of vacations. It’s because it’s extremely important to get a little rest and relaxation, so you can return to your regular life refreshed!

Second of all, this was perhaps the best vacation ever because of one thing…

ALOHA (yes, caps were necessary).

Aloha isn’t just hello and good-bye in Hawai’i… it is loosely translated as “the joyful sharing of life energy in the present.” And how!

I first went to Hawai’i two years ago. I lived in California at the time, and a lot of people wondered (aloud) why I would vacation in Hawai’i when I already lived in a wonderful warm climate with palm trees. And admittedly, that got me wondering why I would vacation in Hawai’i when I already lived in a wonderful warm climate with palm trees…

But as soon as I arrived, I understood.

It’s the sights, smells, warm breezes… Hawai’i has this amazing energy, which you can feel the moment you land and someone places a orchid lei around your neck.

I recommend getting some aloha.

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* #fail

** Top 20 anyway

 

 

The “Lived In”

The husband and I had a very important philosophical discussion the other day… After he mentioned that he “lived in” Victoria for six weeks one summer many, many years ago.

I turned to him (as I often do), arched by eyebrow and said, “Lived in? Come on…”

He turned back to me (as he often does), tilted his head and said, “Lived in. Yes.”

And that got me thinking… What is the minimum period of time that qualifies someone as “living” in a place…? As opposed to merely “visiting” a place?

I’m going to go out on a limb – although you will never actually find me out on an actual limb, as I suffer terribly from vertigo and have a fear of all forms of “bark” – and say that it’s 6 months. In my humble opinion, 6 months is the minimum amount of time that you have to be in a place before you are actually living in that place.

Oh, you went to Barcelona for three weeks last November. It must have been nice to be amongst Spaniards during your visit. 

You went to school in Finland for 11 months. It must have been fun living there. 

You went backpacking around Australia for five weeks? I’m glad you got to visit those koalas. 

You see? It works.

6 months.

I rest my case.

Of course, deciding upon a minimum time period that constitutes “living” vs. “visiting” brings up some very valid questions…

Why do people want to validate a particular kind of experience by labelling it “living” rather than “visiting”?

Why is “living” in a place better than “visiting” a place?

If your friend visited Australia for five weeks, why do they still have an Australian accent six month later?

I know what you’re thinking… Those are very good questions (and thank you for saying so. I pride myself on my question asking) and good questions always deserve answers.

But then again, we’re all just hanging onto a giant orb spinning in space…

So I guess there might be bigger questions to ask.

The Extremely Awkward Two Week Period

When I left my last job, there was a period of time (two weeks) between when I gave my notice and my last day of work, and that period of time can best be described as, “extremely awkward.”

I should back up.

My husband and I were legally able to live and work in America for three glorious years because we were in possession of a three year visa. We had applied for green cards during our first year in America and we waited patiently for almost two years for that big, yellow* envelope in the mail…

And guess what? It didn’t happen!

We still don’t know why… We are (obviously) model citizens… Other than the littering, road rage, and failing to submit our income tax returns**.

But seriously, America took one look at us and our papers, and decided that we weren’t good enough. Can you believe that crap?

America, who the hell do you think you are?! 

It was probably down to some lowly Border Agency employee… And his name was probably something like “Steve.”

Perhaps Steve was “going through a rough time”… Maybe Steve realized that his wife Becky was “emotionally intimate” with her lacrosse coach Darryl… Maybe his kids, Steve Jr. (12) and Loretta (10) no longer looked up to 5’2″ Steve… Maybe Steve wasn’t as “virile” as he once was… Maybe turning down people’s green cards was the ONE thing that made Steve still feel like a man***.

I digress (what else is new?).

The point is… We didn’t get our green cards and we needed to leave the US of A, post haste!

As the news that I was leaving my job spread like chlamydia through a college dormitory, people would offer their condolences and kind words. It wasn’t uncommon for me to hear that I was so and so’s “favourite co-worker of all time,” or that they would miss me “more than their dead Grandma,” or “they’ve never known love like this.” You get the picture.

It was a sad state of affairs all around.

Perhaps most shocking to me was that COMPLETE AND UTTER STRANGERS would come up to me in the hallways and elevators of my workplace and tell me that they were going to miss me. In some cases, I couldn’t recall ever having met, or ever having seen these people with my eyes, and no – I don’t suffer from face blindness***  (which is a real thing by the way). One girl said she heard I was leaving and that she would miss me and that we should “totally be Facebook friends.”

And you know what, I was touched for realz. Because if my mere presence has that sort of effect on someone I have never met or laid eyes on, then I am obviously doing something right in the workplace.

At home – not so much, but in the workplace – oh yeah.

 

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* I’m just assuming it would be big and yellow.

** Joke – obvs!

*** And you know what? Steve can suck it because I want no part of Trump’s America anyway. Who’s laughing (in the best country in the world AKA Canada) now Steve?

**** Or, Prosopagnosia

That Time I Went to a Paul McCartney Concert

This week I saw a freaking Beatle… Paul… The other good ones are dead. (Just kidding, obvs... I love Ringo.)

My dreams all came true that day… Well, almost.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old I “discovered*” the Beatles. I listened to their records** non-stop, watched any movie or documentary I could get my hands on, and dreamed of kissing Paul McCartney on the mouth.

As anyone who has ever had the privilege of listening to The Beatles knows… Whatever happened in Liverpool over 35 years ago was pure magic. There has never been anything like it, and there will never be anything like it again. So to have been in the presence of rock royalty, and to share three hours of the same time and space… was something else… Something I will never forget.

And here (in no particular order) are some of the things that I said to my husband at the concert:

“He can really pull off a mullet – not many men can.”

“He’s not really twisting, but he’s definitely shouting.”

“I should probably be a back-up singer for Paul McCartney.”

“How do you think one becomes a back-up singer for Paul McCartney?”

“He’s got such skinny legs.”

“Oh no… something from his latest album.”

(During the “Live and Let Die” fireworks display, which was insane and fiery) “We are all going to die tonight, aren’t we?”

“Do you think he wears diapers? Three hours is a long time for a geriatric to hold it.”

“This whole sitting at concerts thing is awesome.” (The majority of the crowd was as old as the hills and refused to stand.)

“I want to make a Paul McCartney Agreement.” (Perhaps something similar to the Eddie Vedder Agreement?)

The only possible way the concert could have been any better was if I was somehow able to kiss Paul on the mouth.

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* They were always there though, weren’t they?

** On a record.

The Oral Agreement

So my husband and I have an oral agreement, and by that I mean it’s a written agreement about what I am allowed to do “orally” with Eddie Vedder.

We lovingly refer to it as the “Ed Ved Agreement.”

I mean, it’s important to have such an oral agreement written out, agreed upon and notarized should I become his pen pal, should our paths cross one afternoon in a sleepy Seattle suburb while he walks his aging Labrador dog… Basically, the oral agreement means that should I “run into” Eddie at some point and the sexual tension be so potent that we cannot resist each other (orally) I can follow through.

And I should probably explain what I mean by “oral”… smooching, tongue-kissing, tonsil hockey, “making out,” some light canoodling, and other slobbery stuff with our mouths, lips, tongues, and teeth.

Obviously there would be no intercourse, no hands stuff, and no emotional intimacy.

Before we got married, I said to my husband, “Husband, I have strong feelings for Eddie Vedder. If I ever met him, would it be okay if I made out with him?”

And the husband (being very conciliatory) said, “Sure, as long as it doesn’t go any further than that.”

And then I said, “Mind if I get that in writing?”

You’re probably thinking, “Why on God’s green earth would you ever want to kiss anyone else when you have such a wonderful relationship with your loving and hunky husband?”

The answer is simple. Ed Ved was my first crush, and I still feel funny* in my body when I see him.

You’re probably also thinking, “Do you and your husband have an oral agreement about anyone else?”

Yes.

You’re probably also wondering, “Does it work both ways?”

If you’re referring to an oral agreement that my husband has had written up and notarized, then the answer is also yes.

Fair is fair. 

If Rhys ever meets Pat Beneath at a bar, or “run into her” while parking his car, or become her trusted advisor, he’s allowed to do whatever he wants with her, orally.

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And I get it.

 

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* not “ha ha” funny.

The Exact Place

Recently I had an article published in Darling Magazine* called “5 Things England Taught Me,” in which I discussed my long-time fascination with England, my desire to live there, and what I learned whilst residing there (aside from words like “whilst”).

As I reflected back on our time living in England, and began scrawling notes on a yellow lined pad, I turned to my husband and said, “Do you remember the moment when I first asked you if you’d move to England?” He nodded.

It’s funny how some memories are just ingrained in our psyches… Like a tattoo, or a birthmark, or (worse) a hereditary disease.

In December 2007, my husband and I went to England, France and Switzerland for about a month. The first leg of our trip was spent in England, where we stayed with some friends just outside a very small and very idyllic village in the English countryside called Sudbury. Sudbury is the kind of town that gets its own postcard – it’s that cute.

One day, my husband and I set off for a walk into the village. We were newly married, so it was a lot of talking about our feelings, canoodling, holding hands, cupping each other’s faces in each other’s hands, deep and meaningful glances, and stopping to share a passionate kiss or make sweet, sweet love in a lush meadow. I’m surprised we made any progress at all.

I remember the exact moment, the exact place where I said the words that changed our lives forever… It happened here:

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I know what you’re thinking: “Doesn’t look like much.” And, you’re right – it really doesn’t. It’s just your typical English road with a bit of pedestrian pavement – not the sort of place that changes people’s lives. And yet – it did…

Because I turned to my husband and said, “What if we lived in England?”

And those six words started the ball rolling on what would become a very exciting, sad, scary, merry, mirthful**, life-altering chapter of our lives. We quit our jobs, we sold our car, we gave away most of our stuff, we said our good-byes, and we went on a journey.

A journey that took us around the world, and then, after six years, back again.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I returned to Sudbury for a visit. One day we decided to take a walk into the village. As we approached that particular bit of pedestrian pavement, I pointed ahead and said, “That’s where it all started. That’s where I uttered those words.”

“Um, no.” My husband said, pointing further down the road. “It definitely happened over there.”

“There” being here:

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I gave my husband the look***. “I don’t think so.”

He turned to me, and said, “I know so.”

“You don’t know so.” My hands moved up to my hips.

“I do know so.”

Me: “I’m younger and have a better memory. Plus I take fish oil supplements.”

Him: “They are like 50 yards from each other, so it doesn’t actually matter, does it?”

Me: “Yeah, probably not.”

Me (in my head): “I’m obviously right and he’s obviously absolutely, unequivocally, wrong.”

And that’s how memories (and marriage) works.

 

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* A wonderfully affirmative magazine that aims to redefine beauty and empower women.

** I was looking for an excuse to use this word.

*** You know, the look.