The Discovery

I have not been this excited in a very long time.

Yesterday I discovered SPOON – the band, not the utensil – and I am overjoyed.

It has been a very, very long time since I found a musical artist, duo or group that played music that was pleasing to my discriminating ear (which, BTW – is the only part of my body which discriminates).

In fact, I thought that I had come to a point in my life (as all adults do) when they have extreme dislike for any music created within the last two decades and only listen to “classic rock.” My Sirius Satellite radio channel of choice is called Lithium, which is named after a Nirvana song and exclusively plays 90s Alternative and Grunge Rock. In other words, I have been on a slippery slope.

Yesterday I had a tickety-boo around iTunes and the algorithm (which I’m guessing is actually a guy named Al Gorithm who has a lot of time on his hands) suggested a song called, “Inside Out” by Spoon. I listened to the preview, and I was like, “OMG, Thank you Al, whoever you are.”

The song is unlike anything else I’ve heard in the last two decades. It is so melodic and sweet-sounding – it is as if angels from heaven had played a part in its creation. I might also mention that it sounds very similar to the marching music on the Wii, and that in itself is a win.

I began researching the band, eager to find out more. It turns out that they are from Austin, Texas and enjoy lying on their sides, closely nestled together – which I think is very sweet.

Let’s be clear: If I had just discovered the utensil I would have been equally, if not more excited, because can you imagine going through life eating soup with a fork, or ice cream with a knife? It would be extremely impractical.

images

Luckily, I am now well-acquainted with all kinds of spoons.

 

The Shoes

Sometimes you just need to go for a drive, and this morning was one of those times. I was feeling a little bit blah, the weather was a bit overcast and dreary, and it was the first day where it was very clear that summer is officially over (sorry for the hard truths), so I donned a coat, grabbed a Christmas CD (no – it’s not too early), and hit the open road.

As I pulled onto the highway, I saw a single shoe – a New Balance tennis shoe – lying by the side of the road, and I thought to myself, “How does someone lose a tennis shoe on a highway? How does any scenario end with a tennis shoe being lost on a major thoroughfare?”

I quickly forgot about the tennis shoe, as I drank my coffee and sang along to Angels We Have Heard On High (really, it’s not too early). The clouds parted a little bit, the sun peeked through, and it felt like everything was right in the world.

And then I saw a black rubber boot lying on the side of the road.

Again, I thought to myself, “What situation calls for a black rubber boot to be thrown from a moving vehicle? And if you were to accidentally lose one of your rubber boots from a vehicle, would you not pull the aforementioned vehicle over to go back and get said boot?”

I quickly forgot about the boot, as I focused on the road (I was not at all distracted by singing along with the Christmas music and doing actions with my hands and body).

Less than a mile later I spotted a single flip-flop, lying on the shoulder.

WTF.

Seriously.

I looked at the flip-flop and thought to myself, “What happened to the person who was once the proud owners of this flip-flop?! And what about the other flip-flop?! Did the owners toss it, thinking it would never be reunited with its wayward twin?!”

 

Life is full of mysteries – like, WHY ARE WE HERE – but I feel like I really need to know why there are so many single shoes lying along the side of the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Diamond

No, I’m not talking about the shape with four straight sides of equal length that forms two opposite acute angles and two opposite obtuse angles AKA, a “rhombus.”

Nor am I talking about the area on a field where the game of baseball is played.

I’m also not talking Neil, even though he’s definitely worth talking about.

I mean, come on.

 

custom-portrait

I’m talking about a pure and precious stone, consisting of a clear and colorless form of metastable allotrope of carbon that has been crystallized.

The other day I was just walking along, minding my own business (minding no other person’s business!), and enjoying Vancouver’s fair weather, when I spotted a brilliant flash on the sidewalk. I stopped, and bent down to get a closer look. It was the biggest diamond I had ever seen in my life.

I quickly picked it up, and shoved it deep into my pocket. Then I took it out of my pocket to get another look at it, and then feared it would somehow fall out of my pocket, so I put it in the change part of my wallet. I walked a few steps, and then thought the diamond would somehow get damaged by the change, so I put the loose change in my pocket, and left the diamond in the zipped pouch. I then called my husband and told him that I found a diamond.

“That’s great honey,” he said, while he, unbeknown to me, googled lost property Vancouver.

“It is great.” I whispered, hoping no one overheard. “I’m just ball-parking it*, but I bet this sucker is worth at least $10,000. It’s celebrity engagement ring big.”

I could hear my husband typing.

“I already know what I’m going to do with the money. I’m going to give half the money to charity, because that is the kind of wonderful human I am…”

My husband grunted his agreement.

“And then I’m going to use the other half for a vacation. I’m thinking Hawaii.”

The typing stopped, and my husband piped up: “You know you have to turn it in to the police, right?”

“What? No. Why?” I said, rather defiantly.

“Because it belongs to someone else.” My husband is nearly always the voice of reason.

“How can it ‘belong’ to someone else? It’s not a piece of jewelry. It’s not a ring. If it was a ring then it would be a real thing and somebody could say, ‘yep, that’s my ring,’ but this is just a loose diamond. It’s just a bit of rock, isn’t it? It’s essentially a worthless rock that someone, somewhere decided to assign value to. Who decided that diamonds are more valuable than any other mineral? Personally, I prefer a nice bit of quartz…” I took a breath. “It’s like a hundred-year-old bottle of scotch that someone has decided is worth $27,000. I would never pay $27,000 for a bottle of scotch… Never!”

The husband exhaled. “I’m just telling you what I found online. You have to turn it in, or make a reasonable effort to find the original owner.”

“First of all, who asked you to look online? Second of all, what did you google? Third of all, how do I make an effort to find the owner of what is essentially a rock? Should I make a ‘found diamond’ posting on craigslist so someone can say, ‘yep, that’s my diamond.’”

As soon as I got home, I started doing a little googling of my own: How to tell if a diamond is real.  

The fog test. It passed with flying colors.

The stone’s refractivity. This mother refracted light like nobody’s business.

The stone’s reflections. It sparkled like the night sky, except sparklier.

The water test. Real diamonds sink, and this bad boy sunk like Luke Skywalker’s X-wing in the Dagobah swamp.

I didn’t turn in the diamond in that day. Or the next, or the day after that. In fact, a whole week passed before I was even willing to discuss it again.

I put the diamond in a plastic Ziploc bag and left it on the kitchen counter.

It haunted me.

“Okay, seriously what should I do?” I said, after having agonized about the moral and legal issues for the past seven days.

The husband stood firm. “You should turn it in.”

“Ugh. I knew you were going to say that.” I flung the Ziploc in his direction.

“The good news is that they hold the item for 90 days and if no one claims it, it’s returned to you.”

“Fine.” I was so not fine. “But we should probably check if it’s real first. We don’t want to get all the way down to the police station, which is in a very sketchy part of town, to find that its just a rock. Even though a diamond is actually just a rock.”

My palms were sweating as the jeweler looked through her loupe. She looked up and smiled at us, and I smiled back.

“It’s cubic zirconia.” She handed me the loupe, and I stared through the little circle, not exactly sure what I should be looking at. “You can tell it’s not real because you can see right through it.”

“Ahhhhh.” I said, but I was really like, “Damn.”

As I left the jewelry store my disappointment quickly turned to sweet relief… I didn’t have to drive to the sketchy part of town to turn in the diamond, or meet anyone from craigslist.

Things always seem to work out. 

IMG_8267

 

+++

* Another way to ball-park it.

IMG_8310

 

That Time I Was in a Sketch with Amy Poehler

Yes, it’s true… I was in a televised sketch with Amy Poehler.

Yes, that Amy Poehler.

Let me paint a picture for you…

(It’s a sad clown holding a drooping flower, and it took me about three hours. You’ll probably want to frame it and then display it in a place of prominence in your home. You’re welcome.)

Okay, now let me paint a metaphorical picture for you…

As I describe the location and time frame of the particular event that changed many people’s lives forever.

The month was February. The year was 1999. The city was New York. I was on a school field trip with 20 or so wide-eyed dreamers, all looking to expand our horizons.

I was young, headstrong, and a delight.*

I had dreamed of visiting NYC, the city that never sleeps, because some of my favorite television programs were filmed there. Before the trip, I wrote a letter to Late Night with Conan O’Brien requesting tickets for some members of the group, and several weeks later I received eight paper tickets in the mail.

(Things to keep in mind: this was before 9-11, before Occupy Wall Street, and before the internet was really even a “thing.”)

On February 24, we showed up to 30 Rockefeller and we were escorted onto the elevator (with its NBC peacock-print carpet), and up 30 stories to the studio. We were ushered to the front row, where we made chit-chat with Max Weinberg and his Max Weinberg 7. Conan and Andy came out to chat to the audience before the show. I put my hand up and asked for a hug, and Conan said, “no.” I don’t remember much about the show itself, except the guests were Howie Mandel (OCD comedian) and Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons).

The thing that I remember very clearly, was that as the audience began to clear out, a Producer approached a few of us and asked if we’d like to be in a sketch that would air the following night. “Uh, yeah.”

(This is the magic of NYC… Anything can happen!)

The premise of the sketch was that Late Night wasn’t a very popular TV show, so they had a hard time filling the audience. They were having a draw for a dinner out with Conan and Andy, but every time they drew a ticket there was no one in the corresponding seat, until they finally drew a ticket and it turned out to be, “Andy’s little sister, Stacy,” who was wearing an upper body brace because of an unexplained injury.

“Andy’s little sister Stacy” was played by a little-known actress by the name of Amy Poehler.

“Wistful and wise audience member number 5” was played by yours truly.

Full discloure: I took my performance to a new level that day, first looking pensive, and then plaintive, and then mixing in a bit of nostalgic contemplation. I shifted in my seat, and gently rested my chin on my fist. I wasn’t Kim Manky that day, I was “Audience member number 5.” And when the Director yelled “cut,” I knew that I had nailed it.

I don’t want to brag, but I think it’s safe to say that working with me obviously and unequivocally elevated Amy’s acting game as we “treaded the boards” together (I sat a few rows in front of her, and we definitely made eye contact.)

This was before Saturday Night Live, a string of hit movies, and a best-selling memoir (all Amy’s).

Would she have gone on to become a well-known, award-winning actress, comedian, director, writer and producer if she hadn’t had the opportunity to work with me on that fateful day?

We’ll never know.

(But probably not.)

 

+++

* It’s not important. I just wanted you to know.

 

The 16,810 Days

My mom just commented that my dad has a “cute butt,” and I threw up in my mouth a little. 

~ My diary entry from 1998

My parents just celebrated 46 years of marriage last week. That’s 16,810 days, including leap years.

I just want you to close your eyes for few seconds, and just imagine waking up next to the same person, every single day for 16,810 days…

You open your eyes, stretch your arms out, yawn, and then roll over to see… the same person you’ve seen for the last 16, 809 days.

The drool spot.

The snoring.

The breath that smells like expired milk. 

The face…

(Are you freaking out yet?)

I imagine it would feel a lot like the movie Groundhog Day… You may feel trapped in a cycle of forever. You may also get drunk, get thrown in jail, feel very depressed and contemplate suicide (like Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors in Groundhog Day).

And who could blame you?

Okay sure, you either asked or agreed to be married, you purchased a ring, you planned an event and invited friends and family, you showed up to the ceremony, said: “I do,” placed the ring on his or her finger, and signed a legal, binding contract which was recognized by an issuing authority…

But when you get married, you really do not know what you’re signing up for.

Before marriage it’s all long walks near bodies of water, staring into each other’s eyes dramatically, and exchanging mouth (and other) fluids. There is really no opportunity to find out if the other person is a decent human being because you are too busy sucking face.

After you get married it’s arguing about why he said he cleaned the bathroom, but there are still toothpaste splatters on the mirror! …and his nose is making that sound again! …and he forgot to put out the recycling and now it’s going to be really full for the week and now the neighbors will see your wine bottles and think you have a problem! …Stuff like that.

When you say, “I do,” there is definitely potential for a Groundhog Day-type situation.

If you don’t like the person you married, this could be a problem. If you don’t like yourself, it’s an even bigger one.

In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors finally breaks the cycle when he reflects on his behavior, changes his attitude, becomes less selfish, and focuses on becoming a better person…

In the movie, and in marriage… This breaks the cycle.

So, if you want to be happy for 16,810 days, or even a week…

Be like Phil.

+++

After 16,810 days my parents seem to still genuinely like each other. They laugh, kiss, cuddle and by all accounts, appear to enjoy one another’s company. But maybe (like Bill Murray) they’re just acting?

Happy Anniversary Linda Lou Hou and Yelnats!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Thing About England AKA Waldo Pancake

In the past, if someone were to ask me, “Hey, Kim. What was the best thing about living in England?” I would turn to them and reply sharply, “Can’t you see that I’m busy right now?”

And then I’d roll my eyes at whoever was standing nearby as if to say, “get a load of that guy,” and then continue doing whatever it was that I was doing.

When I was finished whatever it was that I was doing* and I had regained my composure, I would then turn to the person, give them a “dressing down” about interrupting someone when they are doing something very important, and then happily tell them the best thing about England.

The best thing about England is not what you may think… not the Queen, or the pubs, or the cheap cheese, or the guys that hang outside the palace with the furry hats and the machine guns with knives on the end.

It was, and is, Waldo Pancake.

Or, more specifically proximity to Waldo Pancake paraphernalia, and proximity to Puccini’s coffee shops, which feature Waldo Pancake’s designs not to mention delicious fair-trade beverages.

Waldo Pancake is the brain-child** and nom de plume of Jim Smith… a man who claims to be, “the most boringly named designer, illustrator and copywriter in the world.”

Jim Smith AKA Waldo Pancake creates “things” with sarcastic and/or witty sayings on them.

Like this:

sugar-tin

Sugar does look like salt!

And this:

images-1

I love cases with names.

And this:

images-3

It’s funny because it’s true.

 

I’m a big fan (and not just because I’m tall for my age)…

I have collected a lot of Waldo Pancake stuff over the years… coasters (5), tins (6), glasses cases, pens (4), band-aids, pencil cases, mugs (3), magnets (3), notebooks (4), key chains, calendars, books (2)… the list could go on and on.

It used to be that you could only find Waldo Pancake paraphernalia in ol’ Blighty, but I was delighted, nay, overjoyed to see that some Waldo Pancake paraphernalia has made its way to our shores and is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Now, when people ask me what my favorite thing about living in England is, I can roll my eyes, finish whatever it was I was doing, give them a dressing down, and then tell them it’s the cheap cheese.

Job done.

 

For more information about Waldo Pancake and Jim Smith, visit waldopancake.com.

+++

* Probably cleaning a bathroom or shaving my legs.

** I love the word brain-child and I’m glad that I got to use it.

 

 

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).

240px-Frans_Hals_-_Portret_van_René_Descartes

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…

101379-Jim-Carrey-I-like-it-alot-gif-GflM

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.

med_1421090524_00028

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?

103114-so-youre-telling-me-theres-a-c-Raj0

 

+++

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?

 

+++

* 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.