The Cupboard of Fun

I remember reading The Lion, TheWitch and The Wardrobe as a child, and being intrigued at the idea of a magic portal which delivered you to a land of talking beavers and high-quality Turkish Delight.

More than once* I have pushed past assorted clothing and miscellany in wardrobes, closets, cupboards, and the occasional gun cabinet – and emerged disappointed (and extremely disheveled).

Life is hard sometimes, and sometimes you just want to escape reality, put on a big fur coat**, enter a magic portal, and chill out with a faun.

The closest thing I have to a magic portal in my adult life is my cupboard of fun.

For those of you who don’t know what a cupboard of fun is – please allow me to explain: a cupboard is a cabinet or closet, usually with a door and shelves, used for storage, and fun is enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure…  So it’s basically a closet with a door and shelves used for enjoyment and amusement.

And it’s a lot like a magic portal – to a land of booze and board games – and I never emerge disappointed (though I am often disheveled).

FullSizeRender.jpg

+++

* This week

** Faux, obvs

The UPS Man

My mom and I were out for a walk the other day, when we noticed a brown UPS truck speed past us, and then slam on its brakes. My mom and I both stopped and turned around to see why the truck had stopped so suddenly.

We feared a cat had gone to meet its maker… But no.

Everything seemed fine. The UPS truck was idling quietly, and we just shrugged and continued on our way.

“Kim!”

I shook my head, and nudged my mom to keep walking. The person was obviously not calling me. The person was obviously calling some other person named Kim, because I know like six people*, and one of them was currently walking beside me (the same woman who bore me and birthed me, I might add).

“Kim!” It was louder this time, and the voice was strained.

“It’s obviously not for me,” I said to my mom, who nodded quickly, thereby acknowledging the fact that I only know like six people*.

“Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!”

I turned around, and there he was, hanging out of the driver’s side, waving frantically in my direction.

“Kim, I have your new bed in my truck!”

You know you might have a problem** with online shopping (specifically, Amazon) when the UPS man recognizes you, and announces your deliveries on the street.

And, it’s happened more than once.

One time while I was out walking in another city.

Same guy.

Okay, yes –  I do order a lot of stuff online.

And, yes – the UPS man and I have a deep, almost spiritual connection that surpasses most transporter/receiver relationships…

I think he could be my seven.

 

+++

* And by “know” I mean “know” – because how can you really “know” someone unless you “know” someone, you know?

** It’s only a “problem” if it’s a “problem”.

The Special Request

Last month the husband and I headed to the Okanagan for a little getaway. We wanted to visit my 92 year-old grandfather (AKA “Gramps”), and see some friends that skipped town permanently (you know who you are).

We booked the trip at the very last minute – well, more specifically, just a few days before we were set to depart – using the travel website Expedia.

(I’m a big fan of Expedia… I love searching for vacations, and dreaming of vacations, and also – going on vacations. It’s my thing… Like breathing. Or, getting hives from eating lobster. Or, having webbed feet.)

(Does this sound like a commerical for Expedia? It’s not. I mean, I really do love Expedia and I don’t understand why anyone would not use Expedia to book their flights, hotels, cars, cruises, activities, and all-inclusives. It’s fast, it’s easy, and you often save money when booking a flight and hotel at the same time. Did I mention they have great customer service? Well, they do.)

I digress (but I really do love Expedia).

When booking a little (or BIG) getaway on Expedia, you are able to select your flights, choose a hotel, and then write in the little box marked “special requests.”

Well, I love special requests just about as much as I love Expedia… I mean, they’re special, and they’re requests… What’s not to love?

Here was mine:

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-14-24-11

Important things to keep in mind: At the time of my “special request” Trudeau hadn’t approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline, broken his promise re: electoral reform, or shaken hands with the evil orange one. In other words, I still “respected” him (it had nothing to do with the fact that he is easy on the eyes).

Well, when we finally went on our little getaway (days later), and I opened the door to the hotel room, I was pleasantly surprised.

fullsizerender

They couldn’t have chosen a better picture.

I didn’t actually think the hotel (The Manteo Resort in Kelowna) would honor my “special request,” (I mean, there was a winky face, and everybody knows what a winky face means*), but they did, and it meant a lot (less than world peace, more than someone offering you a piece of gum).

 

+++

* Unless they don’t… A 😉 implies humour.

The Name-dropper

I was recently accused of being a name-dropper.

At first, I was confused.

I mean, I didn’t even know how one would drop a name. Were other people carrying around names? Lots of names? So many names that they were at risk of letting them fall through, or out of their hands?

And what were the names printed on? Index cards? 40 lb printer paper?

And then I wondered, is littering the real issue? Did they see me litter?

(I don’t litter!)

I spent way too many hours thinking about the logistics of dropping names, and thinking about which font I should use.

(Futura.)

And then I realized that dropping “names” was probably the new code word for dropping acid, or partaking in some other type of illegal narcotic.

But that made no sense because I don’t do drugs.

And then I thought I should probably just google “name-dropper” (rather than have an existential crisis).

This is what Wikipedia had to say:

Name-dropping is the practice of mentioning important people or institutions within a conversation, story, song, online identity, or other communication. The term often connotes an attempt to impress others; it is usually regarded negatively, and under certain circumstances may constitute a breach of professional ethics.

Okay, that is obviously not me.

I definitely DO NOT mention important people or institutions within a conversation, story, song, online identity, or other communication to try to impress others.

And I never breach professional ethics!

Also, I don’t know how to write a song.

I mean, yes… I did write a blog post about that time I received a letter from Steven Spielberg, and that time I attended Elton John’s Oscar Party, and that time I propositioned Jimmy Kimmel, and that time I was in a sketch with Amy Poehler, and that time I shopped for Danish modern furniture in Silver Lake with Thom Yorke, and that time I went to Sting and Trudie Styler’s auction, and that time I dared my husband to follow Emilio Esteves into the washroom, and that time I hung out with Elijah Wood, and that time when I sat in the front row at a Martin Short show and he gyrated in my face while wearing a nude bodystocking with drawn-on genitals... but…

Okay, I see it now.

Sorry.

That Time I Received a Letter from Steven Spielberg

I recently received a letter from Steven Spielberg.

The Steven Spielberg.

You know, the American director, producer and screenwriter of such films as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Munich, Schindler’s List, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, The Color Purple, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Amistad, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lincoln… to name a few.

The same Steven Spielberg that won two Academy Awards for best director (seven nominations), and created the “Blockbuster” film genre.

That guy.

unknown

Hi! I’m Steven Spielberg.

As a screenwriter, I have always looked up to certain filmmakers – specifically Steven Spielberg, Chris Columbus and Wes Anderson – and envied their ability to tell a story. These filmmakers totally suck you into the world they create, and you are completely captivated for one and a half to two and a half hours.

So, you better believe I was beyond excited to find a letter with a return address labelled “Steven Spielberg, Amblin Entertainment” in my mailbox.

I mean, it was from Steven Spielberg!

The Steven Spielberg!

The one and only.

Steve-o! (That’s probably what his close friends call him, and obviously it is only a matter of time before I lovingly call him that too.)

I should note: the letter wasn’t totally unexpected. After publishing my novel last month I sent my book to a few of my favorite filmmakers with the hope that they would read it, love it, want to make it into a feature film, and pay me money for the right to do so.

So, when I saw the letter, I was like…

unknown-1

I ripped open the envelope and pulled out the letter…

And it said, “Thank you for your enquiry. We do not accept unsolicited materials. Please do not send anything ever again. Thanks, The Legal Department.”

And, at first I was like…

unknown

But, then I was like…

“I got a letter from Steven Spielberg!” 

unknown-1

Because, it’s always better to focus on the positive rather than the negative.*

 

+++

* Unless you’re talking about a blood test where a positive would actually be a negative.

 

 

That Time I Went to Elton John’s Oscar Party

No big whoop, right?

It’s just Sir Elton John… Singer, songwriter, pianist, actor, philanthropist, and recipient of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by her Majesty, the Queen. He is only one of the most celebrated, influential and successful musicians of all time, with 300 million records sold, and 50 Top 40 hits (but who’s counting?)…

And his Oscar Party is only one of the most sought after and high profile parties in the film and television industry…

And I was invited.

Sort of.

Pretty much.

Okay, not really.

I had gone down to LA with two friends from work, and earlier in the week we had gone to a club where we met some interesting (read: whackadoodle) avocado farmers from Northern California that told us they could get us into Elton John’s Oscar party.

(Note: This is LA in a nutshell. Anything can happen at any time. You can sit next to Goldie Hawn at Le Pain Quotidian, or have Judd Apatow photobomb your selfie, or have Adam Sandler show up to an open mic night. It is what makes LA strange and wonderful and exciting, and why I miss it very much.)

Long story short… We met up with the two whackadoodle avocado farmers the night of the party, but they said it was way too early to go. They said that anyone who is anyone goes late to these sorts of events. So we all went to a diner across the street and sat around for several hours, learning the ins and outs of the avocado industry.

At around 1 or 2am, one of the whackadoodle avocado farmers (and yes, it’s important to continually note their whackadoodle-ness… They wore thick, wool sweaters and their hair was dreadlocked), said that it was finally time to go to the party.

As we walked across the street, we were beyond excited, nudging each other breathlessly. We didn’t know what to expect, but surely Sir Elton John would be there?!?! And there would probably be alcoholic beverages, and possibly recognizable celebrities, and maybe even a shrimp ring?!?!

One of the whackadoodle avocado farmers nodded as we passed the security guard* perched outside on a bar stool, and I remember being very impressed by his nonchalance. We strolled into the Mondrian Hotel like we owned the place.

As I entered the hotel’s grand ballroom, I prepared myself to be welcomed into the fold of Hollywood elite…

But the party was over.

Like, way, way over.

The caterers were folding the table linens, the DJ was packing up his equipment, the few remaining guests were being poked by security, and all that remained of Elton John was his essence (note: it was still very potent).

The whackadoodle avocado farmers acted like they were surprised the party was long over, and suggested that we continue the party in their room.

We started to wonder whether they had ever even had the means to get us into Sir Elton John’s Oscar party, or if it had all been an elaborate scheme to get us up to their room. We also started to wonder if they were actually avocado farmers, or just very knowledgeable about avocados.

Some questions will forever remain unanswered, and that’s the real lesson here.

img_9246

How dare you, Judd Apatow…?!        (JK, I loved it)

+++

* It could have been a big hobo.

The Big Magic

My book, Magnus the Magnificent is a work of fiction.

It is also a work of magic.

I don’t know how this story fell out of my head and landed on the page, but it did.

About seven or eight years ago, I joined a writing group and we were tasked with writing a short story to share. There was no theme, or limitations, or genre: “Just write a story.”

As I sat at my kitchen table, tapping my pen on the pad, staring out my window at the treetops, I was daunted by the freedom. I didn’t want to show up the following Saturday without something to present (I’m a keener), so I sat and waited for inspiration to strike.

Full disclosure: Sometimes inspiration strikes, and sometimes I spend two hours shopping on Amazon.

I sipped my coffee (there’s always coffee) and let my mind wander. And then, suddenly, my imagination opened up, and there he was… Magnus.

I could picture him in my head – the way he walked, the way he talked, the way he interacted with strangers, and the way his hair flopped down over his eyes. Yes, Magnus was a “teller of untruths,” but he was so full of love, you couldn’t help but love him too.

That Saturday I shared the first five pages of Magnus the Magnificent.

The following year I moved to England and took a screenwriting certificate program at Oxford. It was there I began work on the screenplay of Magnus the Magnificent.

I felt very inspired while living in England. I loved donning a pair of wellington boots and taking a long stroll through the countryside, rain or shine. I loved stopping in a pub to have a pint and warm my (always damp!) feet by the fire. I loved scouring the used bookshops in Oxford and discovering hand-written messages on the first page. Most of all, I loved eavesdropping, and occasionally striking up conversations with strangers. These little moments gave life to my writing, and helped shape the story of Magnus.

In England, ideas seemed to find me wherever I went… I had to keep a notebook with me at all times because the ideas were flowing like Texas crude (in the 80s, obviously not now, as we all know that the fossil fuel industry is going the way of the dinosaur, due to global capitalism’s devastating overconsumption of our earth’s natural resources).

I digress.

I don’t understand inspiration, but I think Elizabeth Gilbert nailed it on the head in her book about creativity, titled, “Big Magic”:

“…Inspiration is still sitting there right beside me, and it is trying. Inspiration is trying to send me messages in every form it can – through dreams, through portents, through clues, through coincidences, through déjà vu, through kismet, through surprising waves of attraction and reaction, through the chills that run up my arms, through the hair that stands up on the back of my neck, through the pleasure of something new and surprising, through stubborn ideas that keep me awake all night long . . . whatever works. Inspiration is always trying to work with me.”

Magnus *almost* seemed to write itself (in truth, it was definitely me sitting at a desk for hours on end).

When I finished Magnus in 2013, I entered it into the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting Competition, and it advanced to become a Semifinalist (ahem, the top 146 scripts of 7,251 entries *cough*). It meant a lot that the Academy’s readers connected with the story. While I have a real fondness for the screenplay, I have always wanted to share Magnus with a wider audience.

So, I went back to those first five pages written seven or eight years ago, and once again, sat down and waited for inspiration to strike (and obviously spent some time on Amazon).

And here we are.

I don’t fully understand inspiration or how Magnus came to be, but I am grateful to live in a world filled with big magic.

– KM

Magnus the Magnificent is now available at Amazon.ca (Canada), Amazon.com (U.S.) and Amazon.co.uk (U.K.).

Please buy it! 

The Book

For the past year I have been writing a book.

Obviously, I have not been working straight through, 24 hours, 7 days a week, for the past 365 days (I have definitely taken breaks for eating, sleeping, and attending to personal needs – I shower almost every day). However, much of my time and energy has been spent thinking about, dreaming about, and agonizing over, said book.

I have turned down social invitations. I have stayed inside on sunny days. I have re-drafted nine or ten times. I have meticulously checked for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.

I have also thought that I was finished, submitted a version for approval, started celebrating, and then found an inverted apostrophe on page 61 (and subsequently lost my shit).

I have had this story floating around in my head for many, many years, and it meant a lot to me, so I wanted it to be perfect.

This week I came across a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear that put things into perspective:

“No matter how many hours you spend attempting to render something flawless, somebody will always be able to find fault with it. (There are people out there who still consider Beethoven’s symphonies a little bit too, you know, loud.) At some point, you really just have to finish your work and release it as is—if only so that you can go on to make other things with a glad and determined heart.”

I am really happy to say that I have released my book into the universe (well, released on Amazon), and I hope to go on to make other things with a glad and determined heart.

Magnus the Magnificent is a heart-warming and whimsical Christmas tale set in England in the 1950s, and it is now available on all the Amazons

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Note: I would like to thank all of my readers, sincerely – from the bottom of my heart. It means a lot that you read what I write.

15349584_755927514561053_6888887953238638150_n

 

 

 

The Leather Pants

An old favourite… 

My parent’s house is in the middle of nowhere, 17 kilometers from the nearest town in the middle of nowhere – nowhere being a small town in Northern British Columbia with a higher than the National average cancer diagnoses for its residents, and three pulp mills to prove it.

Every Christmas, my dad puts up thousands of lights on the house: on every post, beam, eave, window frame, and around the garage door. Their electricity bill skyrockets for the month of December ($364.69 in 2008), but he thinks it’s worth it.

He’s sentimental about the holidays, and he isn’t the only one. Our entire family (dad, Stan; mom, Linda; sister, Michelle, and me, Kim) is very sentimental and it isn’t just one thing, it’s everything: the Baby J (Jesus), the Spekuloos (a Dutch cookie made with ginger and almonds), the Christmas tree (with an electrified angel on top), the music (Boney M’s ‘Mary’s Boy Child’), and the smoked turkey (regular turkeys are put to shame). It’s everything.

My sister and I always return home for the holidays, bearing gifts and revelations from the city (‘Global warming is real’ and ‘Pork is the other white meat’). My mom greets us at the door with a long hug (14-19 seconds) and a wide smile rimmed with mauve lipstick.

My dad plugs in the Christmas tree and declares, ‘Christmas time is here.’ Occasionally, (but only very occasionally) there would be ‘difficulties’ upon our return. There would be an argument or disagreement or some other ‘ment’ that would cause tension and tears.

The Christmas of 2004 was one of those.

‘O, come let us adore him.’

My sister and I sat on my mom’s bed as she pulled my dad’s Christmas present from the back of her closet. She had got him a Leatherman tool (an all-purpose tool for the very handy man) and my sister was about to wrap it, scotch tape at the ready.

‘What’s that?’ I pointed past my mom to the closet contents that were mostly beige and neutral. There was a glimmer.

‘What?’ My mom pointed at a few blouses but I shook my head.

My mom pulled a hanger from the closet, and on it hung a pair of black leather pants. ‘You’re not serious.’

‘Your dad bought them for me.’

My sister and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. ‘You can’t be serious,’ we were in unison this time. My mom unbuttoned her jeans, let them fall to the floor and reached for the hanger. She pulled the leather pants up over her calves, but they held fast at her thighs. ‘They don’t fit, mom.’

‘They do.’ My mom didn’t sound convinced. She struggled and then flopped down on the bed. She looked like a fish out of water, flipping and flopping as she pulled the leather pants up over her hips and fastened them.

‘Can you even stand?’ My sister poked my mom in the thigh. Her finger left an imprint on the leather.

‘Yes.’ My mom pulled herself over to the side of the bed, let one leg drop and forced herself upright. ‘So there.’

‘O, come let us adore him.’

We were heading out to a Christmas eve carol service at church. My dad stood at the door jingling his keys, my sister was checking her lip gloss in the hall mirror, and I was standing at my mom’s bedroom door watching her scour the closet.

‘Let’s go Linda. It’s ten to seven,’ my dad called up the stairs, knowing full well that it took 15 minutes to get to church and we would most certainly be late.

‘Just a minute,’ she replied as she pushed the clothes from side to side, the metal hangers screeching on the metal bar. She pulled several pairs of pants from the bar and threw them on the bed. ‘I can’t find them.’

‘Can’t find what?’ I said, but I knew.

‘My leather pants. They were here.’ My mom got down on her hands and knees and reached to the back of the closet.

‘Just wear something else,’ I suggested knowing that the leather pants were folded neatly in a Safeway (Canadian grocery chain) bag in my mom’s rolling suitcase, down in the basement storage room.

‘Your dad wanted me to wear them.’ My mom stood there, staring into the closet, hands on hips.

‘Linda!’ my dad called, louder this time. He meant business. He hated being late.

‘I’m looking for my leather pants.’ As my mom uttered those six to seven words (depending on whether you count I’m as two words, ‘I’ and ‘am’ or one word, ‘I’m’), she caught my gaze. ‘Where are they?’

‘What?’ I sank down the stairs and moved closer to my sister. There is strength in numbers. ‘I don’t have them.’

‘Where are they?’ My mom stood at the top of the stairs wearing a white sweater and a pair of Spanx (a body shaping undergarment). She descended the stairs slowly, pointing at my sister and I. I had never understood why pointing was rude, but right then – without any words or explanation – I knew. ‘Where are they?’

‘Gone.’ As soon as I said it, I wished I hadn’t. My dad’s head snapped in our direction.

‘Where are the pants?’ I had never seen my mom look this angry, ever.

‘Where are the pants?’ Dad moved toward the three of us. My sister and I were backed up against the wall, our family portrait hung just above our heads depicting the very best of times, thirteen years previous: my mom with no sag, my dad with a full head of hair, my sister with straight teeth, and me with an enthusiastic smile. All before time took it’s toll.

Dad repeated himself, ‘Where are the pants?’ I could tell he meant business.

‘We’ve hidden them,’ I said.

‘We?’ My sister jumped ship. I knew she would.

‘Where are the pants?’ My mom said as she yanked her Spanx up.

‘I’m not giving them back. They’re ridiculous, and you’re nearly sixty.’ I pushed past my sister and moved toward the kitchen. My dad looked at his watch and I saw his face flush red. He really hated being late.

‘Give the pants to your mom,’ as he said this he marched toward me. ‘Or, Christmas is cancelled!’

‘O, come let us adore him.’

We stood there for at least three full minutes. My dad staring at me, my mom inching closer, my sister listening to her voice mail.

‘Give me the pants, Kim.’ My mom put her pointer finger up in my grill and then repeated herself, as if I hadn’t heard her: ‘Give me the pants, Kim.’

My sister chimed in, ‘Give her the pants, Kim.’ I shook my head no.

My dad kicked off his shoes, walked over to the Christmas tree and began removing the ornaments.

‘What are you doing dad?’ I called, but he wasn’t listening. He unplugged the lights on the tree and pulled off the electrified angel topper. It was at this point my sister started crying.

‘Fine!’ I said, but it really wasn’t. I ran downstairs to the basement storage room, unzipped the suitcase, pulled open the Safeway bag and there they were: stiff, inky black, and smelling of the William’s Lake stampede.

I marched back up the stairs reluctantly and handed the pants to my mother, who slipped them on over her Spanx then and there.

I noticed my dad had placed the electrified angel back on top of the tree and was standing at the door again with his shoes on, ready to go.

Christmas was back on.

‘Christ the Lord.’

s-l300

The Feeling of All the Feels

Warning: This isn’t my “usual” kind of post. 

Feel All the Feels

“I can’t even” is a regular phrase in my vernacular. Sometimes I say it to be funny, and sometimes I say it because it’s true.

Full disclosure: I feel overwhelmed sometimes.

Like everyone else in the world, I have a lot of stuff going on in my life. I’m dealing with health issues, family issues, and financial issues… I’m also trying to figure out my path and purpose in life, and sometimes it all just gets to be a bit much.

We all have different ways of coping with life and it’s challenges. When I have a headache, I’ll reach for an ibuprofen. When I’ve had a long day, I’ll open a bottle of wine. I usually take an Ativan on a trans-Atlantic flight so that I’ll forget that I’m flying over a giant body of very deep water, and I’ll be able to enjoy the in-flight movie.

Life can be overwhelming, and scary, and hard. Sometimes you just want to deaden, or forget, whatever it is you are feeling. You can’t even, you don’t want to, and you won’t.

But sometimes, it’s good to feel all the feels.

Hear me out.

Three months ago I booked a trip to Hawaii for the second week of November. I knew it would be welcome relief from Vancouver’s November’s gloom, but I forgot that it was also the week of the U.S. election, and the whole country would be in full fever pitch.

Aside from my election anxiety, I was behind on school and writing deadlines, thinking about upcoming medical appointments, and worried about the responsibilities piling up at home. I had also decided that my Hawaiian vacation would be the perfect time to figure out my path and purpose (no pressure!), because I would have plenty of time to think about my life while taking long walks on the beach and swimming with turtles.

I found myself sitting on a beach in Oahu, trying very hard to relax and enjoy the experience, but it just wasn’t working.

My mind was elsewhere.

About halfway through the week I finally admitted to my husband that I didn’t think I was enjoying the vacation as much as I should be. He said that he could tell, and that he had been feeling similarly… Life is a bit hard sometimes, and you can’t necessarily push that out of your mind – even if you are in Hawaii.

So, in order to make ourselves feel better, we drank several Maitais and went on the hotel’s waterslide 66 times (my husband counted).

It helped a little.

The next morning, I got a text that a friend had passed away after a long battle with cancer. It was all just a bit much. I felt my throat tighten, my pulse quicken, and the tears starting to form in the corners of my eyes.

I wanted it all to stop. I didn’t want to feel this way (or any way for that matter). I wanted to forget about everything that was going on, and try to enjoy my last few hours in this beautiful place. I went to the window and stared out at the ocean. The waves were 20 feet high, and I watched as they rolled in, crested, and broke.

And then, I cried.

I finally allowed myself to feel all of the sadness, disappointment, regret, and heartache that had been welling up inside of me.

And then, I laughed.

I laughed because I had forgotten how much better it feels to allow yourself to have an emotional and physical reaction, and I wondered why I had tried so hard, for so long, to hold it all in.

When I allowed myself to feel, I started to feel better. Good or bad, joy or sorrow… Sometimes it’s good to feel all of the feels.

We are humans.

We feel things.

It is a gift.