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14 February 2011 @ 02:56 pm
I wish you all the merriest of Valentine's Days today (or, if you're perpetually twelve years old, like me, a very happy VD day!)  May you be doing exactly what you'd like, and may your day be a little more about feasting on chocolate and deliciously-chalky talk hearts and a little less about martyrdom!

My day is relatively low-key:  I'm feeling the heat from procrastinating on my proof-reading gig, and so am trying to up the productivity. M has been working seven days straight this week (he has pretty punishing course work on most weekends until March), and has an incredibly sore throat.  As spectacular timing would have it, he also has a really important fitness test this upcoming Thursday (it'll give him the push to move on to a job which he would actually really enjoy), but his training has been seriously hampered by the whole working-long-hours-every-day-and-being-really-sick series of events.  I'm hopeful that he'll still pass his test, but he feels doubtful.   Even though the conditions for V-Day are less than ideal, I'm still pretty excited, and have bought my weight in talk heart candy and discount chocolate sweets.  Alas, it hurts for M to swallow solid food, but I guess that means all the more for me....err...silver lining?  I'm feeling pretty surreal today, and not just because of the sugar coursing through my veins, because this is the first V-Day that I've been with someone.

However, today hasn't been all about staring at laptop screens and re-writing the saccharine messages on the talk hearts into subversive ones.  Here is my unusual v-day plea: As some of you might know, I have this random genetic syndrome called "Gorlin's Syndrome," and was diagnosed with it when I was fourteen.  While there are other quirks and fun stuff associated with it, it's primarily known for bringin' the (*thankfully*, non-melanoma) basal cell skin cancer, and I have it like whoa.  I've had countless excisions over the years, and they've all gone well, thus leading me to be overly-cheerful, far too cavalier, and to spout ridiculous stuff like "scars are like tattoos, but with far better stories."  Over the past few years, however, I've started to have much more intensive surgeries (Moh's surgery) to remove the more nasty, aggressive bits of cancer, and now I sport more prominant scars on my neck (I could play a crime victim on one of those crime shows, and with half the usual make-up budget! haha), scalp and sides of my face.  This January, I went in for what I thoguht would be a straightforward, quick Moh's surgery near my left eye...and as it turned out, ended up with a skin graft- -a "o hai! surprise skin graft!" of sorts.  I suppose we all celebrate the new year in our own special ways, eh?  While I'm still getting used to the graft (and thankfully, it has taken, and is healing really well), it did shake my confidence.  For the past six months, I've had a tiny lesion on the lower rim of my left eye, and I just received the biopsy results today, confirming that it's basal cell cancer, and that I'll require reconstructive eye surgery.  It will be a joint surgery between Dr. Khanna and the ocular specialist.  Usually, I can approach my surgeries with humour, gratitude, and perspective...but I'm really shaken up about this.  I mean, ~*~reconstructive eye surgery~*~... I've been feeling incredibly panicky and embarrassingly teary. And, as much as I'm trying to block them out, insidious negative thoughts like, "I'm so ugly already, and now *this*?!"/"Who would ever be attracted to someone who looked like me?"/etc... keep creeping in.  I know that my surgery experiences downright pale in comparison to many of yours', and I'm a little ashamed to even be feeling so distraught, but I would really, really appreciate any gems of wisdom, surgery-coping advice, or even just comforting thoughts and/or bits of hilarity.

Thank you muchly!! A million heaps of subversive talk hearts to you!! 
Current Mood: distresseddistressed
... and to all a good night!

I'm a wee bit early with this, but I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a stellar holiday season!!  Christmas is my very favourite time of year, with Hallowe'en a close second.  Despite the glee and festivity and gifts and food and the Baby Jesus, sometimes this time of year can be really overwhelming, as we're all forced by society to play this High! Stakes! Happiness! game in public, and this overload of cheer can produce quite the opposite effect, and leave us feeling lonely and unsure.  This past year has had some pretty bright moments, as well as some major difficulties, but we triumphed over them all! 

I wish you and all you hold dear an upcoming year full of genuine magic and every wonderful thing, and may we keep the light in our hearts for always.

Much love and holiday cheer to you,
31 October 2010 @ 05:42 pm
Happiest of Hallowe'ens to you all, my dear ghostlings!!!!

I'm sorry I've been so terrible at updating, and I promise to make a proper, rambling entry sometime this upcoming week.
12 February 2010 @ 12:43 pm

Yesterday, I was completely gutted to hear of (Lee) Alexander McQueen's death.  He was only 40 years old.  Only 40 years old, and yet he left a behind a legacy of re-defining and expanding our narrow notions of what is beautiful, and where it could be found.  His creations proved, time and time again, that fashion is art, and that fashion is worthwhile.   Many people credit McQueen as the designer who inspired that breakthrough, and who initially drew them into fashion.   His creations were never merely snippets of fabric or presented for empty shock value, they were masterpieces, works of art, ideas, visions, thoughts, reactions, stories and concepts.    He was a true visionary, who often explored the worlds of the ethereal and the macabre, with a penchant for historical, royal, gothic and futuristic themes. 

McQueen expertly navigated tradition and innovation.  He was known for his meticulous tailoring (a skill that currently seems to be on the decline), and his clothes were a celebration of the male and female form.  He often wore his family's tartan, and wool, tartan, lace and houndstooth were popular fabrics with him.  While working on Savile Row in the early '90s, he allegedly embroidered curse words in the linings of Prince Charles' suits ("I am a c*nt," to be exact), and his cheeky (er, literally) collection featuring "bumster" trousers in the mid-90s earned him notoriety and a the reputation as an "enfant terrible."   A completely self-made man, McQueen hailed from London's East End, and was the son of a cab driver.  He developed a strong mentor relationship with Isabella Blow, who plucked him out of obscurity, and remained very close with his mother.  Despite his rising success, Alexander McQueen's sense of humour, kindness, and loyalty remained firmly intact.  When Kate Moss found herself wrapped up in a drug scandal, and many other designers (including those Moss helped represent) were tripping over each other in efforts to disassociate themselves, McQueen publicly stood by his friend.   He also was a champion of models (and of all women) with unconventional looks, and was especially fond of Erin O'Connor and Karen Elson- models who carved their careers out of being outsiders, "freaks." (Erin is the model in the left-hand side of the second photo.)
Although the fashion industry is often mired in scandal and frivolity, McQueen's masterpieces were powerful reminders of the power and potential of fashion.   They encourage us to find beauty in the most unlikely of subjects, including ourselves. This visionary inspired us to imagine the world for what it could be.   The world is a slightly less beautiful place without him.

(All pictures from hautemacabre.com)
26 January 2010 @ 08:22 pm

I suppose it goes without saying that I was a bit of an odd child...am a bit of an odd child.  I've always been fascinated by the sinister, the macabre, and have always sought out the nastiest bits of history.   I was the only child in my elementary school classes who would not only read and re-read Anne Frank's diary, but who would actively seek out any books about the Holocaust, other genocides, and similar atrocities.  Cheerfully assuming that other people shared my tastes in literature and thoughts, I would bring up the events of the Holocaust in casual conversation, only to realize that it was quite the opposite.  In retrospect, my tastes probably weren't as strange and isolating as I had thought, because the, um, "Young Adult Holocaust" genre has become rather established, and there are scores of Holocaust and genocide scholars and experts in every sort of academic field imaginable.   I first read "The Diary of Anne Frank" when I was eight or nine years old.  That book acted as a gateway for me to the history, literature and testaments of the Holocaust for me- -so much that I completed an MA in War Studies, with a focus on genocide memory and denial.  My teenage flair for the melodramatic, combined with a runaway imagination, would often will the unfathomable reality of over half a decade ago to seep into the reality of the present.  I would examine every room in my house for the best places in which I could hide, or hide someone else.  I'd hear a knock on the door, and imagine that a Nazi officer was standing there.   All of this bizarre activity was a futile attempt to truly understand what it was like to hide and be the one who hid others; what it was like to be Anne Frank.  What it was like to be Miep Gies, who was the last surviving member of the small group who helped hide Anne and her family, and, more famously, the woman who carefully saved Anne's diary in hopes of returning it to her at the end of the war.

Two weeks ago, Miep Gies passed away at 100 years of age, and so the last living connection to Anne was severed.   The entire world mourned, especially the girls who loved reading Anne Frank's diary, for they would grow up to become adults who loved Miep Gies, and who hoped, if the situation called for it, would have the strength and character to do what she did.    Some scholars posit that the reason why the story of Anne and her diary became so popular was because it was heavily edited to present a child-like, "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart' innocence, and that her entries about her struggles with the other inhabitants of the Secret Annex, her musings on war and human nature, and how she considered herself to be an adult were toned down, in order to be more palatable to a wider audience.  In some ways this is true, for many modern war films and even Holocaust films and literature, seem to undergo a feel-good, Hollywood-ized spin about how a cheery attitude, resourcefulness and an indomitable will can overcome any obstacle (re: Schindler's List, Jakob the Liar).  This approach shies away from fully depicting the bleakness and despair of the Holocaust, and from attempting to answer the questions that continue to elude us:  How did this happen?  How could we LET this happen?    Such are the difficulties in aestheticising something like the Holocaust.  Although the very existence of the Holocaust affords us no convenient sense of closure or a fist-pumping, "triumph of the human spirit"-type of pleasant ending, the stories of the Annes and Mieps which later emerged give us a small bit of hope and belief in human resolve.   They provided us with something, anything that was positive and redeeming, in the midst of an irredeemable "no man's land of the mind," as Eli Weisel once described Auschwitz and the Holocaust.  I believe that is why the popularity of Anne's story continues to endure. 

Although the monstrous dictates of the Second World War were created by world leaders and other People of Great Importance, there was no shortage of ordinary people willing to carry them out.   Thankfully, there were also a handful of committed, ordinary individuals of limited means who were willing to risk everything and perform acts of extraordinary courage and kindness.  Miep's story is not one of glorious triumph and heroic recognition.  There were no tearful, happy reunions or movie-worthy moments of redemption.  Miep's story is one defined by an unwavering sense of human duty and belief in the inherent humanity of others, as well as a quiet, humble courage.   It speaks volumes that Miep didn't even read Anne's diary before handing it over to her father.  As a society, we tend to think that it must be extraordinarily difficult to be a truly horrible person, even in times of war and chaos, but the truth is that it is extraordinarily difficult to be a truly good person, especially in times of war and chaos.  

According to Miep Gies,"You don't have to be a hero to do your human duty...who is a hero?  I was not.   I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary."   

A grateful and humbled world begs to differ.  We should all strive to be so "ordinary."   
Current Music: Steve Reich- "Different Trains"
23 December 2009 @ 03:55 pm

Christmas is a time of joyous celebration and quiet reflection, and I've been doing my quiet reflecting by scouring Youtube for both holiday classics and abysmal holiday videos.  I've been finding a lot more of the latter (oh hai Jessica and Ashlee Simpson's duet of "Little Drummer Boy!" - - I'm not even posting the link, because it will make you want to rip your face off.  If ripping your face off is indeed your idea of simply having a wonderful Christmas time, the video can, unfortunately, be found pretty easily).  

I've "stumbled upon" (oh, who are you kidding, Kylie!) a wealth of holiday videos by various boy bands.   When I was watching "This Gift" by 98 Degrees, I had the horrifying and hilarious realization that the only difference between "This Gift" and the reason why Justin Timberlake has a standing invitation to host Saturday Night Live anytime he's in New York,  "Dick in a Box," is the Disney-backing, cable-knit sweaters, and a stunning lack of self-awareness.   

Compare for yourselves!  You know you waaaant toooo:

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLkoR4nYeEY&feature=related 

2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1gmbOAAXtA

Ahaha!   At least it's a recession-friendly gift!!  If we run out of discussion topics over Christmas supper, I have the situation covered. 
Er, wrapped. 
Current Music: the adulterous holiday anthem of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
Glad to know that sunscreen makes me sinister:

As much as I'm bewildered and terrified by the insane heights of Twilight fandom, anything that will keep teens out of tanning beds and that features a heroine who wears double-tops at all times ain't so bad in my books. I'm glad my natural ghostly pallor is apparently back in style- -200 years later- -and without the white lead powder this time! All I need is to sparkle and mumble a lot, and then I'll be right. on. trend!
30 October 2009 @ 03:30 pm
Alas, I regret to report that there's been a slight dent in our Halloween plans.  My friend Leanne's sister (and housemate) has just been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, so any plans of Hallowe'en shenanigans in Ottawa have been postponed.  What's most important now is that her sister is feeling better soon, and that Leanne is able to successfully quarantine herself.  

So, we've devised a new plan.  Under the guise of "cultural exposure," Heather and me (and perhaps Heather's boyfriend, Andrew) are going to take Christoph trick-or-treating! ... And bring along pillowcases for ourselves... (yes, yes, I know, we're well past standard trick-or-treating age, and we have no shame).  To alleviate these pinges of guilt I've been feeling, I've been reminding myself that hardly anyone comes out to our gravel road, so really, we're doing my neighbours a favour by trick-or-treating.  Yes... a favour... Heather and I also pulled this stunt our last year of university, so age-appropriateness isn't a huge concern for us.  As long as Christoph consents, our new plan will be fantastic!  

Noooo pressure, Christoph!
27 October 2009 @ 04:28 pm
1) I had a crystal-clear dream a few nights ago in which I was Malia and Sasha Obama's babysitter.  I made them sandwiches, we skipped around in the backyard...of the White House, and we had a spontaneous song and dance number in the kitchen.  In the tradition of most great song and dance numbers, the music was cranked up to eleven and we sang into our hairbrushes.   We were going to make s'mores, but then we accidentally ate all the marshmallows.  The Obamas came home and thanked me for staying after midnight, explaining that it took ages to get out of the reception line.  I told them that I didn't mind at all.  I don't know if this makes me extremely creepy, or the usual: moderately creepy.  Thankfully, I wasn't wearing my t-shirt of Barack Obama riding a unicorn in this dream.  THAT would have been creepy.

2) Tomorrow, I have skin cancer surgery, and it will, with any luck, be my last one for a while.  Although the surgery itself will be less than pleasant, I'm looking forward to the trip to Montréal with my aunt and uncle.   Dr. Khanna's office is very friendly, and they see me as a "regular," which is slightly disconcerting.   Hopefully, I won't get hit on this time.  Or if I do, hopefully not by a guy who is gunning for the title of "Playa of the Year."

3) I trying to come up with the perfect costume for Christoph (our German exchange student), in hopes that it will boost his enthusiasm for Hallowe'en.  He doesn't understand my shock and horror at encountering someone who doesn't love Hallowe'en, but his indifference has only fueled my evangelical zeal to convert him.  ... Maybe I have found an unlikely kindred spirit in Tammy Faye Baker?  I'll be up in Ottawa the day of Hallowe'en, and will likely stay at my friend's place.  I usually have grand and elaborate ideas for Hallowe'en costumes at the beginning of September or so, only to watch helplessly as they collapse under the weight of my expectations.  Then I find myself scavenging my house on October 30th for items I can handily turn into a costume.  This year, I think I'll go as a Pink Slip.  I'll wear a pink slip of some sorts and drunkenly tell people that they're fired.  This rather insensitive costume, given the state of the economy, just might get me beat up.  

In addition to a new puppy, we have a new exchange student!  My youngest sister, Marissa, is off to Italy for her first semester of Grade 11.  I’m picturing it to be exactly like “When In Rome” with Mary-Kate and Ashley.  I am hella jealous.  In her place, we have a 16-year-old boy from Germany, named Christoph.  We had assumed he’d be arriving when Marissa returns in January, but recently found out that he’d be here for the first semester, too.   Although I was kind of planning to not still be kicking it at home, I think it’ll be a good experience to spend time with him.  I am brushing up on German techno, and am practicing not mentioning World War II.  Anyways, he seems pretty cool.  He has Morrissey-hair and eats anything we make him, which is a big plus.  He watched "America's Next Top Model" with me last night.  ANTM brings out the absolute worst in me, but still he stayed even while I was screeching such heinous things as, a) “Tyra!  Stop phoning it in!  Why are there no weaves?  Why isn’t anyone getting a super-short haircut?  Why isn’t anyone crying??” and b) “THAT IS ONE HIDEOUS DRESS” (meanwhile I was wearing jean shorts and a sweatshirt that was probably from Northern Reflections, that featured wild dogs howling at a moon).   Damn if I’m not upset that Amber’s gone.   As my sister said, Jesus must be one hell of a drug.  I hope Amber somehow makes a special appearance later on in the season.   I also hope Jesus makes a special appearance as a guest judge, but there isn’t enough room for two people with Messiah complexes on panel.   Christoph also likes things like “math,” “practicing the piano without being asked,” and “doing homework promptly,” so my parents are totally excited at the foreign prospect of having a well-behaved kid.  They’re probably drafting up the adoption papers right now.

Christoph, without fail, makes his bed every single morning.   Sixteen-year-old boy....or.....Sixteen-year-old robot....

I also have a hilariously horrifying first-date-gone-very-very-bad story to share, so stay tuned...