Friday, January 15, 2010

Update: A woman's right to shoes

Update on the purging front: took 25 pairs of shoes to the Ron White Shoe Drive. As hard as it was (and trust me, it was like taking smarties off a fat kid) I am now purged of excess shoes. Okay okay, I kept a few of the more expensive pairs but only so that I can hopefully sell them on eBay and make a few bucks off my sloth and excess.

I added it up and all these shoes cost just over $1000, the majority of which have been worn fewer than 5 times. [Shaking my head in shame] So the next time you see a homeless woman in calf-skin red leather pumps with a beige silk bow, say hello to them for me - and tell them that they were my favorite.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wedding Wednesday: Tradition, schmadition


Shortly after becoming betrothed and hence announcing my betrothedness on The Twitter, one of my twitterites suggested that I read a book called "One Perfect Day: the selling of the American Wedding". The angle of the book was to shed a light on the evils of the $160 billion wedding industry and help to uncover where many of our alleged "traditions" actually come from - so naturally I was all over it, I love a good expose. Not to mention that the cover is pretty fab, I'm always drawn in by good cover art.
Rebecca Mead writes about the absence of any genuine traditions (in the traditional sense of the word) in our lives and more specifically in our weddings. The strapless gown, the candied almonds, the monogrammed matchbook, the tossing of lingerie - does anyone really believe that relatives even as distant as our grandparents did these things? The truth is that most families (mine included) wouldn't have been able to afford these luxuries. That however seems like a distant concern to the modern bride - apparently we are planning weddings and celebrations that are far beyond our budgets and in some cases even beyond our annual incomes. One wedding industry expert says "If a woman is told repeatedly that a wedding costs $30,000 - then she'll think that she's doing really well by coming in closer to $20,000." Yes, that was Satan speaking.


In an era of the Bridezilla it has become almost expected that every woman will turn into a taffeta-hungry spend whore when it comes to her wedding. New brides are thrust into this Wedding Industry Complex and told that without the perfect dress, perfect ring, perfect flowers and perfect personalized table favors that she is basically a failure - as a bride and as a woman. Yes, it's a money bonanza and every retailer in Weddingville is looking to get their hands on the Grade A meat of a newly engaged woman. The book goes into great detail on the topic of registries, how they were invented by flagging department stores in the 1950's and how modern brides in their 30's are encouraged to engage in buying habits similar to that old-timey 19 year old fresh out of her parents house and naive about the ways of marriage and cohabitation. Apparently wanting a new stand mixer is the epitome of evil.


The chapter on the wedding dress was fascinating, I had no idea about the factory farms that put out these dresses. Mead goes to China where she sees first hand the mass assembly of dresses headed to David's Bridal - apparently the Dress Barn for brides. Don't get me wrong - I GET the whole dress thing. I got up at 4am with my mother to watch the Diana & Charles wedding and distinctly remember the sharp intake of breath when we got to see to full expanse of her dress. Clothes are important and make us feel special and we use them to celebrate an occasion - but my question is this, why does EVERY wedding celebration have to involve a full length, sparkly, white, strapless gown? Why is everyone else wearing the same costume no matter their size or skin tone? Why are the alternatives so few and far between goddammit?

The book was a really good read and opened my eyes to just how much cash retailers will be trying to pull from our pockets over the next year. It made me think about what was important to me for our wedding and what was just a "tradition".  It makes me a bit sad when people say "just make it a really good party" because it isn't. It isn't just a party - it's about starting a new life and making a real and serious commitment to that life. It's about thanking our families and friends for standing with us....and yah, about eating really delicious cake.

So the final verdict - I shit on the traditions I hate and welcome the ones that result in new kitchen appliances and buttercream icing. I make no apologies for that.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Binging & Purging & Watching Hoarders

I tried to watch Hoarders. I really did. But by the time I got to the 24th pile of cat shit found in the bottom of the refrigerator I had to give it up. I could not take it any longer which really makes me sad because there's nothing I enjoy more than sitting on my couch, eating popcorn and judging people. Especially if they're Americans ;)



I read that Peter Walsh book earlier last year about cleaning your house and reviewing your emotional attachments to your stuff. Upon finishing it I immediately bought a copy and sent it to my parents. Each blames the other for the clutter of their lives but all I know is that I instantly turn into my neat-freak German Grandmother whenever I go home now. At Christmas I was all "Does this three foot reindeer pulling Jesus really need to be in the middle of the coffee table?". Apparently it did and I should go back to the fancy city where we don't have reindeer's pulling baby Jesus's. Or is it Jesai?
So yah, there are some clutter issues going on in suburban Grimsby.
And my mouth doesn't help the problem.

This past week I've taken on cleaning and re-organizing projects with a vengeance. That's right - Cleaning: John McClane style.Yippee ki-yay motherclutters. I cleaned out my kitchen cupboards, weeded through my random and never used toiletries, pulled apart the bedroom closet and tonight I start in on the THE SHOES. The bf has been nagging me ALL OF MY LIFE about the shoes. ie. you have too many. why do you need these? when will you wear those? how much did these cost? ugh. So many inane questions. The Ron White store started a shoe donation drive for local shelters and back to work programs - so there's my kick in the pumps. No, YOU'RE lame.

Despite all my lamenting and tearful goodbyes I really am happy to say goodbye to most of this stuff and am amazed by the power that a clutter-filled house can have. Not to get all Oprah on you or anything - but my soul feels lighter. No, YOU shut up. Seriously, I feel like I've lost weight or something. Carrying those bags of useless and unused (or at least not recently used) crap down the stairs feels like kicking an abusive relationship to the curb. And stay out! I'm kicking ass like Nancy McKeon in A Cry For Help (yes, I watched a lot of inappropriate tv as a child).

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Wedding Wednesday: Step One, cut a hole in a box

You knew it was coming - take a deep breath - because I'm about to start talking about the wedding. You can relax a little because as you can see from the title, I'm restricting myself to only talking about it on Wednesday's :) I got this idea from Have Shoes, Will Run - she got engaged at the same marathon as us and is much further along in her planning.


Anyway, first things first. We set the date - December 11, 2010.
I've been contemplating a winter wedding for quite some time now, mostly because I hate getting dressed up and then getting sweaty. It's a pet peeve of mine.
Also, I hate the outdoors and when you get married in the summer there is ALWAYS an outdoor element. I hate eating outside, I hate bees and bugs landing on my food, I hate being sweaty in photographs and I have a very limited threshold of what I would call "Ideal Summer Temperatures".  What I do love is the winter. Albeit mostly from a view behind double-paned glass with a hiked-up heater in the background and an eggnog cocktail in my head. And guess what - winter weddings are fine with that!  Ahhhh winter. If it's good enough for Winter Wedding Barbie then it's good enough for me.

When we headed out looking for locations most of them were offering discounts based upon our preference for the colder months - seems that the Southern Ontario brides have a strong preference for everything that I loathe. Fine with us. We scoured every square inch of Niagara-on-the-Lake, a city close enough to my hometown to appease my mothers concerns that "Well the wedding ALWAYS takes place in the bride's hometown!" but with enough character to not resemble a factory wedding. I toured three vineyards and two hotels. All nice enough and all with delicious wine and food...but just not quite right.

The real problem was that the very first place we looked at was all that we could think about - it ruined us for all other locations. The Art Gallery of Ontario is right next to our condo....literally, we could spit on it. We were already in love with their new restaurant FRANK which opened last year so we thought we'd take a look at the event space. WE. DIED. It is so freaking gorgeous that I could barely speak. Yah, that's right. Me. Not speaking. Ring the alarm.
The AGO wedding planner is a total dream and she walked us through all the options of different areas where we could hold a cocktail reception, dinner, dancing, food and of course the ceremony. And the photography - Jesus, the options are endless. This picture is of the rather infamous (at least if you live in Toronto) front of the building, overlooking Dundas Street. I like to call it the Whale Belly. It's pretty fucking fantastic.

So that was that - we signed the papers, handed over a cheque and the place is ours.
At least for one night with our friends and family :)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

2009: A Year in Pictures

JANUARY

The month was capped off by my most FAVOURITE TIME OF THE YEAR :) Library conference time. Yes, I seek refuge in expo booths filled with my drug of choice - free books. 


FEBRUARY

My birth month - kind of shitty this year mostly because we were mid-move and everything was in chaos. Made better by this card sent to me by my little brother. What are the green letters you ask? TMNT - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What any 32 year old woman would want, right? 


MARCH 
 
 Came home one night to find my squirrely-ass cat had torn open his tail. Recommendations: put him on Prozac or cut off the tail. We went with amputation - mostly because he's a Scientologist. 

APRIL

kipped Easter and went to visit my BFF in St. John's. Snuggled with the new baby and sat in awe of how her maternal instincts had kicked in - the realization that we're old enough to actually give birth to these things kicks in for me. Yikes.

MAY 
 
 Eschewing all signs of impending adulthood - the ultimate karaoke session and the most EPIC performance of Phantom of the Opera ever to have hit a transgendered karaoke stage. 

JUNE

 And speaking of transgendered stages - the most EPIC event of my year took place. The Pride RUN! Being one of the minions required to actually work at the event means that I miss all of the fun on the course. Luckily I had friends taking snaps on the field or I would have missed Team Gay Watch altogether, not to mention their bursting pubes. 
 
JULY

The culinary event to rock my 2009 - the breakfast pizza. Never have runny eggs, basil and cheese ever had it so good. 

AUGUST
 
 Ran Midsummer Night's 30km Race. Saw Erica M. Got a medal. Ate my face off. The end. 

SEPTEMBER

Headed back to Newfoundland to spend some time with Team Baby and discovered much pleasure in taking pictures of drunk babies. Okay okay, he wasn't drunk. I was. He was mocking me.
 
OCTOBER

Traveled to San Fran. Ran my first marathon. Got a medal from Tiffany & Co. Got an engagement ring from Tiffany & Co. So ya know...a slow month. 

NOVEMBER

Traveled to New York for the bf's 7th marathon. Enjoyed the fact that I DIDN'T have to run anymore! Also, enjoyed proving my mother wrong by not getting raped or dying in New York. So there.
 
DECEMBER

Any stress of the year or the season or various forms of family can always be rectified by one thing - champagne. 
Okay two things - champagne and FRIENDS! Happy New Year and hugs and kisses xo.