|Craziness in the world, with markets crashing, Palin winking, people cozied up to the TV screen with magnifying glasses checking out to see if Biden had Botox, Harper trying to slide back in as Canada’s leader while counting on the fact we are all too preoccupied with the American election to make him accountable. There are few things that we can take solace in, retail therapy is out, playing the stock market is out, flipping a house for fun is out and checking your bank statements on line, decidedly no fun. Anything that costs more than 99 cents is ridiculously extravagant and just like the sales of candy went up during the great depression and ice cream went through the roof after 911, today we are all looking for cheap and satisfying thrills and we need look no further then music. For the past decade musicians and writers have been decrying the fact that no one gets paid for their work because people download it from the internet and for the first time a silver lining has appeared to catch the rain and save people from their thirsts. Until laws change it seems that music is free and it just might be the only thing in North America that is, so I say bake it in the oven and put some ice cream on top. I, for one, feel like I have a brand new car, except instead of a Volkswagen I have the entire Beatles catalogue.
Always game to try something different and switch things up about six months ago a friend asked me to perform a couple of concerts singing Beatles songs, excited to play with a big band I said yes. The only drawback was that I really wasn’t a fan of the Beatles and in fact on a certain vacation I might have sworn and “lightly” banged the door when “ Good Day Sunshine” was played at a high decibel early in the morning. I simply just didn’t get “It”, so I set about learning the songs somewhat begrudgingly. The strangest things started to happen, I caught myself singing the song that had enraged me with its cheeriness a year earlier, I spent hours pouring over old concert footage on youtube and I enjoyed every second I spent at Roy Thompson Hall the other night singing their songs. Sometimes coming late to the party means all the food is gone and your friends are getting ready to leave, it’s a gamble, but sometimes it means you’ve arrived just when the party is getting started. With music everybody wins.
The best thing about Thanksgiving is going to someone else’s house, bringing wine and broccoli casserole and sitting back and enjoying the onslaught of Turkey, dressing and peas pudding. This traditional meal looks like the most simple and straight-ahead affair but it is the most difficult meal to coordinate and even the most seasoned cook balances the beam as all pots boil right at the brink of spilling over the top at all times. The timing has to be dead on or else everyone is drunk from too much wine while with their heads pressed up against the stove window waiting for the turkey to change from pink to brown, while all the other dishes freeze, wither and wilt, until you realize you did the math all wrong and it’s going to take another three hours till the bird is done. That is why even though I like to cook this meal myself, I truly love to go out for it. The fun is only beginning because no matter how late you get home Sunday night, holiday Monday is always the most sinful of days, a complete paid for free pass.
Nothing is open so you can’t do anything even if you want to and I know I am not alone when I say I never want to. It is seven thirty at night and I am still in my pajamas and robe and I have no plans to get out of them till tomorrow morning. The sun shone all day in through the window and from weather channel I could tell it was at 22 degrees but I curled up with a hot water bottle and pretended it was freezing outside, it made not going outside not feel quite so blasphemous. I’ve got to say it hasn’t been all enjoyable, I, like many Canadians have occupied my brain with praying and hoping we use this election to change the course of not just our country but the world. I guess you could say I am resting before the most important thing I’ve done in years, vote. I can’t quite believe how fast and furious this Canadian election came upon us, we never got a chance to catch our breath and I guess that was the idea. I just hope that when you read this on Wednesday I won’t be in a ditch somewhere fighting melting glaciers, while I try to tell passers by on the street that once upon a time Canada was a place of exceptional culture and tolerance because our government will be doing that for us.
Just walked in the door from the Avalon Mall after watching a movie with my mom and a little pop into Winners which no trip to the mall would be complete without. It’s like walking into your own private retail video game, you don’t know when someone is going to yank your treasure out from under your nose or when you are going to strike pay dirt in the form of a very inexpensive pair of shoes and whether you win or lose you just end up playing over and over again. I suppose it is better than sitting in front of a video lotto machine, but some months when I check my credit card bill I am not entirely sure. Knowing I had to come home and write my column, I dropped the green knit sweater I had been debating buying as the part of my brain that said it made me look pregnant won out and set to leave the store empty handed. As it is when you go to the mall ( and that is why you should never go there without washing your hair, wearing undereye concealer and changing out of your pajama bottoms) I ran into eight hundred people I knew, one of whom told me she reads my column—that I sometimes make her laugh out loud and she can tell if I’m in a good mood or a bad mood. Driving home not necessarily in a bad mood but not in a great one either I started freaking out that I had to get in a good mood or else people would be able to tell, I watched “The Office”, searched for non existent sugar in the cupboards and youtubed laughing babies, but I had no choice but to start writing my column in a bad mood. What I should have done was start off talking about how I just flew home for a surprise retirement gathering for my Dad and that he was so shocked when I walked in the door that he gasped, covered his mouth and took a step back. Then I should have followed it by writing about all the people I’ve met across the world who have told me about how my Father has changed the course of their lives through his help, care and generosity as a teacher whether in High School or in University. Then I should have said that no matter what he was doing work wise, play wise and writing wise my sister, brother and I always felt like we were the most important things in his life . . . now I am in a really, really good mood.
I feel like they are toying with our emotions. Raising prices, adding astronomical fuel surcharges, making you pay for a second bag while eyeing up your first like it’s holding one kilogram too many and that at any moment you will be forced to put just one of your favourite shoes in a pile with other lonely looking single shoes, who turn their heels to you in shame because they were simply “too heavy to fly economy”. As a consumer you get used to it, you realize that’s the way it is now in this new world where oil and gas are reminisced about like horse drawn carriages and the golden days of outhouses. Then you stumble across an ad directing you to an airline website where there’s a big banner at the top saying no more fuel surcharges. Then you go to another website to investigate the competition and they say the same thing, oh and the extra bag- that’s for free too! I don’t understand it, we’d just gotten used to it, hadn’t we? It’s like reducing the GST by 1 percent, it doesn’t make any real impact on our day to day lives, we can’t be thankful because no one has even realized it’s been lowered and when you add it all up it’s a huge lack of funds the government can’t give to Cancer research or Daycare or heaven forbid arts programs. Like anything in life there has got to be a catch so as I set about checking for my flight home at Christmas I realized unless you want to fly to Antigua the third Monday of every second month, but only on those months that have 31 days in it at 4:36 in the morning, they have buried that surcharge in the fare along with the equivalent of three or four extra bags.
As much as I miss the whole paper ticket, expert travel agent scenario, I love getting on the internet and checking out flights. It’s a bit like gambling, playing the tables, just holding out for the right hand. Sadly there is that point of no return and for me that day is today when the prices only go higher and higher, when you’ve lingered an hour too long waiting for a seat sale, salivating for healthy competition between airlines that won’t come for Christmas this year, no matter how much you ask Santa.
Chances are I’ll be stuck in the middle seat, apparently Santa doesn’t like giving out coal anymore.