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I’m Being Stalked by a Wrong Number

March 17, 2011

When someone calls your home by mistake, the ensuing exchange usually goes something like this:

You: Hello?
Stranger: Is so-and-so there?
You: Nope, you’ve got the wrong number.
Stranger: Oh. Sorry about that.
You: No problem.
Stranger: Bye.
You: Bye.

Easy, simple and not creepy at all, right? A few weeks ago I had a conversation that was the opposite of these things:

Me: Hello?
Stranger: Omigod, you aren’t going to believe the day I had…
Me: Probably not.
Stranger: Wait – who’s this?
Me: This is Lori.
Stranger: You’re kidding! This isn’t Michelle?
Me: No, Lori.
Stranger: That’s so strange! It’s like a kismet thing that I’ve called here because since going to this healing centre I’ve been having weird interactions with people.
Me: Uh huh.

She went on to inform me of all the alternative therapies she’d been doing with her friend Michelle, including energy work and intuitive healing. This would have been bizarre enough on its own, except that I’m no stranger to the woo woo (as the Serb refers to it) and had recently done my own telepathy workshop. I couldn’t exactly throw stones from my Swarovski-encrusted house so I asked this woman if she’d attended the same workshop.

“I wish! It sounds fascinating! Are you into that? Where do you live? We should get together!” Her crazy train had crossed the tracks from the Land of Exuberance to Coconutsville, population: her.

Fortunately my kids are like feral dogs between five and seven o’clock, so I was able to use their hollering as an excuse to get off the phone. She reminded me to call her and repeated her name. I assured her that my call display would allow me to get in touch with her should the need arise.

That alone would be a pretty strange experience, wouldn’t you agree? A week later she called again.

Me: Hello?
Psycho Nut Job: Omigod. Have I done it again? It’s me, Psycho Nut Job!
Me: Erm…
PNJ: How have you been? Did you go back to that place with the workshops?
Me: Uh…
PNJ: You never called me! Do you wanna get a coffee some time? I live near Rathburn Street? Are you near there?
Me: Not really. I, um, have to go…
PNJ: Oh. Okay. Well be sure to call if you have time for coffee or something. I think we’d have lots to talk about!
Me: <click>

I’m not sure what to make of this. Was this lady, who put the strange in stranger, calling me on purpose? Or was it totally random? Am I attracting these people on a metaphysical level?

The Serb is concerned. He’s ready to have a little talk of his own with my kooky little pal. I keep telling him that we have her number on call display, so if I’m momnapped he can always call her to get me back.

The Serb is not amused.

I think I just peed my pants a little bit.

Dear Everyone: I’m Not Pregnant

March 14, 2011

I went to a naturopath last month for a…let’s just call it a procedure…which resulted in the discovery that I am rife with Candida (aka yeast, aka omigodhowgross), and it can’t be dealt with in a pop-in-a-Monistat-and-be-done-with-it kinda way because this crap has overtaken my body. I’m now on week four of a Candida cleanse in an attempt to starve the yeast. In a nutshell, this means no sugar, dairy, wheat, vinegar, fruit, booze (!!), refined foods or happiness.

The timing is a disaster. Since starting my cleanse, I have: hosted four dinner parties; attended two others; gone to a writer’s group meeting at the home of a chef; been at a Serbian bridal shower (which is like a formal Italian wedding, only fancier and with more food); seen my husband cook a gourmet meal with appropriate wine pairings.

And I can’t enjoy any of it.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I’ve also become a raging bitch. As the yeast in my system dies off (omigodhowgross) it manifests as me losing my sh*t for no apparent reason. During these outbursts the Serb will enquire, “Is that you or the cleanse talking?” which is the equivalent of asking if I might be getting my period soon. There’s a strong possibility that I will punch him in the face before this is over.

Another side effect is people thinking I’m pregnant. When I decline a glass of wine by explaining that I’m doing a cleanse, I get the look: that side-eye you give newly knocked up women who refuse booze because they’re “on antibiotics.” I suppose it’s a testament to how much I drink.

I told my naturopath that I’d persevere on this joy-sucking purification process until my trip to Mexico at the end of March. I can forego flour tortillas for corn without a problem, but passing on the papayas, the salsas, and the Margaritas? No gracias.

Thankfully, my naturopath understands the absurdity of going to Mexico with a bag of brown rice. Not only has she assured me that I will be able to enjoy fruit and other forbidden foods in moderation, she also tested me for sensitivity to different alcohols and Tequila came out the big winner. Now that is a cleanse I can get behind.

Hello, lover…

Trust Your Inner Woo Woo

March 10, 2011

Quick – think of five questions. Whatever pops into your mind is fine. Are you thinking of them? I’ll wait… Okay, here are the answers: Yes. Behind the sofa. Seventeen. Spaghetti. Tuesday.

I was close, right? That’s because rather than polishing off a bottle of vino catching up on Alias last Friday night with the Serb, I was at an Intuition Development Workshop. Charlie Sheen’s not the only one exploring alternate dimensions, you guys.

Now, I love a good psychic and have read tarot cards for years. I had a Shamanic Astrologer over for dinner last November and reversed a hex put on me by my freaky neighbour. So when my friend, BJas, found a holistic wellness centre that holds these workshops every month, we decided to check it out. Long story short? I’m totally psychic. Kinda.

I was worried about my fellow intuiters being nutjobs, but everyone looked reassuringly ordinary, as did the two ladies leading the workshop. We sat in a circle and they explained the exercises that we would be doing to flex our telepathic muscles. I sent BJas a message with my mind asking if she had any gum. She didn’t get an answer and I suspected neither of us would be quitting our day jobs anytime soon.

We were paired up with strangers and sat staring at each other for a few minutes, then returned to our seats to “send” each other messages (e.g. a number between one and twenty, any fruit or vegetable, etc.). My partner and I had a few right, but most were spectacularly wrong (who the hell thinks of asparagus?!?). Interestingly, BJas and I had a few close answers, so we figured that our extrasensory wires had accidentally crossed.

Next we were given a small stack of playing cards and told not to look at them. BJas and I took turns writing down each other’s impressions of the cards (e.g. red, low number, face card, etc.) and this is where we kicked clairvoyant ass.

I would say something like, “Face card…diamonds…” and it would be the queen of diamonds. For one of the cards, BJas just said, “Ace of clubs” and BLAMO – there it was. Obviously we were psychic savants; I contemplated which window at home would be best for hanging my giant red, flashing, neon palm sign.

For the final exercise, five paper bags were put in the middle of our circle and we had write down the contents without peeking inside the bags. I wrote down “picture of a car” for the first one and glanced at BJas.

“I think it’s a grey feather,” she said firmly. Sure enough, there was a small grey feather inside the bag. Of the five bags, she was really close on three of them. I sucked donkey balls on all five.

It was at this point that I realized I could never make a living telling people their future. Clearly my talents lie in Vegas, counting cards.

Bonus points if you get this reference.

Wanted: Women With Big Feet

March 7, 2011

“What do I have to do?” I asked, grabbing a pen and paper. I usually needed to make notes when I spoke to Oksana.

“They no say ‘sactly what show is, but pay is very good. Make sure you wear skirt, not too short. Something that show the feet.”

Feet? I scribbled, glancing at my unvarnished toes with regret. I took down the details and thanked Oksana, promising to call her after the job.

No, I was not a professional escort. I was a semi-professional actress, which meant copious classes, never-ending auditions calling for the role of “mom,” various roles in student films, community theatre and corporate videos, and, of course, endless heartbreak sprinkled with bouts of self-loathing.

My semi-literate agent, Oksana, sent me on several commercial auditions a week, but I had yet to book a paying gig beyond work as a “background performer” (i.e. breathing scenery). This job, the foot thing, was for a television series.

They needed a bunch of extras “with big feet” and some people would be chosen for speaking roles. Since my feet had spread (along with my ass) while pregnant, I was perfect for the role. It could be my Big Break.

I arrived at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum at five o’clock on a Sunday morning. I felt slightly relieved that the call was at an institution dedicated to footwear rather than some pervert’s basement.

I checked in and was asked to sign a waiver and confidentiality agreement. If I spilled the beans, I could be held liable to the tune of twenty-five million dollars. A normal person would’ve left at that point, or at least demanded some assurances, but obviously a thirty-five-year-old woman just embarking on an acting career is far from normal, so I signed my name and was ushered into a holding area.

There were a hundred other women wearing knee-length skirts and I chatted with a few of them. None of us knew what the job required, only that it paid well, involved our feet and had to be kept a secret. I heard a woman next to me tell her friend, “I swear to God, if this is some sort of creepy dating show, I’m outta here.”

Crap. I hadn’t thought of that. I was married with a two-year-old son at home. I couldn’t be on Foot Bachelor or whatever crazy show some honcho from a second-rate network had thought up during an ecstasy binge.

Over an hour later, a couple of people with walkie-talkies motioned from the stairs above us for our attention. A man thanked us for our patience and reiterated the need for discretion. “You lucky ladies have been chosen for a very special reality show,” he informed us.

Omigodomigodomigod, I thought in a panic. Footbachelorfootbachelorfootbachelor.

Before I could make a break for it, he continued, “Have you heard of The Amazing Race?” I froze. Women around me started shrieking like Oprah had just given them each a car. “You are all going to be part of a detour in the upcoming season!”

I am not being trite when I tell you that I almost Peed. My. Pants. I’d watched every episode of The Amazing Race – where teams race around the world solving clues and performing tasks – and had a verging-on-unhealthy crush on the host, Phil Keoghan.

Evidently I wasn’t the old one, as women started yelling, “Where’s Phil?” Alas, the Philiminator was at an undisclosed location and we wouldn’t be seeing him. Our detour was the last of the race, with only three teams left in the competition. Our job was to silently wander barefoot at different speeds throughout the small museum. Racers would receive a shoe and have to try it on our feet until they found the one woman who was a match. The rest of us were told to say, “Sorry, it’s too small.”

The room was vibrating with excitement. We were given updates of the racers’ progress as producers had us practice walking while the cameras captured extra footage. I was stuck like glue to a gorgeous young model, assuming (rightfully, I might add) that the cameramen would find their way to her.

The first team arrived – a father and his three grown daughters – and I heard them rip open their clue in another room and read it aloud breathlessly. They ran into our room and I heard one girl say, “Oh wow,” while her sister said, “C’mon – grab her.”

They scrambled around the room, with their dad and the cameraman following behind, politely asking, “Can we try this on you?” before attempting to shove a massive foot into a delicate little shoe. My new model BFF and I manoeuvred our way towards the team and sure enough, they stopped and fell at our feet. A camera lens was thrust in my face as I said my line. They quickly moved on before I could wish them luck or ask if Phil was as dreamy in person.

No other teams came to our detour, which was just as well because I doubt I could’ve kept my cool through another round of Amazing Race-style Cinderella games. Once I left the museum, it took about twenty seconds for me to break my confidentiality contract. The Serb was worried I’d been lured into a fetish porn production so I had to tell him, but I didn’t tell anyone else until the night my episode aired. Then I told everyone.

Unfortunately, it was the family season of The Amazing Race – with young kids racing alongside adults – which was a total disaster. The good news is, I did get on TV during my episode. Well, my arm did. If you froze the frame on your VCR. My friends, family and hairdresser were all very understanding after I’d made them watch a season that sucked only to see me not really get on the show.

It didn’t really matter because shortly after my brief brush with fame, I got knocked up again and my acting career was put on indefinite hold. Unlike my crush on Phil, which is still raging uncontrollably.

Oh, close, yet so very far...

Sleep is the New Porn

March 3, 2011

I suspect I’m one of the few parents around who is counting the minutes until puberty invades my house. I welcome the hormonal eruptions. I yearn for boundaries being tested. I embrace the zits, broken curfews and pilfering of my booze. It will all be worth it for me, because another thing teenagers love to do is sleep. And omigodyouguys – I am exhausted.

I used to average nine hours a night and could sleep until noon without even trying. Seven years ago I got knocked up and that put an end to my sweet slumber: I was a whale for nine months and simply turning over in bed required two extra people and a forklift.

As soon as my son was born I became the world’s lightest sleeper and since he grunted like a female tennis player when he slept, I didn’t enter a REM state for about three years (which was – you guessed it – when I got knocked up for the second time). Although I was much less…rotund…while pregnant with my daughter, I had other issues that kept me awake at night (like impetigo and walking pneumonia).

For the last couple of years, my kids have had an unspoken agreement to screw with my sleep. If one sleeps until seven o’clock in the morning (that’s considered sleeping in at our house), the other one is up five times during the night. Until we took the childproofing doorknob thingy off her door, every morning at five-thirty my daughter would holler, “DADDY! OHHHHH DA DOOR! I AWAKE! DAAAAADDY!”

Now she makes her own way into our bed most mornings around four o’clock; however, she tends to arrive wide-awake and in the middle of a conversation with us (i.e. “Hi Mommy. I like cake. Daddy, did you have a doggy? When we go skating? Let’s do puzzles.”).

Not even my sleep armour of eye mask and ear plugs keeps out her rambling. I often bail from the bed to join my son in his room, but he’s gone from grunting in his sleep to flailing and more often than not, I end up with an injury.

Until they hit the teen years, I have a Plan B in the works: I’m entering contests that offer trips to exotic locations. When I win, I look forward to reading postcards – in bed, at noon – from my family telling me all about it.

Consider yourselves lucky that I was actually dressed for this picture.

Learning to Cook at the Liquor Store

February 28, 2011

My husband, the Serb, is not known for his cooking prowess: when we first met he was subsisting on sandwiches and cereal. Things didn’t change much after we were married – before leaving on business trips, I would go through various takeout menus and highlight the things he liked so that he wouldn’t starve (his friends were equal parts envious and mortified).

Despite these precautions, we would often have phone conversations during my trip that went something like this:

Me: How are you?
Him: Hungry.
Me: What did you have for breakfast?
Him: Cereal.
Me: Lunch?
Him: Cereal.
Me: Dare I ask…dinner?
Him: Ugh. Cereal. I feel kinda sick…

After having kids, he managed to learn a few pasta dishes and he’s a whiz on the barbecue, but the Serb often voices his wish to cook more. For his fortieth birthday my parents gave him a cooking lesson, which he attended this past weekend.

It was held at a liquor store that is set up like a cooking show and the menu – called Comforts of Home – consisted of tantalizing offerings like prosciutto-stuffed chicken breast and included wine pairings. Obviously these were ideal conditions with which to lure a Serb into the kitchen. Or so I thought. (Cue foreboding music)

My first clue that something was amiss came in the form of a text message. Some things you should know to fully appreciate this exchange:

(1) My daughter lost my husband’s wedding ring and I’m trying not to take it personally, but her admonishments that I’m not married to “her” daddy make it difficult.
(2) Before leaving, my husband removed the manicure my daughter had given him (OPI’s Pink-a-Doodle) that morning.
(3) The Serb and I express our love in ways that may seem…inappropriate…to the uninitiated.

This is a fairly typical textversation.

Afterwards, my iPhone was silent for two hours. I had visions of him being manhandled by some foxy forty-somethings or sitting alone in the corner while couples fed each other bison sliders. I feared that whatever he was enduring would put him off cooking entirely.

None of these things happened. As soon as he sat down, a couple of grandmas (Peggy and Penny) swooped in and took my Serb under their collective wing, doting on him for the entire class. Also, it was a cooking demonstration class and he wasn’t actually expected to cook – he simply sat back and enjoyed the show, with unlimited refills of Pinot Noir. Not only that, the dessert was a baked apple dish that his late grandma used to make in Serbia when he was a boy.

So to recap, my husband got babied by some sweet old ladies while a professional chef fed him and liquor store employees saturated him in pricey hootch. It was, in his words, the Best. Saturday. Ever.

Boredom: The Gift That Keeps On Giving (me an ulcer)

February 24, 2011

March break is coming up at the hippie school and it’s a two-week affair so naturally I started planning things for my kids last October. I thought I was being extremely clever booking a trip with my friend and her family to Mexico for a week. Then I realized that our school calendars don’t match up, so we leave for Mexico on what should be the first day back at school. I am, as they say, so screwed.

I love my kids and I am a very happy work-from-home-mom, but having a seven-year-old son and three-year-old daughter in the house with me 24/7 for fourteen days is a recipe for a vodka-infused nervous breakdown.

I’m fascinated by my son’s incredible imagination; heaven for him is a roll of duct tape and some yarn (he is the MacGyver of our neighbourhood). He regularly eschews his toys for my spice cupboard and make-up bag (“I’m making potions!”) or his dad’s tools (“I need to hammer in the propeller!”). The short-term gain for me – getting work done during the day while my son putters around the house – is offset by the time spent at night removing stains from our carpets. In a nutshell, my son is a mad scientist and our house is his lab.

Just another Tuesday afternoon...

His sister is a (naked) tasmanian devil after a few espressos. In the span of twenty minutes today, she: dressed up as a cowgirl (hat, rope, boots, naked); made a jelly monster out of play-doh; demanded I be a puppy and walked me around the house; ordered me to play chess with her (this involves her pieces eating all of mine); cajoled me into a game of Battleship (see: chess, above); pleaded for me to paint her toenails; directed me to make her oatmeal and put on a show for me (I applaud her while she runs around in a circle…naked). Believe me, I was twice as exhausted doing it as you are reading it.

All that's missing is toenail polish.

My point being, I need to line up some play dates and camps for these kids, pronto. Either that or some rehab for their mama.