Wednesday, March 30, 2005

All I got for my five-year anniversary were these lousy stamps on my sandwich card

Today is my five-year anniversary at work. This is the longest I have worked in one place in my entire life.

I mentioned this fact to a few people at the office today. I thought maybe they would get me a card and a bottle of wine or something. Or at least treat me to lunch. But it seems working in the same place for five years isn’t a big deal to anyone but me.

At lunch, I joined a few work people who were heading across the street to grab some wraps. Since no one stepped up to offer to buy me a wrap, I asked if I could get everyone’s stamps on my card (if you collect 10 stamps, your 11th wrap is free). They agreed to that, seeing as how it was my five-year anniversary and all. Cheapskates!

What do they give people on their 10-year anniversary? A bic pen and some Subway stamps? Maybe it’s a generational thing. Most people my age don’t stay in one place until retirement.

Before this, the longest I had ever worked in one place was three years, which seemed like an eternity at the time. People in their early 20s just didn’t do that sort of thing.

It’s amazing to think five years has gone by. It seems like yesterday when I arrived in Vancouver knowing no one but Steve Chao who let me live with him for a few weeks until I found an apartment.

The funny thing is today isn’t even supposed to be my real anniversary. I arrived in Vancouver on March 28. I called my new boss the next day to let him know I was in town. He asked if I would mind starting on March 30, an entire week early. So I did. And here I am.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Toronto Speedo convention

I've just signed up for the Canadian Masters Swimming Championship, which takes place over four days in Toronto this May.

The last time I swam at Nationals was three years ago in Saskatoon. My parents flew out to cheer me on. They thought it sounded important and exciting. They did not realize they would be stuck inside a pool the whole weekend watching a bunch of old people take 10 minutes to swim two lengths of the pool.

My dad was so inspired that he returned to Toronto and became a competitive swimmer himself. Since then, he has raced in a few swim meets in Ontario and even won a few medals. When I found out Nationals would be in Toronto this year, I thought it would be fun if my dad and I signed up together.

Over the next two months, my training will consist of swimming five times a week, and sculpting the guns twice a week at the gym. Plus lots of sleep, healthy food, and no more alcohol until after the race.

My dad’s training consists of going to public swim and chatting up young, fast swimmers. My dad even stopped one guy who was tearing up the pool to ask if he would be swimming at Nationals (he is). He also found out how old he was (30) and what he did for a living (engineer). Now my dad is setting up a time and place for us to meet while I’m in Toronto.

My parents are also inviting other swimmers from my swim club to stay at their house in Toronto during the meet. Which I’m not sure is such a good idea considering what happened in Saskatoon when they secretly invited my teammates into their hotel room after a few glasses of wine to dish some dirt about me.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

How did I get roped into this?

In exactly three hours from now, I will be up on a stage giving a speech to a bunch of strangers in a gay bar.

The last time I gave a prepared speech was Grade 5, when a prize-winning speech I wrote about "The Future" gained critical acclaim on the Royal Canadian Legion circuit.

Since then, my public speaking career has been limited to impromptu, and unpaid, appearances at Christmas and birthday parties.

Anyway, tonight I’ll be speaking at the launch party for Vancouver’s first gay and lesbian triathlon club, which was formed by a bunch of guys from my swim team a few months ago.

I’m not really sure why they asked me to give a speech at the launch party, especially considering a) I’m not gay, and b) I’m not much of a triathlete. I’m guessing that no one else wanted to do it. Plus I have this weird reputation for being outgoing and funny. Which is strange because that’s not how I see myself. I can be very shy and anti-social at times.

But I agreed to give a speech because a) I secretly like public speaking, and b) I believe in the cause (spreading the fitness gospel to gay men). I’ve cut and pasted my speech below, in case you’re interested.


Thank you for that introduction, Paul. Hi everyone!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been swimming with English Bay for five years, and I’ve been involved in triathlon for about three years.

Paul wanted someone to give a short speech on "why you should do a triathlon." Unfortunately, Simon Whitfield wasn’t available tonight so you’re stuck with me.

Luckily for you, I’m better at public speaking than triathlon, which isn’t really saying much. Anyway, my goal tonight is to convince every person in this bar to race in at least one triathlon this year.

So I thought about how I could do that, and I decided to create a Top 10 list of reasons to do a triathlon. But I could only think of nine things:

9. Eye candy: You will be surrounded by half-naked guys and girls all day. Who knows? You might pick up something besides a medal.

8. Fame and glory: If you are the only person in your age group, you will get a guaranteed first place and lifetime bragging rights. Warning: when you go to the office on Monday, your co-workers will start asking you if you’re training for the Olympics.

7. Personal satisfaction: There's no greater feeling than setting a goal and meeting it. Triathlons bring meaning and purpose to those endless hours of training. Pick a race at the beginning and end of the season and compare your times. It's all about control, achievement and mastery.

6. Distraction: Do you hate your job? Is your personal life going to hell? Triathlon is a great way to avoid thinking about everything that's bothering you.

5. Exotic travel: Triathlon is also a great excuse to travel to exciting destinations such as Salmon Arm, Duncan and Saskatoon.

4. Intimate encounters: How well do you really know your teammates? Spend a weekend with some of them and you might be surprised at what you learn. I have slept with about half the guys on the swim team and I know from personal experience who snores like Darth Vader, who wears tighty whities and who has a small bladder.

3. Free food: Don’t think of them as aid stations, think of them as buffet tables! All the Power Bars and mushy bananas you can eat. Sometimes there are banquets afterwards with lavish spreads of ham sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and pickles.

2. Masochism: Because you love pain and want to swim, bike and run so hard it hurts.

1. Anything goes: This is the best part about triathlon. Anything goes! You don't have to qualify. You don't even have to swim freestyle. If you're tired, you can flip over onto your back or swim breaststroke. Mountain bike, commuter bike, road bike. It doesn’t matter. You can crawl if you don’t feel like running. There are all shapes and sizes and ages. You won't be the slowest person there, but if you are, you will get a standing ovation as you cross the finish line. So why not try something new this year? Who knows? You might love it as much as I do!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Riding the Stroumboulopoulos rollercoaster

So this is, what, my fifth post about George Stroumboulopoulos in the past two months? I’m starting to feel like the president of his fan club (or an obsessed stalker) but I’m not. Honestly. I just think he’s the shit, that’s all.

I wasn’t even planning on writing about him again. But he practically begged me to. Sort of. At the end of his show last week, he announced he’s taking The Hour on the road for a week in Vancouver next month.

The first time he mentioned this, I decided to invite him out for a beer while he was in town. Then I found out he had a girlfriend, and I changed my mind. Faster than a pancake on a hot griddle, I’m flip flopping once again.

This time Strombo explained that the show will have to be taped early in Vancouver because of the time difference. Then he went on to say that means he’ll have a lot of free time in the evenings and if anyone knows of any fun stuff he should do, they should email him.

If that’s not code for “Hello, Sarah! I’m coming to town and I want to party with you!” then I don’t know what is. How could I say no to a request like that? Hey, if the guy is begging people in Vancouver to show him a good time, I'm not going to turn him down. Sounds like someone's relationship is in trouble. He asked for email so I sent him one:

To: George Stroumboulopoulos
From: Sarah Marchildon
Subject: Compliments

Hey Guys,

The subject line is a lie. This isn't really a compliment but your website didn't have "Cool Stuff to Do in Vancouver With Me" listed as an option when selecting a subject heading.

Anyway, if you folks are looking for fun stuff to do in the evening while you're in Vancouver in April (as George requested on the show last Thursday), I'd be happy to be your tour guide.

I work at the David Suzuki Foundation and could see if David is free for drinks one night. Or you could just hang out with me. I'm way more fun (and better looking) than him!

Keep up the good work.


By the way, the part about asking David Suzuki out for drinks isn’t exactly true. David Suzuki doesn’t drink. Plus he won’t be in Vancouver in April. But the part about me being more fun and better looking, that’s true. Well, depending on what your definition of “fun” and “better looking” is, I suppose.

Word to my brother

Those of you in Toronto who will actually be awake at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning should tune in to Breakfast Television on CityTv.

My brother is going to be on the show to help promote the Canadian Floorball Championships. He’s playing in a demonstration game and CityTv will be there to capture it all live on camera.

The tournament takes place at the University of Toronto this weekend and my brother is playing for some Swedish team. He’s not Swedish or anything. They were just desperate for extra players. And desperate for publicity, which is why I agreed to write about it in my blog. Which is pretty nice of me considering that my brother refuses to read my blog because, as he so eloquently puts it, “I don’t want to know what you think.”

I had never even heard of floorball until today when my brother emailed me to tell me about it. I had to write back to ask what floorball was (I had initially confused it with foozeball). Even though you’ll never read this, good luck Daniel!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The best Canadian pop songs ever?

So the CBC is running this contest, asking us to vote for the 10 most important Canadian pop songs from a short-list of 50 tracks. The CBC’s website describes the process as "controversial" and "hotly debated." No kidding!

What kind of list leaves out Loverboy? "Turn me Loose," "Working for the Weekend" and "Kid is Hot Tonight" would be right up there in my top 10 list of the best Canadian pop songs of all time.

There’s no techno (where’s Plastikman?), not much reggae (where’s Snow?) and no glam rock (where’s Haywire?). Lee Aaron, Mitsou, Chilliwack, Helix, and Doug & The Slugs are also disappointingly absent from the list.

Instead, we get to choose among boring Anne Murray, inoffensive Gordon Lightfoot and sniveling Bruce Cockburn. Of course, the CBC list also includes those frat boy favourites: The Tragically Hip and Spirit of the West. Lame-o-rama.

I was going to stage a silent protest by not voting, but changed my mind when I saw that everyone who voted would be entered into a draw for some cool free stuff. I love winning cool free stuff! (Voting closes Tuesday in case you’re interested.)

So from the CBC’s list of 50 songs, here are the 10 I voted for and why. In no particular order:

1. Big Yellow Taxi, by Joni Mitchell (1970): "They paved paradise to put up a parking lot." Good tune, fantastic lyrics. Poetry, really.

2. Heart of Gold, by Neil Young (1971): How can you not love Neil Young? I would have voted for any of his songs. But I like this one the best.

3. Takin’ Care of Business, by Bachman-Turner Overdrive (1974): Just a rollicking good tune. Plus it was written the same year I was born.

4. Fly By Night, by Rush (1975): One of the most technically precise rock bands around. Gotta give Rush their props. Though it took me a few years to figure out that Geddy Lee was a man, not a really unattractive woman. The high voice threw me off.

5. Raise a Little Hell, by Trooper (1978): Quintessentially Canadian. Makes me want to drink beer.

6. High School Confidential, by Rough Trade (1980): This song is sexy. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s hot!

7. The Safety Dance, by Men Without Hats (1982): Not just one of the best Canadian pop songs, but one of the best ‘80s songs of all time. Heavy on the synthesizer, big hair, bad outfits, weird video. I came of age in the ‘80s and this song was on the soundtrack.

8. Let Your Backbone Slide, by Maestro Fresh-Wes (1990): Do-do-do, do-dootlie-do. This song was so huge when it was released that I actually thought it was American. And if that’s not a sign that a Canadian artist has made it, then I don’t know what is.

9. Coax Me, by Sloan (1994): I like Sloan. They remind me of the Beatles in their earlier years. Easy to listen to and very catchy.

10. Crabbuckit, by K-OS (2004): Definitely not his best song. But I love K-OS and his refreshing brand of hip hop that is not about bling, bullets and babes.

So those are my favourites (not including Loverboy, of course). What are yours?

Friday, March 18, 2005

A roundup of stuff in the news that pissed me off this week

What the hell is the point of having four weeks vacation if I can’t afford to go anywhere? Yeah, baby. I’m talking about the Jetsgo (“Jetsgone”) debacle.

I had two trips planned. One to Toronto and one to Newfoundland. I hadn’t booked anything because I was waiting for a seat sale. Then Jetsgo crashed and burned, driving prices skyward. Not just in the short-term, but indefinitely.

This economic fallout thing is screwing up my plans. Air Canada, West Jet and HMY have all increased their prices now that Jetsgo is gone. You’d think this would be good for them. One less competitor means more customers at their counters, right? So why would they need to raise the prices when they’re going to get more people on their planes anyway?

I know, I know. Jetsgo’s ridiculously cheap flights forced everyone to artificially lower their prices. Now that Jetsgo’s gone, the other carriers can raise their prices to reflect the true cost of flying and offset soaring fuel costs, etc. But as a customer on a budget, it sucks.

The cheapest one-way ticket to Toronto on West Jet before Jetsgo went bankrupt was $179. The cheapest one-way ticket to Toronto on West Jet after Jetsgo went bankrupt was $279. This isn’t for a flight tomorrow. This is for a flight two months down the road.

Yesterday, the one-way fare to Toronto in May was down to $229. Do I jump on that or do I wait to see if they go even lower in a few weeks? If anyone has any insider information on this a la Martha Stewart, let me know.

Protecting the American way of life

Another story that’s in the news this week (although not making as many headlines as Jetsgo) is further proof that George W. Bush is a moron. As if starting a pointless war in Iraq wasn’t bad enough, now he’s going to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Bloody hell!

Bush’s rationale goes something like this: prices at the gas pumps are really high and we need to decrease our dependence on foreign supplies of oil. There’s lots of oil in Alaska and who really cares about a bunch of stupid polar bears, caribou and birds anyway?

My rationale goes something like this: bad idea! Drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge won’t end America’s dependence on imported oil. What it will do is destroy one of the most fragile and environmentally sensitive areas in the world for about six months worth of oil that won’t even hit the market for another 10 years.

Here’s a better idea: Improve the fuel efficiency of cars. Doing that alone would save more oil than could be extracted from the Arctic Refuge.

Admittedly, that’s not as clear-cut a solution as increasing supply to meet demand. But then why not just reduce the demand in the first place? If our cars burned less fuel, we wouldn’t need as much oil. It seems like Bush would rather protect polluting SUVs than North America’s last remaining true wilderness.

[* Disclaimer: I am fully aware it is hypocritical of me to slam U.S. energy policy, and at the same time want to spend my vacation flying across the country on cheap flights that burn a hell of a lot more fuel than cars. But that’s part of the problem. Most people don’t want to radically change their lifestyles. Including me, I guess.]

We need oil, I get it. But there’s no reason we can’t stop wasting so much of it. Besides, there’s a lot of oil drilling in Alaska already. Why can’t we just protect this one area?

Canada: A safe haven for terrorists

As for the disappointing Air India trial, I’ve only got four words to say about that -- not guilty my ass!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A date with Doogie Howser, MD

For the past nine days, I’ve been fantasizing about what my date with the podiatrist would be like. The referring doctor described him as “young” and said I would “really like him.”

Of course, I interpreted that to mean the foot doctor was young and tall and charming and funny and smart. And available. And hot.

I pictured him as a young Robert Redford, like the way he was in The Way We Were. You know, thick blonde hair, crinkly eyes, killer smile. I imagined walking into the hot doctor’s office and hitting it off immediately. The room would be crackling with electricity. Suddenly, he’d look at his watch and realize we had been talking for hours. He’d shake his head and say, “I’m sorry. Looks like we’ll have to schedule another appointment. An appointment for dinner, that is.”

And then he’d pull out a pad of paper and write down the name and number of another doctor.

“I’m going to have to refer you to someone else,” he’d say. “The way I feel about you isn’t ethical.”

Um…yeah. Didn’t quite go like that. I met the real doctor this morning. He was cute, but more Doogie Howser than Robert Redford. He was young, somewhere between 30 and 39. But his braces, glasses, pierced ear and generous use of hair product made it hard to pinpoint an exact age. Or sexual orientation.

The setting wasn’t conducive to romance either. He had two posters on the wall. One was a poster of nail infections, the other featured foot disorders. Both contained very graphic and disturbing photos. Who the hell puts disgusting posters like that up on their walls? Not someone I’d want to date, that’s for sure.

Anyway, Dr. Howser fondled my foot a little bit and gave me the grim diagnosis. My foot is fucked (my words, not his). He said the nerve was so damaged and inflamed that he could actually feel it.

Then he told me he has Morton’s neuroma too. The way he said it reminded me of that guy in the hair-loss commercial (“I’m not just the president, I’m a client”). At least he feels my pain (maybe that explains why he has a huge picture of Bill Clinton in the reception area).

I won’t get into all the gory details of my neuroma. He’s going to try to treat it conservatively for the first few months with orthotics and cortisone injections. And if that fails, then I will have to have surgery to remove the nerve.

In the meantime, I’m supposed to limit “pain inducing activities” like running and cycling and walking and pretty much just standing around. Which leaves me feeling frustrated and more than a little bummed. The 2005 triathlon season is a complete write-off. I won’t be able to do any hiking either. For some people, that’s not a big deal. But for me, it’s huge.

I don’t want to adapt. I want to run and cycle and hike and walk. On the upside, the only time my foot doesn’t hurt is when I swim. So at least I still have that.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A day in the life

I’m going to stop reading the newspaper. It’s too depressing.

There’s a story in this weekend’s Globe and Mail about George Stroumboulopoulos. It’s not a particularly good article. It simply rehashes everything we already know about Strombo: he hates being thought of as the CBC’s resident hipster; he has a nose ring; he has big brown teddy-bear eyes; etc.

The only news in the article is buried halfway down the page. Strombo has a girlfriend! Not just any old girlfriend, but a "longtime" one. And this fact is in brackets! Like it’s an afterthought or a digression!

I’m sure his girl is lovely. But it makes my last blog entry about inviting him out for a beer completely irrelevant. Oh well. Another fantasy bites the dust.

I don’t have the energy to get too worked up about it. I’m still tired from yesterday’s epic trip to Victoria and back. As if waking up at 5:15 a.m. to catch a ferry wasn’t bad enough, we were also subjected to rough seas.

The shuddering ferry would tilt so far to the right that all you could see out the window was water, and then it would tilt so far to the left that all you could see out the window was blue sky. It rolled side-to-side for about 45 minutes before the waves flattened out. It was a struggle to keep my breakfast down.

It could have been worse. It could have been like the time we took the ferry to Nanaimo for a swim meet two years ago. The water was so rough that half the swim team spent the ferry ride retching in the bathroom. I spent the trip curled up in the fetal position clutching a barf bag to my chest.

Yesterday’s swim meet was much less dramatic. My friend Delacey, who lives in Victoria now, popped in for a couple of hours. My other friend Annelle, who was sidelined with a neck injury, said she didn’t realize how boring swim meets were to watch.

The ferry ride back to Vancouver last night was tame compared to the morning’s adventure on the high seas. Well, not so tame for Tom who spent most of the ride on the sundeck drinking shots of whiskey with some Korean tourists.

Here are my results:

50-metre freestyle: 32.15 (2nd, female 30-34)
100-metre freestyle: 1:10.45 (1st, female 30-34)
200-metre freestyle: 2:37.39 (1st, female 30-34)
400-metre freestyle: 5:42 (don't know the ranking, forgot to check this event)

Friday, March 11, 2005

George Stroumboulopoulos is coming to Vancouver & other miscellaneous info

Don't drink and photo shop!

I almost fell off the couch this week while watching The Hour when George Stroumboulopoulos announced the following:

1. He’s taking the show on the road to Vancouver for a week in April.
2. He’s an anti-smoker. [The fact he owns two cats is sexy. But to find out he’s a cat lover AND a cigarette hater? That’s hot!]

I am going to email him to see if he would like to go out for a beer -- in a smoke-free bar with paintings of kittens hanging on the wall -- while he’s in town. It can’t hurt to ask, right?

I just hope he doesn’t see the sloppy 20-second cut-and-paste job above and think I’m nuts. Obviously, I’m not. If I were truly cracked, I’d have put a lot more effort into doctoring the photo. I would have cut my sister (the girl wearing the white hat) out of the picture. And I would have put a big heart around George’s head and a cat in my arms. See? I’m not crazy.

In other news, I’ve got three movies lined up for the weekend:

1. Maria Full of Grace: This is one of my brother’s recommendations. I never ask my brother for recommendations because he has the worst taste in movies ever. He likes movies about aliens and violence and hot chicks. He came across Maria Full of Grace by accident. He had rented I, Robot but found Maria Full of Grace in the case instead. Too lazy to walk back to the video store, he decided to watch it. Surprisingly, he liked it. So much so that he emailed me to rave about it. We’ll see…

2. Super Size Me: I’ve been putting this one off because the thought of watching someone eat nothing but McDonald’s for an entire month makes me nauseous. My sister saw it recently and said she came out of the theatre craving fries. She’s pretty anti-McDonald’s so I figured it was a good sign if her reaction was hunger, not disgust.

3. Crossroads: I love bad teen movies and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I’ll probably just watch one movie tonight since I have to get up at 5:15 a.m. (argh!!!) tomorrow to catch the 7 a.m. ferry to Victoria. I’m competing in the Victoria Masters swim meet. I’ve never understood why these things start early in the morning instead of in the afternoon. In the meantime, must thing of a clever way to invite Strombo out for a beer.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Pet peeve: Stupid dog owners

So I’m riding home from work the other day. It’s kind of dark out. I’m not really thinking about anything. Just enjoying the smell of the ocean and the forest-filtered air as I whoosh down a small hill on a quiet street near Stanley Park.

I’m about a block away from my apartment when a huge dog suddenly runs out of the shadows and lunges at me, barking ferociously. I scream twice. The first is a startled “what the…” scream. The second is a “holy crap this dog is going to knock me off my bike and maul me to death” scream.

This is no “eek!” girly scream. It’s loud and long and there is real terror in my voice. The dog skids to a stop in front of my wheel, backs off and runs across the street to its owner, who is standing there watching the whole thing go down.

I am shaking. Almost in tears. And the owner stands there saying…nothing. No half-assed, “Sorry about that.” No lame, “Don’t worry. She’s harmless.” Nothing!

I get back on my bike. By this point, he’s halfway down the street. I turn around and yell, “You idiot! You should put your dog on a leash!” He looks at me and still doesn’t say anything.

What if the dog had jumped on me? What if it had bitten a chunk out of my head? What if it attacks a little kid the next time he takes it out for a walk? Would he be sorry then?

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against dogs. I like dogs. But I hate irresponsible dog owners. I don’t own a dog but if I did, I wouldn’t think it would be too much trouble to put it on a damn leash!

Stupid people make me irritable. And there’s been a lot of stupidity in the world lately. Those Mounties should not have been killed. The guy in Toronto who threw his 5-year-old daughter onto the highway before killing himself made me angry. And the Italian guy who was killed by U.S. forces in Iraq after he helped free an Italian journalist who had been held hostage? Completely unfair.

I just don’t get it.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

An exciting story for old people or people with a foot fetish

Friday evening

The phone rang at exactly 6 p.m. I was in the kitchen, trying to decide what to make for dinner. Pasta or chicken? Pasta and chicken? I don’t normally answer the phone, but something compelled me to pick it up.

"Do you still need my help?" he asked. "I have an opening at 11:30 tomorrow morning."

Finally a real conversation with the man I’d been playing phone tag with for two weeks! I did a little victory dance.

"Yup. That works for me. See you then."

I hung up the phone feeling as giddy as if George Stroumboulopoulos had called to ask me out. No, this was way more exciting. I had a date with a podiatrist!

Not to get into too much detail, but I have a painful condition called Morton’s neuroma, which is an inflamed nerve between the third and fourth toe. I got it after months of cycling in too small shoes. The nerve was repeatedly being pinched until it swelled up and stayed that way. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me; other times it feels like a hot knife is being jabbed into the ball of my foot.

I diagnosed myself last summer after consulting my collection of medical reference books (a staple on every good hypochondriac’s bookshelf). None of the suggested treatments -- bigger shoes, ice, an addiction to painkillers -- worked.

Admitting that it just wasn’t going to go away on its own, I called a podiatrist. My friend Leandro, a nurse, offered his support, "Why are you going to a podiatrist? I’ve never heard of anyone under the age of 70 going to a podiatrist."

Old or not, I realized my feet were in no condition to be fondled by a strange man. I clipped my nails, painted my toes hot pink, and slathered my feet in moisturizer. I mean, you brush your teeth before going to the dentist, right? And what if the podiatrist turned out to be hot?

The next day

After scrubbing my feet raw, I pulled on a pair of clean socks and laced up my old-school adidas sneakers. I figured showing up in sensible shoes would earn me some bonus points.

I shouldn’t have bothered. After asking a few questions and digging his fingers into the ball of my foot, the podiatrist told me he couldn’t help me.

"You have a neuroma," he said. "That’s not my specialty."

Excuse me? What exactly was his specialty then? Clipping toenails and sanding calluses? I wore clean socks for this?

He gave me the phone number of another doctor, a sports podiatrist.

"He’s young and specializes in sports injuries. I think you’ll really like him."

I swear, the way he said it made it sound like the other doctor was cute and available. I’m going to set up an appointment first thing Monday morning.

Wait a minute! It’s Sunday evening already? Going to the podiatrist was the highlight of my weekend? And I wrote about it? I am officially old.

Friday, March 04, 2005

This blog is a whine-free zone, starting now

I’ve never thought of myself as a whiny person. I hate whiners. So I was a little shocked when a friend told me to quit whining about being single the other day.

“Look,” he said. “Even the people who read your blog tell you to stop whining whenever you write about your love life. Seriously, it’s not attractive.”

Ouch. Pretty harsh words. I don’t think I’m that whiny about my non-existent love life but looking back at some of my posts -- and the comments they generated -- I guess he has a point.

So, as of right now, I promise to never again write about the lame guys in Vancouver and how hard it is to get a quality date here (did that sound whiny?). I am waving the white flag high above my head. I surrender.

No more complaining. I’m happy and healthy and fit. I have an awesome family and wonderful friends. I’m educated and smart. I have a great career and hobbies that I’m passionate about. But I’d still like to meet Mr. Right. And if I don’t, well, you’ll never have to hear me whine about it in this space again!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Confessions of a Canadian Idol reject

People in Vancouver take karaoke very seriously. This isn’t the kind of place where you get shit-faced and make an ass of yourself singing cheesy power ballads off-key while your friends laugh hysterically.

In Vancouver, you don’t do karaoke unless you’ve practiced at home in front of the mirror for three months. And if you show up without perfect tone, pitch and key, you won’t be allowed up on stage more than once.

Your friends may be howling while you screech through a Celine Dion number, but no one else is. Applause is reserved for good singers.

I know this from first-hand experience. I’m not a good singer. Not even close. A teacher in grade school once told me I was tone deaf after hearing me sing O Canada. Luckily, I have no shame and don’t embarrass easily.

My friend Carl thought it would be fun to celebrate my birthday yesterday at a gay nightclub, which was hosting a karaoke night. I assumed it would be full of people singing ABBA and campy tunes. You know, the kind of place where you get shit-faced and make an ass of yourself singing off-key power ballads while your friends laugh hysterically.

Wrong. The only thing separating gay karaoke from regular karaoke was the pink sequined curtain framing the stage, and the fact that most of the earnest Canadian Idol wannabes were gay.

The good singers were invited up on stage over and over again. Like the DJ and his friend, who kept bumping the bad singers to the back of the line while they sang bad slow songs. Mostly Christian country songs about the bible and crosses on the side of the road. It was hard to tell if they were being ironic.

They let me up on stage twice. The first time I sang Elton John’s "Tiny Dancer," which was a strategic choice because it’s one of those songs that sounds better when you yell instead of sing. "HOLD ME CLOSER TINY DANCER." See what I mean?

The second time I tackled a more challenging number, Kylie Minogue’s "Can’t get you out of my head." I was not allowed back on the stage after that. So I figured if I wasn’t allowed to sing, then I was going to dance. The funny thing is, once I hit the dance floor, so did everyone else. It became a lot more fun after that.

And who says a gay bar isn’t a good place to meet men? One guy pulled me aside to tell me he thought I was "gorgeous." Okay, so he was blind drunk and with his boyfriend. It was still nice to be on the receiving end of a compliment. Especially on my birthday, bad voice and all.