Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Happy birthday . . . to me!

I am 32 years old today. That makes me a Pisces. According to the world's top astrology website, a typical Pisces is:

Sexy and fun
Intelligent and quick-witted
Adventurous and athletic
Wicked and awesome

Wow! That is ridiculously accurate. You'd almost think I made it up. (Okay, I totally made it up.)

Anyway, I don't really have any deep thoughts on turning 32. I feel like I'm supposed to feel like I feel old. But I don't.

I feel unusually optimistic about the year ahead. Exotic travel, an exciting career change, a passionate love affair. Who knows? I honestly feel like the possibilities are limitless right now and I guess that's a pretty good way to feel on your birthday.

Or as my dad so eloquently put it, "Thirty-two and still lots to do!"

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Quotation of the week

"I'm not the sharpest political knife in the drawer."

David Emerson finally says what we've all been thinking (source: Vancouver Sun).

Observation of the week

What's with the Olympic medals this year? Were they designed by Flavor Flav? The athletes look like they're wearing cheap CDs around their necks. Worst medals ever!

Monday, February 20, 2006

The man version of 'My Humps'

It's not very often that a pop culture reference flies right over my head. But I heard a song on the radio this weekend that left me baffled.

The song in question is called 'Grillz' and it's sung by Nelly. The chorus, which features back-and-forth banter between a woman and a man, goes like this:

Smile fo me daddy
(What you lookin at)
Let me see ya grill
(Let me see my what)
Ya, ya grill ya, ya, ya grill
(Rob da jewelry store and tell em make me a grill)
Smile fo me daddy
(What you lookin at)
I want to see your grill
(You wanna see my what)
Ya, ya grill ya, ya, ya grill

So, I’m listening to this, thinking, "Hmmm. What's a grill? This woman is obviously very interested in seeing it. It must be some sort of newfangled gangsta euphemism for his cock." Then I started thinking, "I wonder why he's calling it a grill? Is it because rappers like big cars and a big dick is like a big grill on a big car?"

I decided to ask my boss since he fancies himself to be something of a pop culture expert (even though he's really not):

Me: Hey. Have you heard that new Nelly song 'Grillz'?

Him: Yeah.

Me: What's a grill?

Him: Uh. It's a removable teeth covering. It's like a retainer but it's all gold-plated and covered with diamonds and studs. It's a gangster thing.

Me: Oh. I thought he was singing about his cock.

Him: What?

Me: You know, like that song 'My Humps' which is all about her breasts and her ass but she calls them humps and lumps because obviously you can't sing “My ass, my ass, my lovely lady ass.” So I thought 'Grillz' was sort of a man version of that song.

Him: Get out of my office. I’m busy.

Our brief conversation only raised more questions than it answered. Why would someone want gold teeth? Are there women who actually find this attractive? And what would inspire someone to write a song about cosmetic dental devices anyway?

So I decided to look up the lyrics:

My teeth gleaming like im chewin on aluminum foil
Smilein showin off my diamonds sippin on some potin oil
I put my money where my mouth is and bought a grill
20 carrots 30 stacks let em know im so fo real
My motivation is from 30 pointers V VS the furniture my mouth
piece simply symbolize success
I got da wrist wear and neck wear dats captivatin
But its my smile dats got these on-lookers spectatin
My mouth piece simply certified a total package
Open up my mouth and you see mo carrots than a salad
My teeth are mind blowin givin everybody chillz

Okay. I get it now. A mouth full of bling is to show people that you're rich. I especially like the line "Open up my mouth and you see mo carrots than a salad." I think that's supposed to turn the ladies on but all it does is make me visualize a big wad of chewed up carrots and lettuce inside Nelly's mouth.

I liked the song better when I thought it was about man humps.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bike love

I don't just love my bike. I am in love with my bike. Seriously. I would marry it if I could. We could register at a bike shop and fill the gift list with things like tires and water bottles and cute little spandex outfits. We could spend our honeymoon cycling through France and live happily ever after until rust do us part.

My bike is the closest thing I have to a boyfriend these days. We even sleep together. Not in the same bed (that would be greasy and awkward). But I keep my bike in my bedroom. It's the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I see before I fall asleep at night.

But I've been neglecting my bike lately. Spiders were spinning cobwebs between the spokes. It had been a long time since our relationship was filled with passion and excitement. So when the Weather Network predicted perfect conditions yesterday -- blue skies, warm sunshine, dry roads -- I called up my friend Donna and said, "Let's ride!"

It had been almost four months since I'd gone on a real bike ride (cycling to work on my commuter bike doesn't count because it's only five kilometres and I ride slow enough to avoid working up a sweat).

Saturday's ride was amazing. I haven't experienced such ecstasy on the seat of a bicycle since our ride up Mount Baker last year when I wrote, "I realized this -- the open road, the stunning mountains, a day spent with friends -- was pretty close to bliss."

Have I mentioned how much I love my bike? Sometimes, when I'm riding it, it's hard to know where I end and the bike begins. It's that smooth. Changing gears is like slicing a hot knife through soft butter. The frame absorbs every bump on the road. My other bike is so harsh it feels like my teeth are about to rattle right out of their sockets.

We ended up riding 100 kilometres yesterday (well, technically we rode 98 km but I circled the block when I got home until the number on my odometer clicked to 100 km. Yes, I am obsessive like that.). The weird thing is that I felt great the entire ride. I remember looking down at my odometer at 90 kilometres and thinking, "Shouldn't I be tired by now?" But I wasn't. I didn't even have any discomfort in the [ahem] crotch region.

It was a perfect day, filled with all of those little things that mark the start of spring. The smell of coconut-scented sunblock mixed with salty ocean air. The dappled shade created by the blossoming cherry trees. The touch of warm sun on bare skin.

It doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bring it on, bitch!

That's it. The gloves are off. David Emerson is going down.

What provoked this new bout of outrage? The fact that he is now calling people who criticized his defection to the Tories nothing more than "partisan zealots."

Could he be any more insulting? What an arrogant jerk. It was bad enough he switched parties two weeks after the election. Now he's spinning around and giving his constituents the finger.

These are not partisan zealots. These are people who feel betrayed because they voted for someone they thought would stand up for the values and beliefs he campaigned on as a Liberal.

I've added my name to the online petition calling on Emerson to resign and run in a by-election. (My signature is number 16,143.)

If David Emerson really wants to do what's best for his riding, he should let the voters decide. That is not partisan zealotry. That is democracy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Crappy Valentine's Day

I'm not having a very sexy Valentine's Day. I woke up this morning with a cold or the flu or something. Nothing serious but I felt feverish enough to take the day off work and mope around the apartment in my pajamas.

It sucks being sick but it really sucks being sick on a day when there's nothing on television but a sea of red hearts and pink flowers and happy couples. I tried watching the news but even that was filled with stories about how busy the local florists were today.

So I ended up tuning into the Olympics just to get away from all of the schmoopy, schmaltzy shit. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for romance. But Valentine's Day is the antithesis of romance. There's nothing fun about forced fun.

Still, as much as I love to hate Valentine's Day, I was secretly thrilled when I opened my mailbox this afternoon to find a pink envelope covered with hand-drawn hearts in red pencil crayon. Stuffed inside the envelope was a lovely note along with a mixed CD from my new favourite sister (thanks, Anne!).

It was a nice reminder that Valentine's Day isn't just for couples. And that the smallest gestures are the sweetest.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Alcohol: A performance enhancing drug?

I don't get it. I spent months meticulously training for Nationals last year. I swam five times a week. I slept well. I ate well. I barely touched a drop of alcohol. I did more push-ups, chin-ups and sit-ups than the Canadian Army.

It turns out it was all for nothing. I swam at a meet at UBC today and went faster than I did at Nationals. Let me put that into perspective. I swam faster today with minimal training, with almost no preparation and with little sleep. I had a hangover and I still swam faster. And I swam really fast at Nationals.

Ironically, the only reason I was out drinking last night was because I was convinced I was so out of shape and would do so badly at the swim meet that I needed an excuse to explain my poor performance. Self-sabotage at its finest. If I tanked, I would just blame the alcohol. Who knew a hangover would actually enhance my performance?

Even my coach was surprised (and a little suspicious).

"You're on fire today. What have you been doing?"

I didn't know what to tell her. Skipping swim practice? Sleeping-in on the weekends and parking my butt on the couch for the rest of the afternoon? Going out drinking with my friends?

"I had four glasses of wine last night," I said.

To which she replied, "You should drink more often."

I think that may be the best advice a coach has ever given me.

Actually, the real reason I did well today was because I had no expectations. I was convinced I was so out of shape that the meet would be a write-off. There was no self-created pressure, no anxiety, no butterflies. I was completely relaxed. So I just swam without fear. And did really well despite my fitness level.

Which proves my greatest enemy is my mind. The harder I’ve trained, the more my deep, hidden fear of failure rises to the surface. I may have been in top shape physically at Nationals but I was a mess mentally. I was consumed with negative thoughts and self-doubt. I was terrified of the agonizing pain I was about to put myself through. I am the poster child for choking under pressure.

I need to figure out how to control my thoughts and emotions when I'm racing. Maybe I should get drunk more often.

My results from today's meet (rankings in the female 30-34 age group):
- 50-metre freestyle: 31.66, 1st place
- 50-metre butterfly: 35.94, 1st place
- 100-metre freestyle: 1:08.81, 1st place
- 400-metre freestyle: 5:29.47, 5th place

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ouch! My eyes!

I don't want to sound too smug or anything but it was 15 degrees and sunny in Vancouver today. Instead of telling you how gorgeous it was, I thought I'd show you by posting a few pictures I took while I was out riding my bike today.

Lost lagoon just before sunset. The trees were an amazing shade of orange. I love the way they were reflected so perfectly in the water.

Same lagoon, different view. I know you're not supposed to shoot directly into the sun, but I like the way it softens the image and blurs the detail.
I took this shot of English Bay while cycling across the Burrard Bridge. I ride across the bridge to get to work and back every day but I rarely stop to admire the view.

Random boats in Coal Harbour. Boats make me seasick but they're nice to look at.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thoughts on the Olympic Winter Games

I just can't get excited about the Winter Olympics.

Hockey, curling, bobsledding, speed skating. It's all a bit of a snoozefest. Too much ice, not enough speedos.

I've always thought of the Winter Games as the poor cousin of the Summer Games.

Swimming, triathlon, track & field, the marathon, cycling. These are sports that make my pulse race.

I will stay up all hours of the night obsessively following the Summer Games. I will track Ian Thorpe's every race, cheer on my boyfriend Jan Ullrich and bite my nails until they bleed during the triathlon. But when it comes to the Winter Games, I'll only tune in if there's nothing else on.

I don't mean any disrespect to the athletes who will be competing in Turin over the next two weeks. I fully appreciate how much hard work, sacrifice, discipline, fortitude and talent it takes to get to that level. But pouring all that effort into a sport like hockey or curling is beyond me.

So, go Canada. Or don't.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Breathtaking hypocrisy

This is exactly why people are so cynical about politics.

If it was wrong for Belinda Stronach to cross the floor to become a Liberal cabinet minister, then it's wrong for David Emerson to cross the floor to become a Conservative cabinet minister. Stephen Harper can't have it both ways.

Allowing Emerson to jump ship and sit as a Conservative flies in the face of Harper's own policies. Exactly one month after Stronach's defection, the Tories tabled a private member's bill that would force a by-election within 35 days if an MP switched parties. The MP would also have to sit as an Independent until the by-election.

Emerson should resign and run in a by-election. But he won't. And Harper won't make him. Because this is how politics works -- say one thing and do another.

If Belinda Stronach was a traitor who "prostituted" herself for a cabinet post, then so is David Emerson. No, Emerson is worse. He's a fraud.

It's hard to believe Emerson is the same guy who campaigned so passionately against a Harper government. Emerson was quoted as saying the Conservative party is made up of "angry" and "heartless" people who are hostile to Liberal social programs and immigrants. On election night, Emerson vowed to be "Stephen Harper’s worst enemy." Now they’re best friends.

Emerson's defection just two weeks after the election is a slap in the face to everyone in Vancouver Kingsway who voted for him.

And while we're on the topic of hypocrites, here's what Harper said when Stronach defected to the Liberals last year:

"We don't go out of our way to romance MPs to get them to cross the floor. Liberals will do anything to win. We are trying to create a principled party where people act in a principled way, and obviously we're fairly cautious about encouraging party jumping, because that's the kind of thing that generates cynicism."

So much for principles, ethics and integrity.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Just when you think it's never going to stop raining, you wake up one morning and pow! Vancouver is all blue skies and sunshine and snow-capped mountains and sparkling ocean. And you suddenly forget that it ever rains here at all.

You're so dazzled by the sheer beauty of it all that thoughts of leaving the city evaporate faster than a shallow puddle on a hot sidewalk.

A day like today almost makes the rain seem worth it.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Make it stop

It's raining. Again.

I know, I know. It's Vancouver, it's supposed to rain. But this is different. This is epic. It's been dark, windy, wet and miserable for more than a month.

I have lived here for six years and it has never rained like this. Even people who were born and raised here are saying the same thing.

We had a record-breaking 29 days of rain in January and February isn't looking much better. It just pours and pours for hours and hours. Heavy, pounding, wind-whipped rain that never stops.

I think it's finally starting to wear me down. I'm getting tired of the never-ending sogginess. I don't own a car so there's no escaping the elements. I am soaked by the time I get to work in the morning and I am drenched when I get home at night. My apartment is constantly filled with wet clothes left hanging to dry. I can't seem to find an umbrella that doesn't flip inside out with the slightest gust of wind. And my bike is starting to rust.

It's not the lack of sunshine I mind. I kind of like dark, overcast days. As long as it's dark, overcast and dry. And while I've enjoyed sitting in my apartment listening to depressing music, sipping Scotch and reading novels about longing and loneliness while the rain beats against the windows, I think cabin fever is finally setting in.

Make it stop.