Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Booger Blues

I am a klutz. I trip over nothing. I spill red wine every time I have a glass. I lean against walls that are not there and then fall into my bathroom. So why am I surprised when the Engineer starts kissing me, which is lovely because we have been dating for a while now and passion isn't our forte at the moment, that I feel a tickle at my nose. His chin hair? No, he's Chinese. He has no facial hair.

I had a booger hanging out of my nose. A booger hanging out of my nose! GAH! A year ago I would have died of shame, now I just brush it away and reach for a kleenex. And he still is willing to kiss me.

Which I guess is what is supposed to happen when you really love someone. We have fallen into the comfort zone of true love. No more are the days of butterflies and secret emails that make your day. Now the only emails say, "pick up milk on your way home", and butterflies have turned into farts and boogers in the nose. How could I have let this happen? I was such a sweet dainty female before. Now I wash my face and put on those old flannels before bed.

I can't make-out after dinner because I am bloated. Cramps rule my life a week out of each month. And no longer do I wear cute little outfits around my house, rather a baggy pair of yoga pants and my sports bra.

On one level, I feel terrible and sad that I am letting myself go. On the other I am happy that I am so comfortable around the Engineer that if I have the stomach flu I no longer run to the Starbucks downstairs.

But maybe tonight, I will forgo the cotton PJ's for my silky ones. And I'll blow my nose

Friday, February 15, 2008

V-day a year later

It has been a year since I wrote the previous article which may touch the hearts of some newly-not-single-girls but I for one am singing a different tune.

I was excited for Valentine’s Day last year because I finally had a boyfriend with whom to share it with. Ummmm, then we actually celebrated Valentine’s Day. What the heck? It’s the same day as all the rest!

Maybe I’m a really lucky girl. Maybe the Engineer is just so swell that we have fantastic dates all the time and don’t need a day of the year to shower our love on one another. Now that I am a not-so-newly-not-single-girl I stand by my original statement (made when I was single) that Valentine’s Day really is a stupid materialistic day made up by Hallmark. Unfortunately, you have to be not single to actually believe it.

Don’t get me wrong: I am completely using it as an excuse to get the Engineer to take me to my favorite Italian restaurant and drink gobs of wine. I will also use it as an excuse to eat chocolate covered marshmallows. And I can’t tell a lie; I did get a cheesy gift for the Engineer involving photos and reasons why I love him. But it stops there.

You can’t force a feeling on a certain day. Take last year. The night before Valentine’s, the Engineer and I went for surprise tapas (the dinner out being spontaneous not the actual tapas being surprising) and canoodled mushily in the corner. We kissed and held hands and gazed wonderingly in each other’s eyes. Ick. Then Valentine’s Day rolls around, I go all out and make this crazy elaborate dinner but feel too sick to eat it. The Engineer is tired from work. The canoodle factor was just not there.

So to the girls who are single and hate Valentine’s Day – take if from a proud ex-singleton: it really is just a stupid holiday. Go get a box of chocolate, a bottle of wine and watch The Tudors or Rome. Either of those is better than any date ☺

Oh and by the way, this year I would actually like to join my good girl friends for a ‘boyfriends are out of town’ Valentine’s dinner but it hurt the Engineer’s feelings.

Valentine's Day and the newly-not-single gal

I wrote this piece last Valentine's Day and I found it was so interesting and wrong. Check it out and then read my next entry for what I have to say about that:

Like many people in this world, Valentine’s Day is the bane of my existence. Funny how, when the big day arrives, it seems as though the whole world is in love.

For years, a loved one on the 14th of February eluded me. Back in my semi-awkward high school days, the stupid dollar ‘candy grams’ would arrive for everyone—everyone, that is, except me. There was one brief boyfriend year at seventeen. I think all we did was have dinner and make-out in his dad’s office. There was a brief interlude of a boyfriend at twenty but we had a ‘convenient’ break over the month of February. At University, the Greek Society (yup, that’s right, I’m an ex-sorority girl, get your jokes out now) organized rose and balloon bouquets. I never got one. One year my ex-cheater-of-a-boyfriend sent me a lame ‘Hello Kitty’ e-Valentine because he knew, and I quote, “I would be lonely” (don’t worry, I got great revenge! The content of another article methinks.) Another, I got hammered at a university bar with my other single girlfriends. I worked at a restaurant for one, serving couples who I hope are now divorced. And last year, I declined an actual date to eat sushi with my pregnant friend’s visiting husband and my best non-boyfriend boyfriend, an engineer. We ended up at a gay club and my on-again-off-again long-distance boyfriend called me while I was in the unisex bathroom. Tres romantique.

And it isn’t as if I smell of garlic cloves and past-due-date pate, or look like I’ve been hit with a hammer. I’m cute, fun and smart. In fact, I might go as far to say that I am a catch. That’s right: adorable, funny, and downright lovable! But like many a gal, I’ve been casting pearls before swine (well, that is what my therapist told me).

So this year rolls around and things are different. Suddenly Valentine’s Day is actually kind of a thrill. No pretending to ‘hate’ the holiday because of it’s ‘materialistic and hallmark contrived’ essence (seriously girls, you are kidding yourselves if you don’t care. When you see those smug couples canoodling over their chocolate mousse I know you want to poke their happy little faces with sticks and replace them with pictures of you in love bliss.) Oooops, bitter Betty tangent there, she still comes out from time to time. But honestly, I used to pretend to hate this day. I used to pretend it meant nothing. But it did. Every year it arrived reminded me that I was a single girl living in a couple-crazy city. And let me just say this: for the most part I loved being single. I loved having the freedom to be who I wanted to be and do what I wanted to do. I just hated when the day arrived, that’s all.

So you may wonder why this year is different? I’ll give you three guesses. Got it in one! I’m not single anymore. Nope, I have a man. A real live man who I enjoy being with and seeing all the time. The best part is that he doesn’t make me want to puke when he holds my hand! Honestly, if you knew me, you would understand. Remember that best non-boyfriend boyfriend of last year’s sushi-and-gay-bar fame? Well, I turned him into an actual boyfriend. Hooray! After being friends for over a year and a half, our eyes finally opened to the fact we were crazy for each other. He’s my Engineer ☺

But I digress. Back to Valentine’s Day. I still feel the holiday is a Hallmark sellout but heck, this year, I’ll sell out! The thing is, I am so excited I have someone I actually want to be romantic and gooey with, I have become a micro-manager. I don’t trust anyone to plan nearly as well as I, so naturally I have taken on the role of Master Planner. Poor boy, he doesn’t stand a chance. I have a dinner planned with a theme, my lighting choice, dessert ideas, and several clothing options: basically the works. No going out on the town; I want to make this night special. But for whom? And then I realized: I am making this night special for me. This year this holiday is for me.

It isn’t as if I have sold out on that single girl I once was. No, I remember her well. I remember her happiness and her sadness. I know how lonely and how elated she has been. I know t she has sacrificed so much to be where she is and she has worked hard up to this point. I know when all her friends around her settled down and got married, she stuck it out on her own. That girl heard comments from her family every year at Christmas. She had three cookbooks on cooking for the single girl. She found out who she was; she traveled around the world; she kissed lots of frogs. So this year, that single girl is hanging up her stilettos for some comfy slippers. She is closing an incredible chapter of her life and opening a new one where she looks at someone with so much love it hurts. The single girl is saying hello to something new and amazing: a new chapter of her life.

Therefore, on February 14th, I will raise a glass of pink champagne (that’s right, pink is my theme. Don’t sue me for originality) to the single girl I was proud to be and the girlfriend I have now become.

You gotta love being multicultural!

I was at the funeral of the Engineer's uncle yesterday, which is an unfortunate way to spend Valentine's Day. But I found it was a day of wonderful enlightenments.

Firstly, I love the fact that I live in a nation where on Chinese New Year, the parade welcomes all walks of life. Where old Chinese men and old anglo-saxon men walk side by side banging on the same drum. That here in rainy city you can walk into a bakery with a Scottish name (Angus) that bakes the most amazing Northern Europe pastries and is run by a tiny couple from Vietnam.

Yesterday, the service was held at a Catholic Church with mass held by an East Indian priest for a Chinese family. I love it. He talked about Jesus and Elvis in the same speech, I really loved it. And listening to him talk about faith in Jesus and God, I couldn't help but wonder: are all religions really the same? I am a Buddhist so I believe in karma, reincarnation and self as the ultimate 'god' or 'buddha'. This priest was talking about simply listening to Jesus and 'believing' - having faith. Don't worry about how or what or where or why. Just believe. Well shiver me timbers, as a Buddhist that is exactly what I chant for: faith. Just knowing and believing. Then he started talking about resurrection. He kept asking if we believe in resurrection. No one said a thing. He asked again. Still no reaction. Until finally he looked at me and said 'SAY YES!'. Well I thought it would in bad taste at a funeral to raise my hand and say, "Actually, I think you'll find that I believe in reincarnation but if you look at both words and what they mean, aren't they the same? Isn't reincarnation about resurrecting the soul in a new life?". I don't know if the priest would have agreed with me but I feel happy believing that is true.

Plus he used bells and incense. I use bells and incense! And we ring our bells three times. Why is it three? WHY?

In a world where we fight wars over religion, vote in horrible presidents because he's on the same side as God, and persecute innocent people based on their faith, when is it time to practice what we preach? Why can't we just shut up and listen to what our own god is saying to us. That fundamentally, no matter how you pray or where you pray, or what you believe, fundamentally we are all believing in the same thing: faith.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Big Fat Chinese Relationship

The Greeks have big families. The Italians have big families. And then there are the Chinese. Did you know that before the whole "only one child' law of China the average number of children per Chinese family was in the teens? THE TEENS? GAH! I come from British stock. British are definitely not known for their breeding.

So when a British-esque girl meets a Chinese boy and starts to bring two families together, she is in for a shock. The Engineer has a big family. And i mean BIG. His father has ten/eleven siblings (I always forget) and his mother has 8 siblings. They all have kids (some of which have kids). But not only are they a big bunch, but there are a few crazy things to add to the confusion. One: three of the father's siblings are married to the mother's siblings. This makes for three sets of double cousins. Two: they all have two names. They talk to each other using their Chinese names. They introduce themselves to me with their English names. And some of them have nicknames on top of that! Or are referred to in Chinese as 'big sister' 'little brother'. Three: they all look the same. I know I know, it is a terrible thing to say but it is true! Apparently they all share the same "Liu" nose. Great, they even admit they all have the same nose. No wonder I get confused.

The Engineer drew a chart for me when we first started dating, but only of his mother's side. A chart. He DREW A CHART OF HIS FAMILY. Complete with fun facts like: So-and-so likes to knit and wears a bow-tie, So-and-so went to Oxford Med School on full scholarship. My family is tiny. Teeny tiny small. Now that cousin's are married and having kids we are obviously growing. But growing up I had two boy cousins on each side. My parents each have two siblings. We are nothing if symmetrical in breeding.

I have been introduced ever so slowly into this Chinese clan. First some cousins, then his parents, and finally, a year into our relationship, I attend my first Chinese restaurant banquet meal for a birthday celebration. Obviously I am nervous - not only am I meeting the family, but I am the Engineer's first serious girlfriend so everyone is curious. I also happen to be tall, blonde and an actress. Not a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer - the Chinese preferred occupations - but an actress. I am a sore wart on a sore thumb.

So I am standing there, waiting to be seated when everyone arrives at the same time. Suddenly I am flocked by fifteen teeny tiny smiling Chinese ladies who all look the same introducing themselves. All through dinner they look over and smile. I catch one staring. I wonder if I have boogers hanging out of my nose.

Unfortunately, one of the siblings passed away last week and this week we are having his funeral. I was just told about an hour ago that i get to meet the rest of the family now. WHAT? That wasn't them last time? Oh no, those were extensions upon extensions. Nope, I get the meet the rest of the MOTHER'S family this week. Not even the FATHER'S side yet. GAH!

This is why eloping is such a great option. My family is perfect to come to a wedding, they fit in a closet for crying out loud. But the Engineer's family triples the guest list.

Oh and by the way, I'm making a cheat sheet :)

Gung Hoy Fat Choi or Kung Hoi Fat Choy or however you want to spell it

Welcome to 2008: the year of the Rat.

I am glad I am not a rat, not that the rat doesn't have wonderful qualities (one hopes in the Chinese view of astrology anyway) but I really can't stand rats. They are horrible little rodents with a freaky tail and the ability to send chills up my spine and send me screaming. I am a sheep. It is nice being a sheep because everyone likes a sheep. They are cute, fluffy and they make lovely sweaters.

I love Chinese New Year. I don't know why really, I am not Chinese. The Engineer is Chinese though, but I am more akin to all things Asian than he will ever be. Plus I live on the border of China town here in rainy city. So in the first week of February, all the little Chinese ladies in my building are all a twitter with excitement and can't believe it when I say 'Gung hoy fat choi". The parade is my particular favorite. My parents were in town so we all bundled up, grabbed some spectacular steam buns and prepared to watch the parade.

I love how everyone is in this parade. And I mean EVERYONE. Kids, their parents, grandparents, old Chinese men beating drums, young Chinese girls fan dancing, white kids being the dragon, sullen teens playing the part of the dancing lion/dog. There were representatives from everywhere, including a band of Haida Natives in traditional clothing. Who knew that native Canadians were a part of Chinese new year. But really, how wonderfully Canadian is that? We're all out to celebrate this holiday with no care to the colour of our skin. It choked me up a bit to tell the truth. I love that I live in a place where I could be the Lion/Dog's head if I wanted to be, wether or not I am Chinese. I also saw this family with two white parents and their two adopted Chinese kids, all wearing Chinese clothing. I thought it was so incredibly sweet that cultures are so delicately woven together and celebrated, that it doesn't really matter where you come from or what ethnicity you are, we are all the same.

The Engineer was at home watching TV. Clearly the year of the rat means nothing to him. I plan on dressing our kids up in cute little Chinese clothes to which he has already opposed the idea. But how cute would they be? I really have to put some Chinese into my Chinese Engineer.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

LA: the Land of the Crazy Plastics

I was just in Los Angeles for ten days - enjoying the sun, above seasonal temperatures, and cheap shopping. For the first seven days I was in love. I loved everything about it. Healthy eating was as accessible as botox (which is VERY). Cakes were fat and sugar free but loaded with taste (perhaps LA has some sort of legal magical drug that gives deliciousness to chocolate cupcakes?). And even the gym offered an array of exciting classes that had me going twice a day (Hello? Recess class? How can Red Rover NOT be a fun aerobic activity?).

But on the eight day my love affair started to wane. Firstly, the traffic. THE TRAFFIC!!??? GAH! When you are stopped bumper to bumper on a TEN-lane freeway you know something is wrong. When it takes you nearly an hour to get to a place that should only take fifteen, you may want to shoot yourself. And the worst of the worst is that all I had was BAD LA RADIO playing in my car. It made my ears bleed, I swear.

Secondly, the people and the icky way they make you feel. Everyone in LA stares at everyone else. They are sizing you up, or trying to see if you are someone, or comparing their blonde highlights to your blonde highlights. And a slim (athletic! Average!) Canadian girl can't help but feel like a big fat moose when she works out at an LA gym. The classes were full of stick-figured-bobble-heads. You know the type: the girls who diet SO much that their heads end up looking ridiculously huge on their emancipated bodies. Icksville. Get these girls some Sprinkles Cupcakes STAT! There was also a large number of altered bodies that made me stare long and hard at them; trying to figure out why they resembled aliens. Until I realized it was a facelift/botox/lipinjection job. One woman must have been only 34 but looked like she was 68 trying to be 34. Her horribly pulled back eyes that could barely blink and her bizarrely large lips that resembled a ducks bill made me do a funny repulsed action with my body. Luckily we were in step class so I could blame my reaction on a missed move.

The gym was full of these weirdo LA-ites. Talking on their cell phones during yoga, wearing sunglasses on the pilates machine, and paying trainers to literally move their limbs for them.

I was quite happy to land back in rainy city where it may have been rainy but at least the lips were real and the chocolate cupcakes full of fat and sugar.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Tale of a Deranged non-bride planner

This blog should not be called 'The Bridesmaid Diaries' but the 'Diaries of a Deranged non-Bride' as I have become this alter-ego version of myself I have mentioned before that I really like to visualize things in my future, including my non-existent wedding, and how I couldn't decide between a barn wedding or a Paris theme wedding (or so I think - see? I've already forgotten!).

The Engineer and I are getting close to our nuptials. Well sort of. The Engineer is going to be going back for his MBA and move away from this rainy city. If he wants me to go (which he does) I may or may not have given him an ultimatum. Not a terribly mean ultimatum but a fair one: I will most certainly consider dropping my career in rainy city and galavant with him across the globe IF there is a sizable commitment from him in the form of a Tiffany's Legacy collection pink sapphire ring, or something like it.

The Engineer is fine with this all but the problem has become ME. The Engineer likes to make decisions on his own sweet time (and let me tell you, sometimes deciding between sushi or thai can take upwards of six hours). So a decision that is slightly bigger, let's say getting married for example, will take him a fair whack of time. And if I don't bug him he will come to the conclusion I want sooner than later. Unfortunately for me I am like a chinese water torture device - or so my mother tells me. I just can't drop something once I want it. I'll mention anything from cupcakes to a good book to a wedding in Disneyworld everyday about 12 times a day. It is a terrible terrible habit.

So I have tried NOT to talk to the Engineer about the 'M' word even though he is getting into all these schools and we have to choose between two major cities. And so far I am failing miserable.

We had an argument the other day about what 'elopement' means to the both of us (he is cool with eloping in our city, whereas I think eloping must be somewhere magical and exotic, not the city hall). Then we argued about who to invite (I say no to most family, mostly HIS family because there are so many of them). Then we argued about how many bridesmaids I could have (seeing as I have done it several times my number is quite high).

Behind his back I have been secretly planning several types of weddings so I can just book the day when he pops the question. And I may have asked some girls to be my bridesmaid already. And I may have discussed the locale and money with my mother already. Sheesh, even I would run for the hills if I was dating me. I am now on the elopement wagon - in either Italy or Greece. But as the Engineer points out: without a big wedding there will be no gifts and we are both owed BIG time. Ummm, not to sound greedy or anything. Whoops.

Okay, now to find that perfect pink wedding dress . . . . .

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Return

I have been terribly terribly naughty in my whole 'write more blog entries' resolution. GAH! I was on holidays - and being on a cruise I was far away from internet and my brain was full of martini goodness - but that was only a week. And then I was in the world of Los Angeles which deserves an entire blog of its own (I am pretty sure there are several). But enough about that. I am back now.

The reason I was on a cruise to Mexico was . . . . . are you ready for it? Can you guess what I could possibly have been doing? Can you? Can you? That's right! A wedding! This time I was not a bridesmaid but merely a pleb attendee. And they weren't even my friends - it was the Engineer's friend's wedding.

I have to admit that the destination wedding is my new favorite du jour. I had an excuse to leave rainy Vancouver for nearly three weeks of sun and warmth and go on my very first real vacation with the Engineer. My first vacation with a boyfriend, ever. And being at a destination for a wedding takes the boring out of what is usually a cookie-cutter format. This time there was sand, sun and adorable parasols the bride thoughtfully provided for the melting guests. We watched the sun set behind the waves and palm trees. We ate and drank under a tropical sky. And I said that if the Dj played 'Hot Hot Hot' that I would jump in the pool. So I asked him to play 'Hot Hot Hot'.

I am all over the destination wedding. Even though there was the same format of: ceremony, photos, cocktails, dinner, speeches, cake, first dance, and garter/bouquet toss, this one included private fireworks (hello! I nearly freaked out. Oh wait. I did) and a tropical oasis. So even though the cookie-cutter format was in place we were happily distracted with endless pina coladas and a mariachi band.

To to that end, I am back and Ole about weddings again!

Oh, and by the way, I was asked to be a bridesmaid for the eighth time this week. For an old old friend who also happens to be east Indian. I get to wear a saree AND show off my Bollywood moves. Watch out for fun times!