Blue Drinks

When I was a kid the town I grew up in, Westmount, which was nestled in the heart of greater Montreal, was dry. Dry, white and English. The perfect cocktail to breed future drinkers. (Me).

To get liquor, a near daily excursion in my household, you had to cross over into the next town, which luckily for my parents, was three blocks over. There sat, if I remember correctly, an unmarked building, whose storefront led onto an empty room save for a long counter behind which worked an army of dour-faced men with bulbous noses wearing filthy red jackets. Queuing, in messy lines, those needing a bottle of vin ordinaire or a 5th of scotch, would wait their turn to order. There was no discussion of what wine might match one’s planned meal of lobster bisque or a lousy meatloaf. Red, white, or spirits, all of it was wrapped in brown paper and roughly slid across the counter, the conclusion to a joyless exchange. I will say this for the women of Westmount, they often rose above this province-controlled bleakness by standing about the grim anti-camber, their wrapped prize in hand, chatting away as they caught up on all the gossip. Continue reading “Blue Drinks”

Branded: Housewife!

When we arrived at our new desert home, the powers that be wanted to know who I was before I was issued a residence visa, even though I was merely a secondary concern since it was my husband’s job at a university which had brought us to the other side of the world in the first place.There were many, many, many forms to fill out. Among the questions I was asked was my religion; N/A. My marital status; steady and holding. And my occupation. Here I dutifully wrote in Writer.
I sometimes feel funny stating as my occupation “writer” because while it’s what I do most of the day, I make very little money from it, if any at all in some years. So is it really a job if there’s no renumeration?

Apparently not. Continue reading “Branded: Housewife!”


“No, don’t! He will bite you!” Still hands reach down, down until…

My dog, Hank, a rescue whose early origins are murky at best, has the disposition of a pugilist punk but looks, unfortunately, like Ted, the horny little bear from the fevered mind of Seth MacFarlane, except in Hank’s case he actually has a penis, a huge one at that. Naturally, all this cuteness is irresistible to people, and no matter how emphatically I cry “No!” comes the reach and the inevitable nip. I totally understand. You tell me, “No” and every cell in my body swings towards what is being denied. While this tendency over the years has gotten me in some scrapes and more than a few proverbial nips of my own, I’ve always seen my no to “no” as a blessing and possibly one of my better personality traits. But that might be about to change. Continue reading “NO SAY”

Take Me To Your Lazy Leader.

Recently it was my 55th birthday and amazingly I managed not to cry, sulk, pout, brood, whine, or have a full-blown temper tantrum even though forces around me still insisted we celebrate.

I can’t say I comported myself with the same restraint during the parties of my youth. Every single birthday was a complete nightmare, though, like most children, I waited all year for my big day. The chaos which was the norm of my house seemed to amplify and my mother, who while well meaning, was way out of her depth and tended to retreat into a bottle of vodka while my playmates, without the structure of Pin The Tail On The Donkey, or musical chairs, turned into a pack of wilding ingrates, stealing my gifts, sticking hotdogs up their noses, or, as on my eleventh birthday, make kamikaze raids to take swigs of my mother’s vodka as she fumbled to put the candles on my cake. Naturally, my parties were the highlight of the year. Poor solace for a kid who wanted a mother who knew how to bake a cake that yielded foil wrapped coins and who didn’t feel it necessary to point out that our juvenile jokes, were, well, juvenile. “Really, Patrick, lighting a cow’s fart is hardly Noel Coward.” Continue reading “Take Me To Your Lazy Leader.”

Lies, Lies and more Lies. Will it ever stop? Let’s Hope Not.

It is not unusual to hear actors recount the moment on stage when they first made some-one laugh or cry and that was it, they were hooked, and from that day forward they knew exactly their purpose in life. I had a moment like that too, except, it was the first time I told a lie.

I was six years old standing on a mound of snow in a corner of the schoolyard trying to make clear to my kindergarten mates the difference between half and whole siblings and why, because both my parents had been married before, I had a smattering of both. This was Anglo-Montreal mid-1960’s and what I was telling them was pretty risqué, even so, as I looked into their enthralled faces, I knew I had to take my family story and run riot. I couldn’t be sure, I told them, that there weren’t many more potential half siblings lurking out there, after all, my father, a professional race car driver (he had raced a few races in England, never professionally) had lots of women throwing themselves at him (true, but I couldn’t have known that then) and that he only married my mother because she was famous (she had a column in a newspaper) and because she had threatened to strap me to the hood of his formula one car and abandon me forever rather than be left alone to raise a bastard child.

They are rather crude lies, I will admit, but I see that day as my true birth and the frisson, joy, and freedom of taking a kernel of truth and making it infinitely more interesting has held me in its grips ever since. Unfortunately, for me, there isn’t much of a career to be had in lying unless of course, you are a politician but then everyone knows you’re a liar so where’s the fun in that?

There are those who would say that I lie because I’m insecure, delusional, a boaster, not to be trusted. Yep.

After the Brian Williams story broke, one night lying in bed I began to wonder if I was so far gone, like he appears to be, that I couldn’t tell anymore which parts of my life were real. Is my IQ ridiculously high? If so, why am I such an idiot? Did Mickey Rourke beg me to sleep with him? If so, why didn’t I? Back in the day I slept with everyone, or did I? Did I really get malaria in Africa, or was it something boring like a rumbly tummy? Was I nearly kidnapped by a man on a horse in Turkey? Then I thought, who cares, the story is a good one.

My mind still roving freely my blood suddenly ran cold. Before me loomed my future and a new scary reality: the indisputable truth. With the cloud, surveillance cameras, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, GPS and god knows what other truth-ware stalking us rooting out fibs and fabrications, what chance do us liars have?

I was feeling pretty grim until something occurred to me. Yes, I ceded, there will be some awful truthful years, it might even last long enough to, in the light of history, be given a name like The Boring As Shit Epoch and there will be victims like Brian Williams, good liars who will be vilified and shunned from society. But one day, long mired in truth, we will rebel. The world, we’ll cry, can’t be this flat! So, even with cold hard facts staring us in the face, we won’t believe because the truth isn’t what we humans are all about. We, and we alone are raconteurs, spinners of yarns, rakes, rogues, story-tellers and that is no lie.


My Tucking Days

I’m about to move to Abu Dhabi because my husband, Charles, has landed a great new gig teaching creative non-fiction at NYUAD. I’m not worried about the move or the new job in particular. What has me up at night and utterly intimidated is that I’m going to have to decorate our new place…from scratch.

I grew up in a home where I really can’t remember my parents ever buying new furniture. If something was needed, either it was bought second-hand (an antique, darling) or my father built it…from scratch. Continue reading “My Tucking Days”

Cooking In Other People’s Kitchens

There I was, newly arrived in Australia, standing in my friend Chris’ kitchen at 3 o’clock in the morning, spinning in slow circles, every nerve quivering, my ear cocked trying desperately to figure out which of his uber-sleek modern appliances was ceaselessly pinging at that ungodly hour. Ahhh, other people’s kitchen.

Usually, I’m a good invader, swooping in armed with the short hand to the innate logic that rules the room that feeds us all. But Chris’ kitchen had none of the familiar benchmarks, even so, earlier that evening I went blindly forth figuring any woman with a knife can make friends with a stove. Continue reading “Cooking In Other People’s Kitchens”

Wanna Be A God? Shave Your Legs

I shave my legs every day, and I’m not even hairy, but no matter where I am, who I’m with, near water or not, ill, hung-over, harried or alone I will not let a day pass without drawing a razor up my shins. And because of this, I might very well be thought of as a god. Continue reading “Wanna Be A God? Shave Your Legs”

The Right Side Of History. In Three Parts

The Right Side Of History. In Three Parts.


When I was a little kid my older sister took great satisfaction in pointing out, because I’m allergic to fish (among many things), that had I been born an Inuit, I’d be dead. It didn’t take much to see myself wrapped in a bearskin, half starved, my disappointed mother wailing as my father, chief of the tribe, sent me off on my own child-sized ice floe to meet my fate. I realized then that it was sheer happenstance that I was born south of the Arctic Circle in a place full of food not hell bent on killing me and, from that point on, I have never taken for granted my place in the world and my moment in history. Continue reading “The Right Side Of History. In Three Parts”

Here’s To My Health, Or Not

I was a sickly child. Not the heart wrenching kind lying in bed with an ethereal faraway look in my eyes. Nor was I like Tiny Tim filling my family with wonder at my courage and pluck. I was the gross kind. Snotty, scratchy, wheezy, whiney.

I was born with a raft of allergies and my reaction to being exposed to fish or nuts, trees or grass, cats or fur dogs was in the extreme. (Although nothing like kids today. No one actually died by the hand of a peanut) I mean extreme in making me look and sound disgusting. My eyes would swell, seal shut and ooze, what can only be described as, white, viscous tears. My throat, beyond itchy, was relieved by making this loud reverse retching noise, a sound pitched to instantly put people’s teeth on edge. While I was scratching my throat, I was sticking pencil tips in my ears aimed to kill yet another itchy hotspot. Continue reading “Here’s To My Health, Or Not”