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mental health mondays :: enough to drive you crazy

just because i have no patience for shows like "american idol", "the voice" or anything involving the karsahians doesn't mean that i'm entirely immune to the meretricious charms of reality television. i try to take a moment every day to hate myself for finding "duck dynasty" amusing, despite my fundamental disagreements with the robertson family on just about everything and my awareness of the artifice of the show itself. but one reality show that feels less guilty and more pleasure is "canada's worst driver", a distinctly canadian take on a show that's appeared in different national versions for over a decade, starting [as many reality shows do] in great britain.

the canadian version has actually had a longer run than any of the other "worst driver" series not because our drivers are that bad, but because the focus of the show is not an anti-celebration of the bad drivers, but on educating them on how to become good […

canada post's monkey business

i've written recently about my own tribulations with canada post, but i've effectively avoided discussing the new "five point plan" that was unveiled by the corporation earlier this month, their strategy for maintaining profits in an era when less and less mail is being sent. this strategy has nothing to do with my recent tribulations, because canada post hasn't even started to implement it yet, but i will say that the same organizational "intelligence" that has caused the issues that i've written about is pervasive in the five point plan. which is a very long way of saying that this plan looks like it was put together by a gang of paste-eaters taking a break from shoving bottle rockets up their noses.

now, not all of the plan is bad. an infinite number of monkeys might be able to write all the great books given enough time and slightly further down the evolutionary scale, canada post managers have been able to come up with two points [well, one and…

making faces :: we all need something to warm us up in winter

it's officially winter. it's not just that it's christmas, or that it's -25 celsius here in montreal. it's that we've
passed the astrological dividing line and now the days are getting longer. of course, the coldest days are still ahead, since temperature extremes are always reached the month after a solstice, which is why it's nice to think warm thoughts and drape yourself in warm things.

for me, warm things include warm colours and luckily for me, i recently had an order from beauty habit arrive with just what the season ordered to heat things up as far as my face is concerned. only one of these is a new item, but both suit my style perfectly at this point in time. in fact, i think that both items i'm reviewing will be things that i can turn to throughout the year, which makes them all the more valuable.

up first, let's look at the new: chantecaille hydra chic lipstick in "persimmon". this was released as part of their fall collection. …

it's that time again...

that time when i swallow my seasonal humbug and say that i do sincerely wish all of you who have stopped by to read this blog a very happy holiday season.

if you're trying to find something to pass the time while waiting for the food and present action, might i suggest doing a last minute check of whether you're on santa's nice or naughty list? if you're already sure where you fall, you can also check for friends and acquaintances, which is what i did:

no, i didn't rig it. that's seriously what happened when i typed that name and hit "submit.

oh saint nicholas, there's so much more to you than we thought...

canada post is guaranteed to drive you a little crazy

i want to make this clear, right off the top: no one envies postal employees at this time of year. it's harsh work tramping through snow and sleet and driving in dangerous conditions or even just standing at a counter with a line up of people who are all convinced that it's your fault that they waited too long in order to mail your holiday packages. those jobs are thankless and everyone should bear that in mind when dealing with postal employees close to xmas.

however, there is a sort of mentality that seems to permeate the upper echelons of the postal organisation that i would like to characterise as an absurdist conspiracy. they're all mad there and they want you to join in the fun. to illustrate this [again] here is a conversation i had with a canada post employee when trying to ship a package to halifax.

me :: hello, i'd like to ship this box overnight to halifax

customer service rep :: we can't do that.

me :: it says on the sign behind you that you do.

csr :: …

making faces :: let's talk about this nars guy thing

i'm late, i'm sorry.

i say that phrase all the time, but it's the first time i feel the need to apologise for my tardiness here on my blog, because the fact is that i'm about to discuss something that's already been discussed and review things that are already somewhat hard to find... i am truly sorry. you can't see my lack of sarcasm, but i assure you, it's there.

this holiday season, which starts in october at retailers, never in advance of november for me, but certainly before the sixteenth of december for everybody, nars has released a collection that is about as holiday-friendly as i am. it's inspired by the work of fashion photographer guy bourdin, who in turn inspired francois nars as an impressionable youth.

bourdin's photography is graphic in every sense- he uses stark imagery and bold colour, but often the scenes presented are violent and shocking, in contrast with the haute couture beauty of his subjects. this propensity towards violence,…

mental health mondays :: d for depression?

one of the things that makes depression so difficult to treat is that it can be difficult to distinguish whether it's a condition in itself or a symptom of something else. you can be depressed for no reason other than being depressed, but you can also be depressed as an effect of a condition that has nothing to do with your mood, your outlook or your neurotransmitters- kinda.

because if you've ever tried to diagnose yourself on line, you've probably noticed that depression is a
symptom of just about everything- as ubiquitous as headaches or stomach upset, which means that just because you're showing all the symptoms of depression doesn't mean that it's necessarily your problem. excessive drinking causes depression. so can surgery. a lot of medications can cause depression. thyroid problems can too. chronic or long-duration illnesses like cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia or diabetes are known to cause secondary depression at much higher rates than are f…

could the postman at least ring once?

me :: hello, is this canada post customer service?

csr :: yes

me :: i got a notice that there was an attempt to deliver a package today.

csr :: it should say where you can pick it up.

me :: yes, i know how that works, thanks, but what i'm wondering is why the deliverer didn't just ring the doorbell. we've been home all day. and this is actually the second time i've had to call, because we got another package delivered a couple of weeks ago, except that the guy forgot to leave the first notice, so we only got a final notice.

csr :: i'm sorry, that's not supposed to happen.

me :: well thank you, i already spoke to someone who apologised, which is cool and all, but the thing is that the apology doesn't mean much if you keep doing the same thing, that is, leaving us notices saying that there was a delivery attempt, but not actually attempting to make a delivery.

csr :: well it's now canada post policy that we don't ring doorbells when we're deliveri…

mental health mondays [rewind] :: bonkers for benzos

consistently, one of the most searched terms that leads people to this blog is "benzo". that's interesting
and not just to the authorities who have probably put me on watch lists because they think this blog is in some kind of drug dealer code.

i've lapsed on the "regular" sections of this blog as i've been in recovery mode lately, but after wading into a conversation about the drugs we love to hate to love, i thought i might just re-post this one. i have been thinking about doing a piece on the comparative experiences that people have with benzodiazepines, but that is quite an undertaking. everyone has their favourites and their betes noires in this category. of course, the fact that everyone has opinions could probably be seen as an indicator that too many people are taking them to begin with. but i'm not a medical professional.

so pop 'em if you got 'em and enjoy the more like space mental health mondays benzo primer [again].

*

originall…

making faces :: xmas kisses from guerlain

there's no denying that the holiday season is upon us. i was in the drug store today and while i was waiting for a prescription to be filled, there was a quebecois country hoedown version of "jingle bells" playing and i was consumed with the urge to set things on fire. i always like to take a moment every holiday season to consider the poor sales associates who are forced to work day in and day out with the most insipid holiday music in their ears all the time. they are truly the heroes of xmas.
but even i'm drawn to overcome my seasonal avoidance syndrome enough to risk venturing out to the retail environment when i don't have to in order to try out the season's makeup collections. and none tempts me more each year than guerlain. 
after last year's operatically themed "liu" collection, the company has gone in another direction for this year's "crazy paris". everything is touched with neon, including the packaging, which is black …

making faces :: orange you glad

i have already established myself as a defender of orange, the redheaded stepchild of the colour wheel and at no time of the year do i find the freshness, fruitiness and friendliness of orange to be more welcome than during this last sprint towards the winter solstice, when i basically feel like a mole person living in a land where the light of the sun is rarely seen.

since i'm still stuck close to home most of the time, i have the opportunity to get creative with what i wear on my face. after all, there's no pressure on me to look professional for the cats or for dom, so the worst that's going to happen is that someone coming to drop off mail is going to think i got all gussied up just for him [or her].

so today, to combat the fact that i didn't feel particularly well in any sense, i decided to do battle against the gloom of perpetual twilight [an ugly thought in all its forms] with an army of orange shades. well, a small army. three. but they're pretty incredible…

wherein i become a flavour of paranoia

personally, i'm kind of happy to relate any story that involves me and the term paranoia that doesn't also 69 flavours of paranoia".
contain the terms "forcibly sedated" or "detained for questioning". but i'm especially happy to report that my short story "spook house" is now available through the grace of the lovely folks at "

please feel free to visit it and read it to your children as a bedtime story, assuming you don't like your children very much. ok, don't read it to children, they won't like it anyway. but i do highly encourage you to peruse the story as well as the rest of the 69 flavours web site. [i particularly enjoyed this nice recap of some of the more bizarre conspiracy theories you're likely to run into. nasa impersonators and great white yiddish sharks.]

a big thank you to writers' carnival for introducing us!

the image above comes from the magnificently creepy carnival of souls. if you haven't…

things to do when you're more or less stuck at home which are also better than trying to brave crowds at black friday sales

watching the news, dom and i were shocked to here a newscaster utter the words "black friday isn't over!" mostly, we were shocked because this was last night, also known as thursday, so it seemed sort of strange that friday not being over would be newsworthy. i mean, not to get all technical and stuff, but it could be pointed out that friday hadn't even started. but maybe that's one of those differences that gets confused because of the measuring systems. does friday start at the same time in metric?

personally, i celebrated the arrival of the most dreaded shopping day in the entire universe by having a nap and spending the rest of the night suffering from insomnia. during that time, i managed to think of lots of things that i could do that would be more enjoyable than sliding into my fat pants and making my way to a big box retailer. [if i'd kept up my list of things that i'd prefer to do, "time" would have been on the list as well.]

1. open a …

making faces :: making the best [faces] of a bad situation

as i mentioned in an earlier post, a medical procedure has had me somewhat restricted lately and while
i'm improving, i'm far from back to my usual self. several days at home have been restful, but they've also resulted in a sort of cabin fever that has been frustrating to say the least.

although i've mostly been laying around home slightly fuzzy on painkillers and wearing dom's shirts with leggings, i've taken the few opportunities i've had to go outside in order to play around with different looks. this isn't because i feel i need to- no one is going to judge me for a face that's au naturel- but because it helps give me something to kill some extra time.

so here are a couple of faces that boredom created:

#1 :: kate the hat

i have a real fondness for hats and i'm glad to see that more and more stores are carrying them in a wider variety. they can be tricky when you're going somewhere like work, since hat-head is a real scourge, but they a…

formal complaints

as you may have heard, the band arcade fire has ruffled a few feathers- or a few t-shirts and jeans, at least- by asking fans to turn up to their shows in "formal attire". their description of formal attire is fairly broad; it was defined in the band's own tweets as "suit, dress or fancy something". they've even invited people to appear in full costume if that's their thing. sharp criticism on social media was immediate and profuse and while the band's leader said that he wasn't sorry for making people dress up, their twitter account later did clarify that while they had said it was mandatory, it wasn't "super mandatory". so you might not want to drop your hard-earned cash on that ball gown after all.

i'll say from the outset that i'm not a fan of arcade fire. i've always referred to them as godspeed you! black emperor for dummies, meaning a group that has taken the indie/ arty roots of an underground phenomena, boiled …

making faces :: fall in action, part 2

after sharing a number of looks with neutral eyes and vampy lips, i did promise that i was going to try to post something a little more in line with the colours of fall foliage and the rich autumnal tones that seem more warm and inviting.

i touched on these before when i featured

eyes inspired by autumn foliage
favourite fall blushes
warm and spicy reds and plums for the season

the relative darkness when i get up in the mornings and complete darkness when i get home at night makes it difficult for me to snap quick pictures of any look, which is why there haven't been as many of them lately. this week, however, i had to take time off to get minor surgery and yesterday i felt like i needed something to lift my spirits a bit, so i tried dressing up my face a little. [just because it's minor surgery doesn't mean it can't cause some major pain and inconvenience.] i had a little bit of an allergic reaction to a serum i tried [because my day was going so well otherwise], which y…

making faces :: game changers

i'm not sure when i became skeptical, but i will say that i have never once believed the claims of any beauty product. that's not an exaggeration. for years, my selection of products was determined by two things: 
do i like this colour? does this smell nice?
that was really it. i did fundamentally understand that more expensive stuff generally had higher quality ingredients, because that was something that i could see reflected in other ways: food works like that. clothing works like that [up to a certain point]. so as my budget increased, i would try out more expensive things to see if they were worth investment and i'd be pleasantly surprised when they turned out to produce good results. 
part of my credulity came because i knew about the facts of skin and aging. there are some things that are effective, but the main thing you have to accept is that the changes you can expect are not going to be massive. [and actually, you can make a far greater difference through chang…

the style fyle

it's funny that despite my love of all things sartorial, i don't talk about clothing that much on this blog. i talk freely about makeup, which i love as well and the fact is that i more frequently get comments [occasionally compliments] about what i wear on my body than what i wear on my face. more often than not, people describe what i wear as "distinctive", which i take to mean that they find it interesting, but also a little bit further out than they would feel comfortable venturing. i'm ok with that. i actually feel awkward dressed in most everyday clothing unless i do something to "energize" it.

i have been sharing little snippets of outfits on my instagram account and i thought i'd post some here, to let you get to know me from the neck down. here's a little primer...

I'M GETTING CHANGED, I'LL MEET YOU AFTER THE BREAK...

the bowels of st. mary's

i had an appointment at st. mary's hospital recently, which involved having to descend into a floor below the basement and make my way through a maze that looked like something out of lars von trier's "the kingdom". i really couldn't resist the urge to snap and filter a few images from my underground adventure. they do capture the atmosphere of the place remarkably well, i think. i only wish i'd thought to grab an audio recording of the strange sounds that echoed through the labyrinth...




it's always fascinating what lurks beneath, no?

the dream of walking

well i did say that i was going to try to get some writing done this week and i have, although not much.
i should have a little more time available to me in the not-too-distant november future. i did write this little fragment, which, while it reads like a recollection of a dream, is actually a recollection of something that really happened, or at least an apocryphal recollection of something that i used to do fairly regularly.

with all of the news about toronto mayor rob ford, his tribulations and his unwavering fans dubbed "ford nation", i was reminded of my experiences in the neighbourhood of etobicoke. it's considered his home base, but it's also an area where i used to work. much of etobicoke is quite well-to-do, but the area where i worked was a little strange. it had once been a suburb sitting on the city's western shoulder and it still bears those hallmarks: streets of postwar bungalows adjacent low-lying industrial properties, once state of the art, but…

making faces :: fall in action

since i've already posted about many of my favourite fall products, i thought i might show you what they look like in use.




for those of you who might be stumbling across this post unawares, here's a look at

eye shades that mimic the colourful foliage of the season
eye shades that make a perfect neutral foil for darker lips

blushes that give a wind-kissed flush in keeping with the season
lip colours that reflect the richness of the seasonal palette
lip colours that speak to our inner bad girl

and with those out of the way like so many fallen leaves, here's a look at how some of those products can be combined...


mental health mondays :: social disease

i can well remember the first time i heard about social anxiety disorder [aka social phobia]. my mother was commenting on a story she'd heard on the news about the condition. when she repeated the words "social anxiety disorder" she gave a derisive kind of snort and added "you mean shy. now being shy is a psychological condition." and therein lies the problem of social anxiety disorder: how do you differentiate between stigmatizing people who are just naturally more reticent in front of others and helping people whose reticence prevents them from living a "normal", fulfilling life?


most mental health web sites will tell you that social anxiety is "more than just shyness", but that doesn't really help a whole lot. how do you identify when your shyness has become problematic? scarier still, how do you identify it in a child? i add that second part, although i'm normally nervous writing about childhood mental disorders, because there …

"friday" favourites 09.11.13

i was planning on doing this last night [and last week], but i've found myself increasingly exhausted at the end of the week as time has crept on and the stupid time change means that it gets dark at around lunch time. yes, it means that i'm no longer fumbling around trying to apply mascara in the pitch black, or raising the ire of dom and my fur babies by turning on the overhead light and ruining everything in the world for all of them, but it's undeniably depressing. and when i feel depressed i get listless. and when i get listless, i write less. which sucks, because it is, of course, NANOWRIMO, which is not in fact an arm of the military industrial complex, but national novel writing month. and by national, they mean international.

i've been meaning to participate in this every year for ages, but i've never remembered. in fact, i only remembered on the 5th this year, which would have cut my chances short when you look at exactly how many hours it would take to …

city howl

i've been meaning to write this post for days, but the rob ford train wreck wouldn't slow down long
enough for me to get the words out. in fact, i'm still not certain i can type this without missing a few updates, but it's basically all i've been able to talk about for the last week, so it kinda seems like i should be posting. after all, this is the repository for all the junk that's built up in my brain. [in case you thought there was some larger point to this, no there isn't. i just wanted a place to rant on the internet.]

so let's review:

six months ago, two journalists from the toronto star and one from gawker.com said that they were approached about buying a video of toronto mayor rob ford smoking crack. stills from said video were made public and the journalists sounded pretty convinced that they were dealing with a legitimate thing- legitimate enough that gawker went to press with the rumour of the video's existence.

gawker actually raised t…

mental health mondays :: check up from the neck up!

it's been a while since i posted a quiz to find your crazy here, so i figured that this was as good a time as any to call your attention to the "check up from the neck up", created by the mood disorders association of ontario. it's similar to many on line quizzes, however i do like the fact that it goes into a bit more detail than the basic ones in an attempt to unpack how crazy you are at this very moment versus how crazy you might have been in your youth. from my results, it seems fairly reliable, although, as always, an online quiz does not a diagnosis make.

bonus feature :: it has instructions on how to delete results permanently from your browser, in case you're using a computer where you might not feel comfortable with that information lying around in the cache.

marigolds :: a little story for halloween

normally, the biggest problem i have with my short story ideas is trying to contain them and pack them into a short story format. they can get away from me too easily, at which point i get bored- because they're not strong enough to sustain novels- and something else goes unfinished.

but here's something that came to me out of the blue, a compact little nugget in the spirit of the season.

of course, i thought i could make this into a piece of flash fiction, which is a short story of 99 words or less. at 142 words, it's almost half again too long, even after i edited some of my descriptive flourishes out, so i guess it is still an over-long failure in that regard. but i like it and i don't want to reduce it any further.

*


Sitting in the garden digging trenches around the marigolds with an old bone. It got stuck in my throat one afternoon and my grandmother had to take me to the hospital. She told me I was lucky they had got it out, or else an animal would have grown insi…

making faces :: fall in, part 5 [a royal flush]

i'm really lucky. dom not only accepts my obsession with all things aesthetic, but he even finds it somewhat interesting. he has opinions on lipstick and eye shadow colours that go beyond "looks nice" and i really appreciate that. but even he has his limits and that limit has a name: blush. he'll say straight up that he doesn't really notice the difference from one to the other.

indeed, it can be difficult to spot the differences, but just because they're subtle doesn't mean you don't notice the effect. i always know when i've found a great blush colour because i'll get a bunch of compliments from people who can't pinpoint why i look good, but i just do. people can identify eye shadow and lipstick, even if it takes them a minute to figure out that that's what they're really responding to, but blush befuddles. there's something that people see is different, but they can't really see it. blush flies under the radar. it's …