One Monkey over the line

The November monkey is all about borders – so how could I resist? There are two such crossings that bring back fond memories/vivid nightmares for me:
1. The summer I turned 15, my boyfriend’s family spent a week or so in Stowe (yes, it still exists when there’s no snow), and invited me to come down for the weekend. So my boyfriend, our buddy Dean, and I hopped in the car and drove from Quebec to Vermont.
We crossed the border at one of the little tiny crossings, where I guess they just have too much time on their hands.
Now, remember, we’re teenagers on a road trip. And Dean, in all seriousness, wanted to be a mortician when he grew up.* For some reason, Dean chose to pack most of his possessions for a weekend trip, stuffing it all into a rather large hockey bag.
So when the border guard asked us to take our bags out of the trunk, we collectively winced.
It took about five minutes for this guy to go through my bag and my boyfriend’s. He was much more methodical with Dean’s bag, in part because my boyfriend and I were dressed in shorts and t-shirts, whereas Dean was wearing black jeans and a trenchcoat with a large U2 lapel pin. At one point, he actually said “isn’t a U2 a kind of Russian submarine or something?” He went through that hockey bag with some weird determination to find something incriminating – he got very excited about the Hawaian lei, for instance. Eventually, he decided there was no real reason not to let us across, so he let us pack up our bags drive off…
without ever finding the weirdly modified German hunting knife with the lead ball on the handle that Dean decided to bring along, just in case.
2. When I was in my early twenties, my biological father was working as a flight instructor in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. After an unbelieavable amount of paperwork (including a fax that I had to bring to the corner store to have translated), I got a stamp in my passport allowing me to enter Saudi Arabia.
So that winter, I spent Christmas with my father’s family in Ireland, and then the two of us flew to Jeddah. Since he was technically crew, he had to go to a separate building to clear customs – which left me on my own to go through regular customs. Alone. And female. And very obviously Western.
Naturally, one would expect a problem. In fact, it was pretty easy – I think the customs agents were afraid to look in my bags in case they found naughty lingerie or something. Their primary concern was to determine without a doubt that there was, definitely, really, absolutely a MAN on the other side of the frosted glass doors who was willing to claim me, if they let me through. Which they did, eventually, to my great relief.
2a. The return trip was the real killer – because the flight was overbooked, our flight from Jeddah to New York was diverted to Paris to refuel, which made us late into New York, where I had to change airports to get my flight to Montreal. I barely made that flight, and arrived very tired, very airplaney, and very cranky at Dorval, where the customs guy started asking me all about the declarations on my reentry card.
I wish I knew how to recreate the look I must have given him, because he immediately stopped asking questions, bade me welcome home, and sent me on my way!
*Dean did, in fact, become a mortician.

Monkey with a tin cup

This month’s monkey – “Tell us something weird about yourself that involves music.” Ah, where do I begin?
As many monkeyers have confessed, I too find myself tormented by songs that are not necessarily on my top 100, shall we say. For instance, last week’s radio-in-my-brain song was I Think I Love You by the Partridge Family.
But here’s the weird part – not only are these RIMB songs more often than not terrible, terrible songs, they are also incomplete.
I find this particularly annoying because I usually have a really good ear for lyrics, so I can listen to a song once or twice and then sing along loudly- but correctly – each and every time the song is played on the radio (not the brain radio). But the RIMB songs, the ones I don’t actually like, are not songs I’ve really listened to, given that I don’t like them. So last week, for instance, my brain radio played the following:
I think I love you
So what am I so afraid of

da da da, a love there is no cure… for(?)

I think I love you

My other musical confession* is that I like pop and disco. Abba. Blondie. Shania. Now, granted, I’m sure there are plenty of closet pop fans out there – but beat this:
In college, I had a friend who I used to invite over so we could dance. Just the two of us. To Madonna’s Immaculate Collection. Get into the groove, boy.
I knew it was wrong. I even planned our rendezvous around my then-boyfriend’s schedule, to ensure we were never discovered. Oh, the shame.
*Spanish Inquisition – the Musical!

Montreal Monkey

July’s monkey is “Describe your first impression of Montreal.”
I’m not sure that I have a first impression of our fair city. I was born at the Royal Victoria hospital, and lived on the South Shore until we moved to the Eastern Townships when I was about 7 years old.
One thing I remember is being astounded at how many of my classmates in high school had never been to Montreal. Our school was in Cowansville, less than an hour outside Montreal.
A lasting impression for me is the city skyline – every time. When I drive home and cross the Champlain bridge my heart skips a beat – every time. We may not have the most impressive downtown core, but there’s something about those majestic buildings standing against the forested mountain, with St. Joe’s dome and the worst-lit cross on the planet, that speaks to me.
I guess a first impression must exist, but just as it’s hard to remember my first impressions of my oldest friends, it’s hard to remember how Montreal first struck me. What I enjoy now is watching my kids discover the city – this summer, we’ve gotten to know places like Westmount Park, not to mention the metro, part of Colin’s obsession with all things cartographical.
I love Montreal – I love that we’re an island, I love that we’re bilingual and multicultural, I love that we can drive in the snow, I love that we have the Jazz fest and the comedy fest and fireworks and F1 and a guy on stilts playing the sax downtown. I love that we all, regardless of race, creed or whatever, hate potholes, yet they continue to infest the city. I love that we consider ourselves inherently superior to upstart metropolises like Toronto. I love that we don’t go to work wearing power suits and running shoes – I met a tourist once who told me that we “all dress like it’s New Year’s Eve every day.”
So, perhaps not a first impression, as such… sorry!

He ain’t heavy, he’s my monkey

Ok, it’s the last day of June, and I’m finally (and somewhat ironically) getting around to the June Monkey.
This time, blork and Martine wanted to know about “the monkeys on your back… you know, those tasks or chores or one of these days items on your “to do” list that you can never quite get to even though you feel like it’s holding you back.”
This post notwithstanding, I do have a few things that have lingered, some to the point of actually festering, on my to do list. Alors, somewhat thematically:
– review my short stories and select one or two to rework
– look into publication of same
– ditto my play, ‘Brawling Women in a Wide House.’
– finish (ten years later) stripping the mouldings in the upstairs hallway
– finish (as above) the giprock in the bathroom
– paint the bathroom
– finally convince Dr. T. that he no longer needs his extremely large amp/PA thingie, or at least propose that if he knows exactly where it is, without looking, he can keep it another year.
– student loan
– mortgage
– find a job slightly closer to home, or get a jet pack for the commute.
I’m sure there are many more monkeys back there, but I’m ignoring them.

Building character

It’s that time again, and this month blork and Martine are asking the impossible…
May’s monkey is to write about a time when you were out of character. All I can think of are those times when I wish I could have been, but wasn’t able to. Times when I couldn’t keep the sarcastic remark in check. Or times when I wasn’t petrified to appear alone in front of a microphone – which happens more frequently than one would like, if one is in the entertainment and PR field. Oddly enough, standing alone in front of a classroom full of students rarely freaks me out.
Of course, there are those times when I was on stage, and by definition out of character (being “in” another character, that is). Especially when I played Mrs. Baker in ‘The American Dream’ – who strips down to a slip within a minute or two of walking onstage, and spends the balance of the play thus attired.
I think the only thing I’ve ever done that truly felt like I wasn’t me was metro busking. Accompanied by two guitar-playing friends, I belted out a few numbers at the Atwater metro station, about a gazillion years ago. ‘Dust in the Wind,’ ‘Wish You Were Here,’ ‘House of the Rising Sun’ – the standard fare. One guy gave me a $20. Despite my apparent critical success, it was a one-off, and while I’m glad I did it, I would never do it again.


Well, blork and Martine flitted off to the City by the Bay and left us Monkeys wondering when and if the April edition would be. They are now safely returned, the Monkey is in, and all’s right with the world.
This month’s Monkey is confessions of movie-induced crying.
Well, with the (possible) exception of Airplane, just about every movie I’ve ever seen has reduced me to tears. This is not an indication of the type of movie I see, rather, it’s a pretty telling indication of my inability to control the waterworks. Depending on hormone levels, just about anything can make me weepy.
Love Story? Cried.
Star Wars? Cried.
Adam Bede? Cried.
‘Candle in the Wind’? Cried.
The toilet paper commercial with the puppy who keeps bonking his head? Cried.
I have no shame, really.
Of course, generally speaking we’re talking about a tear or two, all very dignified, at least ’til I get to the nose-blowing. But the one movie that reduced me to a blubbering mess – loud sobbing, quivering, total basket-case – was….
Terms of Endearment.
I said it.
Now leave me alone.

Planes, trains and automobiles

AKA the Rides of March
It’s the March Monkey!
This month, blork and Martine have suggested posts about “those memorable rides when you were a passenger and you did not know the driver.”
They’re looking for taxi rides, but being the generous souls that they are, will accept other passenger prose – which is good, given that most of my taxi rides have been, well, mundane. Ask Dr.T about the stag night cab, though!!
On the other hand, I have had my share of memorable transport episodes.

Continue reading “Planes, trains and automobiles”