Thursday, November 22, 2012

Me 'n Alice Cooper

Sometimes you have to break out of your comfort zone and do something out of the ordinary – out of the norm – just to have the experience of it, to (maybe) satisfy a curiosity, or just to say you did it.

Well, this is going to sound odd, I know, but Alice Cooper did all that for me, and more.

For a birthday gift, my friend, his number one fan, took me to see Alice Cooper in concert. Although I’m not his number one fan, she is, and my curiosity about the infamous rock legend had me sharing the experience with her.

I knew only a bit about the great Alice Cooper – his signature ‘evil’ teardrop black makeup around his eyes one of his trademarks. I knew some of his songs, and kinda knew what I was getting into: hard ‘shock’ rock with a hint of psychedelic. With past albums named like ‘Love it to Death’ and ‘Welcome to my Nightmare,’ I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

We are of different generations, me, her and Alice. When I was a toddler, his colourful career was in bloom and my friend was 13 and entering her rebel years – hence her attraction to him. His classic song ‘I’m Eighteen' was a hit in 1971 when I was born, his next big hit ‘School’s Out’ in 1972 had everyone rockin’ hard when I was toddling around. Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier) was born only a year after my dad in 1948.

The badass rocker that parents loved to hate of the 70’s drew my rebel friend like a moth of a flame. Where at 13 I wanted to marry Rick Springfield, at 13 my friend loved everything rebellious about Alice Cooper. While I was new to the world, my friend with classic teenage rebelliousness savoured his ‘dark side’ and relished in unfavourable parental attitudes – what teenager doesn’t? His bad boy ways drew her in, and with nary two dimes to rub together, she made big BIG plans to hitchhike to Toronto to see his concert – yes, at age 13.

She never got there.

So 40 years later, I shared in her lifelong dream.

Plumes of smoke instantly billowed above the heads of his fanatical fans as soon as he walked on the stage – and not the kind of smoke of the dry ice persuasion, if you know what I mean. Where I tried not to inhale, I realized I was a far cry from wishing I could throw my Care Bare panties on stage of a Rick Springfield concert in the 80’s.

From flamboyant outfits with garish top hats to finish off the ensemble, he strutted around the stage, his guitarists racing from one side of the stage to the other. He sang, performed and existed on that stage for the crowd – all while waving around swords, whips and riding crops. From wearing lab coats smeared in blood to be transformed on an operating table to a 10 foot Frankenstein, to later wearing a pink straight jacket and struggling to ‘be’ as he sang, to then paying homage to the past greats like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison (complete with gravestones on stage), he rocked the house while fireworks, spotlights and smoke (of ALL kinds) hung heavy in the air.

Baby dolls made to look dead (from one of his songs) decorated the evil looking stage, and at the end, streamers and paper confetti shaped in feathers (reminiscent of the ‘Chicken Incident’ in a 1969 concert in Toronto involving a chicken, a story that was twisted by the press) made the whole experience a spectacular spectacle. HE was a spectacular spectacle.

My friend is a ‘good girl,’ as am I, but Alice brought out the bad girl in both of us that night. Her with her earplugs (just in case) and opera glasses to see him better, and me worrying if I had enough hairspray in my hair to withstand the rambunctious crowd, never mind constantly concerned if my umbrella was still in my purse to protect my hair from the rain after the concert, we were BAD, we were EVIL and we were ROCKERS!

We missed parts of the show while worrying how to work our cameras.

After the concert, with our ears ringing, us grinning from ear to ear (I didn’t inhale the second-hand smoke, I was just happy to be there), and her sporting her Alice Cooper T-shirt that took a vast amount of decision-making to finally settle on the RIGHT ONE, we followed the wound-up crowd of long-haired rockers, many dressed-up as Alice, out the door of the theatre. With our purses tucked under our arms, our fashionable scarves knotted artfully around our necks, and feeling like the BAD ROCKERS we are, we made our way through the streets to 7-Eleven. I had the munchies for some reason.

In the end, I loved every, EVERY minute of it. Not an avid concert-goer myself, I don’t have much to compare to. But of ALL the concerts I have seen, THAT – whatever THAT was – was something I will not soon forget. I had an experience I will cherish, I can say I saw a rock ‘n roll legend, I did something different. I can say I am BADASS.


Friday, November 16, 2012

First, Last and Somewhere in Between

I fought back tears as I held the last tooth in my hand.

My youngest lad, who will be 13 in a few months, is obviously a late bloomer. He approached me the other morning, the day after my 41st birthday, with a gap in his mouth and his tooth in his hand. Eye-to-eye and just taller than me, he smiled a toothless smile as he announced his last tooth with a sense of resignation to this chapter of his life. “Well,” he said with a forlorn sigh, “this is the last time I’ll lose a tooth.” A smirk followed a conversation about the Tooth Fairy arriving one last time. The fact that this poignant moment was the day after my 41st birthday was not lost on me. I still have to process and make sense of that.

But birthdays aside, I held the tooth, inspected it for perfection, and handed it back. And tried not to cry.

So the Tooth Fairy arrived the following night, alighting in his room sad and reminiscent. “This will be the last time I ever visit here...” she thought with fond sentimentality, and left a note thanking him for the last tooth.

The next morning, keen with his money, he asked me if I wanted to save the note – for a keepsake. What preteen thinks of his mother’s sentimentality? AND, some might say, what preteen STILL has the Tooth Fairy visit? You’re only young once, I would respond to those negative nellies.

Of course I saved the note.

And that was that. The end.

The final page in the chapter turned. Until it’s time for his wisdom teeth, that is.

I never thought of the eventual ‘last tooth’ day. My oldest has his first job, his first car and is about to graduate – oh and is way taller than me. He is experiencing many firsts, while my youngest is experiencing his ‘lasts.’ His lasts are poignant because they affect the whole family. The last kid of the family to ‘fill in the blank.’ The oldest’s ‘lasts’ weren’t less important – if anything, his ‘firsts’ overshadow them all.

Are you following me so far?

Our house is a changin,’ and all I can do is stand by and watch. I am powerless to the change, so I have to roll with it. They will always be my babies, but I mourn the loss of the babies I once knew. I focus on what I have now – what I can experience with them now.

As things like the real identity of the Easter Bunny, Santa, and the Tooth Fairy are realized, I work to hold on to the fantasy of it all, even if I am met with knowing smirks and glances. But I know that at least for a while they will play along with me and enjoy childhood fantasies and remember and experience past and present firsts and lasts while they exist somewhere in between childhood and adulthood. Just like me.

As for the Tooth Fairy never visiting again? Well, there are wisdom teeth to eventually come out, likely when they are in their late teens. I am sure they wouldn’t mind a visit from her; everyone appreciates a little pocket money, now and then. At least I can say I have at least one last Tooth Fairy visit to look forward to, and can still live like a kid through them, no matter what age we all are.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Week of 5 Bucks

My week started out as any other – go to work, go home, check mailbox, do chores, etc. But as it happens to most folks working the 9 to 5 grind, every second week is one to rejoice – pay week. But as many will joke, no sooner do we have our hard-earned paychecks in one hand than it’s instantly out the other; pay bills, buy food, foster chocolate addictions, etc. Then the grumbling starts: ‘You can’t buy much for (insert denomination) these days.’

So while I was anticipating the much-anticipated pay Friday, I went about rationing the remaining bucks I had in my wallet, stretching them at the grocery store to last until Friday. Buying a chocolate bar to hide in a spot I won’t mention was my only indulgence.

But little did I know what a lift 5 bucks would give me.

When the grocery store clerk handed over a five dollar bill as part of my change, I noticed something written on it. I have often seen either a phone number scribbled in haste on our nation’s bill or a note of reminder to the temporary holder – buy milk. But at the risk of advocating defacing money, which I don’t, this particular illegal act was the best thing money could buy. It gave me a momentary thrill.

On it was written: ‘Track this bill.’ And then below it a website: ‘’

OOHH!! What’s this all about?

So I, the same person who complains of having so little time for frivolities, visited the website.

One of the first lines on the website says, ‘Do you ever wonder where that paper money in your pocket has been, or where it will go next? This is the place to find out.’

Well, to say that was telling was an understatement. All I had to do was enter the serial number on the bill as well as my postal code (no personal info needed), and for anyone who had had the bill in the past and took the time to do the same, I could see where the money had been.

Setting aside neurotic thoughts about germs and illegal acts, my imagination ran wild. Who had it last, and why? Where did it go?

This particular bill had been tracked in Port Moody, BC about eight months before, only to end up in Victoria in someone else’s hands, then mine. Not too exciting to most folks, but to me it was fascinating.

So to say that 5 bucks don’t buy ya nothin’ these days...well, for me, it gave me a thrill. If only for a few minutes.

No sooner had I logged off the website and reluctantly spent that 5 bucks, did another one of the same bills of five bring me joy.

I belong to the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America. Among our meetings and workshops is our yearly Valentine’s Lunch, a time to acknowledge and celebrate members’ achievements from the last year. Susan Lyons, multi-published romance author, conducts a goal-setting exercise. At the luncheon, members are invited to write down their personal or writing-related goals and aspirations for the coming year. We seal it in an envelope and give it to Susan to mail back the following year, the intention being to see what goals were met. I have participated in this many times, and have found it always useful, inspiring, and productive.

I received my goals envelope in the mail and was anxious to see what I had accomplished, if anything, over the last year. I had a challenging year with personal issues, and even though I knew I had a productive year of writing, I couldn’t remember what goals I had written down.

I opened my list of goals, and out fell 5 bucks.

What the heck? What did I put that in there for? What was I thinking? Susan didn’t put it in there as the envelopes are glued shut with our own spit!

And then I saw it. At the bottom of my typed list of goals, was my hasty handwriting. I had written: ‘If I achieve at least three of these goals, take this 5 bucks and buy something - for ME.’

Well, I know 5 bucks doesn’t buy much these days, but for me, it was such a thrill. And I HAD achieved beyond three of my goals.

And what did I buy? A Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha: full fat, triple shot, extra sweet, extra foam, double whip, and extra caramel.

But I had to pay an extra 43 cents. Oh well.

Monday, November 5, 2012

More Books in the Mail!

Released this month is a new anthology series by Publishing Syndicate called ‘Not Your Mother’s Book.’ Full of edgy, honest and humorous slice-of-lift stories, the first book in this series, ‘On Being a Woman,’ features women writers, and a man (it’s true!), telling it like it is. From embarrassing moments, to serious-yet-funny moments, to life’s curiosities and questions that make us scratch our heads and laugh, this book of 64 stories has something for everyone - including a story by me titled 'No More Should.'

So of course, when my set of author copies finally arrived in the mail, I was jumping for joy and had to take a picture of it. When I know a box is on its way, I get a little obsessive about the whole thing. It’s all I can do but not take off time from work to wait by the mailbox. One proudly goes on my shelf of books, and I lovingly gaze by it as I pass it by daily.

There is much more to come from this great series – from future titles like ‘Travel,’ and ‘On Parenting’ and ‘On Politics,’ there is a book for everyone – writers or readers. For you writers out there, visit Publishing Syndicate for submission guidelines for upcoming titles. For you readers out there, I hope you’ll pick up a book and have a laugh!

Happy reading – and writing!