Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Beer

Saint Patrick's Day, like Valentine's Day and Halloween (not the mention New Year's Eve) is one those whoo-let's-drink holidays that I think reasonable civilization could do without. Snakes out of Ireland, green beer, yadda yadda yadda...but the thing I remember most about Saint Paddy's day is from my dorm in freshman year, when teenage girls were vomiting green sludge all over the lobby of our Catholic residence. Weirdly, I've been sort of sour on the idea ever since. Not to mention last year, when I got hammered on March 16 (a combination of boredom, two friends and homemade mezcal will straight-up murder you in the morning) and spent the festive day mewling in the bathroom.

Back to first year. After Halloween, when all the other girls dressed up as "slutty [insert profession/animal/historically maligned ethnic group here]s" and my costume was "bored, with a bottle of tequila" (thematic!), I was over the idea of living solely with women. Well, fake-Catholic women, or teenagers whose parents thought that shunting them into a girls' dorm would save them from premarital sex and the dangers of the urban jungle. Since we were marooned at Bay and Wellesley in the heart of downtown Toronto, it was pretty slim pickings in terms of misbehaviour (picture the dourest, grayest corridor of office high-rises you can, and then surround that by hospitals. All the charm of Brutalist architecture, with the pleasing addition of 24/7 sirens!), but the girls still draaank. Even though the dorm was supposed to be "dry," nary an eyelash was batted when my roommate had about fourteen empty bottles of Malibu rum lined up on the edge of her desk.

Holidays were the worst for this kind of behaviour. Any excuse to put gobs of makeup and go to the club district was seized with an enthusiasm that bordered on maniacal. I shared a room (not a suite - a room) with two of these girlies, and the glitter eyeliner and hairspray that came out at these times was enough to choke a gay horse. The Saint Patrick's Day's uniform was a tight green tube/halter top, black short-shorts, and a glittery green top hat designed to make a Supreme Court Justice look like she's one shot of Jameson's away from making out with the Secretary of State (girl-on-girl = extra spicy!). It was all sort of dance-class-slutty, topped off with a liberal dosing of booze.

In any case, I haven't celebrated SPD in years. I've lived with Irish people, who treat it more like Canada Day and get appropriately tipsy/homesick. The Irish girl at my work has taken today off to sit in a pub (and tomorrow off to, I presume, recover from sitting in a pub for fifteen hours). When I lived with fifteen people under the same roof, there was usually someone who was up for a drink - we didn't need someone else's national holiday as an excuse to get blotto.

Because that is what this is. I feel good about getting a little drunk on Canada Day, because that's our collective day. Screw dead presidents, I like dead prime ministers. And Christmas is oh-kayy, even though I think the consumerism has blunted the celebratory edge for me. But as a Canadian and a cultural Christian, I feel like those holidays belong to me. But celebrating Saint Patrick's Day in any meaningful way would be like celebrating Hanukkah or the 4th of July. Those just ain't my jam, yo. And celebrating it in a non-meaningful way is sort of...trite? The Booze Holidays (Saint Patrick's Day, Halloween and New Year's Eve) all have an element of that in them.

Which isn't to say I won't be celebrating a little. Hell, I like any excuse to drink beer on a Thursday, and my boyfriend likes all the holidays except Valentines Day. But to pretend it's anything but an excuse to get blurred around the edges for us Canadians is silly. I'm not Irish. I don't want to kiss you if you're Irish. But I will celebrate your cultural heritage of moody poets, rolling green hills, unfathomably similar religions creating terrible amounts of violence, and "Danny Boy". And Guinness, which, let's just agree on this here and now: is disgusting.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Swimming In Lake Jealousy

Last week I only wrote one blog entry and then went to brunch with a whole coven of fabulously successful women, and now I am broken. I'm swimming in the late-winter lake of self-loathing, and my fingers are too pruney to type.

I'm not going to lie: since graduation summa cum sewer sludge from the University of Toronto last year, my professional life hasn't exactly been awe-inspiring. I've worked as a part-time waitress, where my low-cut tops were the basis of a uniform-change ("no low-cut tops"); an erstwhile barkeep, who would panic when the bar overheated; an usher at TIFF, where I was accidentally rude to Julian Schnabel (in my defense, he was rude on purpose to me first); and as a glorified copy-room girl - if my office got a nicer photocopier, one that stapled and collated, I'd be right out of a job.

So you can imagine that sharing a table with, among others, a nursing student, a 26-year-old bar-owner (and winner of BlogTO's Caesar Challenge), a writer for The Globe and Mail, and a producer for the Daily Planet was a little overwhelming. I love my friends dearly, but when I had to borrow ten bucks from my boyfriend because the job I work 50 hours a week at isn't paying my bills, it's hard not to feel a twinge when one my tablemates starts talking about her 17 days of vacation: should she go to Europe, or just take the month off and roll around in her piles of money?

Gah! And it makes me feel crappy to feel jealous of the people I love so dearly, because I'm not very good at handling my jealousy. If I was more of a Christian, I'd be all like, "Dudes, that's so awesome that your hard work and dedication to your jobs is paying off so handsomely! Have some loaves! Have you tried this fish? Mmm, sardines...yummy!" But I've got a horrible shrivelled-up raisin where my heart should be, and jealousy has pickled me.

What's even more frustrating is that I am incredibly lucky in all other areas of my life. I live in a great city, with an amazing group of friends. I have an excellent relationship with a real adult man, which seems to be so charmed I'm a frankly little suspicious. I have enough money to buy the things that matter to me: namely, books, food, bourbon and froofy hair accessories. My family is close-knot and super supportive...and lives in a different city (George Burns was no fool). I have my health, as do most of the people I care about. The folks who are stricken with illness are love, cared for, and thought about every day. I get to love and be loved every day, and I still whinge incessantly about my career path.

To be fair, that "career path" is a little less Autobahn and a little more "dirt road through the hinterlands." And no matter how lucky I am, there's a frustration that comes from having a rough idea of what you want, and no concept on how to make it happen. I was chatting with a friend the other day, a man who's also a writer, and we were commiserating that it's dad-blasted tough to get stuff out there. What are the rules? Who do we call? (Aside from the obvious, of course.) If we send emails to agents, are we breaking some sort of code, or is that How Things Are Done and we're cluelessly missing the boat?

Add in the three-dimensional problem of figuring out how, exactly, you go from Point A (interest) to Point J (career) is tricky. Like most living humans, I have many interests. I love food and cooking, for example, and given the chance, would totally open a restaurant. I love co-op housing, and given the chance, would totally work for a co-op. I love zombies, and given the chance, would hunt them for free. You see? It's hard to pick a thing and make it That Thing I Do.

So the jealousy stems from watching my amazing, smart, driven, focused friends figure out what they want and then do it, while I flounder a little. Maybe in a few years, I'll be writing about my awesome new co-operative restaurant in the heart of downtown Toronto, and that will have murdered all those birds with one stone. And until then, I need a little less awful-raisin-heart and a little more jovial-Jesus-y-fish-sharing, or else I'm going to stuck in the muck of my own frustrated desires and just freak out.

And that's so not the point. Ladies: I celebrate your successes, and thank you for sharing them with me. It's helping me be less me-me-me (she said on her blog) and while your inspirational fabulousness is, at bit much all at once, it only goes to show that greatness follows greatness. Maybe some of it will rub off on me, and I'll rise to your ranks. Time to get out of the lake, in other words.