Face Value

As cliche as this sounds, with New Year’s Eve approaching, I’m thinking about resolutions for the coming year. I’m proud to say that I’m generally good about sticking to the ones I make, and I think that this is because I really try to give them some thought.

One of the biggest issues that I’d like to tackle in 2010 is my inability to live in the moment. The happier I am, the more I find I’m looking over my shoulder to see what kind of bad is coming my way. In fact, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that sometimes, hopefully subconsciously, I create problems because the peace and calm scares the bejesus out of me. I fear settling deeply into happiness in case it should suddenly come bursting apart at the seams.

Ridiculous, right?

I don’t want to allow fear and self-sabotage into my love life. I’ve been mostly successful at forbidding these things from clouding my professional life, and I’ve realized some pretty incredible success as a result.  After wishing so hard for this kind of happiness, I would like to receive it gracefully, and graciously.

So, resolution number one:

I will endeavor to be present each day, and accepting of the love I am given, free of doubt and fear.


That’s my word for the week.

I like it. I want to use it to describe myself, but I think that’s one of those words best left to others to use.

It always makes me thing of those busty, lipstick-wearing sexy chickens that used to roll with Gonzo from the Muppet Show. If I haven’t said it lately, I love Jim Henson. If I had magical powers, I would raise him from the dead to help Les Coquettes create the most ridiculous burlesque cabaret ever witnessed by people-kind.

Plucky. Like a sexy chicken.

If you haven’t seen our shows, this may sound ridiculous, but people are really moved by what we do. On the surface, it’s a cabaret packed with lots of skin, and sexy young performers, but beneath this surface, it’s a world of passion driven by intelligent, inspired women. Those are our fantasies we’re acting out, and our imagination coming alive. Women come and see us, and then email me about classes, men come and see us, and are permitted to feel sexual AND human. At this weekend’s show, two of my dear friends were there with their husbands. Both are new moms and for each of them it was their first night out in a long, long while. I didn’t even have to speak to them to know that everyone in each house was in for a big treat when they got home. I love that. I love how we grant permission. How we make it safe and fun to feel alive in such a way. How we can laugh at and celebrate sex, which is so warped in our mass media. Taken so seriously, taken for granted, taken out of context, taken away from us every single day.

It’s our life force. It drives us on a deep, primal level, and when we separate ourselves from this essence, or if we are forced to separate from it, sad things happen.


I’m challenging you to look at your relationship with sex. Not just the act, but the deeper sexuality that lies within. How has your own sexuality evolved? What is your relationship like with your sexuality? Do you need a long overdue date with your sexual self? Have you been honest about your feelings? Are there things you need to get out in the open?

My wish for you, this holiday season – celebrate your life force. Define what it means to you, and embrace it warmly ‘neath the mistletoe.

Deck your halls, if you will.

Why I Hate Chris De Burgh

The other day, “The Lady in Red” came up on a random list of tunes on our Apple TV.

This song always makes me nauseous.

When I was eight, I began to wear glasses, and life changed radically. I believe that my new four-eyed state became the excuse that the other kids needed to make fun of me. It was the perfect explanation for my funny big words, my weirdo imagination, and my incredible advocacy for the underdog. I was a nerd, a geek, and a goof, and now the glasses were the evidence my classmates were looking for.

My self-esteem changed radically, and I discovered a whole new level of self-consciousness. I HATED my glasses and this feeling has carried over into my adult life.

In my first year of high school, I finally worked up the nerve to go to the Christmas dance after skipping the other two that came before. I decided to be festive and wear a red velvet tunic, black tights, and the pointiest shoes that I owned. I teased my bangs into the most brilliant peacock I could manage, and of course wore my glasses. My stupid, red, Sally Jessie Rafael glasses, which by the way, those goddamned hipsters have brought back into fashion.

I hung out awkwardly with my small group of friends, and during a pit stop in the cafeteria to use the bathrooms, the football coach, Mr. Bullard, approached me.

“Hey, what’s your name?” he asked. He was my gym teacher, and should have known my name.

“Um, Schnoo.” I replied.

“Schnoo” he said “I need your help. We’ve told Mario* that he has a secret admirer here, and that she is going to reveal herself to dance with him for a special song, and I need you to be that girl.”

I was confused, and skeptical, but I went along with this. Mario was the quarterback who I had a fairly huge crush on, and I figured this might be the only way I would ever get to dance with him.

Fast forward to later that evening. I hadn’t danced with anyone all night long. Then, suddenly, Chris De Burgh’s “Lady in Red” comes on. Bullard is there, tapping me on the shoulder. He says “This is it.”

The D.J. announces “Mario, this song goes out to you from your secret admirer.”

I walk tentatively to the crowd of jocks that Mario is in the centre of. I ask him to dance. He turns crimson, and all the other dudes start smirking. One of them is already doubled over. He reluctantly accepts, and we start to dance.

Missing the point entirely, I’m actually enjoying this. He smells so nice, and he’s so handsome, and just for a moment I allow myself to pretend…then I feel hundreds of eyes on me. I look up and the ENTIRE football team and ALL of their pretty, perky girlfriends are laughing. Laughing at Mario. Laughing at me. I realize then that I AM the joke. Mr. Bullard picked the dorkiest “Lady in Red” he could find to round out their stupid prank, and god only knows what kind of fabricated love notes came before this moment.

I die a little inside, but I carry on until the end of the song. Mario (dick head) starts hamming it up for his pals. He’s stroking my hair, and dipping and twirling me. My 14-year-old brain decides to see this through because it might be my only opportunity to ever dance with a boy so handsome. And popular. When the song ends, he makes a big show of bowing to me and all his friends crack up again.

After that, I call my mom for a ride home. I pass Mr. Bullard in the hallway. All the other kids love him. He’s so funny, and he really “gets it”. I decide that he too must have been a big dork in high school and is making up for lost time now that he’s finally in charge of all the jocks. I hate him. This doesn’t change over the next four years.

It’s a long time before I go to another school dance. The next one I appear at, I FINALLY have my long-awaited contact lenses. I have an ok time. I’m still an outsider. I’m still not one of the popular kids, but I don’t want to be anymore. I’ve carved out my own world with the drama geeks. I still don’t dance with anyone, as I recall, until the very last song, which is always the same song – “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. I feel someone tap me on the shoulder and I turn around. It’s Eric, the Asian boy with Down’s Syndrome. He wants to take me for a spin. I glare at the jocks, who are all staring and guffawing, take him by the hand, lead him to the dance floor and endure his teenage hard-on for the entire eight minute tune. I do this because I know what it’s like to be different, and how much it sucks to be laughed at for that.

Then, I decide to never go to another school dance again.

This lasts until graduation, when my seventeen year old self decides to bring my 24-year-old local indie rock-star boyfriend as my date. Three people ask me if he is actually my uncle, and he hits on every girl he gets the chance to talk to, and one or two of the boys.

I hated high school, and I hate Chris De Burgh, but whenever I hear “Stairway to Heaven” I think of Eric and I wonder what he’s doing now.

*Mario may not have been the name of this quarterback but at a Catholic High School in Stoney Creek, it’s a pretty safe bet.


No! Vember

Picture 1

I had a bad day at work. Here’s one thing to know about Leos; we’re great at success and terrible at failure.

I had a bad sleep last night. Three people DO NOT fit in a Queen sized bed, no matter how much they like each other. I’m getting night sweats like you wouldn’t believe, and I’m in the middle so there’s no place to go. This was the second night in a row of bad sleep.

I’ve had the blahs for about a week, which is so unusual with a full moon. Usually I’m bubbly and creative and filled with energy.

This morning I packed my overnight things and my computer, deciding that my bad mood and I were going to seek refuge at the Fortress of Solitude where I have not slept since August. I don’t have words to talk about what I’m feeling, and my new family does not need an Eyore moping around our apartment. My poor partners were surprised by this, but made a real effort to give me space.

As the bad day at work wore on I started to imagine myself alone in my former apartment, now piled with boxes and costumes that desperately need sorting, and this began to feel pathetic.

My family headed to their old suburb today to get the girls their H1N1 vaccine, and are having dinner with their old neighbours. This only added to my misery, and I began to feel sorry for myself for being left out. I’m not sure what kind of crazy person feels left out of getting a giant needle, but there you have it.

Then, at 1:45 I had a reality check.

I’m allowed to have growing pains, and I’m allowed to be under the weather sometimes. Even if it’s an extended period like the month of November. (I hate you November).  I can accept that, and since my moodiness mostly manifests in a more somber Schnoo, I think my partners are fine with this too. What I can’t deal with is not understanding exactly what’s wrong with me, and so I attempted to figure this out on my crisp bike ride home:

1.)    Residual pain and anxiety surrounding fertility and the trauma of a miscarriage

2.)    Displacement – although my partners make an effort every day to make me feel at home in their apartment, which though currently a bit cluttered is actually really gorgeous, it is not my home. More importantly, it is not OUR home. In “conventional” relationships it’s hard enough to move into someone else’s space. Try to imagine, if you will, living in a space where you have no room for most of your personal possessions, and where you are surrounded by larger-than-life reminders of a whole world that happened before you were around.  I don’t know exactly why this should bother me, but it does. Maybe because this seriously unique relationship is so new I sometimes feel threatened by the strength of all of the history my partners have together. They share over a decade together and two gorgeous children. I’ve arrived with some feathers and sequins. And some serious baggage. When I’m in a funk, I think of the one and only time I got fired from a job – they had to make cutbacks and I was the new girl, so I was the first to go.

3.)    Fear. Wow. I said it. Another thing to know about Leos; we don’t admit to this very often. I’m afraid of EVERYTHING that isn’t related to work right now. My recent relationship history has taught me many lessons – many lasting life lessons. I cannot settle into a comfortable groove that lasts more than a week or so because I am terrified. Of what, you ask? Let’s see; betrayal, imbalance between the three of us creating a world of heartache, not giving enough, my own feelings of jealousy that sometimes arise, that I will be left behind, that something horrible will happen when my boyfriend talks to his parents about us, that these two beautiful little girls will grow to resent me because adding me into their family will come with some stigma, that I’ll always feel like I’ve latched on to someone else’s fully-realized life, that one or both of my partners will no longer find me attractive, that one or both of my partners will get tired of me, or tired of our circumstances. Wait. That’s it. I’m afraid that someone is going to decide this whole thing is a bad idea. Oh my god. I have abandonment fear. I’m afraid of being left behind, and so I am examining every single fissure with a fine lens to find excuses to be unsettled, because settling in means that I am vulnerable to shock and surprise when the bottom drops out of my nest. Holy god, I’ve become one of those people.

4.)    I don’t have a four right now. I think that numbers 1 through 3 are more than enough.

When I was a little girl, my mother used to always tell me how impatient I was. This hasn’t gone away, and in fact, might be one of my biggest issues. I don’t trust process, or time, but I think I’d better resolve this because ONLY with process and time will I be able to see that I have little to fear from this relationship. I mean. we’re talking about finding OUR place together in the New Year. That’s only months away! And grumbling about missing my old apartment is only a reflection of my control issues. I don’t feel like I’m in control of my home environment. I realize it should be a shared control, but I also realize I’m subject to the occasional foible. Since I’ve started working from home, I’ve dealt with a broken dryer and a mountain of laundry, and have now started taking on organizing the place one room at a time. When I walked my bike into this place tonight, and turned on the lights, loaded the dishwasher, grabbed a perfectly crisp McIntosh apple and sat down to write this, I felt completely at home. What’s more, I also felt loved, and like there will continue to be light at the end of the tunnel, as long as I’m choosing to look ahead towards it, rather than down, or backwards from where I came.

Backwards from where I came. That’s it too. I know on some unconscious level choosing a relationship that is ENTIRELY different from any that has come before in my life was a way to protect myself on some levels. I also believe it’s a product of my own personal evolution. This is a classic case of easier said than done, but I have to make a promise to myself to start each and every day recognizing that these two people are new, and are in no way, shape, or form comparable to the people who have caused me pain in the past.  We three are all making huge compromises to make this work because WE LOVE EACH OTHER. Loving people should be so much simpler, no?

And so, here is a list of things that will buoy me up and get me over this late autumn hump:

Crafts with the girls in preparation for our home made Christmas tree
McIntosh apples
Crisp bike rides
My girlfriends and their babies
Weekend farmer’s markets and then cooking dinner with my family
Creating the Les Coquettes holiday show
Bubble baths!
Organizing OUR home
TV – renting a stellar HBO series and watching it curled up on the sofa with my tribe and a glass of red wine. I’m craving Deadwood, which neither of them have seen
The winter fair at the girls’ school. I’m actually making crafts for this!
Dinner with my family – my bio family AND my new family all under one roof
Letters to and from Alexandra
Pumpkin curry
The gym (I don’t know how I came to like this, but I really, really do)
Writing, writing, writing (I feel better already!)

I think that’s a good start. I’m sure there’s more, and feel free to send suggestions. I refuse to let a month on the calendar overcome me. I’m a lion for heaven’s sake.

If you’re reading this, it’s because I’ve had a long, lovely talk with my partners. I think I owe it to them to explain why I attempted to run away from home before I share it with the rest of the cyber universe.

Keeping It In The Cupboard

This is the first image I found when I Googled "inside the kitchen cupboard"

This is the first image I found when I Googled "inside the kitchen cupboard"

Last night I had a heart-to-heart with the male third of my triad. We launched into this seated on the kitchen floor, half tucked inside the cupboard where the Tupperwear is stored, because we were looking for suitable containers for the girls’ lunch.

I am the first in our triad to tell my parents about what is happening in my life. I decided to do this for three reasons:

1.) My mom can read my mind and would have very quickly figured out that something was up anyway.

2.) Once upon a time in my personal history I sort of ambushed her with really significant personal news. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time because she had so much on her own plate, but as it turns out, this is going to be on the very short list of things I regret, probably forever.

3.) My extended family has had WAAYYY too many secrets. My mom was open and honest with me about our family’s skeletons and stories from the time I was old enough to understand the answers to the questions I was asking. I’ve never lived with secrets myself, because I am convinced that they give you cancer.

I maintain that my partners should talk to their families when they feel the time is right. I really do think this is important, but part of me knows I can’t really settle into this, and really learn to feel secure until that hurdle has been met.

I’ve only met my male partner’s parents. Most of the year they live on another continent, but they’ve been in Toronto since August, and we’ve had three occasions now to spend time together. Usually in a crowded, noisy, fairly public situation. They think I’m a dear friend, and by some miracle, neither of the kids have said anything like “Are you gonna sleep over again tonight Schnoo?” or “Schnoo stays at our house all the time” in front of their grandparents. The current strategy is to have these folks get to know me as a Schnoo first, and then when the time is right, tell them the rest of the story. I am skeptical that there is ever a right time to tell your parents that you’ve taken on a second woman, who is a lover to your wife, and who you want to have more children with. Hmmm…

As for the kidlets, they also think I’m a dear friend who stays over. A lot. I suppose that’s right, isn’t it? I haven’t really stayed at the Fortress of Solitude for over a month. In November, the clan will head off continent to spend time with his family. Six weeks of time in fact. I think I’ve been stock-piling my time with them knowing how shitty November will be.

He might tell his parents in November.

So presently, as was the case last night, I am half in and half out of the cupboard. The result is a strange mixture of freedom and sadness. I just want to get it over with, you know? Face any impending shit storms head on. Engage in epic conversations with worried and angry parents now, and then really settle into my life. Our life. No more monitoring photos posted on Facebook by friends, no more pretending to sleep on the couch, no more worrying over what the children may say to their grandparents. I can make a home, we can make a home, both physically and emotionally, and that will be truly sweet.

This has made me reflect on my own familial relationships. My parents are clearly a huge influence in my world, because in my own head and heart I couldn’t really enter into this relationship until I’d told them what was happening. Maybe I seek their approval too much? Maybe I need to sever the umbilical cord, and trust that my decisions are 100% my own, and that my parents will love me whether or not they approve of my choices? I’m happy to report that I think they’re doing really well with everything, considering. My dad seemed his usual self when I finally saw him in person, and my mom, though still trying hard to understand, is making overtures of friendship and camaraderie with my partners. I’m really happy about this. Also, one of my aunts has been incredible, both as a supportive, non-judgemental ear for my mom, and an understanding confidante for me. It delights me that she can talk about God and the various ways that love can manifest with clarity and conviction.

Love like this has made me want to shout it from the rooftops, but that just isn’t very practical in such a situation. Instead, there is a particular Rubbermaid cereal container that I’ve been whispering my devotions into.