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Chicken pox. 72 hours later. Correction: 84

10 Sep

A lot of you might wonder what it’s like to have chicken pox. Actually, that’s probably not true. Because you all had it. When you were children. Like normal people. I, however, have a three-year-old’s disease – at 23.

My greatest bone to pick with the pox? I feel personally insulted at its affront to my dignity. Not only am I reduced to a 23-year-old woman who can’t be bothered to comb her hair or dress herself in anything vaguely appealing but I am covered head to toe in spots. Not nice cute little speckles. Oh no. Large scabby red marks cover my face and stomach and neck and arms…and well on and on the list goes.

It’s so bad that my friend is too scared to open a picture of my face when I send it and that my housemates say I look like death. And when I answer the door for the plumber I can see the fear in his eyes, the struggle not to stare at my nose that has changed shape from the spot placement. (Or maybe that’s just my paranoia).

I also hate the fact that when you tell everyone you have chicken pox they immediately picture you pox-ridden. Am I wrong here? And it’s not a pretty look, let’s face it.

Besides the fact I have a child’s disease, it’s just plain rubbish that as an adult I still don’t have the self-control not to scratch. I mean you might think that as an adult you’ve carefully honed your ability to postpone gratification specially when you know it will later do you harm, but this illness says, no, I am going to prove to you how child-like you are.

Sigh. Can’t wait for pox-phase to be over.

(Note: no picture was added to this post in keeping with not wanting to cause readers’ eyes undue stress)


Dutch Reach New Heights, in my Book

17 Apr

I crane my neck to catch glimpses of the men in the queue with me. They’re all tall, lean, fair-skinned and Dutch.

I’m not accustomed to this. At 5’8 I’ve always been tall for my gender. (The average Canadian woman is 5’4½).

While other girls trod around in high heels, I’ve avoided them, sticking flats—obviously for the purely altruistic reason of not wanting to intimidate passers-by with my height.

One of the few times when I did slip on 3-inch heels—rendering me 5’11 in case you can’t do the math—was at the launch party of our fourth year magazine, The Ryerson Review of Journalism. I had to be encouraged into heels by supportive friends and roommate. And what was the result?

Several group pictures where I’m slouching amongst my tiny Asian friends and the lasting memory of one comment from a tactful attendee: “That girl is taller than me!”

I haven’t worn heels since.

But, my one-day stay in Amsterdam has allayed my fears that I am sad female giant, destined to spend my life foraging for ways to seem shorter, and has provided me with hope that the fault lies with the too-short male gender—average height 5’9.

The answer? I don’t know. Maybe move to the Netherlands one day?

Diary of an Uncoordinated Ballerina

8 Apr

I settle into the plush, red seats next to my Canadian friends at the Royal Opera House. We’re among the few people dressed in jeans, surrounded by girls in pretty dresses (some ill-fitting and unflattering and others elegantly outfitted with accessories) and men in shirts—meaning dress shirts, my Canadian readers— and trousers. We’ve come here to delight in the ballet production of Cinderella.

As the lights dim, the curtains threaten to open and I sit there in anticipation, I’m reminded of the days when I imagined I’d be a ballerina–not just any ballerina, but a Prima Ballerina. Yes, my five-year-old clumsy past self once nursed this impossible dream, despite never having even seen a production (tonight is the first performance I’ve ever seen).

I have no recollection as to when or how I decided upon this future career path. I think I just wanted to wear the pretty costumes and have people fawn over me. But I’d like to imagine I had deeper reasons, like that I saw something in the faces of the dancers in posters and in films—the love that they felt for their art and the pain that they suffered at its hands.

Dancers in Pink 1 by Edgar Degas

Whatever my reason, my Mother and Father indulged my dream as much as they thought sensible. My father took me to a bookshop and bought me My Pretty Ballerina, a book about a little ballerina whose favourite day is Saturday because Saturday is ballet class, which I read over and over again until the pages faded.

They bought me a little pink tutu, which I pranced around the house in, attempting to imitate the moves I saw in the book.

My mother even specially ordered a print of an Edgar Degas painting to hang in my room. (Degas is famous for his depictions of ballerinas).

The one thing they refused to do, however, was send me to ballet classes, which they thought too expensive for their daughter, who had the enthusiasm, but not the penchant for footwork. Instead, they enrolled me in gymnastics class where I quickly proved to their fears—of my lack of coordination—to be true.

Dad, if you’re reading this, I don’t resent you for stomping out a little girls’ dream.

It didn’t take many classes of gymnastics for me to hang up my ballet slippers. Sure, I kept the painting on my wall but I stopped wearing the tutu and the book ended up on the floor of my closet somewhere. And when we moved to London years later, I didn’t take the painting, the tutu or the book.

That was the end of my dream.

Yet, as I watch the magic unfold on stage, I can’t help but feel a twitch of envy of that little girl who once dreamed the impossible.