Saturday, April 28, 2012

Beach Day

The ultimate summer treat.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... It's the moment we've all been waiting for... Summer has arrived! Well, at least it has in Italy! The weather is getting hotter than the new purse on display at Louis Vuitton (my birthday is only a couple months away, hint hint), and today was a whopping 27 degrees. So when Jeanny asked me if I wanted to spend the day at the beach with her, my immediate reaction was to pack my beach bag and head down to Ostia with her. Ostia is the beach in Rome that everyone flocks to between April and October, when the city is lingering with bus exhaust, millions of people, and humidity. Escaping to the sea was just what we needed, and apparently, hundreds of other people had the same idea.
This morning I grabbed the beach bag that came with the awesome purple bikini with the cool 
Jeanny and I at the beach. Note the
Italian flag wavering behind us.
print I bought here in Rome with my beach towel, reusable bottle of water, and some fruit. Jeanny and I met up at the train station where we stopped by the market before hopping on the metro and bought some cookies and paninis (tomato and mozzarella for me, salami for her). Unfortunately, I was an idiot when I got dressed this morning, and paired a long sleeve white shirt with Daisy Dukes and black leggings underneath. Clearly, I had seriously underestimated today's weather forecast. I knew that if I had wanted to survive the stickiness of the metro where people are packed tighter than sardines in a can, then I would have to shed some layers. Of course, the bathrooms cost 50 cents in the train station, and being the penny pincher that I am, Jeanny and I found a semi private area in the train station where I stripped down to my bathing suit bottoms and got changed. I don't think anyone saw, but as soon as I was done getting dressed while doubling over in laughter, I stuffed my leggings in my purse and we headed off. This taught me a truly valuable lesson - you can't really call a person your best friend until they've helped you get dressed in a busy train station.
After the metro ride was over, Jeanny introduced me to this incredible gelato shop (and I mean
incredible) that had really cheap prices and delicious flavours. On the way to the beach, I got blueberry and cotton candy. On the way back, I got watermelon and blueberry again. Although I've been super committed to my new workout regimen and healthy lifestyle I've been working on for the past couple of weeks, well... I hate to join the bandwagon as I seriously cannot stand this expression, but... YOITO. You're Only In Italy Once, right? Hopefully not once, but after June I don't know when I'll come back, and I feel responsible for enjoying this creamy treat as often as I possibly can.
What a day we had! We spent some time laying on the beach getting some colour, having girl talk, and admiring everyone else's choice in swimsuit wear for a few hours, sans sunscreen. BIG MISTAKE! I don't have any lotion left, and I got a bit of a sunburn. I feel like such a hypocrite for always lecturing my friends about how bad the sun is for your skin and how
you should take care of yourself. I feel ashamed for allowing myself to frolic on the beach without any form of SPF. 
Being the brave girls we are, Jeanny and I decided to jump into the sea. Oh, did I say jump? What I meant to say was timidly tip toe into the beach's edge where we screamed at the frigidness of the water. It wasn't so terrible, though. After a while it felt better, and the further we went out, the less cold we were. It's April, and I've already been swimming! Hopefully this sunburn will fade soon, because I'm supposed to go to a picnic at Villa Pamphili tomorrow.
Villa Pamphili is my European oasis. I've spent the past several days here jogging and working out. The park is massive and is filled with these cool trees that look like the ones from The Lion
King, and there are plenty of beautiful fountains to admire. Not only that, but there is also a beautiful pond with willow trees that is inhabited by swans and turtles. When Kelsey and I went for a jog together on Thursday morning, we literally saw dozens upon dozens of turtles there. There had to be hundreds. Most of them were average sized, but we saw a bigger one with a pointed nose that had to be a snapping turtle, and a mini baby who we called Piccolo (Italian for small). 
I'm also hoping my sunburn fades soon because I have my trip to London next Saturday, and Amsterdam the following Wednesday. I don't want to give people the impression that Canadians have pink skin, nor do I want to look like a flamingo in my pictures. It feels like everything is coming up so soon, and time really does fly when you're having fun. I have so much to look forward to, and it's hard to believe that in a week, I'm going to visit two new countries I've never explored before. This entire experience of mine has been so amazing, and for all of those who religiously read my blog, here's some exciting news for you...
THIS IS THE 100th POST!!! Thank you all so much for reading my work and showing interest in my experience abroad. I know it's not over yet, but I appreciate all of those who take the time out of their day to listen to what I have to say. Here's to 100 posts of the University of Life!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Barefoot & Crazy

The mental image in my mind right now.
You know that scene in Home Alone where Kevin realizes that his parents left him in their giant King sized bed while they jet off to an exotic location for Christmas? That's exactly how I feel right now. And what a wonderful feeling it is! Since my kids go to the French school, they have holidays galore. Their last day of school was Friday, and they have a vacation that lasts over two whole weeks, giving me free time to do whatever I please in Rome until my trip to London and Amsterdam. The family left early this morning and I had yesterday off, so I feel more free than ever. The Filipino's are still here so I'm not totally alone, which is fine, because I'm not sure whether or not I'd really want to stay in this big Italian palace all by myself. 
When I woke up, the house was quiet. I could actually hear birds chirping instead of the loud 
Italian voices that are usually the soundtrack of my life here. No crying, no arguing, no conversation, niente. It was beautiful. Although au pairing has it's benefits, I seriously needed a break from all of this chaos. I set the breakfast table up elaborately and took my sweet time starting the day. I had every kind of fruit and yogurt imaginable laid out in front of me with an Italian newspaper by my side (I can understand it now, by the way!). Then I asked myself my favourite question; What do you want to do today, MichElle? The options were endless. I decided that I wanted to soak up some sun after last weeks constant rainfall. I wanted to read more of that book I bought while shopping in Florence.
I want to relax. And so I did. It's late afternoon now, and I've spent the whole day being lazy up on my rooftop. I tanned in the sun for a bit (with sunscreen, or course). I took a nap. I read a good chunk of my book. I leafed through my Amsterdam guidebook. I ate some fruit. And then, after
several hours, I came back inside to observe the slight tan I got and grabbed my laptop, only to go back up to the rooftop and type a new blog post. I have never felt as free as I do right now. I can see nearly all of Campo dei Fiori, and the sun is hot hot hot. I'm relaxed and happy and I've never felt as good as I do right here, right now. 
Tonight, my friend Kelsey is coming over for a sleepover where we'll drink red wine, eat popcorn, share stories and watch a movie in the screening room. She's not coming over until after dinner, so I still have time to do whatever my little heart desires. Since I'm feeling so alive, I'm going to go burn some of this energy off by jogging towards Castel St. Angelo and then take an extended bath filled with scented candles, classical music, bubbles and champagne (why not start this party early, right?). Everyone should have a day like this once in a while. 
Tomorrow is also the one week mark until my sister flies to Rome. Life, as I know it, is so sweet right now. I hope everyone else is feeling the same way. May your night consist of good wine, good friends, and dancing barefoot on rooftops. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Road Untraveled

Lately, I've been getting a lot of e-mails and questions from students who went to my old high school, and other students in my hometown. It seems that there's this growing trend of people who are confused about what to do with their lives and aren't sure what to do after graduation. Most of the people who have peppered me with questions are in the 10th and 11th grade and have told me that they've spent hours thinking about how confused they were about what classes to take that would ultimately lead them into the right universities for their chosen program. What does one do when they have to choose courses for the upcoming fall and doesn't know what to do? They book an appointment with their school guidance counsellor, of course.
I was fortunate to know that I wanted to study journalism since I was 13 years old, when an article I wrote about the rise of childhood obesity was published in my local newspaper. I got my fifteen minutes of fame, and I loved seeing my name in print. But more than that, I knew I had a passion for writing, and that I wouldn't be one of those people who had absolutely no idea what to do with their life. I was so lucky to know at such a young age what I wanted to do. My mom says that 
Pure bliss.
when I was a child, she caught me in her mirror while driving. My sister and I were both sitting in the backseat while she was beside me in my car seat. She was reading a book, and I was jealous. Anything she did, I had to follow suit. I, too, was trying to read a book, but was holding it upside down. Also, we had this nightly tradition for my mother to read to my sister and I before bed. We would crawl under the covers while my mom recited a few chapters of the latest Junie B. Jones novels or something else that we loved. As any parent wishes, my mom had wanted me to succeed in learning to read on my own. And I did learn - fast. And as soon as I learned how to read on my own, I took everything off the bookshelf and began reading on my own. I think I broke my mother's heart a little by ruining our tradition.
What I didn't expect was the turn of events that took place during my senior year of high school. I applied to three different universities for their journalism programs, and gotten into every single one. And I didn't give a damn. 
While clicking on the "read" button on e-mails and ripping envelopes open to read the 
This is what the goal should look like.
"Congratulations!" that loomed inside, I felt empty. Happy to be accepted and recognized for my talent and honor roll grades, but surprised at how little I cared. This says a lot, considering I am a person whose excitement of winning $3 on a lottery ticket is greater than the average person who wins the jackpot. I'm loud and full of emotion. So upon being accepted to each of the schools I applied to, I should've had a heart attack. This is how I knew that something was very wrong.
I've always had a knack for traveling. Don't be fooled, though - I come from a middle class family, and traveling throughout North America and Europe does not mean I have a Swiss bank account. All it means is that my passion for exploring the
With my papa Whyte, cousin Zack, and
sister on my first trip to Mexico.
world is so great, that I was willing to save up money and actually do it. My first ever vacation was when I was five years old and in kindergarten. My mom picked my sister and I up from school, and as we were leaving the building, we ran into another student who lived next door. His name was Jack. "Where are you guys going?" he asked. "Mexico!" my mom told him. I remember him not believing us, and it was then that I realized that Mexico must be somewhere far and special. But I was too young to understand much, even though I had seen suitcases scattered across the house filled with summery clothes and bathing suits.
Then I went on an exchange program in France for my second semester of grade 11. And after getting a taste of Europe, I knew I had wanted to return. And so instead of going to university, which I wasn't excited about, I did return. It began with a visit from one of my best friends Shayna Dwor. Shayna graduated the year before me, and had moved to Milan to work as an au pair and take a gap year. She encouraged me to do the same, and I opened up about my feelings about university. Then I slowly told everyone I knew what I had wanted to do, and the response was surprising. My family was all for it. My parents, my sister, grandparents, cousins, and everyone else with whom I shared blood had told me to go for it. And yet my friends rolled their eyes after telling them about my dreams. They told me that they didn't really
think I would do it and that I was being totally irresponsible for not furthering my education. These people were very, very, wrong. 
I'm not really close with those people anymore, because our friendships changed. Or rather, I changed. I don't really know. While I don't disrespect them for taking the comfortable route by living at home with their parents and going to school in our area, I couldn't relate to people who had scrutinized me for wanting to do something bigger with my life. At the same time, my sister had still lived at home and had gone to the university just 30 minutes away. And yet I was able to talk with her about my plans to travel and she was nothing but happy for me. And now, I am finding out that many of the people I knew from high school are switching their schools or programs because they weren't satisfied with what they got. Even those who are happy in their own situations have told me that they regret not doing what I did, because I did something unregrettable. Everyone talks about the dream of traveling through Europe after school, but how many people actually do it? I wanted to be one of the few people who chased after my dreams.
And so here I am in Rome, Italy. Opportunities sprouted out in other Italian cities, in Switzerland,
Passport? Check.
Map? Check.
Bravery? Check.
Germany, and other European regions. But I didn't want to settle for good. I wanted Rome, and I got it. I made an appointment with the Italian Embassy in Toronto to obtain my travel visa that would allow me to stay overseas for over 3 months. I extended my health insurance. I booked my ticket. I found a job. I became an au pair, which is necessary for me to live somewhere rent free while still making money. I've been living here since September, and I don't regret it one bit.
These students from home have contacted me because they heard about my blog or because they heard from a friend about MichElle Pressé, the girl who graduated last year and moved to Italy. I also found out from a couple people that one of my school's guidance councillors has continuously used me as an example when students come into her office
and freak out about their futures. She tells them about me and what I did, and offers them my name and e-mail to speak with me over the Internet about my experience. I love it when people are interested in taking a gap year, and I encourage everyone to do it. Most people who are 18 years old do not know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. It's a huge decision, and at such a young age, you aren't exposed to the experiences you need in order to not have regrets. You've been sitting in a classroom for the majority of your existence with nothing but a two month break in between. But it is in my own personal belief and experience that a person becomes who they are upon solitude and travel. Everyone needs to do something that scares them.
Someone once asked me if I wanted to go to Europe to find myself. "I'm not going to find myself," I replied. "I'm going to create myself."
I know now who I am, what I want in life, what I don't want in life, and what kind of people I enjoy spending time with. I have transformed from a high school student to a mature young woman who wants to make her mark in the world through her writing, and who enjoys poking fun at herself and making other people laugh at her own expense. But even though I know who I am, I recognize that I am still so young, and have so much to learn. I can't wait to see where I'll go, who I'll meet, and what other lessons I'll learn throughout the course of my life. So far, I'm more than happy with it, all because I took a risk that turned out to be well worth it.
For anyone who isn't sure about pursuing their post-secondary education right away, here are some words of advice from yours truly. School and home will always be there. The opportunity to hone your craft or learn about biochemistry in a classroom aren't going anywhere. But how 
The edge of glory.
often does the opportunity to travel through Europe and be young and free arise? Not often. I've found that there are two types of people who exist in our world. Those who are satisfied with comfort, and those who are not. If you feel prepared and satisfied with going to school right away, then congratulations. That's wonderful, and I'm sure that if you're satisfied with that, then you're making the right decision. But if you aren't, please don't waste your time or money or worries on something that you're not 100% sure about. If you want to do something grand, then do it. As the brilliant Robert Frost once said, "A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body - the wishbone."
So what are you all waiting for? The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page. You only life once, and life is too short to be comfortable. For those of you reader's who are older and wish you had taken the plunge in your youth, there's still hope. Age is defined not by the number of birthday candles on your cake, but how old you think you are. If you're interested in the abroad experience, take a look at an article I read today called "Backpacking across Europe, 20 years past prime." I know that one day when I am a glamorous old grandmother, some of my best stories that I will share with my grandkids will begin with, "This one time, when I lived in Italy..." 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Best News A Person Could Ever Receive

Contrary to popular belief, I do have feelings. What do I look like to you people - the Grinch?
The resemblance is so nonexistent.
Forget the green hair - I would never
wear a German lederhosen in
December. Puh-lease.
Not only am I lacking a body infested with green hair, but I also do not have critters crawling around my teeth, nor is my heart six sizes too small. I got an e-mail last night from a reader who decided to pour their feelings out against my last post on the movie "Juno." This e-mail outlined the fact that I should be ashamed of myself for writing a post that was not written by me, and how dare I invite people to read such an account in which was not my own personal creativity. Crickets. What?
After reading the e-mail over a second time, I wrote back as fast as my tiny little fingers would move across the keyboard. First of all, buddy, I was not academically dishonest. Hell-o, if you had actually read the post, the first paragraph was me saying, "Hey guys, saw something cool on the Internet by The Editing Room, check it out!" I gave them credit! I wrapped the message up after that and asked her to please continue to follow my work. Less than ten minutes later a "You Got Mail" voice over came from my inbox. Just kidding. But seriously, how can I make a cool voice say that upon a new e-mail popping up? The simple script of "you have one new message" just isn't cutting it anymore.
The person basically said that no, that's not what they meant. Rather, it was a light hearted 
Comparison to vegetable soup? Ok.
Comparison to the Grinch? Not ok.
message in disappointment that I would tease my audience by making it seem as though I was going to write a new post full of interesting details, funny stories, or whatever it is I do that keeps you guys coming back for more. "I didn't mean it!" the reply continued. "I actually love your writing." Oh. Ok, good. Sorry about that, for anyone else who was disappointed if I had led you all to believe that that post was about to take you all on a new journey of my life. My reader concluded the e-mail by saying, "Keep them coming. I could eat your blog right up." Tickle me pink! What a compliment that was. Well, in that case, I'm happy to hear that you don't see me as a Grinch after all, but rather a big, hearty bowl of vegetable soup full of, as I said before, whatever it is that makes you guys keep coming back for more. 
Castel St. Angelo
Today was the final day of Culture Week, and I'm going to suggest to the mayor that they should extend Culture Week into Culture Month (with a small paragraph on how gelato should be free during this period, too). I spent it with my Swedish friend Erika at Castel St. Angelo! I've been dying to go since I arrived in Rome, but knew that admission was expensive and that I could go in for free and April. And so I did. Or rather, we did. It's located at the opposite end of the Vatican and was designed between 123 and 129 A.D. The name comes from the legend of Saint Gregorio Magno, who had a dream about an angel appearing in the fortress who announced the end of the Plague. In 1500, the famous 
The castle gives some of the best views of Rome.
Italian artist Rafaello di Montelupo created a statue of he angel that is now on display in the Corile d'Onore. The castle was used as a prison for nearly three centuries. So as you can see... I had quite the day. In other news from Rome, yesterday was Rome's 2765th birthday! Like a fine wine, this city gets better with age.
It's hard to believe that this journey of mine will soon be over. I'm not quite ready to let it go yet, but at the same time, coming home will feel something like meeting Stephen Harper and punching him square in the face for being the crown fool of Canada, or being asked out on a date by Ryan Gosling. Or like seeing your sister for the first time after nearly eight whole months. I know I already mentioned it to you that my older sister
is coming to Europe, but do you know just how excited I
am? Very excited! I'm picking her up at the Fiumincino airport in Rome at 10 am in exactly 10 days now. I even made a sign with her name on it to hold up, just in case we don't recognize each other after all the time apart. It's on a blank white sheet with the words NICOLE spread across in big, glittery letter's that can be seen all the way from a galaxy far, far away.
Hmm... where to begin with my next piece of news (aren't I just full of new things to tell you every time I write?). Well, here goes. A new member is being introduced to the Pressé clan. A girl who goes to my old high school and I have each other on Facebook. This girl, whose name is Chanel, worked with my sister once upon a time, and she was also on the Italy trip when my school came to visit in March. My family has been hunting (not literally) for a puppy to hopefully adopt in June or July. Ideally, we wanted a golden retriever/yellow lab mix, but we weren't having any luck. No one we knew or contacted was breeding their golden/lab 
dogs, no one was advertising them, and we'd even been searching rescue homes. Niente (Italian for "nothing"). Well, I was browsing through my newsfeed when a picture of Chanel popped up of her holding what looked like a naked mole rat. When I clicked on the picture to make it bigger, it was a puppy! Could it be? I asked myself. Is this the one? 
I inquired about the mole rat puppy that was cradled in her arms, and it turns out that her boyfriend's parents had bred their yellow lab who just had puppies a couple weeks ago. I asked for the information, and was given the mother's phone number, who I passed along to my own mom. After their collaboration, her and my sister went to visit the home and... Wait for it... BOUGHT A PUPPY!!!
I can hardly contain my excitement, not that I'm even trying to. Because the litter of eight were just born, they still need to spend a couple months with their mom. When my mom asked what date they could be picked up, we were dropped with this tidbit that makes the whole situation 
What I imagine the little babe will look like.
so meant to be - June 6th. As in, the day I come home. Since we don't want to drag the poor thing all the way to the airport or bring him to my grandparents house for my homecoming dinner, we're picking up our little bundle of joy on Thursday afternoon after my haircut, where the two of us will play and bond in the backseat of a car (something I usually reserved for my high school football team. Kidding!). 
Anyway, it's settled. My family and I have bought an adorable yellow lab puppy that I get to snuggle and spoil for it's entire life. Ladies and gentlemen, not only is Facebook a place where relationships begin with a friend request and a "Have we met? :)", but it is also a place in which you can find a new member of the family to bring into your home. Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg.
Now, the real debate begins - what will we name him? Because, yes, he's a he. A him. A baby boy that I will sneak out of his crate and keep him tucked under my arms like a live teddy bear 
in the middle of the night. Right now, our family is at war between two names. Well, not really. It's more like my mom, sister and I against our dad. The three of us gal pals have already dubbed him as Sampson. It's cute, right? Sampson. It's full of cute nicknames that we've already started babying him with such as Samosa, Sir Sam-sa-lot, Sam-I-Am, Samsonite, Sammy, and so on. But a name I suggested during my parents trip to Italy was Lucca, which I half regret, because my dad claims that he doesn't like Sampson and that his name must be Lucca. I obviously like it too since I'm the genius who came up with it. It's Italian, so really, what's not to like? My issue is that there aren't as many nicknames to go with it.
My dad's argument is that he's the only guy in the house and that this dog will be his buddy, and he doesn't want to call it something girly. First of all, Sir, we also have a male cat in the house whose name is Boo Friend, so don't say you're the only male in the house. I even have a Siamese fighting fish named Kevin, although I'm unsure of the actual gender. But Sampson isn't even a girly name at all, right? And let's be real here... Who gives a tiny naked mole rat's ass? As for the further complaint about not having a male domain in the house due to the forever smell of fresh flower's and clique decorations that have to do with my mom's beach theme such as photo frames with "life is better at the beach" scrolled across in girly writing, I have to correct you again. You have a shed where you keep garden tools, a dart board, and old hockey sticks. So there.

Friday, April 20, 2012

If Juno Was 10 Times Shorter & 100 Times More Honest

Yesterday I came across a script so hilarious, that I knew I had to share it with you guys. Ok, so you've all seen the indie flick (yes, I just said indie flick) Juno, right? Well, the editors from The Editing Room decided to make it more realistic. They rewrote the entire movie by making it a whole lot shorter, way more honest, and hysterical. I, for one, like this version much better than the original. I hope you like it too!

ELLEN PAGE [guzzles SUNNY D as some obnoxious INDIE SONG blares in the background so that everyone knows that this is an intellectual, independent film. She enters a convenience store and meets RAINN WILSON.]

I need to use the bathroom, as I've been downing delicious, high-quality Sunny Delight for the past hour.

Sunny Delight? You mean the delicious orange-flavored drink containing a full day's supply of vitamin C in every serving?

That's right! I found it in the fridge, behind the purple stuff! Now relinquish the bathroom key geeves, I for shizz need to spout.

I can barely understand you. Is there a reason you're talking like what seems like a teenager designed by a committee of adults that have researched youth by watching MTV around the clock?

Yes, and you better start talking like that too or you'll have no place in the movie, Dwight.

Oh, er, uh, I mean that's one doodle that can't be undid homeskillet oh my god I need a new agent.

You're so quirky! And so am I!

ELLEN [pisses on a pregnancy test and it tells her that she's PREGNANT as well as PRECOCIOUS.]

This sucks. The only thing left to do is walk home morosely while yet another obnoxious indie song blares.

ELLEN [walks home, then calls her friend OLIVIA THIRLBY.]

Hey Olivia. So I'm pregs for real.


Holy crap, what the hell are you saying? Did someone encrypt your copy of the script or something?


Yeah. First I need you to help me salvage the chair I lost my virginity in, which is on a lawn for some reason that is almost definitely quirky.

[They take the chair, then ELLEN sets up an entire living room set in front of MICHAEL CERA'S HOME.]

Ellen, hey. I like the couch on my front sidewalk, it's incredibly quirky of you.

Yeah, well I'm pretty quirky.

So what are you doing here? Do you need someth-

Wait, hold on. Your track team is about to come running by and I need to do a voiceover narration for no particularly reason, even though I only do it like three more times in the entire movie.

Whenever I see the track team, I can't help but picture their penises, because doing so allows me to explain that fact in a voiceover narration that I can end with the very hip term "pork swords."

Alright, sorry about that. What were we talking about? Oh right, I'm pregnant and it's yours.

Rather than freak the hell out like a typical high school student, I'm going to sputter around for words awkwardly and barely finish complete sentences. It's kind of my thing.

ELLEN [calls an ABORTION CLINIC to make an appointment.]

Crimson River Abortion Clinic, how may I help you?

Hi. I'd like to make an appointment for an abortion. Oh wait hang on my Hamburger Phone is acting up.
(shakes phone)
Alright, there we go.

Alright, well just come in any time and we can tak-

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don't think you heard me. I'm talking on a HAMBURGER PHONE. How zany is that? That's for shizz quirky.

ELLEN [goes to the CLINIC and signs in. Another INDIE SONG blares over the scene to make sure you remember that you are supporting INDEPENDENT CINEMA by watching this movie.]

Please sign in here. Do you want a free condom? They make my boyfriend's penis taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Wow, what a completely quirky and inappropriate thing to say to a complete stranger!

I know, right!?

ELLEN [suddenly runs out of the CLINIC and visits her friend OLIVIA.]


I decided I want to keep the baby so that I can star in a wholly overrated independent film about a teenager giving her baby to a childless couple.

ELLEN [sits down to talk to her father and stepmother.]

So, I'm pregnant.


Dad, you're in an indie flick, remember?

Oh right. Sorry, I didn't mean to blow up, I meant to make a dry, sarcastic remark.

And I'd like to follow that up with a second barb.

It's Michael Cera's. The kid from Arrested Development.

Huh. I didn't think he had it in him.

What, sperm?

ELLEN [goes ahead with her pregnancy and the movie SAVED plays
out with fewer jokes and more pretentiousness. ELLEN finds a couple to adopt her kid: JASON BATEMAN and JENNIFER GARNER. ELLEN goes to meet them.]

We're so happy you'd consider us despite the fact that I starred in Elektra.

So who is the father of the little bastard?

Oh, just this awkward, typecast kid at school named Michael Cera.

No shit? He played my son on Arrested Development. I look forward to the scene in this movie that reunites us for the first time since the show was canceled, which is sure to be a real pleasure for fans.
[That scene NEVER HAPPENS. ELLEN agrees to give her kid to JENNIFER and JASON.
TIME PASSES and MORE INDIE ROCK MUSIC PLAYS. ELLEN goes through the various scenes that movies about pregnant people are obligated to include. She visits JASON BATEMAN.]

Hey Ellen. Want to watch some indie horror films and listen to some indie music together?

That sounds great! I sure hope that watching the movie isn't interrupted by me having to go puke my guts out, sweaty and hunched over the toilet.
Just kidding, none of that crap happens in the movie. Pregnancy is easy-peasy.

Well, I have good news. I'm leaving Jennifer Garner.

Why, because your marriage to her has robbed you of your youth, which you have been reminded of since you started hanging around with me?

No, I just rented 13 Going On 30. I can't even look at her now. Has she been in anything good?

Oh. Because if it was the other thing, then you could take notice of the fact that I remind you of your younger days despite the fact that my current predicament requires a level of maturity far beyond my years, and you could enjoy the contrast between our situations that is ironically illustrated by having us both get along so well.

How artistic!

You're goddamn right it is! Bring on the Oscars!

[LIVEJOURNAL: THE MOVIE continues. JASON abandons JENNIFER GARNER. ELLEN page gives birth while some more INDIE MUSIC plays.]

Yay, now I get to raise an adopted kid in a broken home so that I can be overly protective and insane.

And I passed all of my classes and everything! Pregnancy is as unobtrusive as it is without consequence!

So now that you popped the kid out, I think we're in love with each other. What should we do to express our love? Make out? Have sex again? Go buy seasons one through three of Arrested Development?

Have you been watching a different movie? We should play yet more indie music together.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dead Bodies, Blind Prostitues, & Other Theories

I have many theories that I constantly think about, but do not share with anyone. First of all, I don't have any trusted scientists in my close circle of friends, and secondly, I don't think that 
anyone would take my theories or ideas seriously. But hey - there have been plenty of theories that have proven themselves true (therefore are no longer considered theories), so why not throw my own out there? If anyone is interested in further information on anything you read on my blog, please contact me with a generous sum of money that you would be willing to pay me in order to spill the beans more than I'm about to.
Lately I've fallen head over heels in love with this YouTube channel called "communitychannel" that is run by an Australian  named Natalie Tran. This woman is a genius, if I ever did see one. She is hilarious (and so is her Vietnam-born mother, whom is constantly telling Natalie to appreciate everything by telling her at the end of dinner, "There's still meat on that bone"). 
Anyway, you have to check her out. But Natalie shared a theory she has that gave me a total light bulb moment, and I wanted to punch myself for not thinking of it first. This is what Natalie calls the "Jogger's & Dead Bodies Theory." Please watch the video above in order to find out what this genius idea is all about. Not only is the theory itself a masterpiece, but Natalie has an adorable accent, is totally lovable, and you must check out her other videos. My favourite besides this one is the "Talking Trash To Mum." 
To give you some more insight, the Joggers and Dead Bodies theory is that if you run in the morning, chances are, you're going to find a dead body. On the news and at the beginning of C.S.I shows, it's always a jogger who finds the dead body from an early morning sprint. 
In order to avoid being the jogger who finds the dead body in the morning, Natalie decides to jog at night instead with her friend Kieran. However, it's my theory that the people who go jogging at night are the people who are raped and killed, only to be found by the morning joggers. I'd rather be a morning jogger who needs to go to therapy for the next 25 years of my life because of the horrors of finding a dead body than actually being the dead body.
Moving along to my theory about blind prostitutes... This is going to be a touchy subject (no pun 
I think it would be beyond inappropriate to put a
picture of a prostitute or a blind person, but this area
was lacking an image, so I decided to google "Happy
Cat" and put it here instead. Sorry for that one.
intended). I'm not really sure how to handle it (no pun intended). Oh well, let's just get it over with and do it (again; no pun intended.) I can't believe I'm exposing actually writing about this. Ok, so we all know that working as a prostitute isn't exactly the best job to have. You can't invite your parents to come visit you at work (well, I suppose you could, but that might make things awkward). It's not a respectable way to make money. And let's be honest... Who wants to work in an environment that requires you to visit the gynecologist more often than Lindsay Lohan visits court? These facts alone would make me an unhappy prostitute. 
But I bet the job would be even worse if you have a client who is one of the ugliest people that the Lord has made. You know what I'm talking about. If the clients were attractive, the job would ultimately be less horrible. In reality, if someone was attractive, they wouldn't need to hire someone to sleep with them - they could just go to the bar, buy a girl a drink, and then 
Insert sign of the cross and gospel music.
proceed to ask her if she's wearing space pants because her ass is out of this world. I think it's safe to say that most people who have to pay for sex aren't attractive, and this fact alone makes the job suck (again; no pun intended). But if the prostitute was blind, it probably wouldn't be so bad... Right? Ok, I know... I'm terrible.
I also would like to talk about Cosmopolitan magazine for a minute. First off, I love the magazine. It's my own Holy Bible/Torah/Quran. I am so religious in these scriptures that I even read it once a month when a brand new copy is delivered in my mailbox. But some of the advice they give? It's weird. Like, over the top weird. Most of this "advice" is apparently written by men. I don't know if I'm buying that. Do guys like "Matt, 27", and "Josh, 23", actually send in their best sex tips to Cosmo? Probably not. The truth is that these tips are probably written by a single, middle aged woman who spends her time in a cubicle at the office, trying to think of freaky things to write down and disguise them as men across America. It's creepy. Kind of ruins the romance, right? Well, I've complied a list of hilarious and freaky advice that I've come across through the many pages of my spiritual 
readings. Adventure is nice, but... Well, take a look for yourself:
1. "Ask him over for dessert. Lie naked with a few pieces of chocolate on you that he can nibble off." (Could you actually imagine your boyfriend or girlfriend inviting you over for dessert, only to find them laying on the bed with crumbling pieces of a Snicker's Bar covering their... parts? Yeah. Me neither. Takes on the "lot's of nut's" idea too literally)
2. "Hold some sparkling water in your mouth while giving him oral. The bubbles plus warmth will make him quiver." (Great idea, Cosmo. As if leaning over the bedside table to take a swig of sparking water before going down on someone isn't going to raise any uncomfortable questions, this will also make us choke. Not sexy.)
3. "Introduce grapes in the bedroom." (What? WHY! So many questions arise here. To feed? To rub on each other? Do you pick them off the bunch first? And again... WHY?)
Eating grapes at a wine and cheese
picnic? Hot. Rubbing the grapes all
over you in attempt to be sexy? Not.

4. "Rub ice on his G-Spot." (First all of those who don't read Cosmo, yes, men have one. But I'm not sure they care, since it's located between his butt and his balls. Another suggestion Cosmo made was to press on it. But then they added ice to the equation? Ice? ...Really? I can't help but imagine what would make a man more more turned off before sex - the ice, or moaning your exes name while he's heading down south. Either way, let's not put it to the test.)
5. "Run your tongue along the outer rim of his ear. It's a sensitive spot that's usually ignored, and feeling your hot breath will really get him going." (I actually laughed out loud at this one. Cosmo, let's stop here, before you continue to shove your foot even further down your throat. Erm, I mean, ear.)
My final "theory", if you will, is really more of a personal opinion that I think most people will agree with. I can't help but get annoyed when couples are constantly communicating with each other through Facebook from detailing very extravagant plans such as, "Hey sweetie! I'm SO EXCITED to go out for dinner tonight... I love you so much... Thanks for spoiling me hehe!" to a simple heart on the wall. I know what you're thinking. You probably think I'm saying this because, "I'm a bitter girl who can't get a boyfriend who obviously is jealous." First of all, I'm not bitter. And secondly, the opportunity for me to date has arose on plenty of occasions in Italy. Being single is a choice that I'm happy with. And jealous? Are you kidding me? Spare the ridiculousness, please.
Constantly writing on each other's Facebook obviously means that you want all 672 of your friends to see what a perfect relationship you have. I don't think it's a problem if it happens occasionally, but let's be blunt here. Why don't you just text each other and make plans in private rather than debate "who loves who more" in front of the entire world? Theoretically, it's the couples who do things like this who are the most unstable and insecure. Then again, this theory is coming from a girl who thinks that blind prostitutes don't have it so bad. Agree/disagree with whatever you like.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Commit To Fit

There's nothing sexy about being lazy.
Seriously. Nothing. Tell me one thing that's hot about it... Still thinking? Exactly. Which is why I've recently decided to commit to fit. Do you know how hard it is to do this while in Italy? Don't get me wrong - I still treat myself to pizza and gelato occasionally. But I eat it in moderation, which is a testimony as to how serious I truly am about becoming a more fit, energized, and stronger version of myself.
I've expressed time and time again about how I'm a big believer in having confidence and being happy with yourself and your body no matter what size you are. I think that all body shapes are beautiful and that there's nothing wrong with having a little meat on your bones. If I could l trade bodies with any celebrity, it would be Adele, who is far beyond my size. But I think she's so stunningly beautiful (even if Karl Lagerfield doesn't necessarily agree). However, I've recently taken it upon myself to get myself into shape.
When I say "get into shape," I don't mean that I want to lose weight, because I don't (but if you 
It's all about balance.
do, by all means). What I mean is that I just want to be healthier. I want to be able to run ten flights of stairs without collapsing when I get to the top. And, yes, the outline of a six pack I hope to have before the time I leave Italy and head home for the summer will just be a bonus. 
Everyone always claims that they're going to get in shape by exercising more and cutting junk food out of their life, but how many people last longer than the span of seven days? I've been motivated enough that, for the first time ever, I have kept this promise to myself and have passed the one week mark that people usually stop at. Every morning for over a week, I've been waking up at 6:30 am and jogging through the streets of Rome before having to wake the kids up. I haven't even had to dodge anyone on the sidewalks, because there's hardly anyone out at that time. The other benefit of jogging first thing in the morning is the immediate energy I have that most people don't have until lunch time. I've never felt so alive in my entire life, and I don't know what to do with all this liveliness except 
run. The kids used to be used to me coming into their bedroom while still in my own pj's while yawning and helping them get ready. I think they're afraid now that I've been opening their curtains while donning my workout gear and behaving cheerier at 7:30 in the morning than most people are at any time of day.
I've also been enjoying my meals and making the most of them. I don't mean scarfing down a McDonald's meal inside within ten minutes. I've been using my cooking skills and switching it up every day so I don't get bored with my meals, and I've been eating them all outside in the courtyard. There is an unexplainable pleasure in enjoying something delicious while seated at a dolled-up table in which bamboo sticks canopy over top. Healthy food, fresh air, sun, and beautiful scenery are the main ingredients in midday happiness. 
Something we do at home in Canada is replace real fruit with artificially flavoured, sugar 
Honestly, it doesn't even look good.
packed junk (nonetheless delicious). When we want something that tastes like strawberries, we opt for marshmallow strawberries rather than actual strawberries. People of the world - stop doing this! It's killing you, and you're not taking advantage of the earth's harvest and enjoying it's delectable goodness that isn't transformed into something that will clog your arteries before you hit the big 5-0. 
Not sure where to get started? Here's a few suggestions to kick start your own commit to fit. Don't do it because you want to impress someone else; your life isn't a monument to anyone. Commit to fit because you deserve to lead a better life. Commit to fit because you should be confident, happier, and because you should want to increase your chances of living as long as you possibly can. Life is too short for you to sit
around on the couch eating an entire bag of potato chips while half-dead on the couch watching mindless TV like Jersey Shore and The Bachelor... You're welcome!
1. Add something cute to your workout drawer to get you motivated. Hey - if a pair of spandex shorts from Lululemon is what it takes to get yourself on the treadmill, it's more than a pair of shorts - it's an investment, right?!
2. Introduce new (healthy!) foods into your life. Mixing it up and having variety will keep meal time from being boring.
3. Do not, on any condition, eat in front of the TV. You're focusing on whatever's on the screen, not what's on your plate. People who eat while watching TV tend to eat approximately 40% more than those who don't. 40%!
4. Have a fun workout. Even if you don't like to exercise, there is always something out there that is physically enticing for everyone. Try zumba, salsa dancing, or beach volleyball.
Your new best friend.
5. Listen to music! Create an upbeat playlist on your iPod to get you pumped up.
6. Don't let a rainy day (or week) interrupt your new lifestyle changes. Do squats, lift weights, watch a workout video, or play Wii to get you active indoors.
7. Drink water, and lot's of it. Eight glasses a day is what every person needs in order to stay hydrated. Not only is it good for your body, but it also contributes to the well being of your hair, skin, and nails.
8. Switch up your location. Instead of jogging at the track around your school's football field or in the ring on top of the gym, take yourself for a jog on the beach or in a beautiful park.
9. Find a workout buddy! Run, lift weights, or do a dance class together. Find something competitive to do like tennis or racing. Not only will you be more motivated to show off your strength to someone else, but it's fun to have someone to share your goals with.
10. Forget the scale. Weight is just a number - health is about loving how you look and feeling physically fit, even if the number isn't what you dream of.
11. Do not, by any means, diet. I'm going to give you a scenario in why they don't work. *Tommy wants to lose 15 pounds in order to impress *Janice, that hot blonde with the killer legs on his 
Please throw this away. Far, far away.
college volleyball team. But oh, no... After an immense amount of Facebook creeping, Tommy sees that Janice's ex boyfriends are all jacked. In order to feel more confident in pursuing the woman of his dreams, Tommy decides to go on a diet. After a lot of hard work, Tommy finally reaches his goal weight! However, upon losing 20 pounds, Tommy retreats back to the eating habits he had prior to his diet. He puts on 5 pounds. Then 10, and so on, until he is back to the weight he began at. Why? Because he didn't stick with his healthy eating habits. Do you want to lose weight for a little while, or keep it off for good? If you want to shed it for good, don't make a commitment to eat healthy for a little while. Commit to eating healthy forever.
12. Treat yourself once in a while. Having chocolate and greasy pizza is ok once in a while, as long as it isn't every other day and it's not pounds of it. Eat in moderation.
13. Replace fruit flavoured snacks with the real deal. Craving those yummy little banana flavoured candies? Eat an actual banana. In the mood for sour green apple gummies? Grab an actual apple. Although the faux version might give you satisfaction while eating them, you'll feel energetic and healthier after having the real thing.
14. Think about someone who means a lot to you (your fiancee, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, sibling, child). These people love you back, and want you to stick around in good health for as long as you possibly can.
15. REWARD YOURSELF - but not with a carton of ice cream. Congratulate yourself by getting a manicure, indulging in a new book, or buy shopping for the "it" handbag you've had your eye on. If you're a man, give yourself a high five, brag to your buddies, and touch yourself. Not particularly in that order.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Embarrassed, Table For One

Usually when my pants come off, it's a good thing. It usually means that one of three things is about to happen - that I'm about to go swimming, that I'm about to get into a hot bubble bath, or that I'm undressing to put on a comfortable pair of pj's to go to bed. And for all of you who expected something naughty at the end of that list, get your mind out of the gutter. I don't plan on exposing # 4 until the release of my Tell-All book that will be available in stores ten years from now. 
But it's a different story when it's someone else's pants coming off during an occasion in which I do not want to take part of. That's what happened to me today. It all began at 10:30 this morning when I took my kids, Lodo and 
Desideria, to Explora. Explora is a museum for kids where they can do just about anything. There is an entire section devoted to play (apparently to teach children about interacting with others), a section devoted to science, and even a fake grocery store where we learn about nutrients and so on. Even though in my kids eyes I was born when dinosaurs still walked the earth (yes, my six year old asked me this during a dino section of the exhibit), I, at 18 years old, still had so. Much. Fun. Until l went to the bathroom, that was.
It began as innocent as one could expect. There was only one stall in the bathroom, and it had a green strip over the handle, indicating that it was unoccupied. I pushed open door # 1 in which my
Never an ideal place to meet someone for
the first time. Or ever, for that matter.
prize was a middle aged woman squatting over the porcelain bowl who looked as though she were giving birth (I am so sorry for that mental image). I was shocked. In fact, I was horrified! Although the door was open for the span of about three seconds, it felt like three hours. She said something in a rushed voice in a language that I do not understand, and I just shut the door and stared at myself in the mirror. Oh my God. I just walked in on a lady who was... she... No, MichElle! Don't think about it, you sick freak. Just pretend it didn't happen. Maybe she'll have... Wait. Why was I the one feeling embarrassed? She's the one who didn't lock the door properly.  I didn't know what to do. Of course I wanted to leave immediately, but I really had to go. I drank a lot of water this morning thanks to my jog, and I was not about to continue walking through the museum for another hour with my legs crossed. All I could do was awkwardly wait until the lady I walked in on came out, mumble a "sorry" without staring her directly in the eyes, and forget about it.
This was almost as embarrassing as my trip to the dentist office a few years back. The dentist was wearing grape flavoured gloves while working on my pearly whites, and I was subconsciously licking the gloves because, hello, they tasted like grapes. Finally, the dentist had to take the gloves off and replace them with boring latex ones (I think women everywhere can agree that this is not a good
Some might consider this to be an embarrassing photo. I say
an early lesson in looking fierce and working the camera.
taste whether they experience it in the dentist's chair or during other activities). I asked the dentist to please put the grape ones back on, and he ignored my plea by scraping me teeth with a jackhammer and asking me how school was going. It's incredible how stupid some dentists are. They ask you questions about your life when they know you can't answer on account of their hands occupying the greater part of your mouth.
This experience has caused me to reminisce on some other things I do that are also embracing. Let me just say that I have a criminally bad habit for not being able to remember people's faces. Names I can do, but faces? Nope. My excuse is that I see so many on a daily basis that I cannot always properly remember everyone's bone structure and freckle assortment. I am constantly walking past people on the streets of Rome who are my friends, for crying out loud - and I DO NOT RECOGNIZE
How to recover from an embarrassing moment? Go to At least you're not one
of those people, right?
THEM. Two of my friends, Pearl and Alexandra, are always in the city together. Because I live in the centre, it isn't uncommon for me to take a stroll or cross through a busy piazza in order to get to my destination. I can count at least three times in which I have walked by the two of them together, all of which they have creeped up behind me while pretending to steal my purse. I can't say I blame them.
Another awkward thing that happens to me is when I confuse a he-she. You all know what I mean. A person who can either pass for a male or female. This scenario is even worse when the person's name is something metrosexual like Sam, Jamie, or Mackenzie. Before you scrutinize me, let me just say that I don't think it matters if a person looks like a he-she. I don't discriminate, and I believe that if a person is comfortable with their looks, then power to them. What makes this awkward is my need for addressing people in a respectful manner. I say "Sir" or "Madame" or "Miss" when talking to someone. It's just nice, and perhaps this characteristic of mine was adapted from growing up in the country, where one should be polite to everyone. 
The colour? The gouging hole? The elastic band? Clearly
she missed this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
But when I'm in line at the grocery store or in the Drive Thru and I'm about to leave, I somehow always end up making the asshole mistake of saying, "Thank you, mm.. Uh... (Insert confused look from he-she) Thank you," I finally conclude before speeding away.
Another embarrassing act that could happen to someone is being pantsed. I tend to disagree, and feel that people should used the experience of being pantsed to their advantage. Women, if you're wearing granny panties or tan coloured underwear and someone pants you, it's your fault for being embarrassed. Yes, you mistakenly flashed everyone parts of your body you didn't necessarily want anyone to see, but if you were wearing a sexy thong or lacy underwear from Victoria's Secret, the embarrassment would surely not be so bad. And for the men who are pantsed and get caught with a pair of Spider Man briefs or holes in their boxers, shame on you for not suiting up to wear a pair of sexy boxers made of silk or with a
High fashion in the fourth grade.
cool sailboat print. Ladies love sailors.
The fact is that everyone has embarrassing moments in their life and goes through awkward situations. Whether it's you who was walked in on while using the bathroom or a photo that comes back to haunt you, embarrassment is a human flaw that we cannot escape from. Luckily for me, I have a whole box full of old clothes that contribute to my awkwardness, many of which include a cat chasing a butterfly or puppies in a basket. My personal favourite is a black cut off T shirt that had some saucy saying on it, in which the word Cattitude was used. Cattitude (n); a feline creature that demonstrates bad behaviour. I also had a shirt that said, "My mom made me choose between basketball and dance." On the back it said, "I'm going to miss shooting hoops." Which made perfect sense, as I did neither of those sports.
My pile of hysterical clothing goes as far as the eye can see, and when I return home, I plan on having a photoshoot donning my finest shirt with a smiling bunny on the front with a daisy tucked behind it's one ear. Wait until these photos leek onto the Internet. I have a feeling they're going to go viral.