Brad Pitt and Me at Costco

So I'm at Costco because I need some essentials in bulk. Let's see there is toilet paper, paper towel and laundry detergent. The problem with going to Costco is that Brad Pitt and always end up getting other things.

The whole place is like a smorgasbord of temptation. The minute we enter the store we are bombarded by products that we don't need - Plasma TVs, Cameras, Leather Jackets (that aren't Leather), Jewelry, Pajamas, Espresso Machines. It's almost as if the stuff is free because there is so much of it and you feel like Oprah just went and gave it to you just for being there.

It's also tricky and dangerous shopping at Costco because if you allow yourself to get sucked into buying food/candy or the like, you need to stop and ask yourself "Can I really see myself eating the same cereal or chewing the same gum for the next 8 months?"

It all makes perfect sense for those people who own convenience stores and re sell the stuff but for me and Brad - it just doesn't.

The thing about Brad Pitt is that he is always calm and cool. He's what my mom likes to call "A Steady Eddie". So he doesn't get all excited or wrapped up in the whole rush of the place. Not like those people who skip a meal before going because they plan to pig out on the taste demos. What are these people thinking? First of all, the samples are tiny and they just don't mix. If you are going to head to the salsa table and then the cereal table, that just isn't going to work. Yet, people line up for the stuff. The person serving is supposed to smile and be really outgoing and I believe they are for the first 30 minutes but after they have been there for 6 hours straight, standing on their feet and feeding all these people who don't need to be fed, well they ain't smiling any more.

Do you know what the smart ones do? They carefully and quietly eat all of the samples so that they can say they did such a great job that they ran out. It's true. Sure they go home after and they are sick for a few hours but you know how you feel when you try to pull something off and you succeed? Well that's worth a stomach ache - isn't it?

I think they should leave a few forklifts around so Brad and me can reach that stuff that is really up high. Do you ever look for "Life" cereal but you just want the plain version and all you can find is the "honey cinnamon" but then you look way up in the sky that is the ceiling of the air hanger that is Costco and there it is "plain"? What to do? Well you can't find anyone in the aisles to help you because the employees are either at the cash or the most important Costco position "Boxing" -yep the dudes who decide which of our items are box worthy and what kind of box - could it be a big one? or a little one that doesn't have enough depth so as soon as you put the stuff in your car it spills all over? They are very serious these box people - try disturbing them by talking to them or perhaps making a box request - forget about it - they are machines, they don't have time for you - they are boxers.

Yeah so Brad says to me, he says "Lisa, I have no idea why I'm in this Blog post and Angelina and I never go to Costco however I really need some soap"

So Brad and I head over to the soap section. There are 1000 varieties of soap (of course including Goat Soap - made by a Goat - like milk - except you rub it all over your body - cause it's soap). Brad and I are confused. We realize how vital this decision is and the obvious consequences - what if we choose the wrong soap and then have to wash ourselves with it for then next 14 months? I mean really - what if it smells bad and then we end up smelling bad? Well it won't matter for Brad because even if he stank, women would still love him. He would still be respected but me - I need to smell good - I have enough working against me!

This is where a variety pack would come in well. But there is none - it's one type - go with the Irish Spring or the Dove or that Goat stuff? I start to think, what if we chose one and we didn't like it - could I give individual bars away as presents? Could I bring a bar of soap over if a friend invites me to dinner instead of a bottle of wine? Why not? Whomever is having me for dinner - bathes - don't they? Actually I'd be doing them a favour because then they could try that one bar of soap and if they really like it, they could go to Costco (but not with Brad cause he only goes with me) and stock up on it big time. I wish someone would come to my house with a bar.

Brad likes to chew gum. If you've watched his movies he is often chewing something - he is a chewer. So there we are in the gum section and once again - it's a tough call! Then - relief - Trident has a variety pack available which would be great if it didn't consist of 20 packs of each flavour and what's with the kiwi mango passion fruit? If I want fruit, I'll chew a mango. I mean I am going to be chewing this stuff way past retirement. I look at Brad and he gives me that smile that's not really a smile and we decide to get the gum and when we are sick of it to put it away until next year and give it out on Halloween.

The other thing about shopping at Costco is that although you had good intentions and you only meant to spend $80 somehow the cashier (who has their own boxer and just has to stand there staring at you and looking at the stuff you've bought with a smirk on their face) hands you a bill for $480! Then the best is when Brad and I are trying to high tail it out of there (because we can't wait to get home and try the soap), we have to stop at the exit so some pimple covered kid who suddenly becomes a powerful Costco security, customs agent - has to check our items against the bill. By the way, they just pretend - they really have no idea what is or isn't in your jumbo carriage - especially the Trident cause it's squished under the 25 lb box of high fibre cereal that is going to make your ass explode after you have been eating it for 5 months.

Everyone always says the same thing when they pack their car... "It doesn't look like $480 worth of stuff"

Anyway Brad had to bounce so he let me off at my house. He put all the stuff on my front porch - I gave him the gum as a Thank You and then he was gone. I rang the doorbell and my husband answered. He helped me carry everything in and then he asked if there was anything to snack on (why do husbands ask what there is to snack on? why don't they look in the pantry or fridge and find out?)? I handed him the "blast your ass" cereal and told him to throw in some berries.

I was taking a bath in this awful smelling soap when he came in and informed me that our friends had just called and invited us over for dinner.

Then he looks at me and he asks "What should we bring?"

To which I reply "I'm soaking in it".

Brad - call me - I ran out of Qtips.

Souls That Visit Us at Night

So it's the end of a long day and you are finally getting cozy in bed. By the dim light of a lamp, you read a few pages of a book you never seem to finish and the need for sleep overwhelms you. The light goes off and there you are staring at the ceiling.

Darkness. It conjures up thoughts and images we manage to avoid or ignore in the light.

I find that right there in that very moment, I think of those who have passed on from this life and left me with my heart in my hand missing them always. I wonder where they've gone in the afterlife. I close my eyes and I see their faces. Memories rush through my brain turning the cog wheel at such a constant, powerful pace that my heart starts to beat faster. I force myself to remember the good times when they were healthy,vibrant, laughing the way they laughed and very much a part of life in its entirety and a part of me.

I think of my Grandfather who fought in two world wars, traveled the world, a painter, a sculptor and a pharmacist by profession (having attained graduate degrees and lectured up until the age of 94).

I remember him saving to pay my airfare so I could come visit him in Florida at Christmas break. I remember him adopting a dog because at the time we weren't allowed to have one. I remember him taking us on outings so my parents could have some time to themselves. We'd pack a picnic lunch and go hiking, boating or just for a drive to the nearest flea market. I also remember the last year of his life. He had to be moved into a long term healthcare facility after a stroke left him incapacitated, his independence gone. Then his last remaining friend who also had been his best friend for over two decades died suddenly.I think at that point, no longer able to paint or sculpt, or teach or simply be free to go about his way; he stopped fighting the illness that was dragging him down and he died at 2AM without us ever getting to say goodbye.

I remember my Grandmother struggling to hold on to her dignity and pride as she suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. I remember my mom getting the call on an early Sunday morning. After 30 years of being bedridden suffering terribly, she was finally given a pass to leave. We arrived at the hospital shortly thereafter, she was still in her bed and I reached over the side bars and kissed her on the forehead and brushed my hand across her cheek. She looked beautiful, rested and finally at peace. I had no doubt she had gone to a much better place, a place where the kindest and warmest of souls belonged.

I think of 3 dogs thus far who I have lost, who enriched my life on a daily basis, and who were my best friends. I hope that they are in that place where apparently dogs go - Rainbow Bridge. Their faces, their expressions, their eyes will remain clear in my mind forever because I won't let them go.

As I fall asleep I find myself worrying about what the future will bring. Will the people I love still be here?

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night.It's like I'm stuck in this big fluffy cloud and I keep trying to push through the gray so I can escape but it doesn't happen. I focus and tell myself keep trying - wake up - get out of this and then suddenly as if coming up for air from the depths of the ocean, I am back in reality, back in the light of the morning where everything is clear.

Darkness - we do all we can to escape it when we are young, yet we learn to expect as we age.

I don't know why souls visit us at night when all is quiet and the day is done. Maybe they just want to be with us as dancing shadows and silouettes that waltz across the ceiling knowing we are always looking upward in search of them.

I believe in rainbows.

I believe in bridges that connect us to the souls we loved in our lifetimes.

I believe that those who have gone miss us as much as we miss them.

And I believe that if they could write our names in the sky - they would.

"Montreal Memories" - Happy Birthday to You

It was one year ago today (Nov.8th) that former Montrealer, Barry Zbar created a face book page/group called Montreal Memories.

The first person to join was Sara Leber (rock on Sara)and slowly but surely, more and more ex Montrealers (as well as those of us who never left) requested Barry's blessing to become one of the chosen that has since grown to 1888 members (at the exact moment of writing this post).

Barry's original intentions were to provide a place where Montrealers removed and otherwise could gather to reminisce about this incredibly vibrant and amazing city.

Some joined as Alumnus of Northmount, West Hill, Wagar, Baron Byng and others simply with a healthy appetite and appreciation for Montreal food such as poutine from Lafleurs, smoked meat from Schwartz's, steak from Moishes, Squished Knishes from Blossom Pool, Orange Julep from... well you can figure out that one, cheese cake from Dunns, and steamies from Montreal Pool Room.

The music of the 60s and 70s is celebrated through shared You Tube videos and long lost lyrics to songs such as Meatloaf - Paradise by the Dashboard Light - Styx - Babe - James Taylor - You've Got a Friend - Elton John - Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting, Paul McCartney and Wings - Band on the Run - Kiss - Rock'n Roll All Night -Supertramp - Take The Long Way Home and many more.

And how about those Habs and Expos fans who never gave up on their home teams even if in the case of the Expos, they lost their home.

That's where the "memories" of Montreal Memories comes in.

What are memories really? Black and white film footage and flashbacks in the far reaches of our minds that somehow are preserved and relived again and again? It's funny how you can't remember what you were supposed to pick up at the grocery store after work but you can remember:

The sun rising at the top of Mount Royal on your graduation night and the taste of an ice cold Orange Julep on a summer's eve while you hang out in what was really just a parking lot by a giant orange on Decarie, the taste of cheese mixing with gravy over Lafleurs crisped to perfection french fries, your first Habs game in the old Forum where you cheered them on perhaps by your Dad on a father/son night or by your buddies on a boys out night that you followed up with a bite at Kojak's Souvlaki, your first night clubbing at Thursdays on Crescent, the sound and sparkle of fireworks from the old port in Old Montreal, the first ball you caught at an Expos game at Jarry Park, your first roller coaster ride at Belmont Park, skating on the rink near your house taking slap shots to the net and checking your friends into the boards, tobogganing at Murray Hill Park back in the day when there was nothing between the bottom of the hill and the cars passing by on the street below, dancing and inhaling to the Tam Tams at Mount Royal Park on a lazy Sunday afternoon, biting into your first smoked meat on rye at Schwartz's after waiting your turn in line and truly earning it, listening to CJAD, CKGM,CHOM and Aaron Rand and Terry Dimonte - real music, real talk radio, driving to the cottage up in Ste.Agathe, Trout Lake, Ste. Adele, Ste. Donat and starting up the BBQ, the boat and the endless summer night parties, going to camp at Pine Valley, B'nai Brith, Hiawatha, Pripsteins, making new friends and sitting beneath a starry sky by a bonfire while a guitar plays "Fire and Rain", hitting one out of Wentworth Park and running the bases while your parents cheer you on, taking the 161 bus and walking from wherever it left you off to wherever you and your friends were going - aimlessly yet spectacularly, eating a slice of pizza from Tasty Food and being served by the same blond haired waitress who put up with all of our shenanigans for over 3 decades, brunch at Beauty's after a big Saturday night out - bagel, lox and cream cheese so fresh it melts in your mouth, guessing what is in your mish mash at Cosmos besides the cigarette butts and then realizing there is no point - just eat it and go from there - burning your fingertips as you grab a Montreal Bagel from a steaming paper bag, shopping for a new pair of Levis at Cavendish Mall and heading to the Cattleman for a burger.

These are memories. They move, they haunt, they speak and they go on and on as does our love for our city, our home base, our first playground, school, friend and shot at being whomever we wanted to be - Montreal.

Thanks Barry for bringing us all together in honoring and celebrating all that Montreal was, is and will be and all of us who no matter where we go, who we go with or what we do, will remain Montrealers forever.

I hate to quote Bette Midler but here I go - Barry - you are the wind beneath our wings.

By the way, can anyone tell me how to get to the Olympic Stadium?