Monday, January 22, 2018

"Getting over getting dumped"/ Hart Denton

Oct. 6, 2016 "Getting over getting dumped": Yesterday I found this article by Liz Nicholls in the Edmonton Journal:

Getting dumped. Can there possibly be anyone in the world who doesn’t have first-hand experience in this field — and the scars to prove it? 

Ah, but then what? The show that opens Thursday in the Citadel Club addresses the universal challenge of getting over getting dumped. Ain’t no mountain high enough.

One way — complicated if highly consoling — is to create a hit Canadian musical with your best friends, based on your own experiences and the experiences of, well, everyone you run into (and their relatives, friends, acquaintances, perfect strangers on the Metro).   

That’s what the riotous trio of Toronto theatre artists who created Bittergirl the Musical did. And they did it the multi-disciplinary way: Bittergirl was a play before it was a book before it was a musical. “We’ve had some adventures together!” laughs Mary Francis Moore, to vigorous assent from Annabel Fitzsimmons and Alison Lawrence. 

Adventures, in the last 16 years, have taken Bittergirl to productions in New York and London, to film options, book tours, the Today show. They devised the show in Thursday morning meetups in a Toronto café. The characters, A, B, and C, were based on themselves.

“”I was single and dating; I’d just come out of series of failed relationships,” says Fitzsimmons cheerfully. “I was living with my boyfriend, and I could see the writing on the wall,” says Moore of an ex, now referred to, onstage and off, as The Coward. “I could feel it coming on.” Which it did, the night before Bittergirl rehearsals started.

Lawrence was “a broken-down single mom” — with a car. The indie producers would load all their stuff, their set and props in Rubbermaid bins in the back of her hatchback, along with little Emma “and our bitterboy du jour,” laughs Moore of the only guy in the show. “We’d do the show in bars, changing in the storage room where the canned olives were kept.”

They’d first tried out their creation at Toronto’s Buddies In Bad Times Rhubarb Festival in 1999, before two sold-out runs at Second City the next year. The design concept? “Black evening gowns throughout,” grins Moore, who remembers changing in the Buddies washroom and a drag queen popping her head over the cubicle: “Honey, I love your dress!”

“Everything we did in the show was an add-on,” says Fitzsimmons. “When Mary Francis was cleaning, she’d add rubber gloves; for the elliptical scene, she’d add running shoes,” says Lawrence. “We had no budget!”

Meanwhile, as the bittergirls gathered a following, they were also gathering a bottomless repository of terrible getting-dumped stories.“People would stop us in grocery store lineups, at the doctor’s office.”

Life has ironies that art would reject as too preposterous. At a New York showcase for an interested producer, he told them afterward “I don’t get your play.” They were baffled. “He was holding hands with his wife, this timid little woman, and said ‘we’ve been in love since we were 14. Neither of us has ever been dumped’.” Moore and her cohorts roll their eyes. “We’re in New York, the big city, and we get the only two people who’ve never been dumped!”

Back in Toronto, “weirdly galvanized by this experience,” the Bittergirls brought showbiz to the funky second floor of the Pilot Tavern. A six-month run made it the longest-running non-commercial show in the 2004 Toronto season.

“We’d made it our goal to get a book deal,” says Moore. And one day it happened. Their imaginary chapter headings on poster board did the trick — Drinking and Dialling, Warning Signs, Re-Navigating Your Life, Choosing Your Team among them — caught the eye of a literary agent. They got lunched on Valentine’s Day, 2004. A book was born, modelled after 12-step programs. 

“People were always asking us for advice,” says Lawrence. CBC Toronto’s morning show had us on whenever celebrities broke up. When Belinda Stronach dumped Peter MacKay, there we were, right after the political panel!”

On the U.S. book tour, the Oprah people called. But Hurricane Katrina intervened, and the bittergirls went with NBC’s Today show instead. So it came to pass that three Canadian indie actors emerged from an NBC car to a paparazzi outburst one morning — and sighs of disappointment from the crowd. “We were on the show with Martha Stewart, who’d just gotten out of jail, and Jennifer Lopez.”

“The head producer came over and held our hands in the green room and said ‘I can’t tell my staff, but my husband left me on the weekend. And I’d really like to talk to you’,” says Fitzsimmons. “Everyone has a story.”

“We gave a little cheer when Brangelina broke up,” grins Moore. “Even Brad gets dumped!” Also, “there was a time, when he was with Jennifer Aniston, that their film company was looking at our script. When they broke up, it cost us our movie …. But, hey, it nearly got us on Oprah.” (laughter).

So what happens at 8:30 a.m. in New York when you’ve just been on the Today show, smiled a lot, heard everyone’s breakup stories, and you’re in high heels and more makeup than you’ve ever worn? Moore grins. “We drank mimosas at the top of the Hudson Hotel.”

“And suddenly, I’m back in Toronto, at my day job teaching University of Toronto medical students how to do exams,” says Lawrence, a playwright and the only bittergirl who’s ever been in Edmonton (her solo show BIFF ran at the Fringe many summers ago). “I was back teaching yoga, and two weeks later I was getting married, and thinking ‘did that just happen’?” says Fitzsimmons, a versatile writer who runs a yoga/Pilates business in addition to her theatre life.

As for Moore, whose theatre career divides between acting and directing, “I was trying to plug in my breast pump in the bathroom at La Guardia because I had a baby. And it wasn’t working and I was in tears.”

As the trio explains, Bittergirl’s evolution into a musical, peppered with ‘60s and ’70s girl group numbers (I Will Survive, I Hear A Symphony, Walk On By), wasn’t an outlandish transformation. The segues and underscoring for Michael Waller’s première production of the play were from that repertoire anyway. “And we already looked like a girl group ready to burst into song, in our gowns,” says Fitzsimmons.

It premièred at the Charlottetown Festival last season; Adam Brazier, bitterboy designate till he landed the artistic director’s job, directs the Edmonton production.

Fitzsimmons, Lawrence and Moore have written new material, and rejigged the old for the musical, in which they’ve never appeared. But the Bittergirl heart has remained the same.

“Once you can tell your story and make people laugh, then you get yourself back. It becomes a funny story you can tell at a cocktail party, then you win. It’s your story, and you’re in charge of it, not a victim.”

“In the end, “ says Lawrence, “it wasn’t so much getting over This Guy and finding That Guy, it was about finding each other, the power of our friendship and creating something together …. I’ve been with you guys longer than I’ve been with my husband.”

Jan. 5, 2017 Bad date news: First dates can go one of two ways – you either have the time of the life with your future bae or it crashes and burns awkwardly.

Sadly for one guy who was hoping to meet the girl of his dreams, his first date ended in the most spectacularly brutal fashion.

It all seemed to start OK for Twitter user ‘Trouble’, who took the object of his affections to see Rogue One.

However, it went tragically downhill the second the mystery woman went to the toilet.
It turns out she didn’t go to the toilet at all – she was doing a runner and she sent a text message that made Trouble feel even worse than he already did.

She signed off saying that Trouble had a good heart but he was no doubt thinking about the heavy insult before that.

He posted the offending text to Twitter, where it has been retweeted over 30,000 times.

Sept. 4, 2017 "Being put in the friend zone by a former flame": Today I found this dating advice column by David Eddie in the Globe and Mail:

I’m in my mid-20s. My girlfriend – well, exgirlfriend now – who I went out with for two years, broke up with me a year ago. But then, she turned around and wanted to be “friends.” We go to movies, have drinks, dinner, sit on her patio and talk.

The problem is, I still find her very attractive, still want to sleep with her and am probably a little bit in love with her. The other problem is that recently she started dating a close friend of mine. It’s torture to me to see them together. What can I do? I feel like I’m in hell!


Well, purgatory, certainly, at the very least.

I’ve been in that shadowy netherworld myself. When I was in my mid-20s, I dated a 19-year-old waitress/bartender. She was voluptuous and sexy. I don’t know if we had a lot in common intellectually, but I really had the hots for her.

Our relationship only lasted a few months. But the post relationship relationship lasted a full two years. She teased me, she tortured me to the brink of madness with the casual sadism of a teen.

She would change in front of me. “Oooh, it’s time to go to work, I better change.” Suddenly she’d be in bra and underwear in my apartment. Sometimes she’d be “too drunk to go home” and stay over in my queen-sized bed.

And sometimes, she’d throw this dog a bone, thus ensuring I stayed on a very short leash, following her around town like a panting puppy, hoping for my reward.

Who knows why people do this? Good for their self-esteem, I suppose.

But the problem with these kinds of arrangements is that the amount it boosts their selfesteem is commensurate with the extent it erodes yours.

As to your friend, he is in violation of what we called in bachelor days the Five Year/Foreign Country clause of the Friend Code: “Though shalt not date a close friend’s ex until a period of five years hath elapsed, or you encounter her/ him in a foreign country.”

Draconian, perhaps, but the Friend Code was and is aimed at preserving friendships. And this is the type of situation that can cause them to implode.

What I would do in your boots: First of all, never, ever, hang out with them as a couple. That is, to use a couple of newage neologisms, “self-harming” behaviour. And you want to practise “self-care.”

Personally, I would avoid your friend for now, too. I’m not saying turn your back on him. Just put him in “the penalty box” for a while. Partly for violating the Friend Code, partly because he’s bound to remind you of your ex. At least for now.

You need a complete media blackout on your ex, so you can begin to forget about her. They say “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but I don’t agree. “Out of sight out of mind:” That’s the cliché that will set you free. (In my case, my ex thankfully relocated to Los Angeles to become a writer/ actress.)

Now, I could speculate that in your heart of hearts you hope to win your ex back. I would let that go. I’ve seen that these break-up-date-someone-else-getback-together arrangements can work – for a while. But the second iteration never seems to work out in the long run.

It’s telling, I think, that you called her your “girlfriend” at first, then corrected yourself. You have to let go.

It’s not just a question of selfesteem. Being hooked on an ex – the dopamine shot you get when you see her – it’s like any other drug.

It can ruin your career, even your health … (My ex used to get off work at 2 a.m. – then want to begin her evening, partying with all the other restaurant workers. I’d go with her. I had to be at work at 8 a.m.!)

You want someone who will love you for you, who will know you and understand you down to the ground and love you anyway.

The sooner you put this relationship with your ex in the rear view, the better for everyone.

The Friend Code was and is aimed at preserving friendships. And this is the type of situation that can cause them to implode.

My opinion: David Eddie's ex sounds terrible. 

I do agree with his advice as in stay away from your ex, your friend, and both when they're together.

My week:

Jan. 13, 2018 The Caregiver's Club: One of my friends emailed me saying that one of her sisters has dementia.  I told her I was sorry.  I then found this article "Powerful portraits of faith and humour" by John Doyle in the Globe and Mail

The Caregivers Club (Sunday, CBC, 9 p.m. on CBC Docs POV) is another poignant and rewarding experience and not entirely distant from Crashing. The Full title is The Caregivers Club: The Private Lives of Dementia Caregivers. Love, Loss and Letting Go. Written and directed by Cynthia Banks, the documentary chronicles the situation of three families dealing with the pain, anger, frustration and rewards of caring for someone suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease. It's a series of intimate portraits, often painfully raw.

Karen takes care of her husband, Jack, and lovingly so, but has the bruises to indicate that he sometimes becomes violent. "I've made those wedding vows and I'm keeping them," she says. Dominic cares for his wife, Rafaella, reversing the caregiving role that she had for so long, in taking care of him and supporting him in his job. Barbara is taking care of her mother who has Alzheimer's. For Barbara the circumstance changes everything and has an impact on her husband and children. She is under constant strain and, she says, she worries she too will suffer from the disease, and in distress she says, "I'm next and who is going to caregive for me?"

We're told that 80 per cent of caregivers suffer from depression. And a perspective on the circumstance of caregivers is offered by occupational therapist Nira Rittenberg who provides advice and support, and consolation. When she compiles a list of all the obstacles the caregivers face, it is very, very long. This is a powerful documentary, unyielding in its focus on those who care, just as they must be unyielding in their devotion, no matter how much they carry.

Jan. 16, 2018 CanadaHelps:

Canadians donated $154,667,048 to charities using CanadaHelps in 2017!

We’re so grateful and inspired each and every day by generous Canadians like you. Thank you for all that you do to support Canadian charities.

In 2017, 417,321 Canadians donated to 21,591 charities using CanadaHelps. Your support touches the lives of millions, providing food, shelter, emergency relief, and compassionate support. You helped fund literacy programs, medical research, and the arts, and you even helped to protect animals, our natural environment, and people at-risk, in addition to so much more!

Find out more about what donors and charities accomplished last year on CanadaHelps.

"Treat addiction with empathy": Today I found this article by Marc and Craig Kielburger in the Edmonton Journal

Ruston Baldwin took his first drink when he was two years old. His father was an angry man and a drinker himself. He raised Baldwin on beer.
When Baldwin was seven, his mother was diagnosed with a severe case of scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder. Every year, doctors would amputate parts of her hands and feet as her blood stopped circulating.
While his mother wasted away and his father drank, Baldwin found comfort in one substance after another, eventually turning to cocaine and heroin.
As fentanyl claims lives on city streets and in suburbs alike, and as governments turn to supervised injection sites to protect their citizens, Baldwin’s experiences speak to the conversation Canada needs to have, one that substitutes compassion and care for derision and detention.
“I did it all,” the sober 50-year-old Baldwin says unflinchingly of a lifetime of addiction stemming from early experiences of abuse and neglect.
Now a peer support worker for others struggling with mental health and addiction, his story illustrates the undeniable connection between trauma, mental health and dependence that is too often ignored in favour of judgment or contempt.

My opinion: This reminds me of my friend Trayton who said if we should legalize illegal drugs like heroin because they are addicts and not criminals.  I was against it, but supported safe injection sites.

Timothee Chalamet donates:

Golden Globe nominee Timothée Chalamet says he will donate his salary for an upcoming Woody Allen film to charities fighting sexual harassment and abuse.
The breakout star of Call Me By Your Name announced the donations on his Instagram account, becoming the latest actor to distance himself from Allen.

Chalamet said he didn’t want to profit from his work in the director’s A Rainy Day in New York out of solidarity with other artists “fighting for all people to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

My opinion: The Hollywood sexual harassment scandals are everywhere.  I haven't really been writing about it.  However, this is also about charity too.

Jan. 17, 2018 Job interviews:

Cafeteria job: Last week I did a job interview at this restaurant in a cafeteria.


1. The pay was min. wage with tips.

2. There is free food.

3. It was close by in downtown.

4. I can do the job.  I have done the job and it was like the Soup place.

Cons: None.

My opinion: I would work there if I got hired.  A week later, I even called them to see if they made a decision yet.

Jan. 15, 2018 Daycare job interview: It was for a cook position.


1. It was kind of far.  It was 2 buses to get there, but they come often.

2. The hours were alright with it being 3 days and it was in daytime.

3. I can do the job by making snacks for these kids.


1. When I got there, it was so loud with all these kids.  I remember talking to this taxi driver and he said he used to be a school bus driver and quit because it was too much of "a headache."

My opinion: If I got hired, I would work there.  However, I really didn't want to work there.  She said they were going to hire fast and call the next day if I got hired.  I'm glad I didn't get hired.

I can handle kids at my restaurant, because the parents are there watching them.  It gets loud in the morning, but in the afternoon, not a lot of kids come.

Jan. 16, 2018 Fruit Place job interview: I worked there before in Dec. 2011 for a temp holiday job.  I didn't really like it at that time.


1. It was close by.

2. The pay was average.

3. I can do the job, and I have.

Cons: None.

My opinion: When I got there, the boss S was there and we recognized each other though we haven't seen each other in years. They are hiring 1 or 2 people for each location.  It was temp, but maybe a few permanent positions available.  I would work there if I got hired.

Job: In the morning, my boss called me to ask if I can come in a cover for a few hours in another department.  I did.  Fortunately, the worker W came later and helped me when I needed to use the computer.

Jan. 18, 2018 Law firm job interview: I went to this one last week.


1. It was in downtown.

2. It paid well with benefits.

3. I can do the job with mainly phones and switchboard.


1. It may seem kind of hard with lots of work.  Opening files and closing them like scanning, saving, shredding.

My opinion: I would work there if I got hired.  I got to give the company points that he called me last night to say I didn't get hired.  They hired someone with more receptionist experience.

Eye clinic: I did this job interview last week.  It was the one that lasted 3 min.


1. It was part-time.  8am-4:30pm, 2-3 days a week.

2. It paid well with benefits.

3. It was 1 bus to get there.

4. I can do the job with answering phones, making appointments and confirming appointments.

Cons: None.

My opinion: The interview was average.  I got there at 8am because it was to start at 8:10am.  It started at 8:30am.  I read in the waiting room.

The highlight of the week: I went to the staff Christmas party.  The buffet was really good with the roast beef, mashed potatoes, salmon, naan bread, and butter chicken.  I also had Ceaser salad.

Hart Denton: The best part of the week was I found this actor who plays Chic, Betty's long lost brother on Riverdale,  His character is dark.

Jan. 20, 2018: I did 5 job interviews in 5 days.  One Mon-Fri.

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