March Breakdown and The Grand Budapest Hotel

It was March Break for the kids this past week. We decided to go skiing locally as we had a hot weather vacation over the New Year. We went to our local ski spot where we had stayed on weekends during the year. Our skiing is prepaid so it was cheap and cheerful.

The skiing was excellent (well, excellent for Ontario, which is a very flat province) but the sleeping arrangements nearly killed me this time. I’m one of those people who needs at least 8 hours of decent sleep to function. And I have a trick neck and shoulder from a bout with shingles. It seemed that the pullout sofa was the optimal place for me to sleep to accommodate our group of 5. I assumed that the sofa bed would be as comfy as it had been before but this particular mattress was entire devoid of stuffing. I had metal coil marks imprinted in my back after the first night. On the second night, I tried to sleep in a double bed with my two kids and the dog. The third night I tried to sleep on the sofa, which was the size of a loveseat. Argh!

Even Serena was unhappy with the accommodations:

I somehow doubt Patricia Hearst’s french bulldog ever has to sleep on a loveseat.

The fourth night we went home and I slept like a baby.

The fifth night, at home, Serena decided to help herself to some of the leftover Lucky Charms cereal I’d permitted my children to buy as a special March Break junk food treat in ski country. Said Lucky Charms were not “magically delicious,” as advertised, unless magic was what made them reappear at 2am. The gluten and sugar laden cereal did not mix well with Serena’s strictly Paleo diet and I had semi-digested pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers all over my bedding along with a lot of raw lamb. I changed my sheets and comforter and got us all tucked back in when the same thing occurred at 4am and then again at 6am. Having gone through all of the clean bedding in the house, and fearful that the dog would be sick on my mattress, I ended up sleeping on my sofa with a french bulldog on my feet.

Did I mention how much I need sleep?

Luckily the BF rescued the situation by delivering flowers:

He also procured tickets to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. And a babysitter my kids like! Yes, he’s a keeper. Wes Anderson is my absolute favourite director (the Coen Brothers and Whit Stillman tie for second place) and I was so eager to see this film, especially after the formidable Tabitha gave it a stellar review.

It was fantastic. Once again, I’d give my eye teeth to live in Anderson’s world. Anderson’s world is rife with dysfunction and yet it is offset with absolute charm. Oh to be able to shrug off a cruel father, lovesick adoptive brother, loveless marriage, and a wooden finger with a fur coat and eyeliner a la Margot Tenenbaum, or bring a fencing club to a hostile inner city school when one’s prep school scholarship runs dry a la Max Fischer.

I think that Anderson’s most brilliant character to date is Grand Budapest’s M. Gustave who is portrayed brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes. M. Gustave, like most of Anderson’s characters, is an anachronism: “His world had vanished long before he entered it. But he sustained the illusion with a marvelous grace.” As someone who often feels out of place in this Neknominated world, I appreciate this in spades.

I also appreciate that Anderson does not shy away from tough subjects (a lot of people lose fingers in Anderson films, I’ve noticed) and yet injects charm and humour in the cracks we all have. He provides, in the worlds of M. Gustave, “a glimmer of civilization in the barbaric slaughterhouse we know as humanity.” The Anderson world view is what has always drawn me to blogging. The title of my blog is taken from Philippians, letters to the young church written when Paul was in prison, facing certain execution.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

In other words, in the face of all that is bad, focus on the good. In the face of fascism and border checks and stalking and false imprisonment, focus on Mendls: a patisserie with glorious confections. When one is feeling world-weary, there is Eau de Panache. There is murder and deception but there is also Boy With Apple, and he is worth fighting for if only to hang over the front desk of a semi-abandoned hotel. These things give one strength to fight the real fight.

I find this same world view in the little band of people in the blogosphere I adore. We all seem to  treasure all that is good because we have lived long enough (or hard enough) to see the other side of things. I’ve come to really love reading this group. Our beloved Tabitha gave me a shout out as well and tagged me to do one of those 11 Random Facts About Me posts. I’m honoured and I shall take up the challenge (this should get the haters going…)

11 Random Facts About Me

1. I’m a germophobe. I will shake your hand. But I will Purell immediately afterward and not even be discreet about it. I know I have issues.

2. I’ve done stand up comedy and was not redlighted.

3. In high school, I got paid to write obituaries for the local newspaper.

4. I have a finance degree and have worked on some pretty high fallutin acquisitions in my day. I cannot easily calculate a tip at a restaurant. I’m not sure if this means anything significant.

5. I cannot wear thong shoes or have anything between my big and index toes. Ever.

6. I cannot sing. In grade 4, I was asked to stand away from the microphone at a school concert. I never got over it.

7. I debated all through high school and university. You probably don’t want to get into an argument with me. But if you do, I promise it will be invigorating.

8. I have every copy of Victoria magazine ever produced and cannot go a month without reading Tatler or Town and Country.

9. I’ve never had a speeding ticket. Related: I believe in miracles.

10. I’m a big fan of Ayn Rand novels. I attribute this to babysitting for the head of the Libertarian party when I was young. I’m also a big fan of Marian Keyes’s work. I’m not sure my babysitting jobs had anything to do with this.

11. I’ve filed three police reports in my life: two for relatively normal things; one, not so much.

Play along if you fancy!


  1. Jen I don't know where to begin, first of all I can't wear those flip-flop style shoes either, recipe for driving me crazy. I was an Ayn Rand fan in high school, it all made sense to me at that time. The Lucky Charms were clearly not lucky at all and you'll be happy when St. Patrick's Day passes so you don't have to see a shamrock and be reminded. May that never happen again truly what a brutal night.Thank you for picking me to post The Big Eleven, I'll do my best. The BF is a good one, flowers and you saw the movie… Wes Anderson is my all-time favourite director and I watch his movies over and over, I also want to live in that world. It is complicated but it has humour, great style, and is never boring. Makes getting fingers lopped off tolerable? Have a great night Darling!


  2. Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one with the flip-flop phobia. I will absolutely have to make a road trip to your neck of the woods when the weather brightens. We can wear fur and eye liner and discuss how much we'd love to live in the Tenenbaum house! I look forward to your 11 things!


  3. Jen – Barry hates a thong toe as well.. maybe you were separated at birth? I love Wes Anderson as well. The Life Aquatic was my favourite, likely because of all the Bowie songs… Yay for BF and flowers. It is a truth universally acknowledged that rewarding a dog is not rewarding – they have a secret club and they mock us afterwards, decide the absolute worst time to throw up and then blog about it to their friends. I know you don't think so, but Indy's cell was pinged that night…As for bad beds – Barry slept at the Sheraton in Bangor Maine the night before an early flight to Florida and we kept colliding in the night as the mattress sagged inwards. It was not a good collision, either…Am happy to do the 11 things, because, well I am just happy to natter on!Interested in the germophobe – does that extend to the 3 second rule about dropped food. Cause I searched for a piece of cookie today and it took my 8 seconds and I still ate it…I ran a billion dollar department but have trouble with long division and %.I wish I had all my Victoria issues! I only the Christmas ones left, after a huge purge, and I have mourned ever since….I've always wanted to try standup comedy but have been too shy! A Master Debator. Enough said!


  4. I purged all my Victorias several years ago and so missed them that I bought them back on ebay. I'm a zealous purger but have a few things with which I cannot part. As another option, Victoria mag has a DVD version of all of the back issues, which allows for reading without taking up all the space. I loved all of Toshi Otsuki's photography in the vintage mags. I cannot do the three second thing but sometimes allow it for the kids since I'm trying not to pass on my oddness to them. I imagine that there is a secret society of mocking dogs. Serena and Indy clearly are at the helm. Wicked! Looking forward to your 11 things.


  5. Is no one amazed with the obit writing but me? Fascinating stuff Jen. Lucky Charms was my fav. I have a dog that is scared of her own farts but well, just a tidbit I wanted to throw out there. Not sure if I can get hubs to see Budapest Hotel with me but I'll bribe him somehow. I too need my night sleep plus I am quickly becoming very reliant on my nap too.


  6. I forgot all about the lopped off fingers even though we both exhaled loudly! I too cannot sing and had a terrible drama over it at school, I almost put that in my list but thought I was weird enough.There are lots of Anderson's films that I have cared for at all, this is the stand out for me, so magical in every way.


  7. Your sleepless night is hilarious, but I know how tortuous it was for you. I can not function without at least 8hrs too! Just for future reference, if Serena should ever down questionable things you think might harm her or reappear, fill a Turkey blaster with several tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and squirt down her throat. All will reappear in about ten minutes and you can have her outside be then. Long story about how I know that, but my vet recommended it. I am a huge germophobe as well and felt it was my duty to pass it along to my children. Thanks for choosing me for the big 11, I'll see if I can come up with that many. The film sounds amazing. I know I'll never get hubs to see it so I'll find a girlfriend to go with me.


  8. No I still like Ayn Rand but people who study philosophy aren't supposed to admit that. Like she's for the masses or something? What's wrong with making sense? But I haven't read her in 25 years, I wonder how I'd see it all now. MopPhil book club choice?Jen I was in B-Town yesterday, the lake was just stunning, I want to move there!


  9. For me, GBH is right up there with Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums. I enjoy the rest of the Anderson films (Fantastic Mr. Fox was pivotal in inspiring my business book) but these three stand out for the aesthetic mainly. I really want to install an old fashioned phone booth in my house and paper the foyer with Scalamandre zebras. And boy with apple is a must for my art collection (I will have to be happy with Eric Goldberg's boy with the red hat, which I acquired in my old life and I love to pieces)


  10. I can't imagine you'd have any haters. There are some sad people out there. I really don't think I can be the most reviled person on the internet, contrary to the latest mean comment. Enjoy your Monday too!


  11. I was an English Major who then did a finance MBA so I'm allowed to love Ayn. The lake is lovely. There is a new tea house in Burlington I've been aching to try. We should meet up one day.


  12. We've done season rentals at some really dodgy places, but yes when you don't have your own bed its just so tricky, I always wake up feeling hungover even if i haven't been drinking. Hi to the Pupstar! You are a woman of many talents, stand-up and obits! wow, what a dame!!!


  13. I just let out a silent squeal seeing me on your list! Will have to round up a few fun facts, #7 on yours got a rise out of me 😉 I'm not a germophobe but I'm married to one. He can't stand (and won't) wear flip flops either, hates that between the toes thing. Wonder if there's a connection?


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