I’m sipping chamomile tea at Hotel Mom & Dad’s. Trying to wrap my head around what to write here. But, really, I can’t wrap my head around any of the events of today. I can’t even trust my head to drive me home anymore. I sort of feel like I’m caught in one of those dreams where you are late for an exam... Or have to sing onstage and you forget all the lyrics... Everything is hazy. A double funeral. A blur of sympathetic faces. Sporadic tidal waves of emotion. Talking steadily to different people while keeping the corner of my eye free to check if my brother-in-law and sister were OK. My body periodically doing what it is that it does now a little too frequently. Trying to wait it out in the ladies room. Writing it down, registering symptoms and times. Going back out there. Telling myself it’s nothing. Purposely ignoring the sinking feeling that maybe it’s actually something. Exhausted. Sad. Uncomfortable. Worried. But blessed. Blessed to have both my mom and dad to come home to tonight.
In the last emotional 48 hours I have seen so much beauty in the people I know. And in people I don’t really know at all. Someone holds a hand or sits beside you silently. Or maybe they reach out by bringing tea or dinner, or sending an email to reassure they are a phonecall away, or simply sing a song to provide a distraction, and some relief. All from the heart, all from a very good place. All healing. In times of concern and times of grief, I do believe that our hearts open up to pockets of strength we never knew existed because of the kindness of the people around us. My brother-in-law, Nelson (well, more like a brother to me in all respects) has suffered the worst. What a man he is. An only child who just lost his father two days ago to cancer and lost his mother today to cancer in the same hospital while continually showing such courage and resilience. I know no one like him. Aside from having my family around him, and other friends and family, the palliative care team at the Montreal General Hospital have been the reason for his getting through this ordeal with his head held high. There are good people in this world. Still. I don't doubt that anymore.
It’s typical how we chase ‘boring old normal’, like it was
our favourite dress to wear, when an uncomfortable new reality doesn’t fit at
all. I was just lying on my balcony chair, with an ice pack on my head,
watching the clouds fly by me and cursing myself for ever wanting more than I
had. We are too often not in ourselves, not present. Holding on to the past,
worried about the future. We seldom appreciate the normalness of life: the good
health, the ordinary love, and the simple walls that contain us. What a shame. Normal is the best thing on the
market for a good quality of life, and we indebt ourselves attempting to buy
All families go through rough spots. My family seems to be going through a big one now. These are strange days. It’s hard to be creative in my writing when Life itself becomes a major character in this narrative I call a blog: My dad, who has been on long-term disability, put out his back again and is in a lot of pain. My brother just had major dental surgery that involved his jaw and is recovering. My sister’s husband, lost his father to cancer this morning at the hospital and is about to lose his mother to cancer tonight. Can you believe those odds? We are looking at a double funeral this weekend. I spent the entire day in a different hospital’s ER getting poked and prodded by 4 different neurologists. They are all trying to come to a conclusion as to what is causing these episodes of left-sided numbness. One CT scan down, and 1 EEG and yet another MRI to go later in the week. (Who knew one brain could be so photogenic in one lifetime?) They sent me home and said if I can’t speak or lose feeling in a limb, to go back right away. How’s that for reassuring? My poor mom is rushing in between hospitals and came by my place to coerce me to stay with them. So here I am, at 'Hotel Mom and Dad', hanging out with my niece and nephew and trying to get them to sleep instead of going to the much anticipated Paul McCartney show. (I gave the tickets to my old high-school friend, Angela, who I grew up listening to the Beatles with). I just spent the last half hour delicately explaining death in a way that a six year old and a five year old can digest. I decided to tell them a bedtime story about an old couple who were ready to get their angel wings. They put two and two together.
Niece: Why do grandma and grandpa need to get their wings now? Me: Well, they probably wanted to get their wings at the same time, to always be together. Niece: But how do the angel wings get them up to heaven? Do they use an elevator? Me: No. I think they close their eyes and make a really strong wish with their hearts to get there. Niece: But I don’t want them to go. I’m going to miss them. Me: I know sweetie, but now they will always be with you. Their angel wings help them to fly into your heart whenever you need them. Nephew: Zia, are they almost a hundred years old? Me: Well, they are pretty old and their bodies got sick. They are tired and ready to become angels so they can always protect you. Any other questions? Niece: No. Nephew: No. Me: OK. Good night. I love you.
And to you, dear friends: Good night. I love you, too. Just because it's always better to say so.
When my eyes close, I dream of a rustic garden.
Carefully groomed and vast in space.
A wild labyrinth.
Fresh and green.
Fragrant with stories.
And I hear my quiet footsteps echo onto the concrete.
Until I have to open my eyes and leave it with a heavy heart.
I continue to experience some strange symptoms that I'm not sure are panic attacks anymore. Yesterday was not good. It was actually pretty scary, but I have super friends who are always there with a phonecall. I'm taking necessary steps to check things out and I'm sure everything will be fine.
Panic. It can and will attack. It attacked me this morning when I had no reason for it. It attacked me while I was driving alone in the mountains at 120 km an hour. I was happily singing a tune and enjoying the scenery when I suddenly felt funny. My left hand got slower, sleepier, with less of a grip on the steering wheel. My left leg followed suite as did my jaw. Everything began to tingle and then went quite heavy. My vision and breathing changed. What’s happening to me? I thought. I tried to remain calm. I tried to tell myself that the a/c in the car messed with my circulation. Amy Winehouse came onto the iTunes, I tried to sing along but it was no use. I was scared. I’ve had these weird spasms before and having them again filled me with a greater panic. I took deep breaths but they started to choke me. My driving became erratic, and cars honked at me. I managed to pull over safely but by then I was overwhelmed with fear. I got clammy and jittery. What do I do? Do I call someone? I can’t just stay on the side of the highway! It’s mind over matter in these moments, and I’d be damned if the panic would win. I managed to talk myself into driving some more. When it felt like too much, I’d stop again. I drove the entire hour like this at a very slow speed. I kept telling myself to concentrate on the music and used Amy Winehouse as a distraction to not think about how weird I was feeling. When I finally got to the cottage parking lot, I cried, from sheer relief and gratefulness. I was safe and sound. I don’t know why the panic attack happened. I don’t understand it. But I had made it through. I survived it. When I turned on my phone, I found out that Amy Winehouse died this morning.
don’t know what we want.
We really don’t.
We want what we want until we don’t want it anymore.
Or we only realize what we actually wanted when it is no longer on the menu.
What a fickle bunch of wanters we are!
“Please arrive exactly as I imagined on a silver platter. Exactly the way I
“Please want me.”
“I want to please you.” "I want you to make me laugh." "I want you to be serious about this."
“I want you to be different than the others.” "I want you to be normal like the others!"
“I want you to have money.”
“I don't want you to want me only for my money.”
wow wow wow. It’s hot.
Sizzling. (Hold on, sorry, let me just put this thesaurus down).
I’m thinking about clearing the furniture in my apartment and renting it out for
hot yoga classes.
I just took my second shower of the day.
(I’m sure a third, fourth and fifth will soon follow).
They say when it’s hot to take a hot shower to sort of trick your body temperature.
Yeah, that doesn’t work.
And it’s not refreshing. At the very least I am sweaty but not stinky.
I feel I need to apologize to my neighbors for all the half nakedness lately.
I am, right now, sitting on the windowsill in my bra and undies typing away.
It’s that or die of heat stroke!
And besides, the ones who could see me are women.
What’s that you say?
Yes, I do have a perfectly good air conditioner sitting in my closet. But it’s so nice without that loud whirring machine.
And I like to see the curtains sway while I fall asleep.
I love the birds waking me up with their 4am news conferences.
Oh... who am I kidding?
There’s no breeze to speak of and I’ve taken to sleeping with earplugs lodged
so far into my ear I can hear the ocean.
But that damn a/c is a pain in the ass to install. It’s heavier than me.
And you have to remove the windows, take measurements, cut a piece of plexi glass…yadda
By the time I figure out how do that properly, Autumn will be on my doorstep. It can’t stay this hot for too long, right? Right?!
The worst tragedy of this 40 degree Celsius day: not having any cold beer or watermelon in the fridge. That ain’t right.
Stay cool, friends.
I’m a going shopping.
People of the world, can I tell you something? There is nothing worse than a limp handshake to present yourself to someone new for the very first time. Unless you are ninety seven years old, put some oomph into it, will you? A limp handshake is like casually holding up a giant sign that says: “Nice to meet you, sort of, I already forgot your name, and oh look- a birdie!”
Limp anything is no fun, let’s be serious. And I don’t care if you’re a woman or a man; a limp handshake speaks volumes of your character. It could be interpreted that you are too introverted. It could tell me that you’re not a very hard worker. It could tell me that you are basically a starfish when you are in bed with a lover. Do you really want to be thought of as a starfish?!
I’m not saying you need to get all overzealous with it. The opposite side of the coin is true, too. I don’t want to have to ice my hand because your grip was like having it squeezed in a vice ‘Joe Pesci styles’. There’s a fine line. Overzealous handshakers are also interpreted. If you are one, you are usually not a team player. You usually talk more than regular people. You usually want to be the boss. And it tells me that you are a basically an octopus in the bedroom. I mean, give someone else a chance to get some moves in there, you greedy son-of-a bitch!!
A proper handshake has become a lost art form. A steady slide, medium-firm grip and vertical shake is akin to a well painted portrait of yourself. Add eye contact with a polite smile and you have just turned into the Mona Lisa. We all want to look at the Mona Lisa. We all remember the Mona Lisa.
So, people of the world, the next time you meet someone new, put your best (clean) hand forward. Shake, Shake, Shake Senora! And know that you will be summed up and categorized by your handshake quicker than you can put that humid hand back in your pocket.
I was a kid, and summer vacation ended, my stomach was always in knots.
A flurry of excitement, nerves and sadness all bundled up in one.
What would the new year hold?
Who would be in my class?
Would I like any of my teachers?
Would I hate them?
Mom would take us kids out to the local drugmart to buy copybooks, binders, loose
leaf paper, pens and pencil cases.
I enjoyed that part immensely.
I have always had a special love for papeterie.
The distinct scent of blank pages are my favorite.
Crisp and white.
Waiting for newly learned things to fill them top to bottom.
Now, as my week of summer vacation ends, I long for the nostalgia of the past.
An office awaits my presence tomorrow morning.
And a desktop covered in notes from my colleagues about things they couldn’t
figure out while I was gone.
Pens and pencils and highlighters not purchased by mom are waiting for me to
grip them tight.
Pads of paper, no longer used for anything but reminders of things I need not
to forget to do.
It’s a funny thing growing up. And the way life changes on you so sneakily.
It seems the older I get, the more I want to be a kid again.
City of festivals.
One of which is the “International Fireworks Festival”.
It runs from June to the end of July.
And every Saturday they shut down one of the main bridges so that people can
walk on it and get an amazing view of the fireworks over the water.
Doesn’t that sound nice?
Until you need to use that exact bridge to get back home before midnight to write
a blog you should have written in the morning.
(Because you were too hungover this morning. But I digress).
As I made the major detour required to get back onto the island through another
bridge, I began to curse the fireworks.
The traffic was ridiculous.
Everyone, it seemed, was taking this bridge tonight as Plan B.
An hour passed.
I started to mutter under my breath. What’s the big deal about fireworks, anyway?
I can’t believe people still go to this thing!
So what? I’m over it.
It’s just a bunch of lights and lots of noise.
And then it happened.
There, in traffic, I accidentally happened to be in a prime location to catch
Sweeps of what looked like red and gold weeping willows drenched the night
It was magnificent, dammit.
And then it was over. Gone.
Leaving only smoke to drift after what was a beautifully colorful fire.
I shook my head. Because for all the confusion and traffic these fireworks brought to my path they stillgot to
They still made my eyes widen, my stomach flutter, and my lips smile.
It's just something about it burning there so brightly before you that grabs
hold of a feeling you thought was behind you.
I mean sure, in the end, you realize that it’s just a fleeting light show in the dark. And when it's all done, it can be rather forgettable.
But when you’re in it again.
would seem that in ‘public pool world’ it is absolutely fine to check out both
You might even hold the gaze of one or the other.
But what’s really happening is that you’re looking at the men to decipher if
they are on your team.
And you’re looking at the women to compare their bodies to your own.
This game can last all afternoon. And it
I see it happening all around me.
It’s a people watching extravaganza.
It’s the envy parade.
It’s enough to never get you off your towel and into the water. It's exhausting!
I have, only recently, become quite comfortable in my own skin.
33 years old…it’s about time, right? This is my body.
I could do a lot more for it, quite honestly, but it’s alright.
I have curves. But aren’t women supposed
to have those?
I have imperfections. But doesn’t that make me human?
I have hair that looks like a mop after being in the water. But aren’t hats so stylish?
The point is, I feel it’s time to cut myself some slack. I am not going to obsess about how I look.
Part of this vacation has been about me being nice to me.
And letting go of any unnecessary baggage that has been weighing me down. (Insert butt joke here).
So with this mission comes the new-found attitude that I can’t worry about my
ass at the pool. I'm just not going to.
And guess what? You shouldn’t either.
Because you have to have your own back, right? (Pun intended). It has taken me too long to discover that being yourself at all times is a beautiful thing.
Even in a bikini.
Even at the pool. So what if they look? Let them.
Let them have a nice, long glimpse at what healthy looks like.
there ever a brighter day?
Was there ever a darker night?
Waiting with anticipation.
Tickled pink with shades of vermilion.
Thunder crackled in her heart.
And she held the wall for support.
The weather was clear.
But still the breeze coated her skin with the light touch of rain.
Lingering doubt was no longer welcome.
It tried to fly to her, but it was a bird with a broken wing.
She took it in her hands, caressed it, and placed it on the balcony. Looking back at it for only a second before closing the window behind her. She drew the shades.
Lit a match.
An aroma of incense clouded the room.
And like a wet rag of smelling salts she inhaled the sweet smell of unbottled
I was hesitant about taking days off to just stay in town. I wanted to save them for another trip somewhere. But my body was tired. Giving up on me. I felt heavy hearted and without any creative center. I knew that I needed to stop everything and rest. So last Thursday I asked my boss for the week off, effective immediately. I really thought I was going to crack. I had knots in my stomach for no reason. It frightened me, really. I had to stop. I needed to just ‘be’. And even though a funeral started things off, I am mid-way through ten consecutive vacation days and I feel some relief. I spent the entire day alone. Quiet and without any kind of rush. I walked the neighborhood with a coffee until it started to rain and then came in to watch Milos Forman’s “Amadeus”. Afterwards, because of the film, I felt like listening to Mozart. I put on his 40th symphony, as I had learned parts of it once, and then I fell upon Rondo Alla Turca. As soon as I heard it I had a flashback to one of my childhood recitals. A girl who performed after me, played this song on the piano. I recall how I had been transfixed by the sound of it. It was so beautiful. Like a rush of whimsical emotion racing right through me. It lifted me. I was only a child, and it lifted me. And today, as it played, I remembered every single note. Every pause. Every change. You have no idea how happy remembering the tune, twenty years later, made me feel. Once again the cheerfulness of it raced around the foggy corners of my brain. Waking it up. And lifting it with a wave of peace that brought such a smile to my face. When the song was over, I started to research it online, and I discovered it was Mozart's 11th piano sonata. Eleven. Of course. My special number. My constant reminder that I am where I need to be. Today was a good day.
The downstairs neighbor’s baby has been wailing the past three nights in a row.
I don’t know if they are trying to Ferberize the poor child, but it has me concerned.
Concerned enough to go downstairs and put my ear up to their door to see if they are even home.
Of couse they are.
The baby is probably teething or sick.
They are probably hot and exhausted.
I see them with him all the time and they are loving, doting parents.
I’m not a nosy neighbor, but the comforter in me wishes they would find a way to soothe him.
Anything to not hear him in such anguish.
As children, the first way we learn to express that something is bothering us is to cry.
To scream and wail until the comfort comes.
As we get older we learn to use our words.
And when words, even lovely eloquent ones, are not an option anymore, we do it in private.
Or snuff and suppress the emotion altogether.
Crying is weak, we tell our reflection.
Crying is giving up, we whisper angrily in our own ears.
Crying is for babies.
Or is it an act that we have lost an understanding of?
I’m starting to believe that as adults we need to appreciate the healing that tears can bring.
And only in feeling our pain, whatever it is, can we ever attempt to Ferberize ourselves.
Let it all out; feel the hurt, until comfort comes from nobody but us.
Then we will learn how to take baby steps to move away from a bad situation or leave a certain sadness behind.
Only then can we appreciate how amazing it is to walk all on our own.
For the first time. Again.
Ask any heart to confess its weakness and it will sound like rain against the window. Soft and gentle. Hard and tumultuous. Steady and strong. And after the heart has confessed the windows shine brightly. Clean. And clear. Until the next storm passes through.
There’s this pool in Montreal. It’s called the Secret Pool.
We can’t tell you where it is, because it’s a secret.
Everyone knows about it, and can basically point to its general direction.
But it has that name just to make it sound more exciting than it is.
Today my friend Christina (so clearly obscure) and I, somehow, found our way to this oasis.
Things we noticed at the (not so) Secret Pool:
You need to pay $5 and have a tattoo to get in
(we just paid, but they gave us dirty looks about the tattoos).
It is not cool to swim at the Secret Pool. You
should only lounge along the perimeter dangling your legs looking impossibly
fresh and long limbed.
Re-apply sunblock after dangling legs in water.
Remember to bring said sunblock.
When it’s crowded, and towels start to overlap,
it can get friendly.
The NY Times crossword puzzle (even with the
help of friendly towel over-lappers) is impossible to solve. (Word Seek; however, is awesome).
Bringing a Cosmo Magazine feels uncomfortable
when over 30. Stick to the newspaper,
much cooler. (Avoid NY Times crossword).
Some people have back hair in the shape of a
They don’t have a cold beer stand at the Secret
But they should have a cold beer stand at the Secret Pool.
Granola Bars are a hot ticket item, though, and are sold
at a 200% mark-up.
The Secret Pool has enough chlorine to kill a
Don’t bring your small baby to the Secret Pool.
This is very classified information. Don’t tell anyone.
I wrote my cousin's obituary today for the local newspaper.
Something I never imagined I'd be asked to do.
Forgive me, but that's all the writing I can handle on Day 277.
It's still an attempt at life, though.
And, man, does Life ever enjoy throwing curve balls.
The news of my cousin passing, suddenly, overwhelms me with hurt.
For his sisters and brother, for his daughters, for his grandchildren.
For my mother who lost another nephew.
For all of us.
Instantly the emotional landscape shifts.
Can anyone get used to the bitch-slap that reality serves when someone dies?
A swift blow to the heart.
And then the dull ache that stretches its arms out, takes a seat and gets comfortable.
There to remind you of all that is fragile.
All that is futile.
All that is important.
All that is fleeting.
It ends when it ends, my friends.
surveyed as he was watched his mom carry his tiny bicycle down a long flight of
He moved his hands in a circular motion towards his body as if to say, ‘Come,
the same time he peeked side to side and made funny beeping noises with his
When she was about midway he shouted, “Whoa! Easy now! Careful!”
The mom laughed and brought the bike over to him.
He looked up at her and with a big grin announced, “Mom, I was pretending
that it was a construction site and you were a giant forklift crane carrying my
bike. And I was in charge!”
She looked at me with a face that said ‘Oy, kids!’
He paid no attention to either of us, got on his bike and started down the
street humming a tune.
I smiled at her and kept walking.
Kids are so lucky.
Their eyes always see more than what is before them.
And they don’t know that this natural creative ability will play hide and seek
with them as they get older.
Here I am, every day, trying to convince myself that I am a writer.
But where the hell has my imagination disappeared to?
Why don’t I pretend anymore?
Why don’t I see more than what’s in front of me?
Where is my little girl self?
What would she see?
What would her story be?
There is this new thing that has appeared on the social network landscape.
It’s called “Check-in” or “I am here” or “Look at me, please, look at me.” I think it was formerly called “Stalk me for free”. But don’t quote me on that. Basically what it does is digitally check you in to various locations. This could be a restaurant, airport, museum or whatever place you think the public needs to be aware of. It’s all very scientific, but let me try to explain it to you. You walk into a bar. Your phone has a seizure and sends a signal to space. Then, approximately 22 seconds later, a tiny psychic lady living inside your phone receives that signal. She then looks into a crystal ball to see who you are with. She snaps her fingers twice and orders her pet monkey (also miniature and living in your phone) to update your facebook status or tweet the information. You don’t have to do a thing except drink champagne (when you’re thistay). "Isn't it genius?" said thieves everywhere around the world. Yes. Thieves. Who are laughing hysterically when you check-in to the airport. Because now they can rob your house. It’s so cool. I think what would be even cooler is to have people check-in to the normal places. Like: “At grandma’s- tagged Aunt Alice and Uncle Bert”
“At Motel 6 -tagged coworker.” or “Exit 17 Rest Room-tagged person who put casual encounter ad on Craigslist.” or "Laundromat- tagged dirty socks"
Yes, this should be something available absolutely everywhere!
Someone should tell the monkey to tell the fortune teller to tell the dude in space to work on that. It’s so great to see technology flourish.
She is stuck. Trying to solve an elaborate people puzzle. All the pieces are laid out before her. But the colors don’t match up. They don’t fit. In fact, they keep changing. And morphing into different shapes. They don’t sit still. Making it impossible to join them together. She is stuck. But she can’t walk away from the game. Until she solves it.
a movie. It’s the code
impossible to decipher by singles on dates everywhere.
You go on
a date with a guy you have a huge crush on.
You talk. You make assumptions with the conversation.
You speak in code. On purpose.
You act a little the way you think they want you to.
They don’t respond to that, so then you act like yourself.
You look like a crazy schizophrenic for changing mid-date. You’re not playing games.
You like this person. You think.
But you can’t tell if he likes you.
Vague signals are sent your way.
He smiles at you. Sits close on the pub table. Your outer forearms are
You feel a little jolt of chemistry. You relax.
says, “You should totally sell your stuff and live abroad if that’s what you
want to do.”
Your body tenses up. What does that mean on date #1, exactly?
sentence he tries to figure out where you see this 'relationship' going. In
another, he offers advice on where to meet great guys in the city.
Matrix. What the
on a date?
this turn into a buddy tête-à-tête?
(You say in your head).
And then you start to tell yourself maybe this could just be physical.
You start to look at his biceps.
Can they lift me up and throw me against the wall?
Meanwhile he’s talking about his parents.
You stop looking at his biceps.