Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Journal 94 Random Wednesday Musings

Random musings on a Wednesday.
Worked a twelve-hour day yesterday.
Am exhausted today (where, exactly, did I leave/lose ALL my energy?)
Saw a lone crow soaring over the highway as I drove in today.
Made an illegal left turn when I exited to save time. I felt bad. But the's making me do crazy things.
Read a blog entry today by someone about their lost parent and the approaching Christmas season and I cried.

I ate dinner last night at 1030 pm. While watching the Real Housewives of NYC.
The shame. The shame.

Thought about Mike going home and was sad.

It's stopped snowing, but it's iron-gray outside.

photo credit: John Taylor (this reminds me of Maine....the pier, the ferris wheel. It's somewhere in the UK though. Brighton?)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Journal 93 Answers Part One

Wow. So far, with three (I know, overwhelming) amazingly original responses to my 'survey' I feel a little intimidated to even begin to fill this in! Thank you so far to L., J., and A. I will talk more about your answers in detail in just a little bit.
Here are the first of my own answers.....

1) Who/what inspires you most in life?
The people who don't drink the kool-aid. I'm not kidding. Sometimes it's the hardest thing to do. As Carole Radziwill wrote in her amazing memoir "What Remains", the people who are stubborn, passionate, and genuinely original. People writing books. People overcoming incredible obstacles in everyday life and people who keep going. What could be more inspirational than that?

2) Where do you get your unique style and outlook on life?
I found the perception of 'style' here interesting--we do, maybe as women, go right
to clothing when someone talks about style. But style can be many things. For me it's my writing style. For instance--I'm keeping it a bit light in recent posts. But my real style is to dig underneath the surface, to the places where I am most afraid, and scatter the earth. Outlook on life is tougher. I like to model my outlook on people who succeed in the face of the odds--which really, is what all human beings do. I can't believe what people can live through and keep on going. That frames my outlook quite a bit when I would rather just be negative and depressed sometimes. Because my hard-wired outlook on life is one of pessimism, I have to constantly work to clear the clouds.

3) What's your top thing that contributes to you 'keepin' it real?'
I quote my dear friend A., with this amazing concept--the 'congratulations your life now looks just like everyone else's'. THAT phrase keeps me real. No vanilla ice cream keeps me real. Holding onto my soul in world obsessed with values that I don't necessarily feel to be a priority keeps me real.

4) What is your most treasured memory? (you can add a couple).
I'm going to come back to this one. Running in Central Park immediately springs to mind. I know. It was a fleeting forty minutes of my life, but it is a memory I return to again and again in my mind.
Contact with the spirit world--all those memories remain imprinted on me, as I think they are supposed to. But this question begs its own post.

5) What is your "go to" outfit? I loved all the responses to this one so far. Everyone has at least one 'uniform' that they love to wear, that they feel good in. Mine is a variation of a tracksuit, I'm sorry to say. Hey, I'm an athlete, I like to be comfortable, and I'm over alot of the fashion-obsessed-comparison-thinking I endured in my 20s.

6) Dream man? Real or celeb. Real. I'm marrying him (oh sorry--ELOPING with him) in the very near future.

7) What are you reading right now? Joan Didion, and more Joan Didion. I'm doing what her and John Dunne used to do with novels: studying technique to 'get it right' and see how it works.

8) What is your guilty pleasure (it can be tv, it can be chocolate, what have you).
Itunes, my ipod, listening to any type of music I please.
Drinking chardonnay while listening to my ipod play.
Running. (it is. it's a treat. when I can't run, I panic)

9) What has been your biggest challenge?
Again, I'll come back to this one. It pretty well needs it's own post.
Right now I'm working on tolerance. And compassion. And understanding. And unselfishness.

10) What age have you loved the most/are looking forward to the most and Why?
I'm pretty sure I haven't lived it yet. Almost positive. I know it sounds crazy but 40 seems alluring to me in a strange way. Like I'm finally going to lie under the stars and start to f*cking "get it". And I'll stop being so crazy-selfish and just 'be'. And not always 'want'. Although, 'wanting' is part of being human, as I once read (thank you Abigail Thomas).

More in a bit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Journal 92 More me

Let me just say I started this post yesterday. And am finishing it today.
Today=not fun.

1. I'm off networked blogs. Did not like it. I should say I hope I'm off. I should be. I should check.
(yep I'm off).
2. I'm halfway through watching The Machinist with Christian Bale, a not-new movie where, so far, he weighs less than I do. I'm perplexed. It's like a film noir. I say I'm "halfway" through watching it because I fell asleep (not from boredom) last night as we were watching it.
After the Leaf game. God, if I actually enjoyed hockey this could be an exciting season (sorry the Pats have my heart).
3. I am pretty sure I'm eloping. Thank you everyone for the offers of help.
4. Reading other blogs lately (some, not all) has been tedious. Sometimes I read very average blogs and I Do Not Like Them. They are a) shallow, b) poorly written, just there for 'something to do', and c) boring. Give Give me...readability. Give me...honesty.
I am still reading (just re-discovering) Mama Pundit by K. Granju and am consistently blown away by her unbelievable writing style. I also just found Love, Maegen, and I really like that one, even though it is a fashion blog--she is not self-centred about it in the least. Still reading Reagan's Blob, too, and Hairdresser on Fire, and I have to admit--she has somehow got me to slowly, gently, give up my addiction to my flat iron and (gasp) wear my hair up and experiment with pins, waves, and NO HEAT. I know. I didn't think ANYONE could do it.
5. My foot is almost there.
6. I'm still journalling.
7. Still re-reading Joan Didion and thinking even MORE about how some writers just have a gift, that's it. Nothing else to declare. Talent. God-given.
8. Renewed my library books for another 3 weeks, all four of them. The shame.
9. Oh yea, Vegas is out. Ready for all the opinions.
10. I miss getting funny cartoons and articles from Macleans about running, politics, business, anything, and cards in the mail 'for no reason' from my Dad. I thought about the last one I have from him, probably from April this year. I knew, on some level, that would be the last mail I would get from him, but I still miss it.

Later, after I started writing this yesterday:

11. I'm home now. It's after 8:30, because I've been at the side of the DVP southbound for over an hour. I hit a tire on the road, shredded my own tire, and waited for the roadside assistance to come and change said tire. My car is now at the mechanic's, in their parking garage, awaiting tomorrow morning so it can be seen. Yes. This is my second flat tire in 2 weeks.
Yes, this may cost way more since the tire and rim look ruined. Yes. I am upset, but I kept my composure and calm until I got home. Now I'm kind of dissolving (I know--no crying over split milk, but it's cold out, I was on the side of the road, I don't have my car, and the payment for this is my wedding dress money).

Nothing, I repeat, nothing, is going right lately.

I still hate November.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Journal 92 You in a Nutshell

Stoli Asks: Would You Have a Drink With You?

I've been a little stumped lately at the blog writing.

Yes, listmania continues.
If anyone wants to answer any/all of these questions, email me.
I will only print your initial. Or not. I just want to start myself
thinking about something other than my chronic anxiety, sore foot, and impending,
unplanned, un-wedding-nuptials.
I harken this to that Stoli ad: Would you have a drink with you? (Would I? I think I would. I do. Believe me).

I've been in list mode for weeks and you know I love top tens.
So here goes.

1) Who/what inspires you most in life?

2) Where do you get your unique style and outlook on life?

3) What's your top thing that contributes to you 'keepin' it real?'

4) What is your most treasured memory? (you can add a couple).

5) What is your "go to" outfit?

6) Dream man? Real or celeb.

7) What are you reading right now?

8) What is your guilty pleasure (it can be tv, it can be chocolate, what have you).

9) What has been your biggest challenge?

10) What age have you loved the most/are looking forward to the most and Why?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Journal 91 Me in a Nutshell

It's list time again.
1. I'm so busy at work I am not sure how I am going to fit wedding planning/dress shopping/all of it, into the next month-ish. When people ask me when/where/what I'm doing ie, wedding, life plan, all that stuff, my new answer is: "I don't know". Ask me again in a few weeks. The answer will be the same.
2. I need nine to ten hours of sleep per night right now. When I'm lying awake at 4am, I think about how much I look forward to going to bed.
For the love of....
3. How do people plan weddings? I know, I know. They live (already) in the same country. Their friends know each other. They can have one venue, day, location, and everyone can come. Right. Forgot about that.
4. My foot is still on the mend. It's been 3 weeks, 2 since I've run. I am the picture of misery at this.
5. I'm wearing an ipod at work now (all day). I'm in the middle of Cough-Fest 2011, day 20 that feels like day 80, and I just can't f*cking listen to it anymore.
6. I haven't been blogging. Because there is just sooo much stuff that is only "journal-worthy" lately. I know. I hate to deprive people. But it's top secret, important-life stuff.
7. I'm re-reading Year of Magical Thinking in sheer wonderment at how differently I'm looking at it this time.
8. I have a tonne of books that are 'on loan' out of my personal library. This was one of the swirl-thoughts I had last night while lying awake at 4am. Insane.
9. Is there such a thing as "death by paperwork?" because I might be in line for this.
10. I still hate November.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Journal 90 11-11-11

I don't know who painted this beautiful work I found on the web this morning while looking for a suitable image to represent my feelings toward Remembrance Day today.
I just know I love how it's painted, and how the sunshine is soft, as if it had been gone for a while, and was just peeking back in after the dust settled, like some huge event had just happened, but there it was following that event, shining over the flowers, nature still standing, still awe-inspiring.

That's where I am a little bit in life right now. The dust is settling, I've got things to do, plans to make, and I'm doing my best, the person that I am, to make things feel right, to take the fear away, and to take care of myself. It's something that I thought/felt that I was doing, maybe I haven't been so much.

It's been another long, tough week, despite Mike being here (which is the non-tough part of things. Mike is part of the Great, always is). It's the work stuff, the life stuff, the other stuff. It's like I can't get out of this fog that I've been in.
The emotions, that come with no warning, like this morning, on the drive in to work, early (I had a meeting), and Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms" coming onto Q107 to remind us of Remembrance Day. I thought of all the brave soldiers (I'm one of those people, thanks to my Dad and his amazing views on this, that knows that although war is not the answer, it is sometimes the only option) who gave their lives, the 158 alone in Afghanistan. I thought, too of my Dad going to the overpass in Ajax to watch the processions on the Highway of Heroes. I thought about how that was important to me to mention during the eulogy that my sister and I gave at his funeral. I thought about how he went to a Remembrance Day ceremony every single year, because it meant something to him, to show his respect and solemn pride in the sacrifices made by those who serve in our military.

At 11 am this morning, we did the two minutes of silence at my office. I was with a client in the showroom, not up in my office, but we stood silently, along with other staff and customers. As I stood I got lost in my own quiet thoughts, and noticed that, like the painting at the top of this post, the sun was trying to come out, weakly at first, then waning again, throughout the two minutes of silence. I tried, in my head, to think of the poem "In Flanders Fields" but instead found my mind going back to that favourite poem of mine, "Try to Praise the Mutilated World" that I first read in the September 11th, 2001, issue of the New Yorker (you can read it here--
This is the line that jumped out at me (that always jumps out at me):
"Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another list

Buzz Buzz Home asked about the top ten for a first I thought they might mean in terms of sale-ability and re-sale-ability, but they meant for yourself. You know about my love affair with lists. So here they are. No particular order.

10. easy to maintain window coverings--it's close-quarters living in this city!
9. bookshelves/wall units--not just for books--extra dishes that don't fit in those small kitchens!
8. a nice view that hopefully does not involve looking out onto a dirty roof, or a crazy busy street.
7. a dresser--in the bathroom. the bedrooms can be so small, but the bathrooms large...extra storage,
and a surface to put things on.
6. wine rack. filled with wine.
5. take out menus, either online in 'favourites' or stashed in the junk drawer.
4. cheap but chic 'trays' that are not used as trays--instead, they can keep loose mail, running gloves,
sunglasses, and magazines in an easy to reach area--but they look all neat and organized because
they're 'contained'.
3. a west facing suite so that you never have to see the morning sun (night owl here)
2. places to walk to
1. your own personal stamp--be it one red wall, a collage on the fridge, a tiny bar perched on a dessert card, or a vintage chair--it doesn't have to look
like an Ikea catalogue!

Journal 89 Coupla things

All day I thought today was Tuesday until my friend L. assured me it was, in fact, Wednesday.
A major kitchen install that was on the tightest timeline I've ever had to work under went in clean (a couple of issues, but nothing that couldn't be remedied). I still awoke at 4am yesterday thinking about it.
A coworker of mine has the nastiest, most annoying cough I have ever heard and combine listening to that with having PMS and you get the picture.
I had a flat tire this morning, that a kind neighbour pointed out to me, and I was able to bring it over to my mechanic, get it repaired, and still get to work on time (I had left early) with my car.
Talked to my mom and we both agree--nicest November weather in YEARS (ever?). November is usually my most hated month--Canadian winter looms, darkness descends. But this it.
Had dinner at my sister's last night with Mike and saw the kids. Jerk chicken--amazing. Then my sis's guy came over and he and Mike discovered a shared love (ok, obsession) about poker. My sister and I entertained ourselves, making up some-e-cards to summarize the situation.
I am still working crazy hours and have two new clients, and I don't know how this is possible, as my existing clients take up more than 100 percent of my time. But I still love a new client, a new kitchen, a new challenge.....
Mike is here, his mouth is feeling better (he can eat!) and we are having a great, selfish time. Selfish meaning I want him all to myself and when I'm at work, we talk on the phone a few times a day, and he goes to the St. Lawrence Market and finds all sorts of fun things for dinner.
Trying to plan to get to Niagara Falls next weekend as Mike has (gasp) never seen them from the Canadian side. We will ride on that huge ferris-wheel type-thing that I spotted last time I was there?
Design Blogs. My new addiction. Kitchens the likes of ones I have never seen. Purple cabinets. Gorgeous light fixtures.

Also--I'm noticing a resurgence of sixties and seventies furniture in the homes/apartments/designer abodes of my contemporaries, ie, those in my general age range. There are alot of great pieces from both decades--but to me, with the way homes and condos are being built with higher and higher ceilings, the scale is often a bit 'off'. I love some of the pieces, but others leave me cold. I'll find some pictures in terms of 'scale' and how it should work as a design principle.
My wedding shower is imminent. As is my wedding. I just have to plan it. Along with all the other fifty million things I have to do....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Journal 88 Sunday Girl Again

Just did some quick math and I've lived, in total, through over 1800 Sundays. Weird to think of the numbers like that.
What is also weird is that I have been up since before 6 am. I did go to bed fairly early (before 11, so really, before 10, and really, I've only been up since before 7, since we "fell back" last night, collectively making sure that it will be dark as possible for the drive home for the next five-odd months).
But it is a bit unusual for me to be up this early, ie, earlier than I normally have to get up for work during the week.
I just had some coffee and I'm watching sports highlights (there is nothing else on except infomercials), and really, it's just background noise as I sip coffee and try to warm up, as I am still refusing to put the heat on.

I did do alot yesterday--my run, the cleaning, all my laundry, AND to top it off I did make it to the Eaton Centre, I did exchange my large-print-book-mis-buy from online (Blue Nights was in large print when it arrived. I read it anyway, and plan to re-buy it now that they have credited my account. They can't just swap it out in-store though, which I think is ridiculous. I had to read it because I was dying to. But for my collection, this large-print thing will no do). I also took a rare foray into Lulu Lemon while I was at the mall (which was, predictably for a Saturday in November packed). Remember all my favourite stores? Well, Lulu Lemon was not on there. Yes, I love athletic wear, and yes, I especially love athletic wear on the weekends, in the colder months, even when I'm not necessarily exercising--but I find Lulu Lemon, for the most part, does not live up to its price range. The pants are tight, and their lines don't really do alot for my body type. But before I left Maine, Mike's sister very generously got me a pair of their shorts, which fit perfectly, were reversible, and had a blue band at the top. Very nice. She promised me I would live in them. I did like them; except they did have a fatal flaw, and they aren't the only shorts/pants that suffer from this:
No Pockets.
Meaning, if I want to run in them, where does my stuff go? My flattened, folded-into-squares-five-dollar bill that I always carry, my condo keys and fob, and my ipod. running in these shorts. I debated about what to do with them for a while. I knew I wouldn't wear them anywhere else, ie, out for fun of it, or lounging around the house--they are a more generous cut than a booty short, but I simply do not have long enough legs to carry these off. So they sat in a corner of my condo, in the bag, tags on, for the last two months (I've been busy. And, I hate going to the Eaton Centre).
Luckily, I was able to exchange them without the receipt and I browsed through the (packed) store for a while, making mental notes:
1) I don't need anymore pants except if they were cropped or legging style, for the coming winter of running outside--I only have pants that do right down to my shoe, and these can get soaked when running in snow/slush.
2) I just don't really like Lulu Lemon pants. Or their tops, or their bras. Once I discovered Costco, and their range of ever-evolving work-out wear, for a fraction of the cost (like, a FIFTH of the cost), I almost always buy there. Again--Lulu pants feel tight to me, and never seem to be the right size/fit. So I own on pair, bought with a giftcard, and I run in them in the winter, and that's the only time I wear them.
So I was considering a pair of cropped grey pants, with 3 pockets, in a size up from what I normally wear so they wouldn't feel as restrictive, but the sales girl told me they are not meant to be worn that way.
So scratch that.
I looked at running shorts, with a pocket (zippable) and they were nice. But I already have 2 pairs of functional shorts, and we're going into winter here.
Despite looming colder (freezing) temps, when I spotted the skirts, it was all over. They had several styles, colours, but the one in the picture above was my favourite. With a zippable pocket, and a hidden, second pocket, they fit perfectly; not tight, not falling off. (and the ruffles are on the back of the skirt; on the front it is flat, flattering, plain. Like I like).
So maybe that's why I'm up so early, day-light savings cancelling-out aside.
Ok, and yes, Mike is arriving today (much later in the day I might add), but I am excited to run in this skirt, and yes I'm wearing it today. I ran in shorts yesterday and I was glad I did.
So, that's part of my Sunday Girl plan for the day.
I have also already done all the prep-work for the dinner I'm making for Mike tonight (yes, I braved the insanely busy market, too, got in, got out, got some duck, have some plans for it) and I have a butternut-squash lasagne ready to put in the oven, sitting in the fridge right now.
Alot accomplished on my Saturday. I also finished reading Thunder and Lightning by Natalie Goldberg, and I feel oddly compelled to go and read it again. It was that good. I started Augusten Burroughs' "Running with Scissors" but so far it hasn't grabbed me, although his descriptions of his dysfunctional parents and the interior of his childhood home are compelling and I've created a large visual and it's very early in the book. But I'm not "in" it yet.
I have Julia Cameron's "Right to Write" and I may turn to that. As well, a fiction work by Joan Didion.
So I'll keep busy today until Mike arrives.

PS--I've tried everything to get the other picture of the front of the skirt I took up onto this post, but my computer is not cooperating. It's an ancient laptop, more than a decade old, and it's tired, (like me) right now.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Journal 87 Blue Night, Bright Day

Greeted Saturday early by staying up past midnight (1:23am to be exact) to finish reading Joan Didion's new book "Blue Nights" which was, truly, worth how tired I looked when I awoke to get ready to go running at 8:31am this morning.
I'd already read some press she'd done for the book, I knew the premise (a follow up to The Year of Magical Thinking about the sudden death of her husband in 2003, after almost four decades together).
Blue Nights is about the next loss she suffered, less than two years after her husband--her adult daughter, only child, adopted at birth, and her continuation to make sense of a work that left her, basically, family-less, and marching alone, through her old age. It was breath-taking. I don't have any children, I am not close to my seventies, but there were parts of the book, as there always are for me when I am lost in a good one, where I had to close the book over, stare off into middle-distance, and let the tears fall, not just for what I may have just read on the page, but for this human condition, these lives we lead, the suffering that seems to inflict those who feel it the keenest.
This was such a book. I knew I was not sleeping until it was finished.

I walked to Starbucks after my pre-run shower, had a dose of vitamin D, and gauged the temperature of this very bright, very brisk November day. In the end I did decide to run in shorts, with a windbreaker, and I wore gloves to start ( I was glad of each choice). My running reunion was joyous (I had not run since Saturday, October 23rd, a bout of stomach flu grounding me. My stomach, I am sorry to report, is still not 100%; my sister claims it's stress, she is more than likely right).
Anyway, today was an amazing run, with a good finish, good time, and very good weather.

I'm doing laundry, planning my clean-off for later, and steeling myself to brave the crowds of downtown this afternoon to get to the Eaton's Centre (trying to find a little 'welcome' gift for Mike--he arrives tomorrow) and then on to the market, as I want to make something special for him when he gets here.
I'm sad that he couldn't make it here for Friday which was the original plan, but glad that his toothache has been dealt with (he had a root canal yesterday on the dentist's day off. The dentist came in especially for him to do the procedure) and he sounded alot better when I talked to him last night, during a brief pause in reading Blue Nights.
I also talked to my mother and sister at various points of the evening, and both sounded good, actually the three of us sounded good, better than we have lately.
That's the weekend so far. And it's not even halfway there, I have the Natalie Goldberg book to finish, later today I think, and three more library books, plus the new Nigel Rodgers memoir which I am waiting to read until it will have my full attention.

Saturday is still my favourite day of the week.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm just sayin...

thanks L.
love you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Journal 86 Stumbled Upon

I stumbled across this email while searching for something last night.
I had also noticed when looking for something paper-work related in my Dad's office a few weeks ago, he had, true to form, copied these questions out, with an intent,
I know, to answer them. He just didn't get the chance.
The "Tuesday" email is a long email that went back and forth between us, I just took out this one 'questionnaire' (list-like, I know) that I had sent him, partly to give him a little 'purpose' in our emails, an assignment, if you will, but more to allow a glimpse into events, times, that shaped his life--from his point of view.
One of his responses to me was that I knew 'everything about him anyway' (this still makes me smile through my tears) but really, I didn't.
I want to do a write-up about my Dad for the back page of Macleans (I do not know how to go about this) but really, the early-life details are kind of lost--I don't know (don't remember?) the name of his elementary school, details like that. I do know his hometown, the street he lived on, his cat's name, and of course, who his parents were, and that he was the youngest child, with an older brother (my American uncle) and older sister (my lost aunt). But I don't know the real details.
So I like to speculate the answers to some of these questions.

Why write this, why post? I guess because last night, while watching Oprah's program on OWN (you can all have a collective...whaaatt?, but no, it was so good), she was talking to a woman who had experienced enormous loss. And someone else who has also experienced enormous loss told this woman that one day, she would be able to think about the people she loved without focussing on that One Day that they died. And that those loved ones would live on in her, for others.
I guess that's why I post. One, for my own memory and to connect with my own sad feelings, and two, to let my Dad live on. One day I too hope to remember the nights at the piano and the barbeques and long drives, not just the cancer and the sickness and the months of suffering.

Here's the email, a portion of it:

Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 8:47 PM
From: carolyn in the city
To: "Dad"
Subject: RE: Tuesday

Hi Dad,
I try to frame Mom's moods in the context of the relation to your suffering
and I understand them better.
Her world is changing and she is coming from a place of helps
me with feeling compassion towards all her frustrations, most of all the
very unhealthy way she sometimes tends to express them.
I'm sorry that happened.
In terms of writing things down, i can give you a list of some questions (ha,
reminds me of when I used to 'interview' you when i was young and in school,
remember, I had to ask about your first job, impressions on life...etc).

Impressions on life.
Are there major things or pieces of advice you would like to pass along to Lisa
and I? Anythings you would say to definitely make time for, or others that should
be avoided?

When you look back on your life, what do you consider your greatest achievement?
What do you feel you may have missed out on?

Do you feel that life tended to move fast or slow?
Were you always content?

Did faith and prayer always play a big role?
Do you feel that your parents adequately prepared you for life?

Did you wish there were things you could have done that you weren't able to?

What time period were you the happiest with?
When were you the saddest?

Another thing that a friend of mine mentioned was that maybe you
would like to write something to Elise and River about life, or somethings
that you would like them to know, or to express to them.
Again...there is no pressure on that. It's just something to ponder,
think about, and maybe write about.

I'll start with that... I can write some stuff about myself, too, if you want to hear about that.

Much love,