Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Here's how it's gonna go down:
My sister's birthday.
Move my mom.
That's February in a nutshell.
Mike leaves at the end of it.
I apologize in advance for all of you I won't see this month.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Morning


Just a few of my favourite blogs, as I sit on a Saturday morning, brewing coffee with my French press (my coffee maker broke about 6 months ago. I never got around to getting a new one. Yes, I'm serious).

So..blog reading is what I am doing right now instead of running, instead of waking Mike up, instead of packing for Niagara-on-the-Lake, because we are supposed to leave...ah...now.

Anyway. Not sure if you can click on the links above (MAC. you frustrate me sometimes) but these are some that I like to peruse through. I especially like the fact that:
a) all of these blogs are radically different from each other
b) yes. some are by mormons. I know that I have nothing in common with mormons but I'm fascinated by their approach to that ever-thorny topic known as "religion"
c) all of these writers are doing this pretty much just for the sake of writing. Not really for much else. Yes, I'm sure everyone on this list (myself included) would lurve a book deal, a job, something to come out of what can sometimes seem endless blogging about life and how everyone approaches that daily thing called "living" a little bit differently from everyone else.

That's the real hook, isn't it? The internet, with all its "sameness" and often vanilla content, showing us that every person has their own unique way of living life and we get a glimpse into that when reading blogs, facebook statuses (stati?) and tweets on twitter.

In the words of my friend L., "I love it all".

Friday, January 27, 2012

Journal 115 Married Life

Things I like about being married (so far, it's exceeding my expectations. I knew it would. Yes I know I'm not even a month in yet. Whatever. I'm a late bloomer, let me enjoy myself):

1. Coming home to him.
This one's important. Going from LDR to LDM (at least for the next little while) is tough, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. There was a period last year where we were apart, continuously, with not even a quick visit, for over five months.
So for me, coming home to him means a little bit more than the person who gets married, moves right into sharing a home with their spouse, and is able to 'start' their life together right off. It's going to be tricky, and I'm not exactly sure how it will look when I get to top of the hill on this immigration stuff, but I know it will be okay.

2. Coming home to him after what feels like a nearly-endless work week, after attending an evening work event, it's almost 10 pm and I have left the house at 8 that morning and he's made a whole dinner, with a bunch of snacks, and it's waiting for me.
There is nothing better than that.

3. Coming home to him and talking about my day, his day, the recent tennis match in the Australian Open, the weekend away we're planning, the upcoming Superbowl, what he bought at the store, what we're going to do tomorrow, what our dreams are, how we're going to make them come true.
I once read a poster about marriage (in my therapist's waiting room, oddly enough) that said: "Marry a person you can talk to."
I now completely understand this statement. Talking to Mike I have some of the best conversations ever. There are very few people who fall into this category.

4. Someone else loves my niece and nephew as much as I do. And they love him back.

5. I have another niece and nephew now and they are both amazing.
(this sounds funny. not a 'new' niece and nephew, just 'I have an additional niece and nephew. LOL. Whatever, they're great).

6. My new family. They are American, opinionated, talkative, and all amazing as well.

7. When people compliment my rings.

8. That despite spending the last fifteen-odd years of my adult life trying to escape the restaurant industry by becoming a kitchen designer and building my career up while waitressing on the side and truly sometimes detesting it, I'm now married to someone who runs a restaurant. The irony doesn't escape me, believe me.

9. That somehow I've become something that is not usually a label applied to women: Sportsfan. I know. Yesterday after the IDS show and getting a free copy of the Globe and Mail, I found myself leafing through the Sports section, something I used to automatically pull out of the paper to put into the recycling to get it out of my way. The strangest part was reading the stories with interest and knowledge. Sports has always been my bugbear category in Trivial Pursuit. I vow it will be no more.

10. Calling Mike my husband. For so many more reasons than I could ever list here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Journal 114 Dear Me Part One

All around the internet lately, I guess inspired by the melanoma ad titled "Dear sixteen-year-old me" bloggers are taking this to task.
The thought of writing to my sixteen-year-old self is vaguely horrifying, because I was one of 'those' teens, the type who loathed being a teenager, who saw their teenage years as something to be endured rather than celebrated, and looked upon graduating high school and subsequently, post secondary education, as an achievement best left in the archives, the attic of the brain, never disturbed by rational thought again.
I didn't peak in high school, I don't refer to my university/college days as 'the best of my life'. Anyone who talks about cheerleading and joining clubs in school can just keep on walkin'.

What DID surprise me about the many treatsies I read about "dear me" was how much women fixated on their looks, allowed it to define their early life (and continue to define their current life) and how little they discussed their actual accomplishments.

In case you're curious, I am not, and never will, write a "dear sixteen-year-old me" blog entry, letter, or journal rumination. I don't re-visit my teen years. Ever. But I will do a little spin on it. After all, I have lots to tell myself.
So without further delay...

Dear thirty-six-thirty-seven-thirty-eight-year-old Me,
I know that there are many years and ages before this one that you thought were the hardest, the toughest, the most frightening. And I'm sorry you were wrong. They were hard in different ways, the way twenty-four was after the robbery and that break-up that sucked.
And different from the way twenty-eight was with its punishing heartbreak.
Different, even, from those endless teen years where all you did was wish you were someone else, somewhere else.
You'll wish you were somewhere else this year too. But you'll stick with it.
Here's some short-range stuff:
Family Day, February, 2010 will be the last time you will have your whole family at your loft for a meal. You will grill chicken on the roof before everyone gets there, and your Mom, Dad, and sister will love the lunch you make. You will sit at the dining room table together in your loft, just the four of you, the way it's been all your life, and that will be the last time. It will be such a nice day. You will hold this memory forever.
Enjoy that Chicago trip, it will be the last piece of fun before you get some really really bad news. In that hotel room, you will feel a powerful intuition. It is sending you a message. Listen to it.
May 2010 is going to suck, that's all I can tell you. Listen to your Aunt's advice, as she is the person who is going to get you through this period. Her most sage saying will be this:
"Be still".
You will remember this and keep it within you at the most difficult points over the next three months. It's not just your Dad's cancer diagnosis that is going to make these few months extremely hard, but also a major betrayal by someone you trust.
The times you walk to Princess Margaret hospital to visit your Dad during evening chemo will be special for both of you. It is high summer, gorgeous weather, and the hospital has a rooftop garden that you will return to in memory alot. It's a place of peace. One evening you will go down to the hospital cafeteria and get your Dad some tomato soup with crackers to crush into it. He will enjoy this meal immensely. File this away. It will make you appreciate how wonderful eating is, and you will never again be as particular about your food.
You will change through this. It will be painful, and amazing, as all the biggest things in life are.
You will make a pivotal phone call one late night in June. You will spend many late nights this fateful summer on the phone with this person. You will ask yourself if you are falling in love.
You are.
You will plan a vacation at the end of the summer, and at the time it just seems like something to do to get out of your head. It will be much more than that. In Central Park, you will see a man whom you are certain is an angel. Pay attention. This is your next warning.
Your Dad's prognosis will be looking good when you get back from this trip. You will be wary and worried. Before long, your intuition will be proven right.

You're going to get the flu at the end of the year and your New Year's Eve will be protracted by this. You will go a month without seeing your parents in the new year as you are too sick to be around them. You won't know why this is important yet.

If there is one point I will underscore continuously it's this: you must trust yourself even when your life seems to be breaking apart--something keeps guiding you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Journal 113 Post (game) Mortem

It's a rainy Monday, after all the excitement of football, leisure time, and general 'do-nothing' spirit of the weekend, today feels like a HUGE let down.
I started my Monday early, as usual, and I had a meeting downtown first thing in the morning.
I'd listened, halfway only, really, to the weather report on the AM station that wakes me via clock radio and since I still can't hear out of my right ear (the Cold to end all Colds) I only heard the part about "plus four" and I perked right up, planning an outfit for work that did not involve winter boots, a blazer/jacket, or sweater. One light Cardigan coming right up. I didn't listen nor did I, in my mad Monday morning panic, look out the window once, so I didn't notice the pelting rain until I left my building. Sprinted to my car, madly dug out the file I needed for the meeting to have it handy when I arrived at the meeting and parked the car, and got re-drenched.
Monday mornings are never easy anyway, but this one seemed particularly dreary as I sat, no kidding, in complete gridlock trying to drive a few short blocks, swigging coffee out of my travel cup and cursing streetcars, pedestrians completely dressed in only black and grey, darting in front of cars (note: difficult to see through windows smeared with rain) and cops directing traffic around endless construction. I hated being in the city this morning, which made me sad, as on the weekends it's such a quiet, deserted place, for the most part, and I enjoy it so much.
Sunday nights require special handling in preparation for the next day. Meaning, I need to sleep, and I need to not wake up around 2am and stare at the clock, calculating out how little time I have left to sleep as I lie awake.
My usual route on a Sunday night is a sleeping pill, low dose, non-groggy the next morning, nothing crazy. However, since Christmas and the gift my mother got me of an herbal tea called "Dreamland" I only drink that. And it's insane. It's like taking some type of psychedelic. At first I thought it was called Dreamland because that's where it puts you. But I think that the name also reflects the screwed-up dreams you have (and remember) when you drink it. (like running a marathon vertically along a rain-drenched boulevard, that was last nights' or dreaming of people you haven't seen in ages, that was last week).

As I was emailing my friend L. today about it, I asked myself, How can I sleep less? And then the far more pressing question: How can I WANT to sleep less?
I noticed, when I was off, that I woke up at 7am everyday anyway, for the most part, and went to bed around 11pm every night. So what is different now? It's the same sleep time, it's the same everything time. I guess the commute plays its part too. I also did some quick 'quality of life' math and here's how it breaks down, during the week:
Work day: 9 hours
Sleep: 8 hours
Commute: 1.5 to 2 hours
Total: 18. 5 or 19 hours.
This leaves just over 5 hours a day to: cook meals, clean, shop for food, write emails, make calls, etc, etc, etc, you know, all that 'life' stuff, oh, and yes, spend time with Mike, while he is here.
It's dizzying. Add in tv watching, reading, getting ready for work and getting un-ready for work and I need to learn to not beat myself up so much for not getting it all done in that 2-day span known as "weekend". Not to forget blogging and writing, and reading other blogs (last week I stumbled across a 20-something who is writing a memoir about her cancer survival, which is great, except it has the word "charisma" in the title which horrified me. Also, I always think about what my mom says about writing a memoir under the age of 35, bare minimum. She's got a point. And as I've noted before, I have several 20-something bloggers I love and whose sites I continually return to, just to get a little pick-me-up, a reminder of how simple life used to be, but how complicated it seemed at the time.....).
Okay. That's it for today, another Monday. Munday it should be called. MUNDANE.

Journal 112 Just another weekend

I like to write about Sundays (my second favourite day of the week after Saturday) and as you know, list-making and questionnaire-filling-out-ing is my fall-back when I hit the wall, so to speak.

Today it's just "what I'm doing" (and not doing) this weekend and what I haven't done (have not done much today. Football looms).

What I've done so far today:
1. read Oprah mag fairly scrupulously. Martha Beck, in her column, talking about how we don't need to be like a terrier on coke to be happy. we can cultivate joy and happiness without running around stuffing it down people's throats (amen).
*remember--I follow Martha Beck like I am her disciple. after the burn-out column I allowed myself to keep sleeping when I needed to and not punish myself if I missed out on running because of it.
2. ate lunch, a leftover slice of pizza and some coffee, keeping in mind my friend Jillian's most recent blog, entitled "F*ck Calories". Oh how I agree with that slogan, that philosophy. Visit her blog, "Fat Girl in a Little Coat" to read more.
3. showered, complete with washing my hair, which I hadn't washed since Thursday. It was a static-ky mess, let me tell you. Drying it was a chore. It's sooo long again. I'm not complaining, just saying. I do love it. But it is work.
4. tried to upload wedding photos on facebook, on this blog. It's not working out too well. Sometimes the MAC thing frustrates me.
5. made coffee, two large cups. drank it.
6. talked to my mom (house sale fell through. More pending. Insanely frustrating but I am not fighting life right now--I'm just going along with the current).

Things I haven't done today:
1. I have not run. I managed 30 km so far this week, I'm tired, and when I awoke earlier, around 6am, I got up, took more Benelyn "all in one" (still sick) and went back to sleep. I put my phone on silence for all those up-with-their-kids at the crack of dawn friends who love to text at that hour. I'm glad I did.
2. left the house or gotten dressed. Put my pajamas back on after the shower, looked curiously outside, tied my robe tighter and poured more coffee. It's now 3 pm, time for the first football game. Ordinarily I would be berating myself for laziness. But I'm way past all that. I filled in the marriage paperwork (not sure what to do with it--mail it off? Service Ontario confused me). I have shower thank yous that I have to find addresses for. I have wedding thank you cards that need to be filled out, and photos that need to be printed. I think all of that is going to have to wait. Mike and I went to the St. Lawrence market yesterday, late in the day, so there's lots of food choices here for dinner. I haven't got to the bank either.
Oh well.
3. All of the above.
4. made the bed (just noticed Mike made it).
5. washed the dishes or done laundry (did both yesterday. I'm not usually like this).

What I did yesterday:
1. Ran 10 km despite the chill outside and a very undesirable surface underfoot. I turned on my foot at one point at a curb, avoiding a stroller. Could have been alot worse. My other foot is sore today though and I do have to keep an eye on it.
2. Went to the market with Mike just as it was closing. Ended up with some great cheap sushi, great cheap vegetables, steak for tonight, fish for last night.
3. Made it to church prior to mass. I haven't been to church in an embarassingly long time. As Mike says "Church is a state of mind" which is true, and a very comforting thought, but I love my church (St. Paul's Basilica). It's beautiful, awe-inspiring, and it always brings me back into the centre of myself. I specifically went to light a candle for an anniversary, and it was then, as I lit several, that I hadn't lit one for my Dad in a long time. Because I don't think I'd been to church since the summer. Wow. A very long time.
I also noticed that the church has a new statue, of John Paul II, a bronze bust by a Dutch artist who depicted him on one side as a young pope, then on the other side in his final years. It was incredibly detailed and beautiful, and the write-up underneath it was very poignant, encouraging the viewer of the statue to kneel before it and experience the reverence. I'm not sure if the statue is permanent or if it is on loan, but I'm glad I got to see it. As L'Engle wrote in the Summer of the Great-Grandmother, God does wander after spending a period of time with us sometimes.
I don't mean this to be a 'religious' post, but it was something I'd been wanting to do, get to church, and it has maybe enabled me to 'just be' today. Instead of 'doing' all the time. Just being can be so under-rated.
4. Visited my sister and niece and nephew, specifically to dye my sister's hair.
5. Made a nice dinner with Mike and thoroughly enjoyed Saturday without work thoughts invading and ruining it. I could stress about work 24/7 and it is my goal (I don't make resolutions) to continue to force work to take up less and less of my mental time. Also, Scarface was on. We watched it, again (one of those movies that for sets, costumes, and music, it wins in all categories for me). Also, Wedding Crashers. Mike and I critiqued it. It's okay. I've seen it before. It's no Raising Arizona, which we watched Friday night, before I fell asleep, but it was sort of funny. Raising Arizona was priceless, one of Mike's favourites and he basically recited it. Watching that was funny too.

Alright. I can also add "finishing a blog post" (albeit without pictures since I can't load anything) to today's "done" list.

To Do list:
1. Marriage license -send in stuff.
2. Banking
3. Thank you cards so people don't think I fell off the face of the earth.
4. Correspondence for the same reason as # 3.
5. Possibly leave the house
6. Print photos
7. Do some serious scrapbooking. I was emailing my friend L. and lamenting how she was such a great help in motivating me to do this. I must self-motivate (not my strong point today).

Okay the game is starting. Maybe more later. (maybe not).

Happy Saturday, Sunday, Weekend.

ps I managed to write this post with Mike talking to me. I consider this progress. I even answered him a few times.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Journal 111 Vanity, Fair Enough

The Proust Questionnaire.
I ask myself (while reading it) are they given a time limit of ridiculous proportions to complete this in, is this why some of them sound so so stupid? Or is it just (my general opinion) that alot of actors of 'our' generation are vapid and thoughtless? Maybe the money got to them.
Either way. Be creative!
Here goes my try!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being independently wealthy and never having to worry about money again, writing at home, all day, in my pajamas.

What is your greatest fear?
That the above answer to the first question might not happen. Not really my GREATEST fear, but it's the greatest fear I have related to my 'number one need'.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Any misunderstood woman.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Lying. Sense of own importance. Arrogance.

What is your greatest extravagance?

What is your favorite journey?
Driving to Maine.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I originally skipped this question. It's so vain.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"Who's kidding who?" (my husband recently pointed this out. It's true. I even WRITE it alot...)

What is your greatest regret?
Not having a child at age 20 or 21. Of course I can say that NOW as I look back on life. Not so easy to just do it then....

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
In the "who", my husband, hands down. In the "what" category I put running, food, wine, art, and writing in no particular order.

When and where were you happiest?
My wedding day, January 3rd, 2012.
Running in Central Park, New York City, September 2010.
Having dinner with a good friend at a favourite restaurant, anytime, any where.
The births of my niece and nephew.

Which talent would you most like to have?
To sit down and write a novel, start to finish, perfectly crafted with what I want to say, in under a year. And have it sell well!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Controlling my temper over the years.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
I hope to live on in a beautiful afterlife and be an accessory to earth for a long long time. I don't really want to come back.

What is your most treasured possession?
I don't treasure possessions really, but my book collection is the closest I come.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Loss of hope. Grief over a loved one.

Where would you like to live?
Out of the city.

What is your favorite occupation?
Reading memoirs. Listneing intently to a new idea. Dining out.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Seriousness mixed with humour.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

What do you most value in your friends?

Who are your favorite writers?
George Orwell, Mary Karr, those brave enough to write honest memoirs.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Winston Smith of 1984.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Anyone who can pull it off on their own.

What are your favorite names?
Ones that stand out.

What is it that you most dislike?
The feeling that bad luck is not equally distributed.

How would you like to die?
Quietly, without suffering.

What is your motto?
I quote John Dunne: "It all evens out in the end."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Journal 110 Confessions

Well, not all of them. Just a few.
Again, I'm just doing writing practice right now, while Mike sleeps, and I continue to unceremoniously hack my lungs up with this god-awful cough.

1. I love used bookstores, esp. good ones. Last night, after picking up our pro-wedding photos from our photographer in the Annex, I conspired to get Mike to New Generation Sushi, that great place on Bloor near Spadina, also conveniently located near that HUGE BMV used books. Multi-level. Well-organized. Vast. Cheap. Let me tell you: these used books are like new. Like some miscreant bought it on Amazon or Indigo online and then it arrived, heavy, bulky, looking like a tomb, and they hightailed it over to BMV with the book in tow, perfectly intact, not a mark on it, and gave (sold for a pittance) it away. I got some finds last night.
So here is the confession part: Sometimes I buy more than one copy of the same book. Sometimes it's because I love it so much I want to gift it to someone, or else it's been lent out, so long ago I can't remember when I last saw it and as I've admitted before, I'm a CHRONIC re-reader of books. Not just twice, either, sometimes into the double digits.

2. I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of my time off these past few weeks, and the time has flown. Despite being sick over this last week and rising at the crack of dawn to fuel myself with nyquil/benelyn formula/vitamins/water/gatorade/tea, anything to stop coughing, my time off has been great. So great. It's put ALOT of things into perspective for me, work-wise, as I mentioned in my post yesterday.

3. In addition to watching football (and genuinely appreciating it), I have also started watching (and genuinely appreciating) highlights, game analysis, post-game comments and commentary, interviews with players, and last night, something new: for two hours Mike and I watched a documentary about Bill Belichick, called "A Football Life", parts one and two, back to back.
It was excellent. Other than the fact that Mr. Belichick is friends with Bon Jovi, he seems like a well-rounded individual. (I'm kidding about that. I don't hate Bon Jovi, just his music).
The part where Mr. Belichick visited his father's grave and got a little choked up got me a little choked up, I have to admit.
I also liked how he dissected the team's poor performances after games they lost (this was based on the 2009 season) and how tough he was on them. I turned to Mike after watching that part, at the commercial break, and said "That's what I want to do to my team at my Friday meeting this week". (ie, tell them, get your head in the game, or get out the door). Mike laughed and told me I wouldn't be too popular if I did that. I sulked. I think the whole problem at my job, and I've been analyzing this for a while, is the lack of accountability, the low standards, and the attitude of 'good enough'.
I cannot say this enough: This kind of thing makes.me.crazy.
That's all.

4. I've been really emotional lately. About anything. Everything. I haven't been that calm around my mother. I'm really going to have to try harder. I've also been impatient. Mike hates this, and I know it is my task in my marriage to not put this on him.

5. I'm now reading "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom. I know--I'm jumping on this bandwagon about a decade late, but I needed to get there myself.
I bought (again, used, in perfect condition) a copy of this at BMV last night for under five dollars. So far it's an interesting book. I'm at person Three right now (I'm a very fast reader).
This is the confession part: I am obsessed with knowing what other ordinary people have as their perception of the after-life, since none of us really knows (obviously). I like this assertion, that you meet these five people that you were somehow connected to on earth, and they explain the purpose, and give you the tools, to understand your life. How amazing that would be if we could do that at various points in our lives, like each decade, or maybe every twenty-five years.

Can you imagine? Getting some valuable insight into the why of the what.

I would love that.

*ps this is how I envision Ruby Pier--like Old Orchard Beach in Maine. Vintage. Undisturbed by time. Retro.
photo credit: me

Monday, January 16, 2012

Journal 109 Randoms

Just writing practice until some dream-inspiration lightning bolts me.
Thoughts running through my head this morning as I sit, pajama-robe-clad, drinking coffee, gearing up for a morning run despite a vicious head-cold.

No order.
1. Work. I return Thursday. The vacation/Christmas/New Years/Wedding/Honeymoon/Loose-end-tying-up has been amazing. And now it's time to get back to 'real life' ie, 'work life' and continue to maintain BALANCE and SANITY with a commute from hell (construction on Highway 7 between the 404 and Bayview is to continue to 2013......hello flex-time).

2. Flex-time. I really have 2 choices: One, to go in super early, avoid traffic, get out early, avoid traffic, get home in time to run in early evening. OR: Two (more realistic), go in later, get stuck in some traffic, come home later. Possibly run one morning a week until the clocks spring forward (when is that exactly?) and it's light out later. As much as I love option One, their is a flaw with it: I can NEVER leave at the time I should as I get caught by upper management at that time. So I end up working a 9 or 10 hour day. The other problem is most of my office likes the early-in-early-out:
a) Upper management doesn't (therefore giving them a couple of boss-free hours to do, well, not a hell of alot) and that they use their kids as pawns in this guise, the pick-up/drop-off dance that most working parents do.
b) I end up getting no work done in those two hours before 9:30 am because everyone is already there, asking crucial questions, interrupting me and generally making my life a misery.

Now that I'm married I plan to start dropping that "my husband needs the car, blah blah blah" and also I'm planning to have to pick up my niece and nephew at least a couple of times a week. So there!
This leaves me with option two, and really, there is no other option. I would say I'm grateful for my office allowing flex-time except I've now read, in every publication talking about the GTA workforce in the last two years, that there is no other option: our traffic issues are simply too serious.

3. Just finished a Globe&Mail article about 'designated days without meetings' (this has long been a personal policy of mine that I try to enforce: Monday and Friday are gear-up and wind- down and meetings have no place invading that. If only the rest of the world shared my theory on this). Also, when you HAVE to leave on time, you somehow get it done. Funny how that works. As I commented to my cousin I call most late-stayers "Face-Timers". Another friend of mine calls it 'Office Optics' a term I love because it so nails it: It's not the reality of your work. It's the perception. You're probably thinking "what a highly flawed system".
Guess what? You're right. It is. It sucks.

4. SOLD. As in my mother's house. As in 4 days on the market. As in now I have to find her an apartment in less than two months, and if you think that is not panic-inspiring, you need a stiff drink. Or seven.

5. I think a great percentage of the people I witnessed shopping at Costco yesterday were in-breds. That being said, I did pick up a gorgeous black cashmere sweater for $ 28 bucks. Who am I to judge?

6. Unless you are pushing a stroller, unable to walk in a straight line due to age or infirmity, or are legitimately challenged (ie in a wheelchair, have a walker, scooter, what have you) and are using a city side walk PASS OTHERS ON THE LEFT, and MAKE ROOM FOR THEM as they approach. It's only polite. Especially when that other person is running, and edging the icy sidewalk themselves.
Mike and I trade "running stories" when we finish our city runs. Since we don't run together very often we get double the 'fun' out of this. His story from Saturday was two couples marching along, oblivious to moving to one side even a millimetre, and then giving them the taste of what my friend N.'s husband (also a Virgo) calls "Mr. Shoulder" (I think of this EVERY time I pass someone and 'clumsily' knock them). We both agreed he should have clotheslined them, a term I also love, that Mike introduced me too. I laugh every time I hear it.

My story from yesterday's run involved going to Starbucks on Front St. at George after completing 10 km, flush with endorphins, which strangely, do not calm me, but seem to hype me up. I purchased a coffee for Mike and myself to bring home and as I was doctoring mine I heard what sounded like high-pitched barking. I thought, is there a dog in Starbucks? I glanced up, and there was a dog, tied up outside, patiently waiting for its coffee-loving owner. The barking I heard INSIDE the store was two eight-or nine-year-old girls, barking at the dog out the window, teasing it, and sounding quite realistic. Disgusting, I thought. They're old enough to know better. Then one of the girls decided to play by opening and closing the door, letting in a lovely arctic blast of air into the shop. I'd had it. The mother sat there, oblivious, idiotic.
On my way out with my coffees, I glared at all three of them, running sunglasses obscuring my eyes, and hissed, loud enough for them to hear: "Brats". The mother looked at me, startled that someone had noticed her lack of control over her kids, furious to be called out on it, but also: chagrined. Sorry lady. You suck.
I related this story to Mike, who loved it, and also to my friend T. who shares my "I hate the entire human race" city attitude and means it.

7. I'm sick. Again. This is my third kind-of-off-feeling-cold in as many months. I am back to epic sleeping (I did not sleep well in St. Maarten at all). When I ask my therapist about this, (and I do, endlessly) she simply replies that I am emotionally exhausted. I have to accept this as I don't really have any other explanation for it. I fall back on the Martha Beck article. Burn out. Enough said.

8. My ipod is boring me. I need some new music but I'm too old to relate to Katy Perry.

9. It's only January 16th and I am already in hate with winter. This morning, when I awoke at 7am, despite not having to since I'm still on vacation, it was pitch-black dark out. It's not the cold that gets me, ironically. It's the DARKNESS.

10. I'm really not bitter, just citi-fied. Sorry. (well, not really).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Journal 108 Home Again

We're home, we got in last night after a very longggg day of travelling, which included one delayed plane, one unscheduled stop for fuel, and a duty-free store that was (gasp) OUT OF BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM.

The trip was amazing in every single way, and I won't bore to tears with lots of pics of the same old thing--beach, sand and water, sunshine, endless blue.
But as Mike and I both agreed last night, after we got in, I unpacking and doing laundry while he shopped for food for a late dinner; we were glad to be 'home'. Well, home for me, second home for him.
He cooked a chicken pasta while I emptied the suitcases and by 1am I was fast asleep.

Waking up at about 8 this morning, the city felt quiet for a Friday the 13th, rounding out a week with a full moon. Then I looked outside. Giant snowflakes were lazily falling, and I felt such a sense of true gratitude and peace. I don't have to go anywhere today, I don't have to drive, I'm not back at work yet. I just have to clean up, run some errands, renew library books, pick up my mail...but on my own timeline.
Mike is not feeling that great and on the best of days he's not an early riser, so I've just been drinking tea (staving off the last of my cold), catching up with friends on email and by phone, and cleaning and doing the last of the laundry (my policy is anything that has been packed in a suitcase and taken on a trip gets washed, worn or not. And I wayyyy overpacked this time).

My writer's block disappeared soon after I first posted about it, and now I have lots of ideas for blog entries, and I journalled through-out the trip, sometimes alone on the beach, the sun beating down, a Heineken close at hand. Pausing my pen when a word or a phrase eluded me, but for the most part, just letting words flow out. I did have a very bad grief day on our third day in, almost as if I needed to work through some of the roller-coaster-y emotions after a very busy couple of weeks--Christmas, then the end of 2011, a close friend's recent loss of her father, and my wedding without my own father. The busy-ness precluded me having any real time to reflect and by the time I'd been away for a couple of days, all of it kind of crashed down on me. I'll write more about it--it really needs a post of its' own, which I've started work on.

The bad grief day came and went, as the bad days always do. After it goes, after the extra tears have been cried, life feels a bit more live-able and not as terrifying.
It's been seven months today since my Dad died, and I still turn the event over and over again, but some part of me knows that this is part of how I heal--re-visiting, remembering, re-living, and ultimately, re-learning.

For today, I sit and watch the snow, think quiet thoughts.
Gratitude still abounds.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Calm Acceptance

It was 5 am when I originally journalled about this, a few days ago.

As mentioned, can't sleep, have cold, hotel has a fan system with the a/c and it's a loud-ish white noise. I'm an oldest child. I need total silence to sleep.
So, it seems does Mike, who just irritatedly told me I was keeping him awake typing on the laptop with the light on. I had a flash of my own irritation--he was up and about before, happily eating a sandwich and having a drink, while I tried to write.

We had a talk about this a couple of weeks ago, my need for some quiet sometimes while I'm writing. And I hate "shushing" him, but sometimes I am mid-line and the thought eludes me when he says something and I get distracted. (Ah the joys of the newly-married I can hear people thinking...).

This cold also won't leave me and is seriously robbing me (and now Mike) of sleep, so it doesn't do much for either of our moods.

But the point of this post is not to whine about something that is so fix-able, so minute. It just brought me back to a phrase, and idea, I read about in the Agassi memoir "Open" I finished reading a couple of weeks ago. He was on safari at one point in South Africa, on a trip to attend a special dinner with Nelson Mandela. He had the observation of watching all the wild animals, the giraffes, gazelles, lions, predator and prey alike, waking up to a new day 'in a dangerous world, with a calm acceptance'. I immediately felt a pull to this concept, to these two simple words that, when strung together, provided a mantra of sorts--I've used it repeatedly since I first read it--leading up to my wedding, the cold day that is was, calm acceptance that my father would not be lending his physical presence to the day. While travelling. Calm acceptance of the line-ups, the slow-downs, all very very opposite to my impatient nature.

The next situation I applied this to was with Mike's wedding ring. Made of tungsten, it has somehow caused him to have a reaction on his skin once we arrived into the hot weather of the Caribbean. I had him take if off and leave it off to prevent any further skin sensitivity.
This is something that, in the past, would have bothered me. I would have maybe even seen it as a bad omen and had feelings of internal panic. But not now. Calm acceptance. We have the receipt, it's completely exchange-able, completely fix-able, and it's all okay.
Not earth-shattering I know, but for me, oh-so-big as a milestone of my personal growth.
Even now, as I write, light on (guilt towards Mike, I know he's trying to sleep under that pillow over his head), coughing away--calm acceptance.
My cold will run its course.
I will learn to write, as Madeleine L'Engle did, without needing complete silence (she said the experience of a boarding school and being surrounded by noise sharpened her concentration skills, something I took note of).
We will get Mike another ring, another metal, one that won't bother his skin.
The sun will rise shortly (it's almost 6), and another day will begin in this sometimes perlious world.
With calm acceptance.

*footnote: Mike went, the next day, found a little jeweler on the island and bought a $ 5.00 ring made out of some type of non-reactive, inexpensive metal, so he still had a ring to wear for the time being. My smile was broad.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Journal 107 Words of Wisdom

Just finished reading The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L'Engle, she with her fine mind, one that not everyone 'got' but a voice of her generation.
I will quote two passages that I quite liked, both stunning in their summation of this thing we live that I will call the 'human conditon'--we all live it, in varying degrees, on this revolving door planet we call earth, this little rock we spin around with.

"But I did feel, and passionately, that it wasn't fair of God to give us brains enough to ask the ultimate questions if he didn't intend to teach us the answers." p. 130

Fair enough--this is as close to a perfect thought, in my mind, as I'll ever get. The ultimate questions are what have plagued me for months, and I know I will never stop asking them. Part of that longing that is part and parcel of this human business, according to another brilliant mind--Abigail Thomas-- this longing for understanding of cruel death, under a loving God.

"The words which come out help to assure me that they may be God, after all. Perhaps whenever we have felt his presence for a while he must remove it, and by his absence force us to take the next step." p. 241

This assertion is something I've played around with in my mind not just since my Dad's shocking diagnosis and subsequent 'early' death, but since my friend Gerard left this earth, in my humble opinion, far too soon. I prayed and attended church very stridently after that time and around the time we first got the news about my father. It was the only place I could go to feel safe on ground that was becoming increasingly shaky.

I noticed my lack of attendance to church after my father died. I was busy internalizing it, trying to be close to his spirit, and in that way it took the form of sleep, of dream, of visiting him that way. I prayed here and there, prayed for the people around me, and I've prayed alot this week, too, for acceptance and guidance, and again, for those around me. To help them not falter.
But I did feel God very keenly for that number of months. Not that he isn't here now--I turned around to face the shoreline and there was the nudge of the rainbow that came out of nowhere--whipping out my camera to catch the image, one that can be so elusive on film, on 'reality'. Like all faith, courage, elusive sometimes, when the real stuff hits.

As Joan Didion recounts about her parents when there was a problem--the family policy was to go to the books, read about it, broaden your knowledge. And I do. I keep reading, getting information, gathering the signs.

I take the next step.

"and when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me...shine until tomorrow, let it be..."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

i feel fine

It's hard to see it with my pic, but the caption on the side of this boat we passed while out on the water on a day trip is
"i feel fine".
A little nod to the Beatles, this after I had just seen a rainbow, then a second boat (no pic) called "starting over".

Just the universe saying hello.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wedding (un-wedding) Top Ten

You knew I would have to do this eventually:

10. That the Toronto City Hall wedding chambers are surprisingly nice inside--their website makes it look like a church
basement, but there is an aisle, a bright white background with small flowers that you stand in front of to do the vows,
and a beautiful desk where you sign the registry. Our officiant's name was also Michael, and Mike's friend Michael stood up for him, so all the names on the certificate are Michael except me and my sister. Hilarious.

9. Cold cold day (in hell, as I'm sure most of my people thought that would be what it would take to get me down the aisle...) but it was a bright day. A blue day. No slush, no snow, no storm, no wet. So...I'll take the cold. :)

8. No need to pick songs for a father-daughter dance. This might need to be closer to number one, just in the fact it saved my emotional well-being for the day. Read on for the other thing that did.

7. My nephew, arriving to have dinner at my condo with my sister and her family, clomping up the stairs with his trademark bag of toy cars in a case, saying to me, "Heard ya got married!". My sister and I falling over each other with laughter. I said to River
"You know I got married--you were there, remember? The whole ring thing?" Him: "Yep". I'm putting this in line with running family jokes.

6. The Surprises: Two of my best friends popping over to witness this marriage business for themselves, despite having to organize childcare, and despite the time of grief that one of my best friends is currently experiencing in her life.

5. That I made it through the vows without crying (my cheek was 'tic-ing' Mike told me later) and I didn't skip over any words. I was calm, and I said them in a loud, clear voice. And I meant every single word.

4. That Mike's family--his Mom, his Dad (who had just had back surgery), his sister, and his nephew made the eleven-hour drive to be here. His sister came with my sister and I to get our nails done, while she got a haircut, and we had time for introductions and girl-talk. Then, after the ceremony, Mike's sister basically took over my kitchen and made dinner for all of us, including my Mom, sister, and her kids, and some other members of MIke's extended family, who also attended. She also cleaned my bathroom while I went to get my hair done and moved around every item in the apartment to tidy up, but I did eventually find everything.
My mother surprised me with a chocolate cake, and my sister surprised me with a bouquet of roses.
Amazing gifts, better than anything on a registry.

3. No stress in any planning, no decisions to make about things I can't bring myself to care about like favours, cakes, not offending anyone by having to leave them off a guest list, no tastings, no looking at venues.
When I realized the City Hall room did have an aisle, so a bride could be 'given away' I had a flutter of momentary panic and sadness--I thought I had managed to circumvent the whole aisle-father-daughter thing. The officiant and the helper said I could walk down the aisle on my own. In the end, Mike and i walked down it together. Problem solved.

2. Having my niece and nephew be apart of the ceremony--my niece held my flowers and River handed the rings to us. The picture of River standing up there with the rings. Later, all three kids, my niece, nephew and Mike's nephew scattered rose petals in the hallway of my condo, shrieking with happiness.

1. I want a marriage, not a wedding, and I think that the day and all that it (didn't) entail demonstrated that. So glad I did it 'my way'.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Journal 106 It's 4am

Awake far too late after a long day of travel, but to have St. Maarten waiting at the end of the journey is always worth it.

Here is just a view heading into dusk, my favourite time of day on the island (oddly, my most anxious when I am at home), but here it invites peace in and the waves have a hypnotic effect.

Found, at a used bookstore, the second book in the series of four by Madeleine L'Engle, "The Summer of the Great-Grandmother", probably not most people's idea of a vacation read, but so far I'm hooked. Reading about her mother's slow decline into senility, at the age of ninety, L'Engle's vivid observations and musings about 'false guilt' that adult children often feel towards their aging parents despite caring for them and guiding them in their time of old age, their time of failing health.

Odd things to be reading about sitting in scenery as compelling as this but today it felt fitting.

I've had a lot of confusion lately when I think about the afterlife, and sometimes it feels like it relates to the fact that I'm a visual person: I can't visualize it.
Over Christmas, my niece informed us, matter-a-factly, in that way that only children can, that Papa (that is what my niece and nephew called my father) was celebrating Christmas in heaven. I remembered back to my own childhood and my version of heaven, the common one I suppose, of clouds, and floating angels, and 'looking down' on earth and all those on it.

It was the waves that helped give me some help today as I watched them, methodically pounding the shore--it restored my own 'image' for lack of a better word, of the afterlife. Not a place so much as an 'existence', just like the waves--flowing in and out, like the presence of spirit, how sometimes it feels close, and sometimes further away.

Today was a nice day. The spirits were close at hand.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Love, Love, and More Love

Yesterday I married my best friend and soulmate.
The person I can thank for this is my dear friend Gerard.
Thank you Gerard. We miss you every single day and we love you.
Dad--you didn't get to be there in person either, but I know you were there in spirit too.
Love you and missed having you walk me down that aisle.
But I'm grateful that you got to meet Mike and say Hello-Goodbye.
Mrs. W. Missed you too yesterday, and always use your expression "love, love, and more love" every time something goes right in my life. You believed, no matter what, I was destined to find love. Thank you for that.
To everyone else, all my family, friends, and my new Iyer family--you have all shown me, in your own special ways,
how truly blessed I am.

Love, Love, and More Love to you all.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Journal 105 New Year

I've been struggling with writer's block for a number of days now, as I've been emailing my friend L., and nothing is inspiring me. Also, as I've alluded to in other posts--alot of stuff I've dreamed up lately is un-bloggable. Meaning, it's in my head, and for now it has to stay there, sadly.

I haven't really made any resolutions, not even casual ones, and I haven't written down any goals, and I know I should (resolution: write down goals).

I've thought alot about what this blog is to me, this blog I've been writing on for going on three years. It takes up alot of my writing time, and I am good with that--it's what Natalie Goldberg calls "writing practice". It's like training, for a race, for a marathon, building up strength, laying down the groundwork, for a lack of a better description.

I've been doing writing practice for a long time, just like I've been running for a long time. And it takes time to do the build-up.
I feel like, despite all the practicing, that I'm only just beginning to scratch the surface in both areas, especially when I spend the day on the couch working on not one, but two discarded blog entries, and when I skip journalling to finish the book I'm reading, and when I roll back over in bed, or lie on the couch, instead of putting my running shoes on and getting out there to get another run in, one that I needed to do yesterday, and today, and didn't do.
So much for resolve.

I return back to the Martha Beck article I read in Oprah magazine a couple of months.
I do need alot of sleep anyway, but these last few months have been epic. And I remind myself that this is my way of coping with life's ups and downs sometimes, life's uncertainty. The sleeping, the reading, the solitude I need so much, all signs of my spectacular burn-out, burn-out not just in my work-life, but in my life-life.
So for 2012, I'm not doing too much goal-setting, not too much rewiring of my life.
I'm tending to stick to what is working--listening to myself, my body, my mind, their requests for rest, for recovery, for removal from stress. And I am going to honour those requests.

The time for change, for me, is coming, it's coming in its first form in a matter of a couple of days-I'm going to be a wife for the first time, a new role, one that I fully intend to embrace, one that intend to put first in my life, and I'm certain that some of things that used to be first are going to have a tough time with that.

So, on this first day of 2012, it's not just a new year--it's a new life (it's a new life, really, every single day. We can make it that way, if we want). New life means some blog changes, and some running changes too. It means I'm going to be going deeper, and the posts may just be updates, just 'practice'. My 'real' writing is going to continue, off the blog, off the hook, truer to myself, more driven, more purposeful. I will still give my opinions on life, my lists, my questions and answers, and I will try to post snippets of some of the 'side writing' I'll be doing, to keep readers reading.

I promise not to disappoint. Perhaps that's the only resolution I want to make, need to make. I promise not to disappoint you, and more importantly, not to disappoint myself.
We deserve better.