Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Gift of Friendship

After this week, with all its negativity, I wanted to end things on a more positive note.

I spend an inordinate amount of time on my own when I am not at work. I live, for the most part, alone, except when Mike is here during most of the winter (the goal is to change our living situation so we are together all the time but Canadian-U.S. immigration remains a logic problem for me, and right now, it is what it is, to coin {yet another} sports term).
I sometimes feel like the internet with all its social media has enabled me to become even more introverted (by choice). Now--instead of the telephone, I can email friends, they can email me, I can tweet, I can blog, I can facebook (note--facebook as a's coming people). I don't have to do alot of heavy lifting to stay in touch with my closest friends, which I love. We're all busy women, and this is a busy city, and there are jobs to do, kids to raise, husbands to connect with, houses that need cleaning, and all of this time-sucks you down to a few precious evenings a month (if you're lucky) spent connecting with your girlfriends.

Despite the challenges of the week, a busy one at work (busy but good, a nice feeling), alot of bad energy on this, my beloved blog, and some seriously extreme-heat in the weather forecast, I've had a good (great) 'friendship' week.

After a very nice weekend with lots of spontaneous plans (oxymoron I know, but there is no better type of plans than these) with my sister, who is my best friend, I talked to another close girlfriend on the phone for the first time in a while. She was driving, I was outside on my rooftop, with a helicopter seemingly circling my building, but we managed to catch up about her vacation, my MRI, summer plans, the unrelenting heat, and I know that although we haven't seen each other in a few months (shameful--we live 7 kms away from each other) when we re-connect next it will be like no time has passed. I love and miss her. She's had a rough couple of years too.

At my office, on Friday, another lovely friend called me. She gave birth to her second child in April, I had seen her the night before she went into labour. I have not seen her since she had her daughter, or sent her anything, but her call cut to the chase and we tripped over each others' words to get in our news. It was so wonderful to hear her voice. We signed off, with a commitment to make a plan with the two of us and our third cherished friend, in the very near future. I felt like a such a neglectful friend but she made it all go away. I was so so grateful.

An old friend reached out to me via email this week. Things have not been easy for her in any way in the last while, and to be on her shortlist of people that she turns to is, to me, a great honour. I count her among my long-friendships, and although we do not get to see each other very often, I think of her when I read an amazing book, when I hear an inspiring quote, and when I have what I consider an original thought (she is, to me, the most original person I've ever met).

Last night, drinks with a friend I've known since childhood, whose talent for framing conversation is unmatched, she remains someone whose opinion I give a high score to. We talked about everything. My health, her career, our apartments, the heat, our families, our other friends (in a loving way, not as gossip). As with all my nearest and dearest (I am so so lucky for this) there are no masks, no fronts, no need to hide.  Is everyone this lucky?

My NYC girlfriend (we go back to high school) and I email every single day. As fellow Older Sisters, we relate in a way that I don't to any of my other friends. Strange, huh? How much birth order imprints us? We get each other in a way that needs no explanation, no follow-up, no apology.

I have another circle of good friends who I rarely see. They are fellow runners with lots in common, or we went to public school together, or junior high, or we grew up in the same neighbourhood, or they are ex-Keggers (like me!), they are sisters of old boyfriends, they are friends-of-friends whom I wish well, and likewise.  As in--we have each others' backs. In a city this size, on a revolving planet such as this, those constellation friends are a godsend, too.

So yea--I've got the cream of the crop. I am not what anyone would describe as a social butterfly, but I love the friends I've got.
It's a great feeling.

Running Playlist Re-tooled

Once I memorize which song is coming next on my running playlist, it's all over (and I memorize fast).
So I have to 'change it up' all the time.
I also actually bought some 'new' music (new to me, probably old news to everyone else) today and mixed up a playlist before my very short run today (I got up early, was playing on iTunes, wandered to Starbucks, basically wasted the cool part of the day, so I ended up leaving for my run at 11am, and I did a quick 8 km to round out my June total to 103. But today was the hottest run so far--usually I'm already running by 9am. My own fault).

Okay, here's the new playlist (some of these songs have been on here before, some are brand-new to my ipod, and some are

Warm-up phase:
1)  Good Times--Tom Cochrane and Red Rider--a slow choice to start with. Also, this song hadn't been on iTunes previously, and it was today, and I was overjoyed--it's an old favourite. This one will get you going slowly, which is what I want, and it's one of those songs that lends itself well to ear-bud-listening.
2) Take Care--Drake & Rihanna--another nice tempo to get started.
3) Life in Technicolour--Coldplay--this one from my friend H., haven't run with it yet, but spot 3 just feels right for this very nice song.

Going for it:
4) Forbidden Love--Madonna--great tempo as you step it up.
5) Jump--Madonna--this song blends out from Forbidden Love, like it's one long song.
6) Love is a Battlefield--Pat Benatar--still one of my all-time favourite running songs. Never fails to make me pick up my step.
7)  Wide Awake--Katy Perry. Yes, I bought a Katy Perry song.
8)  We Found a Love--Calvin Harris & Rihanna--great beat.
9)  Good Feeling--FloRida. Need I say more?
10)  DJ Got us Falling in Love Again--Usher. Another great pick-me-up.
11) Where Have You Been?--Rihanna--a new one today. Love it. Love all her stuff really.
12) Feel it in my Bones--Tiesto ft. Tegan and Sara.
13) Ain't Nobody--Mary J. Blige.
14) Tonight I'm Loving You--Enrique ft. Ludacris.
15) Shut Up and Drive--Rihanna.
16) OMG--Usher ft. Will I Am.
17) Rolling in the Deep--Adele. (an all-time favourite).
18) Hard--Rihanna--great follow up to the Adele.
19) More--Usher
20) What you See--Madonna
21) Make me Proud--Drake ft. Nicky Minaj
22) Atomic--Blondie

On the way home:
23) Miles Away--Madonna
24) Fast Love--George Michael
25) Sultans of Swing--Dire Straits
26) Take you on a Cruise--Interpol
27) Sometimes--Ours

This usually does it.
Happy Running!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

For Thursday

For Thursday.
For A.

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater thar sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Ick. Just noticed these comments on Reagan's Blob.
Funny thing, this Jenny Page, I'm pretty sure is Annie Brown. Or Annie Brown is Reagan herself.

Let me just say this:
When writers talk about truth, it doesn't necessarily mean that the opposite is lying.
It means the opposite is omission or bricking up the wall that the truth stands behind.

The fact that lying is even brought up, and that Jenny Page (who has no link to her name, which I'm convinced is a fake one--also, her comments creep me out every single time I read Reagan's Blob, it's like she's wayyyy too nice, and is actually a man who is overly-complimentary or what have you) but 'gossipy hurtful' is really pushing it. But then, Jenny Page seems to have a limited vocabulary range, and her time is spent posting what amount to 'anonymous' comments, so, I take Jenny Page with a grain of (rock) salt. And I think you, Ms. "Page"  are more than 'a little' odd.

As for the whole wink post--well, Reagan, you said the blog was lacking sass. "Truth" be told, it's not. It lacks honesty, and I underscore the point about honesty not being the diametric opposite of dishonesty. Well, splitting hairs, it is, but putting on a facade, and expecting people to go along with it is not that honest. (and I am not the type to just 'go along' with things).

I'm your reader, and apparently, you're my reader, and I think, to say the least, blogger-to-blogger, you have a responsibility, as I do, to uphold your end of the bargain. If I want to read fiction, I'll go to the library. And before you run off, arms waving, about personal boundaries and all that, I just say this: get over it. I do like your blog. And then sometimes I don't. And really, it shouldn't matter.

Look--I've read a tonne of the comments. Some of the 'rah rah sis boom bah' sh*t just doesn't sit well with me. I don't applaud writers who do what you've done. Do I stop reading or threaten to stop?
No. But at least my comments have a real name, a direct link back, and an honesty to them.

More than I can say about these.
I lifted them right off the comments board and they are here, on my blog.

Comment from jenny page
@Carolyn lyer, hi. I mean no offense, but I thought your comment a little odd? I clicked on the link you posted and you’ve written numerous times on your blog about Reagan’s Blob and how much you like it…yet you’ve also written what looks to be gossipy hurtful stuff about her. Is that the truth you’re talking about? I’m sincerely confused.

Comment from Reagan Breinholt
Yeah…I agree with Jenny page. I’m a little confused because I’m sure we don’t know each other. So I’m not sure what you think I’m lying about.
Oh, actually! I am lying about it being a wink in the picture. Piper wasn’t winking, she was squinting from the sun. Other than that I literally have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Comment from Reagan Breinholt
    My comment above was directed towards Carolyn

  • Just stumbled on this little nugget from a great blogger I follow on twitter (

    AMEN indeed.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    Anxiety Riddled

    Just a kind of cool-read for a Tuesday.
    I am going to work on a piece as they take open submissions.

    Ah anxiety. It was with me this morning as I got ready for work, as I knew I had an important meeting this morning, and I was half-worried, as I always am, that it would be a blood-bath.

    I downed half an anti-anxiety tablet with water before I left for work, and then the other half after I arrived. I also had coffee, but the tablet seemed unaffected. Here it is, now, the end of a long Tuesday, and I remain calm. Not comatose, but not worried about every little thing.

    The biggest anxiety trigger right now is only partially about work. Yes, it's busy, and yes, I'm not supposed to get stressed out (as if). Right now my big anxious focus fixates on my looming MRI.
    I've been doing the exact opposite to everything I should be:
    I'm combing the net, medical sites to be exact, and reading too much about what my possible condition could be.
    I'm thinking about how claustrophobic I get in confined spaces and it's giving me heart palpitations.
    As the gentleman in the New York Times article specifies--I'm allowing my anxiety to feel like foreboding, then a foregone conclusion, before I've even been able to give this condition a name, a home. It's simply 'out there' right now, free-floating in my thoughts, root-less, law-less.

    I'll check in after the procedure.
    I also want to finish another longer post that I was working on on Saturday. (done, sorry, I've been dragging my feet on this post, too).
    Anxiety ruled most of this weekend. Stress, fear, and doubt bottle neck up to Saturday and Sunday for some odd reason, and again, although the day itself, Monday, was relatively benign, I repeat the same cycle week after week, with no hope, it seems, of stopping it. It was Tuesday, today, that spun me around more that I would have liked.

    Physical exercise can help, but often it's only temporary. Pushing myself beyond my limits results in my inability to feel the anxiety, but also numbs me to more positive feelings too.

    I also want to read this book:

    Looks like it has alot of good ideas to explore.....

    Just musing aloud on a Tuesday.

    Monday, June 25, 2012

    My Sunday Run

    After the disaster run that I will name "unrun" on Saturday, I was trepidatious, to say the least, for my next long run, the following day, on Sunday.
    I was planning to abandon the track and its dragonflies, dogs, and the lone cyclist (odd) looping around and around. Plus my shoes were turning red.

    I decided, under inviting clouds and temperatures below 25 degrees celsius, to tackle the long route to the Beach and back, and fit in a quick visit with my dad mid-run.

    Let me just say this: my Sunday run kicked it.
    As in: amazing.
    As in: life-affirming.
    As in: a religious experience. A conversion, if you will.

    It started slow. I lumbered down to King Street, gamely warming up, hip-hop playlist blaring on the pod. And I admit this now--it was a slow, painful start. I wanted to stop.
    I didn't.
    King merges at River Street and morphs into Queen. I took Queen (the heaven of shade on the south side of the street) all the way to Coxwell (damn that messy construction!).  Loped south to Lakeshore down Coxwell. Then I arrived (blessed shade again) at Kew Gardens/Ashbridges Bay, onto the trail which, at noon on a cloudy Sunday was not the normal treadmill of crowds it usually is.

    It just felt like one of those days where the world is a friendly place. I passed rollerbladers in their 60s, flashing them smiles. I saw dads running alongside kids learning to ride bikes. Stopping to refill for water at a fountain, I noticed a number trees with small metal plaques commemorating lost loved ones. I paused to read a few names, calculate a few ages, and muse over the sayings on the small plaques. "Forever on the beach", "Always with us", "The sun shining down".....I'm paraphrasing but they were touching. It's hard, when you think about it, to summarize a life in a few scant words.
    I thought the people who wrote these did a good job.
    At last I reached the halfway point (8 km, 5 miles) at the foot of Balsam Avenue, where my mother lives, where we sprinkled some of my dad's ashes into Lake Ontario, so she could walk to visit with him whenever she wants to.  I limped through the sand to the end of the jetty, stood on the concrete dock where we had sprinkled the ashes and had a strange feeling--I've always known how much my father loved water (he was a water sign, after all), but as I stood there it struck me--had he led me here, to this random apartment for my mother to live in? I want to believe that he did. How could she now be living in such a perfect place? One that is reasonable, that is clean, where the landlord is kind, and the neighbours are, for the most part, considerate and quiet? The thought mollifed me.
    I stretched on a downed tree, drank some more water, and walked back to the trail, where two huffing-and-puffing cyclists asked me for directions and where to find water. I told them.
    I turned my ipod back on and started back along the trail.
    It was on the way back I hit a soaring runner's high, the endorphins coursing through me, my speed picking up. It happened a couple of times on the run back. I did 'the nod' to other runners. I spotted another woman runner, older than me, her eyes unshielded, struggling along. I gave her a wave, her eyes lighting up even as she loped along.

    There were some slow points on the run back, I'm not going to sugar-coat it. And I have been icing my right foot since Monday evening. But...all in all--the kind of run that affirms a love of running, the kind of run where you keep going no matter what. Despite the run that you had the day before, cancelling it out, letting you start anew, go ten full miles, without that voice in your head screaming ... STOP.

    I just kept going.

    Linking over to a nice article about the decency of people (stuff like this is finding its way to me all the time lately, and I love it).  Runners, to me, are as trustworthy as people with dogs--caring about something beyond themselves. Committing to it.
    And the thing about American runners--they seem, when I'm running in Maine, to be just as friendly (if not more so). How can you not give a nod or the small hand-raised motionless wave if you're lucky enough to be pounding the sand along the chilly Atlantic, the tide out, the sun beating down?
    You have to give thanks. Acknowledgment.

    Take a read.

    Sunday, June 24, 2012

    Another Saturday Night...

    "Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody...
    I got some money cause I just got paid
    -Cat Stevens (to the best of my knowledge) Another Saturday Night

    So another Saturday night passes by, another Saturday-day down, one of the thousands of Saturdays I've experiened in my lifetime this far.
    It was (to me, anyway) another blazingly-hot day (the heat this week has been epic, as my friend L. so eloquently, and hilariously described it "Like standing beside a fire"). Truly. It's been intense.
    So yesterday was supposedly 'cooler' which, in comparison to Wednesday and Thursday, I guess it was.
    But running it in, on a track, even in the mid-morning, with the sun beating down, and flurries of dragonflies drifting above, it felt tropical-hot again to me. The dragonfly thing was strange, I have to say. As I ran my laps, I saw their shadows before I actually saw the dragonflies themselves. Iridescent-poison-green bodies, transparent wings, they were the size of small birds. Hovering above. I had never (city girl don't forget) seen such an amount of them, anywhere downtown, flying together at one time. Also interesting at the track (it is surrounded by a large, lush park) are the very unique butterflies. One seemed to be my pace setter yesterday, a creamy-vanilla colour with black accents, flittering beside me as I ran around and around.

    I was tired.
    I was tired when I set out, I was tired in the first two miles. I was tired after the next two miles, running around and around, going in the opposite direction than the other runners I saw to switch it up for my stride.  I was tired watching some high-schoolers do speed work, and little kids playing soccer alongside the track.
    I was tired on the 2 mile trek home.
    All in all, as I described to my friend H., one of 'those' types of runs. I could have cried (in fact, I did cry, as I watered myself at the fountain at the top of the park, a woman was pushing an elderly man in a wheelchair--there is a long-term care facility near the park) and we exchanged smiles, the three of us, and I thought of my dad, as I always do, when I see a very old man--he'll never be that age).  I tear up even now thinking about it. Those are, in the end, the very thoughts that keep me going though, oddly. The place in my head where I "donate" my runs to people who can't run.  It was something that really resonated to me in 2010, during all my runs that summer, pacing them against my dad's treatments, which ran from June to August.
    So....all that was going on Saturday morning.

    I came home (still tired). Ate some sardines with hot sauce, grabbed (more) water, an July issue (2003) of Gourmet magazine (Mike's mom had, at her home, a STACK of back issues, I was happy to take them off her hands).  Headed up (took the stairs, yes, twelve flights) up to the roof and fell asleep on a lounge chair for roughly an hour. When I woke up, dazed by the heat, the sun, it was after 2.  I went back downstairs, showered, puttered around, then made it (second week in a row!) to church. As always, when I'm pressed for time and then I finally make it there, the reward is usually pretty magical. Yesterdays' reward was substantial--the regular singer was absent, in her place was a young guy with a voice like a professional tenor, accompanied by an awkward-looking piano player in place of the usual organist. They had already started the music by the time I was arriving and the whole building was filled with the sounds. I sat behind the piano player, a few rows back, feeling like my dad had sent me a little gift.  I always associate piano-playing with him, some of my earliest memories, Saturday nights in our townhouse, downstairs in the family room, my dad playing away, singing, my sister and I crowded on the piano bench beside him, my mom nearby. Sometimes they invited one of our teachers over for dinner and music, sometimes neighbours were around.
    I think back--where did that life go?

    I make dinner for my sister and I and head over to her place late in the day, all organized, somehow, with the dinner things we will eat, need, and the accessories required to make it all happen.
    We relax outside in her backyard, dusk and then slowly, even later, dark (stars and clouds mixing together above). We eat. We get ready to go out.
    We go, out into the night, and we walk around, we find a patio, we sit outside again, with a drink, and take in the night air, the revellers of energetic twenty-somethings, all on the hunt for someone, something they have gone out to find. I envy their energy, and my sister says something along the lines of
    "If you'd only known then, in your twenties, what you know now".
    "It's the paradox of life", I reply.
    She nods, sipping her wine.
    We pay our bill and move on, to a more boisterous indoor-space, a vodka bar packed to capacity, girls teetering on shoes up and down a flight of sweeping stairs.  We have vodka shots, prettily laced with lemonade. We listen to bouncing music, the beat thruming out a sound too loud to exchange conversation over. We watch bachlorette parties unfold, tiaras on the tops of heads, fake veils.
    I finger my own wedding ring, a talisman to wield men away with. It never used to be needed. In my twenties, I could go anywhere, and always be that invisible girl. Now, I am visible, and quickly (thankfully) dismissed. The ring is clocked, and there is that look off into the middle distance, a quick dismissal. My sister's status generates more questions, more excitement.

    We slink home, it's almost 2 am. I eat a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken standing up in my kitchen, in the dark. I'm wearing pajama shorts that are actually from my own twenties. 
    I talk to Mike, who is up late, still working.
    I read a bit of a Joan Didion book.
    I fall asleep, deep and dreamless.

    I wake up to Sunday.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012


    It's the first day of summer.
    Spring (brief as all hell, as usual, here in Toronto) came and went in a blink. The days have lengthened to a point where I wonder if it will be dark when I go to bed.
    Unlike the last two years, I experienced Spring and its rebirth this year, despite the Headache in May, and the flurry of panic that surrounded it.
    And now, just like that, it's June, and my dad's been gone for over a year, and I made it through the second father's day without him, and now it's summer again.

    This is what I think of when I think of summer:
    Life, blurred around the edges from the waves of heat that seem to just...shimmer on those hot hot days.
    Impossibly long, slow runs, done first thing in the morning on weekends, because any time after noon is just too hot.
    Rooftop tanning, my own private oasis.
    Vacation in Maine for the American long weekend, then my 'family' vacation with my sister and her kids and one of our best friends in August, then on my own in September.
    Birthdays--Mike's at the beginning of July, mine at the end of August. Reminders that yes, life goes on, and if you're very very lucky, life is long.

    All of these things to look forward too.
    Problems, in the summer, seem solve-able, or at least put-off-able.
    You can just "be", running around in flip-flops and an $8-dollar dress, forgetting you are nearing the last year of your thirties.
    Patio weather.
    The empty city on weekends, Torontonians fleeing to cooler venues, cottages, the like.
    Leaving quiet streets and room to breathe.

    I find myself thinking of summers past and what I did when I was ten, thirteen, and twenty-one....
    I'll be musing about these summers in posts to come.

    Monday, June 18, 2012

    Things I'm afraid to tell you

    1. I hate my job. I know. I've said it before. I live with it. I don't complain (because the complaining must lead to change, it must, and I'm just not there yet. Yet. Yet.)  Driving to work, I just don't want to arrive. It's complicated, it's insane, it's my livelihood, it's my deadweight.

    2. I want to write a book, my book, the one that dances around in my head every night before I fall asleep, and my fear is this will not happen. Actually, that's not the real fear. I have no doubt this book, whatever form it takes, will manifest itself, one way or another.  I'm just worried about the  "Now what?".  Okay, I'm not even worried about that. I'm worried number one on this list is sucking the lifeblood out of me.

    3. When I read other blog entries about this topic, I was kind of relieved.  Alot of bloggers talked about being strapped financially (see number one on this list again) and I felt grateful. One of them talked about a proliferation of negative posts driving traffic away. Er...fuck it, is what I say to that. My home (condo/loft/apartment whatever the hell you want to call it) does not remotely look like an interior designer did her magic in here. And I am an interior designer. But it only helps me to realize how stupid it is to make your home a museum, one where you are scared to touch/dirty/sully anything. As a former boss of my sister always said (I've developed it into a personal motto):  "It's. Just. STUFF". Amen.
    Okay so maybe I wasn't afraid to tell you that. But you needed to hear it.

    4. The immigration paperwork is like a monkey on my back. I know. I need to get a lawyer to do this, pay him/her, get it done. I'm getting there. Like climbing a mountain with no gear.

    5.  When I do my long running on the weekend, I love pretty much every second.  Then, after a while, when I can't fucking move, when I'm icing yet another part of my body that hurts, and my times suck, and I can't get under a ten-minute-mile, I ask myself, Why do the hell do I run?
    I have no answer.

    6.  I dream about work WAY too often. Oh god.

    7.  I read alot about bloggers on this topic and their 'jealousies' of other people on line.  I heard a radio interview with a musician who talked about Eric Clapton wanting to go home and smash his guitar after hearing Jimi Hendrix play, and this musician (I missed the beginning, I'm sorry...) said that hearing a better player made him want to play more... 'Nuff said.  I read bloggers who are real talents at age twenty-six and I they will be able to be when they take their ego/vanity/neuroses out of the equation.

    8. Despite my disappointment of how my aunt handled my father's death, I'd give anything to hear her steady voice again. It's a great sadness in my life.

    9.  I worry about my health. More than I should. When I'm done with that, I worry about Mike's health. Because if anything happened along that vein I don't know if I'd be able to keep going.

    10.  I wish I were a better Catholic, but this is the best I can right now--sporadic church visits, throwing bills in the collection basket, giving the kids coins for the candle-lighting, as if I can bribe God. I can't. I don't want to, but I feel...clean...when I give the church money.

    That's it for now. I don't hide much on this rudimentary, photo-less, 'just-me' blog.
    I'm here, I'm alive, I'm living the best life I can with the cards in my hand.

    Thanks, as always, for reading.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012

    Father's Day

    I continue to read Cheryl Strayed's wonderful book "Wild" and I continue to skim over, and then file away, some of the phrases she lays down, so gifted in her prose, as I emailed a friend today, there are too many words, paragraphs, thoughts, to post here in this humble blog.
    So I give you a snap shot of today, my second Father's day as one 'without', just experiencing the day, with my mother and sister for part of it, on my own for all the other parts.

    Last night, late, as I ended my Saturday evening in my room, reading in bed, I came across this line in the Strayed book:  
    "When she'd become sick enough that we knew she was really going to die, when we were in the homestretch to hell, when we were well past thinking anything would save her".....
    It was this line that really caused me to fold up last night.
    Homestretch to hell. Yes. Exactly that. No other pretty, flower-ed words to cover up just what it is like to know that the end is coming, in the most horrifying fashion possible, no escape for you, for your loved one, for the rest of your family. No running away from the last moments, no seeing what they will be like beforehand, the ultimate in life's surprises. No preparation, even when you're given, to the week, the time that things will end for your loved one here on this planet. Here, as Gary Zukav describes it, in 'earth-school'.
    I wanted to blog all the amazing thoughts I had last night, but I couldn't move out of my bed after I read the homestretch to hell paragraph. I couldn't budge. I couldn't do anything but cry, and even those tears were tentative--can I cry about an author's tragedy, about someone else's beloved parent's demise? I did anyway, though I didn't get to all-out pitch til today about ninety minutes ago.

    I rode out the day.
    I awoke, early.
    I made coffee. Drank it. Cruised FB, looked at the loving messages from friends, treasuring each and every one. Looked at pictures people had posted of their dads, either from their youth, or with their dads, today.
    Thought about what my friend L. had said, summing it up to me so succinctly a couple of weeks ago as we sat, side by side, in a booth at Prohibition, "you can imagine your parent's death but you can't conceptualize it".  True enough. The concept is there, but when you're looking at it from the other side of the lens, it's inconceivable that there will not be an endless amount of father's and mother's days, and that your siblings will always, always be there til you're too old to know any better, and that your friends too will live forever, along with every man you've ever loved. They'll be out there, living their lives, in their own way.
    Not true, as the last few years have taught me.

    I ran eight gruelling miles.
    Showered, did laundry, life-goes-on type of stuff.
    Sent messages to friends who had recently lost their dads and were making it through their first, second, or third father's day without in their own way.

    My sister picked me up and we drove to my mom's, had lunch, scooped up part of the ashes from the bag in my mom's closet, and took them down to the foot of Balsam Avenue, my mom's new address. It's a quick walk, about five minutes.
    We saw a small jetty on the narrow stretch of beach just past the boardwalk, east of Kew Beach, where we spent weekends as a family when my sister and I were very small. My father loved to swim.
    We had scattered some of the ashes in the backyard of my parent's Ajax home the night before my mom moved, mingling them in the frozen ground of the March snow-covered earth to leave them with our family black lab, Shadow. Now we walked to edge of the stony jetty. Poured the ziploc bag of ashes directly into Lake Ontario. My mom and sister both cried. I couldn't, I just couldn't. I had to wait until I got home, back to my own self, to really let go, to allow the emotions wash over me.
    I just let them all pass through, whirl around, and in the midst of it, an email from a dear friend brought me back down to earth. Calmed me, as only she can do.

    It's early evening now, the sky is darkening, not with night, but with weather, and my senses feel heightened, alert. I need to walk, to stretch my mind some more.
    What can I say. I cried even looking at the Google-doodle on today's Google page.

    I miss my Dad.

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    Week Wrapup

    Let's see what did I do?
    Well, I obsessed over my not-yet-healed eye (one pupil: fixed and constricted. Still. Week four).
    One eyelid: still not quite at full-mast. Weird.
    Add to this: only one side of my face shows exertion after running, ie, redness, sweating. The right side of my face is blessedly (frighteningly, eerily) flesh-coloured, dry.
    I looked this up at something called '' and I can tell you--I see how people become obsessed with 'self-diagnosing'. I am awaiting my MRI last week of June so I will refrain until then.

    I drank chardonnay with dinner.
    I drank herbal tea before bed.
    I made the same dinner (farfalle with tomato sauce) three nights in a row.

    I consulted my vitamin bible (I am over-obsessing. I know. I know. I can't seem to stop).

    I read an online style blog
    about City Hall weddings. Holds a special place in my heart. Loved seeing what all the brides wore, especially a unique blue-rose-patterned jacket and a plaid jacket/shrug over a cute short dress. (baaad shoes though. my opinion).

    I did my nails: sugar daddy on Monday for an event I was attending, mendochino on my toes.

    Then, last night, after a burst of energy, took off my existing mani-pedi, cleaned my bathroom, used an exfoliator on my hands and feet, and re-did my nails.
    blushing bride on fingers, classic french on toes (blushing bride topcoat). but I did like this blog on tricked-out frenches.
    my sis did one like this for my wedding, with pink on the tips instead of the classic white.

    Somewhere (my massage therapist's office) I was reading Toronto Life Fashion a couple of weeks ago and they had an article about nail polish and how horrified they are by French manicures/pedicures. I deliberately did my toes like that to offend them. I hate that magazine.
    I really kind-of hate all fashion magazines, and most of what the industry stands for.
    I've had this discussion with more than one friend: if we could wear a 'clothing uniform' we would, and we hate shopping. My obsessions lie more with my hair (that's where my $$ goes, products, good cuts, the like) and my nails (however, I fastidiously do my own manicures and pedicures. I'm not kidding. I do a better job. Truly. Ditto for home hair colour).
    I would wear the same pair of shoes for years and years if I could (and I do. The $50.00 I spent on summer shoes at the beginning of spring was not on a new pair. it was to repair 2 beloved pairs. One of which was a high-heeled stiletto-sandal that I am not ashamed to admit I bought at Le Chateau, for my thirtieth birthday party, August, 2003. You do the math). As for boots..I obsess only over heel size, shape, and toe-look. I will only ever wear black or dark grey (never never that camel/tan never never). I have at least six different pairs of black dress pants. I told you. Uniform.

    I will admit to buying Vogue this month after swearing off it. I really wanted to read about the athletes, you know, the Americans win everything in the Olympics. And I see why: high school sports are SERIOUS stuff in the States. I like that. It means something. It was a great issue, starving models and girls-about-town notwithstanding.

    I continued to read Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" (Strayed is the last name she chose for herself after her divorce. Just..looked it up in the dictionary and was drawn to the definition. I love that).
    This is a hard book to describe. I would need to print little excerpts as teasers as to why I love this book. Yes, there is alot of technical-hiking-stuff that I know nothing about. Yet I can picture and appreciate the wilderness surrounding her. The part about her mother's death from cancer was hard for me to read. As is typical of the last eighteen months, many of the books I've been unconsciously drawn to have heralded this theme, either directly, or indirectly.  I will endeavour to post some favourite snippets thus far of this amazing book in my next post.

    Mused, quietly and messily at times, over the one-year-mark for my Dad. Wasn't sure how to 'mark' it.
    In the end, nothing really did. Just my feelings of his presence on Monday at the event I went to, the music, the prayers, the anthem. Random sightings included large Canadian flags blowing lazily in the wind (I always think of my Dad when I see the Canadian and American flag, flying proudly). Also, when I see robins (the birds).  Crows remind me of another friend, but robins are all my Dad.
    Blue Jay hats. The vintage white ones with the blue logo. He always wore a Jays hat in the summer.
    When I see one, anywhere, no matter who is wearing it, I half-smile sadly to myself.
    Father's Day is on Sunday and so far I've avoided all commercials, ads, and reminders. I still have the card I bought last year. It's loose, in my scrapbook, along with a page of pictures of my Dad I was working on and haven't finished yet. I might drag it out of its cupboard and spend some time on it.

    Saw my therapist for the first time in what felt like months (confirmed it was months. I hadn't seen her since March). Talked about the Headache (capital H). Family stuff (I call it 'the love triangle'.  Me, my mom, my sister. It can get complicated. No male mediator). Cried about the Headache.
    Did a 'health history' marvelling, really, at how healthy I should be (am) except for that teensy bad habit of swilling chardonnay and saving all my exercise time for the weekends. I have a really hard time fitting in even one run during the days of Monday to Friday. I'm simply too exhausted from work. The job. The commute. The talking. The emailing. The reports. The numbers. I've been too spent to even go up on my rooftop and simply 'be'. The thought of running into anyone repels me from this idea.

    And here it is. Friday afternoon. The dangling carrot at the end of the workweek.
    It's a sunny day out. I have plans for tonight. I have lots of running to do this weekend.
    I'll talk to you later.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    One year

    In the midst of Winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible Summer  -Albert Camus

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    You are here

    "Quiet have always been my wildflower
    showing up where ever beauty's lost its way..
    your heart must break"
    Sheryl Crow, Wildflower

    It's a rainy Monday night.
    The post I had planned (had started to write, yesterday in fact) filled you, Reader, in, with the goings-on in this little life over the past week. Nothing special I tell you.

    Today, measured in day-to-day, year-to-year, weekday-to-weekday, was really the 'true' anniversary of my father's death.
    The green dress I wore.
    The slow drive to work.
    The leisurely drive to my parents home in Ajax, taking far less time than it usually did, the absence of traffic, the drifting rain--all a reminder that we are, ultimately, alone in our journey on this revolving-door planet.

    I can't really comment about the timing of having to attend a cancer benefit with a coworker tonight.
    It just seemed....surreal.
    More rain.
    More pain.

    The Canadian Tenors performed, supremely talented, all of them. My Dad would have loved to have seen this performance. They sang a song called "The Prayer". I sat and listened, poured into a black dress, wearing my silver-wedding shoes. My home-done-mani-pedi. The room, reeking of money, of privilege.
    My separate-ness from it all.
    During the singing of The Prayer I dug the fingernails of my right hand hard into the soft flesh of my palm on the left. When that stopped working I switched hands.
    For the next song, we were told to stand. I wasn't sure why, until the opening bars of O Canada started up.
    I stared at the coffered ceiling of the grand hall we were seated in, willing the tears to not fall, not now, not in all this make-up, amidst all the lavish-ness of the evening. I held it together. Even through the grace, said by a Catholic priest, beautifully said, the way my Dad liked, always saying grace before any meal (give us this day, our daily bread..).
    When I glanced at the ceiling, all the stress of the last few days, weeks, melted away. I was, in my black evening dress, nail polish, hair products, and make-up-- without disguise in that room.
    I held my tears back, but keenly felt my father's arching presence, taking in the music, the scene, the dinner, the auction, the money. I thought about what his impression would have been of the some-1500-strong group of people I was surrounded by--dripping with jewellery, with posh-ness, with luck;  and I know that, outwardly, anyway, he would have felt no niggling regret to not be a part of their sect.
    I know I didn't (don't).
    I stare in the mirror, my drooping eye staring silently back, my half-face, and I can summon up maybe a fraction of the terror my father must have fathomed those first weeks, months.  Then--those last few weeks, months.
    A prayer indeed.

    I watch. I read. I listen.
    Everywhere, for the signs.
    Tonight, I have none, just the great-ceilinged room, my hands clasped in my lap before dinner, the soft rain.
    No armour.

    "Closer still, you will find me standing on the hill
    waiting for you with my arms, stretched open wide..."

    Thursday, June 7, 2012


    I'll admit it.
    I saw this blog post on FB today and it got me all riled up.
    The comments on the blog-post were even worse, written by the very people that (I assumed) were being satirized by the writer. Then I started reading more comments and realized the writer (I think) was actually serious. think it's okay your friendswithkids (I think it should be oneword) 'forget' about all their non-parent friends?
    It's okay when people justify their selfishness by trotting out the parent clause?
    That for the most part, people like this were like this wayyyyy before they had children too?

    Because I do know a handful of people who have managed to defy these stereotypes.

    Non-parents, for the most part (says I...) would be very hurt to know that their friendship with a Parent was contingent on their 'joining the club'.  It was still, last time I checked, a very personal choice (I underline the word choice) to become a parent, and, also, to stay a non-parent. Yes, society tries to create a biological clock for women (I do not believe such a thing exists) to try and make child-bearing and rearing fit into a specific timeframe a kind of "get it while it's hot!" type of mindset, but people who believe that are the same people who develop self-esteem issues when they realize they don' t look exactly like Gisele Bundchen, and therein lies the rub: Society's fault again.

    I'm here to tell you:
    The fault lies within.

    I offer up the misguided women quoted in this article as proof.

    It's all a big time-suck, chicks. Think about it. It's easier and much less work for society when women are focussed on bullsh(t like this; planning their 'dream' wedding prior to meeting someone special, and keeping busy by tearing each other down for their personal choices like in the tryingtobegood post I read this morning.

    What if we all just respected each other's choices, even if the thought of 'going there' made us want to jump in front of a train?

    I didn't go to my high-school prom.
    I didn't wear white to my wedding.
    I didn't even lift a finger to even plan a wedding;  my beloved and I took a cab with our family and a couple of friends to City Hall and did it our way, quietly, without fanfare.

    Because that, to me, is what is so so wrong with society today. We need to be applauded and validated for every goddamn choice we make! Who cares! Live your life! Live it loud! Do whatever the hell you want.  I was having this very conversation with my friend A. last week on this very thing.  And as she is bar-none the most intelligent woman I know, she's covered some major thought-ground on this.
    Sometimes people will applaud you, sometimes people will decide you (and your selfish ways) are not for them. 
    Sometimes, if a friend drifts away for a time, she's not gone for good. She's gone for a brief period. She might come back, and when she does, be a better friend for it.
    We are not, no matter how much society wants us to believe it, lemmings. We don't all have to go over the cliff at a certain point because we want our lives to look just like everyone else's.

    So.. celebrate the differences.
    Enjoy your life.
    We might as well, Parents and Non-parents alike.

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    Five Months

    "Maybe it's time to be clear about who I am.  I am a person who is looking for love.
    Ridiculous, incovenient, can't-live-without-each-other-love."

    -Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City, "An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux"

    In an effort to possibly understand me more (he's already excelled more than I ever thought possible), Mike has recently been watching Sex and the City. His favourite character is Samantha. I didn't think it I could love him more, but that does it. Remembe Cosmo quizzes that we all did in our confused twenties? (for me, my confused twenties and early thirties).  Soon, after Sex and the City pervaded our culture, the quizzes had a new angle: "What SATC character are you?"  I was never Carrie (despite a heightened neuroses that didn't let up until I was about thirty-four). Charlotte, out of the question. Miranda--yes, I'm sarcastic, but in the early episodes, her behaviour bordered on man-hating. I was always, by a landslide, Samantha.
    Successful. Savvy. Independent. Fierce. Liberated.
    Some classified her as a wanton woman (bring it).

    So yea.
    Today is five months married. The Jays topped the Red Sox (best two out of three, however, goes to Boston).
    I watch (and love) football now.
    I will try anything Mike cooks for me.
    His running advice comes first, before any other source.
    His opinion is the one I seek out. The one I put the most stock into.

    As I was watching snippets of Sex and the City idly tonight, a relaxing Sunday, I was cooking dinner on my own, lamenting the fact that Mike is home in Maine, working away with his family at their restaurant. Selfishly, I missed him. I wanted him here when I came home from my run to fill him in with the details of my track-time. I called him instead, lamenting my sad, sad times (I've lost a minute off my mile. I can't talk about it).
    He straightened me out, coach-like.
    "Ask any runner what happens when you take time off. Be glad you can still run".  I nodded over the phone. I know well enough what happens when a runner takes time off.
    They lose time. Yes. Metaphorically and  literally.
    So I take my slowness with a grain of salt.

    And although I am not Carrie--I never forgot that scene, watching it wide-eyed with admiration at the age of thirty-one.
    I was looking for love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, can't-live-without-each-other-love.  And I found it with Mike.

    Happy five months married.

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Friday's List....what I like about being a grown up (and what I don't like)

    I started this post weeks ago. Seriously.
    So, since it's now Friday and 'life is good again' (for now) I thought I'd finally post it. I kept the dislikes to a minimum. Erring on the side of the positive!

    What I like:
    Living alone. Well, I am married now but you know what I mean. Not living with my family of origin.
    Not in a bad way or anything. Just in a "this is my life I'm a grown-up and I run this ship" type of way. 
    Maybe I mean more along the lines of having my own space. I leave things here, I leave things there. I eat whatever.

    Speaking of eating whatever. Remember when you had to find out what you were having for dinner when you got home from school? I like controlling whatever I eat. No matter how weird it might be, ie, chicken four nights in a row, creative leftovers, that kind of thing.
    Eating saltines at my desk at work. Because I can. It's not like high school where the teachers lost their minds if you so much as sipped water at your desk (I wonder if it's still like that?). We used to 'sneak-eat' when they showed movies.
    No bedtime. I mean, I am an epic sleeper, but I can go to sleep whenever. Getting up is enforced Monday to Friday but weekends are all mine. I hear my friends with kids talk about how tired they are and I realize how lucky I am. The secret to anti-aging is not creams and potions and gels. It's sleep. I'm convinced of it.

    Choices. I think this is my favourite part of being a grown-up and the first three points do kind of come right back to this.  The saddest thing is when people hit their twenties and just plod along with the life everyone else is living, ie, 'veil-brain' as I call it, then hit the kid-train, and think that once they have the husband, the house, the kids, that all will be well. Oh life has so many plans for all of us, doesn't it?
    My sis and I were discussing this on the weekend. Discussing how there are so many people who don't know about that part of life yet (Shiver. It's a sucky part of life. In some ways I'm glad I got stuck with knowing that as young as I was).
    But back to choices. The best part about them is that you have so many options living in a free country.
    Move. Don't move. Work. Work somewhere else. Take up running. Don't take up running. Volunteer. Do something for someone else. Cheer someone on. Make new friends. Look outside your 1.5 existence. Go on vacation. Stop whining.
    Do something.
    Make it something you WANT to do.

    Speaking of family of origin. Being mature enough to not blame some of the missteps on your parents. Step away from that invisible white picket fence. Better?

    Dreams. All yours. Well, I guess for most people they are tied up with a thing called family, but if you're lucky enough to still be living your own life, you can look beyond the mortgage, the kids' college fund, and know that you need dreams, you deserve dreams, and you can't put things off to a glorified future where you may or may not be able to enjoy it. You have to enjoy life right now. Period.

    Having tastes, likes, dislikes, and not having to do things 'just because'. For instance: I hate most group activities, and am inherently lazy on the weekends. Given the choice, I will most often opt for spending time on my own, running, sunning, reading, or celebrating cocktail hour. I hate driving places on the weekend, I hate kids' birthday parties, I hate grocery shopping on Saturdays, I hate crowds, I hate eating brunch or lunch. However, there are lots of activities I do love. Running being at the top of the list, and hanging with my sister in her backyard or with her kids at my place. Sushi. Thai food. Dinner. Drinks. Reading a novel all in one sitting. Watching hours of TV with a magazine and a bag of chips. Painting my nails over and over. Buying music.
    Knowing all these things. That's one of the best things too. Also, knowing that not everyone is lucky enough to know these things. And some of them never will. Scary (but true) thought.

    What I don't like:
    Sometimes, being a grown-up involves an awful lot of dishonesty. Think about it. It does. As much as I don't like it, sometimes I have to be a participant. White lies, blog posts you can't publish, things you can't admit, not even to friends.  For instance--one of my friends has finally hit the nail on the head--her daughter's birthday party was last week. She had a day-time party (ugh). She didn't invite me. I have one thing to say: THANK YOU. Day-time parties, especially for kids, are so not my thing.
    Same with cottage weekends with kids running around (I will rsvp an immediate 'no' as soon as I get these kind of invites).

    How serious everything gets after, let's say, age thirty. For me, things were also serious before age thirty, what with relationship-wreckage everywhere, a broken heart that I allowed to take years from me, a crime I was victim to that I allowed to do the same; when I face things, I allowed my twenties to steam-roll me in a way I tried to avoid in my thirties. Oddly, though, it wasn't until my thirties that real anxiety took hold of me. Then, throw in parental health problems (always a way to speed up the aging process. You haven't lived until you've gone through this. Unless you have a sick child. Then you're there. Both of those things: the worst.)
    So yea, the serious-ness of situations, the scariness of life, the past which can haunt you, and those experiences you'd like to 'clean slate' out of your memory record but can't.
    Other seriously adult experiences involve deaths of loved ones, divorces, car accidents, near-misses, real loneliness...they all add up to a heaviness that can sometimes really feel like a weight that can be crushing.
    Case in point my own recent health 'crisis'. Not a crisis at all really, but problematic to me.
    I've had alot of support from friends and family over this. New friends, old friends, Mike of course, my sis, my mom. I stopped to think about how abundantly people have cared--sending emails, texts, calling, asking after me. So I add that to the LIKE LIKE LIKE pile--having all those people in your life that you love surround you, the real relationships thickening over years, the less important ones fading.

    It's Friday.
    It's all good.