Sunday, July 29, 2012

A look back

I'm on the couch, after a full Sunday of activity, every single thing something I wanted to do, not had to do, and I smell lavender.
I'm reading, and at first I can't figure out where the scent is coming from. My blanket, tossed over my reclining form while I hold a book aloft and read in dim dusky light? My couch? I reach to the coffee table for a sip of wine, and I notice the melted candle in the centre--aha. Lavender located.
I get off the couch (no small feat, I have planned to finish reading this Hamilton book tonight) and I fetch the matches (noting on my grocery-list paper that the match supply is dwindingly low). The spark and hiss and the candle is lit. More lavender, less dusky light. Now the candle is giving the light. Now I'm here, keying these words, because I have no one to talk to right now and sometimes even an introvert like me needs to say things.
Not important things, not earth-shattering things. Just things. Observations.
That this summer is the first one out of the last three (meaning now--12, and 11 and 10) where I am actually starting to feel alive again.
Where I'm not just going through the motions, veiled by so much pain, grief, and heft to feel anything but sorrow, sadness, and binging on tears.
It's weird to feel this way, and I know how weird that sounds.
It's weird to look back and see how much doubt and fear I was piling onto this thing called life.
How grief can deaden the living.

Again--summer has this cleansing effect, I think, for all nations plagued by dark cold winters. It's a lightening--but I didn't get to experience that healing tonic for the last two of this celebrated season and I can't believe all I've been missing.
Walking around. Lately, it's like the whole city had been covered in a tarp and suddenly it's been unveiled, a rabbit released out of a deep dark hole, and I see things. Things I want to do. Places I want to go. The crowds at the festival last night and my calm un-bothered-ness around them bolstered my new feeling of freedom.
I rode the streetcar today, without panic, despite the packed-to-the-gills-full-of-passengers scenario I faced when I entered. There was a detour. I was unmoved. I got to see another unfamiliar neighbourhood here in this city where I have lived, pretty much without interruption, for almost my entire life.

I've discovered new places to eat and drink in my mom's neighbourhood, too. Places to buy vegetables, a Sunday market off the beaten trail, and a consignment shop that sells gorgeous handbags. I've ventured out without music clanging in my ear buds. I don't feel this deep need to disappear from view when I'm out, interacting with the world.
It's like a layer of anxiety has peeled away. And left in it's place: Nothing. A good nothing. A nothing where I can remember things with clarity. Where I can enjoy an aimless morning. Where I can read five books in a week and not even blink. Where I can concentrate. I didn't realize how much I missed those more straight-and-narrow regions of my brain.  The neighbourhoods in my head that I have not visited nearly enough in the haze of the past two-odd years.

Just writing this feels free.
I thought, today, of how to 'live the life you want', incorporating all of those want-to-do things, after finishing the need-to-do's. And how they can co-exist with a bit of work, with a bit of reward. And I washed my mind clear of that last therapy session, realizing that I'm working on discovering what I need on my own. This goes for what happens inside my head as well as at work, shaping my attitude toward this unscalable mountain range I've built it up to in my mind. I don't need to scale that mountain when I'm already chipping my way through it.
The slow way, the long way, the hard way.

My way.

Summer Weekends

It was a beautiful July Saturday, I’ll say that.
I did not run. After waking up at 6:30 am (WHYYYYYYYY?) I puttered around my apartment for literally hours, making coffee, ‘organizing’ laundry, (Ie, moving it from place to place, folding it, getting distracted, then leaving it on the kitchen counter—don’t ask) and then deciding to say “to hell with it” about the run and just making some macaroni and cheese from the box, and deciding the only thing that would go with it was a can of Coke, and leaving my apartment, running across the street with a five-dollar bill to the small convenience store, and buying one.

Back home, I ate the pasta directly from the pot, standing up in my kitchen. I explored the possibilities of the day; it was wide open. Sure, there is tonnes of work-work to do. Yes, this apartment is not going to clean itself (the dishes in the sink for the past three days have  made that abundantly clear). But the sunshine beckoned. The rooftop called. The seven-day-loan-only-non-renewable-library book I’m currently reading “Blood, Bones, and Butter” by Gabrielle Hamilton begged to be read.

I gave in, put on my bikini, got my rooftop-beach bag with supplies and went up there.
No one. All afternoon.

Just the sun, the sky, a few wasps and flies, me, the book, a bottle of water, and the stillness of the city on a nice July day.

My evening plans involved the Jazz Festival in the Beach, where I met my mom and then some friends. A pasta dinner outside rounding out the day, a quick glass of wine in one of the overflowing bars, and then just walking up and down the closed-to-cars Queen Street for a few nice hours. The crush of people didn’t even faze or deter me.

Getting a cab home was another story, but I soldiered along, stealing backward glances at the traffic for an approaching taxi, walking almost 4 km before snagging one. I chalked the walk up to my exercise for the day and was home in under ten minutes after that.

This morning..up way too early again. I’m reading the book (I can’t put it down, it’s a memoir by a chef, a female chef at that, who took the long way in her career, the kind of bumpy road that makes for great story-telling and a humble manner that I’m lapping up).
It’s looking like another beautiful July day out there. I am a bit crispy-skinned from my hours on the roof, and a bit light-headed from lack of sleep and two late nights in a row, but I’m relaxed. I’m weekend-ed.

Today looks promising for the cleaning up I’ve pledged myself to do.

Happy Sunday (girl!)

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Can I tell you about my dream?
Last night, I was awakened numerous times--for good reason, too. Mother Nature decided to unleash a bounty of rain on the downtown core, and the city of Toronto was the grateful recipient of this wash of water.
As I mentioned yesterday, I was on the rooftop reading and drinking wine when the first few drops started falling.
I came down, went inside, had dinner. The rain was off-and-on, picking up intensity, whipping around a bit, but still no noise, no light. No thunder and lightning.
That happened later. 4am later.  I woke to a brightly-illuminated room several times. I heard thunder rumbling.
I slipped in and out of sleep, a couple of times checking my clock-radio (do people still have those?) to make sure it was still getting power. I feel back into a deep sleep, rain notwithstanding.
I dreamed about a condo complex (nothing too out of the ordinary there). Meeting my sister for an early lunch. With our Dad. I didn't know this at first. The restaurant, oddly named "Mike's" was beside the condo complex. It was a cafeteria-style place where you lined up, like the old Movenpick with the passport-type stamps on your bill, and ordered your food from stations. I decided I wanted a bacon-caesar-salad-chicken-wrap. I eventually got to the front of the bacon line. The bacon guy was done cooking bacon for the day, cleaning his pans, putting raw bacon away. I was crestfallen. He was unaffected. I toured around the rest of the food stations eventually settling on cold chicken breast, honey mustard, lettuce, the wrap, with out the salad and bacon I wanted. I located my sister and my dad, sitting at a booth for two, having a grand old time, a great conversation. There was no room for me at the table. We eventally 'converted' the table (in a dreamlike way) and I sat down with my tray to eat. But lunch was over. We'd (I'd) run out of time.  I was silent and disappointed. And I hid my disappointment. My dream ended, or it went somewhere else. I don't know.

Back to my therapy appointment of this week. I was whiny, I was at times, despondent, I was frustrated, I described my utter lethargy in the face of things I have to do. My therapist suggested I get some blood work done. Thyroid, she said? It's what affected your mom. I regarded her coolly. I may have sighed impatiently. Really? That's all you've got? In my most recent conversations with those closest to me, family and what have you, all I get is the Bad News. What has Gone Wrong. Why everything is Not Perfect. My husband, my sister, my mom, work, you name it. And I wonder why I employ 'catastrophic mind' at every turn. Why I sleep nine hours a night. Why I read to escape, read to improve, read to embolden. It's like every step up is taken with lead feet.
I left her office frustrated and feeling incomplete from the session (here it is, one more person who has no possible HOPE of understanding me). I walked down the hall to reception to book another appointment. But what I wanted to do was way, hey, let's finish this. Why'd you give me something else to worry about? Why couldn't you see the fatigue I experience goes well beyond the physical.
But, like my dream, I said nothing.

I left, I went to my niece's birthday dinner.

I've got nothing if not stamina. That thought occurred to me as I drove home today, annoyed at the traffic. Stamina. Yep. I've got it in spades. It should make some of these challenges easier, but sometimes it serves only as a reminder that I need to employ this quality much more than I would like.

Another sad fact about last night/this morning and waking up to the rainstorm: I was convinced it was Saturday morning.
Oh, the crush of disappointment.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wicked Wednesday

Sociology is rational. God is not.
God knows the very moment we are born.
Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

You know how I coined 'Sunday Night Syndrome' with my sis to describe that peculiar angst one feels before they go back to work on Monday morning?
Wicked Wednesday is all mine.
It means:
it's the busiest day of the week.
there are a thousand phone calls
you can't put people off to next week the way you can thursday and friday
did i mention the phone?

I also had to be at work for an 8 am meeting (the stuff of nightmares for me, a non-morning person).
I awakened at 4, 4:30, and 5 am, to check I was not late. Then I fell back asleep and dreamed vivid, horribly odd dreams (devils. over flowing toilets. messy hallways. what? WHAT?). 
I finally gave up and got myself into the bathtub, ice pack on my tired eyes, at 6:15 am.
I was dressed and out the door, hair full bedhead (you can pull this off in the summer with long hair. I'm not saying I'm proud of it. But I wore a tailored outfit to offset it you know?)
I was at my desk by 7:30 am after stopping at Tim Hortons and leaving, crushed with disappointment, when they were out of chocolate chip muffins (stars not aligning this week).
I escaped work at 4 ish to pick up plans and packages at a client's place. After arriving to work at 7:30 am it was all I could do to keep awake by then so it was a welcome respite.
And I had an acupuncture appointment to get to.

After the disaster that was my therapy appointment yesterday, I was looking forward to getting stuck with little needles and lying there (ok, falling asleep immediately) in the dim room in a basement on Bayview.
Last week I was late for my appointment.
This week I was way early.
The sky was clouding over. I was hungry. I found a patio with an awning, ordered a chardonnay and a poutine and relaxed with my work journal, making a to do list. All alone. A family of four arrived approximately 4 minutes into my time there, shattering the reverie, the nervous mother/wife making sure her husband faced the other way, while I pulled out my ipod to block out the sound of her and her irritating pronouncements about the patio, what to order, what to have to drink--you know, the useless prattle of those who are used to not being heard. I texted my friend L. Our texts were not knid--along the lines of 'b*tch please',  and I listened to my music, sipped my wine, picked at my food, paid my bill, as rain started to fall (that incomparable smell of summer rain, if they made a candle of that smell I'd buy it by the armload). I gathered myself up, umbrella and all (forethought, yes) and wandered down the street to my appointment, where I got stuck with the needles and promptly fell asleep.

Left there feeling drugged (in the best possible way), drove home on the wind-y Bayview extension and decided to go up to the roof with a book and some water and wine.
I sat. I sipped (after guzzling the water). I stared at the sky, clouds rapidly advancing. I thought. About nothing. I read. The Circle of Quiet book, the quote of which leads off this entry. I watched the birds, looking at their signals as the clouds thickened. My mom always says to watch the birds before a storm. They will fly for cover. When you stop seeing them, the rain is imminent. Slow drops at first. I gathered up my gear. Books, bag, ipod, shoes, glass of wine.

Came back down, ate leftovers, and now here I am. It's bedtime, the rain is pouring outside, that amazing sound, there is a bit of thunder.

Wicked Wednesday is coming to a close.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Slice of life

Below is an email exchange with my lovely blog friend Julia. I've been writers-blocked since my last blog debacle and here I'm hinting, oh loyal readers, as to how I'm going to deal with my truth--disguise it as fiction! Brill or what? Brill I think....

In terms of being well-read, I often shy away from "true lit" (as the purists would define it)
but, J, I am a bibliophile and bookworm to the highest degree. It's my favourite thing to do.
I will read junk sometimes (case in point The Hunger Games, pure curiosity, and The Dragon
Tattoo thing) but for the most part I want to learn as I read. My dream (truly) is to work in
a bookstore one day, maybe when I'm really old and want to just kind of 'be'.
I read this thing on twitter the other day about a man who worked in a bookstore, and
called himself a "booktender" and confessed his pathological curiosity about others, how it
drove his work and reading and writing. I fall into the same vein (hence the interest in
other bloggers).
RE: the Starlets. So true. They give some (ie, the vast majority) a nice low standard of intellect
to aspire to.
RE: Colorado. I know. It's sad too because Toronto has had a shameful summer of crime, nicknamed
'the summer of the gun' and we had a shooting in our largest, downtown mall, and it was pandemonium
over here. And we're not a gun-toting bunch, I have to tell you. It shocks me. I want the old world
back. So badly.
Juliaipsa should definitely remain as is, to your standards and voice. You definitely have a voice. I think
that's the most important thing. The voice is what readers keep coming back for, I think.

I'm growing back in love with my blog, and I know that I will continue to pile personal stories onto it,
and maybe in some instances I'll write little pieces of 'Fiction' so that those who wish to be left off
my blog can appear as a pseudonym, and situations can be honestly talked about, via a fictional story.
I think that is going to be my approach.

I've got an entry kicking about in my head right now about a dinner I went to last night, but I've also
got this crazy fulltime job that needs my attention.

Loving the email trail though ;)

RE: NYC. God. Such a magical, VAST city. I was spellbound. I arrived, after a gruelling summer of heartbreak and was able to lift some huge burdenous issues off my shoulders and enjoy the hell out of NYC.
So for that alone, it holds a special place in my heart. Somewhere I went ... to heal.

:) Carolyn

Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2012 11:01:21 -0400
Subject: Re: tungsten

Oh, Carolyn, that's considerate of you to ask if it's ok to blog some of this stuff. It's fine w/me. Thanks for asking.

"Limited intellect --> soapbox status" --- that makes me laugh. I maintain that the starlets of our world, whether on a tv screen or computer screen, they are rarely equal parts brain and beauty. They are, usually, just savvy, lucky, ruthless, and/ or have a strong PR agent. Let them enjoy their moment.

That whole Colorado mess is something. I try not to follow these sorts of stories b/c they're disturbing and distressing, but my sister told me about his background last night. It's really startling how damaged an individual can be, under such an intact exterior, no less. I hope he receives the help he needs.

I do not know some of these authors! You are much more well-read than I. When I started having eye problems when I moved here five years ago, I stopped reading altogether. My eyes just couldn't take it. I used to love to read :(. Things are a bit more under control now, but I only recently started getting the book-reading itch again.

It is very flattering that you receive my content so well, but at the same time, it prompts a slew of new, unsettling thoughts about my readers' perceptions of me. I don't want to overthink it, so I'll just say that it's most important to me that I keep juliaipsa the way it always has been; as a chronicling outlet for myself.


I forgot to respond to your NY visit ... September is one of the best months here so long as there's not some freaky stretch of searing hot Indian summer madness going on. I'm glad you had a lovely visit. How could you not? There's something for everyone here.


On Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM, carolyn iyer <> wrote:
I hear that J...
I think that the recent disillusionment (I've felt it even more keenly in this post-movie-theatre shoot-up this past weekend) has to do with people that I feel have limited intellect but now, with a blog, have achieved moderate soap-box status. Some of the 'mom-blogs' (oh god. A term I LOATHE) felt that criticizing parents for bringing their under-sevens to a midnight movie showing was...wrong (?).
(I was shocked--f*ck up your kids the ol' fashioned way, when they got their hands on books and movies they had no business seeing/reading, but because they found them they "had to know about it" {I quote Joan Didion here}). I mean some old friends of mine had some er, debative discourse on this very topic. I participated as the silent
minority--a childless woman (by choice, not circumstance) in her late thirties.
I always want cooler heads to prevail, but after reading two momblogs that made me wish "heads could roll" I realized, as I slog through reading yet another memoir--I need
quality. I LONG for quality. I need quiet, unrecognized quality, not the block-buster-best-seller John Grisham blog or the Michael Chricton blog. I need the Madeleine L'Engle musing on being an only child in the forties with an alcoholic father kind of blog, I need Mary Cantwell "Manhattan When I Was young" type of blog. 
I need world-weary, a bit worn, I need scars, I need William Styron's Darkness Visible, I need Sylvia Plath to write a blog, I need Ayn Rand to talk about what she does late at night when no one's around.
 Okay, i've just realized I'm dumping a pseudo-blog entry on you, a fave blogger of mine.
I love your blog because:
you drop hints
you scratch the surface of you
you leave a reader wanting more, but not frustratingly so
your photographs are a gift the world needs more of
you peer through your own lens (literally and figuratively) to see how, exactly, this life you
are living is going to play out.
I await your story. One post at a time.

It is Monday, the end of Monday, it was a quick and dirty day and the best part about it:
it's over. Glass of wine is in hand, dishes are in sink after I cooked a guilty pasta with alot of salt and yes, mushrooms are vegetables and fresh basil is green.

This is my Monday night blog entry now.
Is that okay?

Why do writers need permission? Why? We are in a free continent. We are so lucky for this.
And yet we shy away, we sugarcoat, we dance around the truth of our lives.

What can we do? I am hoping age brings me a searing clarity that allows me to
just slice throught the b.s. with kindness and wisdom.

On to Tuesday.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Let's go (up on the roof)

In deference to a very funny New Yorker cartoon I once saw ("this might be the wine talking but I think we should order more wine") I say, about this weekend: "This might be the Vitamin D talking but I'd like some more Vitamin D".  I spent an inordinate amount of time out-of-doors this weekend.
It was fantastic.
No wonder people in Maine, in cottage and beach towns, and those with outdoor jobs seem so pathologically well-adjusted. Once you've had enough vitamin D, you feel invincible.  Like nothing could unravel you.

Friday night I had drinks with a friend, stayed out late, took the subway mid-town there and back, a late night walk along King St. just what I needed after a healthy amount of chardonnay and bubbly.
Saturday morning found me lounging around, drinking Gatorade, water, and coffee (at separate times), and then suddenly, looking at the clock as I finished a lazy blog entry--I had to drive up to North York to my bring my car in.
I did, with no traffic impediments, left the car there, and, dressed in my running gear, did just that--started running.
I did a quick painful 5 k (it was now just before noon, the sun beating down..conditions not ideal) and I was running with my water bottle in one hand and my Coach clutch in my other ( I KNOW how this looked. Trust me).  I made it from Dufferin and Caledonia to Yonge and St. Clair, all downhill, and was loving the shade I'd found and the breeze, when my sister called to tell me she was near my place and did I want to have lunch. I did, but I was not close to home. She volunteered to come and meet me. I ran east on St. Clair, south on Mount Pleasant (what a fantastic, shady, breezy route) and met her part way.
Sitting half-in/half-out on the Front St. patio of Jack Aster's we had a leisurely lunch, the two of us, with her kids. My car still not ready, ( I now have to pick it up tomorrow morning, and I have a 9am meeting, this is as inconvenient as it gets for me...) we headed to her backyard, filled up the plastic pool for the kids, and sat reading magazines while they hopped in and out of the water.
I got home early and went for another run. The heat had abated slightly by 7pm.
I had a late dinner and was asleep by 11.

Sunday morning. My niece's birthday party--11am. I debated--do I run before? Would I have time? How hot was it going to get? When my eyes opened at 9:30 am, the decision was made for me--I'd go to the outdoor party, at a local park, and run later. Donning a strapless dress I tried to catch the Queen streetcar, to no avail. Detours, blockages. I made it to Parliament, melting in my outfit and hailed a cab to the park, past Broadview. With time and weather on my side, I would have walked that, no problem. But the heat. The sun. My inadequate flip-flops. I was greeted with coffee and kites (which I helped to fly) upon arrival. And wasps, swarming the picnic table set up with a variety of food.
The afternoon wore on nicely, but it kept getting hotter in our little corner of the park, the kids waded in the wading pool, all the adults looking on longingly as they sashayed through the shallow water.

I got home around 4.  Up to the roof.  One of my neighbours was up there, but was wrapping things up as I arrived. I sat on a lounge chair with a book, sunscreen, water, and my ipod. I had a nice half hour of sunshine before clouds, blessed clouds, moved in. I smelled the rain before it hit me, giant drops, no shelter on the roof except to stand in the door way that leads to the roof entrance.  I waited it out and the rain subsided, and I sat back down, looking at the city, streaked now with grey and smelling that wet-rain-cement smell. I looked over the balcony railing onto the neighbouring rooftops, bringing to mind a memory of a New York City rooftop that Mike and I had once visited when we were first dating, while on a trip to see my friend L. It was late night, I was eaten alive by mosquitoes, but we were all together, drinking wine, looking at the night.
The rain started again, in earnest, and I packed up my bag. It was time to run. I've had so little running-in-the-rain this summer that I was eager to get out there. It was a good run, an average run, a short run, and sometime in the next few months (ie, BEFORE the half-marathon) I need to somehow get back into the groove of running. I'm at odds with myself as to how that's going to happen, but it will.
On the way back from my run, walking, I looked at balconies, stoops, little hamlets, snatches of outdoor space in the city--some had kitchen chairs as their outdoor seating, what I think of as a Canadian way of getting the best out of this season called summer, that we have for such a short time, before descending back into cold and darkness.
Now it's Sunday evening, dinner has been eaten, I've showered (again), I've assessed my suntanned skin, I'm drinking dreamland tea, and I'm settling in to read a book before going to bed early.
The rain had started up again a few minutes ago, but the sky remained light, with clouds shape-shifting and transforming.
The power of weather to transform us, drag us out of ourselves, to somewhere lighter, more manageable, more forgiving.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Professionally speaking

You know I'm a kitchen designer right?
I don't have alot of arty photos on my blog (most photos I take are of my nearest and dearest, me and mine, and they are not remotely artsy). I never really photograph or document what I eat or drink (my drinking habits are too shaming to post on a blog). And while I admire for giving up pinot grigio for a year, I know this is something I will probably never do (I'd go on about how 'life's too short, blah blah blah...').

Anyway where was I? Kitchens, right (wine is kept there).

So, I'm trawling through the twitter-verse yesterday ( I can't even say/think it without laughing. Mike called tweeting "twittering" the other day and I haven't been able to stop thinking about that and laughing either) but I came across the house in the top link on  I don't normally fall in love with spaces because I'm so numb to how much work it takes to get an interior to the state you see in these magazines, but this kitchen took my breath away. And I'll tell you--that doesn't happen very often.

The real truth? I feel absolute shame for most of my profession. Think about it--we don't do anything really mind-blowing. Can you match the Kleenex boxes you buy to the interior colours of your washroom? Then you, too, could be an interior designer. Learn to wield a measuring tape and you're well on your way. The money, the extravagance, people's over-attachment to how a space should look (I always prefer to focus on how a space feels) always leaves me cold. And sad.

Anyway, nothing earth-shattering here right now. I'm still reading the L'Engle "Circle of Quiet" book, interspersed with the second book of that Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. (I didn't read the first one--instead, I saw the movie, as I mentioned--I can only do one or the other).  It does fascinate me though, much like spaces, to observe what people like. In this case, what people like to read. And watch. Like The Hunger Games (read the first one only, to weigh in on what the fuss was about, did not see the movie, no need to cancel out my own visualizations). It was plot-driven dystopian 'lit' and yes, as a teen, I may have become obsessed with the world the author created. I loved dystopian literature when I was younger, but my tastes ran more toward The Chrysalids, 1984, and Brave New World. The Dragon Tattoo (books for...grown-ups?) are plot-driven too, as far as I can see. Would make good vacation reads. The detailed listing of what groceries the protagonist buys, her trip to Ikea (I'm not kidding) are all good fodder for me to practice scanning again. But I think about how many people have read all of these books, hoover'ed them up, really, spiked them to best-seller status, and then look back at the small Circle of Quiet book, calmly written from what was, at the time, the author's own utopian summer home, in a world we no longer have access to, except in books and stories.

I'm drinking coffee, catching up on correspondence, thinking about my recent turn against the internet--how tired I am of getting watered-down news from Twitter, how boring people's lives can seem when they hide behind how they think they should be. I had a late night last night, I'm fighting off a bit of the fog this morning.  My car is due to be serviced shortly (a logistical nightmare involving me going uptown to the Forest Hill region, away from my own neighbourhood, then finding a place in the area to kill time, or planning a run in around my car repairs, and I have to pick up a birthday gift for my niece).  So, all that has to happen in the next few hours. Daunting and fascinating, I know.

So, nothing heavy on this Saturday morning. The world, our little North-American part of it, has been heavy enough this week. Again back to the spaces--as a continent this whole place, despite the raging heat waves and rain-less-ness--leaves me cold. And sad.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Early Night

I've been inexplicably tired this week (hot weather? hopelessness?) but I promised a blog entry, taken from my scribed-fawn-lark-journal-notes, and here it is.

The days are getting shorter, I'm loathe to admit.  I also loathe the extreme heat even though I love summer.
I shut the dining room blinds tonight after doing some blog-reading and the only light in here was a candle I'd lit in my bedroom about forty minutes ago (Pier One pillar, First Rain).

I'm tired, I'm cranky from working in an office without a/c for three full days this week (you. heard. me. right.) Forgetfulness, irritability--another couple of side effects.
And today [yesterday, this is when I scrawled these notes] the phone. It just wouldn't stop ringing.
I came home, ate leftovers, was in my pajamas by about 7:30pm, and I thought about the deadening summer routine of being unable to even tolerate going up on the roof to enjoy a breeze (there wasn't one) with a glass of wine (I drank it inside).

I'm down. Leaving Maine last Monday (why is it so hard this time?) kind of sealed it, like, "yep, I'm nowhere I want to be right now".  I gravitate towards the down-ness. I embrace it.

Signs. The stubborn way I've kept this fight going with a friend of mine, now glossing over, not talking about it (what? what happened?).   The weather, bothering me incessantly. My inability to notice, love, and appreciate nature in its summer glory.  I should be feeling compassion for the dry trees, grass, and crops. I guess I do. I worry about water, about rain. [this is how I write, late at night, in bed, with a pen and a journal. It's pretty ho-hum stuff. I know.]
I wished for and got clouds today (my right eye thanks the sky).
I went to one meeting, and then the next, today, and found parking and did it all, picked up samples, ferried them in my car, drew things, tried to make a difference.
Read, magazines and books, practiced scanning, a talent I recently noticed has seemed to have left me. Scan-read, I used to be a master at it. Not so anymore. I need to brush up on this.

The July sky darkens, earlier than I would like. I long to draw summer out yet I await my vacation, my freedom from work, at the end of August. My sojourn to Mike. I don't even mind entering the last year of these thirties of mine since I get to usher it in with him.

Speaking of Mike, last night he broke the unbreakable wedding ring. Tungsten. They said you would need a hammer to smash it. Turns out all you need is a loose ring, an industrial kitchen-in-a-restaurant-floor, and presto---smashed ring. He's upset. I'm philosophical. There will be another ring. It's just a thing, a thing that yes, we got married with, but just a thing. A replace-able thing.

I focus on growth, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.

The me of two years ago would not have been able to accept this ring thing like this.

So..I feel gratitude.

Acupuncture. My virgin attempt last night. It didn't hurt. It felt like a 'zing' as the needle found its place, and then, the dark room, the soft music. I fell asleep. Actually, it felt, really, like I was pulled into sleep. I gave into sleep. The treatment was over before I even knew it.
I got into it with my benefits provider today on the phone. For acupuncture, you can't submit your claim online. One more inane rule of Sunlife. I told the woman on the phone her service sucked. She said she was sorry. I said don't be. Fix the goddamn problem (I only said goddamn in my head).
But I thought it. I still think it. But this exchange (oddly) spurred me on to do several other nagging to-do list things (renew my license plate sticker, book a service appointment for my car) and as a Virgo nothing quite feels as good as ticking off boxes. It's what allows me to sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I've needed alot of it this week.

Good night....

What I'm Reading

 I promise an honest-to-goodness blog update tonight. I've been scribbling in the Fawn-lark journal right before I go to bed (when my brain wakes up and goes Hey! Here's something!). My handwriting is deplorable when I form these scribbles, so I have to translate them to post them.

But here is a snippet of what I'm reading my Ms. Madeleine L'Engle (Franklin) in this Circle of Quiet book, the first in a trilogy that became whatever they call a four-book series, that I've read in reverse. Not on purpose. Just happened.
My friend A. and I had a discussion about this very thing a couple of days ago.

"My own response to the wild unpredictability of the universe has been to write stories, to play the piano, to read, listen to music, look at paintings - not that the world may become explainable and reasonable but that I may rejoice in the freedom which unaccountability gives us." 

Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

Also, this amazing new blog I found and these lines from it:



Until you are forced to realize that life is not what you thought it was. That the control you thought you had was an illusion. Until you learn the secret that so few people know or even want to know: that this world, with its joys and its sorrows and its structure and its chaos is really just a sorry imitation of how the world was meant to be.

And you will long for that other world, while still living here in this one. And you realize now that fear is pointless because whatever it is you feared is not what you now face. And all that fear and planning didn't keep tragedy at bay. And you learn to live in this exact moment more than you ever have before because try as you might to grasp it, the past has slipped through your fingers, and the future you face is unrecognizable.

And you continue to keep up your folders and files and the structure of your life, because you find comfort in the rhythm of it. And you will
keep living and loving and never giving up because that is who you are, but you'll have one foot poised waiting for when it is your time to blow this popsicle stand, and when that time comes, you will have no fear.

So yea....that's what's going on. Deep thoughts. My place in the universe. Your place in the universe.

Also, I tried acupuncture for the first time last night. I'm going to write about that, too.

I promise!

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Leaf

Is it possible to take back what you've already done, said, a misstep (not necessarily yours), a deed?
The blog as battleground. I don't like it.
So, I pledge.
To myself, to not take myself too seriously, to switch it off sometimes, to just have fun (with myself, with my writing, with it ALL. This life, this universal plan, these utterances, these admittances {is that even a WORD?}).  I dunno..I just made it up.

I read some blogs that are dead on. Ones written by women raising whole families (how? how do they do that and even find time to string a sentence together? I ask this is the shadow of whole-hearted admiration, I, a woman who currently has a (somewhat) working dishwasher and two days worth of dishes in the sink. No joke).
If they can do it, then so can I.
After all, if this is writing practice, then I am entitled, sometimes, to learn as I go, to grope through the darkness punctuated with periods (however brief) of light, and just try. It's really all I can do.

So here it is, the end of Monday. My friend and I exchanged ecards today. That was it. They were funny, they were droll, they were cc'ed to other friends.
I put in a full workday, and, after planning to be that early-riser, I rolled over, circa 6 am and reset my alarm for 7, firmly and without hesitation. I relished that extra hour. It felt like three. It felt like heaven.
I got out of bed, stumbled, sleep-heavy, to the kitchen, to the waiting pot of water. Put the burner on, for French press coffee. Washed my hair, my face, threw my black silk robe on, that in-between of pajamas and work-clothes, that black back-drop I always use to apply make up, did that five-minute routine, then made coffee. Downed vitamins. Emails to work while wielding a hair-dryer. Ironed an outfit at warp speed. Stuffed my lunch into my work bag with a bottle of water. Took coffee to-go.

Headed northbound to my office, no traffic, the gods fully in cooperation. Listened to GnR in the car on the classic rock station. Marvelled that a human could make those sounds on a guitar.
Let my thoughts fly around, all about the car. I realize--it's a sunny, overly-hot-and-humid summer day, but I'm awake, alive, feeling....umm....good. Yea. On a Monday. And I HATE Mondays.

Made it through a stunningly fast work day (one where the a/c cut out about 3, not sure how I managed 3 more hours, but I did). Drove home. More 'no traffic'. Dinner. Leftovers. Writing out birthday cards and notes I have to mail. Sticking stamps on addressed envelopes. My tired eyes, tired now.
My blog. This record. Of sometimes boredom, of heartbreak, of a life being lived, of happiness.
Of light, of dark. Like a marriage. For better or worse. I try to get better.
It's all here people. One post at a time.

Thank you GB--for the perspective.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I've finished dinner (with my mom) and am re-watching, in the background, the Dragon Tattoo movie, just to take in the scenery I was too stressed out to notice in the first viewing (I get too invested in thrillers. I do. It's weird).

I'm getting ready to tackle some dishes and possibly indulge in a bath.
There is Sunday night chardonnay in my glass, I'm sipping it slowly.

I picked my mom up before noon today (time unfurls to me in the morning with no running plan).
We stopped at a farmer's market on Eastern Avenue, bought some wonderful vegetables, bread. All local, supporting local farmers.
We came back to my loft where my mom helped me clean, to focus on cleaning, to settle on a task, which was a huge help.
We tackled my dining room today, with it's broad table, the floors that needed cleaning, the little bar, my wall unit, with its rows and rows of books.
As of now, the whole dining room is sparkling, the whole wall unit is clean, and all the books have been re-shelved, after having dusted them lovingly. I'm still missing a few key books from my collection (they are on loan to key friends, I know where they are) but as always when I comb through and re-shelve books, I find old ones, like old friends, that you haven't seen in a while, haven't taken in, that you need time to catch up with. I re-ordered all the books, glassware, and framed photos, (I have to get more wedding pictures framed and 'on display'.  For who I wonder, though? I'm here on my own most of the time, most of the year).

I've been scrolling around the internet, reading sad news, a sad blog I found, where a big thing has gone wrong, and the writer talks about how insignificant all other things can seem in the wake of that.  The flawed unfairness of life.
I'm sitting here, the work-work undone (surprise!) and I keep returning to one main thought and it is:
I'm in a fight with someone, and it doesn't feel right, and I shouldn't do what I'm doing (that is exactly: nothing) but I seem unable to do anything about it, ie, correct it, set it upright, and in this, I feel a great sense of failure. And imperfect-ness and un-inspired-ness and dumb-ass stubborn-ness.
As always, when I get to THIS point in a sitation I also feel completely God-less and unworthy, so we'll call it Sunday night syndrome, I'll trundle off to bed, and deal with the big-life-stuff tomorrow.

My head doesn't seem to have room for it all tonight.

My truth

Thinking alot about blogging, callings, honesty, and the nature of real work this weekend.

I didn't run today.  I didn't want to, I have to admit.
I woke up, groggily, and went back to sleep again. It was cloudy, but it was hot and muggy (when I finally ventured out).  I think I may have been able to convince myself into running if the rain had fell a bit earlier, but as it was, the rain came much later in the day.

I padded around my loft this morning, opening mail, brewing coffee, unloading the dishwasher, and just doing some minor clean-up.  Laundry, sweeping, straightening up.

After I walked to the St. Lawrence Market late yesterday (still blazingly hot) and roasted tomatoes, cooked chicken, stirred a risotto to completeness (I like to cook alot of things on Saturday and eat them in the beginning of the week--lots of effort on weekends means minimal effort on weeknights).
Once I ate dinner I lazed about on the couch, flipping through Rogers on Demand, settling on the movie (American) version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".  I hit play, and while I watched I did my nails.
It was a long movie, but somehow I managed to keep my attention focussed, and watch it to the end.
Bed followed soon after, where I read a New Yorker for a while and talked to Mike before falling asleep before 11.

So. Blog thoughts, writing thoughts, where I can go to be honest, and work.
I have some work to do on my computer tonight, work-work, should I choose to get it done and out of the way before Monday morning.
In terms of writing thoughts, I'm thinking about returning to journal format for my writing.
Lately, (I'm not sure if this is the result of a conflict that occurred yesterday, about this blog, between a friend of mine and myself) but I feel the need for real, searing honesty, not mean honesty, but MY truth, and part of the double-edged sword of the internet is, yes, this blog is for me, ultimately, it's my writing practice, the same way each run is a running practice, for me, but it doesn't exist in a vacuum.
It's online, live, read-able, it can be critiqued, commented on, fumed about, and dissected.
Truthfully, the evaluation (of anything in life, really) pisses me off. Isn't it enough that I'm brave enough to put it out there? To explore the parts of myself (and how others affect those parts, and how I affect them) that I want to alter, work on, renovate? We all have parts of ourselves we wish we could vanquish. I know that I can be way too over-sensitive about things. I've gotten alot better at holding conversations about this with myself in my head rather than taking it out on someone else.
And isn't this what growth is? Looking at yourself, finding some things that you lack (me: patience, calm, compassion) and then applying this personal growth to your own psyche? As the saying  goes, the only behaviour we can control is our own. I don't always succeed in total control. But I am working on it.

I revised a blog entry recently. It didn't feel good to revise it. I didn't expect to feel victimized (I don't really 'do' victim--I try to own my actions, good or bad, and not transfer blame when I've made a mistake).  I revised it for a number of reasons, one being that fundamentally, this blog is by me, about me, created by me, and really, others can't really play much of a role. As I was reminded (this bugs me alot, though), they don't want to be part of this blog. Or they do, just only when it paints a flattering picture. Which I understand. And somewhat stubbornly, I have to respect. After all, if someone feels victimized, then I don't want to be the cause of that.

So.  The fawn-lark journal is looking inviting. As is possibly starting a blog that is invitation only. After all, I know for the most part who is reading, who wants to read, and who can handle my truth.
A few months ago I wrote something I called "The Unblog Post" and emailed it to several curious friends, who had heard me talk about it in passing, and wanted desperately to read it. I obliged. It's not a post that will ever show up here on my blog, (regrettably, it's one of my favourites) but I can't let this truth unfurl here. I guess it, much like my recent revised entry, is where my writing is going.
Deeper, more focussed, and sometimes, that ruffles feathers.
Come to think of it, I've never grown to love any sort of writing that is pasturized, toned-down, vanilla'ed.  Those are not the type of books I remember either. The books I remember, that I want to re-read and hold on to feature truth. Truth that is not dressed up, prettied, and tied with a bow.

And sometimes, as much as we wish it didn't: the truth hurts.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Routine revised

I'm here, up before 8:30 am on a Saturday morning, in an effort to get a jump on the heat of today so I can possibly fit a run in.
I don't know how long it will be, I don't know how far I'll go, I don't know how fast (or slow) I will run, but I do know one thing:
I'll probably enjoy it a whole hell of alot more if I don't pack all those lofty expectations on to it.

Last night when I went to bed, read the current Madeleine L'Engle book I'm slogging through "A Circle of Quiet".

After I finished reading a few pages, I turned my thoughts to the nature of competition and why some need to feed on it so greedily, and how observant I've become in the last few years watching people clamber and climb to some mythical 'top' only to be no happier, no more satisfied, no more at peace.  It's another reminder to love running for running. To love anything we love just for the sake of it.

I know the saying "joy's in the journey" is an oldie-but-goodie, and I know I'm not quite phrasing it right, but it's true. Learning to run, picking up running again, coming around sideways to enjoyment, involvement in something, that's been the joy for me. The fun. The play.

I do this with work too.  Commit to a project, a job, and work my heart out in making this customer happy, or solving this problem--and I no longer need the big billboard or my own flag proclaiming I'm the best. It's bullsh(t anyway. No one's the best. Or the worst. Well, I guess in sports and in business that's the whole point, but the positions of best and worst are fluid in changing places.

So I'm done feeling sorry for myself on this sunshine-y Saturday morning, one where I get to wake up and ponder Run or no Run? and I can take off any time I want. That in itself is the best.

(footnote: I didn't have the greatest run this morning/afternoon.  Some conflict arose that I couldn't control and it took me a good few kilometres to shake it off.  It was also {still is} blazingly hot out--I just came down from the roof and am getting ready to venture back outside to get some dinner things. Still, I made it out. I ran to the lake, caught up with my mom, made it back, looked at the scenery, ran/walked back along Queen Street East and made a little journey out of it. More later...)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Your Calling

"Your longing is your calling."  --Louise L. Hay

I can't put it into words any better than this.

All I know is that this resonated for me in that part of myself I keep quiet, the part I push down,
the part I sometimes say "shush you're fine where you are" to.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Headache Part 2

Yesterday started out normal, like any other work day.
I glided to work in the car, autopiloting the traffic.
I was hungry, and had a bit of extra commute-time, so I did something I normally never do (one, I never have even a scrap of a second leftover on the commute, thank you Summer, and two, it's a financial and waistline point of pride of mine--I don't buy morning food 'out'. Or eat it at all really. My morning 'food' is coffee. Period).
But I stopped at Tim Horton's. I bought a coffee (large, with milk) and a muffin (chocolate chip, I hate fruit). Took it to the office, still arriving early (for me), sat at my desk, turned my computer on, dealt with emails, and started working on a fine-print contract.
It was a bright Wednesday. Bright outside, the heat on the way up, and bright in my office.
I lowered the blinds. My right eye, the one that paid such a high price from May's terrible headache-episode was weary. And bothered.
The minutes clicked away. I looked at my calendar, musing inwardly about where the results from my June MRI had somehow ended up. After doing some internet-diagnosing of my symptoms again (and raising my blood pressure a few notches) I called my doctor. I've been lazy on following this up. You know, the old adage, no news is good news? Yea, my fall-back.
The nurse-practicioner/receptionist at my doctor's office answered on the third ring (normally you have to leave a message, it's impossible to talk to anyone). I inquired about my MRI results (it had been over ten days, allowing for the July 1st holiday and each weekend). There was a pause while she checked where ever she had to check for this. Nothing. Nothing in yet. I was to call back tomorrow.
This, I'm sure, fuelled whatever neuro-paranoid thoughts I was already having.

My eye. The irritation and blinking increasing. I noticed that I started to feel really really weird.
Like that time in May when I was running....
My thoughts tunnelled. I felt the back of my head, where there were little nudges of pain. Reminders of May. Of my run that seemed to start the whole thing, my trip to emergency, all the inconclusiveness, the three days, writhing, on the couch.
My consciousness, on hold for about the last couple of years, snapped into focus. I called my back-up doctor, the one who will always see me, same day, who is minutes from my office. It was almost lunchtime. I booked an appointment for 3pm. I had a client coming in at 2.  I had another meeting at 3, one I knew I wouldn't make. If I could time the 2pm perfectly, I'd be good.
I did.
I was.
My head pain was still just in the beginning stages, no visual distortion yet. But there was dizziness.
I forced down some lunch, knowing that skipping a meal would multiply things. Well, not knowing really--but feeling. Much more important.
Doctor's office. Mild panic. My expression of such to him. He was sympathetic, but did inject the knowledge of the power of imagination (in no way was he minimizing my fear of pain, my insight into what might be coming my way...migraine...attack...soon).
He complimented my efforts on retrieving the MRI information, told me to keep on it, and handed me some migraine-med samples. I took them, three boxes of something that could help me.
So far, May to July, nothing's really proven to be a shining ray of hope.

I went back to work, much like that May day when I gathered up files, my coffee cup, work bag, and got myself the hell home. I knew, without reading the monograph, that there would be no way I could drive once I swallowed one of these pills.
I arrive home.
I take out the three packets of samples. I read each monograph, and they are all eerily similar (they all warn that if you are taking one of the others, to never take theirs at the same time). Had I been a virgin-migraine sufferer (if I am a veteran now, if that is, in fact, what this condition is) I would have been too scared to take such a pill.  Having already experienced a pain so severe I can't call it up in memory, I took what I imagined, after my reading, to be the least offensive of the three types of pills.
I had alot of water. I lay down on the couch.
And I woke up two hours later. It was still light out, still day (dusk. Late day. What have you).
I was not writhing on the couch. I was calmly lying there, without pain.
I got up, put my pajamas on, and did all the bedtime-readiness stuff--clean skin, teeth, etc.
I made a quick pasta dinner, some leftover mushrooms, a few handfuls of fresh spinach, whole wheat linguine--it only took about thirty minutes. I knew, again, that not eating might be really bad.
I managed a small bowl, paired with more water, and was in bed reading, by 10 pm.
Next day:
I get up for work, early. I have another big meeting today (which my boss called about last night--no pressure, even in my weakened state--business keeps going). I make it in no time, a hideously bright day again (no clouds for months in this state I'm in) but I'm okay. My eye is bothered but I'm okay.
The back of my head is tender, but I'm not in pain. The tenderness makes me think my body had a whole other plan in mind for me over the next few days. The thought of this scares me.

I participate in the meeting, confidently, consciously, constructively.
While I'm in the boardroom (two-plus hours) my doctor's office calls. Thankfully, they leave a message on my work voicemail.
The MRI is negative.
This is the first message I listen to coming out of my long meeting. I don't have alot of time to digest, I have to run samples to another client, ones they've been waiting for, overdue days ago.
The message continues, telling me they are still referring me to a neurologist due to the force and residual face-eye-stuff from my May headache.
Relief. Gratitude.
I cry on the way to dropping off the samples to the client. I stop, complete the exercise, then keep going.
I get gas for my car, do some banking. Every step feels lighter, even in the wake of my near-miss headache the day before.  The sun in bright, the green is green, but I feel, for lack of a better, more original term, like I've been given a new lease on life.

I get back to my office and happen to answer the call on my work phone of the neurologist's office, whose secretary has all the charm of a drill sargeant but I'm oddly reassured by this--I want order, I want opinions, I want answers.
Why have I started getting these headaches NOW? And what can I DO?  How do I STOP this?

Looking for answers.
Waiting until my appointment to ask the questions.

Doing the Math

This is a post from one of those new blogs I'm reading that I'm in love with.
It has to do with 'doing the math', which is something that, I'm chagrined to admit, I do all the time--in my head. For a creative person, I do spend an awful lot of time thinking about numbers.


When I read this post by the talented Ms. Rowley, I thought about how often I do this type of thing.

1.  I think about when I was half my father's age, ie, the age he was when I was born:

2.  I think about how old he was when he lost both his parents:

3.  I think about how much time he had left himself, to live, after thirty-three:
thirty years (less time than the thirty-three he'd already lived).

4.  How old I was when he was the age I am now, thirty-eight:

5.  On every piece of work I did last year, from contracts to quotes, to designs to letters, I look at the date and do some quick mental arithmetic (oh that was two months before he died. that was two weeks after).  Appallingly, I realize how, of all the work I did in about a six-month period, starting in March, when the prognosis dropped on us, to about September, when I got back from my first real vacation since it all happened, I don't remember doing any of it. As in, none. It's like someone else did all that work. Same with the banking, government, legalities, and all those other things.
Who was she?
How did she do all that?
I wonder still.

6. How long it's been since he died:
thirteen months, exactly, tomorrow. (thirteen. that number again).

7.  How long it will be before I stop doing this:
maybe there is no number for that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Flight 948

That was the number of my flight home, seat 15A.  I had no seatmate (praise the lawd) and this turned out to be a very good thing--no one wants to sit next to someone who is crying off-and-on for almost ninety minutes.  This was after my airport crying, and after my car-crying, saying good-bye to Mike.
As he vocalized; "Why is it so hard this time?"
A good question.
After all, we're 'used to' good-bye. We're used to 'being apart'.  Not by choice of course,
but by sheer circumstance of our different citizenships, our respective careers, his home, my mortgage, the geography between us, the whole of our lifestyles built up around us.

But it doesn't seem to make the good-byes any easier. They seem to be getting worse.
I return to my cold Toronto home, to my beloved condo, but it's empty when Mike's not here.
I notice how little I want to socialize with anyone.

It's funny. In my twenties and early thirties all I did was work like a dog, I bolted out of the gate, with no inkling that I would burn out fast and that life would intervene and interrupt my quest for career domination.
At the time, I rationalized that since I seemed to have zero control over my romantic life (what little I had) I had to work on controlling the things I could, which for me, meant my career and investing in Toronto real estate, and not waiting for a man's help.
Now, I waffle back and forth between a frenzied city and an easy forest-meets-sea, and I am dumbfounded about how all my planning has brought me to this. This meaning the love of my life (Mike, of course), and our separated lives. How perfect it is when we are together, how we make it work even when we're not in the same place.

It goes like this; work, commute, my mom, my sister, my niece and nephew, my friends, my running, cooking, reading, this blog. It all adds up to a full life, but the missing piece pulls at me.

Earlier in my adult life, I had the missing piece of someone to love me--where WAS this person?
I remember crying to my boss after a disastrous trip with an ex-boyfriend to an all-inclusive vacation resort saying, Why can't I be married? And her sage answer, her calm answer, her wise answer:
"So many marriages end in divorce."

Too true. And I know that my timeline (late bloomer) was my timeline. I had to get all the crazy out of my system, I had to come to this place, the one I am in with Mike, with my whole heart. And I have, even though it sometimes feels like my heart is at the mercy of a map, of a bunch of kilometres (miles), at the hands of immigration officials for whom Mike and I are a number.

I don't want to leave this post in a whiny-state. I know I am enormously lucky. I reflected about that on the plane ride home--the luck of finding Mike again, of how every compass point of fate seemed so determined to lead me to him. And then I would fall apart once more, in tears, as I watched the clouds roll by the plane, the miniature-looking fields and roads, all zooming by, taking me away from him. I had a fresh wave of tears (NOT nostalgia for my city) as the plane raced toward Toronto, the Etobicoke skyline in dusky view, all my thoughts jumbled, wishing for my journal to record the fresh thoughts on the plane (I'm recycling right now--lately, all my best writing is done in my head, before I fall asleep, or when I'm on a plane or in an airport, without paper or blog-space. Where I have to digest it and not let it out).

It's Tuesday night, this is just throwaway-writing practice, and it's just proof that yes, I made it through a busy work day, I cooked a nice dinner for myself, and I'm really just talking aloud, listening to my own thoughts. 

But they wander back to Maine, incessantly.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gone Fishing (ok running)

I'm in Maine.
I promise pictures tomorrow.
I was out running tonight and there wasn't anywhere to stow my camera.

There are American flags flying from every garrison house (this is a housing style in New England, intriguing) and the beach was packed.

I ran alongside the Atlantic, past beach-bound families with their kids, dogs, and bright umbrellas.
I took my shoes off and finally gave this barefoot thing a try. NOW I get it.  When the sun proved too hot, I took off my running skirt (bikini underneath), stored my shoes, socks, and ipod on the sand, and dove into the ocean.

I'm eating lobster pizza, unloading my bag of goodies from Target, and trying to figure out how I'm going to leave this again and go back home til the end of August.

And then I pour a glass of chardonnay, put my arms around Mike, and push those thoughts right out of my head.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

And then...

Reading leads to writing, and writing leads to more reading, and more writing, and then, more reading.
More curiosity, more fulfilment, more opportunity, more thoughts.
Through blogging, I've met (ok, sometimes only through an email here and there, or a thoughtful comment), some amazingly creative, insightful people who are not, (regrettably) part of my daily life-crew, but who exist, as I describe, in the 'constellation' of my life, there on the sidelines, on the ready.

I was emailing with my friend H. today, who I have (again, regrettably) met only once, for a pre-race lunch in mid-town TO. Her first message to me was through Facebook, she wound her way over to my blog from a mutual friend's sister, and it's title (which grabbed me immediately and still makes me smile) was something along the lines of "I'm not crazy I'm a friend of __________" (insert mutual friend's name here. I read her message and immediately knew two things:
1) that she was, indeed, not crazy
2) that I wanted to be her friend

Thankfully, I was right about these two things and here we are, emailing each other like champs, talking about everything and nothing (when I say "talking" I mean "writing") and somewhere along the way we both discovered running, then realized we loved it, and now here we are.

I love when that kind of thing happens.

I continue to trawl the web (is that the right word?) searching for inspiration, for people who write in ways I admire, for people who have quirks and know that quirks are sometimes the best part.
People who fall down, be it in life, in love, in family, without family, and admit it. People who are genuine about revealing their imperfect lives, people who get sad, and people who have this love, of writing, of reading, or who are just plain trying to understand it, the revolving-door lives we all so uniquely lead, on this revolving-door planet.

So yea, I'm still reading other blogs, and I'm still loving that.
I've learned some lessons, and one is that I don't like (and I never have) confrontation, and that I also don't like (and I never have) dishonesty, so I have stopped reading some of my previous favourite blogs. It feels right. I had a lesson to learn, and it was a bit prickly, but I learned it.

On that note, one of my continued quiet favourites (I say 'quiet' because it feels so safe and calm when I visit this blog, and I get lost in the dreamy, bright images of this talented New York-based writer) is:

And from her blog, I found this little one:

I don't mean little in a diminutive way.  I mean--simple, but powerful. I mean--velvet-hammer-ish.
I started reading entries, and one of the reasons I wanted to list it here is so I can remind myself to return to it. Like Julia's blog, I calm down when I go to this blog. That's a big thing for me. I am not a calm person (I'm working on it. Endlessly. I've been working on calm for over ten years. Seriously).
The author has not posted since March, but I return to check on it periodically so I can savour a new entry.  For now, I just haunt the archives.

I found ths blog:
on noodlesandberries sidebar (Julia Ipsa is there too, noodlesandberries has great taste).
I am just diving into the ivy league blog but I already stumbled upon (no I really did stumble, or was lead, to) a post on her late father. Late from cancer. I zero'ed in immediately. I got calm again (despite this blog being a bright, impressive site).  I like it here too.

A comment on ivy league, one I found insightful and extremely kind, led me to this blog, by a male blogger. I don't read enough blogs by men. Maybe men don't write as many. Maybe I just don't find them. Whatever, I really like this one. And his name's Mike. I trust the name Mike.

And this one, just adding now, as I receive an email notifying me about a new entry:
Love this one.

Okay so...that what the last few days have been about.
Me, writing and reading, and learning the lessons I need to learn, and not reading other things, and generally minding my own business here on this internet.
But I remain:
my curious self.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Eat, Pray, Tuesday

I think I mentioned I went to the library early Friday evening.
I took out "Eat, Pray, Love".
I'm so glad I never bought the book, and I know I might not be being fair when I say I put the book down in 'section two' (not chapters, not parts, some constructed way of dividing up a book into parts that, even as I read the first....'bead' I was weary of).

I just know this; if this book is out there, published, movie'ed, adored by women everywhere (shame on you), I feel good about my future as a writer.
I'm sorry.
I just do. She starts the book off by admitting, defensively, she won't reveal her marital issues. WHY? I ask you? WHY write a book then? Why, though (this is the REAL biggie) get a book published?

It's like that adage "There are no bad dogs, only bad owners." Maybe, just maybe, there are no bad writers, just bad editors, and bad publishers, and the only 'bad' we read are things that were never meant to see the light of the bookstore. Sure, there are lots of 'unreadable' books to each of us, just like we all have individual taste in movies, tv shows, clothes, food, and places. But the fact that this particular book was so immensely popular (with women) and the fact that I never felt compelled, in any way, to pick it up before Friday evening (my defense, I was bored, zapped from the work week, the library was closing, blah blah blah.... doesn't absolve me I know).
But nothing about the book caught me, made me say, woah, hold on a minute here.

So, it's going back to the library.
Just glad I didn't buy the book (or see the movie. Julia Roberts is bad enough as it is, without this script behind her. Ugh. That's another thing I absolutely hate, and I HATE that writers allow it--have their books optioned and made into something unrecognizable).
A favourite of mine, The Time Traveller's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, was made into a substandard movie, woefully miscast (in my head, and the head of the friend who gave me the copy of this book--we had it ALL planned out who was to play who in our movie version).
I managed to put myself to sleep on the plane that showed the movie, so I wouldn't have to have it visually imprint me and upend the visuals I already had after reading the book about ten times.

It's Tuesday night, I'm tired, and I've entitled yet another post with a day of the week in the title.
So sue four days I'll be in Maine and this will all be a dim memory.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Long Weekend

Well, it's nearing its end this long weekend is.
It's late in the day, early in the evening, and as I relax on the couch with a book, I reflect that the same way certain lighting flatters people, it also flatters places, my loft being no exception.
Dusk is its best time. The gray-based green on my dining room and kitchen walls seem to have a patina at dusk, and my ceilings and walls seem to blend into one.
The floors look clean, honey-coloured and muted, and there are none of the sharp angles that bright sunlight can lend to a place during the height of the afternoon.

I had a full 100% Carolyn-day today. I guiltily admit to not leaving the house, not even for the run I had planned (discarded the plan with a few glances at the tv weather station). It was just too hot, too bright, too..everything.

I woke up, with the birds, at 6:30 am. It was bright, then, too. A more ambitious runner would have taken this as a sign to get that coffee brewing and get ready to GO, but this runner was in too much pain. Even last night's heating pad on the back did little to quell my body's insistance that today was going to be a 'day off' and not just from work.
I padded about my apartment for a good ninety minutes upon waking, sipping water, checking emails, looking out the window, longing (guilty again) for clouds, before doing something I never do: go back to bed, not just to read for a bit, but to actually sleep some more. And I did, falling back into sleep within minutes, for another two hours.

I had the type of late-morning dreams that imprint you for the day. Really, the last dream was more of a nightmare, but a nightmare with a message.
I was in my childhood home, the one we moved from when I was aged fifteen, so, yes, twenty-three years ago, but there it was in my subconscious, brilliantly detailed as ever, the stacked town that it was, the many steps, inside and out.
I was there with my parents, me, the age I am now, them, the age they were when we lived there (just a bit older than I am now). Something outside was threatening to the three of us. Something outside, an unseen, but rather felt, menace. In the dream, I called 9-1-1, to be connected with an extremely unsympathetic operator who, as I realized during the course of the call, was going to be of no help to me or my parents whatsoever. I was powerless to stop what was happening outside. I warned my parents, who were downstairs in what was, when we lived in this house, our family room, not to come up. It was dangerous. My father came upstairs, armed with a knife, (I have no idea where he found this knife), and motioned to me he would take care of things outside.
I woke up before this part of the dream-nightmare progressed, as somehow, we always seem to.
The dream stayed with me as I awoke, and I turned its meaning over and over in my head, and two things came to me;
One, I felt as I always do when I dream of my dad, that he just wanted to pay a little visit, say hello, and if my dream storyline is less than stellar, well, who is he to re-write it?
Two, he was hell-bent in the dream (my dream) to protect his family despite the fact that a) it was a dream, and b) he's dead.
That part of my subconscious, I reason, the part that lets me return so vividly to my childhood home, still allows me to also revisit that part of ourselves that believes, (we have to) that our parents will always be there to protect us from the dangers of the outside world. That they will never leave us to fend for ourselves. Which, of course, we reasonably know is not true, but as I mentioned one of my friends said a few weeks back, we can't conceptualize this shift.  When a parent dies, that is. It's imaginable, but not considered. It's just a concept, a remote one, as all of these types of thoughts are.
So, there, in my dream, in the safe stacked townhome of my childhood, my father continues to take care of things and I am able to relax and somehow be kept safe.

These thoughts, while comforting, are also extremely weighty. Today, when I called my mother on the phone, she picked up the receiver and paused before speaking, something my father always, habitually did, and I had, for one split-second, the thought that I was about to hear his voice, distinct and remembered, but it was not to be. Of course, not a logical thought, but my mind crossed over to dream-territory where anything was possible. My mother said "Hello?" and I cleared my mind and made no mention of my whimsical world.

So yes, that's the end of the weekend for me, in a nutshell.
The things I haven't done today far outweigh the things I did, or should have, or wanted to.
A full moon looms tomorrow, giving reason for alot of the strife surrounding the week that just passed.
My short sojourn to Maine also awaits, giving me some buoyancy and defense for the coming week that might hold  more moon-weirdness, hot-weather-oddness, storm-bringing chaos, and then, my flight touching down, some well-earned calmness. Seeing the face of my husband, the slant of the sand as I run beside the Atlantic, bites of lobster, sips of American chardonnay.

Summer awaits, even if I sat it out today.
Happy (holiday) Monday...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday (Canada Day!) Run

I ran with my sister today. That is to say, she pushed me well into the territory of the nine-minute mile that has proved so elusive to me the last nine months or so.
Meaning: I charted our course for a swell 16 km/10 mile run starting at 10 am this morning, before (not by much) the heat would reach its zenith.  And we did the lakefront trail so we had a great break from the hell of the concrete/hot air/people/noise while we ran.

Let this be said: She smoked me.

I hit the wall at mile eight. (Mike reminds me that mile eight is not wall-hitting, mile eight is a run well-done, but ...but..I'll explain).

I brought a water bottle, which we shared, although my sister, the camel, didn't seem to need much.

When we ran single-file along Queen St. on the way to Kew Beach, I admired her stride, not duck-footed like mine (I am duck-footed. I'm working on it, but my shoes are done-done-done, and I need new shoes to really work). 
Into mile one, cruising along, we were running side-by-side, and we caught each others' eye.
We switched off our ipods.
Her: "Your right foot bothering you?"
Me: nodding.
Her: "Yep. I could tell. What's wrong with it?"
Me: "Turf toe. Hard to explain".
Her: "Your stride is weird right now".
Me: nodding.
We switched our music back on.

The run was a good one, make no mistake. My sister pushed me, and not in a bad way. But walking two humiliating miles home (my sister "I just want to sprint home", me, "Go, godspeed" in my head "WHAT!!")  was not in my game plan today. It occurred to me that my sister could run that half tomorrow, without alot of fuss or muss. I, however, will need the next four-odd months to continue to train, refine my body, lose the last of the winter-weight, and generally moan and whine about the fact that when it fundamentally comes down to it, I do not, and will never, possess a classic "runner's body".
Meaning: lean. Meaning that, when it counts (and in running, everything counts), I can't always pull it out of my hat.
My back absolutely screamed today. My feet were okay (except for the grumbles about new shoes, can't blame them for that). Arriving back at my three-storey-walk-up loft the first flight of steps was agony. I quickened the pace after that because I needed water so badly.
But here I am, post-run, wanting to do it all again tomorrow.
Yes, that's how crazy I am.
I think about my friend K.'s daughter, training for her first half end-of-August (she's in her early twenties).  About all that time to become better. For me, my entry into the Toronto half marks my first and last year as being classified as a 'young' runner.
Then I think about my friend H., who is about my age, running at amazing times, not taking it too seriously, and just loving the hell out of running.
My other friend K., who I worked with back in the day, a recent running convert, has pictures on her facebook wall that show her with an enviable physique, and she has two little ones (as does my sister).
I keep them all in my mind as I run--as inspiration.
I remind myself, when I get down--on my times, on my own physique (not great this year), that it's the joy of the run. I know it is, I know, I know. I don't force myself out for these insanely long runs, I anticipate them.  They have the power, as that wonderful quote I read says to "lift me out of my life".

So I keep running.
In the heat.
In the morning (instead of lying in bed reading).
In the shade.
On the track.
On the trail. 
On the street.

Not because I have to--because I want to.
Big difference.