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the chronicles.

Holiday madness is upon us once again.

I've been thinking about why it is that A Charlie Brown Christmas is the best Christmas special ever. Just typing the words makes me cry.

Obviously the soundtrack is amazing. Perfect simple arrangements of the classic carols, with a few new songs thrown in. There's also the fact that all of the kids' voices are done by actual little children, as opposed to adults pretending to be children. The drawings are simple yet effective.

And then there's that poor little tree.

I've always been a Charlie Brown kind of person. Always believing that there is hope, and always getting blindsided by disappointment.

When I think of where I was a year ago at this time, I was that little tree, three spindly branches, doomed to be left behind when all of the bigger shinier ones were taken, shedding green needles into the cold snow until there is nothing left. I had never felt lonelier or smaller. Everything seemed to be going wrong, in ways I never imagined. I was so desperate for warmth I ran to the other end of the continent, in search of trade wind warmth that wasn't there. I retreated to my flannel pyjamas and piles of comforters, milk chocolate digestives and mugs of warm milk and kitties and a hot water bottle.

The Garglor was analyzing my reaction to A Charlie Brown Christmas when we watched it the other night. "It's weird, because it's the Jesus part where you were really crying." True, and true that this is weird, for an old atheist like I am. That's what started me thinking.

I don't believe in God, or Jesus, or anything like that. But I think everyone wants to believe in some kind of saviour. Someone to swoop in and make your troubles go away, to hold your hand, to let you cry on his shoulder, someone who will say all of the right things, Someone who will dry you off when you come in out of the rain, wrap you in warm blankets and make you a cup of tea. Someone in whose presence you grow stronger, because he gives you his strength.

The secret, of course, is that you have to be your own saviour. You have to accept that you are your own saviour and no one else's. As long as you expect someone else to save you, you will always be lost. And as long as you spend your time trying to save others, you will never have time to save yourself.

I've learned a lot about strength in the past year. I've learned that I have more than I ever realized, and that a big part of strength is claiming your right to be weak once in a while.

I think the reason I cry when Linus is talking about the birth of the saviour is because I know it's something that will never happen.

The good thing about learning to take care of yourself is that it makes you the kind of person that other good, caring people are attracted to. For a long time, I thought I was the kind of girl who was doomed to only attract freaks and weirdos. The desperados who saw my weakness and my need to justify my existence by helping others saw me as an easy mark. Just when I was at my weakness, when I most needed a saviour, I found the opposite.

But I'm stronger now. And with strength comes happiness, and with happiness comes happy people. People who are good inside and out. The Garglor is obviously right up near the top of the list.

Not that I am superwoman or anything. Some days I need saving, and some days he does. And we have the strength to be there for each other.

rant updated 19 december 2003. permalink

A break in hibernation.

Just a week or two ago, I wasn't going out much. I was poised to curl up bearlike in a cave of soft flannel, feather pillows, and mohair blankets, ready to tuck myself in for months of hibernation with a mug of warm milk and a handful of milk chocolate digestives to sustain me.

But perhaps it wasn't hibernation. Perhaps it was just my wee body storing up strength before the social onslaught of the holiday season.

I shan't provide too many details here, especially since I've been getting all sorts of hang up calls from my old friend "Blocked Number" and yes, I have reported them to the police). But suffice it to say: busy. In the past week, I've entertained out of town friends, had dinners, a housewarming party, a film party at West, and on and on. And in the days to come, an art party, a birthday party, the opera, the first of what always proves to be too many Christmas parties, and then I'm missing both a bon-voyage and a housewarming to go and visit my parents.

Just typing all of this makes me feel tired.

I think I need a mug of warm milk.

rant updated 27 november 2003. permalink

My Brilliant Career.

Well, people have been clamouring for an update, so here it is.

This morning, The Garglor and I were filmed for a segment on Book Television (I'll let y'all know the airdate when it's in the can). Why us? Why anyone? Why not?

Television is filled with random people these days. Ally Hilfiger? Nick Lachey? It used to be that you had to have some level of credibility to get on the tube. Not so much anymore.

This is largely due to the proliferation of channels. When I was a kid, raised by bears in the wilds of Eastern Ontario, we got two flavours of CBC (English and French) and a few fuzzy others: CTV, TVOntario, and Global (in order of clarity). Now there are approximately 3,476 channels available to digital cable subscribers. Unfortunately, the pool of production cash has not expanded at the same rate. Hence, "Rich Girls" on endless repeat, and series which are little more than compendiums of clips (not that there's anything wrong with that. I love "I Love The Eighties").

The downside is obvious (need I mention the endless variations on the "Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire" theme?), but there is an upside: access.

If Pulic Access cable shows gave a platform and exposure to people who wouldn't have had one otherwise, Digital Cable has taken it to the nth degree. There are a lot of hours to fill, and that means more opportunity for the man on the street to get involved and have his say.

The only problem is the audience is ever more dilute. With so many options competing for eyeballs, very few shows can attract viewers outside of the immediate families of the talent. And what's the point of having your say if nobody's listening?

Posterity, if nothing else. I've already started nagging our segment producer for a dub to show my grandkids.

rant updated 18 november 2003. permalink

There's nothing more lovely than being in love.

It's amazing how easy it is to keep stress at bay, despite long hours at work and not enough free time, when you know that someone loves you.

I was thinking about this a while ago when I skimmed an article in the newspaper about Sting (what ever happened to him? oh well). He made some comment to the effect that it was odd that songwriters continue to write love songs as though love is this great thing, when in actual fact, loves is devastating.

I won't even get into the fact that he's an awful hypocrite when you consider some of the ultra-squishy product he's come out with in middle-age.

My first thought was: how sad. How sad that this guy has reached his fifties without experiencing what real love is like.

We all know what fake love is like. The kind that's really lust mixed with loneliness, maybe a bit of desperation thrown in. I've been there a couple of times, and it can be awfully intense. So intense that it feels like something, something that hasn't been named, or doesn't have a name to match its intensity, so people who've never experienced real love assume: this must be it. This must be love. And yeah, that kind of emotion is more devastating than great.

I remember once, when I was in one of those kinds of relationships, and the talk turned to marriage. The boy in question proposed to me on a number of occasions, and although we were "in love," I wasn't sure if I was ready. I asked a happily married friend: how did you know?

She laughed. She said if you have to ask, this is not the guy. When it's right, you just know.

It's the kind of comment that makes you want to puke. And yet, I think she's right.

For the first time, I'm in a relationship that doesn't give me stomach pains. For the first time, I'm in a relationship where I feel like I can say anything and have nothing to be afraid of. For the first time, I am with someone I can be vulnerable with, without getting hurt. I've never felt this happy or certain with anyone before. It's magical.

Yesterday was our fifth monthaversary. Today, I have five white roses sitting on my desk. I can't stop smiling, and I want to share my happiness with the world. That is what love is. Nothing but pure joy.

rant updated 5 november 2003. permalink

Friendster.

I signed up for Friendster months ago, although I'm still not sure why.

Actually, I can tell you exactly why: because several people emailed me invitations. I didn't know what it was, other than a thing friends of mine described as "addictive." No one told me it was supposed to be a dating service. I kept getting emails from strange people until I finally clued in that I had signed up before I started seeing The Garglor, and thus had listed myself as single. No! Things have been much quieter since I corrected that error.

I have to admit it is somewhat intriguing. Noodling around through the people in my network, I discovered someone in Toronto whose taste in music mirrors mine, and who plays the accordion (and no, it wasn't Heather). When I finally get around to learning the accordion, he could be a useful person to know.

The attraction for singles is obvious: since everyone you encounter on the site is theoretically a friend of a friend, you don't have to worry about strange-guy-you-met-on-the-internet turning out to be some kind of freak. Except that I'm sure there are lots of Friendsters that don't know each other that well. And even if your date really is a good friend of a friend that doesn't guarantee anything. I've been burned by that one more than once.

In any case, as an online dating service Friendster is less freaky-seeming than conventional dating services. Instead of just being random people trolling the bandwidth for someone of an appropriate height weight and income with nothing in common except maybe loneliness and a sense of desperation, Friendster offers a more select group of people you might have met eventually anyway at a house party. It just speeds up the process.

Still, there is always the risk that your Friendster network will expand to include people you would really rather avoid. I looked through the faq a little bit, and there didn't seem to be any way to block another from seeing you. So if a Friendster of mine is also linked to my arch-enemy, there's no stopping the arch-enemy from contacting me. Other than getting the arch-enemy banned if he breaks tos, but that's a little extreme.

But I guess that's the nature of social life: you're not going to like everyone that the people you like like. There is a factor of randomness. There is a synchronicity over which we have no control. And for every unpleasantness, there is a plethora of brilliant surprises, wonderful people you'd never expect to meet and be inspired by.

rant updated 2 november 2003. permalink

Something always goes wrong when things are going right.

Just when everything changes for the better, just when everything is cruising along happily -- happy home, happy roommate, happy job-career, happy dream-career (yes, I'm bragging about my grant again, so sue me), something has to happen to knock the wind out of my sails.

Yes, it's stalker number... three, I guess? I lose count.

The ex I have been carefully ignoring for months called me at work last night. I figured I could hold tight and ignore the phone messages until I moved and he wouldn't have my number anymore. I let my email account fill to overflowing (yes, that's why you can't reach me anymore by clicking the "contact" button at the bottom left) since I have a new one. No phone, no email, no address, no way of reaching me, right?

Someone let the cat out of the bag.

Worse luck, it may have been me.

I have commented before that the only people who read this blog are my relatives. It's an easy way to let people know what's up and keep in touch with a bunch of people at once. Obviously, the stats tell a different tale; I don't have nearly enough relatives to account for all the hits I get. Even if I count every second cousin.

This is a public place. Which is why I tend to not get too personal in here. I've commented on that before. And last week, when I was blathering on about my thrilling new job, I had a pang: was I giving too much away? Maybe I was. I was sorely tempted to log right on and delete this whole stupid site, every last word, for the sake of privacy. But I suppose it's already too late. Besides, wouldn't that mean the terrorists had won? A couple of weeks ago, when I spoke to the police about the ex situation, they said I should try to relax and just keep living normally. So that's what I'm going to do.

Wish me luck.

rant updated 7 october 2003. permalink

Holy pop-culture shock.

I have spent most of my sentient years avoiding pop-culture. Puberty was really the last time I was consciously aware of and involved in that kind of thing. Beforehand it was my parents' tastes and whatever was available in the woods (i.e., the CBC), and after, it was the Sullen Teen Rebel Pose™ followed by a gradual drifting back to what my parents listen to, with a dose of nostalgia-for-my-sullen-teen-years thrown in. I haven't owned a TV in years, and can honestly say I haven't heard most of the pop-tart-of-the-moment ditties that are in endless rotation in the rest of the world.

Until now.

I have gone from my hidey-hole of an apartment and a job in an authentic Victorian compound, to working in pop culture central. It surrounds me every day, from morning till night: we have cable tv in our offices, we're in the shopping core, we live and breathe broadcast, and all that entails (i.e., advertising).

It's weird. I kind of like it.

In fact, I'm really happy where I am.

That shouldn't be too surprising. After all, many many people want to work in this building. There are tours every day, and endless crowds outside peering in the windows. And it is a great place to work. The seemingly endless flow of movie passes, for example, is wonderful. The casual atmosphere. The general air of excitement. When people are happy to be where they are, it shows, and it makes them pleasant to be around. There's creativity in the air, interesting things going on.

And, just to get horribly shallow for a moment, I have to admit I do feel extra cool when onscreen talent or anyone who works for FashionTelevision compliments me on a t-shirt I've had for ten years.

rant updated 29 september 2003. permalink

I'm tired.

For the past two weeks I have been working at not one but two jobs. I'll be frank; neither one involved hard labour, but I'm exhausted. I don't know how people do it who do it all of the time: not being home to eat at normal hours was awful, and it was difficult getting enough sleep. It's tiring to ride across town from job to job and the ride home at the end of the day was draining. And it was frustrating not having time to spend with friends or do housework (especially since I'm not done painting!) But I know people who do do it, and have done it for years.

But even though my jobs are/were not inherently fascinating, there's a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I'm contributing to things I believe in, that my efforts are appreciated by others, that I can go the distance when I need to.

Funny thing: every day, when I parked my bicycle outside job number one, I would see the same panhandlers. The funny sign would change now and then ("Kick a punk for a buck! Ladies half price!"), and there would be occasional personnel changes, but basically the same trio is there day in and day out in one form or another. I've been pinching pennies lately as a result of my summer of freedom, but even if I had something to spare I would have held onto it.

I remember when I lived in Ottawa, realizing that the same person I gave a quarter every day for years was just that: the same person every day for years. He didn't advance. He didn't get off the street. My spare change was not making a difference. But the diligence and persistence I find interesting. If you can manage to get to my office every morning before I do, why can't you get to a real job?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not turning blue or anything. I firmly believe in the value of the social safety net, and I think it's horrifying the way our provincial government has abandoned those most in need in recent years. But in order for it to function, it has to be respected and used for what it is: a last resort.

Part of the problem is that governments have decimated so many programs that people are turning to welfare when there should be other forms of support available. People suffering from mental illness, for example, should be helped with their problems, not simply abandoned to welfare. Struggling parents should recieve childcare supplements, not have to turn to welfare.

But another part of the problem, one that leftists like me tend to ignore, is that there are people who abuse the system. There are employable people who would rather not work.

You know what? I would rather not work. I would rather take all of my summers off and spend my days writing and travelling. But unfortunately I need money to do that.

Some people like to kid themselves that by removing themselves from the rat race, they're being rebels, when really they're dependent on the rat race to survive. And they're weakening the system to the point that it might not be there for people who need it.

Some people like to tell themselves that they're too important to work at a "menial" job. They're too special to work retail, they're too unique to serve coffee.

Some people even tell themselves that they "deserve" support, that the system owes them something.

And the rest of us go to work every day, and work on projects in our spare time, and we are tired, but we know that hard work does get recognized and rewarded, and self-indulgence does not. In the end, it's more satisfying to know you've been productive and made a difference in the world, however small.

rant updated 15 september 2003. permalink

In transition.

That is the term for a neighbourhood like mine.

Officially, it's part of Parkdale. Real estate agents call it "Beaconsfield Village." Some locals call it "The Gallery District." It's best described as "Down Between the Insane Asylum and the Railroad Tracks" (or "D-BIART" if you want to pretend this is New York).

It used to be kinda skanky, still is, a bit, although it's moving towards what people who were sleeping through English 101 like to call "edgy," by which they mean "safe now, but just skanky enough that you can pretend to be avant garde, plus the rents are still on the cheap side."

There have been signs. The Gladstone Hotel renovation was sign number one. It's still pretty grubby, although the new main room is nice. Who knows about the rooms upstairs, though. The Drake turning into a boutique hotel is even more bizarre. There are still plenty of pawnshops and it's a top destination to buy/sell/repair your used appliances, but galleries are plentiful now, too.

But yesterday, the big omen came. Yesterday was the end of an era.

Yesterday, The Elvis closed.

The Elvis Restaurant was the best greasy spoon on the strip. A "licenced establishment" where you could smoke all day while drinking boiled coffee, the breakfast special featured a whopping four eggs (and toast and homefries and coffee and sausage/ham/bacon) for only $3.25. The people-watching was great -- between the customers and the staff (the cook was known to quit and storm out in a huff, only to return an hour later), there was always something going on to keep you entertained if you didn't feel like leafing through a copy of yesterday's Sun. The owners knew everyone who came in, and for the past week a lot of people have been coming in just to say good-bye.

They were always busy whenever I went. Why would such a popular establishment close?

Their lease was up. Landlord wouldn't give them a new one.

Somehow, I don't think it's a coincidence that this would happen a month before the opening of a boutique hotel three doors away. Maybe a restauranteur is interested in the property, or maybe the landlords are just hoping. After all, the chic Beaver café opened up last month next to the Gladstone, and their espresso machine has been humming ever since for a stream of Vuitton-carrying lunching ladies on gallery walks. I'm guessing they can afford more rent than the Elvis, and probably do more for property values. I expect the Elvis will be replaced with a similarly upscale joint.

I have mixed feelings about all of this.

Gentrification can be a good thing. Encouraging people to stay downtown keeps cities healthy, and counteracts urban sprawl (thus saving both arable farmland and reducing smog when people don't have to drive an hour to work). It will be nice to have more places to go for coffee in the neighbourhood, and it will be nice to maybe not have to deal with prostitutes and drug dealers (although they'll just end up on some other street, they won't be in my backyard).

But the next question is: how much longer will I be able to afford to live here? And my neighbours? There are a number of people in my neighbourhood whom I like having close by. There are lots of artists and writers and musicians and filmmakers in the area. Where will we end up if the yuppies move in? How much longer before the galleries are replaced by the Gap?

I guess the usual will happen. We'll all move somewhere cheap, and suddenly the developers will think it's cool and will chase us out again.

rant updated 8 september 2003. permalink

Hello my children.

It's been a long (but not hot) summer. But now it's over -- no more road trips, it's back to work for me -- Labour Day fast approaches, and with it, Labour.

This weekend will be laborious, what with my desperate attempt to get the apartment painted before my new roommate moves in. This is proving to be quite the endeavour, what with the previous tenant having been scion of the Acme Nail Co. fortune. There are nails everywhere. I pull them out and fill the holes and sand the walls and discover yet more nails, camouflaged by shadows on dark forest green (with black trim) walls. Nails slammed blindly into plasterboard to precariously hang pictures. Nails used where screws should be used (where screws are used, there is generally a variety of different styles... some long, some short, some Phillips, some Robertson, and rarely any rawl plugs), nails which I can pull out with my fingers, after which I say a little prayer of thanks that these shelves, inevitably stacked with heavy, breakable things, never fell on my head.

And who paints a room dark forest green? With black trim? Or, for that matter, deep tomato red with black trim? Or deep purply-blue with black trim? Or, most horrifying of all, deep tomato red sharing a wall with deep purply-blue with black trim? I have done numerous coats of primer. It takes a lot to cover up such atrocities. I know exactly how Lady MacBeth felt. Well, sort of.

But lo! It will all be worth it!

I've lived in this apartment for a year-and-a-half now. But it's never really felt like home, never really felt like a place where I live, where I can relax, where I can socialise and cook for friends and do all of the things a home is for. I've felt like a visitor here.

When I settle into my new blue room, it will all be worth it. I can lie in bed, paralysed by muscle aches from my exertion, and gaze upon the smoothness and paleness of my walls, a room filled with sunlight.

There are some kinks to be worked out, of course.

I somehow do not own as many chairs as I thought I did. And when I made the cushions and tablecloth for the patio furniture, it somehow didn't occur to me that my old roommate would take them when he left. Oopsy. Maybe, hopefully, I will be able to find nicer furniture that's the exact same size?

My plants have gotten a bit abused by the whole process. What with furniture moving out and a super-high ladder moving in, they've gotten knocked about a bit. The nicotiana, as tall as I am, is listing dangerously, but still smells rich and gorgeous in the darkness. Some of the sweet peas have succumbed, others thrive. The rose needs pruning, the bleeding heart is withered and yellow.

I am now officially growing dried herbs instead of fresh herbs.

All of this can be fixed. I'm already daydreaming about how lovely next summer will be, with most of the gardeny work already taken care of. And I'm nightdreaming about how soundly I'll sleep in my new blue room.

rant updated 29 august 2003. permalink

On the road!

Okay, now I'm really back. That last "we're back" was true in that Heather and I did make it back to Toronto, but I left town again within twenty-four hours to go a-cottaging. How nice to see the countryside! We never did make it to a Manitoba lake, so it was lovely lovely to lounge on the sand on the shores of the Moira in Madoc. Of course, now I have about fifty mosquito bites, give or take, despite using heaps of deet and citronella. Cross your fingers for no West Nile.

rant updated 15 july 2003. permalink

Well, we're back. Two lovely nights in Chicago, some great shoes, and now we're back in the T-dot. And there was a new addition to the household awaiting my return!

rant updated 11 july 2003. permalink

Yesterday was a long day. After spending Friday visiting with my cousin Maura and Heather's Mom and brother, we ended up at a martini bar (the maple syrup one was not as disgusting as it sounds). So yesterday we slept in, which meant our "day trip" to Saskatchewan got off to a late-ish start.

The prairies are phenomenal. Fields of sweet yellow canola, surprisingly ear-popping valleys, the biggest and bluest sky in the world. We stopped briefly in Neepawa, the lily capital, and then continued westward on fast roads. The speed limit seems much higher out here. I suppose with relatively straight flat roads and nothing to bump into (at least not the huge rocks you see driving through shield country) there's no reason not to drive faster than the earth is spinning, even down country roads with no shoulders but grass and meadow flowers.

Hubbard only has a population of around forty or fifty, but is getting smaller (there were about seven funerals in the past year). The main street through town is still gravelly dirt. The old schoolhouse looks abandoned, but there is still a playground. The old united church also looks abandoned, lost among the tall grass and trees, weathered grey wood like a ghost. There was a wedding going on (the groom was either the mayor or the mayor's brother) but the hall is non-smoking so everyone was outside. We found the oldest-looking guy there and he pointed some things out to me (where Schalme's Pool Hall used to be, where the Hubbard Trading Post used to be, and the old theatre and a few other things) and introduced us to woman who lives in the house where Mum grew up. We got the grand tour! Major changes made to the house include the addition of the bathroom and the deck, and the wall was removed between the two small bedrooms upstairs to make one small bedroom. She had a book of Saskatchewan history and I went through and found pictures of Mum and Uncle George. She also gave me two little books of Hubbard history, in which Mum's name is spelled without an e in the article about the royal visit.

We didn't stay too long as it was getting late and raining and theTavern is closed (I don't think there are any businesses left in town, unless you count the post office and the seniors' social hall - but I'm not really sure if it's still open) and we probably could have hung out at the wedding but that would have been a little odd! I can't believe how small Hubbard is! And that little house, to think there were seven or eight people living there at one time! The current ownerpointed out "original" light fixtures, and I thought, hmm, there was no electricity when Mum was there! And it didn't occur to me until after that the bathroom would have been totally new too, since Mum didn't have running water either. I should have looked around town for the pump; the only thing I know about its location though is that it was a quarter-mile away.nnipeg. Monday was a day of beverages and plans and ideas. This is the summer to relax and run away on a moment's notice, so that is what I've done. Two girls and an accordion and a car, what else do we need?

And what better day to take off down the Trans Canada for a tour of the country than Canada Day? What could be more patriotic than drinking dollar drafts in the Soo (number one pickup line of all time: "Is your daddy a terrorist? Because you're the bomb!")?

We got a later start than intended (under the influence of a gorgeous patio sunshine afternoon and copious beverages, leaving at six a.m. seemed perfectly possible. The next morning, not so much). It was two o'clock when we finally hit the road, zooming up the highway, farther north than I'd yet been in Ontario, past all of my usual cottage country exits on the 69, fueled by black coffee and Tim Hortons.

These are the towns I knew by name but had never seen: Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, Thunder Bay. We saw the Goose, the Moose, Husky the Musky. We ate every kind of raunchy fried greasy food imaginable: french fries, perogies, chips, you name it.

So. Winnipeg. And next: who knows?

rant updated 4 july 2003. permalink

Again I find myself in the country.

A warm breeze blows meadowscents in through an open window. The lawn is a blanket of blackbirds screeching their swingset song. The house is a warren of boxes. I am helping my parents move.

Nothing puts you in touch with mortality like being around people who are tenuously tippytoeing around its edges. My parents are a traffic jam in a narrow hallway, a tragicomic ballet of entangled walkers, metal painted in cheerful colours (green! purple!), plastic wheels bumping and grinding. They bicker, they banter, they exchange one of those looks that says, how did we get here?

Not that they're dying or anything. If I suggested that, Mum would demonstrate her vitality by killing me.

But they are coming face to face with their limitations. Moving into a new apartment building for seniors; the one they were in was too isolated. This from people who used to relish their privacy and space, who used to roam over a hundred acres by foot and by boat. Mum wonders how she'll get to my cousin's wedding this fall. Her feet bear four hundred dollar shoes that look hideous, and she remembers fondly the high heels and pointy toes she used to wear. I look at the two of them, moving slowly, and I think: maybe I should move back to Ottawa? I have to take care of them. I have to take care of my health. I have to think of the future. I have to settle down.

I don't want to, but the time is here.

I've been enjoying unemployment this summer. Once I recovered from post-festival-stress-disorder, I started to relax. I've been lunching with girlfriends every day and shopping and strolling in the sun bumping into friends and going to matinées and lying around on the green grass of the park and loving every lazy minute. But I think this is my last summer. I think this is my last summer to store up dreams of colour just like Leo Leonni's mouse. My last summer to tear around the country having adventures before settling down to the business of real life.

So I'm going to have adventures. I'm going to set aside my cautious nature and really live -- go on every roadtrip I can think of, jump out of an aeroplane, talk to strangers, stay up till dawn, dance on the dew-wet grass in my bare feet and feel the sweet air on my toes. I want to go to Saskatchewan, to my family's first home before it crumbles into a ghosttown memory. I want to go to New York City, to play chicken with the limousines on Fifty-Seventh and wander all over the Lower East Side. I want to see Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon and Los Angeles, every cliff-hanger cliff and movie moment. I want to skinnydip where it isn't safe.

I don't think I'll ever settle down completely. I'm just not a corporate kind of person, not a company man who only wants to make his boss happy, nor a suburban secretary who rides the GO train dreaming of a rich man to take her away from all of this. I hope that I'll be the kind of person who'll drive a hundred miles on an icecream whim until the day I die. But I think the day to grow up a little is fast approaching, so I'd better get as much lazy enjoyment of life and sexy-shoe-wearing in as possible now, before I head to the orthopaedic section.

rant updated 25 june 2003. permalink

I'm back.

Sorry about the disappearing act, although if you were really keen to see what I was up to, I did have an essay in the Globe and Mail, and did do an interview on City TV. It's been quite the hiatus, let me tell you. Nothing like a few seventeen-hour workdays to make a person feel somewhat invincible but really, really tired.

So this weekend I got to relax. Sort of.

In the old theatre-school tradition, I got sick as soon as the festival was over. Being the point of contact for practically everyone (musicians with tech questions, events coordinators with garbage concerns, caterers with no electricity, security guards, the partners who are developing the site, photographers, reviewers, news media, et cetera, et cetera) meant that I was running up and down the romantic brick lined streets of the Distillery from the moment I arrived in the morning till the moment I left the following morning.

And then instead of staying in to rest while doing the follow-up, I was out every night, socialising, strategising with a charity group I do work for, attending the directorial debut of a friend of a friend.

So I wasn't surprised when I got sick. Fever, muscle aches, a dry cough. Chills. Fatigue. Shortness of breath.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Saturday I spent at the SARS assessment clinic.

Spookiness is the number one feature of the SARS clinic. After feverishly fighting my way through traffic (@#$^* Gardiner), I wander into a tent. I am given a mask and instructed to sit in a chair a good two metres from the masked woman who interviews me. Considering I could barely breathe let alone speak, I'm amazed we get through the interview with as little confusion as we do. She asks if I've been to a doctor in the last ten days: I have. Exactly ten days ago, I was injured at work (the infamous cowbell incident) and had to get a tetanus shot. I am guided towards a plastic curtain - Do not touch the plastic! - place my Health Card on a clip board, and watched it slide away. Another attendant confirms my address, asks for my phone number. She puts on fresh gloves to flip my Health Card over, discarding them when she's done.

Next, the Circus tent.

The walls are striped yellow and orange, obscured by their protective plastic covering. Do not touch the plastic! A doctor comes in, asks a few brief questions. It takes him three minutes to leave, due to the complex ritual of double masks and double gloves and double gowns.

A nurse comes in. She takes my blood pressure (a wee bit elevated, but still okay - 114 over 70-something) and pulse (a shocking 82 - normally I'm around 64). Then it's time to take my blood.

She ties my right arm with a tight tourniquet, then futzes about for a bit. "It hurts," I say. "Yes dear," she responds. "Can I have a gown or something?" I ask. "I'm cold." "Later," she says. Eventually she goes for my arm. She doesn't ask me to make a fist or anything; I've given blood a few times, and I know to follow those kinds of orders when given ("Flex. Relax. Just wiggle your fingers."), so I do as told: nothing. "Your hand looks a little blue there," she says. Tired, I just nod. I've had the tourniquet on for a few minutes now. The needle hurts. A lot. I don't like needles, I flinch and cringe, but I'm somewhat used to it. This feels all wrong. I can't keep from crying, it hurts so much. She plays with the needle, fussing. She asks me to hold some sort of phial. I do it eyes closed, not wanting to see. Finally it's over. I apply pressure. She applies a bandage. "You may have a wee black mark there," she says, shaking the lavender-tipped tube and frowning. "I think this is clotted."

After she leaves I change into a gown and go for an x-ray. The make-shift machine (suspected SARS patients aren't allowed into the hospital proper) is difficult to adjust to my height, but manageable. Back in my candy-striped cubicle, another nurse comes in with syringes. "The sample clotted," she says. "Let's try your other arm."

This one knows what she's doing. She asks me to make a fist, and I do. she tells me to relax, and I do. It still hurts, but not as much. I ask if I can get dressed again, and she says I can if I want to, but they may do more tests. She says I will have to wait two hours for the results.

I stare at the artificially cheerful walls of my plastic prison. I can hear them hosing down the next room. At one point, someone slides a turkey-baster-like instrument in through the door, and gives me a few puffs of some sort of strange vapour. There are no explanations. I call a friend, who doesn't recognize my sick masked voice.

I have spoken to countless people in the last ten days. Thousands of people attended the Distillery Jazz Festival. And I dealt with a huge variety of people onsite (when a security guard heard it was my final week, he was so touched he asked for a hug goodbye. So did one of the guys at the coffeeshop). There were easily a thousand people at the opening night party for the Film Festival. I'd gotten a haircut. I'd had meetings. I had been in direct contact with at least three people who were travelling: Melissa was in Ottawa, Philip was in Paris, and Eric was on his way back to Los Angeles.

You really could not pick a worse person to get SARS.

Luckily for the fate of the western world, all I've got to contend with is strep throat. I've finally gotten some rest, and after having been fed jelly and grapefruit juice and soup, and being taught how to gargle by The Garglor, I'm starting to feel a bit better.

My arms are still bruised, though. And my voice is still only a whisper.

rant updated 9 june 2003. permalink

Overwhelmed.

That's the only word for it. I'm missing my solitude. I'm tired of being in the public eye.

No one to blame for it but myself, of course. I was the one to choose to work in publicity. I was the one who submitted an essay to Canada's National Newspaper. I was the one who put my ad for a roommate in a widely-read literary journal.

And I have to confess, as tired as I am, as worn out my cheeks are from smiling on the 'phone (people can hear that smil, you know) and generally being charming for the world at large, I wouldn't do this to myself if there wasn't some part of me that didn't like it. I like talking to the media. I like chatting on the 'phone, smile or no. I like getting fan mail from strangers. And I'm really enjoying the correspondence that has sprung up as a result of my roommate search.

Still, I look forward to having some time to myself. A whole day without plans, how luxurious! Imagine not having to leave the house or answer the 'phone or speak to a single soul! Imagine a day spent liquid lounging in a bubble bath, with only leaf-smelly torpical houseplants for company, maybe a book or two.

(Which reminds me, I still have a review to write for PopMatters, and one for Book Report, and... but I digress.)

No rest for the wicked, they say. Maybe that's why I spend so much time volunteering and doing the good-girl thing: maybe I have a crazy idea lurking at the back of my brain somewhere, that believes that purity will bring me a little r and r. Hmm. I wonder.

rant updated 17 may 2003. permalink

Oh, sister!

It's the twenty-first century. Why do women still insist that women must be docile and domestic?

I've just finished reading ans interview with Carol Shields about the second Dropped Threads anthology, which she edited (along with Marjorie Anderson). She describes herself as an "old feminist" and insists that they tried to create a book that would mirror the diversity of women's lives.

But.

She repeats the old stereotypes about women over and over.

"Women are always protecting each other or themselves or their husbands."

"Women don't write very much about their sexual lives."

"I always like to think of women as sisterly and compatible."

"Women's lives don't have these kinds of dragons or wars -- they have the task of living through 10,000 ordinary days."

Yes, women are all the same, meek and sweet and unwilling to stir up trouble and ever-helpful and lead quiet lives.

I could think of thousands of exceptions to that rule.

Sheilds' statements do a disservice to the millions of women who do slay dragons and fight wars and have personalities and aspirations outside of traditional roles. What abour Roberta Bondar and Courtney Love and Mata Hari and Candace Bushnell and Margaret Winnifred Liggett and Evelyn Lau and Teena Brandon and Karla Homolka and Catherine DeMedici and Xaviera Hollander and Joan of Arc and Leona Helmsley and Kim Deal and every woman who's ever enlisted in an army? Their experiences don't belong in the Dropped Threads universe. Unless maybe they could work their stories from a how-this-affected-my-family-life angle. But women do exist outside of their families. Or at any rate, they should be allowed to.

All of the women's stories Shields describes relate to their babies and their bodies -- she mentions mother/son relationships, infertility and breast cancer as topics. No doubt these are concerns for many women, but they come nowhere near representing the true diversity of women's lives.

It's like the argument that the world would be a nicer place if women ran it. The assumption being that all women are born open-minded caring peaceniks. The obvious example to refute this is Margaret Thatcher. The standard response to that is that Thatcher was mannish and wouldn't have been elected had she fit the feminine mould.

Sounds like a classic example of unsisterly bitchiness to me.

I consider myself a feminist. I believe that women -- and men -- should have the equal right and opportunity to pursue whatever goals they wish. And plenty of women have chosen to slay dragons and fight wars and talk about their sex lives nonstop and stab their "sisters" in the back.

There are women as well who have lived through 10,000 ordinary days, and their experiences are just as valid. Had Shields and Anderson acknowledged that what they wanted was to bring to light the women who lead quiet lives, the non-dragon-slayers who are otherwise overlooked, that would be one thing. But the book is touted as representing "a cross-section of women," and it doesn't.

Women, like men, are human beings, each different, each unique. Trying to pretend all women are alike while claiming to present diversity is irritatingly reductionist. It's a shame, too, since an anthology that truly portrayed the diversity of women's writing would make for a fascinating read.

We're not going to get that from Dropped Threads, though. It might interfere with the editors' narrow world view.

rant updated 28 april 2003. permalink

Pride for a shy country.

My roommate pointed out something very interesting the other day.

When one thinks of the classic characteristics of right-wing and left-wing thought, there are a few ideas that hold true no matter what country you are in. At the top of the list for right-wingers you'll usually find patriotism. My country, right or wrong. No one would dispute that this is the case among right-wing Americans or Brits.

But in Canada, it's the opposite.

In Canada, the left-wingers are the ones saying "we love our country and the things it stands for," while the right-wingers often seem like they'd be happier someplace else. They're busy tearing our national traditions and policies to bits while lionizing other nations. Look at Brian Mulroney, and his fondness for all things Reagan. Look at Ernie Eves, with his pro-America demonstrations. Conrad Black even went so far as to renounce his citizenship in order to buy himself a title and curry favour with the Brits.

How did this happen?

How did we end up with right-wingers with a nationalistic inferiority complex? I mean, I know that self-deprecation is a national hobby, but Canadian conservatives take it to absurd levels.

I makes you stop and think: why are they here? Why don't they move on in search of a better life? There are certainly plenty of educated people the world over who are more than willing to take their place.

But maybe this is their own special way of showing their pride. Maybe, knowing that demure low self-esteem is as Canadian as maple syrup on peameal bacon, they think that pubic displays of self-loathing are an uber-Canuck way of saying, "I'm Canadian, and I'm embarrassed."

Yeah, that must be it.

rant updated 21 april 2003. permalink

The curse strikes again.

I decided to sort of cancel my birthday this year. Make no plans. Discourage anyone who mentioned my birthday from making plans. I avoided answering the when-is-your-birthday question over the past couple of months, in the hopes that everyone would forget.

Why, you ask? I will tell you why.

It's the birthday curse.

Every year, something awful happens on or around my birthday. And not just little awful, big awful. Huge awful. Unbearable awful.

There was the birthday I spent clearing fallen trees after the ice-storm that decimated forests across eastern Ontario. That was fun. There was the birthday I spent nursing a wake-induced hangover after Greg died. There was the birthday I spent at the hospital with my mum -- she'd had a stroke. Last year dad had surgery for NPH around this time. This year, it appears it was his turn to have a stroke. We'll know more after his ct-scan tomorrow.

I guess my precautions didn't work.

So, how does one go about removing a curse? What is the magic word? Is there a spell I can perform? Do I rub my birthday with a potato and then bury that potato under a full moon? Do I need to bathe the feet of a fortune teller? Because I'd do it. No, really. I so would.

I mean, it has gone past the realm of funny coincidences or a run of bad luck. We're talking about serious occurrences with serious fallout. Things that have a negative effect on a large number of people. Things that can't be undone.

Really, I'm beginning to think it's dangerous to be related to me. I'm a menace to society, or at least to the company I keep. If I were to get married, would I have to worry every year? Would it become my duty to file for divorce on the thirty-first of March every year, just to spare my poor husband certain death and dismemberment? What if I have kids someday, what would I do about them, that wouldn't just traumatize them further?

You see my dilemma here.

Nothing I can do beyond crossing my fingers, as far as I can see. Or maybe hiding a portrait of myself in an attic somewhere, and never getting a year older ever again. If you have any ideas, let me know.

rant updated 14 april 2003. permalink

The news for today.

So, after a month of complaining to Bell Canada about their Call Privacy feature not working (and they signed me up for their e-junk-mail without my permission, grr), they finally admitted that it would never work. So. I'll do my best to alert all of my nearest and dearest of the new number, but if you call and get "This number is not in service," just email me and I'll clue you in.

Note to the stalker: I'm not giving it to you, stupid. You can rot for all I care.

This kind of behaviour is something I will never understand.

Why do this? Why make someone who already dislikes you like you even less? What do you have to gain? Nothing. The only outcome is losing. Everybody loses. Especially the loser who won't stop calling.

So, a bit of inconvenience for me, yet again. But that's okay, because I'm used to dealing with stress. I'm sick of dealing with stress, but I'm used to it. It's pretty much standard procedure.

So here's to Call Display. Here's to Call Answer. And here's to Call Trace if need be.

rant updated 7 april 2003. permalink

Okay, so I did it.

So I watched the Oscars last night. Until last year, it had been a decade since I'd watched them, and now I've seen them two years in a row. It all comes down to getting invited to the right party, I suppose. This year, a friend was hosting an Oscar-watching party, with ballots to fill out and tasty snax and yummy Macallan to drink.

We mulled the choices on the page. Who has seen these films? Neither you nor I. But we guess anyway, voting for Spiderman for visual effects ("because I liked the cartoon as a child") and for Chubb Chubb for animated short (because it sounded like the funniest one). Judging films we'd never seen and had no interest in seeing -- a pointless exercise?

But last night's Oscars were worth watching. Just for the suspense. Who would say what? And when? It seemed like ages passed with no one saying anything, with the troubles in the mideast wandering the aisles like a white elephant look for its seat, and no one paying attention.

Steve Martin made a few wry comments. And then we waited. The speeches all seemed relatively short. Still we waited. Finally a comment from an actor known only as "that Y Tu Mama guy" made a comment, that "if she were here today" Frida Kahlo would be against the war, as he introduced a song from the biopic.

A hush fell over the room as Best Documentary was introduced. Would it be Bowling for Columbine? Michael Moore would certainly have something to say if he got up there. And miraculously, he did. And brought the other nominees with him. And spoke against the war, hollered against the war when the get-off-the-stage music got too loud. The audience of stars and seat-warmers cheered and booed. Our gang cheered and hollered and pumped the air.

It seemed as though the ranks of presenters and performers was stacked with outspoken people, sure to have comments to make, but who said nothing. Bono didn't say a word in his musical performance. Susan Sarandon flashed a peace sign but otherwise read her lines -- they'd given her the job of introducing the dead past winners, it would have been unseemly for her to hijack a memorial for political ends. Barbra Streisand similarly said nothing.

The hero of the evening, in more ways than one, turned out to be Adrien Brody. No one thought he would win best actor, although people who've seen the pianist agree that he certainly deserved it. Not only did he accept his award with refreshingly honest enthousiasm, he was eloquent and impassioned when he spoke about the war, with a voice filled with hope that no one could shout down. The Orchestra of Doom tried to cut him off too, but he wouldn't have it. He was Best Actor, damnit, and he was going to say his piece.

There were lots of unexpected winners, and losers. Everyone thought Julianne Moore would get Best Supporting, but she got nothing. Daniel Day Lewis was supposed to be a shoo-in, and U2 was pegged to win best song for "The Hands That Built America." I thought it would win for the title alone. And no one thought Roman Polanski would win Best Director. This year it was supposed to be Marty's turn.

For all the surprises, the awards seemed anemic. Thin. Chopped off at the knees. No one wanted to appear to be enjoying himself, because of the war, but no one wanted to mention the war. It lingered in the background like the uninvited guest who hogs all of the canapes, just won't leave the buffet table alone, and everyone is starving but no one wants to say anything and appear rude.

Someone pointed out that the Oscars used up their share of goodwill last year. No one has the stamina to pull off Oscar Under Seige two years in a row. It will be interesting to see what the fallout is, and what next year's Oscars will be.

rant updated 24 march 2003. permalink

Has spring sprung?

A week ago it was cold and wintry. But finally, finally, the world is waking up.

This weekend, the temperature soared to a dozen degrees above zero, and the skies glowed with extra blueness. Even though I had a late night Thursday and a late night Friday, I awoke early on Saturday to enjoy the sun. Eggs and bacon and lovely spring greens for brekkie with the newspaper, and a long walk along my street. I think everyone in the city had the same idea. The streets were packed. I bumped into tons of people I know, reminding me how much Toronto is like a friendly small town in a lot of ways. The shopkeepers are friendly and helpful, happy to chat. I fixed up my bicycle with a snazzy new quick-release wicker basket. I picked up a CD, a wee handbag, some luscious treats for the bath scented with ginseng and macadamia.

Just being able to be outside and soak in the solar warmth is energizing. I feel like a sugar maple, sweet energy rushing to fill my veins after a winter of hibernation. I feel creative, restless, loving, alive.

Saturday night I had a barbeque, slipping on my treacherously icy deck, but determined to prove that winter is over, in my world, at any rate. Sunday I woke with the sun, with a pot of coffee and the Sunday New York Times, and started thinking about gardening. What to plant on the rooftop deck that won't get burnt by the sun? I bought seeds, anything white that promised to blossom in the sun and smell gorgeous. Sweet peas, poppies, snapdragons, moon flowers. I rushed home to start planting, but my gardening tools are frozen in the snow. Hopefully today they will have melted free. I hooked up with friends, listened to lovely harmonies, and ended the day with a candlelight vigil, a testament to the optimism of the season. As we stood under a full moon, the glow of two hundred candles and voices softly raised made it seem as though the weather had turned just for us, just so we could have a moment to appreciate the beauty of the world we live in, to turn our faces to the stars in the dark, clear sky, and smile, just for a moment.

Just for a moment, the world seemed like a good place to be. Summer is full of hope and heat. Something unbreakably good, like standing on the threshold of an aeroplane, ready to soar.

Waking up this morning and hearing the news was jarring and scary. It just seems so foolish, so at odds with reality. So foolish, when the world is so beautiful, to risk throwing that away chasing demons and vendettas.

Maybe I didn't wake up this morning. That's what I keep hoping. Maybe the radio reports were just part of a dream, the kind of dream you are sure is real until it occurs to you that it makes no sense.

That's what I'm hoping. That's what I'm hoping.

rant updated 17 march 2003. permalink

The Wintertime Blues

Oh, my poor wee head.

I should be lucky, I suppose, that I managed to get this far without getting felled by the traditional winter flu. But this winter has been too long, too cold. it had to happen eventually.

The crumbiest thing about the flu is that it doesn't feel whine-worthy. everyone gets sick in winter. We're supposed to be used to it.

But that doesn't make my head feel any better.

My head feels overfull. My eyes can barely stay open. Breathing is not so easy. And my back aches. I need a massage. Two massages. A cranial massage, and a full body massage.

So, this past weekend, I cancelled all of my plans. I dragged myself as far as the grocery store, for the necessary provisions (fresh fruit and fresh flowers). Other than that, I slept late. I spent days in bed, curled up in my flannel jammies with a hot water bottle and a pot of sleepytime tea, drinking lots of juice and eating fresh strawberries (full of vitamin c!) and doing various crossword puzzles. I made some chicken soup, and the house smelled wonderfully warm and cosy. I listened to the radio. I spent hours in a bubble bath, reading. On Sunday I awoke to a vase of white tulips, and ventured just far enough out onto the porch to retrieve the New York Times, and spent the rest of the day reading, napping, sipping soup and tea, and otherwise doing not much.

On Monday, a friend asked me: How was your weekend?

I responded: Crumby. I got sick and cancelled all my plans, and spent the weekend doing nothing.

And then I realized: it wasn't crumby at all. Being lazy and pampering myself was actually kind of nice.

rant updated 11 march 2003. permalink

The Unbelievable Truth

I am an introvert.

You are shocked, I can tell. How can I be an introvert? I, who am so insanely sociable, and not shy in the least?

Well, as Jonathan Rauch explains, "Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say 'Hell is other people at breakfast.' Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring."

This is it in a nutshell. I love other people, love them dearly, love meeting new people and talking to people, but I also treasure my time alone. If I don't have space to myself, I crumble, I get cranky. Time alone is like sleep. We don't know why we need it, exactly, just that we do. Desperately. Or else.

Some people don't get this. Extraverts, for example. Extraverts say, Why do you need time alone? Why can't you share that with me? They are clearly missing the point.

The problem is that with introverts stereotyped as social lepers, people don't expect introvert tendencies in a butterfly like me. They are surprised by the need for downtime. Surprised and confused. It's part of a general tendency of human beings to view themselves as multi-faceted, and everyone else as two-dimensional. Everyone does it to some extent (myself included, I am not letting myself off this hook). They are shocked to see how others react. You can imagine them saying: "But you're the [fill-in-the-blank: happy, or strong, or what-have-you] person! You're supposed to be [fill-in-the-blank] all the time, stressed or not!"

Of course, life isn't like that. Everyone has weird inexpressible needs that often seem incomprehensible or contradictory to the world at large. Sometimes, when I say I'm busy, "busy" is defined as "taking a bubble bath and finishing the crossword from last week's NYT Sunday magazine." And I give you the right to do the same.

So: I'm coming out as an introvert. Why yes, I'd love to go to your dinner party/theatre premiere/fundraiser. Just not every night of the week.

rant updated 25 february 2003. permalink

Where does the time go?

All my great ambitions of keeping up with this promptly every Monday morning seem to have fallen by the wayside. It's been a rough month.

Actually, it's been a rough six years.

And typically for me, I cope by throwing myself into four hundred things I don't have the energy to keep up with, whether it's work (fun, fulfilling, but you try scheduling eighty different acts into a week and a half, it's not an easy task!), play (literally, even, I've been to the theatre twice in the last week or two, in addition to movies and dinners and - and - ), and my own little projects (on the to do list: finish novel, finish screenplay, etc., etc... at least I got my magazine articles done in time [barely]).

What can I say. I find it hard to say no.

There are so many wonderful things to do in this town. PEN event next Friday? I'm there! CFC event on Thursday? I'm there! And there's also a screening at York I want to go to Wednesday, and I haven't seen my friend Dave in an age, and... well, you can see how it goes.

How many times have I promised myself that I'd stay in at least two weeknights every week? It never turns out that way, somehow.

And I know, I know. I've said it all before. This isn't the first rant where I've acknowledged keeping busy (too busy) as a way to avoid the big scary problems I don't want to face.

But it's hard, you know?

One thing I've learned from the shake-ups in the last two weeks: I have some really amazing friends. Friends who just automatically sense when something is wrong and mail me chocolate bars. Friends who lure me into their homes with home-cooked meals. Friends who let me cry on their shoulders at all hours of the night. Friends who put up with my flakiness. Who call to check in, just to see if I'm okay.

I think I'm okay. We'll see.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got things to do.

rant updated 21 february 2003. permalink

Spring is just around the corner.

February begins with a flurry of activity.

This happens every year. I've grown to expect it. December is angst, January is doldrums, February is cabin fever and spring fever and a million this all at once. It's a burst of creativity exploding after a winter of discontent. Everything that has been trapped under the ice expands and explodes and breaks free.

I'm doing so many different things right now it's crazy. Finishing my novel. Finishing a screenplay. Working on a friend's script. Writing proposals, articles, short stories. And organizing a music festival.

Funny thing is, instead of feeling worn out, I feel energized. We all have our cycles, and this is mine. Fanuary is a time to hibernate, February is a time for action. I feel like I could run a mile or write a thesis or save a life. It's good. It's exciting. I'm pregnant with thoughts and ideas and plans and excited about the new lives that these ideas will become, excited about naming them and watching them grow from thoughts into reality.

The weather is warming and winter melts. The world is waking up again to light and moisture and warmth and all of the wonderful things that flourish and nourish growth. This is the moment we wait for in the frozen north, the moment when it becomes clear that yes, this too shall pass, that yes, the worst is over, that yes, that yes, yes, yes!

rant updated 1 february 2003. permalink

Everything happens for a reason.

And everything happens when it's supposed to.

My car is coincidentally fixed and ready for me to drive home from Lindsay the day before I start the fabulous new job which will prevent me from visiting here so regularly. My missing cell phone charger and laptop cord have magically reappeared. Everything is falling into place.

Maybe this is just a little lie I tell myself to get through the various tragedies which have piled up around me over the past few months (or years, really). Even if that is the case, I don't mind. It works. It keeps me from losing my head. Because, really, I should have lost my head ages ago. When Greg died. When I moved home for three months to look after my ailing parents. Through any of the crazy heartbreaks and mad adventures I have lived through, the crazy crises and scandals and everything else. Everything happens for a reason. What seems awful puts you in a place where you'll bump into a long-lost friend, or discover a great opportunity to pursue.

That's the key. Not to simply rely on fate to bring you effortless success, but to say, This has happened for a reason. It's up to me to find out what that reason is, and figure out the correct response. If fate hands you an opportunity, it's up to you to pursue it. If fate throws evil temptations your way, it's up to you to resist them.

Believing in fate is not a way to evade responsibility for one's mishaps and mistakes. It's an inspiration to be calm and grounded when the world seems to be spinning out of control.

Everything happens for a reason. We just don't know what it is yet.

rant updated 27 january 2003. permalink

The water wagon.

I decided to take a month off from drinking. Just because I can.

There are a number of reasons. It's resolution time. My roommate is taking a break from drinking. I think I drank January's allotment of alcohol over the hols, and my liver needs a break. But mostly it's because I got home a couple of weeks ago after a really rough day, and thought, "I need a drink." And I didn't like that thought. It's one thing to want a cocktail at the end of the day. But nobody needs alcohol. You need clean air to breathe, you need a roof over your head, you need coffee. But you don't need alcohol. Or at any rate, you shouldn't.

So I'm taking a break. It's kind of interesting.

I don't normally drink a lot. People don't like that. Oh, you're not drinking? Can I still cook with wine? No. I like to drive places specifically so I have a tangible excuse not to drink, but even that doesn't satisfy some people. This conversation has happened too many times:

"Have another drink."
"No thanks, I'm driving."
"Oh, c'mon, you can have one more."

Gee, haven't we all learned by now (politicians notwithstanding) that drinking and driving is an absolute no-no? And you know the people encouraging me to drink and drive are going to ask for a lift at the end of the night.

What it comes down to is embarrassment.

Last night I was at a great party (featuring an amazing trio playing AfroCubop in the living room). My first party completely dry since... oh, I dunno, grade eight? It was an interesting experience. I had a glass of water in my hand at all times, so no one would think I was drinkless and try to rectify the situation. I had a blast. But there were a few people there who were definitely over the limit. Dancing in a strange arrhythmiatic way that put the lives of those around them at risk. Weaving while pouring another mojito, so that half the rum ended up on the kitchen floor (a good thing, perhaps). No wonder drinkers like to make sure everyone is keeping pace. Who wants a sober person to see you like that?

Who wants to be like that?

I'm not quitting forever. A friend has a birthday on the 31 January, so I'll be off the water-wagon a few hours before the official deadline. Taking a break from it has given me a chance to see what the effects of alcohol really are. It's up to me to choose if that's what I want to be.

rant updated 19 january 2003. permalink

So.

First I misplaced the cord from my laptop, now I've mislaid my (precious!) diary.

Perhaps the fates are trying to tell me something?

Perhaps my wordiness has become an addiction that needs to be stopped? Perhaps the time has come to stop overanalysing everything to death? Perhaps I need to take a break from typing, taking notes, and otherwise writing out my life instead of just living it in real time?

In which case, what am I doing here? Online, updating a webpage? Yet another form of verbal communication and analysis, for construction and deconstruction in perpetuity?

Because really, isn't it all just an attempt to control the world around me? To wrest meaning from the meaningless, to edit events into a shape I find more palatable?

Time for a time-out.

As of right now, no more typing, writing, scribbling, emailing, or otherwise communicating in a permanently-committed-to-paper-or-pixels fashion. For, well, for the weekend at any rate, if not longer, none of this. No updates. Any brilliant ideas I may have will from here on in be lost to the sands of time. I cast my words upon the wind, relinquish ownership, let them land where they may.

For now, I'll live in the now. I'll forget things. I'll wonder. I'll listen to what people say without letting thoughts like "... he mumbled vehemently..." intrude and turn life into a narrative of my own creation. For now, I'll just let it all go. No rewrites. Live to air.

Yeah, like that'll last.

rant updated 10 january 2003. permalink

News from the Front.

Well, let me start by saying no one was hurt. That's the main thing right? "At least no one was hurt!" How many times have I heard that in the last few days?

But Adam was hurt. Adam was hurt badly. Adam, named onomatapoetically for his licence plate, was hurt badly in Saturday morning's accident. All those who knew him mourn. Those that Adam visited in such far-flung locales as Chicago, Youngstown, Fenton, Alligator Point, Atlanta, Athens, New York and of course Philadelphia. All those who were ferried to and fro various cottages and cabins across Ontario. All those who procured furninshings brought home within Adam's more-spacious-than-you-might-expect interior. Adam took people to visit their long-distance sweethearts, to visit elderly relatives and new-born babies. Adam even taght people how to drive.

We hope Adam will recover. Adam is irreplaceable, especially since they don't make Tercels anymore. The Tercel was replaced by the Echo, a crumby and not very comfortable vehicle. We ask you to cross your fingers, toes and eyes for Adam's recovery.

Flowers and cards may be sent to Moyne's Ford and Autobody Repair at the intersection of Highways 35 and 7.

rant updated 7 january 2003. permalink

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