Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Another night, and instead of sleeping, I turn the light back on and open up my laptop to type out something about how if, as rumor has it, it all comes out in the end to mean nothing, than why does anything matter at all? Why do I get caught up in the details, the differences, the stances, the morals? If it all comes down to nothing, than why do I care so much about every move I make? How does vulnerability fit into the picture? As I write this, I find myself thinking back to a recent weekend away in Muskoka. Everywhere I went, I was swarmed by black flies. There was the lake and the trees and the charming muskoka chairs, but I couldn't get past those damn blood-sucking insects. Not once did I sit in a charming chair, nor did I put a toe in the lake. I took it in from inside. It looked really pretty.

So here I am with my make-believe prisons, and I want to let them go.

Earlier in the evening Harry called and asked me to meet him for sushi.

"I have other plans."


"And actually, I don't love sushi."

That's what I told him, and that was the truth, although 'my other plans' involved doing nothing. It's true about the sushi, so I guess I 'almost' told it like it was.

We talked for a bit. He wrapped up his weekend for me.

"After we played the Drake, we stuck around to see another band my friend is in and then we went to this wacky party - kind of a bohemian, hippy, raver, dread-lock mix of people. It was wacky. I probably went to sleep at 5 am."

He's 35 years old, and he's out every night. He goes to see bands with unfamiliar names, to festivals, and parties. If nothing else he can get me anything I could ever want in the way of illicit pharmaceuticals.


"Of course."

"How 'bout some speed? I hear it's a great diet pill, and I'd be so productive - a regular Alex P. Keaton."

"Not a problem."

I'm a bit vulnerable these days, and part of me thinks Harry is exactly what I need right now. The other part of me thinks, oh great...exactly what I need right now... Can you see the difference?

Despite the quasi-advantages, there are things about Harry that I can't get past. His vocabulary is dense with rhetoric, none of which fits easily into my world. Funny thing is he thinks his life is down to earth and lacks pretension. He's a lefty vegetarian, against logos and big business. He always jumps to the unpopular side of the debate - a hater of anything western. I get some of it, but it doesn't seem to be dependent on any variables. It's whatever the mainstream is not. All of this allows him to believe he is more free thinking, but he too has unknowingly built a prison for himself and the only way out is in pockets of hypocracy. He drives an SUV to get to work. He wears leather shoes because they're nicer. He denies that he judges those who eat meat, but he compares farming animals to black slavery and the holocaust. I know a prison when I see one. You might say I'm a prison connoisseur. What he's doing is like admiring blue sky from a prison yard.

While I don't have the energy to take on someone elses' world, especially when it requires such extensive relearning, I also don't expect others to make too many concessions in my honor. To ward off the risk of his life insinuating itself into mine, waking up one day to see I've been tricked into being what he wants, I don't pretend to know about his music festivals, I confront him when he slips in misguided "facts" about the pitfalls of an omnivorous diet. If he says he went to bed at 4 am, I'm sure to tell him how early I went to bed. If he talks about the vegetarian food he ate for lunch, I talk barbecued chicken. It's not my overt intention, but it's what I do. I've been clear with Harry from day one - we have nothing in common, yet here we are, still talking, still making plans, and I am left to wonder why?

There is something like chemistry between Harry and I, but I'm far from convinced. Bottom line? I guess even though 'everything' probably means nothing, for whatever reason, I still care, yet I do not want to be consumed or to consume someone else. I think this is big for me. This is the closest I have been to seeing things from outside my own prison yard. I'm moving in the right direction and although I might have some shit to climb through on the way out*, I'm ok with that. It stinks, but I'll survive. Maybe there's a beach waiting on the other side with my name on it. Maybe.

And tomorrow? We're going for thai, Harry and I.

*In reference to a reference to Shawshank Redemption made by my friend El Charulastra

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

tinted with fiction

This morning I woke up
After a full sleep
To a grey drizzling morning.
I got out of bed
Took my pills with a glass of water
And plugged in the kettle.
I poured a bowl of cereal
Threw in some blueberries
And sliced banana.
I made coffee
Took my breakfast to the table
Turned on the news
To which I barely listened
I looked out the window
Trying to imagine myself
Getting in the shower
Getting dressed
Walking to the subway
Sitting at my desk.
I decided to stay home
And here I sit
Still in my pajamas
At five o'clock
When normally I would be leaving work.
I watched 'So You Think You Can Dance'
And 'Law & Order: SVU'
(mostly for Detective Stabler)
I updated my resume
Read blogs
Wrote something
I won't use here:
A fiction
Grounded in a little truth.
Here I prefer to keep it as
A lot of truth
Tinted with a little fiction.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


“Are you kidding me”, I say to myself, putting down my book. I sit up in bed, searching for a pencil, my notebook.

“Are you kidding me”? My heart is pounding.

I ask the same question over and over as I try to find something to write this down. I was reading a poem when a panic rose in my chest. It had tiptoed in quietly, tenderly pressing up under my sternum. I only realized it was there when I got through the poem without understanding anything I'd read. It was like when I read Neruda in Spanish just to hear myself make the sounds of the words, only I was reading about beautiful little girls, and how they don’t always stay beautiful. I guess it got me to thinking how I was once a little girl, not that long ago and how, beautiful or not, that’s over.

So the momentum was already there, I could feel it coming to a boil. It was like standing on the prairies. There was no limit to what I could see. It came too fast. At once I could see the delusion in thinking we're are even but a puff of air in an infinite hurricane. Soon everyone that means anything to me will be gone, including me, and here I sit with what amounts to a few seconds of time, held precariously between my thumb and forefinger, to do with what I please, and all I can do is squeeze. All I can do is try to hold on for my life. I’m immobile and it makes no sense. Its laughable, really. I know it and I see that something must be done but I try to push that notion aside. I try to ignore the alarms.

"Code blue 13 D delta. Code blue, 13 D delta."

“I’ll deal with it later. I can’t take it right now. My chest will explode. I will disintegrate”, I tell myself. It's my mantra. It's always hard to say goodbye, long after it's over. And this has been over for some time. The jig is up. The truth is out.

But then I hear it. I don’t know who it belongs to. Maybe it’s the voice inside my head. Maybe it’s the people I carry around with me - those who lived and died before me, in just the right pattern of beauty, torture and whopping doses of mundane to guarantee my existence. Maybe it’s the human condition. Maybe it’s a sign.

“Please" I plead with myself. "Just calm down for a minute. You might be able to just fall asleep and then it will be forgotten"

"But isn't that all you ever do? You sleep it off, You brush it aside? Once you know it, you can't un-know it. It's time.”

“But I’ve wasted so much already."

"That’s no excuse. You're only 31."

"I'm almost 32."

"You have to realize it will be but a split second, looking back. You have to realize that and not let it torture you – paralyze you. It’s ok now, you’ve got it written down, so you can go to sleep cause here it will be, waiting for you in the morning, Let them call you crazy, irrational, immature, self-centred. Let them call you whatever they want, but just don't let it stop you. Live and don’t look back. You are not dead. You're almost comedically alive. Don’t look back. If you spend your time trying to see what you've been holding onto so tightly for so long, it will be gone.”

Saturday, June 24, 2006

and then the bears came home

Entering Banff National Park, I was given some very helpful reading material. It was a pamphlet on how to deal with encounters with bison, cougars and elk, but I was particularly drawn to the section on bears.

"Most encounters with bears end without injury. If a bear actually makes contact, you may increase your chances of survival by following these guidelines. In general, there are 2 kinds of attack:

What is the bear's behaviour?
The bear is feeding, protecting its young and/or unaware of your presence. It attacks because it sees you as a threat. This is the most COMMON type of attack.
Use bear spray.
If the bear makes contact with you: PLAY DEAD!
PLAY DEAD. Lie on your stomach with legs apart and position your arms so that your hands are crossed behind your neck. This position makes you less vulnerable to being flipped over and protects your face, the back of your head and neck. Remain still until you are sure the bear has left the area.

These defensive attacks are generally less than two minutes in duration. If the attack continues, it may mean the attack has shifted from defensive to predatory - FIGHT BACK!

What is the bear's behaviour?
The bear is stalking (hunting) you along a trail and then attacks. Or, the bear attacks you at night.
Try to escape into a building, car or up a tree.
If you cant escape, DONT PLAY DEAD.
Use bear spray and fight back!
FIGHT BACK! Intimidate that bear: shout; hit it with a branch or rock, do whatever it takes to let the bear know you are not easy prey. This kind of attack is very rare but it is serious because it usually means the bear is looking for food and preying on you.

Bottom line? It is very difficult to predict the best strategy to use in the event of a bear attack. That is why it is so important to put thought and energy into avoiding an encounter in the first place."


So what I'm hearing is that if you encounter a deadly grizzly bear, stay calm, carefully analyze the bear behavior and either play dead or for the love of G-D, whatever you do, DO NOT play dead!!

Thanks Parks Canada.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I have an occasional reader from Australia, from a place called Homebush (g'day mate). It got me to thinking about how when I returned to Canada from Australia, I kept hearing about brush fires in the southern US on the news, like the ones they had in Australia when I was there, only they called them 'bush' fires.

Because I have an adolescent boy's sense of humour, I found it incredibly difficult to keep a straight face when people in Australia said 'bush' - and they said it so much!

As evidenced by my most recent excursion in Canada, we have a lot of forest here, but I swear people do not talk about the forest as much as they talk about it in Australia. Or maybe it's just not as noticeable.

In Australia it's always about the "bush". It's "bush" this, "bush" that...

"We're surrounded by bush"

"We were knee deep in bush"

"Don't get lost in the bush".

It kills me - in a good way*

*Disclaimer: There is nothing funny about bush fires or brush fires or forest fires, UNLESS you use the word bush, and then it is half funny (bush=funny, fire=not funny, which=50% funny).

Monday, June 19, 2006


Just watched the Oilers lose to Carolina from a tex mex restaurant in Banff, Alberta. Earlier in the evening, in the hot springs, a lifeguard mistook me for an American.

"Welcome to Canada", he said, sweeping a hand toward the magestic backdrop.

"Oh, no, I'm here from Toronto."

"Welcome to Canada", he laughed.

I've never seen sky so large. I've never seen such mountains. Relentless beauty - overwhelming.

Goodnight. Layla tov.

asphalt and coconut

I climb out of the backseat of my stepfather's station wagon. Standing on the driveway I bite into the donut he bought for me I and watch the coconut flakes fall onto the asphalt driveway. Trying not to lose sight of the tiny flakes at my feet, I chew and swallow, somehow managing to push the dry mouthful past the lump in my throat. I take another bite.

“Hi, how was school today?” My mothers calls down to me from the doorway.

“Fine.”, I mumble.

“You're not allowed to talk with your mouth full”, my little brother taunts, still buckled into the back seat.

But it wasn't fine. It was terrible.

How will I survive tomorrow, I wonder. I can’t go back.

I hold the next bite in my mouth, waiting until I'm sure I’ll be able to swallow again. I lose sight of the flakes, my vision obscured by the tears.

I try to hold back, but I can’t. It comes in deep heaving sobs.

"What is it? What's wrong?", my mother asks, alarmed, now coming down the steps toward me.

"I want Dad to come back", I sob. "I want my friends, our old house, my backyard, my crab apple tree."

"Come on, now. What happened?"

I tell her everything. How everyone at my new school hates me, how the girls in my class started an ‘Against Rachel Club’, just like in the book, "The Against Taffy Sinclair Club", which is where they probably got the idea.

"They don't even know me! The teacher said she lost her package of gold stars and they told the teacher I took them. She asked me if I took her stickers! She asked in front of the whole class!”- I break off sobbing harder. "I...I tried to explain to them I didn’t do it but Katrina Benoli said she saw me cupping something in my hand when I went to the bathroom. She even showed the teacher how I did it and I never did!”

"Come my love", she encircles me in her arms.

But nothing anyone could do or say could set things right. The ball's been rolling for some time. Things at home were unpredictable: the fighting, the anger, the emotion, the uprooting...the end of the world as I knew it - the abrupt realization that my parents made mistakes and they wouldn't always be able to protect me.

* * *

Tonight my mother calls me to see how my day was. She asks me the usual questions and I give her the usual answers. I feel as though I am living the movie Groundhog Day. I start to turn away from the conversation. I turn off. I can’t face the questions and I tell her I'm going to bed soon, even though it’s only 8:30 pm. She calls me back to tell me to watch some show on TV on how to meet a guy. This makes me want to slit my wrists, yet here I am, setting my TV to record it. I’m a robot. I barely exist.

The phone rings again, only this time my willful control was no match. I scream and throw the phone across the room. “FUCK OFF!”, I yell to no one and everyone and mostly myself, pulling at the hair on either side of my head. I let go, breathing fast, and disentangle my hands from my hair. I sit back down on the couch softly and write this down, barely looking at the screen, cause this is what I remember: coconut on ashphalt.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

death by apathy

I'm overwhelmed by apathy. Is that even possible? It seems oxy-moronic, but I think I am. Alarms are going off all around me, although a whole lot less dramatically than it sounds.

You know when someone seems to be looking at you, but you can tell they're not really looking at you - they're almost looking through you? Maybe they're day dreaming, they're tired, or like the girls outside Hooker Harvey's on Jarvis and Gerrard, they're a little dead inside?

Have you ever felt yourself do that? You can feel yourself slip away?

Lately, I've been doing that a lot, in a rocking-yourself-to-sleep, banging-your-head-against-a-wall kind of way. Like a flickering lightbulb, I feel as though I am being warned. I think it is my dysfunctional way of dealing with unwanted stimuli, like the happiness of others, the sadness of others, my own existence, or lack thereof.

"The baby's kicking, do you wanna feel?"

"I was beside myself after the wedding make-up trial. It just felt like I was wearing a mask! What am I going to do? Do you think I should go to Stila and buy the colors I like and get them to do it again?"

"Sandra's going to be late. She's trying to buy maternity clothes and she's so big nothing fits, poor thing."

"I got into med school!"

"Why don't we go to Little Italy, have dinner, and then see a band?"

"They were really impressed with your work on the report."

I fear that soon I won't even notice it anymore. I'll become desensitized, no longer be able to heed the warning. My light will go out and I won't even know.

I fear this kind of death more than any other kind. I don't want to die like that.

Monday, June 12, 2006

monday morning collusion

This morning I was waiting for the streetcar when a blind man trying to cross the street headed straight for a cluster of newspaper boxes. I waited until the last second, hoping he would figure things out.

"Sir", I said, walking toward him. "Excuse me sir, can I help you to get to the sidewalk? There are newspaper boxes in your path."

"I'm trying to take the streetcar west to Spadina."

"Ok, you're in the right area", I told him.

"Don't interrupt me! I wasn't finished! I'm blind and I'm HARD OF HEARING!!!" I jumped back to avoid his flailing arms.

In addition to his physical disabilties, this man, who looked dishevled, even dirty, was probably mentally ill and in all liklihood, homeless. The crowd of people at the streetcar stop looked on. I could feel the heat rise in my cheeks. Just then the streetcar came around the corner and stopped. People began to pile on.

He was standing on the busy street now. I couldn't leave him. "Sir? The streetcar is here."


I repeated my self clearly with feigned authority, "I said the streetcar is here! Take my arm and I'll walk you there."

I stretched my arm toward him nervously as if to pet an unpredictable dog. At this point he was standing in the middle of the street. I couldn't tell if he heard me. The last few people were getting on the streetcar and I knew if I didn't hurry, I'd miss it myself.

I caught the streetcar driver's eye and signalled to him to wait just a second. He nodded.

"Sir, the streetcar is here! Take my arm and I'll walk you over."

He started to yell and flail again. I looked back at the driver, backing away with my palms facing up. "I don't know what to do."

I couldn't just leave him in the street. The driver rang the bell. The man stopped yelling and turned in the direction of the sound. He shuffled a couple of steps in that direction, but stopped again, looking confused.

Great, I thought to myself. Now what the fuck am I going to do? Just then, a man appeared next to him and took him by the arm.

"Come on," he said. "I'm taking you to the streetcar."

I turned and ran up the steps, glad someone else had stepped in. Everyone on the streetcar looked at me sympathetically.

"At least you tried", one girl about my age offered.

I smiled.

"I'M BLIND AND HARD OF HEARING!!!" I could hear the man screaming at the front of the car. "I used to be a sprinter. I used to be able to run an 8-minute mile!"

Someone tried to offer their seat.

"I'M BLIND AND HARD OF HEARING!!! DON'T TALK TO ME!!! The woman I was married to for 30 years committed suicide!"

"Enough, we don't need to hear this." A woman sitting behind me said aloud to no one in particular." I looked back to see who had said that. The woman smirked, trying to catch my eye for collusion. I turned away.

I got off at my stop and walked across the street. My hands were still shaking and I was tired. And to think, this was only monday morning.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

half full

My work has taken a lot out of me.
It has taken a lot of life
Out of me, really.
In return I got a gift certificate to a book store.

So my work has given me a book of poetry
Recommended by a friend.

My work has given me poetry that changed me
And 44 cents in change.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

on making investments

Last night, Jack, the boyfriend of a friend of mine from LA, was in town for business. A small group of my friends and I went to meet him and his colleague for dinner. We sat on a rooftop patio, eating and drinking until the sun set. Later, the group meandered our way through the dark streets of Yorkville and on a whim we ended up at a nearby strip club. Apparently Canadian strip clubs are 'special' in the girls-even-take-their-underwear-off sort of way. We bought some drinks and sat at a table toward the back of the room.

I've been to strip clubs before and I'm not easily shocked. I'm content to sit and watch the stage for a few sets and then be on my way. What little novelty there is for me, wears off quickly. I'll go because it makes for a story to tell and also because I can appreciate skill when I see it. There are a number of things that impress me, like the ease with which they hang upside down from a pole, do the splits [naked or clothed, that's talent], move their bodies, dance in those clear plastic platforms, and run their fingers through the hair of the most disgusting looking men and appear, quite convincingly, to find them attractive.

As I sipped my beer I noticed that Jack seemed to be watching for my reactions. I got the feeling he thought this was all new to me and was taking some kind of pleasure thinking I was uncomfortable. One of the girls approached the table. I saw her speaking to Jack and then they both looked my way. She walked over to me and reached for my hand.

"Hey sweety, why don't you come back here with me for a few minutes." She gestured to the back of the club.

"No, thank you.", I told her, pulling my hand away.

"Oh c'mon Rachel, just go.", I heard someone say.

I shook my head, 'no'. My friends looked on, laughing.

The girl stayed where she was, waiting for me to be convinced. I felt bad for her.

"You're very pretty, but I'm just not interested", I told her, feeling verbally inept. I turned back to Jack, "You go ahead."

Moments later he was led away to the back room.

At first I was embarrassed, feeling like a prude, but then I remembered the way Jack had been looking at me. What I was really feeling was penned in by some invisible role to which I had unknowlingly been assigned. I was supposed to play the open-minded girl who had always secretly wanted a lap dance, but never had the courage to ask. This expectation was poorly disguised as a gesture. It was my job to be a little something extra for the guys to put in the ’spank bank’ I heard them refer to later. The major flaw in the script was that I didn't want a lap dance. Lap dances are like serenades. There's something inherently awkward about the whole thing. They don't ring true, and besides that, I'm not attracted to women. Even if it was a man, I'm not often aroused by strangers, especially when there's an audience.

You loose something of yourself in giving people what they want, when what they want is in opposition to what you want. When I think about the costs that come with following the kinds of scripts that were flying around there last night, I picture that beautiful, thin brunette, stroking the greasy hair of a fat old man, their faces mere inches apart. Last night, I wasn't about to pay that price for some guy I barely know and his sleazy colleague. I had no intention of making that kind of investment.

They can take that to 'the bank'.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

sunday shake-up

Another Sunday. I spent the day biking with a new prospect. Kind of cute and romantic story behind the meeting, but I'll save that for another time, or never. We stopped for lunch and later for coffee. Now I am home and I want to knock myself out. I just need to unplug myself, close up shop for the night, even though it's only 9 PM. It's like I know the weekend is over, so I figure let's not draw it out any further. Then my mother calls me to tell me my brother's girlfriend read in the paper that my sister's ex-husband and his second wife just had a baby boy. My heart sank for what could have been - not for my sister and the ex - he was a miserable human being and I'm glad he has nothing to do with us, but timewise, what could have been. That lead me to dangerous territory - to consider what most people have already done by the time they reach they're early thirties. I just spent my day with a guy who's fun, intelligent, talented, and cute, but our moral and idealogical differences are so drastic I can already see that we would always be trying to change each another and that can't be good. And so this is tonight's reason that I want to knock myself out. There's always somthing. I'm trying not to imagine what this week will bring. Another wedding, lots of wedding talk, and....STOP-

You know what? Maybe I'm going to plan my future this week. Maybe by Jan 1, 2007 I will be somewhere else, living out a new adventure. Maybe I won't be sitting around waiting for things to happen. Perhaps I will be in Vegas with a lead role in "Celine" (no not really). Bienvenito a Miami? Perhaps. How 'bout Texas? I like long horns. How about North Carolina? GO HURRICANESS GO (LX and Ronin paid me to say that). How 'bout California? I know! Fuck CUPE, maybe I'll move to Israel. How about Yellowknife (that's a definite no - I'm sure the tundra is beautiful but cold weather is not good for me). If I could speak Spanish I would live in Costa Rica or Panama for a year. Or Argentina. Or Mexico.

Do I have the balls to pick up and leave again? That's the first question. Is that really what I want to do? Another equally important question. Someone important (?) or probably many people have said that nothing good happens without taking a risk. Maybe that's what I need to do. Let's shake this shit up.

But first, I'm going to bed.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

feeling sick

Last night I dreamt I was sick. I went to see a doctor I had never seen before. He examined me. He told me I would probably need surgery. I was weak but he helped me to stand. I leaned on him for balance while he put drops in my eyes for my heart (?). I was suddenly so tired and felt so sick I just let him hold me up. I put my head on his shoulder. I could feel one of his hands pressed into my ass but I didn't care. It didn't matter, as long as I had someone to hold me up.

Apparently even in my dreams I have a 14 year old boy's sense of humour. When I left the office, I looked back and there was a sign on the door with his name:

"Dr. Aspheyle".

'Figures', I though to myself.

Friday, June 02, 2006

stick to labour relations CUPE

The Ontario division of CUPE (The Canadian Union of Public Employees), Canada's largest union, has recently voted to boycott Israel. Of all of the current human rights issues in the world (i.e., Sudan, China, Zimbabwe, Syria, and North Korea to name but a few), this union has decided to boycott Israel in a vote held this past Saturday, on the Jewish Sabbath no less, which prevented any of the Jewish delegates from attending.

The following piece from the Montreal Gazette, re-published in the Toronto Star yesterday, addresses the issue well.

CUPE should stick to labour relations instead of calling for a boycott of the only democracy in the Middle East. If you agree, sign this petition.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

the point is a small place to sit

I have nothing to say.
How many times have I said that to him
While I sit in a chair facing his?
The only difference here is that I'm talking to you
Whoever you may be
In Schaumburg
In Flushing
In Berkeley
In Elm Creek
In Raleigh
In Reston
In Raritan

What do you say when you get disappointed
How do you tell yourself
Over and over
That it won’t always be like this
When it will?

In the news today
A Father of a baby who made headlines in Toronto this winter
For being born on the Wellesley Subway platform
Died of cancer
Times that by millions
And you have Darfur
And so if it will always be this mother fucking disappointing
Than what, may I ask, is the point?