Sunday, July 30, 2006


I stood on my balcony
In next to nothing
Letting the hot unpredictable wind throw my hair around.
The air smelled of rain on asphalt
Yet the pavement below was still dry.
The wind picked up
And I could hear
Crashing around a nearby construction site.
The sky lit up
With razors of light.
I knew I should go inside
But I couldn’t.
I didn’t want to miss this feeling.
I wanted to take my chances.
Everything was moving, in a warm fluid.
It was natural and alive.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

checking in

Re-surfacing for a moment - literally. I'm travelling for work and I just got out of the pool to check my email and then I'm going back in. Maybe I'll have a martini for you.

It's beautiful here in cowboy country. The weather is a perfect dry 28 degrees. As you can see I'm not working too hard to enjoy myself. I just thought I'd write a quick note to explain my absence.

I'll be back soon y'all.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

customer service

My friends lives keep evolving. Just this morning a friend of mine called to tell me she's pregnant with twins. Last night, another called to say they had put a bid on a house and would likely be moving out of our area, of course. This morning I woke up groggy and fragile. I could feel it in my bones- it wasn't going to be a good day. Shoshana called to say she was going veil shopping, and I got the feeling she wanted me to volunteer to go with her, but I didn't. I couldn't.

Buying houses, getting married, having babies, moving out of the city, is not in my immediate future (not that I would want to move to the suburbs, EVER). I'm happy for my friends, but I'm not happy. Is moving away where no one knows me going to solve anything? I think so, and here's why: (a) at least then I know I'm alone because there's no one I know around. Somehow it's better that the reason for the solitude is not that everyone I used to spend my time with has moved on and has chosen other ways to spend their time; (b) it also forces me to meet new people, preferably who have a little more in common with me. In that way London would be a great place to go. My sister lives there and it is one place where when they say 30 is the new 20 they mean it.

This day reminds me of one of my less glowing moments, which came a couple of years ago when I was hanging out with some friends of mine and I was having a bad day, much like today. I don't like to burden my friends or come across as a kvetch, but I went into a rare tyrade about my dissatisfaction with life and toward the end, another girl said to my roommate at the time, "What the fuck is on your finger?" My heart sunk before I even turned my head. I looked over and there was an enormous engagement ring on her hand. My roomate and her new fiancee, smiled sheepishly because they felt bad that this got discovered in the middle of my pathetic rant. They had come over to surprise us and instead of just telling us their news right away, they thought it would be fun to wait and see if we noticed. While they waited for us to stumble upon the news, I ended up spilling all of my shit. In all fairness, how could they have known that it would play out this way, and how could I have known that this was supposed to be their moment, but you can imagine how much worse this made me feel? Now the same friends are buying a house in the suburbs, and I'm eating reeses peanut butter cups, crying everytime I see something sad on CNN.

Today there is no one here for me and I really wish there was. Harry's on tour with his band until tomorrow night. When he comes back we're going out for dinner, but until then, everyone else is away at a cottage, or resting their tired pregnant body, veil shopping, or working. I would like to take something strong, and have someone sit next to me while I fall asleep (?). I don't even know where that came from, but whatever. I called my mother and even she couldn't talk...TWICE. The phone rang again, and I just knew it had to be someone coming through for me, but instead it was the phone company calling to see if I was satisfied. I assured them that in no way was I satisfied.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I'm walking too far ahead

This morning, I bumped into an old friend on the train. I was balancing my gym bag, my tennis racket, my purse, and a newspaper. It's hot today, well into the 30s, so my hair was pulled up and back and I was wearing sunglasses. I spotted him walking onto my car. I thought there was a chance he wouldn't notice me and so pretended I didn't see him. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him do a double take and then step tentatively toward me. My Ipod was on loud, but I could still read his lips, "Rachel?"

I feigned surprise, pulling out my earphones and pushing my sunglasses up, resting them on my head.

"Tommy? How are you?!", my face flushed knowing people in the packed car were watching the exchange.

"Rachel, I can't believe this. Oh my G-D! How are you?"

"I'm good thanks, and you?"

He just stood there grinning, taking me in.

"You look good", I told him. "You look like you've been getting some sun."

He didn't seem to hear what I said. "Wow, I can't believe this."


We met on the playground near my junior high. I was turning 13. He was 14. It was a cool, end of August night. The kind where if you stay out long enough, the ends of your fingers and nose get numb. He used to always tell the story of how we first met. He would talk about how he and his friend walked over to me and my two friends who were swinging on the swings, 'probably talking about boys or makeup or something'. He said 'hi' to us as he walked toward us. We said 'hi' back. He noticed that my lips and mouth were stained blue.

"What are you eating?", he laughed.

"A jawbreaker", I told him, and with a very straight face continued, "I like blue balls."

My friends laughed. Tommy and his friend just stood there at first, with their mouths open. From that point on, we were inseparable. A few weeks later, I started 7th grade. Tommy was in eighth. We hung out all the time. We would meet between classes and at lunch. He would come over to my house after school and stay for dinner, we would hang out on the weekend. Even then he was tall, 6"1, with a shaggy skater cut. He lived in an apartment with his sullen older brother. His mother had virtually moved out to live with some man in the country. His father was somewhere else - always a source of unlikely stories. I never really figured out which parts were true, but they all involved Tommy's father as hero, cut short by some tragic situation. Bottom line, he wasn't in the picture. At that age, it didn't really occur to me that his living situation was anything but cool. Tommy had no rules. We used that to our advantage every chance we got, although for some reason, he always held his absentee mother on some kind of sacred pedestal. Even then I knew it was unearned, but knew that was the one place I could never go with him. It also never occurred to me that his situation was the reason my parents not only put up with his continual presence in my home, but encouraged it. Later, when we were in high school, his beloved Mother cut him off and Tommy dropped out so he could support himself. My Mother begged him to move in with us, to finish school, but the draw of making money to spend on partying and the freedom from rules and schedules won out over any distant long-term gain.


"So, what are you doing in Toronto?"

"I've lived here since January."

"Are you on your way to work?"

"Naw, I just have some things to do downtown, so, uh...yeah. What's new?"

I got the feeling I shouldn't poke around that last question.

"What's new? I don't know, so much! I haven't talk to you in, what...years? What's not knew is a better question, right?", I laughed, stalling.

"Yeah", he smiled back, looking at me like he was seeing a ghost.


In highschool, both of us started to spend more time with Simeon, the guy I fell for in science class over a peanut butter sandwich. Dating Simeon never really got in the way, largely because he and Tommy were already friends, so the three of us became a team. For a while, we did everything together.

Later, when I went on to university, things changed. Both Tommy and Simeon went their separate but dysfunctional ways, while I tried to pull myself back into life. I could see what others were doing and I knew that if I too didn't do some of it, I would be left behind, in the dust.

Life goes on, and things happen. Tommy and I reunited briefly when Simeon killed himself. A few years later, Tommy called me out of the blue.

"Hey Rachel, next week is the anniversary of Simeon's death. Keith and I were thinking it would be nice if we went to visit his parents."

I made excuses. I told him I was busy. I deflected his scorn. I couldn't get off the phone fast enough. I couldn't breath. I'd been there once before, watching Simeon's mother cry, trying to swallow the food she served after she told me it was meant to be eaten by Simeon. I couldn't do it again. Tommy, one of the most irresponsible people I'd ever known was doing the right thing this time, and I just couldn't. I felt terrible for it. I still do.


Feeling edgy, I was relieved when I looked up to see we were pulling into my station.

"Tommy, this is me. You still have my email right?"

"Ah, no, I don't know that I ever did."

I gave him my hotmail address, repeating it twice, knowing he'd remember it and that I probably wouldn't respond.

"Bye!", I called back waiving. I walk down the platform toward the escalators and I didn't turn back.

Monday, July 17, 2006

red flagitis

I got a kind of nasty email from this online dating guy. Apparently he had emailed before and I didn't respond to him. Since his first email, he says, since I don't have certain features turned off, he could see that I (a) read his email; and (b) have since looked at his profile. He wrote the email to tell me I should turn off that feature because "people might wonder why I didn't respond to their emails". This really pissed me off. I don't give a shit that he sees that I clicked on his profile. I don't owe him anything. Who is he to try to make me feel guilty?

Later I read this discussion on someone else's blog about different takes of singles in their 30s. Like some of the people mention, I too worry sometimes that what is left over by the 30s are just that: leftovers. But then I have to remind myself that I'm in the same boat and I'm not 'leftovers'. I'm an intelligent, attractive, fit, fun, adventurous, creative, passionate, and sexual 31 year old woman, and if you can get past (or, cross my fingers, even grow to like) my slightly neurotic side, I could make some lucky guy very happy. So then I started to feel a bit better about the discussion until someone took it a step further and said that it wasn't the age that people should be leary of, but rather the absence of a proven track record of serious relationships. That really got me in a vulnerable spot.

I had three long-term relationships through highschool and university, but that's where my track-record came to a virtual end. After graduating from my first degree, I moved to Toronto and my boyfriend of a year and a half moved to Vancouver for work. We were young - I was 23, and we weren't ready to consider marriage. I was starting another university program and he was tied into a contract on the other side of the country, so we broke up. It took me over a year to get past that. My heart still aches a little when I think about him. After that I spent a lot of time, for the first time as a quasi-adult, being single and enjoying life in a big city. I was single by choice. I dated, but not seriously. There was this one guy from 'the islands' - a chef in a restaurant where I worked. He was absolutely stunning and a decade older. He made me think of salt-water air and sand. It wasn't serious. His good looks were negatively correlated with his intellect, but he was soooo cute. And that accent! Anyway, that lasted for a while, but then I took another dating hiatus. Mostly it was unintentional. It was probably a mixture of my academic situation and my neuroses. I was in nursing school, surrounded by women. In my clinical rotations, I was surrounded by women and sick children mostly, peppered with a number of nerdy or arrogant (or even worse, nerdy AND arrogant med students and doctors, which is always a bad combination). My focus was on me and my career. Since then there have been a handful of guys I've dated for short periods of time, but does that really count? I fear this puts me into red flag territory. On the other end of the spectrum, some of my friends have almost never been single. They just can't be alone. That's a red flag too.

Now that I have put all of this somewhere, I feel better because, even though I come with a few red flags, I know me and I'm not half bad. If the other single 30-somethings I meet come similarly flagged, I can be ok with that.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

on the brink

I'm glued to the CBC and CNN - again. It's been awhile though. I've been so good lately not obsessing over the news...or maybe it's that there hasn't been anything really 'new' to obsess over. Sadly, we can get used to almost anything. The fact that we have troops in combat roles rather than on peacekeeping missions was unique for a little while, but we so easily get desensitized to war. I think the last time I couldn't stop watching television was with New Orleans. Before that there was the London Bombings, the Tsunami, Iraq, Afghanistan, 911, Gulf War, the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, assassination of Rabin, Beslan school hostage taking, Columbine, Air India Bombing, and the OJ Simpson police chase and trial (ahem...GUILTY). The list goes on. There were other natural disasters, insurgencies, plane crashes, and crimes mixed in that demanded attention as well. I apologize as I'm sure I left out some important events. See how easy it is to forget? Then there was the list of things that should be making (or should have made) the news more: Sudan, Rwanda, Bosnia, Haiti...but they barely make it on the radar.

So now we have the situation in the Middle East. My fear is that this is going to escalate. Everyone against Israel. Israel against everyone: Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Lebanon, Syria... Now they're talking of a linkage developing between all of the extreme Islamic militant groups. They're even throwing around the possibility of Iranian nuclear warfare. This brings me back to one of the first times I was glued to the news - the cold war. It brings me back to the childhood panic attacks, my fear the world would end. With a slightly more adult stance, I'm afraid again. I worry for my relatives in Israel. I worry for everyone. I find it frustrating that I never know what sources to trust, yet here I am, soaking it all in. It’s 2 AM and I can’t close my eyes. Like I said, I might have forgotten some crucial events, but sometimes I wonder how anyone could live at all if they had to soak everything up. Perhaps the desensitization is more about self-preservation than ignorance. Either way, I'm going to sleep.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

creepy craigslist "missed connection"

"I was the guy in small blue mazda with tinted windows on DVP South of Overlea Pass, I cut you off ( you in pink convertible Benz (speeding!) with dead dog dragged behind on pink leash) You gave me finger and yelled something.. I think I am in love you! You were so beautiful! Lets go for a coffee!"

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

things to come

All this time I’ve been mourning his suicide.
Our loss of him.
His loss of us.
But just now
Eating blueberries
David Hasselhoff
While he compares apples and oranges
On America's Got Talent
I had an epiphany.
Maybe he could see
That no more good was going to come
From his existence.
Life is no yonge street massage parlour.
There would be no happy ending.
His mind was too mixed up
He couldn’t live well in this world
He had only to look forward to
(figuratively or literally)
Dirty looks on the street
Impatience from friends, thinking
Get it together already.
And from the people who love him most,
There would be only
Chronic pain.
No one could see these
things to come
And want to stick around.
Most would, though
Out of inertia alone
But not him.
And so for the first time
In the decade he’s been dead,
Instead of sadness, regret, or pity
I give him my admiration
For what it's worth.
My guess is it would be
More than he got from most.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Rachel Ambivalent Gold (AKA Footie wrap-up)

So I watched my first football game today, the last game of the World Cup. As every single one of you know, it was Italy v. France. I decided long before this game that I was cheering for Italy (and by long before I mean at least 2 days). Originally, having never watched a game, I was voting for Argentina. I decided on Italy for this round because of the anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-semetic reputation France has earned of late. The second reason was that I live in a city with an enormous Italian population and two Little Italys, so I knew it would be a great day here if Italy won.

During the last World Cup, I was immersed in a summer of anatomy and physiology. I studied all summer in the university pub, so I could drink coffee and smoke cigarettes while I worked. The world cup was nothing but an unplanned irritation to contend with. Everytime there was a game, my studying and smoking was rudely interrupted. Back then I resented the World Cup.

This time around it didn't interfere with my schedule. In fact, I looked on amused at the spirit of the crowds of people spilling onto sidewalks, the myriads of flags hanging from cars (and not just the little car window flags, the lifesize flags strapped to car hoods). I found myself looking forward to this final game. I watched the whole thing.

So Italy won, which was bittersweet for me in the end, for a few reasons. First, from my very novice perspective, France appeared to have played a better game. Second, that guy that headed butted the other guy, came so close to winning the game for France only moments before that. This would have left him a hero at the end of his career. It kind of breaks my heart that instead he lost his temper and banged his head on that other guy's chest. I can imagine the guy probably said something terrible, and I know as a professional, he should have been able to control himself, but anyone with a taunting sibling knows what it's like to lose your shit momentarily. I felt so bad for him I wanted to cry.

Ok, I admit, I cried a little.

"That's ridiculous Rachel", one of my guy friends scoffed. "He knows better than to pull that shit. He deserves to be out."

Apparently only a "red card" would do, which means: leave.

The third reason was that black guy on France that the camera kept zooming into during the closing ceremony, you know, the guy with tears streaming down his face? It was very hard for me to watch a grown man sobbing and still be happy Italy won.

We went for a walk in Corso Italia after the game. The crowds were crazy! Exactly as I had imagined them, but every once in a while, I thought of those two French guys. I wondered if maybe I should have cheered for the French. It's not like they had anything to do with their government's policies...

Later that night I went home and watched Syriana, which made me feel...ambivalent...again.

Maybe I should stick to anatomy and physiology.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

dirt off my shoulders

"Hey baby", the email read. I cringed. "Sorry, but I've had a few drinks. It's Jack's birthday party next week. What's it going to take to get you to fly in for it?

It's Jess's baby boy Jack's second birthday. He and Jack's mother aren't together - they never really were. His email wording had jolted me. I mean "baby"? What the F? My guard had gone back down around Jess since I was sure I had made it crystal clear that there was no future for us. I guess the drinks made the part of him that's still holding his breath reappear. As I've said before, it's hard not to take the bait. I'm a giant hormone lately and I genuinely love Jack, which is why it pisses me off that Jess is trying to use him to pull me in.

I'm not going to the birthday party because I can't afford another trip this summer and because flying out there would mean too much for someone who's looking for too much meaning. It's not about me, and I'll tell you how I know that. After 22 years of friendship, he still doesn't really know me. If prompted he would probably be able to compose a brief and general description of me. He could tell you the concrete stuff, like where I went to school, who my friends are, and what I look like, but any deeper and he'd be lost. He would even think he knows what's important to me - how I see the world, but I guarantee, it would be projection. At best a lucky guess. In contrast, like at Shoshana's bridal shower where I won the competition for knowing the bride best, beating out her own Mother and Sister, I know Jess inside and out.

In talking this situation through, I recounted the Shoshana shower story to my therapist who 'therapeutically' brings almost nothing of himself into the room. Even his decor is sparse - nothing but a Jackson Pollock print hanging above his non-descript black chair.

He laughed, "You probably know me better than my Mother and Sister too.

I guess there are two points to this: first, as far as I see it, for Jess, I'm just a convenient body with which to fill a void; and second, while I take on everything of theirs, I don't normally demand my friends know me back (and in all fairness, I probably don't always give them the materials).


I started to reply to Jess's email, over-explaining how coming in for the party wouldn't work for me, feeling guilty for not going along with his plans for us. Once again, it seems to come down to this script that I feel obliged to follow. But it was Friday afternoon and I decided to brush that dirt off my shoulders and let him sit with an unanswered drunken email for a few days. I have some warm weather enjoying, outdoor pool swimming, and some SPF 30 wearing to do.


"I got po chasin' me, babies mammas trynta get wit me, so I get them glocks rocks and dust the dirt of my shoulders the cops an them bolders"


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I wish I was a baller

Every time she sneezes, she makes me angry. I resent ragweed, or whatever it is that she's allergic to. I can't sit at this desk facing her's any longer. I can't listen to her make phonecalls, her polite banter. She reminds me of a 73 year old granny.

"Oh dear", I hear her say into the phone. "Indeed!"

I hate Mondays (or in the case of this long weekend, Tuesdays). I cringe everytime someone asks me how my weekend was. My weekends are fine, so it's not that I had a bad one and I don't want to talk about it, it's just that I can't tolerate these cookie cutter questions, these polite exchanges, this meaningless drivel.

I've got to get out of here. My chest feels tight, my pants are cutting into my stomach, I can't sit in this chair for another minute.

So I think of how, since I didn't take lunch and I came in a little early, maybe I'll leave at 4PM. No one but my conscience really cares... I get lost in calculating and bargaining with myself, and I jump when the phone rings.

"Rachel Gold."

"Hey Rach, how was your weekend?"

"Hi Lana. It was fine. Yours?"

It is all I can think to do. I turn the question around. Make them talk about themselves, cause we all know that's really why they're asking. I seeth and listen and seeth and prompt.


And at the first possible moment, I say I have to go. I hang up and turn back to face my monitor, looming with nothing important. At least if there was something beckoning me, pressuring me, maybe it wouldn't seem so suffocating, but there's not.

And so I stick my sunglasses on so that she won't see me crying again, and I make like I'm straightening up in preparation to leave. I grab my keys, and head for the door.

"'Night", I call over my shoulder. I don't give her a chance to say anything. I don't give a shit that it's only 4:15 PM and I'm saying 'goodnight'.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a damn girl. If I was a guy and I was upset, I'd go out for beer and wings, get laid, or shoot hoops. I guess girls can do those things too, but instead my hormones make me do girly things like cry and obsess over my appearance. I considered trying the boy thing, but the last thing I need is to eat more, especially wings, and if I went out and picked up some rando I'd probably fall in love and my heart would be broken. It's my hormones. I can't help it.

I guess that leaves basketball...

Monday, July 03, 2006

averting eyes

She could still see his angular face, his dark averting eyes, his one little bare foot, black on the bottom. On the other foot was a blue velcro runner. He looked about seven years old. He sat on the cement steps to a small low-rise apartment complex. His legs were crossed and he watched the cars go by.

At first she stood off to his left, waiting to see if there was someone with him. She scanned the sidewalk for his other shoe, for a parent, but couldn't find either.

She took a few steps toward him.

“Are you ok sweetie?”

No answer. She moved a little closer, careful not to frighten him.

“You ok?”

Nothing. She crouched down to about eye level. He averted her glance.

“Where’s Mommy? Mama? Where’s Papa?”

It was almost as though he was unable to make eye contact. She wondered if he was autistic. She sat down a few feet away. She waited for fifteen minutes. No adult came to check on him. She asked a couple of people nearby if they recognized the boy from the neighborhood. No one did. No one came to claim him. She stood up and turned away, dialing her cell.

After she made the call, she sat back down and waited.

“Don’t worry”, she told him. “Everything’s going to be fine.”

He just kept watching the cars.

And there they sat together, side by side, facing the street.

When the police arrived, they told her his father had called the police.

"Hey buddy, we've been looking for you", the policeman said. "Your Dad's been looking for you."

She waited as they took him by the hand and walked him to the squad car. She smiled and waived as they pulled away. As soon as they were gone, she burst into tears, and then pulled herself together and walked the rest of the way home.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

a bit weird

I found this a bit weird, for a variety of reasons.

The moral? Now, I know it's tempting, with some of the incredible pieces of literature, the literary gems you find folded into the sentences I write, day in and day out (or a couple of times a week), but please, resist the lure.