Monday, January 29, 2007

freestyle is just fancy for front-crawl

Tension is building becasue it's 10:24 PM and I kind of feel tired enough to go to bed. I hate to miss my window of opportunity, but I also want to post something. At the same time I have my TV paused on Oprah, her pursed lips and finger point in full effect, which is just perfect. It only holds for an hour and then unpauses itself, which I always find unnerving, yet I feel like a victim to it. I know it'll happen soon. I suppose I could turn off the TV outright, but I hate to leave a show unfinished.

I came home from the gym a little while ago, sweating and with a throbbing shoulder from an injury that just won't go away. I don't know what it is I'm doing to aggravate it, but I just took off a whole month of upper body weights because of it. I can't even do yoga because of all the downward facing dog. My yoga instructor just says go into child's pose if it hurts but what's the point in getting my ass all the way there only to curl up in a ball on a mat for an hour and a half? I can do that at home. I pretty much gave the shoulder a whole month just to be sure, but it's back. All I can do, once again, is cardio. At the same time I'm in the process of re-negotiating my gym membership for the coming year, and the membership guy has one of those scales in his office with a body fat percentage calculator. Since I've been going to the gym for well over a year, religiously, I thought I would take the opportunity to see how far I'd come, body fat percentage-wise. The verdict? I'm EXACTLY THE SAME. And according to the calculation...FAT.

I'm not fat though. I'm a size 8 or 10 and I'm relatively tall, at 5 foot 6, so I carry my weight pretty well. As I've said before, I would like to lose some weight. In my dreams, I'd like to drop 30 pounds, which would bring me down to a perfect weight; like hollywood perfect [except my boobs would probably be gone so i'd need implants]. Over the years I've come to understand that perfect isn't always possible, so I'm willing to settle for 20, but it's hard to make more of the right choices, especially when I've done so much already [and all the right ways I may add] and things haven't changed drastically.

[Oprah just unpaused and scared me even thought I was expecting her].

Sure my clothes fit better and I'm in great physical shape. I could run a 5 k tomorrow. I could do spinning classes every day no problem. I just want to look fabulous in a bikini, is that so wrong?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

amin seriously

Last night I saw Last King of Scotland. Great movie. The acting was incredible and the story, amazing. Only too bad it's not fiction.


I bought this apple slicer because it's the only way I like to eat apples, and apples are good for you. With all the love I have for my apple slicer, it just sliced me. Bitch.

hard out here for a shrink

Do you ever watch Oprah [or as Howard Stern calls her, Fat Pretentious Oprah]? Yes, well I sometimes do.

This week there was a show on whether women can 'have it all', meaning attain career success and be good mothers at the same time. They had stay-at-home mothers and working mothers debating the virtues of their choices. Serious cat fights ensued. The best was this one woman, a psychiatrist, who went back to work when her children were babies, which is her perogative and certainly I have nothing to say about that, but in her argument she actually said the following (keep in mind she is a PSYCHIATRIST):

[And I'm paraphrasing]

"Anyone can hold your baby and read them a book. It's later, when they're in their teens, that they need you."

I almost choked. Sigmund fucking Freud would turn over in his grave. Where the hell did this woman do her residency, the Sally Struthers International Correspondence School?

That scares me. It's hard out here for a [person trying to find a good] shrink. Thank the lawd I found one. Imagine what kinda shit you'd have to put up with reading if I hadn't.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

buying static

I found myself
Out a fan.
Left with no even sound
To smooth things out
The lady in her heels
Dogs howling in the park
Elevator doors opening and closing
The high-pitched barking orgasms of my neighbor
Sleep would not come.
So I bought 75 minutes
Of static from Apple
For $9.99.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

razors for fingers and melancholy songs

So last night I was out with the 'direct guy', Nathan. Turns out we dated a couple of times, not just that time five years ago, but also before that, when I first moved to the city. I have almost no recollection of any of it.

I waited for him at College and Spadina and we went to meet up with some friends of his from law school at Popper's, an Annex pub. I don't mind meeting other people's friends, although I have to be very comfortable before I bring people into my life. I'm not exactly sure why.

Anyway, we got there and it was an L-shaped table with only a small space left for us. We squeezed in next to this kid—and I say kid because he was 7 years younger than me—who was a friend of a friend of Nathan's. He was wearing a navy blue and red striped sweater that reminded me of both Freddy Kruger and Kurt Cobain.

Nathan was a little sullen, presumably from a heavy week at work. He spent the better part of the night listening to me and the kid talk, starring into his double gin and tonics. I started to wonder if petulance was more trait than circumstance. Nathan sipped his drink, interjecting periodically and talking to people he hadn't seen in a while. A few times he left to go outside for a cigarette. Because I didn't know anyone at the table, it was nice to have the kid there. Plus, he's a fitness professional and I'm always happy to get tips on working out. He was also the only person there who wasn't talking law. Why can't I seem to get away from lawyers?

I wasn't sure but I thought the kid might be gay. He was adorable, in the way that my little brother is adorable. In fact I told him a couple of times how much he reminded me of him. We totally hit it off, but as far as I was concerned, in a completely innocent way. Besides, I'd arrived there with Nathan, so I thought he would assume we were together. Later I would wonder if that's the reason I had such an uncharacteristic sense of freedom; from Nathan's mood, from the expectations and perceptions of others.

When Nathan left the table to get the bill, the kid pulled out his cell phone and asked me for my number. I tried not to look surprised. Instead I suggested I take down his email address, "in case I know of anyone who needs a trainer." It was awkward.

Nathan and I walked out into the cold. I kept thinking about the look on the kid's face. I replayed the conversation in my head, hoping I didn't embarass him.

"Nathan, I think that guy sitting next to me tried to pick me up".

He laughed with a hint of acidity that caught me off-guard.

"Ya think?"

"What? You thought it was obvious?"

"Well you talked to him the whole night. You're a good looking blonde. What did YOU think was going on?", he said, looking at me funny.

"Are you serious?"

He laughed again. There was a moment of silence.

"What did I think was going on? Well, for starters I thought he reminded me of my baby brother. I thought that I was glad he was there since people weren't exactly falling over themselves to talk to me." My voice was getting shrill.

"Yeah, they're a tough group", he conceded.

"What did you expect me to do while you were outside smoking?"

We walked along quietly for a few minutes. He stopped and took my hand and apologized.

"I didn't mean it like that."

Ok, but I was pissed that somehow I ended up feeling like I'd done something wrong. Should I have been less friendly? Should I have acted differently? Absolutely not, and in hindsight I'll take it as a good sign. I'm not changing myself to accomodate other people's shortcomings. I'm not letting this shit slide anymore. If you're an asshole, then you're an asshole. It has nothing to do with me. I am not going to put up with anyone else's shit. I have plenty of my own to deal with [and apparently I'm not doing so bad].

Friday, January 19, 2007

worrying about earthquakes

I dreamt I was staying in a house in California.
Worrying about earthquakes.
The bedroom was decorated
With old framed photographs
In black and white.
They were of people I once knew
Like a guy I'd briefly dated
After high school.
Later I was at a party by the pool.
And he was there.
Maybe he's different now
I hoped as he approached.
Maybe he's not so weak
So tortured
So inept.
I let him take my hand
And we walked toward the pool.
But as soon as he spoke
I knew he was exactly as I'd left him.
And so I attached him to a plank
Using string
And I floated him out.
He choked on water
And grew a dark beard.
I knew he was dying
But I waded out of the pool and left.

Monday, January 15, 2007

today I leave titles to mcsweeney's

This is brilliant.

Hangover's gone, AND my sorta date/watching 24 turned out to be fun. He's a nice guy. Again, I find him very direct and the jury is still out on whether that's a good thing or not. He also smokes, and since I haven't had a cigarette in two years I'm over being around the smoke [until I'm 80 years old, at which time I will pick the habit back up and smoke like a truck driver]*. He also stresses about work constantly and works long hours. In his favour, he thinks I'm funny and charming [he didn't exactly say that, but I can really]. He clearly has discerning taste.

Winter has officially arrived. We've seen our first snow/ice storm here in Toronto, but it was very pretty and not too cold. Unfortunately the temperature is dropping as I type and is only going up to -7 degrees celcius tomorrow. Translation? Fucking cold.

*This is a doctor approved plan. In fact, he even told me he'd join me.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

sunday showers

I'm mucho hungover and I made it through baby shower number one this afternoon. Barely.

I went out with some friends for dinner last night, including that guy that's been calling lately, and then to a party at a bar downtown. Oh great, as I'm writing this the guy down the hall's just pulled out the bongos for the first time in a while. My liver actually hurts right now.

Anyway, this guy is so direct I don't even know how to take it. He invited himself over to my place to watch 24 tonight, and all I could do was shrug and say, 'ok'. I didn't even know it was on tonight, but...ok. I don't know what to make of him so I'm just going to try not to over-think it.

All I know is that I got home very late and he called me while I was making myself a grilled cheese sandwich. I talked to him about I don't know what while I stuffed my face and then I went to bed and passed out with all the lights on. I know, very attractive.

I need to take a shower now and try to steam the hangover out.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Are good fiction writers necessarily good liars?

I've been thinking about lies lately. Lies, half-truths, white-lies, lies of omission. I've never been a good blatant liar. I have, however, perfected the game face. I'm even ok at the blinders [you know, the kind you put on to ignore the horrors in life, like we're all going to die, you're eating the flesh of a dead animal, everybody shits], although not nearly as good as many people are, which I think puts me at a disadvantage in the enjoyment of living.

I've been thinking a lot about it, and just when I think I've started to shed it—the game face—something always happens that demands even more. Lately it's the only way I imagine people can survive in this fuck of a world.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

the other side of the coin

On the way home I though about ordering thai food from Sublime. Eating burn-your-mouth spicy food was all I could think to do with myself. Food as medication. On the way out of the station I called 411 as soon as I got a signal.

"Welcome to directory assistance." The computer voice said. "What city and province please?"

"Toronto, Ontario", I answer, loud and clear. I hate these stupid fucking machines.

"Is the number you are looking for business, government, or residential?"


"Alright. What is the name of the business you are looking for?"


"I'm sorry, we were unable to recognize that response. Please try again."

"Sublime", I said again, only this time louder, looking around the subway station to see if I had aroused attention.

"I think you are looking for Doctor Harvey Stein. If this is correct-"

I hung up and put the phone in my pocket. It was that or throw it across the street. Fine. I'll take that as a sign. No thai.

Just then I heard the phone beep. It was a voicemail from Harry, telling me he was around the corner from my place doing a sound check and happened to have an hour before he went on and wondered if I could do dinner. I've never been so happy to hear someone's voice.

Contrary to my 'lucky' post, my week's kind of turned to shit. The doctor called me back about an abnormal test result, then there's date number three with Andy. He wants to have drinks or order in at his place and I feel freaked out for some reason. At dinner, Harry asked if I thought that might be because I like the guy.

"No", I answered, without hesitation, but then qualified it. "Well, I don't know. That's just it. It's too soon."

Everything feels either too fast or non-existent and I just want it to feel smooth, like butter. And then there's someone else I dated a long time ago, who's recently single again. We happened to go out for dinner last month with a group of mutual friends and he's been calling me since and no matter how much I try to convince myself he's just being friendly I feel pressure. I was supposed to call him back days ago and I can't bring myself to do it. I could do it at this very moment. I have time, but I don't want to.

Then there's the job. It's not good and I know I need to make my move, but I'm paralyzed with fear because nothing else seems any more right.

My feelings are easily hurt and so things that might never occur to me normally are upsetting me. At least I know myself well enough, in this state, to be open to the possibility that I might be reading something into nothing. I'm open to clarification.

So when Harry asked me questions about Andy I started to get agitated. It stirred it up for me. I think it's anticipated pressure. It's like I don't even know if I would want Andy, but I'm already sentenced to going along, somehow, as he wishes and at his pace. It's a hundred percent my problem; my creation. I realize that, but it's very hard for me to change the way I see things.

I caught myself before I went off the deep end in the middle of the restaurant, blinking the tears away, although not before Harry noticed. Of course that made him inquire further, but I asked that we save it for another time. The way I'm feeling seems crazier than it really is. It's just hard to explain.

As we were leaving we were opening our fortune cookies.

"You will bring sunshine into someone's life", I read aloud. "What's your's say?"

"You are going to give someone with food in their teeth a big hug."

"Oh no! Are you serious?"

He wrapped his arms around me and squeezed as I ran my tongue across my teeth, searching for the offending food item.

"How long's it been there???"

I probably had a whole lettuce leaf hanging out of my mouth in my moment of drama. Insult to injury.

He just laughed.

Standing on the dotted line, mid-traffic, trying to cross Yonge Street, I told him, "I just want to bring sunshine into someone's life."

"You bring sunshine into my life", he answered.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I found $38.00 in an old handbag.
I was reimbursed from my health benefits company for something I'd forgotten about.
My grandmother gave me some Hanukkah money.
My rent got reduced. No shit. By $9.00 a month...but still.
I got a $25.00 discount on a furniture delivery fee because the furniture I bought is late.
I finally got a storage locker in my building after three years of waiting.

Sometimes, if a little luck is on your side, you just have to stop for a moment and acknowledge it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

on gulfs, of the chasm variety

The year my peers started university I spent working and upgrading in night school. I took a job with my father during the day, biding time until I decided what I wanted to do next and had the marks to get into school. It was the first time my father had done something fatherly for me since I was a small child. It wasn't smooth or natural as I imagined it was supposed to be, but he saw that I was struggling and stepped up to the plate. He offered me a job in a place he was working. It was a small consulting firm and he was the president and CEO. For a period of time I was bordering on feeling a little proud of my father.

Some days he would pick me up and drive me into work on his way. I remember one day someone cut my father off. I gave them the finger and my father freaked out.

“Don’t you EVER do that again. Ever. You don’t know that person, but you might sometime soon. You could be giving the finger to the person who’s going to be interviewing you for your next job. How would like that?”

My father had never yelled at me properly and had certainly not offered up any parental advice before, at least not since I could remember. I'm sure I came up with some smart-ass response, but things almost seemed normal. Almost.

Working just outside my father’s office as the receptionist/office help, I still managed to sneak down the hall to this little coffee shop and smoke cigarettes with one of my father’s employees, Alan, a tall fair haired guy. I had a crush on him and I'm sure he knew it. He’d flirt with me at times, and then at others he’d seem to forget I was even around. I can’t imagine how old he really was, except he seemed so much older to me at the time. Come to think of it he was probably my age now, early thirties, which seemed ancient to me at 17 years old.

Spending time with him and some of the others at work, I started to pick up on holes in the ozone of the respect I’d initially thought employees had for my father. Sometimes I could tell that Alan was being careful with what he said around me, which said more to me than anything that was discussed outright. I tried not to look too closely because I desperately wanted things with my father to be as they should. I knew this would be the last chance.

One afternoon in December, Alan was leaving our office Christmas party to go to another party. A friend of mine had come to meet me at the office. He invited us to tag along with him. My Father overheard the discussion.

“Rachel, you should go. Have fun. Go to the party.”

I turned to glare at my father, hoping he would sense my discomfort. My heart was pounding. I couldn’t believe he was asking me. Part of me knew there was no good reason a guy his age would want to hang out with us, but I was more concerned about how I would keep up with him in longer than cigarette-sized conversations, which were hard enough. How would I possibly go a whole evening with him and a party full of other people his age.

Ignoring my father's comment I tried to stall him with questions, like ‘so where’s the party’, while I thought of how to get out of it. As much as I liked being asked, there was no way I wanted to follow through.

“Go on, you’ll have fun", my father said.

I imagined people within earshot were thinking he was such a laid back dad. I wanted to scold him. Tell him he should know better.

“Well, it’s settled then. We should get going”, Alan said, grabbing his coat.

And so I went to the party. I got very drunk, very quickly, and discovered there were in fact some obvious reasons that someone his age would want a 17 year old girl tagging along. Thankfully, when I realized I was too drunk I had enough sense to tell him I was leaving. He tried to convince me to stay. He even told my friend, in an authoritative, adult tone, to go on home and that he would look after me; make sure I got home safely. It’s a good thing she wasn’t that na├»ve.

Alan didn’t pay much attention to me at work after that and I was thankful for it. I was embarrassed by my lack of maturity, my inability to handle my liquor, or the pressure; couldn’t play with the big kids. It never occurred to me that he was the one that should have been embarrassed.

Soon after that, my father called me one morning as I was getting ready for work. He told me not to come in, that they’d let him go, and changed the locks. I wasn’t surprised, but it hurt my heart. It was the sound of my father's voice telling me they’d changed the locks that sort of bounced around inside my ribcage for a while after.

He tried to pull through for me one more time after that, and I played a long, half-heartedly. I mean, he really tries. He always has. He moved to Cape Breton soon after he lost his job. He called one night and invited me to move there for the year to work at his new company. He told me it would be a real opportunity for me and for some reason I went along with it. He even offered to buy me a car so that I would be able to get back and forth from the mainland. I’d never asked for the job or the car, but there it was on the table. I think deep down I knew it wasn’t going to happen from the start. Still I played along. He even told me it was going to be a red volkswagon golf. We had long conversation about options like, should I go diesel? He explained the advantages and disadvantages. I listened closely, trying to understand. A transcript of our conversations would have revealed nothing abnormal, but like I said, I knew it wasn’t going to happen, even when he told me the car had been purchased and was waiting in a lot; waiting for the job to start and for me to make final arrangements to get there.

I can’t remember any of the details now of how the plans fell through. I just know they must've because I never moved there and there was never any red golf.

Lately I’ve been thinking about getting myself a car. I’ve never had one. I keep thinking about a four-door golf and only today did I remember I almost had one once before. Maybe it’s because I went out for dinner last night with Anna, one of my three closest friend, each of whom are about to have their first baby. Her husband bought her a Mercedes SUV yesterday. It was a surprise for her – something to make lugging around a baby and a stroller easier. Funny – I think I’d be happy to lug around a baby any old way, but I was excited for her.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


There’s something about September
That strikes me
Strangely enough
On this cold December afternoon.
Maybe it’s the wrap up and
The reunions
That remind me of
The way the wasps hang heavy in the air
Sun coming through from a distance
Just barely enough to believe
In summer.
Every day might be the last
And those of us living comfortable lives
Hold on by the fingertips
To September.
It’s the smell of sharpened pencils
Fresh packs of loose leaf.
It's sweating in back to school clothes
Worn too soon.
You always have a chance
To start from scratch
Though you almost never do.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

none of those things

We sat around the table in a seafood restaurant near the harbor; my father, his third wife, my brother, my brother's fiancee, and me. With a lull in the conversation we watched a fisherman pull up outside in a cube truck, open the back, and retrieve a large bag of mussels and a cooler.

My father began exactly where he left off.

"People in Montreal used to call me Dr. Finance, although my own finances are so screwed up they probably shouldn't have", he told us, chuckling at his own joke.

At least he doesn't have the delusion that he was worthy of the title, I thought to myself, although I have my doubts he was called that more than once.

He continued.

"You know me. I'm a psychiatrist. I'm a psychologist. I'm a counselor. I'm a coach, I'm a -"

"Dad", I cut him off. "You're NONE of those things."

My brother choked on his coffee holding back a laugh.

My father raised his eyebrows, opening his mouth like he was going to say, 'I'll have you know...' something, but then he stopped, frozen for a moment, and let it pass.

Monday, January 01, 2007


There will be no New Years resolutions for me. On a good day I spend enough time analyzing and reforming myself. Today? Forget it.

I arrived home to a nice clean place, unpacked my bag right away rather than let it sit for the better part of a week. I went to sleep sober, having spent much of my NYE in the airport in Halifax, Montreal, and on the airplane.I slept well and long and now I'm cooking oatmeal and coffee and getting set to watch some of the things I missed on my personal video recorder (PVR). In this way, I will spend my morning. Maybe in a couple of hours I'll go for a run outside. It's going to be a balmy 10 degrees and sunny here - well above zero. That's my kind of start to 2007.

I did however make a wish, to whoever might be listening, for health, peace, love, and happiness for my family and friends, and that includes you.