Tuesday, February 27, 2007

two business days

One day, when I was home for the holidays and I had some time on my hands, I did a search on the Shoah Foundation holocaust database. Much to my astonishment I found my grandmothers's sister, my great aunt, who I was named after. After all of this time, all it took to find out what happened to her was typing in her name.

As the story goes, my aunt Rachel decided at the last minute not to make the attempt to escape from Poland with my grandmother. She didn't want to to be separated from her fiancee. The plan was that she was to wait for his family to leave and meet my grandmother in London as soon as possible. That time never came. My grandmother heard from a number of sources that Rachel was shot by nazis trying to flee.

That was the story...until my discovery in December. According to a record submitted from Israel in 1955, a women who identified herself as Rachel's aunt, a woman we did not know existed, declared that a Rachel with the same surname, same birth date, same birth place, and same parents names, died at Majdanek - a concentration camp. She was 28 years old. I'd heard the name Majdanek many times. Apparently it's the most well-preserved of camps; I read somewhere it could be up and running in two business days.

It doesn't change the outcome, but every piece of information means something. For one, it probably means I have more relatives in Israel. I wish my grandmother was alive to know.

The next day, I went into my mother's bathroom looking for eye make-up remover. I noticed a small photograph that looked like it had been cut down, at some point, to fit a frame. It was tucked under the lower right hand corner of the bathroom mirror. I'd seen it a million times but I guess I'd never really looked closely. It's a photograph of my mother and uncle visiting my grandmother, taken in the late 90's, not long before my grandmother died. They're in the garden of the psychiatric hospital where she spent the last years of her life. My mother looks tired and my uncle, uncomfortable in a button down shirt that had long been too tight. No one's happy. My grandmother was always so well dressed, and her hair always dyed to the rich brunette of her youth. She was beautiful, but in this photograph she's frail, hair a dull grey, and her mouth is pulled down at the corners and slightly open. It reminds me of the Munch painting The Scream.

I wondered why my mother picked this one to look at every day while she brushes her teeth, washes her face, puts on her make-up. And then it comes to me. It's a reminder for her to never be too happy; never have too much fun.

Maybe I can replace it with something nice, I thought. It's time. The bill has been paid in full.

I wanted to take it down. So very badly.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

and the award goes to

I'm sick on my lovely sofa, taking Cold FX, vitamin C, and echinacea, blowing my nose every five minutes, and watching the Oscars. I don't really care about the awards, but with nothing better to do I watch, if nothing else to see what people are wearing and the odd entertaining bit.

Thoughts in point form as I watch:

-Axl Rose—I mean Eddie Murphy—seems sad. I see it in his eyes and I know he told Barbara Walters that he's never been happier but I just don't buy it. Maybe I'm projecting or displacing, but I don't think so. When he didn't win I just felt so bad for him.

-People on the red carpet were wearing sleeveless dresses and no one appeared to be cold. As I looked off my balcony into the thick of the falling snow, I got excited that I would be there soon... Well not exactly there. It's still California, right? Apparently not. I checked my email a few minutes later and found a new message from Ronit, the friend I'm staying with in San Fran, telling me to bring warm clothes. "This place does not have 'California' weather", I think is what she said.

-I love the fact that I can pause the show, use the bathroom, talk on the phone, bake cookies, and then fast forward through the bad speeches and the commercials.

-Hands down the most authentic speech of the night goes to Ari Sandel, the winner of the short film West Bank Story. So well spoken and humble. And cute.

-So far, Al Gore is the big sleeper hit of the 2000's. I bet he'd be a great Dad. Just putting that out there.

-Seinfeld made the ugliest face during Al and Leo's presentation. If you tivo'd it you have to look at it. What the fuck was he doing?

-I was a little concerned that my eyebrows were threaded too thin yesterday. I like them on the thick side, but having examined many pairs of freshly threaded or waxed brows this evening, I think mine are good. And I thought this would be a waste of time.

-And long straight hair? Check. But I'm not sure how much I dig the draped-over-one-shoulder look.

-I love Robert Downey Junior. He's never looked better.

-I'm done at Michael Mann's look at America Through the Movies. Bedtime. I'll watch the rest tomorrow.

PS Speaking of brows, I couldn't fall asleep right away and I ended up watching Scorsese win. I am so relieved for him!

PPS Forest Whitaker REALLY deserved that award. And so did Helen Miran.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

turning and facing

Cold fear rolls in
Looking to make me into diamonds.
My body feels wrong
Like lips forming words
On the coldest winter night.
My best is gone.
I'm cardboard
A robot

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

red velvet anything

It's all about babies around here lately. Two down, one to go. I got to be Lana's 11 day old's first babysitter. As much as I love the babies I have to say it's really nice to come home to only be responsible for myself. In that way being single ain't so bad! I can do anything, at anytime, with whomever I please. and just think of the money I saved not buying a Valentine's gift for some guy, not getting waxed, manicured, pedicured, or buying sexy lingerie. Ok, I do most of those things anyway but I do them when I want. I'm also spending time making my small home [read rental apartment] look nice. Slowly but surely it's coming together. The color scheme is dark brown/black contemporary furniture with warm beiges and accents of aqua. I got these adorable chocolate brown pillows with aqua fleur de lit[s]. It's getting to be really lovely. I don't feel so much like a student anymore.

I've also been experimenting with cooking these days. I've been very creative; I would even go as far as to say a culinary trendsetter as far as boxed lunches go. Co-workers often go out of their way to see what I've brought for lunch. Lately I've even wanted to bake something...for real. Hilary posted a recipe last week for red velvet cupcakes that I just HAVE to bake. And I don't bake so it should be interesting. I don't know what it is...something about eating red velvet anything just sounds good.

PS Blogger spell check doesn't work on my mac and so if I you find mistakes [and I so often do, after the fact], try to ignore them.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

well now don't you tell me to smile

Honeywell to the rescue.
Even the name sounds succulent.
While I haven't tasted it
I can tell you this fan
Blows a smooth sound
Sending me air
By far fresher
Than white noise
On recording.
So tonight I envision a good sleep
And I fight off the blues
Trying not to think of sundays as funerals.
I go over the good things to come
The way my mother used to "tell me the days".
Tomorrow at work I will continue writing that chapter
Drink good coffee
From an environmentally friendly thermos mug
My only new year's resolution.
I will go to the gym
Meet with the personal trainer
A short man with no neck.
I know it's in his best interest
To make me feel like a work in progress
So I'm not falling for it this time.
If I work any harder
It'll be because it makes me feel good
And I don't care what he says.
I'm going to eat grapes at night.
Sugar turns to fat while you sleep, my ass.
And even if it does
I don't want to talk about it.
My father is coming to visit and
I'm going to try not to let his
Craziness get to me.
Maybe it's time.
My grandfather came to me
In my dreams last night.
And I can't help but wonder
If it was a sign.
There are interviews
And appointments
And a baby to be born.
Nothing is everything and
I'm trying to hold on to that feeling that
All of the pieces are coming together
Like planets.
Gravitational pull.
I allow them to circulate loosely
Beyond my reach.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I like nuts but not with you standing next to them

I stopped in at the grocery store to pick up a few things on my way home from work. There was a tall dark-haired man there in his 40s who seemed to be everywhere I was, sort of eyeing me funny every time I turned a corner. I started to think he was following me. I was looking for a container of almonds and there he was again, in front of me.

"Good selection, isn't it?"

"Yep, good selection." I answered, nodding but barely looking up.

"So, tell me something. Do you like nuts?" He asked.

I looked up and and he was sort of smiling, one side of his mouth drawn up tighter than the other

I immediately stopped what I was doing and walked away.

I skipped the almonds but I finished buying everything else I set out for and even though I thought there was a chance he was still following me around the store I didn't for a second give the impression of being nervous. I wouldn't give him the satisfaction.


Things here this week were...happening...on all avenues but love [and no, my run-in in the grocery store doesn't count], which is fine because V-day is kind of cheese to me anyway. I bought everyone at work easter creme eggs because they far surpass any and all v-day treats.

And you should see my new winter boots, purchased just in time for the storm this week. While they're warm and have sensible treads they're also tall and slender and look sexy with skirts. Me likey.

Also I'm obsessed with facebook right now.

Between interviews and writing, I'm planning my trip to California, which is only a couple of weeks away. I'm meeting my sister, who lives in Europe, there for a week and a half. We haven't seen each other in 2 years. When we were teenagers we used to dream we were going to travel across North America together in a VW van. We were going to head for Mexico in our 'magic bus'. We even wrote a song about it once. I wish I could remember how it went. I bet you she would. I guess intersecting international flights will do.

For the next two weeks I'm going to focus on all the good things going on in my life and not wish the time away counting down to my vacation. I have to tell you though, while it may not be tropical where I'm going, it will sure as hell beat bitter arctic weather patterns like the one stationed over Toronto for the past 4 weeks. You know how I feel about the groundhog so I would never want to dis him, but come on GH, you promised us spring!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I've always put my eggs in one basket
Made a well thought out move
And held my breath
Everything hinging on the effect
Cause unseen.
But rather than sit on things longer
Now I take what I want.
No refraining or
For the preservation of others.
They’ll figure it out.
There's this guy I know
Who wishes he had the balls
To end it.
Funny, I've always wished
I had the balls to live.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

use it up

The CD player in my bedroom broke.
My boom box.
I was left with no white noise
To protect me
From the Friday night sounds below.
I slept fitfully and dreamt
I was pregnant and that my fridge
Was filled with chili paste
In odd tupperware containers.
I worried about how long it would stay good and
How I would use it all up in time.

Monday, February 05, 2007

only has eyes

We sat side by side at the end of a long row of pedicure chairs. We talked of babies and sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome and all of the other wonderful changes women put up with to have children. The conversation fell into comfortable lulls, the way good friend's conversations do. I looked down the row of people to a pretty woman in her mid- to late-thirties. She had her son with her. He was sitting on her lap, playing with plastic dinosaurs. I couldn't believe how patient and well-behaved he was.

"How old do you think he is?", Lana asked. She must have followed my gaze.

"I don't know. Maybe five. It's all in the training, right?"

"Exactly. I'll just have to make sure mine starts young."

A little while later the boy and his mother came to the back section where the nail dryers are. We watched him do a double-take when he passed Lana. He tugged at his mother's shirt and whispered in her ear. His mother laughed.

"He's asking about the baby in your tummy."

I hoped Lana would spare them her usual 'what baby?'-trick, which is just plain mean.

"He wants to know if it's a boy or a girl."

"It's a girl", Lana answered. "Can you think of nice girl's name?"

The little boy wrinkled his forehead thinking hard.

"Mommy", he answered with finality.

We all laughed.

"C'mon sweets" his mother encouraged, "how about a girl's name in your class? Can you think of any girls names from school?"

He paused for a short moment, looking at his feet, and shook his head.


Either this kid is absolutely the cutest thing EVER or he just played us like a buncha suckers.

Either way, well played kid. Well played.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

no shadow

This week has been too much. There have been four torturous nights of insomnia. I feel like a machine missing it's parts; the parts that allow you to fall asleep. Maybe if I had more sleep I would be able to come up with a better analogy. Two out of three of my pregnant friends gave birth to healthy and lovely babies. The weather has been cold and my skin is itchy from the winter dryness. It's only getting colder. For the coming week the expected highs are around -10 degrees. Inhuman.

Recently I also made a career decision, which was a long drawn-out and painstaking process. I gathered up all of my courage and made a plan, updated my resume, and applied to a handful of positions last week. I was surprised to be called for an interview so quickly and they gave me 24 hours to prepare, which entailed the regular interview prep as well as reviewing relevant pathophysiology etc... All of this had to take place within an already full week, between work, visiting babies, and sleep that would not come. My boss, who has been in the loop on this, responded to the news by trying to 'retain' me, coming up with creative solutions that would combine the clinical work I am looking for with an academic/research role. I'm not sure why she's so determined, but I guess I should be flattered. The problem is that while it could be a good opportunity, it's really clouding the decisions I so painfully made. Part of me is relieved because it reduces the anxiety that facing a huge change in my life would cause. I would be looking at shift work [12-hour shifts, 50/50 days and nights, and working every second weekend]. I would be taking a pay cut too. I'm just afraid that I wouldn't be doing my plans justice by staying. I guess there's no harm in talking to them about it.

Then there were angry accusations followed by lusty propositions. Apparently I made Andy feel 'asexual' last week when we went out. I didn't mean to, but when he didn't kiss me goodnight...again, I started to wonder if we were just friends. I was feeling very little attraction for him or from him. For me, usually I can tell if there's chemistry from a kiss. Four or five dates in and no kiss? I didn't want to wonder any more so I made a smart-ass remark to stir up a discussion like, "so I guess we'll just keep doing this?" I pointed back and forth between us.

Let me go back a little. For our second date he invited me over to his place to watch a movie. I politely declined but he sensed some awkwardness and asked me about it. I told him I didn't feel comfortable with that because it was too soon. I barely knew him, and generally 'watching a movie' includes very little movie watching. Besides, a girl can never be too careful. He laughed. When I asked him what was so funny, he explained to me that he and his friends call that the 'cock block' and that it's so funny that girls think that if they don't 'give it up' early on, somehow it will increase the chances that the guy is going to end up liking them for 'who they are', but if you sleep with someone right away they'll see you as disposable. Then he told me, like he was imparting a great nugget of wisdom, that in fact guys know if they're going to like a girl within the first few minutes of meeting them so nothing they do or don't do, sexually, is going to change that.

I listened patiently, waiting until he finished talking.

"Interesting theory", I said, "but you and your friends assume the girl is going to like YOU regardless; that it's all in your hands. I don't want to go back to your apartment on a second date because I don't know you. I can't speak for any other women, but the way it works for me is that I like to get to know someone before I sleep with them, not in the hopes that they'll learn to like me 'for who I am', but rather to decide if I like THEM".

So the morning after the no-kiss goodnight, he emailed me to tell me that I made him feel asexual. He offered up two reasons for not kissing me: (1) he is way too mature to 'make-out' on a street corner [like that's what I had been holding out for]; and (2) he had been trying to respect the 'get to know me' clause.

Funny, I thought, how over a week had gone by before he had even called me to ask me out again. And then another week rolled by before I saw another [very short] email from him, which came the other day, containing exactly two words:

"How goes?"

I told him I'd had a stressful week and he replied moments later.

"Me too. Got a huge account. Let's celebrate with a sleep over."

I can't be bothered to respond. The only reason I'm even writing about it now is because it amuses me. Way to get to know me asshole.

But seriously, why can't anyone be charming? Even just a little?

Anyway, Friday morning I was abnormally emotional. It was the job, the lack of sleep, and the babies. I think the babies triggered some chemical reaction. I knew it was bad when I cried over the groundhog prognosticating that spring was 'just around the corner'. It was a happy cry at first, but it quickly turned into straight crying. I have a thing for groundhog day, by the way. I really do. I cried...and clapped when I heard spring was almost here. Cried and clapped over toast and coffee, alone in my apartment. Sometimes it feels like I'll never be anything but alone.

Last night I met up with Josh for dinner. I really needed that to wipe away the week. We laughed our asses off about Lana's water breaking at costco. It isn't always as dramatic as it is on TV, so she was in complete denial. She pretended it wasn't happening and finished shopping and went back to work for a couple of hours before she called her husband. Josh kept laughing about it, going, "Clean up in aisle 7. Oh, wait...clean up in aisle 5. Clean up in aisle 7 again."

Today I got my new couch, but it came so late I missed the movie I was supposed to go to with some friends, so I decided to stay home and watch some Woody Allen and admire my new couch. Tomorrow I am meeting Harry for breakfast and then going to make dinner for Lana and her husband and to see the baby. Everything feels better again. I think I may even sleep tonight.