About Me

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If who we are is what we do, then like most people, I am a mixed bag of personas. Writer, bookworm, friend, are what first come to mind. Equally apt would be potty mouth, dog walker, Guinness drinker, swimmer, storyteller, political animal, baker and proud Canadian. Mostly though, I consider myself simply insanely lucky to have a small posse of near and dear ones who put up with me and my curvy, creative, curly haired, opinionated self. I started this blog several years ago with the idea to challenge myself in a myriad of ways. Years in, despite the sporadic entries, I still like to muse about the absurdity of life, what inspires surprises and angers me, books and other entertainments, my menagerie, my travels and any other notion buzzing round in my head.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flann Flatulence and 46

Busy weekend and even busier week ahead with more birthdays feted and the countdown to a pending implementation for a project I’ve been working on for several months coming due on March 30th. Still, a quick note to hold us over til things settle down.

Am slogging my way through Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds and sorry to say I’ve come upon the first book this year that I’m not really enjoying. It’s OK. Funny in bits but in an old, dated kind of humour. I’ve not come yet to any real understanding of why this book regularly sits on the list of 100 best novels ever written. Sure O’Brien is witty and deft at mockery but it could be this is too just dry for my liking. Nonetheless we’ll finish ‘er up so I can move on to something I enjoy more.

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t acknowledge the Marchies… those wonderful folk in my life who, like me celebrate birthdays this month.


It basically works out to a piece of cake every 5 days. Not too shabby. Some of you have found the fountain of youth, others younger and feeling older and some not too pushed either way. Much love to you all. At 46 this month myself, I can honestly say life gets better as I go along. To realize now that a lot of what one fusses about in your youth can be left aside and that living presently and contentedly in each moment is key to peace of mind is a wonderful feeling.

Zen stuff aside, there’s another great reason to celebrate birthdays (in our family at least) the search for and giving of the perfect birthday card. While all were fab, this year’s winner hands down goes to go to Chris Connor and Laura.

Front of card - As we grow older, things start to fail, our hearing diminishes. Luckily, nature in her wisdom compensates…..

Open card to sound of person letting rip a loud smelly fart….

Inside card…by making our farts louder!

Summed up best, regardless of your age, fart jokes just never get old.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit

Happy St. Patrick's Day
My Irish is almost non existant, but that's my best attempt at it in the title. In honour of my Irish heritage, first and most importantly, my best wishes.

May God grant you always
A sunbeam to warm you
A moonbeam to charm you
A sheltering Angel
So nothing can harm you
Laughter to cheer you
Faithful friends near you
And whenever you pray
Heaven to hear you.

Now being the generous sort that I am, a gift or two for you(and one for me). Without fail, my favourite band is U2. Masters of reinvention, a social conscience, collaborators, citizens of the world and fabulously gifted artists all of them. Here, my favourite U2 song, recently released featuring Mary J Blige.

For those of you who have never been lucky enough to visit Ireland, you really should go. Its a wonderful place. In the meantime, a taste of the country for you.

Now, a gift for me. An Irish classic. A book that frequently sits on the list of best novel's ever written, Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds. On the back cover of the copy I bought is a quote from Dylan Thomas. "This is just the book to give your sister if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl". Now how could I resist.

If I could send you all a virtual pint of Guinness I would, but we all know Guinness doesn't travel well. In the meantime, take the best of the Irish with you today, good humour, generosity of spirit and the ability to enjoy life to the fullest.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Me Talk Pretty One Day

I often do myself in before I even begin a book. This year’s selection was specifically chosen to include many authors and books which I felt, for one reason or another, I had missed out on til now. Expectations are high and frankly, although it may not seem so from the reviews I’ve given so far, I don’t wow easily with authors. I’m picky. I read a lot and have a short attention span. I’m critical and busy, so if a book doesn’t grab me early on, I move on to something else.

One of the things I’ve missed in this year's reading project has been the habit I’ve had for years of reading more than one book at a time. Usually, I have some non-fiction on the go, a classic and something lighter. I also read a fair bit of poetry and philosophy or other muse worthy selections. This split focus has made me feel in past as though I don’t read enough of what I love most – the fiction. So, I decided to try more of a one thing at a time approach.

Imagine my delight to find David Sedaris. He’s an essayist in the sardonic, irreverent, self deprecating sort of way. Like Alice Monro's (who is also on my list this year), his gems are short. Also like Alice, but in completely different ways, he’s wonderfully gifted and utterly unforgettable. I’ll get into his stuff in a second, but here’s the happy bonus to finding Sedaris. Because each essay is a story unto itself, I can move to another longer book if I choose. Like poetry, he is something I can pick up – get a quick fix of hilarity or inspiration and don’t feel so bad when I have to put the book down. Yes. That’s right. I am one of those sorry souls who miss my book when I am forced to leave it to engage in “life”. If I’m really enjoying a book, I want to finish it, see what comes next. I’ve never really gotten into short stories or essays before. That is about to change.

So now to Mr. Sedaris. I just know we are going to become good friends. Well his books and I will anyway. That said I will run out immediately to buy tickets the next time he’s in town to read his work. He’s as good in person as he is on the page I am told.

Me Talk Pretty One Day is an uproarious snort out loud funny selection of stories about David and the oddball characters that make up his life. Transported from New York to Raleigh North Carolina, there’s a fish out of water kind of feel to many of the earlier essays. His take on the speech therapist, Agent Sampson, assigned to help him get rid of his lisp while he steadfastly refuses to use the letter s is brilliant. Moving from grade school, to university where he mingles with avant garde artsies who create their pieces out of garbage while jonesing for a fix is the perfect set up for his later stories about David back in New York, working a succession of odd jobs, until he meets his boyfriend Hugh. The best stuff though, is from the period where David moves with Hugh to rural France for a while. Living in Paris, trying to learn the language and fit in, was comic gold. Throughout the book, David’s family figures prominently in his stories. Recounting his sister Amy wearing a fat suit to Christmas in response to her father’s obsession about weight and beauty had near tears streaming down my face on the subway. These few referenced snippets of Sedaris I’ve mentioned here don’t come close to describing the wildly entertaining read you’ll have when you pick up Me Talk Pretty One Day. His other books, Barrel Fever and Naked are already waiting for me on my bookshelf. But what are you waiting for? Go. Go now. Read him!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lost Boys and Kittys

What is it with some people and age?!! This month, as I celebrate birthdays galore, aging and how people handle it has become a common topic for discussion. Some of my circle are having landmark birthdays with big celebrations. Others, like me, will mark our special day with the usual dinners or pints out, some cake and ice cream, annual well wishes and a reminder of how lucky we are to be loved and another year older. I’m an embrace your age kind of person; an own your number kinda gal. I would never lie about my age, I’m proud of it. While I fully subscribe to the notion that age is merely a state of mind, there are limits.

Exhibit A – The Lost Boy

Recently, I have spent some problematic time around a man who has failed to grow up. Chronologically past 40, this guy resolutely behaves like he’s somewhere in the early 20 range. It’s obvious from the whining he’s subjected many of us in the office to that his was a sheltered and rather boring teen age. He didn’t go to college or university and thereby likely missed some of the inherent experiences that mark one's move from trouble seeking adolescent to responsible adult. Making up for these rites of passage now, he fails to understand that by the time you are over 40, with a life full of responsibilities which include a newborn child, a job, parents who need assistance in their aging years, all night binges that render you useless the next day seem rather self indulgent. His griping about the arguments had with ‘the wife’ over his desire to spend a chunk of his paycheck on a weekend in Vegas as opposed to stuff for the house garners little support for anyone in his situation, except ‘the wife’, who has to put up with his shit. Every time, I am in his presence all I can think of is that seen from Moonstruck where Cher slaps Nicholas Cage in the face. “Snap outta it!” I feel like yelling at him.

Exhibit B – Hello Kitty

Walking Murphy each morning I pass the usual set of characters each day. I live in one of the more affluent parts of Toronto, having moved to my place more for it's proximity to the hospital I was working at than any financial compatibility with my neighbours. What I like about the area is it's lovely old houses, wide and abundantly treed streets and a main drag which boasts an excellent selection of places to get coffee, bookstores and restaurants. What I hate is the sense of privilege that radiates from some of the more conservative folk. In amongst all that, are the weirdly tacky residents of the neighbourhood.

The female counterpart to my overgrown teenage work colleague is a group of women I call the Hello Kittys. This morning I ran into one such feline. 50ish and dressed head to toe in designer, tween inspired, fuchsia and purple walking gear, sporting unseasonable lavender earmuffs on this mild and muddy morning I could hardly miss her as she approached. Ms. Kitty and her pink leashed white fluff ball bounded towards Murph and me, all atwitter and perky. Little girl falsetto calling out to Sparky to stay out of the muck, (like that’s possible on a March day in Toronto), Ms. Kitty stopped to chat as our dogs sniffed at one another. Murphy, being his usual social self, stopped for a bit of play and I was stuck making pleasantries. Up close, I noted that although the coral lipstick (who wears makeup walking the dog at 7:15am???) didn’t quite match the pink of her jumpsuit it certainly showed off the tan she had from an obvious recent trip down south. With absolutely nothing in common to make small talk about, I commented on the milder weather (yes, the bitch made me break my New Year’s resolution) and bid her a good walk. It was only on turning around to tug Murph along our way that I caught a glimpse of her from behind. Blazoned on her saggy rear, book-ended by hearts, was the word JUICY.

It’s not lost on me that some of these youthful types may have the last laugh. For steamed as I am at having to cover for my colleague, he nonetheless got his day off nursing his hangover while playing Warcraft in his basement. As for Ms. Kitty, I ain't got nothing. For while I may admire her disregard of all societal conventions governing fashion for the middle aged, on a morning such as this, try as I might, I cannot envision for a second a universe where I would cover my arse with anything other than a perfectly fitting pair of jeans. A juicy ass? Maybe not. But neither was it fuchsia.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

If I had to narrow it down, I would say that Latin authors are my thing. Neruda’s poetry is a staple in my life and Allende and Vargas volumes are old friends who now take residence on my bookshelves with a newly arrived Roberto Bolano alongside my treasured, much loved and dog eared copies of Garcia Marquez classics. All have transported me to places and times far away. Some have invoked rage or indignation others brought me warmth or hope. Universally, I am awed by the talent of these artists and inspired by their ability to communicate, provoke and entertain me.

Reading as much as I do, I’m loathe to admit to just one, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez consistently tops my list of favourite authors. His Love in the Time of Cholera remains one of the best things I’ve read. It was a no brainer then to add his short story, Memories of My Melancholy Whores to my list for this year’s books.

The story goes like this: on his 90th birthday, a bachelor decides to treat himself to a night of wild lovemaking with a virgin. Having done so hundreds of times before, he contacts a local madam to help him with the arrangements. The young girl given to him for the evening, exhausted from her day’s work in a local button factory, falls asleep. He, so enchanted by her as she lays there beside him in bed, finds himself falling in love for the first time in his life.

Beautiful and sad (which is classic Marquez), somewhat disturbing and at times funny, Memories of My Melancholy Whores is an odd and haunting love story. Gabo’s written a wonderful little companion to the classics for which is has been so deservingly awarded and praised. As I knew I would, I loved this book!

The Maytrees

“Love so sprang at her, she honestly thought no one had ever looked into it. Where was it in literature? Someone would have written something. She must not have recognized it. Time to read everything again.”

I love a good love story. It’s a universal theme in our lives. To find love, keep love, overcome love gone wrong and try again. Hopeless romantic that I am, I suspect many others also find that a thoughtful author’s well written love story can evoke feelings like those of past loves and warm our hearts to our own present and future love. In Annie Dillard’s masterful hands, the love between Maytree and Lou pulsates off the page. You can feel their heartache, their joy, their anxiety and bewilderment. Provincetown and their community isn’t just a backdrop for the story, it is as much a character living along side them as Revedere the old moneyed, eccentric and many times married grand lady of the town or bohemian Deary, who’s actions scandalize the community and rock the foundation of Maytree and Lou for years.

Stirring, and thoroughly affecting, The Maytrees is a story that goes by too quickly and which you want to read time and time again, to experience this love once more, enduring and profound.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Catch up

A lot has been going on these past three weeks, and then again, nothing at all. Mostly, it’s just been my usual life and only laziness has prevented a blog post before now. I'll never be one who beats myself up for what I should have done. So no lamenting and woe is meing over not having posted before now. But, to quickly get back on track, a catch up is certainly in order. I can summarize my weeks away from blogdom as being busied with:

Seeing the last of my Oscar nominated movies
Trying to decide on whether to cut my hair or grow it
Getting a pedicure
Walking Murphy in booger freezing, ice cream headachey cold weather
Marveling at the lengths I will go to avoid doing dishes
Doing dishes
Watching the Oscars – Yeah Slumdog and Sean Penn (wonderful acceptance speech Sean!)
Making deals with the little spider who has taken up residence in the window sill of my bathroom – you climb up to the ceiling and I’ll try not to drown you when I shower
Booking my holiday to Barcelona and Ireland – Yah baby!!!!
Having the phone hung up in my ear (NOT my fault)
Inhaling all manner of Spanish travel literature
Drinking Guinness
Planning secret parties
Fending off weirdness in the workplace
Cheering for the Leafs
Pounding my fists in frustration
Writing more
Seeking inspiration in the form of Annie Dillard
Did I mention the trip to Barcelona???
Knitting (30 or so inches now, Marc)
Saying good bye to a well respected colleague
Losing weight, gaining some back, but mostly losing
Getting notes in the mail
Giving up swearing for Lent (Effing bloody hard, I would add!)
Potlucking it
Drinking someone under the table – Ah foolish mortals!
Buying books – at last count over 10 anyway – yikes
Watching Weeds on Showcase – who knew drug dealers were so entertaining?
Welcoming a new addition to my family
Writing an outline for a piece I’m submitting to a summer writing program
Separating whites from darks
Buying Coldplay tickets
Baking cookies
Wowing ‘em
Sending silly text messages
Trying to be there for someone who really needed me to listen
…and of course

See. It’s no wonder I didn’t have time to post anything here (big grin).

Have two book reviews to write… The Maytrees by Annie Dillard and Memories of My Melancholy Whores by my favourite author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’ll post these separately as both books deserve their own space, unsullied by my silliness. Am currently reading David Sedaris’ hilarious Me Talk Pretty One Day.

As for the weightier portion of this year’s project, as of today I’ve lost 7.6 lbs. Hard won and I’m pleased with that. Zigzagging a bit, but nonetheless moving slowing down the scale is how best to describe my weight loss to date. March is a terrifically social month for me, rivaling Christmas in events and dinners. We may zig more than zag, but the most important thing for me always is to be happy with myself and enjoy my life fully.

So, there you go. Caught up completely. Thrilled to bits to be planning my trip. Fam and friends around to celebrate no less than 7 birthdays this month, plus St. Paddy’s Day. Work chugging happily along and wonderfully, spring is just around the corner. What could be better?!!