Friday, January 30, 2009

My level best

Yesterday I had a sick day – ear infection – but I’m back at the office today and I’m tirrrrred. And relieved, because in addition to feeling under the weather, I’ve hardly had any work to do this week, and since I’m trying to get my contract transformed into fulltime, that’s baaaaaaad. I don’t want to be idly sitting at my desk looking like I’m, well, idle. But I had a ton of emails this morning and it’s good and busy, for now at least. Hurrah!

I made myself come in though, even though I’m still feeling crapola. I don’t want to get into the habit of taking sick days, because I tend to disproportionately enjoy them. (For example, yesterday I slept all morning, then had cereal and toast for lunch with Charlie before he went to school. Then I lay on the couch all afternoon watching the Sex and the City movie, then watched it again with the writer’s commentary; now that’s a deliciously, addictively, lazy day.)

In my normal pre-CBT pre-Cipralex life, I typically needed to take a sick day about once a month. Just to let my skin heal from the stresses of the world. And I haven’t had to take one since my last week at Jobsite X back in September (and truthfully I didn’t really have to take that one; I was PMSing and spiteful). Before that, not since May, when I was still having panic attacks and adjusting to the meds. And, be warned anyone who ventures into altering your body chemistry with Cipralex: it’s a great drug, but it takes a helluva long time to help you – like four months at the very least. And in the meantime, it’s going to make you feel much much worse.

These days, however, I think it’s great. Cuz I’m back at my desk, feeling like crap, yet very happy to be here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No worries

Don't be afraid of all this pink. Nobody has any kind of cancer these days; Charlie just wanted to redecorate my blog.

Here's a bit of our balcony this afternoon; I came home early cuz I got an earache and it was so pretty out there I had to take this little snap.

Now, I must excuse myself; we have to have our dessert now. Ice cream with chocolate sauce
and sprinkles. We're not messing around.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Facing up to facts

My own personal weirditude:
  1. I can’t finish a book in public.
  2. I have a heart murmur.
  3. When I was little, I saw a picture of my mom when she was little. I couldn’t understand how it was possible that a little girl and a woman could actually be the same person. This quandary made me wonder if perhaps our souls get replaced with different ones as we grow up. I vowed to check myself regularly by memorizing how I felt at a given moment, and seeing if I recognized my younger self at the next check. So far, so good.
  4. Sincere applause makes me cry.
  5. Inappropriate applause makes my eyes water (like in church, for example).
  6. Seeing someone make an ass of themselves makes my eyes water (again, in church, when I was a kid there was a couple who went on a “marriage encounter” weekend, and then stood up and went to the pulpit at the end of mass to say, in unison, “Boy are we glad we did!” Oh god.)
  7. I was a guardian angel once for a little boy with ADD. He’d taken off from his parents’ house and gotten on the subway. I had an impulse to get off before my stop, encountered the boy, and stuck with him, until he bolted onto another train just as the doors were closing. So I called the cops. He’d told me, bit by bit, that he was going to a cub scout’s meeting at a church, so I checked the phone book for church that was closest to that subway stop, and lo and behold when I got there, he was there, thank God, as were his parents and the police.
  8. Marionettes give me the creeps; in fact, they make me nauseous. It’s their uncanny valleyness.
  9. The sound of a tennis ball bouncing is so soothing to me it practically makes me knees buckle and my eyes close.
  10. I used to be terrified of riding a bike.

And now, what makes you unique?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Movie with music. Also, a good book

Charlie and I went to the coffee shop for a treat on Saturday, right after buying a new area rug for the living room (yay!). On the way home, we stopped in at the convenience store; I felt like picking up a movie. I had a hard time finding anything remotely appealing and figured maybe I wasn't really in the mood to pick one. I grabbed one called "Once" and read the back, which sounded like it'd either be okay or cheesy. Then I noticed it was produced by the Irish Film Board, which gave me hope, so I took it home.

I loved it! It's about a busker who's struggling away with his music, and a woman walks by him late one night on the street and asks him about the song he's singing. By day he repairs vacuum cleaners, she has a broken Hoover, which is the thing that lets them continue talking to each other, and launches the story.

There's tons of great music in the movie - all original - and it's a lovely simple story, well told. Check out the music and then rent it; it's soooo good.

Now the book. As I've mentioned, we've been cleaning and sorting and organizing over the past three weekends. It's been great culling and clearing stuff out, but best of all, I've had the delicious task of going through all of our books. All at once! Heaven.

Which lead me to pick up a Carol Shields book from near the bottom of the pile, called Small Ceremonies. I stuffed it in my backpack and took it out on the bus on my way to work.

And was, well, don't want to sound too dramatic, but I was transported. I continued reading on the subway, crowded in, mashed up against the door, and holding the book up three inches from my eyeballs (not easy at 45, to see that close). And I read and read and read til I was done (always sad to be done a good book). A biographer wants to write fiction; values it more. She's a watcher of people, insatiably curious, but also prone to making observational statements about herself which are not completely reliable, but are entertaining. She steals a plot from someone. And then her stolen plot is stolen by someone she knows. I seriously enjoyed it.

I haven't read everything that Carol Shields wrote, but with this book, as well as Unless, I really wanted to talk to her about it, and that she had some insight into my weird brain.

Books, a good movie with good music. Bliss.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The glorious weekends - redux

All day yesterday, and even last night, the only thing that was on my mind was the same thing that was bugging my butt: the much-touted, albeit with a cult following of haters, Aeron office chair.

The "waterfall" does indeed hurtcha on the butt and back of the legs all the live-long day, and they did cost the company a zillion bucks, but they bought the large-size chair for everyone, so all of us who are shorter than, say, 6'1", are too big to sit back without looking like Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann.

But now that it's a glorious sunny freezing cold Saturday, and I've had a sleep-in (thanks to my husband), and lunch with Charlie - a baloney sandwich with mustard, while watching Maisie and reading the paper - I think, what could be better? I like my kid, my home, my husband, my bed, work, the people I work with, I just read a great book (more later), and my family and I have the rest of the afternoon - and weekend - to hang out. We might even go out and try to replace our horrid old ikea seagrass rug, which is giving us slivers.

I'm happy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's deja vu all over again

Monday morning I left our place late, around 8:28 (Charlie was just being too cute to leave). I got to the bus stop about five minutes later, the bus arrived about a minute after that. One stop after mine a fellow gets on; he's wearing a beige winter coat with a brown furry collar and a fedora-type hat. He's got one of those faces that always looks like it's smiling.

Tuesday, I left around 8:55. Slept right through my alarm, which is what happens when you sleep with your head under the pillow. So I probably got on the bus around 9:00. Next stop, a fellow with a beige coat, furry collar, fedora, smile, gets on. Same guy. Even though I left about 25 minutes later.

This morning I leave at 8:00 (which is when I'm supposed to leave). Get on the bus around 8:05, and next stop, the smiley fedora guy gets on.

Why does this happen?

A couple weeks ago I got on the bus and sat in front of a teenage couple, making out. On their way to school, I assume. Next day I got on the bus roughly 45 minutes earlier, and there's the same couple. Making out.

My bus route is on a very busy street. There's tons of buses going by; one every three minutes, I think, during rush hour. How is it that I so often see the same people morning after morning? Even if I didn't leave a different times, how is it they get on the same bus?

It's this kind of weirdness that keeps it interesting on the TTC.

Downer P.S.: Just heard about a shooting on the subway platform. At the station just before my work stop. Ugh. Let's keep it boring, folks. And leave your guns at home.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

He's already getting the gears

He is already getting a rougher ride and, no, I don't see it as being simply because the expectations placed upon him are unrealistic for a human. I think he's already being given a harder time because he's black.

Already today in some of the newspapers I read I saw things like the coverage was boring, the speech was perhaps not amazing. Like this from the Toronto Star and Metro News (the commuter newspaper), "A good speech, but not Obama's greatest. One that echoed - yet somehow did not quite match - the landmark addresses of FDR and Geo. Washington."


Oh, so coolly unimpressed.

This from the same folks who not that long ago were routine apologists for Bush and his war crimes and lies, and applauded him any time he managed to string a proper sentence together. I even remember reading something like this in the NY Times, "Perhaps these times call for a simple man." Sure, okay, but as President? Don't think the job requirements call for a simple man, actually, or even a man necessarily.

Even without watching Obama deliver that speech, try just reading it yourself. It was amazing, eloquent, intelligent, brave. Realistic, and rightfully rebuked the former administration. And delivered with conviction and, god help us, the proper sense of occasion. Which it was.

This was big. Prejudice is real and ever-present. Even in our smug city. On my morning commute, do the majority of faces of colour get off the subway train at the stop adjacent to the bank towers? Nope. They get off at Queen's Park, to go to work for the provincial government and the university - both institutions with long histories of equal opportunity hiring practices and, here and there and controversially, employment equity.

If Bay Street in 2009 won't systematically hire minorities without being mandated to, you better bloody well do your best to appreciate the miracle that occurred yesterday.

At my office yesterday, we were watching, and it wasn't boring. It was nothing short of amazing. With some heckling of the pastor for his professed anti-gay views. Then we were quiet, listening. Then, a commentator on the TV told us that it was now noon, and Obama was Prez, even without the oath. We cheered. We cheered again when he was sworn in. And then we listened again, every single person in the room hanging on every word of that magnificent speech. It was a momentous occasion.

And today, he's already gettin' the gears.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009

I don't think I'm quite the right person to comment on today. So, I'm posting this, (with permission) from our office admin assistant (also an actress and writer), in an all-staff email yesterday:

On November 4, 2008 Barack Obama was elected America’s first African-American president and I was astounded. Unlike some people who felt that it wasn’t a big deal and a foregone conclusion I was sceptical that he would get elected because of my personal experiences and those of my American brethren. Thankfully I was proven wrong and Obama is going to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America on January 20. His ascension is proof that we all stand on the shoulders of giants to get to the top; nobody does it on their own.

In the midst of the deadlines, the snow and the endless meetings I’m hoping that we can all take a moment and witness history taking place tomorrow. The Inauguration will be on in the lunch room accompanied by breakfast (provided generously by the exec). While we cannot say we were in Washington on the Mall when Obama raised his hand over the Lincoln Bible we can witness history being made, however remotely. So, meet me in the lunchroom after 9 am and we’ll celebrate this historic event because it’s not just an American triumph, it’s a world celebration.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Emptying my brain, so at least something is empty

We're actually cleaning and organizing for the third weekend in a row!

Charlie and I have organized his entire room, including his books and clothes; my husband is working hard on his studio/office/workshop; last weekend we organized the TV area, along with Charlie's living room toys; and now we're tackling four bookshelves.

Which means at the moment the whole place is in utter chaos, since we've had to move chairs and pictures into Charlie's room so we can move one bookshelf out into the dining room and the two big Billy bookshelves from the dining room and living room into the bedroom. Then we can have one whole wall of books all in the bedroom, and Charlie's activity books and the music books and the cookbooks can go into the dining room.

Now, better get back to it! Chaos pics to follow :o)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beware brass monkeys

The cold snap has given us some dramatic views of the city skyline these past two mornings.

Disturbing, actually. But also beautiful. As most weird things are.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Makeup text

I find it fascinating to watch someone put on their makeup on the bus. While the new TTC buses ride a lot smoother than the old ones, it’s still a pretty bumpy ride. This morning I watched a woman do the whole routine, starting with foundation. She also put two different kinds of stuff on her lips and also put on blush (is it still called that?), then did her eyebrows, brushed on eye shadow and something else (someone stepped between her and I). She looked pretty good.

Then we got to the subway where she ended up seated right across from me, and put on eyeliner, dropping the cap — her one and only dropsy — and I quickly retrieved it for her. She gave me a warm smile, and finished off the whole routine with mascara. It was probably a good decision on her part not to curl her lashes. Too dangerous.

Seriously though what skill! She only dropped one thing, there was nothing smeared oddly, the eyeliner was straight, she didn’t stick anything into her eyeball and even the lipstick was on right. I have significantly more trouble in my own bathroom. But I think the difference between her and me is practice.

Of course while I truly do admire these feminine skills which have always eluded me, I also wonder why, if someone’s going to perform their morning beauty routine in public, how they decide to draw the line at applying makeup. I mean, why not floss?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Easing back in with a meme

Mary at The Eleventh has (at my request) given me five interview questions to answer, passing along a meme that's making its way around some very cool blogs. Here are the questions she sent — and my (interpretation of the questions and their) responses.

1. What was the worst birthday present you ever received?
I can’t recall a crappy birthday present - my birthday is in the summer, which always seems to make it extra sweet - but I did receive a Valentine’s Day present that stands out. Many years ago, the fellow I was seeing at the time presented me with a Pez dispenser. He so thoughtfully picked it up on the way to my place where I’d made a gorgeous steak dinner. He said the flowers at the subway station looked too crappy and figured the Pez dispenser would be much more appreciated because it was “funny”. I don’t even remember what kind it was – Donald Duck maybe? - because I crushed it with my boot and threw it away. And broke up with him a few days later. Then went out with him again. Then broke up with him again. Ugh.

2. If you could go back to your childhood and alter the course of one event with your family, what would it be?
For many, many, many reasons, the one really big thing I'd change is I’d have gone to a university that was closer to home. Not that bad things can’t happen at, say, Trent, but I think I would’ve been much happier than I was if I'd been able to visit my family more often, and I would’ve been able to be there a bit more for my youngest brother.

3. What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Hmm. Going into therapy the first time. I don’t know if technically that counts as a risk, but it sure felt like one, and it was the biggest leap of faith I've ever taken in my life. And it was definitely the scariest thing I’ve ever done. And it totally paid off because I now have the wonderful life I do because of it.

4. Assuming all goes as you wish, what will you say at the end of the year when someone asks you what your proudest accomplishment was?
I secured fulltime employment and we did not increase our debt.

5. What movie that other people loved did you absolutely NOT love, and why?
Atanarjuat and Modern Times. Both are beautifully shot, but too misogynistic, which taints any acclaim, for my money. Also, I’ll throw in As Good As it Gets because no way would she have gone for him. And there's a movie I loved that nobody else I know did: After Hours – I thought it was hilarious: poor Griffin Dunne, just like Dorothy, just wants to get home. Back in my 20s I had many nights like felt like that one.

And for those who'd like a challenge,
1. Email me (or leave me a comment) saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I naively thought that we'd come home from our Christmas holidays - visiting both sets of parents - with at least a bit less stuff than we drove up with, but no, we came home with quite a bit more. So the only way we could jam the new stuff into our apartment is to get rid of a whole bunch of old stuff. We cleaned all weekend, and we have a FIT-ful of stuff to take to Goodwill to show for our efforts.

Next weekend, I'm tackling my half of our bedroom closet. It's a walk-in (it even has a light!), but, sadly, it's getting quite difficult to walk in. The truth is - and I'm not ashamed to admit it - [I am ashamed, actually] I am a packrat with sentimental tendencies and a love of craft materials, office supplies, books, magazines, records, teacups and old china, oh and also, old jewelry and pretty much all the cards and most of the letters I've ever received. Plus favourite dresses (that no longer fit), and several boxes of stamps (the kind you need a stamp pad for) that I bought from the estate auction of my husband's great aunt. I also have her uh, 72 piece set of old Limoge china. Which I also bought at the auction. I couldn't help it.

The weekend after, I'll do my desk. I really will.

And tomorrow, I start my contract.