Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 2 - a visit with a baby

So I got my run in and it was great! I made friends with the girl at the gym and she'd willingly sneak me in, but she doesn't work there during the week, so I will have to find another way or pay - blah.
Got back to my room, showered, dressed, and went downstairs where Geert and Jess picked me up and we went to visit Lisa and her three-month old daughter, Sandra. She's an awesome baby - cute and so happy. She laughed a lot while we were there, finding us all very funny looking. It was great catching up with Lisa and discussing all manner of things over lunch and coffee. I got back and I skyped the kids - I miss them, but it's so nice to be able to see them and always feel better after a call. Technology certainly helps with mommy-guilt.

It's like I never left

Well, I made it over but the trip was exhausting and half the contents of my suitcase got soaking wet for some unknown reason and so I have things drying every where and my room looks like a refugee camp.
I got to the airport and was told the flight was overbooked and I was put on standby - great considering I knew how completely booked the flights are for the next few days. While waiting, a huge group of high school kids came in - they were participating in some band-related thing and were very excited, oh yay. I overheard this old man talking on the phone to his wife, mostly because he was shouting. He's quite old, with one of those HUGE lower lips, talked to her about refusing the wheel chair the airline offered, his pills, what he ate at the airport, and that they hadn't called for boarding yet (they actually had called for boarding of passengers with kids and who needed help, but he didn't hear them). Guess who I got sat next to? I barely slept the transatlantic because he was wheezing and getting up and rummaging around to take pills and complaining (it's too dark, the entertainment system is hard to use, he's thirsty, the attendants aren't around....). He's going to Australia and he can barely walk. I wish him luck with the dingos......
I ended up watching An Education, which was sweet but predictable which I didn't expect from a Nick Hornby screenplay. And of course I had a window seat, so time spent staring out into space. There's that lovely time during the flight where you watch the horizon and the sun rise.That dark blue changing to yellows and oranges, the sky lightening, it's so beautiful. I think I could watch it a million times and it would never get old.
Frankfurt was great - no snow and 12C! We arrived late because of delays and deicing so I had to get downtown right away. I found the train, but there's no one to help you, and I wasn't sure exactly where I was going. I broke out my German and figured out how to get where I was going. I watched people's faces as they tried to figure out what I was saying, then they'd reply and I'd be getting one word in six. I swear that I am language disabled...
The Swedes were happy to see me though! Bless their hearts! I took the train downtown, and when I was buying my bus pass the guy behind the counter kept giving me promotional granola bars - I must have ten in my bag.
Got to my room, showered, hung up all my wet clothes, and did my groceries at the ICA downstairs. It's a bit like coming home. I know the transit system and even the layout of the supermarket. God I love the yogurt here! And granola! Granted, not as good as mine, but miles better than Montreal. The weather here is like I never left Montreal, snow, slush, cold, sigh...
My friend called last night to tell me he arranged a pass at the gym near here for me and I emailed a few people and then passed out finally.
I woke up at 8, I feel better and I'm thinking it's time for a run.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Better today. Just trying to get everything and everyone organized.
And clean my house! What a mess!

Monday, February 22, 2010

umarme mich, bitte, ich bin verloren......ich brauche...etwas... so müde....

Sunday, February 21, 2010


My life is full of lists right now: lists for work, lists of documents, lists of tasks, lists of chores, lists of things I need to do before I leave, lists of things to bring, things to drop off, and a special list that got started in my brain one night and is now nearly complete. I'm not sure what to do with this last one, although every rational thought in my body is telling me to write it out and then shred and burn it.
So we'll stick to the other lists for now shall we?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How you phrase it

I was having a conversation with a friend recently and we were discussing languages (and my apparent disability when it comes to learning them). I mentioned that among the other truly not useful things stored in my brain is the phrase "I don't know how to speak Russian", which actually did come in handy one day at a pharmacy, much to the confusion of the Russian lady I replied to. He thought that was a very useful phrase, and added these to the list of ones you should know when first learning a language: "Where is the bathroom?", "What's for dinner?", "Will you marry me?", "Are we married?", and "Take me to your leader". I was reading Molly Watson's excellent cooking blog, when I came across this post. In it she talks about a very strange phrase book she and a companion picked up which included phrases such as, "your hair is like gold, but more precious", and "you dance like a fairy". I have decided that learning how to tell someone that they dance like a fairy is too good to pass up. My daughter would appreciate hearing it, and perhaps because I am a girl I will avoid being seriously injured by a man in a discotheque. So, we'll start with Swedish I think:
Du dansar som en älva.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Girls who wear glasses

It is the end of an era. A few weeks ago, I went for my eye checkup, which I do religiously every ten years. Normally I go and the doctor tells me to come back in another ten years. This time, however, was different.
My eyesight is still great, I can still read the tiniest print on the farthest card with relative ease, but my eyes are getting old. As the doctor explained it, "you know how at the end of the day after you've been on the computer working and you've been doing a lot of reading and your eyes are really tired and sometimes you have a headache? Well, that's not supposed to happen." Oh. So she fiddled with all the settings on that machiney they make you look through and came up with the world's tiniest prescription for glasses to be worn when I work at the computer and for reading when my eyes feel tired. I went with my girlfriends and picked out some frames and the glasses came in. I wore them for the first time today, and I have to ask, HOW DO PEOPLE WEAR THESE THINGS ALL THE TIME? I can barely manage 20 minutes without making myself bonkers. Looking through a layer of glass at stuff isn't normal. Seeing the edges of glasses in your vision is distracting. I got a smudge on them and my eyes started to water. I'm not even sure that they make me look smarter. And I can't look through them for anything past my computer screen, so I have to look over them, or take them off to look at anything else. On the plus side, this does make it much harder for me to poke myself in the eye.
When I was a kid I always wanted glasses, I was jealous of all the kids who had them. Now I realise why so many people get laser surgery. My friends have told me that I'll get used to it, and I know they are right. I guess I don't have much of a choice anyway. Is senility and hearing loss that far behind?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A little lecture

Lots of things going on at the CCA lately. Last week I went with some friends to attend Pecha Kucha (or as I call it, Petcher Koochie). The theme was cleaning up the city, and I enjoyed the presentations even though it was hot and we ended up sitting on the floor. The beautiful people were out again, tall, young, hip, smart....I stuck out like a jar of peanut butter at a sushi restaurant. The coffee after with the gals made me feel less stupid and old though.
Tonight was one of a series of lectures for something called Ephemeral City. They were discussing public space. There were three speakers: Hal Ingberg, who is responsible for the coloured glass on the Palais de Congres, a Concordia grad student who had a good topic but read something she'd written so it was interesting but flat, and an architect who was probably fascinating but who I missed because I decided to meet a girlfriend for coffee. There was another event there tonight dealing with NASA and the challenges of filming in space - I should have gone to that I think.
As I left it was snowing. I cannot describe how nice the CCA space is. It's oddly quiet. You can see the stars most nights, and as you walk along the length of the building outside, you can look straight down Baille and see the search light on top of PVM. I love that light, it always makes me happy, always makes me think, home.
I have to pass out now so that I can get up super early and start answering emails.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Frenzy begins

Travel plans have begun again! They wanted me at the head office next Monday, but I think that I can manage being there the week after. The next time I went I wanted to tack on a couple of weeks for personal vacation time, but my work schedule may make this impossible. I'm looking forward to seeing my friends, visiting some of my favorite places. I'm also trying to book meetings with people I should really talk to while I'm there. And of course juggling my work schedule at home. Am currently researching all the changes to the project and contacting the teams to coordinate. I'm exhausted thinking about it all, but happy - can't wait to get there and see my buds!
Ran another 10km today - couldn't feel my legs at the end, but I did it!

A little music

After work I headed down to PdA and grabbed a last minute seat for the MSO. I was expecting a balcony ticket, but got one on the corbeille for $25 tax in. The lady on my left smelled vaguely of pancakes, the overly-tall fellow on my right (with binoculars) smelled a bit like Richard....still miss the way he smells... yes, pathetic, moving on.
Kent Nagano was in da house (ok, I'll stop that), which was entertaining for the flying hair alone. The program started with the premiere of a new piece by Gilles Tremblay. Tremblay was in da house (ok, I'll really stop this time, I promise!), and Nagano addressed him and told him what a personal influence he'd been growing up. It was touching, and I understood every word thanks to Nagano's anglo accent speaking French. The piece was commissioned by Radio France, L'Origine, for mezzo-soprano and orchestra.
Well, I didn't get it, or maybe I should say it wasn't my style. It had energy, but it was cacophonous, meant to be a commentary on society I suppose. According to the words the soprano was singing (she was lovely by the way, but hard to hear), the message was supposed to be positive, but I, and I have to say my seatmates, were not impressed. There was one woman in the front who loved it, but I'm pretty sure she would have given a standing ovation to paint on a wall. When you have all these instruments that can make such beautiful sounds, why waste your time producing something that sounds like a city street? You could go outside for that.

Now Beethoven, he knew what to do with an orchestra. Till Fellner was the guest pianist and impressed the pants off us with Piano Concerto no 1 in C major. It was a truly memorable main event. He'll be back playing the Orford festival according to the program.

The evening ended with some Brahms, lulling in the middle to the point of making me drowsy, but then a nice smashy, conductor crazy flying hair, all the string musicians pulling out the last ounce of energy from their arm muscles, ending.
And another highlight of my evening - I parked in a spot that wouldn't let me pay - the machine said that I couldn't park there, but it wasn't marked, and I didn't get a ticket, so free parking!

Monday, February 15, 2010

True love

Ok, so it's midnight on Valentine's Day and I'm just getting around to this. V-day started early this morning when the kids climbed in for a snuggle. Ben wished me a Happy Valentine's day before he even got into bed. There's something so indescribably wonderful about having a conversation with cuddly children in bed on a lazy weekend morning. That was my V-day gift, and it was the best present ever. We got up and I made waffles and cut little hearts in them which amused everyone. Their dad came and got them a while later, leaving me the rest of the day to myself. It was cold today, but not frigid, so I got dressed up and prepared for a run. It's getting harder to get out there lately, and I've been trying not to feel bad about that. I hate the treadmill - it's convenient and warm, but so dull that I can only do about 6km before I die of boredom no matter what music I have playing. To have a proper run, I really have to be outside.
So out I went, not wanting to brave the elements, but in need of the thing that makes so much of my life better. I count on running now, it's become more than a friend to me. It brought me through a really tough time and continues to offer me peace and calm when nothing else can. If you had told me a few short years ago that I would be running 10km on a Sunday morning, I would have looked at you like you were insane, but now I do it with relative ease. I am not a fast runner, I get passed by the people in the fancy black running clothes like I'm standing still, but it's not about speed or time for me, it's about quiet and release, listening to my body and letting my mind go.
I am contemplating a half marathon in April if my schedule permits (my travel schedule may conflict with the race or interfere with my training time too drastically) to raise money for the Children's. I've never run that far and I am not into racing, but I think it may be time to challenge myself, and if I do, I want to do it for charity.
Running has given me so much mentally and physically, it is a love that came late but that I hope to hold on to for as long as I can. Someone told me recently that as women get older running actually becomes easier, that we have more endurance, or maybe more of a desire to embrace that silence and serenity in ourselves. When I came in after my run I felt alive and happy and proud and like I was lit from within. That's what love does to you :-)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Good enough redux

Ok, hate to go on about this again, but....
There's been a lot more talk about that Gottlieb book/article, the latest I've seen is in The Globe and Mail (Leah McLaren:
My advice to married women out there: Suck it up).
"Suck it up. Be glad, if you're married, that you have a husband. Provided he's not a violent, gambling drunkard who just got off with your best friend, I'll bet that he's just fine. In any case, you made your bed, so lie in it. Better yet, roll over and make love to it. You may not think you're in the mood, but, trust me, you'll be happier if you do."
Holy crap.
Yes, I suppose there is something to be said for treating your marriage like "running a small, tedious, non-profit business", yes, marriage is not exciting every day, but if it's just a business arrangement, why not treat it as business and then allow moonlighting on the side. Wait, what's that you say? You have to accept that it's a practical arrangement AND expect your spouse to be faithful and only want and desire you after entering into this arrangement? I think we are losing some perspective.
Love is not sucking it up, it's a feeling, and you can't make it or earn it or create it in others; it's there or it isn't. Sure, you cannot have that "bodice ripping" passion all the time, but there has to be something there after all the mundane and difficult bits of life come out that makes you light up when you see that person, that thing that makes you smile even after you've heard your lover fart in bed for the zillionth time.
Love is not an arrangement, love is not a business, love is not a consequence to bear.
Good enough may be a little less lonely, a little more convenient for a while, but how on earth is it good advice?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

my newest word!

What to do when you have too many Ys:
"In broadest terms, syzygy (pronounced /ˈsɪzɨdʒi/) is a kind of unity, especially through coordination or alignment, most commonly used in the astronomical and/or astrological sense.[1] Syzygy is derived from the Late Latin syzygia, "conjunction," from the Greek σύζυγος (syzygos).

Syzygial, adjective of syzygy, describes the alignment of three or more celestial bodies in the same gravitational system along a line."
La La La - can't hear you!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

An evening of making granola, a little wine, some reading, and a lot of tired.
I miss you.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Out the window

Went to an informal shiva yesterday in Ontario for a friend's sister who died after a long illness. My friend said that it was a long time coming, but that you are never ready. It's another reminder to me to be here while it's here. I brought the kids and they were very well behaved (they didn't break anything).
We were in the car on the way there and it was a gorgeous sunny day. Naomi started a game of finding animals in the clouds. We found many crocodiles, hippos, a kitten, and a whale. We've played these games in the past, the special part is that now she's initiating the play and finding ways to entertain herself that do not involve poking at her brother. When I was a kid I didn't have a sibling, so I always had to amuse myself. It really wasn't that hard, I'm fairly simple. I would look out the window and blur my eyes and watch the wires dancing from telephone pole to telephone pole, I'd count the numbers on the posts, I'd make up creatures hiding in the ditches, and stare up into the sky. We travelled a lot, so the backseat of the car was a comfort zone for me, a silent place to think. When I look at all the video screens in the back of cars these days it makes me wonder how many kids are losing the ability to invent pleasure and amusement by looking out a window. Sometimes it's the moments of absolute boredom that push our minds to truly creative places.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

My heart is feeling very sad today...

Sing, sing, sing

Like a sky without stars, like a meadow without flowers, such is a soul without love.

I went to my first full opera Saturday - Simon Boccanegra at the Met. Ok, so I wasn't really at the Met, but something equally interesting.
The Met broadcasts live performances of some of its shows to movie theatres across North America in HD. For $26, you can reserve a seat and show up at your local cineplex and see someone like Placido Domingo singing his heart out. In addition, you also get backstage interviews with the performers, plot synopses, and you get to watch them changing the sets behind the curtains - how cool is that? I've listened to parts of a few shows like this on CBC Radio 2, but I'd never seen one. Liz, my opera expert friend, got the tickets and gave me lots of background guidance on the singers and Italian history which helped a lot. I read the plot on the Internet and felt reasonably certain I wouldn't get lost. I didn't know if I would get bored or annoyed with an entire opera, but I'm happy to say that I found it entirely entertaining. The music was lovely, I've heard some bits of Aida, but I'd never heard of this opera before Liz suggested it. The soprano was a bit much, but the baritone and the bass were so smooth and soothing and rich sounding. It's the kind of sound you want to keep in your pocket and bring out when your ears need a hug. Yeah, I know that sounds weird.
It's not the same as going to a live performance (I hope to rectify that soon), but it's a fantastic way to enjoy the music and performance in a way that I think has more mass appeal. It's an inventive idea, I'd love to know who came up with the idea to try it. The only danger might be a drop in ticket sales for local, live opera. My friend told me that next year she's buying tickets for the Met series instead of O de M season seats.
I've never been an opera fan, other than Bugs Bunny. When my son took an interest a couple of years ago I decided that I would make an effort to learn more and listen and find out what entranced him about the music. Since then I've come to appreciate it way more than I used to (although so many of the stories are so freakin' sad!) and when Ben hums something from Carmen in the backseat, I can hum along with him.
I can't wait until he's a bit older and can handle the length of a performance so I can take him. And we can have popcorn!

Friday, February 05, 2010

"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time". - Andre Gide

Thursday, February 04, 2010


I was at the CCA tonight for a gallery opening. The topic sounded interesting, the relationship of writing and architecture. The pieces themselves are, well, I don't get most of them. I know that for some people having a showcase of oddly folded men's shirts and an iron is meaningful, but to me it's just shirts - although some of them did have the most amazing pleats. The bit that made me stop and think was the first piece - Peter Eisenman's Notes on Conceptual Architecture, which is an essay with all the text removed except for the footnotes. He is post-modern, a word that makes many people shudder. His last footnote says that a copy of the essay would be sent upon written request. I heard tonight that he didn't get many requests. He was taking the discussion of architecture to the next level - I can appreciate that on an original basis even though the theory of it is lost on me.
As for the event, I was adrift in a sea of pretentious, dark-rimmed eyeglass-wearing poseurs talking about their homosexuality and Derrida, most of them stylish and tragically thin. The eavesdropping at these things is fantastic. Later I was sitting and writing down some notes when a lady sat in the chair next to me. We talked and she was very nice. It was only later that I realised that she was the founder - duh Dina!
But back to the footnotes. As I sat and watched people I wondered what the footnotes of my life might be. If I stripped away the text, what would they contain? My secret desires, the observations and opinions of friends, things that I don't know that might be useful even though they have no practical place in my life? Maybe they would just be things that strangers see when I pass them on the sidewalk, dropped mittens, a frown because I am lost in thought, the sound of my voice as I talk to myself in the supermarket. What would you be able to glean if you looked at just the neatly numbered, properly documented footnotes of me? Who would the reader think I am? How different would they be from my own perceptions of me?

JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure | Video on

JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure | Video on

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Something pretty because I can't end the day like this

Ich bin bei dir, du seist auch noch so ferne, du bist mir nah!
Die Sonne sinkt, bald leuchten mir die Sterne.

and because I need a laugh:

I love you, I love you
I love rhythm and rhyme.
But I have problems with meter
So let me start over and try this again one more time.
-Matthew P. Barnson

I love you, I love you,
So what if you worked yourself into a tizzy?
To have your manager give you the shaft,
I'm sorry, I didn't hear, were you busy?
I lack the words to describe how horrible today has been. If I could dissolve into nothingness right now I think I would.
Need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug, need a hug

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Monday, February 01, 2010

Mr. Good Enough?

I was reading an article about Mr Good Enough recently. I heard the topic rehashed a couple of weeks ago on the radio. Lori Gottlieb claims that women should throw this idea of soul mates and ideal love out the window and settle for something more realistic in order to avoid ending up alone. She advises women not to be "picky".(

I've gone through two phases in the past twenty-plus years: the romantic and the pragmatic. When I was very young, I was romantic of course - school girl crushes, naive, inexperienced, shy, and awkward. Men were something I didn't understand, love was idealised, and I was intimidated and taken advantage of by men I thought were experienced and worldly - they were jerks. At some point I hit a pragmatic stage. My line used to be that you don't marry the person you can't live without, you marry the one you can live with even when they're being an asshole.
I had fallen out of love with the romantic notion, the one that I didn't think existed in real life. The prince does not exist, little birds do not braid my hair, and that perfect, all-consuming love is a fantasy. I reached that age where I was mature enough to realise that love is more than romance, that there has to be a realistic compatibility and a true friendship in order to make something that lasts. I found what I thought was perfect, wonderful, and above all, rational. When I married my ex I thought that this was the best relationship on the planet. And it was. For a while. And yet, despite the fact that the friendship never died, and I still feel a kind of love, it wasn't enough. Ten years later and two kids and suddenly I realise that I've learned something else: I wasn't admitting what I truly believed because to admit that makes me sound like I'm delusional, mimicking my four-year-old daughter's idea of love, regressing to some la-la land make-believe Disney baloney schlocky love that was crazy to believe in.
I'm still not really admitting it out loud to be honest, because it really does seem very foolish, but if it doesn't exist, why does the idea of it exist in the first place?
We all tell others that the big LOVE is a crock, but I think that most of us really do want to believe in it, we're just not ready to admit it until we find it. Once we do find it, the fairy tale stories emerge.
And yes, I know that there has to be something else to it. I mean, living with another person, even when you love them, is a lot of work and once you realise that that person is as much of a pain as you are, bubbles burst. Still, there has to be something else, something between Disney and a life of compromise.
So now I'm reentering a romantic phase, but this time I am armed with experience, confidence, the ability to braid my own hair, and the sense to know that if it doesn't work out, I will at least be able to write about it (men be warned). I want that man who loves me in his gut and who makes me completely crazy, who does nutty things because he loves me and who makes me vibrate.
Even if I never find mine, wouldn't it be foolish to settle for anything less than what I want?

To the woman in the black Hyundai this morning

Do you really think that driving while putting on your makeup is ever a good idea? Not only did you terrorize your fellow drivers with the weaving and sudden braking, but I'm guessing from the wild arms movements that you showed up at work looking like a clown, which I'm also guessing is not your profession because I didn't see a red nose when you cut through two lanes of traffic and back again for no apparent reason.
You will now be known as The Menace with the Mascara Brush.