Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Thought for someone

You can hide your heart forever, but that doesn't mean that I will ever stop loving it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I heart my city

Montreal Skyline Color
(photo by J.F. Houpert)

 Driving back into Montreal, 40 kilometres out and I catch my first glimpse of the city, lights off in the distance and the beacon beaming out into the night sky, lighting up the clouds. You are tantalizingly close. As I travel closer my anticipation to see you grows, my heart starts to flutter and become lighter, forgetting things that weigh on me. I cannot wait to see you again. Finally through the South Shore and up onto the Champlain Bridge approach and then the view that leaves me breathless every single time, replaces everything in my body with a momentary heady joy. Lit up and strong, you are so smart and clear and you shine and shimmer into the river and make my head chant, "home, home". I feel so proud that you are mine.
I have discovered that the things that I love are the things that I never grow tired of looking at: my kids, a long stretch of road, an orchestra, a stack of books, a blank page, and a city that never fails to make my heart leap.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


I woke up with Bruce Springstein's "I'm on Fire" playing in my head. Of course in my head it's an acoustic version - just Bruce and a guitar. I don't mind the train-track rhythm of the produced song, but I've always thought that a total lack of adornment would make it perfect - the feel of a man sitting with a guitar pouring something out from his gut. That's how the song plays for me, with his rich, honest voice making you feel every syllable of desire.
So maybe this song will set the tone for the day, maybe I will have my head in the clouds thinking about what and who sets me on fire. Lately there has been so much time to think, time to create, time to waste, time to search; I feel lost. It's as if someone forgot to give instructions, directions, and I'm wandering around in a weird open space picking up random objects, examining them and putting them down and trying to figure out what I'm doing here. Ideas arrive at my door and I spend the day pondering them and adding to them and then pulling them apart and putting them away.

I am no longer able to identify with who I was two months ago, and I have no idea who I am now. Sometimes I feel so free and joyous and excited about the prospect of endless possibilties and sometimes I am so scared that I am paralyzed.

The practical part of me says take anything, but my heart is telling me to do what makes me truly happy. My heart is compelling, but it doesn't have a firm grasp on reality, and when it is distracted with other things my practical side spends its time hinting that I'm a useless moron, tapping its fingers on the table and telling me to get on with it. I know that I cannot ignore it for much longer.
Something is going to have to happen soon. What will it be?

Monday, October 31, 2011


My little girl, you are six today and I now have a taste of what your teenaged years will be like. Your life is dramatic, full of emotion and movement and love and tears. You have become the pivot in the household, the one that your brother and I follow in games and songs, the one that we wait for when a coat choice has brought you to the brink of utter despair, the one who creates and believes and directs and cajoles until we play along. You started school this year and have taken the classroom by storm. You have jumped into languages with urgency. Sometimes you are mumbling sounds with an accent and when I ask what you are saying, you explain that you are speaking French. You pull your brother out of his world and enchant him with stories and make him laugh with your jokes. Your enthusiasm, charm, and sensitivity draw your world in to you. When we go to the park you always make a new friend, and I have even watched while you have befriended a group of teenagers and gotten them to do your bidding.
You bring passion to every piece of your life and refuse to accept anything less. You are not clouded by doubt or fear, you are incredible and quick and fill your life with your dreams.
I want your life to be this perfect, always. When I look at you, it is like closing my eyes and turning my face towards the sun. You are brilliant my little Noo.
All my heart,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New concert hall - OSM

September 11 was the inaugural children's concert for Montreal's newest concert hall. Five years after the project was approved, and 266 million dollars later, La Maison Symphonique is open for business! I bought our tickets in June, some of the last available in the balcony, and waited all summer in anticipation of the opening. I read the less-than-stellar reviews of the grand opening first show and Beethoven's ninth, but was not discouraged, and on the Sunday I got everyone dressed up and we headed downtown. By the time we got there, the kids and I were pretty excited. There was a lot of activity around the area with the Marathon des Arts festival happening at Quartier des Spectacles, with free tours of the hall being held to draw people in.
Approaching the hall, it is obvious that the building is not finished. Bare plywood and make-shift ramps are everywhere and the windows at the back reveal insulation, ducts, pipes, and general construction. Inside, the reception areas are sparsely furnished and airy. The spaces do not appear as large as Salle Willfrid Pelletier though, which makes me wonder how the traffic around the bars during intermissions will fair. Narrower stairs and escalators reside where I think that a wide staircase should have been. Elevators are also present, and the design seems beautifully thought out for wheelchair accessibility. I also spied some back stairs which will be no doubt ugly but will afford an easier escape. Both kids were delighted with the open space, running around an empty top reception level before heading into the concert hall. The glass walls made the space during a matinee bright and the hanging wooden sculptures are charming and set the tone for inside. The inside of the concert hall is finished, and is beautiful despite the outgassing of wood and upholstery. The light beech wood contrasted with the metal is clean and modern and a dramatic change from the weight and dark of Place des Arts, although I question the creamy white seat fabric which may be overly hopeful and ill-though-out by the designers.
We found our seats and settled near the middle at the top of the hall. Even on the balcony, the stage does not seem as distant as the older hall. And the view is impressive indeed: 1900 seats and room for 120 musicians and 200 singers. The choir area can also be used for spectators, and being able to surround the performers allows for more seating and makes the music more of a community event. Everything about the new design seems more relaxed and casual and inviting. The concert began without a lot of ceremony and Nagano appeared with two young female pianists, one his daughter, for the Saint-Saen's Carnival of the Animals. Naomi's attention was very short-lived, and I had to start hissing at her almost immediately, but Ben and I were entranced and I tried as much as possible to point out which animals were being imitated so they could follow along. Peter and the Wolf was next and Naomi was constantly asking what was happening, sometimes quite loudly as I tried to quietly translate the narration for her. The last was a ballet by Debussy which was performed by École supérieure de ballet du Québec students and which was simply too long to hold the attention of children, or adults for that matter. In addition to the restless youngsters, I saw more than one parent checking their smartphones. I think opting for a shorter excerpt from a ballet and finishing with a more dramatic musical selection would have been more appropriate for the audience. I still remember the thrill my children got from the Queen of the Night's aria last year and going back many years to another children's concert, the Star Wars theme which left small boys humming down the stairs enthusiastically and perhaps considering a career in music.
Now, the sound. Yes, it is not life changing. In my opinion, it will take about a year to tune the room completely. I don't think that this is a failure, it is a process. There is simply no way to perfect a sound for every size orchestra and every type of music and different audience sizes without playing in the hall and tweeking. The sound baffles (nine motorized canopies that move individually) are designed to be adjusted and the hall was acoustically well planned, so even though there will have to be some changes made, eventually the sound will evolve to meet the expectations of the conductors and the audience members. I didn't find the sound muddy, but from the balcony it was dulled, and didn't seem to hit the audience with enough resonance. I want to sit in different areas and see what else is happening on lower levels of the room. Luckily, I think that the initial reviews may mean that tickets will be readily available this season, hopefully at discounts.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Back to the learnin'

My son has returned to school and my daughter had her very first day yesterday. One drop off, one pickup, new classes, new friends, new teachers. I'm thinking some of that newness and excitement and adventure is rubbing off on me as well. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I'm positively frozen with cold and damp, shivery and hunched inside a warm sweater, occasionally warming my hands on a cup of tea. The trailings of Irene hit today and the high winds and torrential rain reminded everyone of the approaching change of season. I woke up with the sweetest little monster in my bed, mouth open, snoring softly and leaving a faint trail of drool. She spent huge portions of the day being absolutely horrible, so I am trying to hold on to that image of her before she woke up when the day seemed endlessly joyous as she melted my heart with the way her cheek smooshed the pillow and made her upper lip into a perfect little bow.
We couldn't get out to the park, so we spent the morning watching a dvd, doing crafts, "cleaning" rooms, playing games and every time there was a moment of boredom, the girl was up in her brother's grill, teasing him, taking a toy, wrecking a carefully constructed lego creation, and just being a pain in the rear. She was sent to sit on her bed multiple times - I heard Ben screech my name so many times that after a while it lost all meaning. In the afternoon we headed out into the deluge to take Nomi to an open house for Irish dancing. Out we went, but not before the girl and I had a knock-down-drag-out about her choice of footwear that resulted in a time-out and us very nearly not going at all. But finally we left, sniffling and ill-tempered, and by the time we got out to the hall she had fallen asleep, presumably from the weather and emotional exhaustion. I could have joined her.
We went inside and got organized and some of the dancers were there and gave an exhibition and then the newbies got to go up and Bernadette taught them some basic reel steps and we watched all the kids stumbling and jumping and she didn't do bad at all. In the end she decided that she'd like to try it, so she's signed up until the end of the year. It means I have to leave work a bit early every Monday, but with any luck she'll like it and have an outlet for all that energy.
Then it was supper, baths, and more picking on the brother. Just before bed, I'd had it and when she failed to heed the final warning of punishment if she didn't stop, I told her that I would not be reading her a bedtime story. Suddenly there was an explosion of "I'm so sorry"s and "I won't do it again"s, complete with wailing and pitiful floor flopping. Ben stood there watching, the object of the teasing and abuse for most of the day. Then he said that he would read her a story, and found the only book he enjoys reading aloud, and took her into his room and read to her. Best. Big. Brother. Ever.
I sat in the living room listening to every word he read and crying at the unbelievably sweet gentle spirit that is my son. There is so much in him that I admire, he is extraordinary. His ability to love and forgive and make the world happier makes me try to be a better person every day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
- Mark Twain

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stayin' Alive

I have a longing tonight for something sweet, simple, and genuine, with a side of smiling eye crinkles and the knowledge that you would do anything to make me smile because you just love my smile that much. Serves me right for listening to The Bee Gees, they make me naively happy. I'm missing you and smiling wherever you are.....and that's no jive talkin'....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I want a day like that

I asked Ben what he did today at camp:

"We watched a movie, played running around and screaming, I ate my lunch, went swimming, and played zombie tag."

Stupid grown up job stuff......

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Things in the night

My daughter crawled into bed with me last night in the wee hours. Coincidentally, I was awake because the neighbour was up on a ladder a few feet away from my bedroom window taping plastic over the empty hole where the bathroom window used to be. He took the window out to replace it during the day and didn't finish. The previous tape job he'd concocted had given out in the rain, and he was redoing it, waking me up with that annoying tape noise over and over, without any rhythm and with no idea of when he'd be done. Eventually I think he ran out of tape and stopped just before I started throwing things at his head.
So, just as he was done, Naomi appeared in my doorway and stumbled to the other side of the bed and crawled in. I was trying to convince her to go back to sleep in her bed, I end up with a foot in my ear more mornings than not, when her little sleepy sad voice whispered in the dark, "But I woke up and it felt lonely". Melt. This is how she suckers me in.
She made herself comfy and snuggled in and fell right back to sleep. Lucky. I was awake, brain whirring, analysing the sleeplessness and out of whack feelings.
This summer has been about emptiness for me. People in my life have been empty, which I've had to accept and move past. I've also found myself feeling an emptiness for some people who deserve love. Promises have been empty, my job has felt empty of anything meaningful (which is more a reflection on me than the actual job), my bank account seems emptier. Not having my cat around makes the house seem so much more empty when the kids aren't here, it's not as if she created havoc running around the house, but I miss her wandering in and out of rooms, sitting with me, waking me up in the morning with a purring furry face against mine as she tried to smell the inside of my nose. Suddenly the things I took for granted are gone and there's a selfish fear that I didn't appreciate them enough while they were present. But I cannot long for things from the past, they no longer exist.
It sounds like I've had a pretty stark summer, but I haven't. I've had a lot of fun with my children and my friends, we've been to the beach, exploring the city, discovering new restaurants, reading, meeting people, and laughing. My life is not tragic and I have people who love me, but emptiness has motivated me to perhaps make some choices that I should have avoided.
There are two ways to handle the emptiness. You can try to fill it with activities and things until you are distracted, which is effective but only fills it temporarily, requiring a constant parade of activities and things. Or you can step back and look at the emptiness for a while until you realise how wonderful it can be. In the design of just about anything, the best thing you can do sometimes is allow just a little more white space; it cleans and opens up a room, a page, a mind. And the most beautiful thing about emptiness is its endless potential for ways to fill it. This is what I'm going to try to focus on for the next little while and see where it takes me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Smile and back away slowly....

Having a tough hormonally imbalanced week which is leaving me incapable of coping with even the smallest of dips in the sidewalk at various points during the day. One minute, I'm perfectly normal and the next my brain short circuits and I am overcome with the urge to break into tears for no apparent reason. I'm trying to avoid all meaningful situations until this blows over, but I think that I should be wearing a sign warning people not to poke the bear, or offer her coffee, or try to make her feel better, and definitely don't lick her, oh no no no no no! In fact, unless you are willing to put up with the wrath of said bear, or hold her while she sobs because the oranges escaped all over the floor the minute she opened the fridge (why do they have to be so round????), it might be better to just send love towards her from a safety bunker.
For all of the pretty dresses, cute shoes, and the occasional man who knows enough to hold a door or offer you their coat, the occasional loss of anything resembling sanity really makes you rethink the whole, "being a girl is great" thing.....

Perfect moments

Picking up the kids last night after they'd been gone for a week and going out to draw and play on the sidewalk and hang with the neighbours.
It made a rotten day disappear....

Sunday, July 31, 2011

being me is exhausting

Just spent nearly half an hour with my arm trapped in a radiator.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Oh wow my little boy, you are eight! How can it be when just yesterday it seems like you were curled up in a ball sleeping on my chest?
Eight has brought new experiences and challenges. Grade two was not the greatest academically or socially, and I struggled along with you and felt every moment of confusion, every push from a bully. And yet your capacity for forgiveness and your good heart shone above it all - I am so much in awe of that strength in you.
Lego continues on as your absolute favorite toy in the world. There is nothing you cannot do with it. You create games, and contraptions, and worlds, and you can live there for hours if only your sister would let you. You are reading more now, casually reading signs and telling me things from books. It's getting easier for you every day.
You look like a boy now, all arms and legs. Your sister is becoming more of an annoyance. She is still your number one playmate, but the plaintive cries of, "Mom, Nomi's bothering me" are more and more frequent. Still, you watch out for her and make her smile and you have secret jokes and special games that only you two understand. I hope that never changes.
You are making new discoveries on your own and sharing them. This year you decided that in addition to being a scientist that you also wanted to be an artist, and you brought home books on artists and sculptures to share. You saw pictures of deserts in the southwest and want to go, and you continue to love music, especially AC/DC, although I hear you humming Beethoven sometimes.
You are still a gentle soul in a sea of loud rabble. I want to protect that and yet I realise just how much more resilient you are and how powerful your vulnerability can be.
You have the most beautiful heart in the world, don't change for anything, keep it open to let all the joy in.
I love you more than you can ever imagine my Benny Boo.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

oh yeah

My friend Guislaine just sent me this quote and I must share:
"Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."
— Stephen King

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Perfect moments above you

Anything is possible

On the drive back from the Townships last Saturday evening near sunset, Naomi was fast asleep and Ben was awake, staring out his window, lost in thought. Suddenly he said, "Mom, look! A balloon!". Sure enough, there was a hot air balloon in the distance, half hidden from view by some trees. We watched it appear and disappear from view, then the highway turned and suddenly there it was in plain sight drifting low over a farmer's field in front of the setting sun and the pink haze-tinted sky, and another was following it a bit farther behind. We both watched in awe as they floated along, both thinking the same thing. Ben said, "Mom, I'd really like to ride on one of those". I smiled.
Me too kiddo, me too......

(Photo by very talented photographer, and good friend, Irene Suchocki)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If I had a time machine, I'd have a lot to do back then

I am too embarrassed to explain the major fuck-uppery mess I made the night before last. Think about something you did that still makes you cringe and shudder when even the tiniest inkling of the memory appears in the smallest, darkest corner of your mind - and then fill an oil tanker with that episode until it sinks. That would be my night.
The results of my epic debacle have left me questioning my perceptions, my motives, and my feelings. Someone who I thought was self-centred and really didn't give a goddamn was giving me coffee and making me laugh about the foolishness of the night before (which importantly included saying some pretty mean things that have apparently been forgiven and forgotten). Someone who I thought cared and would never hurt me walked away without even looking at me or saying a word.
Just when I think that I have it all figured out, I realise that I don't know anything, about life, about myself, or about the people I care about, or for that matter even who the people I care about really are.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I really hope so....

It's the people who are still around despite everything that you do who really matter.

Monday, July 11, 2011

juvenile laugh of the day

Museum display people have a good sense of humour.... these were up on the top shelf by the way.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Learned wisdom of every girl I know

Sometimes you're just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love you.
And sometimes, you think that you are probably better off just eating all the cookies instead.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A smile at the end of the day

When you are down, call a friend. They make everything better :-)


My job today feels very stupid and unimportant. I want to throw everything aside, climb out my window and run - run past the streets, cars, condos, stores, run past the restaurants, and the cemeteries, and the parks and the fountains, and the trees, and just keep going and going and going until someone catches me up into their arms and holds me and says, "You can stop running now, you're here".

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Sometimes, you just get so tired of hearing the word "no", that you stop trying.

Monday, July 04, 2011

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

-Mother Theresa

(via I can read)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's the long weekend, do you know where your ninja is?

The long weekend had its periods of sucky dampness, crying and whining children, and general exhaustion, but redeemed itself at the end.

Friday it rained, really rained, rained like people should drag out their ark plans and make a trip to the lumber store. Of course the morning started at 6am because we didn't have to get up early. I turned on the tv, a mom's snooze button, and tried to get a bit more shuteye, but sure enough, as soon as I would drift off, I heard the requests: could we have milk, could we have breakfast, could I have an apple, can we make collages, glass of water, new show, can you move the livingroom more to the left -ok, so nevermind the sleep. After the needs were met and I had coffee, I wondered what we should do. There was a break in the weather after lunch, so we put on our boots and coats and headed for the park, stopping briefly to pick up another kid to give her folks a chance to clean their house in peace. The kids didn't care that it was lightly raining, and there was a lot of running around and bickering and laughing and whining and experiments involving puddles and sand.

After a couple of hours we went back to the friend's house where we were preparing to have a BBQ. All the adults were around the BBQ or in the kitchen hanging out while the children ran up and down the hallway. One of the girls started to cry hysterically and her mom went to take care of her, then she saw Naomi, silent, blood pouring out of her mouth. They had a head on collision, head into face. Ahhhhh! I freaked out internally and got my daughter in the bathroom. Once the shock wore off she started to cry uncontrollably, she was obviously freaked out by the blood and the sharp blow to the mouth caused by the hard little skull. Wanna hear something sweet? While we were in the bathroom and she was bleeding and crying and I'm trying to figure out how bad the damage is and trying to calm her down, the first thing she said was, "I want Benny". He was playing legos, oblivious, but came right away and gave her a hug and sat next to her while we waited for the bleeding to stop. It kept bleeding and she wanted to go home, so she and I went home and Ben stayed because he wanted to eat BBQ. She cried all the way home, clutching the white face cloth to her mouth and sobbing. She is normally such a tough kid, I'm not used to her hurting herself and not shaking it off. Once we got home and I gave her some ice cream and put on a movie she calmed down and was fine. Both top front teeth are really loose though, one is SUPER loose. Good thing they have to come out anyway. Other than the teeth, she was fine the next day.

Saturday we watched cartoons and after lunch we jumped in the car to go and see Kung Fu Panda 2. It was funny and the kids are so well behaved at movies now. Then it was a few errands and McDonald's and home.

Sunday started out with a plan to go to the Redpath museum, which is small, but has one dinosaur. Ben was whiny, made more whiny because he couldn't find his ninja to play with in the car and I wasn't going to spend hours looking for it. So the ninja sorrow loop started, where he tells me how sad he is, and how he wanted to play with it in the car, and how we should go back so he could can clean his room and find it and bring it. When I tell him he can play with it some other time in the car, he wails, when I tell him that he should keep his room clean so he knows where his ninja is, he tells me I'm being mean. His sister takes this opportunity to crow about how nice she is being and tells Ben to stop crying like a baby, which of course amplifies the wailing and screaming by 300%. I admit defeat and crank up the piano concerto on the car stereo. We get to the museum, after parking and making a still sad and now sniffling son tie his own shoe (I'm such a beast!), and we find that the museum is closed.
I put on a happy face and suggested we make the best of it by walking down to the art gallery a few blocks away. Ben forgot all about the ninja and now started in on how he wanted to see the dinosaur - all the way down Sherbrooke Street. No amount of telling him that I, being a total failure as a parent by lacking the necessary lock-picking skills or having the foresight to bring a crowbar, could dessuade him of the impossibility of going to a closed museum. So I smiled and pulled him along while the dinosaur sorrow loop played on. We got to the art museum and went in to see the Jean-Paul Gauthier exhibit.

Not really all that kid-friendly, but at least the bright, outlandish outfits were interesting, as were the mannikins that talked. We whizzed through the exhibit without time to read anything, and then stopped by the Greek and Egyptian rooms below. Naomi was amused by the naked lower half of a man carved in marble. It is a truth universally acknowledged that bums and penises are very funny.

Leaving, it was Naomi's turn to have a freak out because she refused to believe we were finished. Cue girl with an attitude being very rude to her mother - man I so deserve it, but so young? We walked back to the car and headed over to Peter and Lysanne's for a book giveaway/cookie eating shindig. Lots of fun and the kids played in the backyard. The sun was out, it was hot and beautiful. Then we were invited over to a BBQ at Aaron's where the kids ran around in his backyard and we had yummy food and let the Sunday end on a relaxing note. I could be in a falling aircraft and that man's smile would make me burst into song.

(Yeah I know I should have a picture of him smiling here, but he is notoriously awful about smiling for photos, so just look at the tree fort. I'll put in a random picture of him smiling when I'm talking about something completely different.)

Then we got home and I realised that my house key had fallen out of my pocket on Aaron's sofa.
Luckily this was remedied quickly and then it was a flurry of bathing and pyjamas and slightly more attitude to get the kids into bed and then another couple of hours preparing everything for first day of daycamp and daycare and lunches and laundry. Cue collapsed but happy.

Way to holiday St Jean Baptiste!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Things I'm thankful for this week

Yeah, I know the title sounds too self-help Oprah-esque...

  • Finally seeing the end of this damn cold! It has caused more problems than it was worth and now I have a mountain of work and things to catch up on and not a single run in more than a week!
  • Short week because of the holiday!
  • Ben's last day of school today!
  • Naomi had her daycare graduation ceremony and she did great! She wore her flower girl dress and was the prettiest thing in the whole entire world.
  • My girlfriends who always bring laughter, honesty, and a good dose of perspective to any situation.
  • The two steps forward, three steps back dance of a very beautiful and frustratingly timid bird. It can be maddening to wait with your hand outstretched with breadcrumbs watching the war between wanting the offering and fearing the hand, but patience seems to be the only solution that will make both parties happy. So, we wait.
  • Cereal. I ate a lot of it this week when I was too sick and tired to cook.
  • The lady behind the counter at the tea store who gave me a free tea because it was my birthday last week.

Oprah moment over! I must find a better title for this - suggestions?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm sick. One of my office mates was sick last week and came into work anyway coughing his germs all over the room and Wednesday night I started to feel a tickle in my throat. I thought it might have been because I turned the a/c on in the car for the first time this year, but by Thursday morning I couldn't swallow without the help of tylenol. I soldiered through the day, but Friday I decided not to work, but had to take Naomi to an afternoon appointment and then errands and that evening wasn't restful. Saturday morning Ben was awake before 6 and came in to cuddle with me, which ended in him being restless and me not getting back to sleep. I took them to the townships for the day to celebrate my birthday and father's day with the folks. We got stuck in two hours of traffic just getting off the island. Fever, shakey, stuck in immovable traffic, it was cruel. I've decided I'm not leaving the island again unless absolutely necessary.
But once we finally got there it was nice and my fever went away and the kids had a great time running around.
But back to the sick. I cannot remember the last time I was this sick. Throat, fever, chills, cement headed, coughing, aching - it's like a god-damned nyquil commercial.
Sunday after the kids left, I collapsed on the sofa and watched netflix, but everything was making me cry. Obviously being sick makes people emotional, and I can understand when I cried when I watched the documentary, "God Grew Tired of Us" about the lost boys of Sudan, sure, that's going to break your heart, but I cried during "The Nanny Diaries", what kinda twisted flu is this? After that happened, I turned the tv off...safer than seeing if I was going to cry through Spice World.

Monday I called in sick, but I felt bad about not working, so I tried to log in to work, but the Internet connection didn't cooperate and the room was spinning, so I read with my book all sideways until I fell asleep, then woke up, read some more, then fell asleep again. Then it was dark. I hadn't spoken to a soul.

Today I was able to stand up without falling over, coughing still sounds disgusting, but hack is mostly gone. Still can't smell or taste anything, which means I've been eating anything because it doesn't matter. Managed to get downstairs to do some laundry so the baskets aren't overflowing. Sleep is winning out over guilt by mere exhaustion. And yet, the guilt is making me think I should be up, working, cleaning, baking, instead to curled up in bed like a pathetic, sniffling sicko. Why is it so hard to give yourself permission to be sick? I sat down to write hoping it would cheer me up a bit - hahahaha, oh yes, much better now.

This better be over tomorrow....

p.s.: Just remembered that I did talk to a couple of people yesterday - Ben was picked on again at school, grrrrr....... the claws are out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Happy birthday to me!!

I have the best friends on the planet! I love you more than the awesome cake :-)

Perfect moments: Laughter, good food, lots of wine, thoughtful gifts, word play, cleaning up to Billy Idol, a wonderful man to kiss goodnight ..... bliss!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

mini life lesson

Two children doing their homework at the dining room table must be at least three feet apart at all times. This would have prevented the crayola/glue stick massacre of 2011.

and speaking of signs....

I would like a sign that I can wear telling people that I ran 19k Sunday, ran 10 this morning, and did exercise classes Monday and Wednesday so I am not judged taking the elevator to the second floor....

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I would walk around with this on a big sign if I could

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Life lessons

I am interested in what everyone else is doing and thinking about life and personal happiness. I like reading other peoples' life lessons, secondhand self help. I don't always agree with them, but I am fascinated and curious to learn others' observations and often I learn something that I can apply to myself (or remember when I do something disastrous) and my little meander. In the spirit of this, even though I don't think that I have any new insights to pass on, I'm going to start writing down my own life lessons. Don't expect any brilliant novel thoughts here, it could be that the only thing they accomplish is to get me thinking more coherently.
I have no idea how many lessons I have in me, and the order has no importance, just have to start somewhere.

Life Lesson: Don't be a grown up.

In general, I think that acting like an adult, conforming to social rules, caring about what others think, and being so preoccupied with all the serious grown up problems to the point that we cannot be in the moment (generally because we are busy staring at our smart phones, oh I'm so guilty of that) crushes our creativity, strangles our belief in our deepest desires, and limits our thoughts and our ability to notice all of the beautiful, interesting things happening around us.

I have two beautiful, interesting, creative children. They whine about my rule of not watching tv during the week, but when I leave them alone for a few minutes, the complaining stops and they invent and act out stories and dialog and immerse themselves in make believe, and they love it.

The more I watch my kids, the more I realise that yes, they are woefully unprepared for retirement and they are a bit too obsessed with Spongebob Squarepants, but they also have a natural desire to imagine themselves in the things they enjoy the most, and they have a clear and certain sense of self. As they get older, that will deteriorate, but right now all doors are open to them, every dream is possible, every aspiration is a reality. My daughter told me at the table yesterday that she is going to be a dentist, a dancer, a teacher, and a singer, then threw in scientist when she heard her brother say that's what he is going to be. Why not?

When I was a kid, my belief in my talents was infinite just like my kids - what happened? I was going to be an Egyptologist and a musician and have adventures and travel and play piano and discover new mummies. When did I start being "realistic" about my abilities and goals and limiting myself? Why can't I take the advice I give the kids about believing in yourself and doing the things you love even if you are not the best at them? It is harder to define yourself as your knowledge of choices and options expands, but at some point I let myself settle for something that was less than my dream. It's so easy to just keep plodding when you have bills and debt and people to support and a future to plan ahead for, but where is the joy?

I think of all the people in my life who I admire, and one of the things that most of them seem to have done was given themselves permission to believe in their dreams. It doesn't mean that they are super confident people, but more that they know their hopes and desires and know that they can pursue them. I'm trying to learn that.

When I think about how my kids answer the what do you want to be question, I also realise that their decisions, while based on movies or maybe characters in books, are chosen out of enthusiasm and excitement and passion. It doesn't matter whether the decisions don't take into account all the hard work and effort it takes to get there, it's important that they get excited about the non-monetary result of the job - helping people, teaching people, making an audience cheer, doing something that gives them joy.

So, what do I do with this lesson? Well, I didn't quit my job and move to Egypt. So far, I have started taking piano lessons, I try to write a lot more and seek out the things I love, I let myself believe in my secret hopes and desires for myself, and yes, I go to my less-than-perfect job, but I try to be more creative there as well.
And I get excited and jump up and down about the things that make me happy because life is too short to be grown up.

Friday, June 03, 2011

perfect moments

Being the first one up in the morning and sitting with coffee and thinking while watching the sun pour in through the windows.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

when all else fails, make a list

A few tiny thoughts before I fall asleep:

  • I have got to stop sitting down to write and then feeling like I have nothing to say, and then when I get up to do something useful suddenly get ideas, but then be too busy doing the useful thing to go and write, and then when I sit down and write forget what the hell I wanted to write and and feel like I have nothing to say.
    That just must stop.
  • My daughter has not started school yet, but she already has a crush on the floppy-haired young music teacher. Her father is already counting the white hairs. He is cute though...
  • I have no idea why I can never remember how long it takes to cook a hard-boiled egg. Seriously, why must I look it up on the internet every single time?
  • There are a few things happening now that I don't think I'm ready for. I shall try to bluff my way through until I am.
  • Universe, I think I am close on this one, so give me a break and I'll try to be less neurotic so I don't wreck it.
  • I got a great haircut.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A night at the opera: La Boheme - we laughed, and laughed some more.....

Last week I went to my first live, full-length opera.
Up until a few years ago, I was not an opera fan, although my exposure had only been the Bugs Bunny versions from Saturday mornings. I liked the music, but it just wasn't something that I was interested in going to watch-a bunch of people singing in languages I didn't know being overly dramatic all over the stage, visions of fat ladies in viking helmets, it just didn't appeal.
Then Ben took an interest in opera and things changed. He was three or four when I picked him up from daycare and he was humming an aria from Carmen. We encourage every interest, so I dived into the internet and started reading all the opera stories (frick most of them are sad) and we got opera cds and listened to them. I talked to my friends who were opera fans and got them to tell me about performers and the background of the operas and the history. I went to a couple of Live at the Met performances at the movie theatre, and took Ben to see the Carmen Met show a couple of years ago which we both enjoyed, although Ben might still have fonder memories of the licorice and the announcer for the evening, Rene Flemming.
So I've been meaning to go to the opera for a while, but haven't gotten around to it, when suddenly it all came together- Guislaine and Adriana were both available and the opera was a classic - La Boheme. Can't go wrong with that, really. We got our tickets in the nosebleeds (or as Adriana pointed out, the hip and young section) and on Wednesday night we met outside the entrance. We dressed for the occasion, really, what's the fun in not making it an occasion considering the price of the tickets, and went in and climbed stairs, and stairs, and more stairs. We actually had good seats near the middle and an excellent view of the stage. Guislaine and Adriana told stories of previous opera shows (the one about opera at the Big O was hilarious) and finally the lights dimmed. Show time!
La Boheme is supposed to be pretty sad, but it starts relatively happy - starving artists joking around, deciding to go out, a romance between Rodolfo and Mimi (they call me Mimi, I don't know why) that is engineered by the guy pretending he can't find her key and blowing out his candle to make it darker - sly devil, and then a big scene at the Cafe Momus with the introduction of Musetta and the strange appearance of a toy maker, Parpignol, for really no reason. They make a big deal about it though. When the scene ended, the lights came up and we talked about it. First, the translations, in French and English which sometimes didn't match and Adriana said didn't always convey the Italian. Sometimes they were downright funny. Then we joked about the romantic scene and how fast that moved along and then the mysterious toy maker. What was the deal with him? Guislaine suggested we should write a sequel just about him, perhaps with his toys coming to life and going on a rampage through the rest of the opera, and thus © La Boheme 2 - Parpignol's Revenge was born. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the opera...... Honestly, he doesn't appear in the rest of the opera, what is the big deal with him?
Great fun, then the next act starts at the gates and Marcello talking to Mimi and Mimi telling him how jealous and awful Rodolfo is being. Then she hides and listens when Rodolfo and Marcello are talking and finds out he feels bad about making her stay at his cold flat and that she's dying, which surprisingly she doesn't realise, which was kind of funny. Then she's discovered because of all that coughing (amazing that she can sing), she tells him she's going back to her place (the translation here is "goodbye, no hard feelings" which has now become a catch phrase for the three of us) and they confusingly agree to stay together until the Spring. I've heard all of the music in the past, but this was the first time I was reading a translation as it was going along. Mimi's "Donde lieta uscì" is beautiful to hear, but I was amused to find out that she is basically singing about her hat.
More discussion during the set change: what the hell was the whole staying together until Spring about? And seriously, how is she surprised when Rodolfo says that she's dying?
Final act- The guys are both missing their ladies and singing about it, then they all start horsing around which was really well done and nice and light. Then Musetta rushes in with Mimi who is on her last legs and the whole thing gets pretty sad from there. Colline's song about his coat is a bit odd, but I guess he needed something to sing about. Her death is sort of subtle, she doesn't die while singing, she just quietly passes while the other characters are mourning her imminent demise and praying. While it was sad, it didn't really bring out a lot of emotion in me. This could be the young age of the cast or the direction, but for someone who cries at dog food commercials, I was shockingly tearless at the end. Still, it was a wonderful night, with beautiful music, good friends, lots of laughing, and ended with burgers and fries in our fancy clothes at midnight.
I'm doing that again!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Men in blue cannot resist princesses

On our way to a friend's house tonight and Naomi is sitting in the back of the car, in a dress and tiara of course. A police car is waiting next to us at the light. As it turns green she says, "Mom! The policeman waved at me!". I turned to see the officer giving her a big thumbs up with a smile on his face as he's driving away. I look back and Naomi is giving a big thumbs up and said, "Look! I'm doing what he was doing. He waved too!", and then after a few seconds, "He thinks I'm beautiful."
Yup, you are kiddo...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

perfect moments

Waking up on a warm night to the sound of the rain and feeling the soft breeze on your face before falling back to sleep.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The mouse, part one

So there was this mouse.
This past winter I was cleaning stuff off the pantry floor, picked up a discarded cloth grocery bag, and discovered a few cups of catfood inside. I was confused for a moment until I noticed little mouse droppings in a corner. Great. And yes, I'm the worst housekeeper ever. Mr Mouse had been stashing that away for a while I guessed. So I threw out the bag and cleaned up the pantry and washed the floor and the next day found myself staring at the display for vermin traps at the hardware store. The classic wooden Victory ones were there, but so were a variety of humane traps. Live and let live is my motto, and I didn't want the mouse dead, just out of my house, so I bought a couple of non-killing traps and went home. It took a week to talk myself into baiting them and putting them out. I'd like to make one thing clear at this point-I'm not afraid of mice. I do not jump on chairs or scream, they do not bother me in the slightest when they are alive and free and running around places that are not my house. I always wanted gerbils or hamsters (my parents wouldn't let me have them) and I even raised lab rats. My problem is dealing with dead mice or captured, panicked mice. I had visions of the mouse crawling into the trap and getting caught and then squeaking and freaking me out in the middle of the night. What if the kids were here? And what would I do with it? I'd have to drive it somewhere (I was thinking the nicer area of town with the big houses) otherwise it would just get back into my house. I'd have to transfer it to something with air holes, maybe a cage? I didn't have one. Would it chew through a cardboard box? Maybe the kids would like to see it, would they get attached? Blabbyblahblah my brain inventing all these scenarios that had me suddenly incapable of handling a very small rodent. Dumb brain. I overcame, set out the traps, and waited, and waited. And moved the traps, and changed the bait, and waited some more, and tried a few more traps of different types, and waited. Nothing. Yet all the while I was finding new stashes of catfood hidden here and there and droppings. I cleaned and cleaned and moved things out of areas I knew that mouse was hanging around to discourage it when there was nothing to hide behind and tried to close its access points into the house. You may ask where my cat was for all of this, well, she was mostly sleeping on my bed and the living room sofa. She's at least 300 in human years of something, so while she was a fantastic mouser in her prime, those days are over. I think that she has adopted the "I don't see you, you don't see me" policy.
This went on all winter. I finally mentioned it to my landlady and she was shocked and claimed to not have any mice, despite living downstairs. I'm fairly certain that my mouse did not parachute into my house, but nevermind. She came up that afternoon and dropped off a couple of the classic Victory traps. Sigh, she was right. Mr Mouse had to go. I nearly took my finger off setting the traps and placed them in two places where I know he was hanging out, and went about my evening. At 11:30pm I heard one snap. I froze, paralyzed by the inevitable. I texted a friend in a panic and he said to leave it until morning and try to forget it. In the morning I slowly opened the cupboard door and looked inside to see an empty trap, the cheese gone. Damn. I was a bit relieved, but then pissed off - now I'd have to do this again! I set it again, this time with a smaller piece of cheese, and closed the cupboard. In the morning I opened that cupboard to grab a bottle of cleaner because the cat barfed on the floor, and saw trap the had been successful. I actually only saw the tail in the quick glance before I closed the cupboard. Yay and crap. What was I going to do now? I texted my friend again, now Monday morning. The kids were eating breakfast in the dining room, and I figured it would be best not to mention it. Naomi would have stared and poked and Ben might have gotten upset and insisted on a burial. My friend came over and disposed of the corpse seeing as how I couldn't even look at it. It was quick and with minimal clever remarks. I felt like a wimp.
I'm just not cut out for premeditated murder I suppose. Perhaps it gets easier after your first kill?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another wonderful concert on Tuesday. A week before, I went to see Nagano conducting Liszt and Shostakovich which was pretty fantastic and made more so by a cheap last-minute seat in O right down the middle. This Tuesday I went to a show entitled The Evolution of the Symphony. Gabrieli, Bach, Webern, Stravinski, and finished with Beethoven's Fifth. The Fifth is near the top of my list. I am always amazed at the vibration that runs through me every time I hear it performed. Not a single note is wasted and the recurring themes running through become familiar but never expected. The energy in the hall was sensational and made my heart race. To make it even better, I was there with a person who is like a perfect symphony to me.
This is the last month of concerts in this hall after 47 years. Nagano gave a short speech without a mic, making the moment seem intimate. He spoke with emotion about the attachment to the hall, while looking ahead to the new space. Then, he announced an encore of Gabriel Faure, turned and began conducting Siciliene! So light and lovely and clean. After that was Berlioz's Le Corsaire, which I didn't know and only discovered later when reading the newspaper review. The reviewer also said that these two pieces were a classy gesture to Charles Dutoit, which after it was pointed out to me made sense, but went totally over my head at the concert. He complained about the incessant coughing of the audience. This past year they have strategically placed large bowls of Ricolas outside the entrances, but let's face it - the average age of the season ticket holders is still 200 or something. There are many younger people showing up, but we do stare out from our cheaper seats into a sea of white heads, that's reality. MSO, how about making tickets cheaper for people under 50 instead of under 30? I'm just saying.....many of us do not require oxygen tanks and would love a break on the prices so we could come more and probably start bringing our kids.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I want to write something longer about this, but can't right now.
Today was stressful, and all I could think about doing at the end of the day was coming home and playing piano.
And I did and everything felt better, or at least more right, and I don't know why it makes me so happy, but it does.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

There was a light in my day, it means more work, but I walked down the sidewalk in the cold, wet, non-Spring weather with a smile on my face this afternoon.
I can do it, I can do it, I can do it......

Monday, April 18, 2011

the day

Work, run, home, garbage, laundry, made soup, made muffins, made granola, cleaned kitchen, collapsed.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Feeling artsy

Ben came home last week with a library book on Monet and told me that he was going to be an artist when he grows up. So we all sat down and looked at the book, and talked about the paintings. This week he brought home a book on sculpture, which we've also enjoyed perusing. This morning after gymnastics, we hopped in the car and went down to the museum and looked at the art. The MMFA has a nice collection, and I am eagerly anticipating the reopening of the renovated buildings across the street. Everyone was well behaved (a huge difference from when I took them to the Chinese warriors, which I should write and post) and we all found things that we liked.
Both kids thought the Picassos were hilarious. How come he didn't know how to paint a face properly? What a silly man.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

am I here?

I feel invisible today. Like I could not be here and no one would notice....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

perfect moments

My son running towards me up the sidewalk on a sunny morning shouting "I Love you, Momma!"
What my sad heart needed today.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Jogging is very beneficial. It's good for your legs and your feet. It's also very good for the ground. If makes it feel needed."
Charles Schulz

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Spring is lifting my heart. This winter felt a bit too bleak and cold for me. It had wonderful moments, but not enough to sustain my joy and hope. Now, the sun has started to shine when I wake and I spend a lot more time smiling. Things have not really changed, or maybe they have?
Either way, I am inspired and am back to feeling full of possibilities. Now I only need a slight change of scene and an amazing lingering kiss to start the season right.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Rook to Queen

She woke next to him in the dark. He was curled away from her, mostly uncovered and snoring softly, occasionally saying words she could not understand. She pulled the blankets back over him and wrapped her arm around his chest. He snuggled back into her warmth and let out a soft, contented sigh, something he would never do when he was awake. She smiled and placed the lightest kiss on his shoulder and hugged him tighter, silently wishing that he would be there come morning, before she fell back into a deep sleep, dreaming of cheese and chessmen.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Perfect moments

Naomi came into bed early this morning and moved over to share my pillow, her sweet little head nestled up against mine, breathing softly. Is she really all mine?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I still smell him in my hair.....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Goodnight Moon

Tonight there was a super perigee moon, the first in 18 years. My kids and I have a little love affair with the moon, so after sunset we put on snowpants and coats and went out to find it. It was hidden on our street, but when we got around the corner to the top of the park, there it was, shining low over the playground equipment, bright and huge and yellow. The kids ran to the bottom of the park for a better look. Ben said that it looked like a big bubble, or a balloon. Naomi said it looked like a circle. My camera battery died after a couple of pics (dang, should have checked it this afternoon), but we were entranced.
I sat down on a bench and let the kids play for a while in the darkness, hiding in the shadows, sneaking up the slides and racing down them. I listened to their whoops and whisperings as the moon lit the cratered landscape of countless footprints on the soft snow of the afternoon, now lightly frozen in the night. So much beauty and happiness, and under it a gnawing sadness because I would have loved nothing better than to be watching it on that bench with another, someone who looked up into the sky tonight and whose first thought was to tell me about it, wishing that he was there to kiss me under that wonderful moon.
We walked up to the top of the park again and said bye to the moon. I looked at the kids yelling, "Goodnight Moon!" and I remembered that the next time a moon like this comes again they will be grown.
Then we had a really good howl and walked home. Goodnight moon, I love you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I have reached the weepy stage of exhaustion. Something has to give, and it can't be me anymore. Universe, please give.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Good quote

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
— Albert Einstein

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The hopes under my pillow

So, Naomi lost her first tooth yesterday. It's the bottom middle-right, and the left is already loose. I missed it, but I'm told that she was very excited and talked of nothing else the entire day. A great deal of attention and thought was given to how exactly to ensure the tooth's safe dispatch to the tooth fairy. She finally decided on a box within a box under her pillow. The twoonie received in payment was almost completely ignored - she was just relieved that the tooth was picked up.

It seems too soon. Ben is two years older and he just started to lose his teeth last year, but it's not about the timing. She's my baby and this means more than just a tooth under a pillow. I thought that I could find a way to write about my kids growing up that didn't sound cliche or overly sentimental, but I'm not having much luck.

I can't wait to find out what they will be like when they get older, I am so curious about who they will become, what they will be passionate about, who their friends will be, what they will accomplish.

But I don't want them to be any older than they are at this very moment, when everything is fun and people are all nice to them and they invent games and make up stories and laugh and sing with abandon and crawl into bed with me and cuddle up and tell me their dreams. At this moment they are perfect. They are not limited by anything.

I don't want them to lose this moment, this feeling of everything being possible. Faster than I can believe, I know that the spaces between parents and children appear and are filled with new interests and people and independence. It's what has to happen, parents move further back, taking on more distant supporting roles, guiding gently and hoping that the basic things that we teach them when they are so close are enough to help them make decisions that make them happy later on. Some days I'm proud of the job I'm doing, other days I feel like I'm failing.
But right now, they are still perfect and it's so easy to keep them safe and make them happy and fill them with confidence so they can create the beautiful things they do.

And I don't want that to come to an end, even though I know it has to.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

things you eat when the kids aren't home

I found the best bread yesterday, I should never go to Akhavan hungry - the bread, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, smoked salmon, feta, almonds, yogurt = eclectic dinner. I wasn't surprised when I woke up from a nightmare involving purple trees that talk like Dame Edna.
Could not get a last-minute ticket for the MSO last night, truly bummed because I was looking forward to it. I needed some beautiful moments.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

my hero

You have ridden in on your white horse and saved me so many times.
And you were there again yesterday.
Your initials are scratched into my heart because the marker started to fade.
Thank you.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Love letters

A friend just mentioned love notes, and it put me in mind to write one, or two...
Let's start with the easy one.

To my Ben and Naomi,
I cannot remember what I was like when you were not in my life. I do remember a time before I had you, I see the pictures, I tell the stories, but it is a memory without texture, a story lacking a focus, a purpose, and depth. You make me more, you make me want to be better, smarter, funnier, happier, so that I can give you more and teach you what life is supposed to be. I would be so much less me without you.