Archive Page 2

31
Aug
10

Thirty six

I am old enough to

think seriously about my health

draft a will

draft a sonnet

get a mortgage

buy my own drill

learn how to use a drill

avoid those “you’ll regret the tattoo when you’re older” conversations

raise a child

never raise a child

save for my golden years

squander it all on a handful of magic beans

call my broker

answer all the questions on Jeopardy

go to bed after Jeopardy

tell the neighbours to keep it down, I’m trying to get to sleep

sleep with you

howl at the moon

wake up the neighbours

ask for forgiveness

stop apologizing

go for the really expensive shoes

get comfortable

walk myself home

run away with the circus

do the washing up

sweep it under the carpet

question the way the boss runs the show

panic about running my own show

run the show

search for the pot of gold

pick up the cheque

watch it all come together

watch it all come apart

wonder what will happen next

stop worrying about what will happen next

***

Advertisements
30
Aug
10

A few reminders

Take people at face value.  Give others the benefit of the doubt.  Stop looking for hidden meanings, and worse, stop presuming what those hidden meanings are.  If you have a question, ask it openly.  Politely, but openly.

Stop being afraid that you will look stupid.  Speak up.  The only people who aren’t afraid of looking dumb are…dumb people.  So you’re probably safe.  What you think means something and has value, even if no one else recognizes it at the time.  Even if you don’t recognize it at the time.

If you’re going to do something – work, play or otherwise – do it 100% and don’t get caught up in distractions.  Especially, don’t distract yourself.  Get the distractions out of the system, take a break, write, or whatever needs to be done to break the distraction.  And then get back to it.

Follow through.  Finish.  Go all the way.  Going halfway is as much of a failure as never starting.  Commit.

Forgive people.  For the big things and the little things.  And forgive yourself.  Life is too short to keep beating ourselves up over our shortcomings and wrongdoings.  Maybe you don’t want that person in your life anymore, and for good reason.  But forgive them and move on.  If they demonstrate change, give them a chance.

If an action you take makes you feel badly, makes you feel like a bad person, it’s a sign that you need to change your behaviour.  Or, at the very least, acknowledge your bad behaviour.  It’s not a time to start finding excuses or ways to blame the victim of your behaviour.  It’s an indication that you need to take a long, hard look at yourself, and understand that your actions have consequences.

Always try to leave situations and places and people better and stronger than when you found them.  Govern your actions accordingly.

Take care of yourself physically and mentally.  Don’t put off the important work that needs to be done to ensure that you have the energy you need to live the life you want to live.

Don’t be afraid to be alone.  When you’re alone, don’t spend it inside a bubble of unworthiness and self-doubt.  Use the time productively, to engage in activities that you enjoy doing by yourself.  Figure out what these things are and enjoy them to the fullest.  Don’t give into the ridiculous notion that you will somehow be alone forever, because this has never been the case, and will never be the case.  You are not living on a desert island.

Enjoy your life.  There are so many things to enjoy and be thankful for.  Your life is intrinsically privileged and good.  Don’t seek ways to make yourself unhappy because you want to somehow vindicate an idea that “it can’t possibly be this good or last this long”.  Breathe.  Laugh.  Enjoy.

09
Aug
10

It’s just like e-harmony, without the creepy people who paint

“But with your literary prowess, I’m curious for further descriptors.”*

Here’s an oldie, but a goodie.  Kind of like the author.

*****

I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t seeking something.   Aren’t we all?

Maybe the ad would look something like this:

Female professional, 35, seeks partner(s) for fun and perhaps a little frolic.  Note the “(s)”. If this bothers you, please don’t bother reading the rest.   The “(s)” does not signify threesome (sorry, fellas) or polygamy (sorry, Mormons).  It means that I am not actively (nor frantically) seeking an exclusive engagement.   However, like most things in life…everything is negotiable.

Wait, did I say that everything is negotiable? I misspoke.

In the interest of full disclosure, here are some important things that you should know:

(1) Although I will fight to the death to ensure that everyone has the right to it, I have no personal interest in the institution of marriage, and I do not measure my self worth by its presence or absence in my life.    If marriage is your only goal, move along.

(2) At the tender age of 35, I recognize that I am reaching the far side of my years as a child-producing entity. However, I feel no particular urge to have children, and will not view my life as a woman a failure if I never reproduce. If your only plan is to impregnate me in the next five years in order to ensure your legacy, please look elsewhere.

(3) I may have the random urge to kiss you passionately while walking down the street.  I rarely suppress these urges, especially in the evenings when a light snow is falling.  Or in the summer after a pitcher of margaritas on a patio. If you can’t handle being kissed in public, you should find another woman.

(4) I enjoy a glass of red wine after a long day at work. I like to take my shoes off, wiggle my toes, and feel the explosion of a big California zinfandel on my tongue. I hate drinking alone, and quite frankly, I view the dislike of red wine as a kind of character flaw.  As a side note, please don’t hold back if you feel the need to massage my aching feet.   If you cannot appreciate red wine, you and your bottle of Pinot Grigio should go home.

(5) The chances are good that I earn more money than you.  This doesn’t bother me, but it bothers some people.  If it hurts your ego when I pick up the cheque, I’m not interested.   Alternatively, if you always expect me to pick up the cheque, don’t count on hearing from me again.

(6) I endeavour in all instances to be reasonable and not make excessive or outrageous demands on the people I care about, and I understand that time is a precious commodity.  I’m busy, you’re busy, everyone is busy, all the time. However, I do expect the same courtesy from lovers as I do from colleagues, friends and family – return my calls, reply to my emails, and show up on time.   If you cannot reciprocate the courtesy and respect that I show you, or don’t understand why it’s important, you definitely should not have wasted your time reading this list. And you need to grow up and stop being such a narcissist.

(7) Sometimes my best endeavours fail.  Occasionally, I have passive-aggressive tendencies (thanks, Mom!), and I may argue with you over the most unimportant of issues (thanks, law school!).  I may hold a grudge, or pout like a child.  Sometimes wit devolves into sarcasm.  But I promise that I will always apologize, and I will never stop trying to correct these faults.   If you cannot forgive my carelessness from time to time (as I will with you), it would be best if you walked away now.

(8) As for frolic**, it will be prolonged, playful and passionate.   Time of day is not important. Locations are not limited.   However, I do have a preference for long, slow and tender over frantic and punishing – with the recognition that sometimes urgent fumbling can lead to the sweetest of pleasures.   If this sounds in any way distasteful to you, apply elsewhere.

Unfortunately, as stated explicitly up front, I cannot guarantee exclusivity, or length of commitment.  But if you enjoy the finer things in life and want to share some time with a more thoughtful companion, for a drink, for a meal, for a weekend in bed, for a week in London, or maybe even for a lifetime – perhaps this offer merits more serious consideration.***

*****

* For a further explanation, please see yesterday’s post.

** When originally published, I took some ribbing over the use of the word “frolic”.  But I kinda like it.

*** Offer not valid for married men, politicians, restauranteurs, blonds under the age of 30, Bay Street lawyers, men who take pictures of their genitals with their Blackberries, regulars of the Spice Route and anyone who lives within a 50 mile radius of the White House.

08
Aug
10

Square peg

I peruse the rows of books.

Why Men Love Bitches:  From Doormat to Dreamgirl

What Men Won’t Tell You But Women Need To Know

I shake my head and move on.  The rows are categorized alphabetically by last name.

Become Your Own Matchmaker:  8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Perfect Mate

Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man

“It’s not here, of course it’s not here,” I mutter under my breath.

An overly-eager sales clerk pops up.  “Can I help you find a particular title?” she chirps, like some kind of mechanical bird.  Oh come on, she knows what section of the bookstore this is. 

The Loser section.  The section people turn to when they are looking for justification.

“No, thank you,” I mumble.  I hope she hasn’t heard me talking to myself.

The truth is, I have no idea what I’m looking for.

Why Mr. Right Can’t Find You:  The Surprising Answers That Will Change Your Life

How To Make Someone Fall in Love With You in 90 Minutes or Less

I laugh despite myself.  This is not my section.  The book I’m looking for isn’t here.

The book I am looking for will explain why I don’t want what everyone else seems to want.  The book will explain why it’s very common, but no one ever talks about it. 

I began searching in the bookstore after I read the following on Salon:

At 29, I’m not looking for a man. I’m six months out of a nearly two-year relationship so void of passion and emotion that I might as well have been alone the entire time. For the past few months I have enjoyed traveling by myself in Asia, avoiding all offers of romance. One pale Englishman in Laos asked me, his eyes wide and moist, if I wanted to have a bit of fun with him.

“Fun for whom?” I asked and went to bed early that night with my book, happy that I only had to share my room with the large frog on the wall of my bathroom.

“Oh my God,” I wrote to a friend.  “Is this what people think I believe?”

It is not what I believe.  Far from it.  In fact, it may be the saddest thing I have ever read in my life.  Claiming to prefer the company of an amphibian over an Englishman (however pale), or any other human being, is a bit much, don’t you think?

Blame it on thousands of years of conditioning.  Blame it on “Eat, Pray, Love”.  Blame it on feminism, or any other “ism” you prefer.

But I don’t believe in it.  Not for me.

Women imposing abstinence upon themselves, telling themselves that surely some kind of enlightenment will come from not acting upon their sexual desires.  Where is the choice, exactly? 

Where is the joy?

Are we simply wives and mothers?  Or sluts?  Or celibate singletons, proving our self-worth by denying our sexual pleasure?  Where do these perverse ideas come from?

I want to read the book that tells me that it’s alright to enjoy a life that includes love and yes, perhaps sex (gasp!), without the confines of tradition.  I am still relatively young, independent, successful and intelligent.  If I don’t want a traditional full-time committed relationship, does this mean that I give up a lifetime of love and passion?  Must I sign up for the whole package or walk away, empty handed?  If things don’t work out with the Prince, must I choose the frog? 

There must be another choice, I tell myself.  There must be another way.

And so, I continue to search.

26
Jul
10

Unroll your Jump to Conclusions Mat

“So, how was your date on Friday night?”

I pause.  Rifle through my Monday morning-addled brain.  This should be filed under “Friday, night of”. Think, think, think…

“My date?”

“We saw you at Oliver and Bonacini’s on the patio.”

Finally, the file appears.

Friday, night of: 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., Oliver and Bonacini’s:  Drink with ex-colleague to catch up on life.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

My current colleague has a huge grin on his face, as though he’s finally caught me.

I don’t usually like to write about colleagues here, but since he put me in a brutally awkward position last Christmas by asking me if I would like to be featured on a “matchmaking” website he was building, I feel as though I can loosen my nearly-airtight bands of discretion in this instance.*

“Oh, that wasn’t a date.”

His face falls a little, but I sense that he doesn’t believe me.  Because, of course, I need to lie about these things.

“That was me having a drink with an ex-colleague to catch up on things.”

But thanks for starting a rumour. That’s just swell.

You see, I’ve had this argument repeatedly with others.  “A woman cannot engage in business development in the same way that a man would, because everyone will always assume that the woman is coming onto the man, or vice-versa,” I would say.

“Wow, someone’s got a high opinion of herself,” I could hear them thinking. “Why would she think that anyone would care if she’s dating or not?”

Well, score one for me in the “I told you so” category.

And people wonder why I like to keep my personal life out of my office.

This is why.

 

* At the time, I couldn’t tell if it was an elaborate way of setting me up with one of his friends, or an actual attempt to pimp me out like a prostitute.  Clearly, the look of disgust on my face as I handed back his business card wasn’t pronounced enough to scare him completely.  NOTE TO ALL MALE READERS:  Do not ask your female colleagues to join your escort service.

20
Jun
10

I would never disappoint you, my dear

My dear friend Ray kindly informed me that I’ve been shirking my responsibilities around here (i.e. entertaining him), and so he begged threatened asked me nicely if I would please complete the following questionnaire.

So, without further ado…

When were you happiest?

The first night that I slept in my bed in an actual bedroom (with a door!) in my new condo.  That was about two months ago.

What is your greatest fear?

Waking up and finding myself living in a subdivision somewhere in the north end of Brampton, married to my high school boyfriend, pregnant with my fifth child.  Oh, the HORROR!

What is your earliest memory?

Sitting on the kitchen counter, bawling because I had just caught my finger in my Nana’s spinning wheel.  Or was that an episode of Little House on the Prairie?  No, I think that was me.

Which living person do you most admire?

Stephen Lewis.  When others have given up hope, he continues to fight.  Make a donation.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My incessant need to over-analyze every situation.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Pessimism.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

There are so many, how could I pick only one?

What is your most treasured possession?

My home.  Everything else could disappear.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My forehead.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?

Dead Like Me.  Sheer brilliance.

What is your favourite smell?

Why can’t they make a cologne that smells like baking cookies?

Cat or dog?

Neither.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

The question implies that there are pleasures that make me feel guilty.  So…nothing. 

What do you owe your parents?

An apology for that time a friend of a friend vomited on the living room carpet.  Other than that, I don’t feel I can be held responsible for the decade when the aliens invaded my body (aka the teenage girly angst years).

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

See question above.  Also to the whiny prat at LaGuardia last week who almost cried when I accidentally took his cab.  Drama, drama, drama.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

First, someone who can cook, because I’m not doing it.  Possibly Susur Lee (who totally redeemed himself in my books during Top Chef Masters) or Art Smith (because if he’s good enough for Oprah, he’s good enough for me, dammit).   Guests will include…you know, I was going to think up a list of famous people, but I think I’d rather invite all of my fabulous, interesting friends.  I am truly lucky to be surrounded by people who are fascinating and intelligent.

However, my date will be Don Draper.

Keep your hands off him, Sal. He's mine.

What is the worst job you’ve done?

I could say scooping ice cream or sorting specimens at a medical lab, but it was actually practicing law.  At least at the lab, the shit was contained in little jars.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

I would seriously reconsider the Ziggy Stardust haircut of 2001.

When did you last cry, and why?

About a month ago, because I thought I might have cancer.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?

At a funeral home, next to a dead body, I hope.

What keeps you awake at night?

Sex, duh.  Or indigestion.  Sometimes both.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Stones, of course.

How would you like to be remembered?

Well, this questionnaire certainly took a sharp turn towards morbidity.

As a highlight in everyone’s life. 

Captivating conversationalist. 

Loyal friend. 

Great lover. 

Fearless writer.

Tireless philanthropist. 

Patron of the arts.

Too much?  I think not.

12
May
10

On Writing, Redux

char·la·tan

–noun
a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack.
—Synonyms
impostor, mountebank, fraud, fake, phony.
***
If you haven’t visited the Young Centre for Performing Arts, you really should go.  It is a beautifully converted space, large enough to make you feel comfortable, but intimate enough to see the expressions on the faces of the actors.  The former home of Tank Houses 9 and 10 of the old Gooderham & Worts Distillery is now home to Mamet and Miller and – last night – Friel.
The three troubled characters who inhabit The Faith Healer tell their stories in long, uninterrupted monologues.  I use the plural form of the word quite deliberately – there is in fact only one story, but told from such different points of view that the audience is left wondering what really happened, and who – if anyone – is telling the truth.
Or maybe they are all telling the truth.
The background notes on the play state that Friel described the play as a “metaphor for the art, the craft of writing”.
“A writer sets out to create a fictional world – a lie – and to fill it with as much truth as she can find in herself and express.  Sometimes, magically, it coalesces and audiences are touched.”*
About a week ago, I explored the work of Spalding Gray, a man who freely admitted that although his stories were based on his own life experiences, these experiences were clearly viewed through his own particular lens, filtered by his own brain, and quite possibly altered over long periods of time. 
Have you ever found yourself wondering if an event really happened in the way that you remember? 
We can go through life feeling certain that we know the characters of other people, that we know ourselves, and find that others have a completely different perspective.  How is it possible to know every side and angle to another complex human being?  We see only what that person chooses to show us and we see only what we want to see.
Perception.  Filter.  Distortion.
Writers go one step further.  We have the audacity, the narcissistic tendency, the burning need…to write it all down.  We are not content with viewing and filing away, we instead choose, in our own charming form of madness, to tell the story.  We challenge the audience by laying ourselves bare and saying “Here is what happened, here is what I think, here is my voice.  Make of it what you will”.
Friel also said that “there is an element of the charlatan…in all creative work”.
Quacks.  Mountebanks.** A person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses.
Yes, that sounds about right.
***
As a side note, it’s getting a little depressing to continually see only older audiences at the theatre.  Most companies, like the amazing Soulpepper, offer heavily discounted tickets to younger patrons.  So, what are you waiting for?
***
* From the Playbill Background Notes, beautifully written by Soulpepper Associate Artist Paula Wing.
**  A word I am trying desperately to fit into everyday conversation.