In yoga, instructors often use colourful images to help you visualise your anatomy in each pose.
They range from the eccentric "plant your hand firmly on the ground, like someone has just pounded a nail through it" to the airy "pretend that you're leaning your neck against a cosmic pillow".

But tonight, our instructor Sheryl took the prize.

In describing the perineum, she said nothing other than:

"It's the tiny muscle between the fertilizer and the flower."

Playful tone, no irony. It was like being in Grade 5 sex ed. all over again. I loved it.

I would have applauded but it's hard in downward dog.


Love and robbery

I was going to write last night, but Wednesday evenings are pretty busy, what with yoga, a late dinner, toenail clipping, loofahing, moisturising... Big, big night for me.

However, I did manage to squeeze in a visit to Powell and we did what we do best - talk our way through a few cups of milky tea. In our overview of life and the mysterious workings of the universe, we (somehow) found ourselves discussing love and what we're looking for in a man.

(I actually typed 'boy' first, but I didn't want the universe to misunderstand and send me yet another mixed-up boy. I'd like a man now, please. Universe, are you listening? I said 'man'.)

I brought up the theory presented to me once by Joan: your perfect mate is basically an accomplice. That you have to pretend you're a bank robber and that you're looking for someone to drive the getaway car. Or if you prefer to drive the getaway car, someone with guts of steel who'll swagger into that bank with an insouciance that the newspapers will never tire of mentioning.

  • someone who has qualities and skills you don't have so that you complement each other
  • someone who will be fun to plan stuff with and not get too angry if you forget the map
  • someone who will be a blast to spend the money with
  • someone who can keep your secrets and who will trust you with theirs
  • someone who can throw on a t-shirt and hit the road in 10 minutes
I'm making a list, ladies, so help me out. This is for all of you. What else am I missing?


Let me end with a word of praise for Rufus Wainwright. I know some of you have been influenced by stories of his snobby, pretentious behaviour, and although there's no telling how much of those are true, let's separate the man from his art for a moment and remember that Poses remains one of the best albums of all time.

I listened to "One man guy" about 18 times this morning. Makes my three cubic foot of blood and bone feel good all over.



First boobs, and now thighs...

So I have this theory. It came to me while watching that Seinfeld episode about shrinkage. It suddenly dawned on me that women have a parallel problem that the universe deigns not to address.

Spreadage, as this phenomenon is known, occurs when a women sits down, whether it be in a chair, a couch or the driver’s seat. Her thighs, now pressing against the cushion, are splayed outward, giving the untrained eye the appearance of great width. This is especially distressing while sitting in a car with bucket seats, as the thighs are then pushed outward and upward.

Short of constantly wearing a trench coat as camouflage or keeping your legs underneath your desk, spreadage is an evil that lurks when you least expect it.

My advice? When it happens, just claim: “I’m sitting down! This is not me! I’m sitting down!”



In light of recent news that buying breast implants is now a community service, I thought it appropriate to share a few words about breasts.

One of the best bras I own is a Triumph bra. It's a demi-cup – which is perfect for those of us on the lower end of the B-scale who cannot fill a whole cup – with underwire and a little poof of padding that pushes everything slightly upwards for a fuller effect. Other than a nasty little bow with fake pearls that I couldn't cut out, it’s the perfect bra.

When I purchased this particular item however, the tag read:
Triumph…specially designed for the smaller proportioned figure type.

Now, isn’t that the height of politically correct? I’ve seen a lot of euphemisms in my time and have learned to appreciate their built-it irony, but I especially like ‘Smaller proportioned figure type’ because you can tell they were trying to come up with something really delicate. Their earnestness betrayed by the use of too many words that stumble over one another.

This phrase cannot be read through with a straight delivery. There needs to be some hemming and hawing, for example, “Ah, you know…the small…no, smaller proportioned figure…uh…type. Yes, that’s it, the smaller proportioned figure type. Yes.”

And even the name brand is worth a roll or two of the eye. What exactly do I need to triumph over? 

Is the very progress of my life being impaired by a B cup? It all seems over-dramatic to me, but in the maelstrom of female angst over boob size, shape and weight, there is a lot of drama involved. Breast size does seem to inflict an inordinate amount of anguish on the female population and I am not immune. Like so many others, I have “booby” tops that make me more voluptuous in the upper regions and “boobless” tops that I swear to throw away once and forever every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

Breasts are a very key part of who we are as women, so we can’t help talking about them and mythologizing them. If you doubt this in the least, ask a breast cancer survivor who lost hers to a scalpel.

So no matter what size breast you boast ladies, your girls are yours for life so learn to love 'em.


Adriana Palanca, Bridesmaid for hire

I have been part of a bridal party six times. Let me begin with a few stats:
  • I have been a bridesmaid four times and a maid of honour twice
  • Five of the weddings were in Montreal, the last was in Toronto (where I had the misfortune of being coiffed by a hairdresser from Woodbridge – for those of you who don’t know, that’s the Saint-Leonard of the Queen’s City – who wanted to tease my hair to pre-1989 standards, insisting all the while that people don’t know how to cut hair in Montreal).
  • Bride breakdown: 3 Italians, 1 blond girl of vague Canadian origins, and 2 Portuguese-Italians.
  • I have worn mint green linen, cream and pink raw silk, gold satin with a bow on the back, lilac taffeta, cranberry taffeta, and royal blue sequins - which went very nicely with the matching head piece featuring sequined flowers, a v-shaped headband, and strings of sparkling beads that lashed me across the face when I turned my head too quickly.*
  • Number of times I have had to dance the Macarena is excruciatingly uncomfortable high-heel shoes dyed to match my dress: 6
The highlight of the bridal party experience is undoubtedly the bachelorette party. The bride’s last hurrah, when she is supposed to throw caution to the wind and sow that last wild oat. Some bachelorette parties have been tamer than others, with the evening’s excitement culminating in all of us dancing in a circle around a pile of purses. Others – to be precise, three – have been more daring with a visit to that temple of masculinity (ahem), Club 281.

Once we had survived the shame of being ridiculed by all the punks heading to Foufounes Electrique, once we were past the indignity of having to exorbitantly bribe the leering doorman to get us a table, we found ourselves sitting shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee, with countless other women also sipping over-priced drinks and wondering out loud if we were going to see *everything*.

On each occasion, I laughed so continuously, so steadily, that I feared I might get thrown out of the joint before I had a chance to finish my bajillion-dollar gin and tonic. Let me tell you the top three things I witnessed on those choice outings.

One: Those girls in the audience "fortunate" enough to have friends buy them a lap dance were sure to get the performance of their lives. With so many ladies packed so tightly in, the dancer had very little space to work in and all gyrating and grinding was done directly in the girl’s face. Unfortunately, this also meant that when a dancer was performing at the next table, you had to sit very still for fear of accidentally leaning back and finding yourself wearing some stripper’s butt as a hat.

Two: Once, a dancer stepped through the curtains – freakishly unhairy, like the rest, and not-so-heroin-chic thin – wearing a banana-yellow sheath over his bits. When he came out on stage and starting shaking his *fruit* at the audience, I was both amused that such a crude sexual allusion could still work and really, truly horrified at the frenzied females around me who apparently wanted nothing more than to peel his sweet, sweet package. I have fantasies, but I am fairly certain that the last thing I want to see coming towards me is a penis dressed up as a banana.

Third, and last: One tableau began with two men applying suntan lotion to their respective – once again hairless – limbs and then doing a gyrating boogie with each other. Now I understand that many male fantasies revolve around watching two women have sex, and understandably, it can be a very intense, erotic scene to watch unfold. Except I have to say that watching two men get “oiled up” – both physically and metaphysically – is not my idea of a fantasy. Even if, one day, I manage to convince two uber-hotties to come into my bedroom and ravage my trembling self, I don’t think I would be all that happy if they were too into each other. That would just take away from the whole… me… aspect of the fantasy. In the end, I was just glad that they didn’t soak themselves under a Flashdance-style shower head and then lick each other dry.

The last time we went to a strip joint – for the fifth bride – I was so jaded about the whole affair, the other women in line were practically paying me to get them a table. But I did it anyway, because you don’t let your friends down. Even when they make you wear a royal blue headpiece with sequined flowers.

Just a few last stats for you:
  • Number of separations: 2 out of 6 (getting close to the national average)
  • Number of babies: 9.5 (she's due this summer)
  • Next time you can expect to see me in a bridal party: Never. Unless it's my own.

*I would have gone through the trouble of scanning that precious photo, but it's already packed in a box. I promise to post it soon.


Crush mix

Is there anything as fun - or as excruciating - as a crush?

I love 'em. The little fantasies. Going over every syllable of your last conversation. Trying to convince yourself that you didn't come off sounding like an idiot. Getting gooey when you remember how nice his/her hands are...

And the plotting. Oh, the plotting.

But whether or not you're entertaining a crush at the moment, here are some musical selections for your daydream soundtrack.

At the very least, these are very crush-worthy artists.

Krazy krush by Ms. Dynamite
Everyday is a holiday with you by Esthero
Moonglow, lamp low by Eleni Mandell
Nothing brings me down by Emiliana Torrini
Maybe lately by Miracle Fortress
Timeless by Matthew Barber

And if you want nothing of crushes because you're too bent inside, then try Star position by White Hassle.

Happy crushing!


Do the bharatanatyam!

Did I tell you about the contemporary Indian dance class I took last week?

It was a free class given at the lululemon store on St-Denis (they just wheel the displays out of the way) and I loved it! Staircases were my enemies for four days afterwards, but as the basis of all moves is a half-squat, I cannot reproach my quads for kicking out on me, poor things.

The moves were based on a classical style known as bharatanatyam, but with a contemporary twist. What I loved about this style is the use of expressive hand gestures known as mudras. We use them in yoga too. And anyway, my tribe knows expressive hand gestures, so I was good at that. 

Splayed, curved, flat, rigid... my fingers naturally popped into whatever configuration the instructor Parul demonstrated. Throw my arms over my head and flip the hands to make them look like upside down spiders? Yes, right away! Hey, look at me now, I'm getting this riiiight!

And no, there was no "turn the doorknob" or "screw in the lightbulb", sorry.

The only thing more intriguing than watching the instructor's limbs undulate in a series of complex yet graceful moves, was observing the awkward middle-aged woman to my left.

You know the type. It's the person I fear becoming the most. The woman who is so neglected and so in need of attention that when she's offered the opportunity to mingle, she tries too hard, speaks too loud, offers too much in the hopes of sounding interesting and carefree and not desperate in the least.

From the moment she entered, she spoke loudly and clearly so that her voice carried right to the back of the room. She immediately began narrating the events of her evening - how she spent the afternoon downtown, what she bought at the Bay, what she had for dinner at Coco Rico, how she was looking forward to enjoying her night out, how she had no dancing experience, whether or not her pants were stretchy enough for the dancing...

Then, if during the class the instructor asked how everyone was doing, we were all treated to a loud proclamation of how hard this is to learn, how sweaty she's getting, how she shouldn't walked all the way from downtown, why she shouldn't have eaten so much. Dinner at Coco Rico, did she mention that? All the way from the Bay. Sweaty.

She didn't seem to be enjoying herself much. In fact, she only became more awkward and flustered as we pressed on.

As exhilarated as I felt by the physical exercise, all I really remember about that night is the spectre of this woman - and a fervent wish that no one ever has to feel that desperately lonely.



Thanks to PD, I was able to see Eva Yerbabuena dance flamenco at the Place des Arts tonight. And my body could barely contain the effect on me.

The performance was everything that I love about dance - drama, pain, the miraculous strength of the human body, limbs so saturated with emotion that you feel every tremor of the human soul in the sweep of a finger. Even if I understood nothing of the songs being unleashed by the four barrel-chested singers, every nuance was devastatingly beautiful and intense.

The speed of the dancing feet, and the light, quick movements of the guitarists over the strings, kept me in constant shivers. And oh, the anticipation that any time now, she might elegantly flick her ruffled skirts into her hand and - just for a moment - you might catch a glimpse of her gorgeous calves.

Yerbabuena took on four distinct personalities in each performance.

First, there was woman in sorrow, dancing to a mournful, dramatic song so heavy with emotion that it could have been the soundtrack for the genesis of life. Then there was woman joyful, arching her back and playfully kicking her skirts with unrelenting, unapologetic bliss.

Clad in a tight dress of dark red and black, woman survivor soon followed to confirm - with every stomp of her foot - that she would continue to transcend and lift up and up and up...

Finally, Yerbabuena emerged wearing a creamy pearl-coloured concoction that at first glance seemed to be a wedding dress. The singers stepped out of the darkness - one at a time - and approached her with slow menace. I thought, is this woman haunted?

But then, surrounded by the four vocalists, woman triumphant became so resplendent in the white light that I sometimes had to look away. She hammered out her existence through her feet and soon led the tamed 'ghost' singers away, her power untouched.

Every moment expressed the stuff that life is made of - pain, joy, mystery, strength, conflict, peace.

And it was beautiful. All of it.


Oh goodie, more literature by Afghan writers!

"My God, you haven't read Kite Runner? It's so beautiful! You have to read it!"

Um, no, I don't have to read it. And I won't. Now that I've read one of them, I'm sure that I've pretty much read them all.

Excuse my cynicism, but haven't we been through all this before? With Chick Lit? And the Indian saga novels before that? There was a time when you couldn't get to the end of a bookshelf without seeing a cover festooned with lotus flowers, saris and bindhis. Anyone remember Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy, Monica Ali?

There were some phenomenal writers in that last sweep - namely Rohinton Mistry (I still shudder when I think about A Fine Balance) and Anita Rau Badami (I bow before you The Hero's Walk). But there were some pretty stinky and derivative novels too. 

For example, do not get me started on God of Small Things - or as I like to call it That Overwritten And Heavily Flourished Indian Novel That Everyone Said I Would Love But That I Hated From Page One And That I Never Finished Reading, Simply Skipping To The End To Verify That My Suspicions Of Incest Were Correct


At this juncture, only the most pointed recommendations from a select few people will incite me to read another Indian family saga. And forget tales about Afghanistan altogether. I would rather buy knit sweaters for fruit than pick up another *inspiring* tale about the triumph of the human spirit.

So what tomes do I have on my bedroom floor? Borderline by Marie-Sissi Labrèche (upon which a movie starring Isabelle Blais - another girl-crush of mine - is based). Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut. And something about Renoir's landscapes.

I'll let you know how it goes.


The Challenge

Seeing that Powell and I are BFF, we have developed our own language - especially when it comes to discussing men and their occasional usefulness.

Why should you care?

Because if you can come up with a clever response for the following question, I will purchase you a beer or a drink of some variety (even if it comes with an umbrella).

1) What does it mean when we refer to The Chop?

Once again, I don't care about accuracy, so much as cleverness. And keep it clean. If you need to get dirty, then you're obviously lacking in imagination (i.e. email it to me instead of posting a reply)

PS. New music from Tapes'n'Tapes! Anyone else hear about Vampire Weekend? Listening to their debut album is like having butterflies in your stomach.


Helen Merrill

Latest discovery: Helen Merrill (self-titled), 1954

If you look up the greatest female jazz vocalists, chances are Helen Merrill will not show up the top ten. How can a Croatian girl from NYC compete with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Jones, and Nina Simone? She can't really. Their sound is raw and oftentimes visceral - imbued with the experiences of growing up black in a racially turbulent world, of struggles with drugs and alcohol, of losing everything...

Helen Merrill may be a graceful blond in classic-cut sensible clothes, but that never stopped her from creating a style - and a vocal mood - that's unique, evocative and equally full of longing.

This is her debut solo record. I find it particularly bewitching because of the warm, subdued quality of her voice. She may not be belting out her pain with bombast but the quietness of her voice reveals a passion that is just as devastating and beautiful.

My favourites are the  romantic You'd be so nice to come home to and the bare-naked Don't explain. I like the former because there's an underlying naughtiness that makes the occasionally raspy sound of Merrill's voice all the more playful. This was, after all, 1954... It was your husband that was supposed to come home to you, not the other way around.

She does not express any desire to spend the rest of her life with the You, and she certainly doesn't want to sit around and wait for You to come home. When I hear this song, I defnitely don't see Merrill preparing a roast and mixing a martini for her imminently-returning husband. I see Merrill stealing down  side street, her cloud of blond hair wrapped in a discreet scarf, her feet moving quickly across the pavement to meet her lover.

'Home' being the beloved, and not a geographical place.

I like "Don't explain" because of the paradox. The voice is so cool, the pace so lazy... and yet the emotions so torrid. If I could summarise, it would be this: "I don't care that you cheated on me, I don't care what anyone says, I don't care about your excuses, because I still love you. Now take off your pants."

Loosely summarised, of course.

To note, Helen Merrill's career has spanned six decades and she has performed with some of the most notable jazz performers. She even has a MySpace page.

Also, she's huge in Italy and Japan - where she is currently on tour.


Resolutions 2008

No, I am not announcing the death of my 2008 Resolutions. I am actually finally getting around to making them.

Quick review of 2007 resolutions:
1) Find myself a new home. Crossed off the list in November. Next, suivant...

2) Get a dog. Shortly after making this resolution, I found a stray Schnauzer and adopted her for a while to test-drive pet ownership. Although Nigella was hypo-allergenic, I quickly discovered that my lifestyle did not suit raising a happy dog. The wet *surprises* found every afternoon confirmed that. She's now frolicking on a farm.

3) Join a yoga studio. Done! A little late, but done nonetheless.

New resolutions for 2008:
1) Write regularly. Already working on that one. Thanks to the blog, I am now writing more regularly than I ever have in my entire life. Seriously.

2) Do something about getting to India. Okay, that one sounds weird, but there's a good explanation. My dream trips are Costa Rica and India. However, if I can only take one huge trip in the next few years, then I may as well go to India. I love ancient cultures. I love the thought of being somewhere primordial - where life began. I also love yoga and naan bread, both of which, I've been told, are to be found in great quantities in India.

Problem is, I'm not mentally ready to go to India yet, for the following reasons:
a) The crush of people. I get peevish when I get jostled by backpacks on the metro. I must be prepared to deal with a total lack of personal space. Total.
b) The crush of poverty. (Yes, this is the same girl who bought a relatively-pricey raincoat a few days ago.) I can travel in the most modest of circumstances, and subsist on meagre supplies, but how will I face so much poverty from every direction and not cry from morning to night?

So while I prepare myself, I plan to buy some books about India - maybe a flashy Eyewitness travel guide and a practical Lonely Planet travel guide - that I can skim through and dream over. I know it's low-balling it - not a very hard resolution to live up to - but it's realistic.

Hmmm... still thinking about naaaaaan.

NB1: My sister Tina Fey is in a new movie. I hope she fares better with the baby than I did with Nigella.
NB2: All my love to Alex R and Daniel G for giving me my first Valentine in years - and for giving me hope. xx


How to pick up hot chicks

In the last few weeks, while going to work, I have had two spontaneous conversations with two adorable ladies. In both instances, the young women were total strangers to me and the conversation was sparked by the bag I was carrying - you know that sturdy shopping bag you get when you buy something at lululemon?

I think this may mean that lululemon bags are chick magnets, so single men, get yourself some of these shopping bags if you want to hook up with the ladies. I mean it. If I liked girls in that way, I could have scored big!

This technique could be more effective than a puppy - and you don't need to housetrain.


"Are you sure?"

Don't you hate it when people continue to argue with you even when you know you're right?

It's like that Kids in the Hall skit in which Dave Foley continues to argue with Kevin McDonald, insisting that KM is wrong, even though it's fairly obvious that KM is right.

I didn't have to stab anyone with a fork, but I did have a similar experience in Powell's kitchen on Saturday night. I can't remember the exact phrase that set off the 'debate', but it doesn't really affect the telling, so read on...

ME: She said something like, 'the wind has a peaceful face'.

P: Isn't that anthropomorphizing?

Me: You mean attributing human characteristics to something that's not human?

P: I think so. But that isn't an example of anthropomorphizing.

Me: Yes, it is.

P: No, it isn't. Anthropomorphize means you attribute a human action to a non-human.

DSP enters the kitchen in search of another lychee martini.

DSP: Are you guys discussing anthropomorphism?

ME and P: Yes.

DSP: Like the attributing of human characteristics to something that's not human.

P: Except it's not just characteristics - you have to attribute actions for it to be anthropomorphism.

ME: No, you don't. It can be characteristics as well.

DSP: (pouring herself a martini) You take English Lit too, Adriana?

ME: Just a Master's.

P: You guys are wrong.

ME: I'm getting a dictionary.

Powell brings me a dictionary. Flip, flip, flip...

ME: Definition is... "the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object."

POWELL: (tipsy, sloshing her martini a little) It's an American dictionary though...

DSP: (gently guiding Powell out to the livingroom) It's okay, it means the same thing in both countries.

POWELL: (being led) Basstarrds.

ME: So it's not limited to actions.

P: But attributing characteristics is personification.

ME: But that's a whole different word. We was trying to ascertain the definition of anthro...

And that's when it struck my how absolutely ludicrous is was to be arguing literary terms in the kitchen while everyone else was getting loosey-goosey on martinis in the other room.

That, and there were too many forks lying around.


Salle de rédaction

Every day, for the benefit of our co-workers, the copywriters at 90degrees.ca post a word of the day on the white board - with a definition. Some days we also add a sentence to demonstrate the usage.

Most days we leave that line blank so that our co-workers can fill it in.

Gem from last week:

Word of the day: SAMSARA
the endless series of births, deaths, and rebirths to which all beings are subject.
Usage: "Samsara rien de t'ecouter!"

Thx to Séb Gagné.
[side, side, knuckles]


The importance of cleaning

I cannot tell you how much pleasure I derive from taking care of my space.

In the past, I used to feel that chores around the house had to be dispensed with as soon as possible - or put off for as long as possible - in order to get to the so-called "good stuff". Washing dishes was seriously cutting into my going-out time, you know what I mean? You can't tell good stories about mopping the floor. Any time spent doing something that did not induce hysterical laughing or involve a late-night trip to the dépanneur for beef jerky was obviously wasted time.

But nowadays, taking care of myself - and my home - is not something to be rushed through or ignored. I like watching soap bubble over my dishes. I love pressing freshly laundered clothes to my face and taking in their scent before carefully folding them. I sing a little song as I push my dust broom down the hall. I laughingly call myself a prat when I forget about the green beans in the back of my fridge and I have to deal with the hairy tupperware container.

Just when I started thinking that maybe I needed to hide this daily bliss, I came across this passage in a book I'm reading by Brad Warner: We harbour some explicable fear that if we start to enjoy everything about life without picking and choosing we might cease to exist. And then I felt better.

Because life is series of moments and taking care of your space is just as valuable a moment as any other in this too-brief life. Because taking care of your space ensures that any time spent at home - alone or with friends - will be a happy time. Because you shouldn't limit yourself to feeling pleasure only when friends and family are around, or when you're out being social.

Because a happier you means everyone that falls into your orbit will also be happier.

If I am only given x number of seconds in this lifetime, then I am going to try and squeeze joy out of every one. And if a couple glasses get rinsed in the process, all the better.


Why I felt alone watching "Lars and the real girl"

If you haven't seen Lars and the real girl yet, stop reading. I'll be revealing something that happens in the story. Although it doesn't necessarily *spoil* the movie, I believe in giving fair warning.

Still there? Okay...

You want to see LATRG, because (1) it stars (giggle*sigh) Ryan Gosling, (2) the screenplay was written by Nancy Oliver, who also wrote scripts for a little program called Six Feet Under, (3) it also stars Patricia Clarkson, another knock-out transplant from SFU, and (4) it's based on a Scandinavian film (when it comes to portraying a frozen human heart in a stark winter setting, those Scandinavians know their stuff).

I saw it in the movie theatre when it was first released, and it was one of the most frustrating experiences of my movie-watching career. And not because of cell phones or candy wrappers.

Apparently, everyone in the AMC theatre that night had bought tickets for a comedy. I don't know if they were expecting Ben Stiller or Owen Wilson to make a cameo, but they definitely continued to laugh long after it was appropriate.

I admit, when Bianca, Lars' half-Swedish, half-Brazilian blow-up girlfriend first arrives, there are some genuinely comedic moments. But LATRG is also a drama.

As Lars' heart starts to thaw, he announces that Bianca is very sick; subsequently, as his confidence increases, so does the severity of Bianca's illness. 

Until Bianca dies.

As I am sobbing*, so full with the miracle of Lars' transformation, made ecstatic by the beauty of the human heart, the rest of the audience is laughing. Somewhat uneasily, but they are laughing at the absurdity of a sex doll being buried in a coffin. So many people impervious to the message of the narrative. So many people puzzled by the conflicted feelings being provoked by the images. They had obviously wanted to see a silly comedy, but instead, they ended up at a movie about feelings.

The control freak in me wanted to stop the reel and explain what was happening on the screen with arrows and a laser pointer. The anti-social curmudgeon in me wanted to slap them all. Twice. The raw heart in me wanted a group hug.

LATRG is certainly not a seminal film that will spawn a new movement and impact filmmakers for the next half century. However, it was very well written and impeccably performed, and I feel like I missed something because I was too busy being annoyed by the rampant indifference around me.

It's coming out on DVD... maybe I'll just buy it and sob my little heart out at home.

*NB. I don't cry at movies. Ask my friends. It happens twice a year, and usually when I'm pre-menstrual.


The coat

Let's say it outright - Roman Catholics get a bum deal.

Guilt is built-in from the moment that you're born, and it's cultivated throughout your life. As a child, my mother frequently warned me that the Virgin Mary cried every time I told a lie (although I was fairly certain the BVM had more important things to worry about than how much licorice I ate).

Every time I half-suggested that I wasn't hungry, it was obviously because I didn't appreciate all the hard work my mother poured into that plate of pasta (she might also throw in a little something about starving children in Africa, but only if initial tactics didn't get the desired result).

When I finally moved out of my mother's house at the age of 27 (oh, yes, you read that right), her square-hipped cronies from the neighbourhood would stop me on the street to ask me why my mother's house was no longer good enough for me when everything she did was to make me happy, did I know that I needed to do my own laundry, etc.

So what does this have to do with a coat? Today, for the first time in 5 years or more, I bought myself a spring coat. In cherry red. With big, black buttons. It's a Soia & Kyo coat, so it cost a little more than something from your average mall boutique, but it's very reasonable for the quality and the style.

Did I mention that it's cherry red?

Anyway, I'm feeling a wee guilty about buying it. If my mother knew how much I paid for it, she would be horrified and explain to me in great detail just how much money she spent on the first coat she bought when she came to Canada. Perhaps even an inventory of how many garbage bins she had to empty at Ville Marie in order to afford it.

I'm generally pretty impervious to my mother's lamentations, but there are obviously inner workings at play. Apparently, Catholic guilt is so insidious because it infiltrates at the cellular level and triggers a self-policing effect in the brain. Even though my mother is not actually in my apartment right now, I can still hear her voice in my head.

Is she telling me to make my bed?

I'm just going to watch Splash. It's on TV, and mermaid movies generally make me feel less conflicted.


Being bendy

The switch to a full-time yoga regimen is going well thus far, you'll be glad to know. I do not miss the dumbells, the humid weight room, the grunting lifters of the Y. Now that I am fully immersed in this new yoga environment - the polished hardwood floors, the images of gods and goddesses, the quiet pad of bare feet - I feel as if I have found a place where I am more at home with myself.

I have also discovered a more profound love of the yoga practice.

My great love of yoga first grew from the closer relationship it cultivated between my mind and my body. When I practice yoga, it's the quality time that I spend with my body. I listen to its movements, its creaks, and its purrs with great patience and bemusement.

Yes, bemusement. Because when I practice yoga, I am not forcing my body to perform in a certain manner - I am merely asking it to do its best. If my arm decides that it doesn't want to slide in one particular direction, I respect its wishes. If my body coquettishly whispers that perhaps it would be amenable to trying something new, I breathe more deeply and take the stretch as far as I can.

This new, deeper love of yoga comes from the fact that I am becoming more in tune with the inner workings and rhythms of my body. If the instructor asks us to "push our inner heels back", I know what she means. If she asks us to "move your sitsbones apart", I can visualise that too. Whether or not I can successfully accomplish said task depends on the day, the time of day, and the stretchiness of my pants, but I can intuitively understand what I'm supposed to be doing.

And I am always improving.

In fact, lately, while practicing yoga, my body feels like a piano, and when I play the right notes - when I succeed in folding my shoulder blades just so - the stretch resounds in my body with notes as deep and sonorous as a real instrument.

While I am practicing yoga, my body has ceased to be the often-mutinous ship that I ride through life. She is a friend that I cherish and respect... even if she doesn't always listen to me.


Monday night television

I don't watch too many television programs. In fact, once I move, I have no intention of getting cable or satellite television. I'll still have a TV, of course - but I'll use it to watch DVDs and to keep some plants off the floor. (Umm... I can still get Coronation Street on Channel 6, right?)

Nonetheless, I get pretty excited on Mondays because season two of Tout sur moi has finally started. I discovered it last year as part of my push to improve my language skills by immersing myself more in French culture, and soon became a veritable fanatic.

The narrative outlines the personal and professional lives of three well-known Québec actors, who play... well, themselves. Or at least versions of themselves, peppered up by insanely comedic situations and the whims of screenwriter Stéphane Bourguignon. Every week is another angst-filled, trippy voyage through their lives, with many cameos by other Québecois cultural icons who also play skewed versions of themselves.

What makes this program more likeable than a reality show is that it purposefully - and joyfully - blurs the line between reality and fiction. For example, Serge Postigo, that nice man who's married to Marina Orsini and who does summer theatre in the Eastern Townships, makes his entrance and you're expecting him to behave exactly like Mr. Marina-Orsini-who-does-summer-theatre should.

Except in this universe he's a sex addict. And it works.

How big a jones do I have for this show? Last fall, I crossed Valérie Blais (one of the leads) while walking from the metro station to my office. It took every fibre of my being not to run back and gush about how much I love her, how she's a brilliant comedic actress, how if they ever wanted to write in a stalker for VB on the show - like an anglo Emilie Bibeau - I would be more than available... and then she would have hugged me...

You get the picture.

So season two has started (season one not yet available on DVD, I checked), and already there have been many insane moments that made me laugh out loud. If you're home on a Monday night, check it out and let me know what you think.

What's on tonight? Season two of The Wire on DVD... "do you feel me?"


Books piled on my floor

Although you would expect me to have books on a bedside table, I don't own a bedside table. Instead, my books are piled on the floor. And on a chair. And in my sock drawer.

But moving right along...

For Xmas, Powell gave me Eat, love, pray by Liz Gilbert. I was a little hesitant about reading it because I wasn't in any mood to read the *uplifting* story of some middle-aged woman who, following a divorce, travels the world in search of meaning and spends relentless chapters describing how yoga brings her closer to understanding the bliss of motherhood.

That's not what was printed on the back, mind you. It's just that the hype and the flowery cover and the visit to Oprah converged in my tiny, cynical mind to conjecture this impression.

Without delving too much into the irony of my making such a snap judgment about a book that pursues the Buddhist precepts of non-judgment and self-compassion, let's just say that I was mistaken.

Turns out, Liz Gilbert and I have a lot in common - well, at least at the beginning/mid of her journey. Writer. Budding yogi. Big fan of the B. Stymied by the relationship thing. Loves food, etc. I immediately fell into the story and thoroughly enjoyed the book. Even underlined stuff.

So don't be scared by reviews that crow "a delightful romp" - it's worth reading. (I know, I know, non-judgment, I'm working on it).

Favourite excerpt: It's all for the best, I know it is. I'm choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I'm making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.


The other book - Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner - I picked up on the weekend. Same spiritual journey towards Buddhism, same highly developed sense of humour, same exploration of life's dark underbelly and how to transform it... just told from the point of view of a punk rocker.

No clouds or lotus flowers or tree hugging. This is blunt, yet accessible writing that gets to the core of what it means to embrace Buddhism in our lost, modern age. Warner, it must also be noted, maintains both his punk persona and his Buddhist beliefs. It's not an either/or situation and it's entirely believable.

Read it for the unique opportunity to learn about the Ohio punk scene during the 1980s - vomiting in back alleys and all - and ultimately understand that all of us - no matter how tight our jeans are - can genuinely counter the suffering we see around us with open hearts.

The only weird side effect of reading Warner's book is that (inexplicably) I've had "Punk Rock Girl" by Dead Milkmen stuck in my head almost non-stop for two days.

Favourite excerpt (so far anyway): The truth won't be what you imagined. It won't even be close.


Back to the Maxim thing

I think I may be changing my mind about the people who write for Maxim Magazine.

Not because there's been a change in editorial content, you understand. Collectively, they still have the maturity of green bananas, but think how hilarious it must be to sit around and think up articles like:
  • The 11 Most Absurd "N-o-o-o-o" Scenes in Movies
  • The World´s Gayest Straight Guys (Jeaneane Garofalo, nice touch!)
The articles this week have a little more substance because of the whole Super Bowl thing (the review of different potato chips was a good read), but you can rest assured that a visit to Maxim Online remains the frivolous, titillating, gross experience it always has been.

Just don't check out the 'Scars' section immediately after breakfast. Yeeeech.

Go Patriots!

PS. Has anyone gone to the movies lately? I haven't had the strength for it. Is Rambo as bad as it looks? Is Cloverfield cheesy?


The material girl

With the Spice Girls in Montreal last night, I got to thinking about the most potent sexual icon that inspired girls of my generation to grasp that ethereal adulthood that floated in the air before us. Because before she became the siren of gay men everywhere - before she adopted a fake British accent that makes everyone cringe - Madonna belonged to me and my teeny girlfriends.

So after work today, I trudged through the snow to get me some vintage Madonna. And I mean the good stuff, none of that insipid La-Isla-Bonita crap. Here is the summary of my flashback this evening:

Like a virgin - Back then, we knew what being a virgin was like, so the question remained: "Why is Madonna trying to feel like this again?" She even sang with a childish, little-girl voice that sounded true to our ears. "You're so fine, and you're mine" wasn't the greatest lyric in the world, still, we knew every line and bought the longest faux-pearl necklaces we could find.

Material girl - We loved this video more than we loved the song, I think. Yes, we too wanted to be adored by a throng of heartthrobs and have fabulous bosom that spilled seductively from glamourous clothes, but the coolest thing about the video: We understood why she choose the skinny weird director. And who didn't love singing - breathlessly, over and over again - "a material, a material, a material, world!"

Borderline - My fave Madonna tune ever. Equal parts desperate, angry, and sad. And that video did define our generation. What didn't it have? Breakdancing! Lime green socks with high-heeled shoes! Those lacy black gloves with no fingers! Black sunglasses! Visible bra straps! Oh, how lush it was! Don't remember it? Let me refresh your memory...

(see what I learned to do today)