I want to be Durga!

As far as Hindu goddesses go, Lakshmi, all serenity in her pink lotus, is pretty hot. She's the personification of fortune, beauty and prosperity - no wonder she's the consort of Vishnu, the supreme being! They're the Brangelina of the Hindu universe.

I'm all Lakshmi-ed up - wall-to-wall love and prosperity are coming my way, people. But I have to say that if given the choice, I would choose Durga over Lakshmi.

For the geek set, this is somewhat akin to making a choice between Princess Leia and Padmé Amidala. Between Eowyn and Arwen. Between gorgeous and kick ass, and beneficent and just having a sweet can. Do you feel me?

Why you should want to be Durga too:
  1. She's exquisitely beautiful.
  2. She's a supreme goddess.
  3. She rides a lion or tiger.
  4. She convinced the male gods to give her their fiercest weapons.
  5. She is the embodiment of creative energy.
  6. All the male gods want to get down with her.
  7. Her name in Sanskrit means 'invincible'.
  8. She is fearless.
Although in some aspects of my life, I should be a little less invincible, I could stand to learn a little more fearless. Maybe if I had some crazy chakra karate chop...

While I work it out, embrace your inner Durgas!


My Canadiens jersey

Warning to any readers from Jasper3: Stop reading immediately. This is not really hockey-related.

Upon emerging from the yoga studio tonight, I knew the Habs were losing because the cool, rainy night was not filled with the joyful cries that accompany near-misses or the end of another spectacular penalty kill.

For the first time in a long time, I wanted to put on my jersey and sulk like all good Habs fans must do now and again. But then I remembered that I don't have it anymore. And I was sad.

But then I remembered that one of my favourite people in the world has it. And I was happy again.

Especially happy to think that my memory lives on outside the fraught fenced-in perimeter of my own consciousness. That maybe I impact the lives of other people even when I'm not around. That there are all kinds of people out there who love me even if they aren't around to tell me so.

That I don't have to explain to people why I'm wearing a Russ Courtnall jersey from 1990.

So here's something for you to do... Remember something of you that you left behind - or dig up something special that someone once left with you, marvel at how much it is cherished, remember how much you love that person or how much they still love you.

It will be very good for your heart.

Jasper3 - if you're still reading - don't say I didn't warn you.

Heard on the CBC this morning...

Through the haze of sleep, I heard snippets of David Martel's new album.

Just the type of sound I like. Indie. Folkie.

Apparently, he was working as a busker when a record producer type wandered by and turned him into a scruffy Cinderella story. See, the universe can be a benevolent place...

He'll be playing at O Patros Vys on May 15 - if anyone is interested, I think I'm going.


Too cool

Yes, there is such a thing as being too cool.

I know this not because I myself am cool. I’m currently sitting on my big red couch with dirty hair, wearing an old sweatshirt and eating dried cranberries out of a yogurt container as I type. I am no authority on cool. My only credentials are that I love observing human behaviour.

Taking a stroll through my new neighbourhood, I noticed that a few of my fellow Plateau-denizens are taking ‘cool’ to the extreme. Apparently, for some people, it’s not enough to be merely surfboard cool or just ugly 80s revival.

Today, I saw one guy wearing converse sneakers, skinny black jeans, a striped purple and white t-shirt under a black hoodie, and a bright green scarf knotted around his neck. He was also sporting facial piercings galore and the type of asymmetrical haircut usually seen emerging from Coupe Bizarre or some such.

Did I mention he was also holding a longboard?

"Pick one, buddy," I felt like saying. "Pick ONE."


Friday afternoon reading

Mr. Carl Charest posted a link on his Facebook page that I will share with you. It's about understanding women. All of it may not be applicable, but maybe we'll all learn a little something.

And what else do you have to do on a Friday afternoon?


Beauty tip for the ladeeees

Now that the season of sticky legs is back, allow me to share with you a beauty tip.
(I only have three).
  • Put on your summer dress.
  • Dust the inside of your thighs and the back of your neck with KamaSutra Honey Dust.
  • Enjoy the non-sticky feeling.
It's made with real honey (apparently) so it tastes sweet on the tongue. If you have a sweetie - they may enjoy the sensation. Otherwise, it's a great way to keep your skin feeling fresh. You can certainly buy it online, but I buy it from the big sex shop on the corner of Ste-Catherine and St-Laurent.

Don't worry - it's at the front of the store, so if you get queasy looking at PVC, there's little danger.


Pride and Prejudice... Or Persuasion?

Don't worry - this won't be one of my famous speeches about why Jane Austen is one of my most-admired writers, why Keira Knightley should have never been allowed to star in the movie remake of Pride and Prejudice, or why Darcy Fitzwilliam is the perfect man.

I will even spare you the funny details of what happened when I visited Austen's last home in Chawton, England.

What I do want to say is... Although P&P is one of the greatest books ever written - and the basis for one of the juiciest made-for-television movies ever made -  Persuasion remains my sentimental favourite. Just thinking about Wentworth's last letter gives me the shivers:

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. 


If you want to make an argument for your favourite Jane Austen novel/heroine/hero, make it.



The sneakiest, more devastating emotion? Missing. And here's why.

1) It always arrives at unexpected moments
Sometimes you don't even have to hear a familiar song, or come across a favourite photo to trigger it. Missing hits you at the most random moments - and usually when your guard is down. Have you ever been happy and/or occupied with enjoying the sunshine or chopping onions, and been completely floored by the waves of missing that wash over you? It's like your brain doesn't want you to be tranquil and the sabotage lobe (located near the left ear) quickly flips through its database and then flips a switch. Yes, your brain is working against you. That's what meditation is for.

2) It's physical.
Like a bat across your back. Like a hot poker in your belly. Like spikes in your legs. Like a weight on your lungs. Like a fist on your wind pipe.

3) It leaves you helpless.
Sometimes you contact the person missed. Sometimes you can't because they're gone from this life or it hurts too much. But whenever missing hits, there is always that helplessness. What should I do? Should I? Will it seem weak? And sometimes you do nothing at all.

Mercifully, sometimes it also leaves just as suddenly - and as quickly - as it comes.

Console yourself with some Lavender Diamond.


Spring fever

Ever notice how the arrival of spring brings on sunglass fever?

"Oh my God, are those your sunglasses? They're so cute. Put them on.  I want to see them on you. Soooo cute."

"I know. I love them! What are yours like? Take them out. Can I see? Wow - soooo sexy."

"Hey guys! What's up?... Oh my God, are those your sunglasses? You ladies look so hot! Check out mine..."

Sound familiar? I think I've had that conversation about six times in the last four days.

Happy sunshine. xx


Energi to go update

So the Energi to go portable iPod recharger thing is quite useful. I don't have to remember to charge the iPod at home or grind my teeth at work when I see the green bar diminishing too rapidly.

It's the perfect solution for lazy iPod owners like myself who rely on their babies to make it through the day.

I have only two concerns.

1) When my iPod is plugged into the dock, I worry that the dock will fall over because my baby is heavier than the dock. And since I have a thick black cord running from my earphones to the iPod, I'm also afraid that if I tug at the cord, it will send my baby - and the dock - crashing. To remedy the situation, I have created a little nest composed of gloves or scarves to catch her if she does topple over.

2) The whole lithium battery thing. Recyclable or not? Expensive? How long will they last me? These concerns don't discourage me from wanting to use the product, so much as they make me question how often I'll use it. For example, maybe only using the Energi to go for emergency situations and not for easy top-ups every two days. I want a charged iPod, but I would also like to leave a small ecological footprint in this life. (Have I mentioned my soon-to-arrive weekly organic produce? And the composter?)

And thanks for the fantastico Energizer bunny. He has brought great joy to my co-workers who regularly beat his little drum and play with his ears in moments of reflection. We've named him Alan.


eTalk Daily

I was just watching eTalk Daily and I'm feeling a little nauseous.

1) They interviewed Emily Haines and another member of Metric whose name escapes me to talk about Metric's next album. They had Emily and Male #1 sitting on a couch. There was kibbitzing. There was a little giggling. Emily was being coquette-ish under her blond fringe. And all I could think was, "Are these the same people responsible for Old world underground, Where are you now? Has underground music gone all Hollywood? This is more disturbing than the Joel Plaskett Emergency selling tube socks for Zellers... How did they get roped into this? What is the matter with TV producers in Toronto? Can they stop over-blushing Tanya Kim, please?

2) Smarmy Ben Mulroney was waaay too chipper when he announced how I too could learn how to glow like Feist.

3) They had commercials for Canadian Idol. This whole Canadian Idol thing isn't working for us. Maybe it's more successful in the United States because the country is so big, the population so enormous, that without a platform like American Idol, so many talents would go unnoticed. Is the Canadian music scene more vibrant than the U.S. music scene because we're a smaller country, with a smaller population?

I'm going to make myself some warm milk and read. Much less nausea-inducing.


From the mouths of babes

I went to visit Shauna tonight. While she was dyeing and cutting my hair, her seven-year-old son Zac was playing games on the computer and ‘talking’ to his friend Elizabeth on the phone. That is, the line was open, but the phone was lying on the desk. Their conversation – on both ends – consisted of screaming into the earpiece without moving their fingers from the keyboard.

As a result, we could hear every word Elizabeth said when she asked Zac to apologize.

Zac: [Silence. Continued and fevered pounding of arrow buttons]

Elizabeth: I’m going to hang up now.

Zac: [Shrugs. Suspends pounding on keyboard to close the line.]

Shauna: Zac, why was Elizabeth asking you to apologize?

Zac: [Mumbling, more keyboard action] I dunno.

Shauna: Zac, what happened? Why did Elizabeth ask you to apologise?

Zac: [Shoulders relax as the game ends] She just wanted to hang up the phone.

Why is this of any interest?

1) Apparently, communication issues between men and women start young.
2) Men start seeing things as black and white while still children. It is completely useless for us to fight it now that they’re adults and the habits have been ingrained. They don’t understand the nuances in a woman’s voice. Never have, never will.
3) Women develop sensitivities and start asking for apologies as young children. Most of them will have to wait their entire lives to finally get a genuine apology – if ever.
4) It was Elizabeth who finally called back. Apparently, women start playing the role of peacemaker at a young age as well.
5) Zac didn’t seem to be bothered one way or another. Also, not unsurprising to grown women who are frequently driventhisclosetohomicide by the indifferent reactions of their boyfriends.

What else?...

(I have some fancy new bangs, by the way!)


Oh, the shame!

Nobody tell my mother... but I may hire someone to give my house a good cleaning.

If she finds out, she'll insist on doing it herself and then I'll have the added guilt of dragging my 69-year-old mother across town to scrub my floors and dust my shelves. The last time I complained to her that I was having a time management problem when it came to cleaning my house, she replied, "You spend too much time with your friends. Leave your friends alone for once and clean instead."

She has a point. But I think a cleaning lady may be a better idea.

It's not like I want to make a habit out of it. In fact, I would even be open to having someone come over and help me do a big clean. Frankly, the job is presently too big for the time I could allot to it and I need a little boost. The floors are still patterned with dried slush that fell from the movers' boots. Oh, just a little help...

But the guilt! I don't know if I can do it.

I have all the respect in the world for those who make their living cleaning other people's messes. When my mother came to this country in 1963, not able to understand a word in English or French, she began cleaning offices in Place Ville Marie. After she had my brother and I, she found occasional work cleaning private homes. I would sometimes go with her, quietly playing in the living room, while she went about the business of cleaning. One of her clients - Mrs. Bercovitch - was so fond of my mother and I, she remained a friend of our family until she died not long ago.

Cleaning houses put a roof over my head, food in my belly, and books in my hands. It's a respectable trade that gives honest employment to people who want to work. And yet I'm so ambivalent - it seems so unnecessary, so lazy of me.


While I have your attention, read this article on Slate.com about the carbon footprint of the Olympic flame.



Once, a friend and I decided to make sushi. Natch, there are plenty of pick-up counters and restos offering a quality product at a reasonable price, but sometimes it’s just not enough to toss pasta with olive oil and garlic, and you have to take that leap. Sometimes you need to try a recipe that requires you to handle new and mysterious cooking implements, that challenges your culinary intellect and, if nothing else, is so fiercely stimulating that your stomach groans with anticipation.

So we proceeded to make the sushi…and a huge mess. Red pepper juice pooled on my counter. Bits of coriander leaves were crushed underfoot. There were splatters of soy sauce everywhere – in fact, I continued to find splatters for several days afterwards every time I moved my toaster or shifted a plant. The stuff really gets around.

And wow, were my rolls stunningly unattractive! They were too fat in the middle, too slim at the ends and when I cut them into mouth-sized pieces, they burst sending julienne vegetables everywhere in a mini-fireworks of colour.

So why all the trouble when the food processors of the world are so eager to spare me the effort? Something needs to be said about the ritual of the thing and the triumph of the individual over the loud petitioning of marketing.

Almost every new food product appearing on the market lately is marketed as quick, easy and delicious. The food industry seems hell bent on breaking the consumer’s reflex association between “quick and easy” with the lumpy, congealed frozen dinners that we remember from our youth.

The slickly packaged, wittily named, ultra-hyped products that are currently flooding grocery store aisles are a triumph of marketing over memory. Frozen or quick-preparation foods are sexy. They now come in aerodynamic, microwave friendly bowls that are chic enough for the pretty model with shiny black ringlets on TV to serve to her hot date. And bonus! They’re also completely disposable so that even cleaning up is “quick and easy”.

The success of this product trend is hinged on the modern lifestyle: busy families juggling their careers with mowing the lawn, the kids’ soccer schedule and grouting the shower, etc… need shortcuts to help them manage their time more effectively, as do swinging singles, whose spontaneous lifestyles require a little stability now and again. Apparently, we are all very busy people with very little time to eat.

Not really.

If you are truly making an effort to be health-conscious then you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. Eating healthy does not mean bypassing McDonald’s and then running home to eat a processed instant dinner full of sodium and preservatives. It may be quicker but that doesn’t mean it’s better. Eating healthy does mean going to the grocery store and choosing room temperature items such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains, and preparing meals that are properly moderated for maximum vitamin and mineral intake.

Our oldest ancestors treated food and its preparation with respect, so why don’t we? How come we insist on having this meaningless wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am relationship with the goodies on our plate? If you take the time, the act of preparing and consuming food can be a pleasant aspect of your day.

Do you think I would bother to make sushi alone? Hell, no - too much trouble! But because it also gives me an opportunity to spend some time with a friend, it’s all the more worthwhile and the food tastes better. Even when I cook on my own, I tend to put on the radio and do a little samba in the kitchen while I dice or sing while I sauté. Other than providing sheer entertainment to my neighbours across the way, it also gives me a few quality moments with myself to evaluate the events of the day and prepare myself for the challenges that will need to be faced tomorrow.

If anything, our society provides very little time for individuals to reflect. Eating, just like working, cleaning and dentist appointments, are scheduled in our routines as tasks that must be dealt with as quickly as possible so that we can get to the next task and the next until…we get to sleep. Most days are a blur: admit it. When was the last time you actually had time to think about what you were doing? And most importantly, why you were doing it?

Can’t remember?

Don’t feel bad. Most of us couldn’t. But that is part of the point I want to make. If there is one thing in your life that can be slowed down and enjoyed, that can be savoured for all it’s worth, it is the preparation and consumption of food. Take your brain back from the marketers who stole it, and discover the superb Zen of a really sharp knife as it parts the luscious flesh of a softly yellow zucchini. Don’t be surprised if a few minutes more of quiet contemplation every day starts to whet your appetite for more.

Luckily, there are three meals per day and thus, three great opportunities for greater happiness and health.


Salle de rédaction II

Martino says to me:

"Don't you think the word ridiculous sounds like a type of cloud?
Like, 'look at the ridiculous in the sky!'"


On the reading pile this week

Just completed (for book club):
Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni

At least I'm out of Afghanistan... This memoir is mostly well-written, but scattered and a little difficult to follow at times. It isn't my favourite among the other memoirs I've read this year, but it does contain some good insights on identity and the stagnancy of secularism in the Middle East.

Best quote:
This was the Achilles heel of their movement, this foolish idea that they could take a Western concept, like democracy, alter it with Islamic attitudes towards women, and expect it to function properly. Siamak described it well one day, in a conversation about his antique, forest-green Mustang convertible. He had purchased it for what he called "Mustang therapy, " which mainly involved gunning it up and down the expressways of Tehran, blaring Led Zepplin. His mechanic kept installing old Iranian parts into the car, and declared himself shocked each time to find they didn't work. It's the same with our politicians and intellectuals, Siamak complained. They borrow Western concepts like democracy, stick in Iranian parts, and can't figure out why they've lost the juice.


On deck:
Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

There are few authors whose writing I love as absolutely as Elizabeth Hay's (A.L. Kennedy and the eccentrically-named Audrey Niffenegger spring to mind), so when I picked up her new novel, it felt like meeting my favourite aunt again after a long absence. The writing is warm and authentic and evocative. I wish more people could write with such perfect - and heartbreaking - simplicity. I can't wait to get back to bed tonight to read more!

Best quote so far:
Harry had pictured somebody short and compact with sun-bleached hair, fine blue eyes, great legs, a woman in her thirties. But Dido Paris was tall, big-boned, olive-skinned, younger. Glasses. Thick, dark, springy hair held back off a wide face. Faintest shadow on her upper lip. An unreasonably beautiful woman.


Waiting in the wings:

Thanks for the recommendation, Anne C.


The Energi to go has arrived!

My excitement at receiving a parcel at work yesterday afternoon was only rivaled by the contents. The Energi to go i-Pod charger has arrived! Wheee!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a marketing agency in Toronto. Apparently someone west of the 40 read my blog and identified me as a potential influencer. They offered to have me try out this neat-o product on the left - in return, I would pass the message on to friends and my thousands *ahem* of blog readers, i.e. you.

I said "yes" for the following reasons.

1) I'm an incredibly lazy iPod recharger. I cannot tell you how many times A and M have heard me exclaim, "It's okay, everything's fine, there's no emergency, I'm sure I'll be fine...[nervous laugh]" because my iPod batteries have run out during a crucial creative moment. Also, because I don't really use my computer much at home, when I do plug the iPod in, my Mac-ie inevitably falls asleep before the charging is done. Basically, my iPod is always half charged.

2) As a writer who produces a lot of copy for online marketing campaigns, I have frequently added viral components to the projects we work on. Also, as a cynical Web user, the only offers/jokes/newsletters I pass on to family and friends have to be pretty spectacular.

I'm excited to see what it's going to be like at the other end of a viral campaign - i.e. the end where I get to see just how - and how quickly - information really flows.

3) I find it hard to say no to people who like my blog and think I'm quasi-important.

So stay tuned amigos! I will trying out this new on-the-go recharger as of tomorrow and I promise to report on the progress - good or bad.

PS. I went to yoga today!


Taking the hit

Sometimes when I say 'go' , my body says no. This time it's my knee. The muscle that runs behind the cap feels inflamed somehow. Like the back of my kneecap is stuffed with cotton and every time I try to bend the knee, it all compresses, making the movement feel unnatural, uncomfortable.

It started on Sunday morning. I've had it once or twice before - but that was back when I was jogging. In fact, I quit jogging for fear that I was doing some kind of irreparable damage to my knee. I quit last summer and hadn't had any recurrences... until this Sunday.

So I've been icing it on and off, and trying not to feel guilty about the bag of peas that I'm wasting in an effort to soothe my cottony joint. The knee is getting better at least.

Thing is, I really wanted to go to yoga today. I spent half the day with that bag on my knee, silently trying to convince myself that I could do the class, I just wouldn't do jump-backs or jump-to-sit, etc. I even asked H. if he thought that I could do yoga today. Although he's not a doctor, I just wanted one person to agree with me so that I could silence my doubts.

H. replied (in that sober, rational voice people are constantly using against me), "Do you really want to take the chance of screwing up your knee over the long term?"


So I'm taking the hit. Yoga can wait until tomorrow. There are enough downward dogs left for another day. I'm staying home tonight, and will shortly be consoling myself with lime jello and No Country for Old Men.

Make that two bowls of lime jello.


Palanca, the awkward years

To all those who watch me fight with my too-big tights at work or who kindly tuck in my tshirt/pants/underwear tags when they inevitably slip out - this child will look familiar.

Shirt slightly askew. Big eyes. The attempt at neat hair. Looks like she may have tripped on the way to the big wheel.

Just want to give her a little hug and tell her that things will be better tomorrow, don't you?



One of my co-workers asked me this week, "Don't you ever get writer's block?" I responded quickly and with a snort, "Nooo!"

And it's the truth: at work, I don't get writer's block. The words flow easily through my fingers and into the keyboard. It's almost as if I have a stock of sentences - politely queuing up behind my eyes - patiently waiting for their turn to step up. You want me to write about a new train fare? I can pull out an entire landing page in less than an hour. An article about a website relaunch? I don't even have to think about the structure. I just start typing and the paragraphs form naturally - like frost on a window pane.

And yet, have I picked up that novel of mine since the fall? Have I progressed one page further since before Christmas? The chapters complete, just awaiting revision... Have I?

No - with an N and an O in nine-foot tall letters of flashing fuschia pink.

Many moons ago, someone I called Cookie gave me a great gift. He said, "It doesn't matter how long it lies dormant. Whenever you need it, it will still be there waiting for you."

For him it was the music. For me it was the words. But the message worked anyway.

So guess what words? I am coming back to you. My heart is melting, my sap is running... and Chapter Five had better be prepared for a revision never before seen.


In the meantime, get an earful of Panda Bear. He looks like Tobey Maguire, and the sounds are surf-cool.


Banquo was hot! Or What you're missing by not seeing French theatre in Montreal

Last night, thanks to the generosity of my colleague Martino, I was fortunate enough to see Eugene Ionesco's Macbett at the Theatre Prospero

It was fast-paced, impeccably performed, and infused with a genuine passion for theatre. The six actors who undertook way-more-than-six roles romped across that small space with energy and intensity. They were professionals who weren't afraid to work up a sweat and make the experience a memorable one for the 30+ students and 2 copywriters tucked into the basement performance space.

This isn't the kind of play you could bring to life half-heartedly anyway. There is obviously a lot of work that went into choreography and design and props. I was completely delighted from beginning to end.

It was a refreshing departure from the last few plays I saw at the Centaur - where the audience gave every performance (no matter how porous) a standing ovation and the performances were oftentimes... well, porous.

If you are not supplementing your culture with French-language theatre, you are depriving yourself of important nutrients that will enrich your brain.

If you don't believe me, read the review in Voir.

Oh, and did I mention that the actor playing Banquo was h-o-t?


A brief vent

When will some people stop lamenting the fact that no one understands them, and realise that the real problem lies in them not understanding themselves.

(And yes, this has everything to do with men, thanks for asking).


Lesbian lipstick

Just when you think that men couldn't possibly surprise you anymore, the little darlings go ahead and leave your jaw swinging in awe once more. And as is often the case, it's usually at the most unsuspecting moments.

I was sitting in a friendly neighbourhood café with a friend recently. Some bony-pelvised girls were sitting to the right of us, their noses deep in an economics textbook. Everyone had a hot bevvie. Outside, there was a half-hearted flurry of snow. Not the most extraordinary day in the meteorological history of humankind, but just gusty enough to make you want to wrap your hands around a warm cup.

Then out of the blue...

S: “Do you know that the first time I met you, I thought you were a lesbian?”

Me (obviously intrigued): Umm, why?

S: “Because you didn’t bother to fix yourself up or anything. You weren’t wearing any lipstick.”

Me (a terminal repeater): "I wasn’t wearing any lipstick?"

S: "It was the first time you were meeting a new man! You're supposed to try and impress me!"

With lipstick? Weren't my dazzling wit and flashing eyes enough?

S: "You're looking at me like I'm crazy."

No, I'm suppressing the urge to ask you if you stuffed a sock in your pants for our first meeting. You know, to impress me?

Me: "Just drink your coffee, mister, and drop the lipstick shtick."

Does this add to the database of human knowledge at all? Have I stumbled upon a key to understanding the male mind, and just don't realise it? Do the lesbians know about this? Am I just the last to know?