I love my mother a lot

I really do. I look like her side of the family. I inherited many of her traits. No one loves me more. She's always the first one to offer help - no matter how large the task.

Even if she throws out the occasional brilliant comment like - "Is it that you don't want a boyfriend?" or "Wouldn't it be great if you moved back home?" - she's still my mommy.

Yesterday night we were on the phone.

Ma: I was speaking to your Aunt Franca (in the photo) last Sunday . She was asking about you.

Me: That's nice. What did you say?

Ma: That you were busy at work, as usual. That's it!

That's when it hit me. My mother knows very little about my life. She knows the general outlines, but things that are important to me aren't important to her.

For my mother, highlights are health, employment, real estate, marital status, having children.

If I was to sum up my life, there would be a lot more to say:
  • I write stuff. I make up stories in my head and I write them down and they're good.
  • I really love teaching yoga and it's becoming an important part of my life.
  • I have vast community of friends, fellow artists and colleagues who support, inspire and love me every day.
  • I'm a good copywriter but am excited about transitioning into online community management.
  • I love movies and music and dance - especially ballet, tango and contemporary.
  • If I could do stuff over and pick a new career, I would be a dancer and dance for Hofesh Schecter.
  • Nothing makes me heart beat faster than a smart boy with a nice pair of glasses.
  • I'm becoming a fabbo vegetarian cook.
All of these small things make my life an endless source of wonder, but they only have minimal register with my mother. We are two creatures born in different times, with different experiences, but I still wish there was a way I could communicate even some of this to her in language she could understand.


What does community look like?

I was catching up on a week's worth of blog reading this morning when I read a recent post by the extraordinary Roseanne (whom I’ve never even met in RL, even though she lives just a few blocks from me and we seem to be living parallel lives) over at It's all yoga, baby. In this post, she makes a visual representation of her community - that is, who she knows and how she knows them.

Wild at the thought of possibly making venn diagrams, I dropped everything to draw my own community.


I started out by defining the main areas of activity in my life where I met/meet people. Plotting out the different communities was fun - but not as fun as drawing arrows between communities to indicate multiple links. I have one writing buddy - Alexis - who was originally a school buddy, who is now also a work buddy and a neighbourhood buddy. And she's starting tango soon. And she's done yoga in the past.

Most of the arrows point back towards the Mile-End/Plateau because that's where most of the people I know live/work, so there's more traffic in that corner, but understandably so. In fact, now that I think about it, there are probably a few more arrows that could have pointed towards the Mile-End/Plateau segment.

Two things to note:
1) My family doesn't link up to any other sphere in my life other than geographical location.
2) I have a whole segment of friends that I met through social media (excluding blogs) - like Patra or Jay. Although these people have since joined other segments of my life (Patra also now belongs to "Writing Buddies" too), the point of origin is the Internet.

Having completed this diagram, I feel more confident that I must be doing okay in the running-my-life department. I have a variety of segments and vectors, indicating many friends who share the same values and interests that I do. My life looks very busy and full when seen in 2D - a nice counterweight to my usual, "What, me? I don't do anything - I'm boring!"

If you don't see where you fit in this diagram, let me know so I can revise it. I want to keep this on my fridge so that if I'm having a pity party one day, I can look at it and put things back in perspective.

So get to it! What does your community look like?


Things the cool aunt says

In the car with the Niecelet and Neph last week.

Niecelet: Adri, what song is this? I like it.

Me: It's Misstress Barbara.

Neph: Who?

Me: Misstress Barbara, my kittens, is a popular DJ. But not only just any DJ. You see, most DJs are men, so it's pretty extraordinary that she's one of the few women to have made a mark as a DJ.

Also she's from the homeland, kiddies. She's *real* Italian. You have two reasons to like Mistress Barbara.

[silence from the back seat]

Me: She gets to travel all over the world making music. Cool, huh?

Neph: I like the song too.


Things you miss when you work 9 to 5

Now that I’m on my three-day schedule, I’m amazed at all the new discoveries I make every Monday and Friday. Here’s a list of stuff from today:
  • The play of late morning light in my kitchen or early afternoon light in the bedroom.
  • Watching kindergarten children have a leaf fight outside a local school, their educators showing them how to gather and throw the piles.
  • Reading a good novel on the terrasse of Olimpico, the sun warm on my face and coffee-flavoured froth warming my lips.
  • Discovering that the corner cafĂ© I thought was permanently closed is actually open on weekdays.
  • Seeing what my mailman looks like.


You know you live in the Plateau when...

...you can't go out of the house without running into someone you know.

Back when I lived in NDG/Montreal West, I could run out to the pharmacy wearing dirty sweatpants and my hair pulled back into a sloppy ponytail. The chances of running into someone I knew were slim - and there certainly weren't any attractive/available men wandering the Cote-St-Luc Shopping Centre.

I could have worn a potato sack. No one would have noticed.

Right now I need a few things from PA, but I'm too lazy to get properly dressed, etc.

Maybe if I put on a little blush?


Everything that went right

We all have our "bad" days. Days when you can't seem to get anything right, when everyone is apparently out to get you. But however bad your day may be, the blanket statement "I had a really bad day" is never truly accurate.

Truth be told - in the 10,000 tiny events that happen every day, not every single one of them were "bad". Chances are, the majority of those events were probably positive or neutral.

So to temper this tendency to say, "What an awful day!", I decided to make a photographic record of things that went right during a 24-hour period.

Kusmi has opened a tea shop on St-Denis. I bought some delicious Prince Vladimir tea.

I repotted a plant that was slowly being eroded by nutrient-poor earth. Now she's standing tall and green. Doesn't she look happy?

I ate some really delicious Lindt chocolate.

One of our project managers came back from vacation with nice new glasses. Perks up the office, you know?

That's just some of the stuff that put a smile on my face lately. An accumulation of good things - no matter how small they may seem - definitely amounts to a positive day, no?


Kung fu and Pauline Kael

Here's a confession that will baffle you.

I like fight movies, but kung fu, not gun fu and not that Steven Seagal stuff either. Chow Yun Fat is alright and all, but I much prefer the likes of Tony Jaa in Ong Bak, Jackie Chan in Rumble in the Bronx, or Jet Li in Fist of Legend.

Yes, the tea-drinking, non-meat eating yogini loves da kung fu. In fact, you should have seen my face when I saw the trailer for Ninja Assassin. Ex-cite-ment! I even giggled when I read the rating: Strong, bloody, stylized violence.

It just is, okay?

In my defense, I offer my love of the the human body and its many beautiful lines as an excuse. Many discount fight movies as gratuitous violence, but the choreography and physical feats often woven into the tales can take on the beauty of dance. Also, most of them feature far more developed scripts than current Hollywood blockbusters.

I like the dance of limbs - and not so much the bloody noses and broken bones. Does that make sense?

I was thinking about fight movies when I came across this interesting National Post piece about Pauline Kael, "the most passionate, stimulating and argument-starting critic in the history of film".

The one line that really stuck with me is something Kael said to a friend near the end of her life, "When we championed trash culture we had no idea it would become the only culture."

Do kung fu movies fall into the category of "trash culture"?

The thing is, I don't really care.

Watching kung fu movies makes me happy. They stimulate my senses and raise my heart rate. Kung fu movies are like a massage of the senses. I walk away from them feeling all adrenaline-y and I don't mind saying so, especially because Kael also said, "Trash has given us an appetite for art".

Watching kung fu movies feeds into my love of going to the movies, as does watching other (less-violent) favourites. They do not prevent me from enjoying more artistic films.

Doesn't an interest in culture mean taking in lower forms, as well as higher forms? And do kung fu movies necessarily have to be considered as trash?

Psst! Ninja Assassin is released on November 25. Who wants to go with me?


Wednesday wisdom

Sometimes you can make yourself feel better by thinking of all the people that have it worse off than you.

"oh, at least my situation is not as bad as So-And-So"

This is a terrible way to think because in doing so, you implicitly desire that suffering will continue to exist. If it doesn't, then what crutch will you use to make yourself feel better?

The same is also true when you complain that everyone is happier than you are. Once again, you are implicitly desiring that others be less happy so that your meager happiness doesn't look quite so... meager.

It is not healthy to lift you spirits by stepping on the shoulders of others. If you wish to be truly happy, you must thoroughly accept and understand that you are not any better - or any worse off - than anyone else.

I've spent a lifetime comparing myself to others and it has only made me miserable. It's time to stop. Anyone else willing to take on the challenge with me?


Space to write

I've spent the last two weeks preparing a short story for the CBC Literary Awards.

I started with an initial character and began building slowly, collecting the ideas as they came in during long walks, good meals or extended backbends. Moments in which I felt "stuck", I turned to The Space Captain, a fellow writer who asked the right questions and offered valuable input.

I sent off my submission on Friday and although there's no way of knowing how it'll perform during the judging, I did learn some valuable lessons worth sharing.
  • Talking things out. Writers tend to be a superstitious lot. Sometimes we don't want to talk about what we're working on because we're (a) worried about scaring off inspiration, (b) already worrying about being judged, or (c) paranoid about ideas being stolen. But as the Space Captain pointed out, you don't write for the ego - that's what therapy is for. You write for art's sake, so give yourself the tools to make the best possible art. Not sure why you're stuck? Can't make a storyline work? Ask another writer - someone whose work and opinion you respect.
  • Checking in. Be open to having the writer friend call in to check on you every now and again. Some writers hate the pressure of being asked how the writing is progressing, but once again, writing is not about the ego. It's hard work and diligence and discipline. Having a fellow writer call and ask how things are is no different than having an office colleague check on the progress of a project you're both working on, i.e. just part of the process.
  • Accepting criticism. And sometimes we don't like having our writing judged either (see comment about ego above). Writing is a process. Almost no one can write a publication-worthy story on the first draft and if you don't have a subjective pair of eyes look over - and comment - your text, it never will be publication-worthy.
  • Creating space. Thanks to my commitment to the writing, my new work schedule and the yoga practice, I finally feel as if I have space enough for writing. I can't remember what busy and distracting thoughts were filling up so much of my time previously, but I have finally made enough space in my head to accommodate the writing process. I'm going to have to work hard to keep it open, but without that ego-free space, I wouldn't have been able to finish that story on time.
I know some writer friends might be reading this. Any thoughts you'd like to share about your process?