Return to tango

After a long absence, I am finally making my return to tango on January 18 (yay!). As we haven't danced since last April, my partner and I have decided to repeat Beginner II.

I was tempted to go back to Beginner I, but the holiday potluck at AYM changed my mind.

I had just shuffled into the yoga studio with my socks on, balancing a box of clementines on my arm, when I heard Allison call out, "Adriana can tango!"

Before I could worry about the veracity of that statement, I found myself divested of my oranges and gathered in the arms of a pleasant looking man I had never seen before. With a reminder to not "look at your feet," I spent the next 20 minutes rediscovering my not-so-deeply buried tango skills.

To my quiet amazement, my feet knew the way. I was dancing with an experienced tanguero who indicated our next movements with Morse-like precision on my back. I knew exactly what he wanted me to do and my feet followed with no prompting from my brain.

It was exhilarating - my breath bubbling in my chest with happiness. I cannot wait to return to my lessons.


Christmas 2009

I just popped out for a liter of milk. My neighbourhood, as expected, is as quiet as the tomb this morning.

Mile-Enders are good sleepers. On days when there is every good reason to stay in bed, you can rest assured that Mile-Enders will be doing so. The only other soul I crossed on my way to the gas station was an older man, sporting a clean white Santa Claus beard, a Montreal zip-up windbreaker and a blue bag full of cans and bottles. He nodded hello. I nodded back.

As I waited in line to pay for my milk, I realised that for the first time in many years, I had a nice Christmas.

As many of you know, I'm a part-time Grinch. The fact that I'm expressing this sentiment is quite extraordinary, but nonetheless true. There was no yelling, no guilt-making, no eye-rolling.

Our family gathering was peaceful and pleasant. I snuggled on the couch with my niece. My nephew taught me how not to suck at Need for Speed Nitro. I spent time with friends - even made gifts with Sandy (stay tuned for photos). Holiday cards were written with much care and love. Gifts were particularly well-chosen. Even the food tasted better.

But for once, I'm not questioning it or wondering why - I'm just enjoying it. I wish you all the same.


Olive ascolane

Every Christmas and Easter, my mother makes olive ascolane. It's labour-intensive to make, but this regional appetizer is one of the most delicious things you could imagine.

Picture it: three kinds of meat are delicately sauteed and then shaped into balls, which are then wrapped round with the flesh of a pitted green olive.

The ball is then breaded and deep-fried. [drool] The key is to eat them hot. In the past, my brother and I used to stand on either side of my mother as she did the deep frying, ready to pluck the olives from the strainer as soon as humanly possible.

Trust me, having burnt fingers was nothing compared to the sensation of juicy olive and meat melting in your mouth.

As a mostly-vegetarian since 2007, I have become immune to my mother's many meaty treats, but there is something irresistible about these morsels. So every Christmas and every Easter, I shove my meaty objections to the back of my mind and indulge in a few olive ascolane.

If only they weren't so delicious.... Did I mention that they're deep fried?



The nice thing about going through a major life transition is that it provokes you to do a massive clean-up in all aspects of your life.

Wallets get re-organized.
Email boxes get streamlined.
Underwear gets triaged and replaced.
Kitchen cupboards get emptied and repapered.

Much has been done so far in the great sweep of winter 2009. I even got new pajamas. But the most entertaining part of this process (other than the retail therapy) has been finding unsent letters. Two so far in the last week.

The one I found in my email account was written at the end of a relationship, and it described my non-negotiables for future boyfriends. The tone was firm, but a little sad too.

The second, found in my draft blog posts, is a long tirade written after another man told me that men find me intimidating because I'm smart. It's fairly accurate to say I was angry in that one. *ahem*

I won't divulge the contents of these unsent letters, after all they were written for cathartic purposes. They were never written to be read. I only scanned them myself. It seemed almost too personal. Like I was reading the private words of another woman.

Nonetheless, I didn't delete them. There's no chance that I'll ever publish them, but I figure they'll be good reminders if ever I need them.

So do you have unsent letters? Why are you holding on to them? What are they an important reminder of?


I feel guilty. Can I bake you something?

In the past, whenever I lost it with a project manager (or two, or three... ahem), I would generally apologize the next day by making them the most delicious lemon loaf ever. Not only was it an effective way of saying sorry, but it also made them less reactive during my next (inevitable) temper tantrum over preposition use.

It's a damn fine loaf!

Since I only have three days remaining at 90 Degres, the guilt over leaving my darlings is heavy. I'm going to miss them very much. To show my love and appreciation, I baked them vegan gingerbread cookies (in the pic) and toasted coconut shortbreads.

I think they were well received.


So I quit my job today, Part deux

An obvious topic of discussion this week has been why I quit my job, some of the factors that led to the decision, etc. But the most remarkable thing to note is that - without exception - the reaction to my news was, "Congratulations!"

Every single time.

Friends, family, colleagues, yoga buddies and other teachers have all been unanimous in their excitement and support. At first, I worried that it was forced enthusiasm - that they were acting happy to keep me from freaking out.

But no, it's all real -- and it confirms my belief that this is the right move for me right now. So thanks buddies!


So I quit my job today

My friend Dina summed it up best, "A wise woman knows when to pick up her pencil and go".

Today, I officially handed in notice at 90 Degrees and negotiated my last day of work - Friday, December 18. Although I'm going to miss my coworkers, it was obvious to all that I was no longer engaged with my work.

The only thing I'm worried about is... who's going to water the plants?

What's next:
  • Writing.
  • More yoga teaching. A return to tango.
  • Returning bravely to the freelance world.
Wish me luck!


Sharing some fun stuff

Sorry for the long silences recently - I've been very engaged in reorganizing my entire life lately. Have emptied the closets of doubts, triaged the obstacles and dusted off the self-confidence. But more on that later.

In the meanwhile, here's a little roundup of fun blogs, photographers and Twitter peeps that I've recently enjoyed.

  • Curious about the evolution of yoga? Go visit Roseanne on It's all yoga, baby. Not only does she write thoughtful commentary on how yoga is being interpreted today, but she also has links to the hottest yoga bloggers on the Web today.
  • For those of you exploring your role as a yoga teacher, you may also want to pay Brooks Hall a visit.
  • Waxing & waning is written by a young woman in Toronto. She doesn't publish very often - but when she does, it's usually heart-wrenching poetry that strikes chords in me every time.
  • If you read French, check out Nicolas Ritoux's blog. He's currently travelling across Asia and publishes plenty o' photos.
Speaking of photos
And inevitably, we come to Twitter:
And one last thing...
  • If you like listening to stories, subscribe to the This American Life podcast. Every week, host Ira Glass brings a series of stories told be real people revolving around the same theme. Last week they had this excellent segment on supernatural experiences with birds. Entertaining stuff.
That is all for now!


Social thuggery

The LA Times recently published a compelling piece of commentary by Amy Alkon. In it, she writes that screaming children, loud cell phone talkers, and other disruptive people are committing acts of "social thuggery" that "steal our attention" and "wear away at our patience".

Alkon does make some very good points and she exaggerates a few, but the 236 comments that follow the article fall on both sides of the argument.

It just got me thinking about an incident on the metro last week.

I was riding home on the orange line - running a mild fever and burrowing my head into my elbow to lessen the pounding in my temples. A young couple parked their monster-sized stroller right behind me. I wouldn't have noticed but their young son started screaming as soon as the train rolled forward.

Piercing, high-pitched screams that had me on the verge of tears -- and with eight stops to go.

It quickly became obvious to me that the child only screamed while the train was moving. The father's reaction? Negotiating with the two-year old. Other passengers on the train started to get twitchy.

Finally, the mother, who was sitting in a single seat nearby, stood up and brought her son a bottle of milk. There was a tangible release of tension in the car.

What if we occasionally stopped to observe the situation and assess the needs of someone other than our self? The father was embarrassed and wanted his son to stop screaming. He didn't really understand why the child was screaming. The boy's mother, however, was far more attuned to her son's discomfort and the discomfort of those around them.

Same thing with loud cell-phone talkers. Have you ever noticed that most of their conversations begin with, "Nothing much, just waiting in line for coffee." They're on the phone because they're bored and they don't really understand how disruptive their meandering one-sided conversation is disturbing the peace of others.

Observe. Assess. Act accordingly.