Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sticky Sweet Fingers

I was born on Christmas day. When I tell people this, they all have the same reaction. Christmas? Really? Oh wow, that must suck. Quite frankly they are right. It does, sharing your birthday with the baby Jesus blows. Saying this, I still love Christmas in a way only a dyke reared. agnostic cynic can. My daughter wants to know if Santa is real, and I refuse to tell her he is not because part of me thinks maybe, if I just believed. he would be. One too many watchings of Miracle on 34th Street I guess.

My family Christmas never involved Christ. In fact, in our household the ladies would sneak into churches on the eve and "steal" a flame from a prayer candle. They called it taking back the light. We would have a winter solstice dinner on the 24th where we would sit around the table, each with a long thin unlit candle in our hands. One person would start, and light their candle from the stolen flame and then say something about the year that passed and some hopes for the year that was coming. Then they would kiss the person next to them and light their candle and the next person would do as the the one before until all the candles were lit. We ate tourtiere and had sweet perogies for desert. The ritual, as it was called ended sometime in my late 20s, after everyone had moved off and new families were made.

Christmas morning had tons of people and presents and fresh baked croissants with scrambled eggs and bacon. I go over to my sisters these days with my daughter and my mum and we still eat the same thing. My family is small though. and three adults and three kids makes for a fairly sparse Christmas dinner. My sister cooks and amazing turkey. There is an emptiness to me though, around that table. I am missing my other mothers, the noise and the wine and the laughing. My mother and sister are civilized, refined and it is quite polite.

I married a man who had a huge family, so my daughter knows the chaos and fun of a house filled with cousins. I think my husband would dread it, but I was in love. I was in love with the chaos, the slightly too drunk aunt, the ten kids rampaging through with shiny new toys. Mountains of paper and bows and sticky sweet fingers looking for batteries. The family was so big the grown ups did not buy each other gifts beyond some home made cookies, or a Toblerone bar. My mother in law would take me aside in a separate room and give me a special gift. One for my birthday, although I knew it was because she liked me best. I liked her best too.

My husband and I split about a year ago. I have not seen my in laws since. I miss them often and regret that it is too painful for him to have me join sometime. I know he could not bear it, so I understand that it can't happen. I did not really realize till afterwards that divorce was about more than a couple, it was about a separating of family. I lost a large part of mine, and Christmas has made me mourn that this year.

This year I am presented with a night all alone. I will have a morning with my ex and daughter, and eggs and bacon at my sisters, and a polite turkey dinner with a very nice wine and some tasty appetizer crafted out of a Bon Apetit back issue. My daughter will be rampaging with her cousins and aunts and uncles at my ex's, and I will go home to my tree and my dog and face the night by myself for the very first time. I feel dark about this. I wish I did not. I wish I had not joined the ranks of the holiday disappointed. My maudlin cliché reaction to an emotionally charged holiday.

Truth be told, I am not alone. I am not neglected. I am spoiled. Spoiled by having had too many good Christmases.

It has been a formative year and i think perhaps what I really need to do is light a candle. Light a candle and say something about the one that has past and something about my hopes for the year that is coming

So, goddesses, this is what I have to say:

I am grateful for my friends, the ones who gave me love and let me into their lives this year. They welcomed me into their "web" and I love being caught in their world. I am grateful for the kisses my daughter gives me unsolicited and plentiful. I am grateful this year for the man who showed me love and affection and kindness and for his perfect lips. I am even grateful to math, for kicking my ass, which needed a firm boot upside it.

I hope the next year brings me closer into the hearts of my new friends. I hope that I rest more and treat my body more kindly. I hope that I can find the balance between family, school, work, myself and love. I hope that those people around me who have had losses and pain this year find the new one brighter and lighter. I hope to plan, on the 24th of December 2012, a raid into a church, to steal a light so that I can sit around a table with meat pie and polish sweet dumplings and kiss the lips of those closest to me and see if some of these wishes had been fulfilled.

Don't worry, the next post will be funny.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mythology aka pee pee and poo poo

I was sitting around a table one night after my play rehearsal getting to know my cast members in a more intimate way. Somehow that lead to stories of urination. How we got there , I am not really sure, but that is where we were and it was only going to take a turn for the worse. We were talking about the strangest place we had all peed. Nobody had really peed anywhere all that strange, although certainly there had been questionable choices. Ones like in the garbage can of their childhood camp cabin. or behind a mailbox, or on a friend. The thing is, it lead to a story. Regular readers will know I love a good story.

This story is particularly unnerving, because it is impossible to believe that it is true, but it was being told by the person it happened to. It has all the elements of a perfect urban myth... but she swears that it actually happened to her. First I will tell it, and then, well then, I will get to the complicated emotional reaction I had to it.

My friend is Chinese. She grew up in China. She told us that when she was there, some twenty odd years ago, that she had relatives that lived in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. She said this village was remote, very very remote. They did not have electricity. or indoor plumbing. She stressed that "back then" these villages were totally non westernized, completely traditional and technological advancements had not touched them.

Well my friend, only five at the time, had to go to the bathroom. She said to us, they had no toilet paper. Seasoned world traveller that I pretend to be, I say, sure, lots of places use their hands or water to clean themselves. She said , well they used dogs. Dogs? Yes, dogs, to lick them clean. She said they made her bend over and have her ass licked by a dog, whose sole household duty seemed to be the nether region hygiene of their masters.

My brain imploded when she told me this because my first thought was, is she just making fun of my white privilege..seeing if she can make a bunch of stupid Canadians believe that the Chinese have a village where ass licking dogs are valued members of the family? Was she somehow playing in to Westerners love of being repulsed by Asian dog cuisine and referring to it every time they eat in a Chinese restaurant? How could I retell this story without coming off like some Coldwar era Bugs Bunny cartoon, repleat with slanty eyes and buck teeth parodies? And holy fuck, if this is actually true, how does THAT make me feel?

I started to think about the dogs, wondering if perhaps they were repaying some karmic debt. I also have a dog, and he loves poo, and I thought, that would be dog heaven for him, so maybe there is no karmic debt, and what the hell is wrong with me, lumping all Asian cultures and religious beliefs into one? Do Chinese buddhists even have a karmic concept and are they even frickin buddhists in that remote village? My anti oppressive theory readings ringing in my head, scolding me for my racists assumptions and generalizations. I had renewed respect for my friend as I had absolutely no idea if I should believe her and she was extremely convincing. Was she fucking with me? If she was, I respected that. If she wasn't then what a crazy good story she had.

And then I started thinking about the bestiality angle of the whole concept. Wondering if people took the dog to the bathroom for longer than required times, Was there an element of pleasure here, and maybe the good wife of the household, neglected by her husband, might be enjoying her evacuation time just a little too much? I started to warm to the concept and think maybe this was a genius idea, a symbiotic, man/beast environmental solution to deforestation. Why not use dogs? Better than bleach and trees.

I suppose my meandering point is that I am amazed by what a story can do, how it can be hilarious, disturbing, evocative and quite simply incredible. Incredible is the perfect word. So good you can't believe it. I want to believe it , but then it fills me with the unbalanced feeling of being simultaneously horrified and filled with wonder at the prospect of ridding myself of toilet paper forever. Why not have this be the next North American appropriation of Asian culture? The zen of canine. My friend would no doubt pee herself laughing at the thought of us.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I write this as one of my cats drinks out of an old water glass that has been sitting on the table next to my couch for the last few days. I have been writing about love and death and politics for the past few posts and I think it is now time to talk about something really important. My deepest insecurity, my most intimate personal detail, my Achilles heal. My relationship with housework. Or more to the point, my lack of of a relationship with housework.

I think some background is in order. I was raised in an alternative household. They called it a lesbian collective. These days my friends call it a dyke ranch, and we all dream of making our own very own version... the urban dyke ranch. In my childhood collective there were five women and three children living together in a giant lower duplex in a leafy neighborhood in Montreal. It was the 70s, which pretty much explains it. The women were political old school, Birkenstocked hairy legged lesbians, who made a reality of the dream of cheap rent, shared household duties and communal children. For the record, hands down the most awesome way to grow up, hence my lottery fantasy of buying a 4 plex and filling it with unicorns and rainbows.

Eight people in an apartment, no matter how sprawling, make mess. Five people cleaning makes for varied results, mostly averaging on the slightly untidy, but passable . The thing is, no one person cleaned and no one showed me how to. The kids cleaned their room, which was a giant finished basement that we all shared. The mums would come down every Saturday and pile ALL the crap in the room in the middle of the floor and tell us, what ever is still in the middle of the floor in a couple of hours, ends up in the garbage. It was the 70s, so we believed them. Panicked cleaning ensued, which was mostly comprised of shoving things in to play chests and under beds out of sight.

In later years after we had moved into our own house with just my mother and her lover, we did have some chores. I did dishes, laundry and cat box. My mother was an English professor. She was about as tidy as you can expect from an old beatnick intellectual. There were dusty books piled in corners, and couches that had never been vacuumed behind. Surfaces stacked with old mail, exams and papers. Cat hair. Cleaning was not that high on the list and we lived in comfortable disarray.

I went to a fancy private school and when I would visit my friends houses with their clean surfaces and white rugs and I would feel shame. I knew that my house did not stack up. I was always muttering apologies about the state of my place, which after watching Hoarders on TLC, has made me realize was not all that bad. A little dusty, and you might not want to look under or behind things, but it was not shamefully dirty. Yet I felt it. Deep inner personal shame. Like my soul was unclean. I know these friends had housekeepers and stay -at-home moms. Housewives as they were call back then. Wives of houses. Is stay-at-home mom somehow a better term? I could go into a whole diatribe about the cult of child rearing versus husband rearing in the post feminist era, but that would be a digression purely for my own amusement.

All this to say, the shame has stuck. Any friend of mine knows, that I am in a constant state of apology for my dust bunnied hallway and my mountain of unfolded laundry. I manage the dishes, the actual washing of dirty clothes and cat box mining for poo nuggets, but please don't look in my closet, or the pantry or the penicillin research project in my fridge's fruit drawer.

My favorite friends to visit are the ones who are messy too. If their house smells a little of cat urine and there is several months of unopened mail at the door, I feel instantly transported. Transported to my youth and happy days on the the dyke farm, where mild chaos meant home. My shame melts away and I happily wash out a dusty mug to drink tea without coasters and eat cookies on their couches. I know that this person will understand me, not judge me and perhaps even be experiencing the same feeling.. relief.

The other day I went into my daughter's room, which was a disaster of the proportions only producible by a seven year old. I said to her.. I am putting everything in the middle of the floor, and when i come back whatever is left there will be thrown out. I have decided not to look in her closet. Her shame is growing in there.

Friday, November 4, 2011


adj. Not reciprocated or returned in kind

Of course my day started with a conversation about homosexual rabbis. I was on the mountain with a recently widowed member of my bereavement support group and we somehow got on the topic of gay. Those who know me know that a conversation about the sexuality of a rebbe is pretty much par for the course.

The woman i was talking to was the kind of woman that is rarely bred anymore . Composed and charming, she has done good works all her life. A loving wife and mother and centre of the family. Financially comfortable, but not ostentatious. She has grace. Katherine Hepburn. She was the woman who found her husband of 40 years dying on her kitchen floor a few months ago. She was the woman who had to learn how to cry. And she is alright with rabbis having sex with whatever gender they choose.

She had seen a movie she said, where a Lubavitch young man moved into another man's house. They fell in love, but it was unrequited, because the ultra orthodox could not be gay. She said it ended badly. She felt it was so sad that a person could be forbidden love in this way. People should not be denied love she said.

It made me think about unrequited love. Exquisite, obsessive and heart wrenching pain. Pain of loving and it not being returned. Yearning. It is not just romantic love that can be unrequited. It can be for parents, for best friends, for siblings and for fantasies. That is the thing, it is idealized love.

Because it is not returned, your imagination grows it into the most perfect love, the love that will stop the ache, the love that will fill your soul. No wonder it hurts. It hurts because you create exactly what you think you need, and then tell yourself you can never have it. If it was returned would it match up? Would it pale and be a disappointment? Would the Lubavitch men turn into an old gay couple, getting on each other's nerves and farting in each other's beds? Is that love worth killing yourself over?

It is the impossibility of unrequited that makes it so all consuming. Its size is infinite. Unreconcilable. The more impossible, the stronger it is.

Then I thought about my widow. And then I thought about grief. I though about losing your partner to death and remembering them as beautiful and perfect. And then it made sense to me. unrequited love.

Friday, October 14, 2011


It is always a bad idea to wallow, but sometimes it is just so darn necessary. I have a habit. Generally speaking I am pretty well balanced. I love what I do, I have a great kid and some friends that are worth running into burning buildings for. There is a period (pun intended) of 1-4 days every 28 day cycle in which wallowing often becomes necessary. I cry. I cry at investment commercials, I cry at songs, I cry all by myself. The thing is, even if I know my hormones are cycling through my psyche, it doesn't matter because it does not change the FEELINGS.

It is like going back to high school for a few days. Every emotion is just so much more.. well..crystallized. Pure. Unclouded and most probably pretty fucking negative. It is a terrible time to write a blog, yet I have decided to do it anyways, and feel bad about that decision. It will probably make me cry.

The interesting thing is I am a huge supporter of crying. My posts seem to come back to it all the time. Free to Be You and Me's "It's alright to Cry" rings through my head. Making me cry. My favorite thing to cry about is believing that there is no one out there who has the capacity to love me the way I have the capacity to love them. I want to be loved like I love. Jesus, I am writing in my 10th grade journal.

Truth be told, I am surrounded by love and my capacity to share it is limitless, but it is like my body craves to feel bad. Really bad for just a few days, I can only hope to not send out any rash emails or break up with lovers because they can't "love me the way I love them," or cause my daughter future emotional trauma due to my all around general sour-pussness. I have started alerting people. I sometimes wonder if I should plot my client schedule around these days. No one needs a PMS-y massage. Tears falling gently on their backs. I exaggerate. As usual. It might have happened. Once.

I wonder at the evolutionary physiological reason for PMS. I know some boys who get their own special brand of monthly hormonal lapses of sanity. They retreat into their caves, faces illuminated by online interactive game carnage. They lose the power of speech and grunt disgruntedly . Don't tell me what to do. Theirs is often easily cured with blow jobs, mine however is cured mostly by time and an unwavering ability to make fun of myself until I realize that the time to wallow is done.

I think it is done now. Still, he should love me more.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It seems cows can't go down stairs

I have been resisting. Resisting writing about online dating. This is probably because I know most of you reading this and maybe this is a part of me I should keep to myself. But no. I won't. I am like that. Unable to keep things to myself.

I online date. Frequently. Truth be told, I don't actually date that frequently, I chat cruise for stories and experiences frequently. The dates themselves are fewer and farther between. I love chat. I feel like it is my poetry. My sassy, flirty and irreverent poetry. It is the foray into the unknown, the faceless real time feedback, that I crave. It is wooing with one hand tied behind your back. You have to connect without senses, no smell, no body language, no pheromones. The banter can be intimate and sexy, or profound and revealing. You wonder what the other is imagining you to be. It is romantic. It is like improv for writers. How do you compose quick witted, poignant repartee in the space between the others response? There is a dance, a syncopation and definitely a cadence. Poetry.

Today was a great one. A story was offered to me and it is irresistible. First off, the background. I have encountered a man, a little older and in oil and gas. He thinks I am sweet. I guess I find that attractive, that someone in the prairies would find me sweet. I briefly saw a picture or two of him, but in all honesty, I cannot recall what he looks like. It does not matter, it is not the point. He gave me a story and that is something like a gift. The story itself is about a gift; a gift to his five year old sister.

When he was twelve, he decided to give his sister a present. It turns out this oil and gas man, with his shirt and tie, broken marriage and impending flight to Paris was a poor communist farmer's son. They lived on a farm and he thought that his sister would like a cow as a present. So he decided to bring one of their milking cows up the stairs to his sister's room to surprise her. This endearing act turns macabre when his father gets home. It seems that cows can only go up. They are simply unable to go down stairs. The father has no choice but to shoot the beast in his daughter's room, his guilty son required to hold down the cows legs so it would not kick holes in the walls as it was being executed. He said he did a bad job of it because he was too small and he was sent flailing. The animal then needed to be butchered so that is could be dropped out the window piece by piece. The boy, spanked at the end of this ordeal as milking cows are precious to a poor farming family.

This Todd Solondz-esque coming of age story got to me. This oil and gas man got to me. I feel like it means something, something dark and meaningful, sublimely ridiculous and sweet and tragic. It felt like a Brothers Grimm fairy tale where somewhere within the horror there was an essential life lesson. Maybe a warning to children or maybe a warning to adults. Or a message about growing up and not being able to go back down to childhood. Or maybe it is just universal irony and pathos; a kind and sweet act ends in gruesome resolution. Or maybe that there is no God.

Or maybe it is just part of this man's life. A beautiful and poetically horrific moment in his childhood. A moment to be remembered and a great story to be told. It was told over chat to a person he imagines with the hope that she will be able to know him through it. This is why I love internet dating. You don't realize you are reading poetry but you really are.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Something Canadian

This morning I got into work, turned on my computer and got slapped in the face with the news that Jack Layton had died. At first I was just shocked, and then I started reading facebook posts. I seem to be unable to stop crying. This has only happened to me twice before with public figures. The first was John Lennon but even then I think I was just joining mass hysteria as my elementary school brain could just conceptualize him as a Beatle, not as a voice of peace and dissent. The second, and perhaps more profound, was Jim Henson. In some small way I felt my childhood died with him. I still remember watching the memorial muppet show they made for him and Kermit came out in the end to say goodbye to his "friend Jim" and his voice was not right and I had to go upstairs to my room and bawl.

So why this reaction to Jack? I did not love him the way some did. Secretly I prefer the characters of Trudeau and Chretien with their crafty fuck you attiudes. Jack was too folksy, too sincere. Yet. Yet he spoke to something Canadian in me. He managed to be that reasonable Canadian that would point out that we should take care of people who have less and are in need. That corporate profits were not the holy grail. That we did not AGREE. And people responded. The NDP gave me hope that there were other people in the country who gave a fuck.. and enough of them to make those other assholes get worried. I poked my head out of the sand for a bit to catch the glimmer of hope that was passing by.

After the election, I buried my head right back down into its sandy hole of denial and put the news on blackout again. I stopped watching it a few years back, as its constant screaming was starting to turn my thoughts black. I returned to my blissful ignorance over the summer, popping only briefly on google news to catch glimpses of London riots and imminent world financial implosion. Bombarded this morning by facebook RIPS I started to cry.

Am I crying for his death or am I crying for that sinking feeling that Mordor is winning and the Ents are soon to be no more? Not that Jack and Gandalf are cut from the same cloth, but somehow the image of hope plummeting into a carveruous abyss comes to mind. So melodramatic, I know, but it is the knowledge that Jack will not rise from the pit in glimmering white robes to come save us all which weighs heavy on my heart. I guess it is still up to us hobbits and elves to rally together and do something, but for today I mostly feel like taking stock, feeling sad and trying to figure out how to re-ignite that feeling I had when I first heard news that the Orange Crush was giving the Dark Lord a run for his money.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It is in the cards

Recently I have been getting into tarot cards again. I was sitting outside the hospital on my break a few weeks back and there were some nurses with a deck and I had to impose myself. I have impositional tendencies. Pretty please will you do me? She agreed and gave me the most astounding reading. For once I am at a loss of words to describe, except to say, I was hooked. More please. Tell me what to do cards. Tell me how lovely things will be for me please. Illuminate my insecurities and divest me of the responsibility of decision making. They are tarot, their ancient magic KNOWS.

So I went online. Googling "free tarot" brought me to site after site where at the click of the button, my reading was spread out before me. Love readings, Celtic crosses, goddess decks and Rider decks beckoning me with their absolute insight into my inner psyche. The swords keep haunting me, telling me that all is struggle and love is frought which is mostly pissing me off. Why can't you give me shiny cups brimming over with promise rather than your heavy dead staffs?

Do I think there is magic at play here? Is there some force in the universe that can see all my mistakes and insecurities and can lead me to an enlightened and virtuous path? No. Instead it is my reaction to the cards that I am iterested in. Each time that card telling me I have to make choices comes up I groan. No more choices please. I wouldn't be consulting you if I truly wanted to make any. These days I feel innundated by choice. Should I stay in school? Am I allowed to rest? Chala bread or whole wheat? Love or independence?

The thing is when I think of these binaries. These "either/or's" , I realize they are not real choices. Choice implies one and the exclusion of the other, but in all the ones facing me, I cannot exclude. Maybe this is why I keep going to the cards. In some way I am striving to include all possibilies. I am trying to combine options. I am trying to mix white flour with whole wheat. Is this a recipe for disaster? Let me turn a card and find out..
(readers note.. this it the actual card and reading I got the moment I finished writing this

Your card is "Death"
Contrary to it's dire appearance the Death card is usually a card of empowerment. Rather than doom and gloom, think endings and transformation. When this card comes up, an area of concern for you is facing a "death" or ending, but this opens you up to new opportunities for growth in new directions that could not have happened otherwise. When a caterpillar "dies" it transforms into a butterfly. This process involves some struggle - but it's struggle with a purpose. Without this "fight" to break free from the confines of the coccoon, the newly formed butterfly can't strengthen its wings. Now is a time to look at ways you may need to accept a "death" so that you can find new purpose in your life. Find the courage to spread your wings and fly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Moist bags

I may have an unnatural relationship with bagels. Not all bagels, just a specific bagel from a specific place at a specific temperature and freshness. There is a debate in my city about which bagel is the "best bagel" and I confess to forming preconceived opinions about people who choose the "other" bagel place. I can't help but have a small distrust about their quality of taste and discretion, much the way i feel when someone announces that they don't "like animals". I can accept that there is a difference of opinion, but somewhere deep inside I may be thinking, if they err on this, what other bad decision making are they capable of? I can be their friend, put away the disdain, but I think it will always be there gnawing at me until one day they do something stupid and then it will leap to the surface with the thought.. makes total sense.. look at their choice of bagel.

I think I know where this love of bagel comes from. When I was a kid my mum used to take us to Arahovas for souvlaki (for you Montrealers, you now know which bagel side I am on). Many years ago Arahovas was just a hole in the wall, you had to wait at least half an hour for a table, which may or not be shared with people you may or may not have known. The garlic was intense. Every time my sister and I would clamour at the end of the meal. BAGELS!

We got along really well as siblings except for two points, whose turn it was to dry or wash the dishes and who got to hold the bag. Holding the bagel bag was the ultimate prize. We would wait for the dozen sesame seeds to be thrown into the paper bag, warm and steamy. It was the smell really. The smell of freshly baked bagels. I would sit in the back of the car, cuddling the warm moist bag, nose deep, sniffing. We would drive over the mountain, look at the city lights and head back to the west end of town and to bed. The smell was delicious and comforting and to this day transports me back to the magic of being 7 and out late for a special family meal.

There is a franchise of said bagel place in my neighborhood now. I go there on a weekly basis to pick them up, fresh from the wood burning oven. I tried to go whole wheat for a while, but my daughter, now almost 7, insists on the "good" ones, the white warm bag dampening ones. She is right so I comply. The thing is, I often find myself burying my nose into the nape of my daughter's neck, moist and warm and sniffing in the very same way as that fragrant paper bag, and it does the same thing for me . Makes me feel like home.

Friday, July 29, 2011


I think the 7th post is the perfect place to talk about love. I think about love a lot these days. Perhaps it because of my clients at the hospital, where love is such an omnipresence. I see it mostly in the stories people tell me about the ones they have lost or whom they are loosing. You see the intensity of love most in its loss. It is when it is taken away from us that we feel it most profoundly.

What does it mean to really love? Do I go all Tolle and speak of true love being given with expectations of nothing in return, just an outward flowing of connection to the world around you? Or do I go dark... very very dark? Hmmm I think I will go dark.

There was a man who came in the other day. He was a gay man whose lover had killed himself rather than make his partner suffer seeing him through terminal cancer. It was a love story that came through the door. He told it to us with tears and romantic embellishments that gave us glimpses into his idealized memory of his boyfriend. He offered short vignettes of moments of shared love with this man, their most intimate expressions of their devotion. Stories of washing each others hair in the rain and the spoiling of their dog. He was devastated, overwhelmed by love. Why did he kill himself he asks out loud and then answers, because he loved me. He is tortured by this feeling, not believing that it would gradually fade until receding one day into a small corner of his heart awoken only occasionally by birthdays and anniversaries and certain smells.

Why love if pain in inevitable? I told a lover that the moment I loved him my heart was broken. It sounded sad at first. It sounded dark and painful. It was not what I wanted to convey. What I wanted to say was that if my heart was already broken, broken open, then I did not fear him breaking it again. By choosing to love him, I chose to accept all the feeling that comes with it; freeing me to let go of worry as the worst had already happened. Any pain was just a sign of my love. This pain is not pain, it is feeling. It just hurts. Hurts in the way your heart aches when you see your daughter go to her first day of kindergarten or when you hear the song you slow danced to with your first crush. The hurt is just the reflection of the intensity of emotion. Ask a bottom about pain. Ask a tattooed man about pain. Ask a woman in labour about pain How we frame it is how we live with it. I choose to live with it well.

Holy shit. Did I really just go there?

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's Alright to Cry

When I was a kid, my favorite album was Free to Be You and Me. I was, after all, brought up by lesbians, so it made perfect sense that Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda telling right-on politically correct stories would be a seminal influence in my early childhood development. Hits like "William Wants a Doll" and "Don't Dress your Cat in an Apron" still float through my brain at inopportune moments, but the song that always comes into my head at the hospital is, "It's Alright to Cry."

One day there was this very put together woman who came in to meet with my supervisor. She was dressed impeccably and carried herself in way that belied composure, breeding and a comfortable life. Her husband had died. He had cancer, and he been fighting it well, but then one night he had a stroke. She found him, lying on the floor of their kitchen and he was dead by the time he reached the hospital. She had come in to speak with us because she was having more trouble coping than she imagined and she needed to reach out. You could see the discomfort. She was used to being calm. She was used to being self sufficient, the cooler head prevailing. You could see the cracks, the fragile and strained hold she was just managing to keep on her overwhelming grief.

My supervisor is compassionate and sweet. She made sensitive noises as the woman recounted her feelings. I sat slightly to the side and watched, observing how my supervisor interacted, watching responses and seeing how they were received. I could see the brink of tears and I offered kleenex. We use a lot of kleenexes. There is a basket filled with small individual white puffy pouches on the desk, like some messed up gift basket for pain. The woman said, I have been crying. I can't stop crying. I want to stop, I hate showing my friends tears. I was always so together and now I am falling apart. If only I could stop crying.

Of course the chorus of "It's Alright to Cry" comes into my head...crying takes the sad out of you, rain drops from your eyes, it just might make you feel better...

We give her some articles and tell her what she is feeling is "normal." It seems this is the protocol. Supposedly people just want to know that their intense pain is "normal" That this somehow makes grief bearable. Why telling someone that the worst loss they have ever had is average and mainstream helps to ease things I do not understand, but sometimes it seems to help. It is normal to want to sob for months when your husband of 40 years is found twitching on the floor of the house you bought together. Normal.

She settled down and my supervisor wrapped up the meeting. Of course I can't help myself, I need to interject. I need to say something to this person beyond how average and unsurprising her emotions are. So I say to her, it is the crying? Is it the crying that is disturbing you most right now? And she says yes because I can't stop it and I could always control myself before. Now I can't and I don't know what to do. So I say to her, in my massage therapist clinical voice, can we look at the tears differently. People cry for a reason. This is why it is "normal."

When something happy happens we cry, when something sad happens we cry, when something terrifying happens and when something infuriating happens. We cry. Why? When we cry we produce endorphins and lovely hormones that calm us down and that counter balance all that adrenaline and cortisol and the other bad brain chemistry that makes us feel terrible. The body needs to cry to re-balance those chemicals. Maybe if you did not think of the tears as something to be controlled, but instead as your body's way of cleaning out the crap, the pain, the other chemicals, then you could just let them flow. Then maybe you could trust that the tears will eventually stop. They will stop when they need to. It is alright to cry.

She looked at me and smiled and said, I never looked at it that way. Of course in that moment my eyes began to burn and in my head I thought, it is alright to cry, but this time I will wait till I get home to clean out all this shit.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just Like Fur

I get asked a lot how I am able to be a massage therapist. The usual comments go something like this...what about gross toes? How about smelly people, hairy people, pimply people, fat people, skinny people? Of course they also ask if anyone has offered me money to jack them off. In truth, no one has EVER asked me to touch their junk, which always raises incredulous eyebrows. Really? I don't believe it, they say, never?? I would develop some kind of a complex about my physical appeal, but quite honestly I think I am not unattractive and outside of my massage clinic, I get asked to touch peoples' junk on quite a regular basis. I think my clients just know it is not going to happen and that they would never be allowed on my table again if they crossed that line. I take this as a compliment to my skills. The risk of losing me as their therapist completely negates their urge to get off.

I love what I do. It is physical and emotional. I get to spend an hour or more concentrating one on one with someone. I get to positively effect change in a tangible way. I get paid well for not too many hours work. I also get to hear stories. I love stories. One of the main impetuses for this blog, beyond my obvious call for attention, is that I want to write a book about my clinic. The blog is my practice space. My public writing space. My space to see if I have the balls to disclose. For some reason short bursts of self revelation seem to be ok with me. As usual i am getting tangential, lets refocus on hairy backs.

People always ask me about hair. One of my very first clients was a 6 foot 4 middle eastern man, build like a linebacker. I recall drawing back the covers revealing a forest of thick black hair. It began at the nape of his neck and covered his entire back, curly and springy with no evidence of skin underneath. This was early in my career and I felt my stomach lurch slightly at the prospect of being elbow deep for the next 90 minutes, lost in this hirsute behemoth's body. Then something remarkable happened in my brain. I re framed. I's just like fur. I have a dog. A Portuguese water dog, and I pet him all the time. Somehow that was all I needed. If I can put up and love my stinky beastly dog, I can certainly rub through some man fur.

I do have a personal philsolophy about bodies and minds and touch. I think the boundaries of our person are a lot more blurry that the limit of our skin. We like to think we can keep ourselves contained, in this neat physical package, cover it with clothing and then hide ourselves inside. But people bleed out all kinds of things, smell,hormones,love,hate, noise and heat. Where exactly one person ends is hard to say, except that it is most probably ending right inside of another's. When you enter fully into that space, especially through touch, things happen, you affect and are affected. It is what makes us essentially alive. This is why I love massage. It is for what happens in the space where two boundaries meld.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Technological Relationships

I like to think about relationships. Who are we kidding? There may be even some obsessive analyzing going on there. Recently I have embarked on a new one. I had been thinking about and lusting for this particular one for about two years. When it started I thought to myself, this is the future. I knew it was in its infancy stages and I was not ready yet. I knew I didn't have the time or the money to embark. It didn't stop my fantasizing though.I saw my friends in simialr realtionships and I was jealous, I asked them how good is it? It is everything you thought it would be? Does it feel as good as it looks? Are you scared of breaking it?

Last week I did it. I ordered the frickin iphone. Now here I am in that realtionshhip I knew I should avoid. The one that you know better than to get into, but can't help because is is so shiny and pretty. You know you will never fully understand it and it will probably just end up breaking your your heart by frustrating you and teasing you with its untapped potential. It chimes at me, beeps at me and vibrates its constant need for attention. Even when it doen't need me, I am drawn to it hoping it has something to say.

I know my friends will begin to resent its presence in my life as I withdraw into my co-dependency with my virtual obsession, but yet I can't help but talk about it. They have all been there before. Their relationships have faded into that comfortable, lustless comraderie you see in old married couples. They bicker at theirs, cursing its flaws and inadequacies, looking longingly at younger more vibrant releases to come. Iphone? oh android is better? Why not blackberry? Racist.

My auto correct puts words in my mouth, assuming that it knows better than me what I want to say. Strangely, a lot of the time it is right. It makes jokes and keeps me from writing mother fucker unless I really really mean to. It makes me wish I had delicate fingers so that I could use it the way I want and make it give me what I need. I even make it wear protection because this realtionship is new and I don't want to harm it it anyway and I really don't want to have its iphone babies...yet. It is sassy and slutty though, and keeps trying to rope me into three ways for "facetime." I like it, but it unnerves me.

I have decided though to try and live in the NOW. I just want to experience the love, the joy, the connection to wifi. I do have a long term, three year plan afterall, so I have to make this thing work, but I want to relish this honeymoon period, where I can give it the attention it deserves. I will try not to lose it, and control my urge to slap people who fondle it too intimately. It is a just a phone afterall. Right?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I am sitting here waiting for my stats tutor to show up and babysit my retarded brain as I attempt to muddle through yet another "interactive educational" experience. Online learning. I should write a post about it. I will write a post about it. Not today. Today I want to write about death. What else would I want to talk about?

I am doing a field placement at a Jewish hospital. I suppose its Jewishness is irrelevant in the same way my jewishness is. Or maybe it is relevant in the same way mine is, but I digress. Today is not about the Jew. Today has a priest. Part of my work involves hanging out in palliative care. For those of you in the know, you are aware that palliative care is where they send us to die. They make it air conditioned, there are cookies and free coffee and they even validate your parking and don't charge you for the private room . The universe in all its irony decided to place the psyche ward adjacent to the palliative and so you can frequently see shoeless muttering smokers looking for the elevator. There is perhaps something poetic about placing the psychotics in the same elevator as grieving spouses and children, but I leave that to Poe.

My role there is fairly undefined. I pretty much troll for emotional pain. If I see a patient or a family member with that panicked, overwhelmed look in their eyes, I offer then a coffee or a jello and then a talk.

The other day there was a woman with "the look". I asked her what she needed and in French she desperately mouthed "cafe". She was sitting next to an sunken and yellow man who was, as they so gracefully call it, "actively dying." Somehow this conjures up images of Jane Fonda in a leotard to me; for the active dyer. I brought her the coffee and she told me a little bit about herself. She said she was the man's niece and he had been like a father to her. He could not really talk anymore and he kept pulling at his clothes like he wanted to strip them off. It was reminiscent of a 2 year old who had been forced to wear something uncomfortable, ineptly fumbling but inevitably succeeding at exposing himself.

The woman was strung tightly. You could see she was using every effort to simply keep her shit together as she tried to communicate to and calm down her uncle. I said to her that she should take a real break. That I could sit with him and she could have her coffee in the family room. . You could see her relax, just for a second, at the relief of not having to have this image, this image of dying, right in front of her with no respite even if it was only for ten minutes.

I have never sat so close to death before and I had this thought. I thought, I will look at this. I will look right at it; meditate on it, watch it and see it without rationalization. All you want to do is look away and I wanted to stare it in the face and try to find the beauty. It was there somewhere and I knew it.

He was extremely agitated and I wet his lips with this little lip sponge they have. It looks like a tiny pink popsicle. They feed them ice cream and jello a lot there too. I put my hand on his shoulder and he calmed down. We just sat. Soon a priest walked by. He was a strapping African man. He came in and offered last benediction and the man somehow returned from wherever he had been and managed to genuflect. I found this amazing. That this is what got to him. He accepted the rights and then went back to where ever he had been with his uncomfortable clothes and far off stare.

The niece returned. She had found whatever space she had needed to make it back in there. I left to go to my office and several minutes later she found me. She was crying. She said, My dad died a year ago today and I know he is going to die on this day. I said yes, he probably will, and gave her a hug. I tried to console her by telling her the priest had come and he had received the last rights.

And here is where my job is fucked. Or funny. Or something. She looked at me and said, oh really? She lowered her voice and said, my uncle is very proud of his heritage. He made me promise that a there would be no black priests at his funeral. He specifically wanted a white man to usher him into the next realm. What was I supposed to respond? I opted to not. I opted to give her another hug and tell her that she should go tell him whatever she needed to say to him and that he knew she loved him and it showed.

Where does the universe find its perverse sense of humour from? I don't even know how to end this post except to say I will never forget this day. I looked at it. And I saw it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Here We go Again

How many attempts at a blog does one have to make before one actually writes something that is entertaining, interesting and maybe even slightly meaningful?

Sometimes I think blogging is just this acceptable way of being that crazy lady on the bus who sits down next to you and starts spewing her inner demons all over your personal space. Every once in a while though, the lady has something profound to say. I make no promises of profundity. Profanity, fuck ya, there will be lots of that, but earth shattering truths will most likely be few and far between.

Let us start with an introduction.
I like to ruminate on relationships. I used to own a record label which will remain nameless, but I still find it hard not to name drop it so that I don't have to wait in line or pay for concert tickets and also to impress young boys. I am working on my punter skills but it seems to be going badly and I am still found arms crossed at the back of a club talking out of the side of my face. Recently my dance has come back, and through a 12 step program involving roots, dancehall and hot lesbians in underwear I seem to be learning to actually ENJOY.

Several years back, I decided to become a massage therapist. My mother rolled her eyes. These days I alternately rub people and go to graduate school in social work. When I told my mother about the social work she rolled her eyes too. Her cataract surgery made her glasses obsolete so the eye rolling has taken on a whole new brilliant intensity. Of course I ignored it. Actually I think I must just have internalized it, which is why it is showing up here.

I was married for a few years. I am not anymore. Nuff said.

These days I waffle between fantasies of manly men, comfortable in their own skin, calm on the inside with calloused hands and unshakable love and my reality of raging non-monogamous hedonistic rampaging. I seem to be living the latter however in an effort re-invent myself into something other than a serial monogamist who eats chips on the couch while cursing her dying libido.

I will intermittently post Echardt Tolle quotes. I have Tolle Tourettes. The thing is, they are tongue in cheek as I just can't seem to get rid of the cynical bitch who cringes at the NOW. However as I age.. well the hippie is emerging and I do sort of long for that sense of inner peace. I just hope it has a sense of humour