Monday, December 28, 2009

Setting sail on the Bluenose

What up, 2009? Why have you been the banner year for the grim reaper? Holy celeb deaths galore: Natasha Richardson, Ed McMahon, David Carradine, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze, Michael Jackson and Brittany Murphy. Need I go on? Compared to 2008's death list (read: Heath Ledger) you'd think Mr. Reaper was one of the few companies not affected by the recession and had more hired help.

On a personal level, 2009 was a rough year for some dear friendlies of mine, filled with heartache, heart break, mistakes and outtakes. And I had such high hopes for 2009. The motto was supposed to be, "2009: looking fine." Instead it turned into, "2009: pass the wine."

Well, I suppose you know what "they" say. With so much death, there's bound to be lots of rebirth. Here's to hoping that the birth canal of 2010 will be a relatively painless and colourful one.

Things are already starting to look up as 2009 winds down and 2010 is lacing up its runners, getting ready to receive the baton.

There's something in the air. And it smells like cinnamon hearts. I have friends who are getting lovey dovey, going back to school, getting married, buying property and moving cities and having babies. Big changes are coming. Ginormous things are happening. Get ready.

And yo, 2010? Listen up, kiddo -- I hope you don't mind that Matt has so fondly dubbed you "The Dime" -- but I'd really appreciate if you could send some love to my friends who need it. Just a little wink or a high five should do it, maybe a fist or elbow bump for the H1N1-wary. Thanks. We good. We solid.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Smoke Signals

I was recently in Halifax, working on a project with my dearest friend, Carey.

The end result was this lovely book on correspondence between our two fair cities, Toronto and Halifax. We called the project Smoke Signals. We sold the book and a correspondence package as well as other crafts at the Halifax Crafters fair, which was a lot of fun and really well-attended. Thanks for the support, Halifax!

I'm someone who has moved around a lot in my adult life, and I spend a lot of time thinking about cities, comparing them and reflecting upon my various lives and personas I adopt in each city. I once had a friend say he didn't see any difference between cities, that all big cities were the same. I completely disagree, since cities are like people. They each have their own unique vibe; have different personalities. The purpose of this project was to try and capture some of that. Things that we loved (and hated) about our cities.

We also started a website for the project, which you can find here. If you'd like to order a copy of the book, you can visit the website or email

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You're the Charlie Browniest!

Some random thoughts and observations from today:

There should be a reality TV show about a lesbian couple called "Jan and Kate".


When I lived at my old house, I used to bike through Trinity Bellwoods every morning. There were always a few Asian ladies who did their morning exercises in the park. Tai chi, stretching, but one particular activity I never got: walking backwards. I have no idea what the health benefits are, but ok.

Since I've moved I have a new parkette I bike through. Today there was an older Asian lady walking backwards through it. She was sporting DC skate shoes with fat turquoise laces, no less! Older Asian ladies are FIERCE...


A "noirette" is someone who has black hair. It sounds better than "blackhead".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't wear earrings with prescription glasses

For some reason, I've been dispensing a lot of advice lately. In the past few months friends have been coming to me with their woes, and dare I toot my own horn, I've been dishing out sage advice.

Just call me Ann friggin' Landers. Or maybe more accurately, Lucy van Pelt since I probably look more like her and have a similar cynical disposition.

Not surprisingly, most of the problems deal with affairs of the heart, and since I've been a resident of Singlesville for a while---I roll with the mayor and the police chief---I'm able to give unbiased, straight-forward advice that isn't clouded by lovey dovey-ness. See, I'm actually logical and rational as hell, so I'll tell you like it is. No holding your hand on your way to your first day of kindergarten. Take the bus like the rest of us chumps.

At the risk of jinxing it, I've been a zen master lately, the coolest cucumber in the crisper, chilled out and blissed out beyond (even my) belief.

This clear-headed state probably helps in giving good, rational advice. Everything ain't no thang. There really are few things in life one can't recover from (to a certain degree) given enough time, so why sweat it?

Who knows how long this calm stage will last? Maybe I am in the eye of the storm and shit's going to hit the fan soon. But until then I am just gonna continue playing Yoda and sip on this G and T.

Random thought: you can tell a lot about a person through their hands. It's like shoes. A person's personal style is reflected through their shoewear. You can tell what a person's hygiene and hobbies are like through their hands.

Are the hands rough? Are their nails dirty? Do they have long nails? Hands are like the face sans make-up. There's the same exposure to the elements. We don't usually cover up our hands except when it's really cold. So they're pretty telling of our lifestyle.

I really like looking at men's hands. Sometimes you can tell what someone's body looks like just by looking at the bone structure of their hands.

Hands! Advice! Monday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Be the person your dog thinks you are.

Sometimes I think people suffer bad days collectively. Today was one of them. A lousy day. It was one where people just felt mean. Luckily though, I had a good end to a bad day. My friend Paul brought up a good point. He blames the collective bad mood on the Leonid meteor shower, and from my wholly un-scientific research (namely an informal survey of my friends) we all either had rotten days yesterday or today.

Methinks cosmic events wreck havoc on our petty human lives. It's like the full moon. It's called "lunacy" for a reason. Jails are fuller, there are more accidents, murders and crimes, and people are generally nuttier when it's a full moon. We can't help it. The gravitational pull messes with us.

And to think this was the week I decided to give up coffee.

AT least The Rural Alberta Advantage's acoustic set at Soundscapes helped the day end on a better note. That band has a special place in my heart.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What up, delicious cat...!

I thought of two new terms today that really should be widely circulated in the English slang.

1) Wordist: an artist whose medium is words. Ok, essentially a writer, maybe one who is more floral and ornate in their writing. Or maybe one who considers themselves post-post-modern.

2) Love death: the non-existance of a love life, perhaps the ceasing of any kind of love activity. As in "I don't have a love life. I am going through a love death." A mourning, a void of love in one's existance.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

poor but sexy

One of my favourite things to do is to take a bus or train somewhere. There's a certain calm and time for quiet reflection when you're sitting on a bus or train moving through city or countryside.

I love the physical act of moving from A to B. Right now I'm on a bus travelling from Montreal to Toronto, and it's raining outside.The window is blurry, the sky is grey and streams of water are racing each other towards the finish line at the bottom of the window ledge.

I came to Montreal for the weekend to meet up with Carey. She is in Halifax and Montreal is the halfway point for us. We are working on a collaborative art/craft project on the idea of correspondance.we left with some more definitive objectives and tasks to tackle before the show in three weeks, but I think Montreal has done wonders for motivating and inspiring me.

The city is bilingual and ther is something to be said about it's dual personality. The bilingual thing provides this mania that drives the city in a highly creative manner. Like Berlin, Montreal is broke, yet has a high concentration of artists. Certainly creativity and lack of income can go hand-in-hand, and that may be the case in beautiful Montreal. The creative energy oozing from this city seems maddening sometimes.

My hostess brought up an interesting point last night at dinner. She is a social worker and decided to move to Montreal because there is also a high concentration of mental illness in the city. She mentioned the idea os a correlation between artists and mental illness. "An artist is someone who does things differently, and someone who is suffering from mental illness is someone who can't do things in a 'normal' way."

Simple words but there's a certain truth to it. That line between insanity and creativity can be a thin one.

I've been in Toronto for a while, and I think I've fallen into a bit of a routine. There is a lot going on in this city in terms of music and the arts, but I find there's an underlying business aspect to it. It's not necessarily negative; there's simply less of a division between commerce and art. Or at least the partnership between the two is much more evident.

The mayor of Berlin once said the city is "poor but sexy." It's an interesting sentiment. At what point do you leave that behind? And at what point do you return to it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


These are things that have been sustaining me lately. Be they nourishment for the body or the soul, I'm glad to have had these things in my life to distract, inspire, influence, entertain and supplement me.

The Dirty Projectors
Elfin Saddle
Faces in Places
Radio Dada (Thanks to Chris DeWolf for this Maisonneuve article that brought my attention to the station in the first place)
This American Life
Finn Crisp and hummus

And on a side note:
Holy shitballs. I love this.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kebler's tree was a sweatshop

Normally I hate Halloween. Now, friends, you must be thinking: "What kind of a Scrooge Mc-Jack-o-lantern are you?" To which, I reply, "Boo-humbug!"

Yes, I hate Halloween. There's always so much pressure to come up with a "good" costume and now you can sexify any costume. Lobster? How about a sexy lobster? Piece of sushi? Let's bring sexy back!

Well, I say no. If I had it my way, I'd be this for Halloween. Or this brilliant piece of paper mache art.

Alas, my construction skills are subpar. More importantly, my time-management skills are poor. My sewing skills aren't bad, so I've resorted to being a garden gnome. I got a green apron, a flower, made a pointy hat, a mushroom and a beard (the pattern I found here) et voila!

All I need is a pipe and a jaunty idiosyncrasy, and I'm set!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guess who's back? Slim Shady's back.

I was kind of afraid to log into Blogger since it's been a while since I've written. I go through these periods where I'm super keen to update a lot, and then I go through sloth moments where motivation is about as rare as the albino squirrel that inhabits Trinity Bellwoods.

So an update of my life is in order.

Act I: I moved house. I went from a lovely little Portugese-style maison to what I've fondly dubbed, "The Babe Castle."

This house is huge. I'm talking monolith. The ceiling is high up, the walls are never-ending and I have to stand on stools to reach the cupboards. I'm like Alice in Wonderland. Going from one place where everything was small and compact to a ginormous house. Hence, the "Castle" bit. The other part? Well, I happen to live with babes. Statuesque gods. Both my roommates, who are a couple, are babes. They're fun and do interesting things and are fun and interesting to look at. Babes.

And I'm the elfin jester.

I reside in The Babe Castle, and it is glorious. Best thing is, it's in an awesome location---I like to think of it as the food mecca of the city---and the rent is more than reasonable. Oh, and there's a washer and dryer in our house, so there really is no reason to ever leave. Except maybe to gorge myself on all the food around.

Act II: Achey, break-y heart attack. Without going too much into detail, someone who was important to me, let me down. Again. This wasn't the first time.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice? Never. Well, maybe. I am a sucka like that.

At least you left behind your rolling papers and a CD. Ha. I win? Petty yes, but you gotta pick your battles, right? Um...

Act III: I went to Montreal. Not a big deal. Not the first time I've been. Not the most exciting city to visit.

But allow me to wax poetic about Belle Montreal for a second here. It's been a while since I've gotten out of this city, so it was nice to hop on the train and go. (Thank you, Via Rail!)

Montreal is belle. It's charming with its rolling hills, houses with spiral staircases, delicious pain du chocolats, bike lanes that actually make sense, charming vendors at Jean Talon market, especially you, Mr. Scar-under-the-eye-selling-purple-cauliflower (this is all fiction, of course. Not at all based on reality), stylish residents and cheap rent.

The other thing I love about Montreal (and travelling in general) is its randomness. I somehow found myself at some mini rave/party/horrible electronic music shindig and ran into two people from my past. Those two weren't connected in any way, but this freaky deaky shit seems to happen to me a lot. Especially on the road. "Beaver" I met about a year and half ago in the Newf, and Heather I went to junior high with in Alberta. Go figure.

Epilogue: Happy ending avec Prince Charming, a bicycle and an east coast? Or tragic suicide involving both poison and hari kari and (dis)honour?

Only time will tell. This play is still being written.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Life is short.

Looking through old posts, it's hard to believe I haven't once written about biking. It's surprising considering how integral it is to my life. I bike everyday; it's my main source of transportation, and in a lot of ways a source of happiness. If I go a day without biking, I feel cranky. I refuse to walk anywhere more than two blocks, and I even shiver through early winter just so I can keep riding and taking avoid public transportation.

So, needless to say, I felt pretty upset and shaken when I heard about an altercation between a cyclist and Ontario's former attorney general, Michael Bryant that ended in the cyclist's death. I guess heated words were exchanged, the cyclist held onto Bryant's car, was dragged along Bloor Street and eventually died of severe head injuries. And Bryant? He was charged with negligence causing death and operating a motor vehicle causing death.

While there were plenty of witnesses, the police have kept most of the details under wraps, and it's hard to piece together exactly what happened. What led the cyclist and Bryant to have angry words, and why did the cyclist end up holding onto Bryant's car? Reports say that Bryant was arrested at a nearby hotel and that he called 9-1-1, but why didn't he stay in the area where the accident occurred? As is often the case with a tragic death, there are so many unanswered questions.

It's hard for me to even try and understand what happened. As a cyclist, I'm well aware of the dangers of cycling in the city---I almost got doored twice today and almost skidded off my bike once. And I know sometimes it gets fierce between a driver and a cyclist, both shouting curses at each other that seem justified, but I can't even imagine why the cyclist would hold onto Bryant's car. I certainly don't understand how some drivers can feel justified by their reckless behaviour or lack of regard for sharing the road with cyclists. I most definitely do not understand how people can let their emotions run the show especially when they get behind the wheel. Sadly when it's car vs. cyclist, it's the cyclist that pays dearly.

Reports say the victim was Darcy Allen Sheppard, a 33-year-old bike messenger in Toronto. The biking community in Toronto is large but also tightly knit, and I can't help but feel a horrible sense of loss even though I didn't know Sheppard personally. His death was just so senseless and preventable.

At work I have to moderate comments on news articles, and I am absolutely appalled at some of the things people have said. No matter how angry or stupid a cyclist has acted, he doesn't deserve death. I mean, come on. The sad thing is, no one saw this whole thing coming. Bryant probably didn't wake up that morning thinking he'd be involved in an accident and arrested. The even sadder thing is Sheppard probably awoke that morning, not thinking it was going to be his last.

There's going to be a memorial gathering and ride for Sheppard tomorrow at 5 pm at Bloor and Bay.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Soup's on

I've been making a lot of soup lately. Yesterday was butternut squash, apple, yam curry soup. Today is carrot-ginger soup. And tomorrow? Well, I haven't thought about it that far ahead yet. Maybe a nice gazpacho or a corn chowder.

My coworker likes my soup; he laps it up and is complimentary in the most hyperbolic yet pleasant way, which is so fantastic I could die. It's always lovely when someone raves about your cooking. It does wonders for the ego. It's the culinary equivalent of getting winked at.

All this soup-making reminded me of someone I once knew. Matt Smith hated soup. I didn't think it was possible for someone to hate soup, but he did. He also only drank chocolate soy milk and root beer. Go figure. I was never really that close to Matt, since he lived in Vancouver and I was in Edmonton, but I was always fond of him. Ok, fine, I had a massive crush for years. One might even be so bold as to suggest borderline unhealthy. But those are just details. Anyway, we'd keep in touch sporadically, going through phases where we were e-mailing every few days and alternating with long stretches of non-communication. It's been a really long time since I last heard from him, and I hadn't really thought much about him unless something popped up in my day that reminded me of a conversation we once had or something he may have expressed disdain for. But generally, out of sight, out of mind.

It's funny how in our entire lifetime we come into contact with so many people, yet we really only keep in touch with a select number. Family, close friends, maybe physicians or dentists are constants in our lives. Depending on the period in our lives, we think we'll be forever in contact with some people, only to meet them again 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the line as total strangers. They may trigger a sort of deja vu-esque nostalgia. I find it so odd to run into someone I was once so close to only to be met with a feeble handshake and a weak smile or indifferent wave of the hand. And the thing is, each phase in our lives seems to come with different packets of people. I think it's safe to say not a lot of us are still friends with people we knew in elementary, junior high, high school or even university. Or at least not with every friend from a past era.

I've done more than my fair share of moving around, and despite living in a city for years and promises, when I move away, over time I only end up keeping in touch with a small number of people. I used to pride myself on being really good at keeping in touch. At some point, I kind of stopped making all the effort. All the energy and motivation I'd have to devote to keeping in touch with someone simply became too much. Not to mention some people aren't even worth all that effort.

*A side note about randomness: I've had a number of coincidences in my life where I'd be travelling and meet someone who is a friend of a friend from back home. It used to blow my mind every time this happened, but eventually I got used to it and realized two things:
1) Canada is not that big. Once you subtract all the babies and older people, then further subtract those that don't share common interests, the actual number in my peer group isn't that large. Plus everyone knows everyone else, especially with the social circle I run in. A side of Six degrees of Kevin Bacon, anyone?

2) After listening to Radiolab's podcast on stochasticity
(really just a "smarty-pants word for randomness") I realized it's just a numbers game. What we think of as coincidence, is really just probability and partly chance.

Anyway, back to Nostalgia Lane, it's always so bittersweet to think about people we've lost touch with. No doubt we share some good, nay, great memories, but there's also that untold story of why we drifted. And what do you say when you want to rekindle the fire of communication, when you want to reach out and retouch someone?

I guess you say, "Hi, so-and-so. It's me. Listen, it's been a while. What's been going on in your life? Oh, me? Not much. I'm just making this big pot of soup..."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The doctor is IN

Dear You,

I love letters. I love writing them, I love receiving them. In fact, I make a killer care package. If I knew you, and you were going away, you'd be damned lucky to have me send you packets of brilliance and heart. But I don't know you. Or do I? Wait, now I'm confused. Moving along...

I could go on and on, waxing poetic about how great letters are. But I won't. There are enough people singing the mighty letter's praises. But I will say this. I was absolutely tickled pink when I saw this video about a Cuban writer who makes a living writing love letters. That sounds like my dream job. Nay, it is my dream job. It's like writing song lyrics and fiction. Let me be the Cyrano de Bergerac in your lovelorn, tongue-tied world. Unrequited love? I'd be more than happy to provide the words to win over your beloved.

So that video got me thinking. Why not set up a love-letter-writing booth at my next craft show? For two bucks, I'll write a couple paragraphs about amour that you can send along to enchant and delight your babycakes. Plus, it'll be handwritten and on an actual piece of paper. None of this electronic love. Hell, I'll even put on some lipstick and seal the letter with an imprint of a kiss. Go big or go home, right? In this case to the home of your dearest.

If my letter booth fails to take off, there's always the Advice Booth. Take a number from "that round-headed kid" Charlie Brown and his psychiatrist Lucy van Pelt. Only with inflation nowadays, psychiatric advice costs more than 25 cents. You tell me your problems, I tell you how to solve your problems. Or at least what I really think.

I guess if all else fails, I'll have to fall back on crafts. I've been making these wooden greeting cards lately:

And some fuzzy pins:

And magnets:


P.S. This is not a shameless plug to go to zinedream II. I repeat, NOT a shameless plug.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

She's got a gold tooth, you know she's hardcore...

Well, at least I'm not preggers. I went to the dentist the other day and received some bad news. Ouch. Both figuratively and literally. Turns out I'm a grinder. Not of the moneymaker-shaking, cutting the rug, Beyonce-ready-for-my-jelly kind. I'm a teeth grinder. And it's costing me thousands. Apparently my teeth are so worn down, I'm cracking crowns and chipping fillings.

I had no idea. I didn't think I ground my teeth in my sleep. Maybe a little snoring, the occasional flail, but grinding? Who would have thought I had such power in my jaw? According to the dentist, our teeth are meant to break through bones. Huh. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, hardcore vegans who say humans weren't meant to eat meat. Looks like our jaws are indeed the jaws of life, ready to take a chomp out of a mastodon.

All the dental work I'm going to need done is costing me coin I don't have. Enter the parental units. I had to resort to the phone call of shame. I'm lucky I can turn to them for such emergencies, but the call was not without the "tut, tut" and "tsk, tsk" and dodging the "why do you grind? can't you stop?" questions.

I won't disclose the full amount. I can't even bring myself to whisper it to friends without hyperventilating. Let's just say someone once told me I could get a house in Newfoundland for this amount. Deep breaths...

I've always had bad luck with my teeth. Before you accuse me of scarfing down bags of candy and sucking down bottles of cola or fiercely chewing gum like Violet Beauregarde, hear me out. I haven't had candy in ages, nor do I drink soft drinks. I'll chew the occasional piece of gum after a garlic-y meal. So what gives? The positioning of my teeth and jaw is what. Maybe stress. I tend to clench when I'm stressed out. But this is after years and years of damage. Years! Frak.

Like I said, at least I'm not pregnant. Worrying about baby teeth and broken adult teeth just might make me crack. Someone get me a grill.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Three Random Thoughts

1) This is tragic. Turns out the animal kingdom is just as fickle as we are. It's the salacious nature of things. The gay penguin couple at the San Francisco zoo have split up. Wah. One Mr. Harry left one Mr. Pepper and shacked up with a widowed penguin named Linda. I didn't think it was possible for penguins to be home wreckers or bisexual for that matter. Or cunning. One bird curator said Linda's deceased partner was a leader of sorts in that penguin colony. Looks like Harry recognized an opportunity when he saw one. Poor scorned Pepper.

2) More is more. I was talking to Chloe about what makes an outfit stylish, and the conclusion we came to was layers. Wearing layers and having details are key. And jewelry. Indulge me for a second as I try and make sense of this. There's a reason why Italians always look so damn fine. They're dressed to the nines in full suits even when it's sweltering out. What's that saying? Oh yeah. No pain, no gain. You can always tell a tourist in Italy. They're the ones in shorts and sandals.

I've always loved fall because that's when people start covering up again and start wearing stylish jackets and boots and shoes and hats and scarves, oh my! And the beards start to appear again. Gotta love those beards.

3) Frig, it's begun. Mom's started hounding me about settling down. I have a feeling every phone conversation from now on is going to end like this:

Mom: You know you can start dating now, right?

Me: Um, yeaaaaaaaaah.

Mom: It's time to start thinking about dating seriously.

Me: (grinding my teeth) Mm-hmm.

Mom: Being single is one thing, but when you get older, it's tough to be on your own.

Me: (teeth still grinding) Uh-huh

Mom: Bernie's dad has been asking about how you're doing. You know, he knows some nice boys in the city.

Me: (teeth still grinding) Oh god. Oh god. Oh god.Bernie's dad needs to mind his own business and go *&(%@()*&*&%#) himself.

Mom: Bernie's dad's best friend has three sons and none of them are married. They might be a good match.

Me: (teeth still grinding) Mm-hmm.

Mom: Have you been going to church? You should really go to church.


Except that it's really not "fin" at all. This is just the beginning. Ugh. And that's how its going to be from now on.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hat Trick

Ok, so I didn't get a fedora this weekend, but I did make a sun hat. Now we just need the sun to come out more.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reach for the stars

Here are some more delicious treats...

Michael Hsiung's art is genius. It's whimsical, playful and sophisticated and witty. And it features centaurs, mermen and baby angora unicorns. As if that wasn't enough, his bio is HILARIOUS. Do yourself a damn favour and read it. Then join me as we roll on the floor laughing and clapping with delight.

Love giraffes? How about a million of them? Who doesn't love the gangly, vegetarian ungulates? Forget about leggy blonds. Necky ruminants are where it's at. Take a gander at One Million Giraffes and get cracking on a submission. Dude's only got 543 days left.

Courtesy of Maria's mad skillz.

I'm going to tell people I'm turning 25 again.

My birthday was yesterday. It was lovely. I spent the day outside biking around and eating a picnic on a rock by the water with many friendlies. I also turned an age of significance. People told me the years that are multiples of 7 are usually important. 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56 and so on. They're supposed to signify milestones in your life. I guess 7 is when a child starts to become self-aware and a functioning little person. 14 is the most hellish year of adolescence. 21 is when you technically become an "adult". 28 is when you should be an "adult." 35 is "if you're not an adult by now, you're in deep kaka." 42 is when you finally start to chill out and mellow after having been an adult for some years. 49 is so very close to 50, but you've still got a year to enjoy being younger than a half a century old. 56 is when you're body and mind start to slow down. Aches and pains may be more frequent. 63 is when you're retiring or retired and maybe you've got little ones to look after again. Or maybe you're rejuvenated and can finally do all that travelling you've been waiting to do once you finished working. And so on, and so forth.

For my birthday, the lovely Anni got me this book by Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher. I love Miranda July's stuff anyway, but I especially love this book. The original project was a website that was started seven years ago and had various assignments that people completed and then documented. The book is just a snapshot of some of the amazing entries people posted.

One assignment I particularly love is #55: Photograph a significant outfit. Remember exactly what you were wearing during a recent significant moment. Maybe it was the day that your boyfriend broke up with you, or the day your nephew was born, or the day you decided to become a vegetarian. It should be something that happened in the last six months. Lay out what you were wearing on the floor, as if you are dressing an invisible, flat person. Tuck the shirt into the pants, the socks into the shoes, etc. Don't forget the other things that complete your outfit such as jewelry, purse, hat, etc. Do not add anything extra like a wig or a mask--just the clothes you were wearing. Stand on a chair or table and photography the clothes from directly above. Not from above at a slight angle, but so that the camera is pointing straight down. Send us the photo, along with the importance of the day, for example, "What I was Wearing When I got the Phone Call About Grandma Marris Dying." Do not write on the actual photograph, and make sure your photo is in focus. Note: avoid moments that you knew would be significant and so dressed accordingly--such as graduation or Halloween. The outfit itself does not need to be significant, it is just what you happened to be wearing when something of emotional significance happened.

This is mine from the past few months... I wore this the day we did cartwheels on the street. I remembered what it was like to laugh and play with someone. And that was when I knew one thing in my life was over and something else began.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The best thing I saw today was this construction worker fixing this little kid's bike. Here was Mister, in his hard hat with the little tyke's bicycle turned over and fidgeting with the chain. Maybe he knew the kiddo, but I'd like to think that he didn't, and I had just stepped into a Richard Scarry world, straight out of Busytown where the construction bear man helps the little fox boy with his bike. Then they walk hand in hand to the candy store but not before running into the nice cat lady in her polka dot dress who sells flowers and wave at the postman dog on his daily route.

I wished I had a secret spy camera to capture such a tear-jerk moment. Wait, I do!

I finally got my grubby paws on this little camera, the Ikimono 110. This little camera looks like a toy, but it works. "Ikimono" means little creature in Japanese. I still can't get over how very ridiculously cute it is. It sits there in my hand just like an obedient squirrel would!

Sadly though, I did not have the camera on me, and I failed to capture that Richard Scarry moment. Dang.

However, this has made me simultaneously gag and laugh out loud:
Cheeseburger in a Can!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Busy Bee

A whole new whack of projects...Apologies for the crappy photos, but I'm currently rollin' sans digital cam.

Sadiya wanted a Batman garter belt for her wedding. I even made the button!

The first of the food zine. You can't tell, but it's called The Food Off.

Not a project, but I did pick up this boss camera at an antique store today. Now I just have to find the oh-so-difficult-to-find film...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Marinating in anger

It's Friday. TGIF, right? Not for me. I'm working allllllllll weekend. So obviously it's got me thinking about how being chained to the office is bad, being in front of a computer is butt, working for the man sucks, blah, blah, blah.

If you know me at all, you'll know that I'm all about crafts and skills. All I ever want to do is learn how to do things with my hands. Fix bicycles, cook, garden, build things, sew, silkscreen, play music, knit...Not sit. Hunched over. Suffering tension headaches and pinched nerves, going blind staring at a computer.

So, I was pretty excited to see Boing Boing's blog post yesterday about this book called Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford. It's about the importance of using your hands to make and fix things and how there's such an emphasis on "knowledge" work whereas the trades are viewed as inferior occupations. As if tradespeople are too dumb to do other work or have no other choice.

Crawford raises a bunch of interesting thoughts. It's great to have ideas people, but you also need the skills to bring about the execution. When I think of my high school life, I'm always stricken with regret. I went to an academic high school where the focus was on intellectual development. That's fine and dandy, but I really wish I had the option of taking art or shop classes. This school didn't even have a gym. Our options were French and music. My parents enrolled me into the school because of the "competitive edge" it offered for getting into university. I'm not dissing university here, but I do wish I had more of an eclectic training growing up. I liked what I learned in school, and I love writing, but I also have this obsessive need to gather as many tangible DIY skills as possible. There's something ingrained in me that needs to be able to fix things or at least figure out how something works.

I guess not everyone is supposed to take that academic route, but more and more kids are being pushed in that direction, and I'm convinced that's not healthy. It's creating generations of stressed out adults with poor posture.

I saw this video last week:

Ironically, civilizations that worked so hard to move from physical labour have moved to occupations that are just as oppressive. It's not as labour-intensive, rather mental-intensive. People are wigging out and stressing!

I really think there is something to be said about working with your hands. It's part of human nature. It's just so satisfying and comforting. And ironically, instead of doing something with my hands and mad skillz, I just spent a bunch of time writing about it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A gentleman's pursuit

A few days ago Boing Boing posted this article from The Atlantic about happiness. It focused on a study of men and their lives that spanned over seven decades! There has never been a longitudinal psychological study this exhaustive, extensive and detailed as this one. The men were interviewed, went in for physicals and completed surveys every few years up until their deaths. The study focuses solely on men, Harvard sophmores---JFK was apparently a participant but his files are sealed until 2040!

So the article got me thinking about the path to happiness and the pursuit of pleasure. If there is a straight and easy way to achieve a goal or obtain happiness, you can bet your balls I won't take it. I have this deeply ingrained notion that I have to suffer in order to get what I want. That means getting to grandma's house involves trekking through the Making-it-harder-for-myself-in-any-way-I-can Woods instead of simply hoping into a cab and whizzing straight there. I can't help it considering my upbringing. Catholic AND Chinese?! We were fed guilt for breakfast. Suffering IS salvation.

Why do I do this to myself? And on a greater level, why do we do it to ourselves? Why's it so hard to treat ourselves, and why do we always feel the need to justify it when we do?

Is it the recession? (The recession is my current favourite scapegoat explanation. Somehow I don't think so, as I've always felt guilty even during times when the economy's rollin'.

Could it be the puritanical nature of our ancestors? Maybe. The whole idea of relaxation and pleasure is so unnatural to us. Stress is pretty much ingrained in us, that even on vacation, we can't seem to relax.

I do know this though. Happiness is bunch on Sunday. And I refuse to feel guilty about that.

(I snagged the pic from

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tell me one good thing that happened to you today...

And these were the responses I got:

-Lana got to play outside like it was 1985 in the sunshine. If she is happy, I'm happy. and I got to sidewalk chalk alllll over the driveway

-the cat that my family sometimes takes care of had kittens

-i made a lovely soup....

-I had a great conversation about healthy body weight with my Katima-participants.

-i bought new shower curtains for our bathroom. and i also bought us a new can opener and q-tips. oh and mr. clean magic eraser. you should see half of our bathtub...its miraculous.

-roy cleaned the bath tub

-I registered my band as a business. I don't know why I'm so excited about that, but I -am.

-I read these hilarious posts from my neighbours!

-i finally finished this work that i should have finished last monday - woo hoo!

-i talked with some friends about starting a new band

-I saw Greggers by the water cooler.

-i found free lawn furniture on the side of the road.
(and i got an email from youuuuuu!)

-I went for delicious Indian food!

-i spoke to my friend mk about coming up for a visit in t dot.

-I tentatively agreed to let a French couple sleep on my couch for two nights.

-i got custody of two of my pets back from Daniel haha & played with them all day -- i thought it was pretty sweet! ;o)

-i got a haircut after being on a waitlist for two weeks!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Get it together

"Only good girls get into trouble. Bad girls know how to take care of themselves."

That was THE best thing I heard yesterday. Last night Jamie's Area held a symposium on dating. The five speakers got down to the brass tacks of dating.

Local writer Chandler Levack interviewed her grandma Gemma Fischer on how dating has changed. Granted, some values have morphed over the decades, I think people still ultimately want the same thing: To love and be loved. It's human nature, and though we may have certain liberties in this day and age, the price we pay is a more complicated way of dating.

I was already feeling pretty emotional that day, and some of the bittersweet things Fischer said made me want to ball my eyes out. She talked about how people are too choosy sometimes, but one cannot keep looking forever for Mr/Ms Right. Maybe people are too greedy and want to "play the field" but that's also where complications arise. Fischer had everyone in the place paying attention at one point. You could hear a pin drop when she told the audience about her husband and how he spent a lot of time in Quebec, and how she, as a woman, knew not to ask too many questions. She also spoke about compromise and how women usually compromise more in a relationship. She pointed out that no one is perfect, and at some point you just have to accept it. Not settle per se, but quit looking for perfection. And I almost lost my shit when she talked about finding love and not letting it go because true, true love only happens a few times in a person's life. If you're lucky. So if you find it, don't lose it. Simple words, but often a complicated and hurtful process, no? It was so interesting listening to her speak because some of the things she said seemed outdated, but if you really thought about it, it's still relevant today for most people in some capacity.

Chris Dupuis provided a queer perspective and talked about his experiences being a slut. In his dry yet humourous manner, he through a top 10 list of his more memorable amorous encounters.

Emma Healey gave us the high school perspective and laid down three rules that should be made legal when it comes to dating. Number 1 was making Ikea the must-go-to place for a first date. I can't imagine that girl having any troubles getting a date with her witty personality. She can't be as awkward as she claims to be!

Kathleen Phillips performed one of my favourite pieces of the night. She wrote a hilarious character sketch about Charlotte, the Harlot, who loved everyone she had been with.

Aaron Kopff's talk was probably the most uncomfortable of all. He was a bit all over the place as his story had numerous offshoots, and it was hard to follow at times. But everyone collectively cringed and recoiled as he recounted the story of the time he shit his pants and had to call his ex to bring him a new pair. He ended his talk with an Annie Hall reference about how dating and love is a battlefield. Sure it's easier and less painful to not date---there wouldn't be as many casualties---but we just can't help ourselves.

Monday, April 13, 2009

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

There's something comforting about making a list. It's the beginning of a task, and it always makes you feel like you're getting something done even when all you're really doing is organizing. You may get the list done, or, in my case, you may not.

I know people who love making lists more than they love their mothers. I do not. I like lists sometimes, and I love my mom most times. However, in an effort to do more writing, I've decided to try and do a weekly list on this blog. It could be about anything...I'm open to suggestions, the key is to just have things to line up and then you, dear reader, can knock them down.

Anni suggested I make a list of things I want to do this summer. Seeing as Toronto has been lovely lately, full of sunshine and my mood has drastically improved from the despair of last week, I thought, why the hell not.

Summer's one of my favourite seasons---I mean there aren't many to choose from, but it's got a few things going for it. Namely my birthday is in the summer (now that I'm older, it's not as exciting and maybe in a few years, I'll come to hate summer because of it) and because summer is the best time to be biking around and fruit generally tastes better when it's warm out.

So, here are some things I want to do this summer:

1) Learn to fix/build a bicycle. I recently went to a bike co-op an learned some very basic skills. Bike fixing is like opening a Pandora's box. There's always more to tune up.

2) Hang out on stoops more. Nothing says fun like hanging out on a friend's porch/stoop watching people while enjoying some cold brews. Maybe incorporate a board game or two.

3) Learn Spanish. Not necessarily a summer-related activity, more an attempt to get motivated to learn a new language.

4) Visit Chicago. I have a fascination with the city and what it offers. And not because of the Obamas.

5) Bike rides and picnics on Toronto Island. 'Nuff said.

6) Hang out in parks and drink beer. Reasons to do this are similar to #2, but add in frolicking dogs and amateur baseball, and it's bliss.

7) Go back to New York and enjoy the city in all its sweaty, sticky, stinky glory.

8) Visit friendlies in Halifax and go biking to a lake. Jump in and bask in nature's grandeur.

9) Play Bocce ball and croquet.

10) More S.T.

That's it. A rather do-able list, I'd say.

*If you are really curious about #10, e-mail me.

**If you're really, really curious about whether I've accomplished this list, ask me in the fall. I may lie.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Give me my damn eggs...

I should really mention the following things each time I visit a new hairdresser:

1) Do not make me look like an ass.

2) I do not style, use product or blow dry my hair so please do not spend more time styling my hair at the end than on the actual cut itself. The cut is king. I am a lazy hair person. I do not even own a blow dryer.

3) Just because I give you a photo of the kind of cut I want doesn't mean you have to do everything in your power to make my hair look like that. As soon as I step outside that door, the wind is going to flip and toss all your hard work into one frustrating knot, making me look like a chump.

4) Do not make me look like an ass.

Apparently my latest hairdresser did not listen to points 1 and 4.

I haven't successfully found a good hairdresser since leaving Edmonton. Not only did I find one, but two, count 'em TWO! really, really stellar stylists in E-town. Surely, Toronto could step up its game and present a worthy contender. I would think T-Dot would have at least one stylist who is both friendly and able to give me a cut that doesn't make me weep. I mean, really! I've tried recommendations, I've tried cheap stylists, expensive salons both here and in Halifax. Most cuts have either left me running out of the salon screaming and fighting the urge to cry or made me look in the mirror and go "meh" or "I should have just put a salad bowl on my head and cut it myself."

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. I gots no luck with the hairdressers.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Let's Dance

Ok, sometimes when I'm at work, I'll look up videos on YouTube (who doesn't, right?)

Anyway, I came across this little gem.

I'm a suckah for breakdancing anything. I've even started watching America's Next Best Dance Crew
and it wasn't because I was curious to see where A.C. Slater ended up. Admittedly JC Chasez, the Justin of N'Sync that didn't make it, seems like a pretty nice guy. He's always giving constructive criticism and quick to point out the positive aspects of a crew. And Lil' Mama with her sweet Brooklyn accent is definitely one of my favourites of the show. But I digress...

bgirldeedee, aka Lilach, does some pretty dope moves with her flexible phalanges, popping and locking, doing the moonwalk, fancy footwork and other moves. They look complicated even in hand form, so props to her for her choreography.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I wanna hold your haaaaaand...

So I gotta give a proper shout out to this blog I've been following lately. Two words: Ryan Maloney. The man is a genius, absolutely brimming with wit and humour. I can attest to that because I work with him. Not only does he bring joy to my daily editorial meetings, he also brings a winning smile, apple-coloured cheeks and a mischievous twinkle in his eye, making the daily grind just that much more bearable.

I think Julie summed it up best when she described what happens when she reads his writing: Guffaw, guffaw, guffaw, awwww.....Ryan writes about his life with the right mix of honesty, self-deprecation and raunchy humour. He'll make you laugh, he'll make you cry, and he'll make you want to regurgitate his words.

If he knew I was gushing on and on about his work here, he'd probably blush a bit more in his already rosy cheeks and say, "Aw, shucks." Well, too bad, Maloney. I'm plugging your blog, and you best be ready to rouge more.

Now, if you'll take a walk down television memory lane with me, do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry dates a woman with enormous man hands? And that scene where she rips open a lobster with her bare hands?

Well, that's exactly how I feel right now wearing my current pair of gloves. See, I HATE gloves. I hate them because I don't like the way it makes my fingers feel alienated or the way it makes my hands look ginormous or how my pinky finger is always freezing and needs to sneak into my ring finger's section like a child sneaking into their sibling's bed just to get some extra warmth. And the reason why I'm wearing them is because my old pair of mittens have great big, gaping holes in them. I'm currently knitting a new pair of mittens, but it's taking me freakin' forever. And, because winter seems to be back, I need something on my paws, so I've resorted to the gloves.

Perhaps these monolith hands will help build bigger snowmen and snowballs? Lord knows they make my snow angels look warped.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spring Cleanup, Please

Now don't get me wrong: I love spring when things are starting to melt. I used to love watching rivers of water from huge chunks of ice run into storm drains. But there's something about the ceremonious unveiling of long-forgotten dog shit rearing its ugly head that I could do without. You'll always find smears of dog poop and mushy piles of kaka all over the sidewalks and other walking areas when the weather starts to warm up a bit. I guess it ain't spring until you step into some months-old canine fecal matter that have gone through the freezing/thawing process.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The street's barfed up construction and concrete

The last few days I've been a Moody McMoodson. Not in a terrible way exactly. I feel pretty upbeat in spite of some work anxieties and uncertainty. I am now in Edmonton, visiting the fam and just hanging out.

The universe is certainly on its ass. The weather is warmer than in Toronto and it's frickin' raining so the streets are an ice rink. My usually quiet, boring suburban neighborhood has been dug up and there's loads of construction going on. I guess the city is expanding its transit system so things are all out of whack. I can't get over how much things are being dug up and how there are piles of ice, snow and pipes everywhere.

The biggest whammy of being back is seeing my friends. These are people I've known for 10+ years, and they're all grown up now. Little partying, everyone's in serious relationships, got careers on track, buying houses and cars. It freaks me out a bit to think of our past partying days and feelings of uncertainty. There was such excitement and optimism then. Now it's replaced by responsibility and routine. I guess that's what happens when you "grow up".

But I still can't help but feel incredibly guilty for having so much fun in my life. It's like I've got a larger slice of the cosmic pie of happiness and hot diggity, am I ever having fun. My life in Toronto is so different than my past life in Edmonton. It's odd to be back to revisit bits of the old me and old haunts. I can't help but feel very relieved for leaving Edmonton, and that makes me feel kind of guilty. I mean, these are my roots, yo! It's been almost two years since I've been back to Edmonton and while I'm enjoying strolling down Memory Lane, it's completely under construction. Things are familiar and they're not. It's definitely an odd feeling.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Top 5 of 2008

So I'm going to post what would have been my entry to a music contest had I actually entered. I could blame the blackout last week for me missing the deadline, but really, I have no one or thing to blame but my own damn self. I'm still kicking myself for missing the cut off date, but hopefully you'll enjoy my musical ramblings.

Also, I would probably switch my #5, now that I've had some time to change my mind and say, screw Cancon! (and sorry Sari and Romy) I know the new Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion was technically released in 2009, but I feel like I need to mention this record because I've been glorifying it lately.

Otherwise #5 would be a toss-up between The Dodos' Visitor and Shugo Tokumaro's Exit.


When I found out about the contest, my immediate thought was to compare music to food. Both are integral to my life, and my choices for the top of 2008 this year are like well-prepared meals. The musicians take time and care to produce a fine album and they fill up my mind and leave me feeling incredibly satisfied after each listen. I know I'm only supposed to write something for the top album, but I felt like each one deserved a few sentences.

5) Ghost Bees - Tasseomancy is like a shot of schnapps after you've received a fright. The Halifax twins of Ghost Bees are spooky, little elfins making music that are like tales you tell around a fire. Everyone is huddled together wondering who is the next person to be collected by death. Their lyrics are fantastical tales and their voices are both creepy, sad and beautiful all at once.

4) El Guincho - Alegranza! is like a post-modern gazpacho made with crazy hot peppers and a manic chef on LSD. I love this album because it's like a uppity, ADD, Spanish Animal Collective.

3) Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago is a thick, warm, hearty stew slow-cooked over an open fire using wood you've chopped yourself. You can hear all the care that went into making this album, all the quiet reflection of the three months of isolation folk singer/songwriter Justin Vernon spent recording For Emma, Forever Ago. This album truly warms my soul.

2) Erykah Badu - New Amerykah, Part One: 4th World War. Ms. Badu may be a strict vegan, but New Amerykah is definitely the soul chicken dinner of albums this year. I love the beats, samples and melodies she uses. They fit well with her smooth, groovy voice. Whenever I listen to this album, I feel like I'm being fed a loving meal with a large family gathered around. We may fight, but I always know I can count on blood. (I'm a vegetarian, but I've always said that if there were a meat to turn me back to being an omnivore, it would be chicken!)

1) Chad Vangaalen - Soft Airplane is a musical sandwich, plain and simple. Like the humble sandwich, which easily fills up hungry tummies, Vangaalen's 2008 release is like a sandwich that fills up my musical hunger. His lyrics are the bread of a song, providing the structure, the very essence of a sandwich. The strength of his story-telling leaves me completely sated. The production of the songs, the melodies and instruments are like the filler of a sandwich. They can be simple like a peanut butter sandwich or a bologna sandwich, or they can be dressed up like a fancy roasted eggplant, hummus and avacado toasted sandwich. I want to say that "Willow Tree" alone is enough to make me let Soft Airplane take the top of the 2008 cake. He's the King Daddy of 200Great for me.

I'm not going to talk about it...

I could blog about how integral the inauguration was to our lives and how history was made, but there are enough of those posts floating around the interweb. I will say this though: I got choked up watching the reactions of the American people during the speech. Sure, Obama is a great orator, but I damn near bawled my eyes out watching the reactions in the crowd. And that is exactly what Obama means to me. He is idealistic and gregarious, but he really represents hope to me. He won't be able to change everything and undo years of bad decisions but the most important thing he offers is a sense of optimism, passion and possibility for others, especially the young'uns. That's where real change is possible, in the future generations, and by god, I will be thankful if he's even able to inspire one good human being to be even better.

I know I said I wasn't going to talk about the inauguration, but goddamn, the First Couple's First Dance gave me shivers. Beyonce's voice was silky, sultry and smooth like freshly churned butter. I actually felt the shivers travel up and down my spine. Watching the Obamas dance made me believe that there is such a thing as everlasting love. I felt like I was at their wedding, and effin' hell, what a way to say hello to 2009.

And finally, finally, finally, Aretha Franklin's hat! I do believe the post on Oh No They Didn't sums it up so perfectly. I've been fierced.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It ain't right...

That's what Anni kept saying the whole time we were in New York City. But she meant it in the best possible way because there were so many things that were oh so right. I am in love with that city. This was my third time visiting, and each time my love for it grows and grows. There's no place like NYC, and the people are not like the wet mops of Toronto. They actually have some passion and directness instead of the wishy-washy, apologetic nature of so many fellow Canadians.

I keep expecting New Yorkers to be rude, impatient and downright mean. They never are. They're polite, good-natured and funny people. I've never felt it so easy to talk to people or have people approach me. They have a happy disposition that I sometimes find lacking here in Toronto. This posting isn't to slam T-Dot because there are plenty of great things about this city, but it's always nice to get out of your familiar surroundings and see other places. If anything, this trip to NYC has renewed my lust for travel. I have a new vigour and desire to go to a new place at least every couple of months.

Some NYC highlights included:
-Eating at Red Bamboo (this may be the most amazing vegetarian restaurant I have ever been, and I've been veg for 11 years. Red Bamboo serves soul food. This ain't right.)
-NYC Public Library (the building is incredible, from the detailing in the interior to the sassy older librarian ladies with their smart outfits and perfectly coiffed do's. Now that ain't right.)
-Bonita (Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn. Not only was the food delish, the servers were friendly, cute and full of laughter and silliness. And they rocked some Brooklyn hip hop so brownie points...Again, it ain't right.)
-Free pizza at the Charleston (a bar in Brooklyn on Bedford Ave. During happy hour, you can get a pizza pie to choke down with the beer. Brilliant.)
-Bowling at the Gutter (another bar in Brooklyn. Now that ain't right.)
-Macy's (this is a world-class department store with old wooden escalators. Yes, wooden escalators. It ain't right.)
-Seeing Yo La Tengo in Montclair, NJ on NYE (the whole evening was so low key and unpretentious. The audience was multi-generational, there was no countdown, the music was phenomenal, the performance was solid. The only thing was the commute out to Jersey. It's give and take I suppose.)
-hanging at Moe's near Mat's house (good music, uninhibited people with uninhibited dance moves)
-New Yorkers ('nuff said. And it ain't right.)