Saturday, December 29, 2012


You know you're in for a long bus ride when the the (wo)man who's about to sit next to you on the Greyhound hacks up a lung and then says "Don't worry, I'm not contagious" in a phlegm-riddled voice. "Heather" had the body of a woman, the face and voice of a 50-something man, and a cough that was terrifying to hear.  But the plus side was that she (?) and I were on an express bus from Kelowna to Vancouver with no stops in suburbia along the way. We actually arrived in the city almost two hours ahead of schedule; so early that I couldn't raise my mother on the phone (she's a bit cel-phone challenged, and it often sits, forgotten, in her purse, which is where it was tonight as I tried to contact her many many times), and so I took a cab home instead of getting a ride with mom.
It's good to be back in my sitting room with my spiky Charlie-Brown Christmas tree. I bought myself a few belated-Christmas treats tonight: a little yet powerful laptop speaker, some warm socks, a box of hair colour... gonna see in the new year with no roots showing, dammit! It was a good year for prezzies: mom gave me some money (yay!) and a juicer, which I am going to start using right quick, as the Christmas indulgence has taken its toll and the scales are telling me it's time to EAT LESS. Dad continued a fine Christmas tradition we started last year: he waited until I was in Kelowna and then took me to buy a pair of boots. Boots are a fetish of mine (I seldom wear shoes, actually) and I can't really afford them and Boxing Day usually produces some great bargains... Last year I got some fabulous red boots, but this year I needed some practical, comfy everyday walking boots. I got these:
I LOVE Keen boots! And these are as comfy as they look...
He also gave me a mandoline, which was a cast-off gift, because it was in his kitchen and he wasn't using it and I was like "I wanna make more salads this year!" It has a safety handle thingy, but I have already managed to julienne my thumbnail with it. However if I master it, I will have many thinly-sliced vegetables in my future.
Christmas was a little dull this year, I have to admit. Christmas Eve rocked, because I spent it with my mom, and we had a lot of fun. We went to the Christmas Jazz Vespers at a big church downtown in the afternoon and then we ate Beef in Guinness sauce at her place with her roomie, her eccentric cougar millionaire friend S, and her lonely and rather wistful friend Q. It was better than it sounds, trust me. Then I went caroling in West Van with some friends late at night and had a couple hours' sleep at my mom's before getting on the Greyhound to see my dad.
Unfortunately, his ladyfriend, L, was really sick with a nasty ear infection. PLUS my brother and his wife hadn't made it out of Vancouver because they needed to rent an SUV to make the trip, and there were none left. So we didn't really do... anything. In the past we've visited neighbours or stayed at home and drank too much wine or went skating on the pond down the street... but there is definitely a critical mass of people and wine that must be reached before fun and shenanigans can happen. And we didn't reach it this year. My dad and I are very similar in some ways, but for whatever reasons, we don't really click. Without my brother there, it was pretty quiet. Oh, and his dog had died last spring, so the house seemed very big and quiet. I often found my dad's dog really annoying, but it wasn't the same without him trying to eat all the Christmas food. I just don't feel as if I can be myself with my dad,  and I don't have much to say to him. So we watched a lot of Netflix and tv, ate too much, and went for a couple of bracing walks while his girlfriend suffered through her ear infection. So as I mentioned, I am happy to be home! Better luck next year.
Boring Christmas aside, I have been feeling pretty good lately. Acupuncture seems to be helping my mood, and even those painful acupressure seeds in my ear seemed to be effective, if annoying. Tomorrow night I am off to see Gogol Bordello at the Commodore, which I am very psyched about! I saw those guys years ago in Seattle and I am thrilled to see them again. I still have another week to go before school starts up again, and I plan to enjoy my last days of freedom to the max. My next mission is to find something cheap and fun to do on New Year's Eve, something involving music and dancing. I am damned if I'm going to start 2013 in a boring way!
Happy Christmas and New Year to all of you. May your year start any way you want it to! Love and peace and creativity and fun to all. xo

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

13 Things That Were Great About Today... and 1 not-so-great thing

  1. I called my sweetheart this morning while I was still lying in bed. I love doing this.
  2. He mentioned that it was "all white" where he was. I got up and drifted over to the sitting room and lo! It was snowy where I was, too! Have I mentioned how much I love snow? Especially before and around Christmas?
  3. My marks are in, and my lowest grade at the end of this term is a B+ (one class). All the rest are A's, A+'s or A-'s. Yes!
  4. I actually went to my local library today...
  5. ...where I ran into my musician friend Dave. Thereby assuring that there will be some kind of giggery or jammery in my future...
  6. and I also now have a whole bunch of interesting books to read and movies to watch. For free. Love the library!
  7. I dropped my stuff off at the laundromat, so now I have clean sheets and clothes.
  8. I had the bright idea of calling my mom, so I had company for a great walk. Up the hill into Burnaby Heights, stopping in at all the interesting-looking delis and butchers and bookshops.
  9. She was looking for some green peppercorns in brine, which I'd never heard of before. (Unless they were the famed "pickled peppers" that Peter Piper picked a peck of). And we were in one of those great stores that just has everything packed away on its teetering shelves, a fabulous mess of middle eastern and Italian and god-knows-what and I looked down and... voila. 
  10. I asked at my favorite bookstore if they were hiring. And they ARE. And they have a giant cat. I have always wanted to work at a store with a cat.  So I might actually have some work for the new year.
  11. We got back to my place after a 2-hour walk and made potato pancakes as well as chorizo sausages and sweet-sour cucumbers, accompanied by applesauce and sour cream. You know when a meal is actually all that you hope it will be? Yes.
  12. This teapot. Which I bought at my favorite restaurant in the little town I live in all summer. So not me, with its flowers and froufrou. But somehow it pleases me deeply. It has cherries for feet! How great is that?  I am drinking orange spice tea out of it right now.
  13. It is almost 7pm and I have a pile of new books to look at and movies to watch. How nice. 
  1. My acupuncturist put some auricular acupressure beads into my left ear. Three of them. They're supposed to help with my foot and back pain and with calming thoughts. I'm supposed to rub them 3-4 times a day. But they hurt. A lot. Not only when I touch them but when I try to:
  • wear a hat
  • use my headphones
  • lie on my left side to sleep
  • ...and when I'm just sitting there minding my own business.
Given that my back gets sore when I lie on it, it seems rather cruel that yet another option (sleeping on my left side) has been taken away, at least for the next few days. Plus, how am I supposed to have happy thoughts when my damn ear hurts all the time? Has anyone else tried these? Are they supposed to hurt this much??

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December Walk

It's amazing how few walks I've been on this year. School and work will do that to you, I guess. Last year I was short on employment and new to this neighbourhood, so I did quite a lot of exploring. Not so much this year. However, I was getting a bit stir-crazy after being sidelined with the flu for the last 5 days. It wasn't raining and I needed a change of scene.
I did what I often do in my 'hood: I headed north.  There is a park with a spectacular northern view of the water. But there's also a cool sneak-peak view of water and port in this direction (west-ish).
 A beautiful hospice sits in the centre of this park, which is a little unusual, but there's plenty of room for park, hospice, playground, daycare to rub shoulders. If I was on the way out, I wouldn't mind spending my last days at this hospice, overlooking the north shore. However, even though flu can make you feel like death, I'm not ready to turn up my toes quite yet. Look, I don't even look too awful in this shot! The flu must be subsiding!
 There are little parks inserted all the way along Wall Street, so passers-by can hang over the fence and gulp down views like this:

 How considerate, and what great city planning. In one of the mini-parks, there's a bridge, so you could conceivably walk across the train tracks and down to the water. But although it's inviting, there's also a sign that forbids actual use of the bridge unless you're a "Port Pass" holder. It's my major beef with this part of the waterfront: the Port of Vancouver doesn't like trespassers, so most of the waterfront has a very "look but don't touch" quality, which is too bad. If they weren't so uptight, you could get a lot closer to the water, and cycle or walk from New Brighton Park all the way to downtown.
Don't cross this bridge when you come to it!

 It was kind of a short walk. because I'm still easily tired. Honestly, I feel like such a wimp right now! Sore back, sore foot, fluish...  (I'm being proactive though- weekly acupuncture and a trip to my GP tomorrow.) On my way home, I glanced down the street at the water and noticed this lovely view:
The setting sun making the sides of these tankers glow!
Then I continued home, along one special street that always goes crazy with the Christmas decorations. There was no Goaltending Owl of Christmas this year, and that's a little sad. But there were already some very creative decorations:
And now I'm back at home, with my Charlie Brown Christmas tree glowing gently in the corner of the sitting room.
It's so adorable. And it gives me candy canes!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Wow, so most of the time I think I have this invincible body but if the last little while has shown me anything, it's that things have a way of catching up with you eventually... and also that if your partner has a little kid, they're going to catch all kinds of bugs in school, and then HE will, and then YOU will!
But it's been kind of a sweet enforced rest period for the last few days for both of us: rest, eat, rest, watch movie, rest... I typed "reset" instead of "rest" there, and indeed that's what it feels like. Resetting. I feel very lucky that we both had a few days there to relax utterly and let this illness do its thing. I've read three James Bond books. Drank more lemon-and-honey than I thought possible. Had a lot of great conversations and listened to tons of music. So although my body is not so great, my spirit feels considerably better than it did last week.
Here's hoping the rest of the Christmas break is just as relaxing, but minus the flu symptoms.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I went to an acupuncturist yesterday and all the while she put needles into my back and feet and arms I felt bubbly, almost euphoric, as I lay face-down on her table. I probably looked like a giggly porcupine. Then she stuck glass jars all over my back (it's called "cupping") and it felt like being attacked by an octopus. I floated home on a cloud of bliss; I was in love with the whole world.
Today, the flipside. I wake up feeling as though an army of dwarves has pummeled me while I slept. I am sore, and sad. I have jar-shaped hickeys all over my back. The acupuncturist, who had a lovely Columbian accent, reminded me that "your issues are in your tissues", a saying which I found delightful yesterday, and all too true today.
So much has happened in less than two years. I had cancer. I had surgery. I had to rush back to work after almost no time to recover from the surgery. I let two men go out of my life. I moved. I started school the DAY AFTER I came back from my summer-long work. I juggled a busy school and work schedule... And now my body is exhausted. My issues- sadness, worry, guilt, frustration, anxiety, ambition, money troubles- are hurting my body... There is so much love and good fortune in my life too but right now I feel subsumed by the bad things and they are working their way out through my body. I don't recommend running for you, she tells me. Slow walks: notice the trees and the sky as you walk. Yoga. Tai Chi. Don't do that cleanse (I was thinking of doing the Master Cleanse for a few days). Eat well. No stress. You need to look after your body. 
I don't always eat well. It's been just over a week since I quit eating desserts and I fantasize about licking the biggest candy cane in the world from time to time. Instead of sugar I eat salty fatty snacks (like Barbara's Jalapeno Cheese Puffs- Look! It says "All Natural" on the bag, so they're healthy, right?) I made lamb stew last night but the dumplings fell apart so now it's Lamb Stew with Thick Flour Paste and I chased it with like a million crackers anyway. When I eat something I love, especially sugar, I have to eat it until it's all gone. I have no self control.
I am impatient. I read books fast. I grind my teeth when people around me are slow, either to move, or to 'get' things. When I DO exercise, I like to be breathless and sweaty at the end of it. Yoga and Tai Chi don't fit the bill, but maybe I have to make them fit. Maybe I also have to let patience fit into my life as well, or the dwarves will keep on pummeling me until I'm really sick.
Today I wanted to be looked after but my sweetheart is looking after his five year-old, who's also sick, and I clenched my teeth and thought Do I have the patience and the selflessness to be with someone who has kids? Can I put myself second, for a little person I haven't even met yet? And the answer is a resounding I don't know. It's another issue right now, the elephant in the room. At times it shrinks to nothing and at times it's so big I can't see round it to all the good things. I don't know how to adapt to a life with someone who has three kids with two exes and needs to grab work when he can and god, you do the math- between all that and me being at school and working when do we spend time together?  And more importantly- because of course we DO find the time- what kind of future can two people build who are so far apart in age and experiences and goals? Always the underlying question: what do you want whatdoyouwant? From love, from life, from work, from school. And again, the resounding I don't know.
 My singing teacher told me to take deep breaths today and I almost started crying. I can't breathe properly, I told her with tears in my eyes. It's been a problem- an issue- ever since I was little. I get stressed and I take these shallow, gaspy breaths and if I breathe 'deeply' I feel panicky and air-deprived.

And from my window, as a reminder, this:

*NOT Starbucks, silly. The rainbow.