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Sunday, February 27, 2005

i walk alone

He smiles at me, the strong scent of his liqueur hovering between us. I smile at the bar. At the bottles that line the shelves on the wall. I order another gin and tonic.

I talk a mile a minute about myself, trying to fill a suggestive silence that bears room for intimacy.

Some people find it hard to face themselves when they're finally alone. Others, like me, don't know what to do when there's someone else.

"You have a strong sense of self," he tells me.

"Yeah...most of the time." I grin.

He tells me I have beautiful hair and I try and push away the compliment. "My hairdresser says it's ruined."

Why did I put effort into getting ready? Why did I convince myself I might be interested? There's no room for anyone else in my life. In my mind; my heart; my bed.

And yet I want to take the bartender home with me. He has a soft Irish accent and honest eyes. I order another drink just to share a moment with him.

I want him because he's behind the counter and I'm sitting with another man. I want him because at this very moment he is out of limits.

I walk home alone, by choice, in the brisk beauty of the evening. I walk tall. Comfortable as ever in my heels.

I walk at my own driven pace, and while I listen to the sound of my shoes hitting the pavement, I wonder if they'll ever be room for someone else.

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Friday, February 25, 2005

mama said there'd be days like this

My mother walked out of my door room tonight. She walked out into the snow and out of my daily life. I have to remind myself that miles or kilometers can't separate nomadic hearts.

While she was here I tasted Toronto's finest fruit. We dove head first into the different cultures, restaurants, streets and ethnic dishes.

I was reminded of what is important to me. What it takes for me to be happy. Basically, anything sensual.

I requested some fabric paint from Walmart and my mother embraced the idea by bringing me a rainbow of colours good enough to eat. I resumed decorating my suitcase...the easiest to spot on any carousel.
Today we wandered through the Ontario Art Gallery, marveling at Christo's Gates and lush paintings from the Renaissance. We bought art posters on sale for my bedroom for inspiration. I refreshed my bulletin board.

Last night we went to N'awleans for Blues night and lost ourselves in the music. David Rotundo played the harmonica and sang like a southern angel. Perry White seduced the crowd with his saxaphone. I spoke to both of them about life, music, art, travel...and everything that makes my heart beat.
The female bartender made me continuous Jack Daniels and Coke and had a permanent smile on her face. We laughed about dancing to top 40's and understanding philosophy. And I realized I fucking love the blues. How refreshing to find upbeat music as melancholic as I am.

We tasted it all. Greek, Indian, fusion, Mexican, Irish, French, and one overpriced, delicious, dabbled over with drinks meal in Yorkville. I love cooking. I love spices. I have a mean appetite. And Cosmopolitans and Jack Daniels should be a food group.

A train trip to Port Hope. A trip through China town, India town...and all the cultural hot spots in Toronto. Nothing lifts the spirit more than discovery.

I am going to hold on to this feeling until my hands bleed. How blissfully wonderful to feel good. To live, and love, and embrace your surroundings.

Bon voyage maman. Je t'embrasse.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

like the old folks say

When my mother was a little girl my grandparents immigrated to Ontario from Northern Ireland. They bought a big house; a dishwasher; antique furniture; multiple cars; every symbol of success in their native country.

The other day we hopped on a train and got off in Port Hope. Arriving at my grandparents large, brick, Victorianesque home, there was a new garage built. "For the Cadillac," my grandfather explains, "but I had to take it out because we bought a new suite at an antique shop." Inside the house every nook and cranny is stuffed with an antique vase, expensive china, or bright plastic flowers.

My grandfather shows me around and tells me about the house's immensity in square feet. I don't know what else to do but to coo in return. "Oh, wow, yes, very big." Dare I say that my idea of heaven is a small sparse apartment of my own?

"I baked some Irish bread for you this morning," says my grandmother smiling. The whole family loves her Irish bread. I think I nearly killed her when I thought low carb was a way of life. But two large loaves, one wheaten, one raisin, sit nestled in large tupperware containers on the worn kitchen counter. I can barely wait to a slice a piece, slather it with butter in jam, and wash it down with a hot cup of tea. My grandmother has always expressed love through cooking, baking, and providing a warm meal for her family. I love her for doing so. For continuing to wake up early in the morning to make her traditional bread.

I love both of them, caught up in tradition; still proving their status by old world means.

But I also love them, open to the new, to me, to learning how to use the internet and taking a sip from my ginger green tea.

Look closely, my grandmother is framed in the mirror.
On the phone with my dad.
My mother, Twiggy eyes and all.

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Monday, February 21, 2005

can you imagine?

Once upon a time a good imagination made every day a fantasy.

As a kid you have complete control over your world. You can be a warrior, a witch, a monster, a mother, and the richest man in the world all in one play date. Your backyard is a jungle, and your fort transforms into a fortress the second your young eager eyes lay upon it.

These days, a little imagination can check you right into the third wing of a psychiatric ward. "She thinks she's the most beautiful thing the world has yet to see...we'll need some drugs immediately."

Last night my mom and I immersed ourselves in the movie Neverland and I remembered it's okay to dream. I remembered hiding objects in the bushes of our front yard and creating my own secluded sanctuary. Using the branches as shelves and dandelions as decoration. In that tiny space I had everything I could ever want.

Now I'm grown up...and I'm supposed to want more. I'm supposed to want a nice house, sturdy furniture, a lawn, children, a stove, a dishwasher, a porsche, and an espresso machine. That's what a good career and positive outlook will bring me wont it?

But that's the American dream, not my dream, and I know I know better. I want love, lust, travel, warmth, good food and beautiful clothing. Maybe not in that order. Good food first? Then lust. Oh god, I'm such a lush.

I helped my mom choose numbers for the 649, and we're going to win. Why? Because I like to imagine. I dare to dream. I like to envision her screaming and smiling. Paying off all our debt and flying to Paris first class.

If I don't dream and envision myself writing for Vogue and supporting myself...then I have no reason to work my ass off at university. Dreams give me drive. And they give me a chance. And they make every waking day more bearable.

If you dare to dream, you can dare to make your dreams a reality.

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Friday, February 18, 2005

stop pushing.

You can push yourself to reach new goals. You can push your boundaries to open new windows. You can push away the negative parts of your life to let some light in.

But you can also push people away. Push yourself too far. Push your body too far. Push love away. Push life away. And at some point you realize you have to stop pushing and start pulling.

When people hug me spontaneously I tense up and my body goes into defense mode. My arms gather at my chest and I'm unable to return the embrace.

When someone shows too much love for me, too much of a need for me in their life, all I want to do is turn around and run the other way.

I crave independence so badly I'm afraid to ask someone to catch me if I fall.

It's like when someone stares at you so knowingly that all you can do is look away. Or when your eyes have connected with someone and all you can think of doing is breaking the connection, saying something stupid, and moving your eyes somewhere else.

Sometimes I think guiltily to myself that I don't need anyone. That I'm better off without all the people who claim to love me. That all I need to achieve happiness is to be on my own: free to think and free to be.

But even towers fall, even the strongest men like to be held, and even supermodels slip on their heels.

I do need all the amazing people that keep my heart beating.

And then I think that if I push myself a bit harder; become stronger; smarter; sexier; more like someone or everyone else...then I will be happy.

The reality? I'm so much more when I'm just me. When I wear what I want, say what I mean, write how I feel, kiss who I please, and let myself stop and feel the breeze. When I stop pushing I can see that nothing needed to be re-arranged; that it's standing quite beautifully on it's own.

I opened my curtains to a bright blue sky today. I walked comfortably in my body. And I started pulling myself back up.


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Thursday, February 17, 2005

your genetic make-up is beautiful

Why is it that somedays you feel ugly no matter what?

Why is it that around some people your solid self-esteem seems to dissolve into nothing?

I always think I'm past the ugly days. I thought I left those in the hydrogen lit hallways of high school. But some days I'm ugly. I'm tired, stressed out, my jeans aren't fitting right, my mascara's gathered on my eyelashes in clumps, or my body's not at one with my mind, and I lose all the sense of togetherness I so rightly earned.

Sometimes when I'm around people that know me too well I become self-conscious. There's nothing I can hide behind my clothing; they've seen my soul exposed.

My sociology texts discusses self-concept and mentions the 'looking-glass self', the way we think others see us. What do you see when you look at me? I have no idea.

I have trouble when people constantly speak of others looks. Totaling up the attractiveness points of those they know, of the zombies spread through beauty magazines. I become overly aware that I too have a face, have a body, and that I may not be much to them. Not much? But I want to be everything.

I'm pretty? Fuck you, I aim for beautiful.

So much of it is a state of mind.

I am still stabilizing my sense of self. It becomes rocky much too easily. I am still trying to push my thoughts into words that are coherent so that I can understand them. I am still trying to make my world one that I can live in as well as feel beautiful in.

My first step is to develop a clear sense of self.

The next step is to embrace it.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

my funny valentine

Happy Valentines Day. To the lovers and to the beautiful single people. To the heart broken drowning their sorrows in a box of chocolates wrapped in red tin foil.

I found a poem I wrote last year:


the rain wasn't wet enough
to keep my hopes from running dry
you sold me out again

And so it is for some of us. Love doesn't come in a Hallmark card. Not even in a delicate blue box from Tiffany's. It's everywhere else. It's the moment you break down the walls of intimacy and hold somebody. It's late night conversations with your closest friend. It's going to bed with your lover and re-discovering them. It's going to bed alone and holding yourself, grateful to have a body; a face; blood flowing through every limb.

A box of chocolates gets eaten; roses die. Moments of pure bliss and honest love don't. Whether etched in your memory, right in front of your face, or pulsing through your entire love struck's there.

I am single but overwhelmed by the love I am capable of feeling. Sometimes all it takes is some time out with a close friend.

the great wall of china

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Saturday, February 12, 2005

i spike my own drink

Last night was a cocktail of free drinks, soft lighting, heavy beats, dancing, clubs and lounges.

For the night we had all the right connections. A man who works for the same store as me made a point of showing Shirin, who has just arrived in Toronto, and I a sample of all there's to see for Toronto night life.

We went to a modern sushi restaurant that had a DJ playing, a lounge where everyone was decked out in Gilligan's Island style beach attire, a club with a woman on the dance floor holding a microphone and singing flawlessly to the tracks, a club where a group of men with bongo drums played to the music, a lounge with a free mini bottle of champagne for the ladies upon didn't stop.

A party organizer and a man with friends in charge of guest lists everywhere had us sitting first class in Toronto's urban lifestyle. How's life in the fast lane? A little too fast. We could barely get comfortable in one place before we were on to the next. By the end of the night we were planning escape routes. And after all ambient, clean; beautifully designed clubs it was a relief to escape alone to a gritty hip hop club. We left at three when dancing was becoming an effort.

I've always loved the idea of living the high life. They have to call it v.i.p for a reason right? But if you're always rushing; unable to make connections with leaves you feeling pretty void.

At the end of the night I still have to look back at myself in the mirror and go to bed alone.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

walking it off

Sometimes it's been a long week before the week even starts. I don't give myself time for rest.

Reporting class left me running on empty today. Sometimes it seems black and white as the final print thrown on your door step every morning. Sometime it seems like the same recycled bullshit over and over again. Journalists huddled around the city trying to make a story out of anyone; out any of anything.

My mind spins. So much to think about. Work, school, play.

The only way to rid myself of angst is to walk it off. Remember why I love the city and why there's blood pumping through my veins.

I walk hurriedly and look up for no one. A friend told me he saw me walking and that I stood out because of the attitude in my step. It's funny that being lost in thought can so easily come across as attitude. I pass two homeless women huddled in blankets. They are extremely polite and tell me to have a nice day.

I walk up through China town into Kensington Market. There I go to Moonbeam Cafe and scribble thoughts over tea. This is my therapy. This is me.

I wander through the vintage stores. A store called 'Courage My Love' is almost like a sanctuary. Beautiful vintage, indian jewelry, soft warm lighting, folk music and a Middle Eastern feel. It's narrow and stretches long into the back, the shelves lined with colourful goods.

I buy a pair of warm boots at another store where a woman lets me pay with all the cash I have. I pay $16.50, bag my sneakers and wear them home. Wandering back through Chinatown, the glow of of the fruit stands guide me to Queen St. West. And I've remembered. I love the energy that runs through the air.

I feel lighter and head back.

the essential is invisible
A thought provoking quote on the wall of the bathroom stall. It's from Le Petit Prince.
moonbeam cafe
Moonbeam cafe, where I choose from around 20 jars of tea, all with descriptions of how they were made and the foreign lands they come from. Enthused I chose green tea with vanilla, which the woman puts into a tea bag, sticking a stick through it so it can sit and seep into my cup.
The glow of the Chinese merchants and their produce.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

for shirin on her 19th birthday

Bodies as ripe
As the apricot in my hand
Bodies golden as the sand
We are as delicious as our late dinners
Beautiful as the summer fruit
Sweetened to perfection

We are turning heads
Two beauties unalike
I’m fair as a Scandinavian
She is quite a sight
Dark like a Spaniard
I am day; she is night

Men call out to us
But we keep to ourselves
Aware of false motives
Bored with empty words
Few can make us stop and listen
Struggle to be heard

She wanders
And I rush along
She stops to gaze
Breathes an air of calm
I walk quickly in a daze
The restless; worried blonde

This summer was ours
We owned every second
Every meal, drink,
And late night conversation
Every glance, every smile
Every liberation

Shirin has been a major part of my life in the past few years. She shows me everything I look away from and forces me to take in the world around me. She questions me. She calms my nervous soul. She forces me to realize things about myself. Together we wander, we dream, and let our creative minds take us down unmarked paths.

You bring colour to my life Shirin, happy birthday.


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Sunday, February 06, 2005

make me up, before you go go

It's been years since I intentionally left the house without any make-up on.

Every morning I take pleasure in slowly getting ready. The right pair of socks can make me look forward to the day. The right underwear can determine my sex appeal. The right shirt can exude my exact mood. And the shoes, the shoes determine where I'm going.

But before anything I must prepare my face. First I soften my skin with a cold glob of moisturizer, giving it back the hydration that winter has robbed me of. Next I glide the soft brush of my blusher over my face to bring give me colour. To finish I follow the Egyptians by lining my eyes in dark black pencil. To soften it I sweep eye shadow softly over my eye lids and coat my lashes dark black. My innocent face feels more dramatic. I am ready to go out.

Is it sad that I find security in such amenities?

My room mate preaches the ease of natural beauty and a naked face. My brother tells me I am much more beautiful without make-up. Then he points at a grad picture, where I've had my make-up done and says "Look how perfect your skin is!" And I snap. "Of course it is! I'm wearing three layers of make-up there!"

I'm very visual. I remember events by what I was wearing, by what somebody else was wearing. Clothing and color are what my memory grabs onto, even though it's embarrassing to say "Oh I remember that Christmas, I was wearing my new blouse with jeans and white pumps."

Am I ugly without my war paint? No, I don't think so. But I'm not ready to present myself. Everything is not in order. I'm like a hotel bed when the pillows have not been fluffed, the corners of the blanket not been tucked in.

After beginning this post I decided I had to see what it felt like to venture out with a naked face. I spent a couple of hours in the morning, before going to work, sans make-up. I went walking, went to a cafe, went to the bookstore, and let the wind touch my pure, baby clean face.


The verdict? I felt strange. Extremely fresh and pure. As if I'd lost a certain edge but gained a new one. I was surprised to find that pervy older men still hit on me, as well as some pan handlers and some sketchy girl who said "You are really pretty," as I passed her on the sidewalk. Who me? No no, this isn't me, I'm at home with mascara and eye liner on.

In the end I still love feeling done up. I will probably continue to wear make-up and take pride in my morning routine. But at the same time...I'm letting out a huge breath of relief in knowing I don't have to.

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

if i could save the world

I am a moron when it comes to politics.

Ohh Jean Chretien's not prime minister anymore? Ever notice that Paul Martin's initials are the same as the initials as Prime Minister? Welcome to my mind. I'm not grounded. I can't concentrate. When I read about politics the words become blurry and fade into one.

Tonight I went and saw Hotel Rwanda and spent the entire movie clutching the neck of my top and holding back tears. The movie was amazing. Realistic. Horrific. Eye opening.


I walked out stunned. I walked out feeling overly aware of my place in the world. Here I am in Toronto,city lights all around; money in my pocket; small worries in my mind.

All around the globe people are fighting, dying, suffering. I didn't just suddenly realize this, this has been going on throughout my existence. I've lived in Norther Ireland where the fighting may never stop, I've seen the photos of prisoners being treated like road kill in Iraq, and I've watched the twin towers crumble to the ground. All around the world people feel they have something to prove.

In trying to wipe out another kind or race because they are different you are fighting the world. You are fighting yourself. Are we so inarticulate that it takes screaming bloody murder to create change?

Now I feel tortured by the idea of not doing anything to help everyone and anyone in need. How can I sit here on my iMac and complain about body image? How can I go buy clothing and accessories when people need food? It is so easy to be passive. Tomorrow I will go back to my routine.

With journalism I may earn a magic key. Maybe if I can touch people with my writing...maybe...I can do something with this precious life of mine.

I'm still figuring things out. I still want everything. I still want to be bigger than my body allows me to be. Higher than the clouds.

But feels good to feel.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

my confessional

I might have to go on birth control. Unfortunately it's not because of all the university orgies I've been going to.

Two years ago I lost too much weight, was under too much stress, and my periods ceased to pay me a visit every month. I wish I could enjoy this as a gift, but nature doesn't like to go that easy on women.

An older woman looked me in the eyes today and said "Not to scare you, but you will be at risk for osteoporosis and cancer of the uterus when you're older if you don't do something."

Unfortunately there was so immediate action or help, and as usual I'm being sent yet somewhere else. I hate doctors offices, I hate drugs, and I hate being analyzed. I don't like keeping a food diary. I don't like the paper that rustles underneath my skin when asked to sit up on the bed. I hated one doctor who asked me repeatedly whether I was bulimic or not. For the record, I'm not.

"Sorry we can't be of help to you," they tell me with sympathetic eyes...yeah me too.

It's never easy. Everyday there is something to remind me of the mistakes I've made.

When my room mate asked me why I was going to the doctor I replied, "For personal reasons."

And now I'm telling the world online. I guess it's easier to write something out than it is to say it out loud.

My mother called concerned after reading this entry, and I feel the need to say that writing it was very therapeutic. I am feeling lighter. I have hung out my dirty laundry for everyone to see and feel no shame.
(A proud face, and if you look closely, the Irish eyes discreetly smiling)

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

my cold cold heart

My mood suits the temperature. Below zero.

I'm a mess. I take a walk, go into stores, look around, and leave. I go outside and don't bring a jacket. I know I should, but part of me wants to feel the cold. I think I should add more colour to my wardrobe; I end up wearing all black.

I try and eat healthy. I'm not even hungry but I eat solid meals until my stomach feels it's about to burst. I'm afraid that if I lose weight I'll look even more sullen and depressed.

I want to go to the gym, but my energy is so low. How did I get so low?

I'm colder towards other people than usual, I can't fake warmth. I can't pretend anyone can make me feel better.

I got an email today about how to beat the winter blues. It listed things like: eat healthy, catch more sleep, relax, exercise; treat yourself. I'm trying.

It hurts. It doesn't matter how bright the sky is when you're down, everything still looks as dark.