Sunday, September 27, 2009

you are what you read while sitting on the toilet

I was thinking this morning (while sitting on the toilet) that what I read while sitting on the toilet* has probably had a huge influence on what has happened in my life. I'm extrapoliting that it may also be so for you... hence this post.

For example: Until recently, I had my near-toilet magazine rack (above) filled with health magazines - mostly the free, promotional ones like Alive and Tonic that I've picked up at health stores in Toronto and London over the years. And strangely enough - although I've always had a somewhat healthy diet - I've realized that I now, without really planning it, have an incredibly healthy diet and (somewhat so) lifestyle. I've cut out refined sugar, and I eat copious amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans daily. I also recently started drinking green tea every day. And I walk a total of half an hour daily, every Monday to Friday.

Thinking back, there was a time in my life when I was constantly reading a book that my father owned - on the power of positive thinking - every time I sat on the toilet. And a few months later I fell in love and moved 120 miles to a brand new life.

Then there was the time I stocked my bathroom reading pile with fashion and craft magazines... and I started making tea cosies.

I recently got tired of all the health magazines, so I re-stocked my in-flight reading stash with the most recent magazines that I've bought - which makes them several months old, since I've stopped buying magazines. But anyhow... there's a copy or two of O Magazine, and a yoga magazine or two, and Body and Soul... and also a couple of Fast Companies, although I didn't necessarily mean to have that particular title featured in the photo, above. Product placer, I am not. (But I will gladly accept retroactive sponsorships. Just saying, Fast Company.)

So I am interested to find out what kind of person I'll be in a few months...

(Since I seem to be shooting for multi-millionaire entrepreneur with a great yoga butt...)

*Yes, I'm talking about pooing here, people. I read while I poo. I've heard all sorts of opinions on the topic - like how it's bad for you and may give you hemorrhoids if you sit so long on a toilet that you actually have time to read something - but basically I don't seem to be able to poo if I don't have reading material in my hands. In strangers' houses, I have resorted to reading body lotion and shampoo bottles. True.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

until they do things like rip open their food bags

This morning when I fed the cats, I discovered that someone had figured out how to climb up onto the shelf where I was keeping the food, and had clawed into one of the bags. Awesome. If you're a cat.

they are still cute, though

Baby Guy, sleeping in one of the chairs in my front room.

Tear, in another chair.

Later in the afternoon, Guy joins Tear.

there is a new master in my home, and its name is SPRAY BOTTLE OF WATER

I am feeling extraordinarily guilty about using it, though. Even with cats climbing all over my kitchen counter, or clawing my bedsheets into shreds.

The first time I used it on each of them, they looked at me like, "How could you? You have betrayed us. We will find new and glorious ways to destroy your apartment when you and the evil water bottle are not present. Just saying."

Monday, September 14, 2009

the sound of me going mental

Remember when I said I would go mental if I ever found one of the cats curled up in the wash basin I use to hold dirty dishes?

'Nuff said.

(Because, you know - LITTER BOXES. And little cat paws carrying E.COLI AND PARASITES.)

For added entertainment value, above is Guy on the other end of the counter, glaring at me as if to say, "Oh yeah, punk? We OWN this counter."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

in which i turn from singing to other things

The above photo illustration is a snapshot I just took of some stuff on my fridge. Included is a picture of me from 1999, singing a duet with my father at my church's 125th anniversary dinner. I was also a waitress that night - hence the black pants, white shirt and tie. My hair was pulled back in a ponytail, BTW. (Defensive explanation for why I seem to have so little hair.)

This morning I heard Toronto Mass Choir perform at another church in London. A friend of mine from Toronto sings in the choir, and I billeted her - along with two other women - last night. TMC is phenomenal, and gospel music always touches me more deeply than most other genres of music, but this morning I actually started weeping during one of their pieces. It featured an amazing female soloist, who can also be seen in this video, below.

The thing is... I like to sing, myself. And for many, many years I studied classical voice and wished I had one iota of the talent that this woman has in her pinky finger. I sang solos, duets, trios and quartets, all the while participating in various choirs over the years, singing everything from first tenor (only once or twice!) to first soprano.

I burned to perform. I yearned to touch people's hearts, and impress them with my skill. Deep down, however, I knew I didn't measure up. My voice cracked on the high notes. I sang flat. My solos were like all those nightmare auditions on American Idol. I loved to sing, but singing didn't love me.

It didn't help that I had crippling performance anxiety most of the time. It made my voice shake, and left me breathless and squeaking. In the end, soloing became a nightmare. I still liked singing in ensembles, but my trained ear began obsessing on the sounds I was hearing around me, and if I couldn't perfectly blend my straight voice with someone else's vibrato, I felt a physical sensation akin to nausea.

Then I started watching YouTube. And being able to see all the amazing talent out there - including this favorite recent audition for The X Factor, below - reminded me of just how mediocre I really was.

Is there a place in this world for okay singers? I'm sure there is. And I'm equally sure that, even in some small way, my singing has touched at least one or two people over the years.

But honestly? There are things that I'm much, much better at.

Seeing TMC this morning reminded me that we're all given gifts to share with the world. Not all of those gifts are soul-searing voices. Sometimes they are the ability to speak a kind word, or comfort a crying child, or raise the consciousness of a community. Sometimes they're talents like cooking, or praying, or administrating, or farming.

I have abundant talent as a writer and as a visual artist. Plus the nice thing about both is, if I don't get it right the first time, I can always edit or start over before sharing with the public. Not so easy to do with live performance.

I don't want to live with regret that I never tried hard enough to succeed as a singer. I tried very hard. I have no regrets. But it's time to move on to something else, while I still have the time and energy.

I'm not singing in any choirs now. And while I'll never say never, it's likely I'll never solo again. But my life is full, and I have other gifts to share. Besides - Dad still likes singing the occasional duet with me. If I sing again, I can always say he made me do it...

500 days of summer

I saw this movie this afternoon with my BFF. Her choice, her treat.

The Verdict: Thumbs up. Even though I don't necessarily agree with the resolution of the film. In real life, that is. In the movie, it made perfect sense. I also don't want to be a spoiler or anything, so let's just say that the movie has a satisfying ending, if you believe in love.

The thing is, I'm not sure I do.

I mean, I know I've felt it. For other people. I know what it's like to feel that weak-in-the-knees, can't-stop-thinking-about-him, seriously-contemplating-becoming-a-stalker feeling. I've obsessed, I've been unconditional, and I've done the grown-up thing and moved on after it's obvious that drunk dialing him at 3:00 a.m. isn't going to change his mind about dumping me. Okay, that last part was a joke. To the best of my recollection.

Yesterday a familiar stranger slipped me his phone number along with my change for a twenty whilst I was attempting to buy peaches from him. I've included his note - with the incriminating bits like his name and his full phone number carefully left out of the shot - below.

He sells good peaches, BTW. So keep in mind that, whatever happens, I am loathe to lose my access to the best damn peaches in Middlesex County.

But here's the thing: I hadn't been thinking of him in that way. The romantic way, that is. I've been buying peaches from him for years, not counting the two most recent summers - penultimate to this one - when I was living in Toronto.

And I don't know how to say this without sounding prejudiced, but I'm having some difficulty imagining that me and Mr. Peach Seller would have much to talk about. After we'd discussed the relative merits of freestone versus clingstone varietals, I guess.

Both the phone number and today's movie have got me thinking about what the hell I'm really looking for in a relationship, though. I hadn't really planned on this kind of soul searching this weekend, but I'm figuring I'd better come up with something pretty good before I call this guy and possibly break his heart, so here goes...

I'm not looking for a lover. Which is not to say that I don't enjoy knocking boots, and wouldn't welcome some "vitamin P" with someone who could stand to be with me after the main event had concluded. But I'm not looking for that kind of thing first and foremost. (Second and hindmost, perhaps...)

No, what I'm looking for - after years of not exactly find it - is someone I actually enjoy spending time with when we're clothed. And vice versa, of course. And for me, "spending time with" probably involves conversations that don't always (unlike my last few relationships, for instance - not that I'm bitter or anything) revolve around him, and don't usually ignore most of my favorite things. Like art, and Renaissance music, and my writing. And more-than-cursory investigations of sticky issues like faith and higher calling and social justice. Perhaps you can see why I'm still single.

I'll be straight with you. My life (apart from some nagging consumer debt) is just about perfect right now. I have a beautiful home filled with all the things I love (including two beasts who pour all sorts of furry, cuddly attention on me); I have family and friends and a job that satisfies me deeply. A little more time to write and make art might be nice, and I sure do miss the yoga practice that my recurrent insomnia forces me to sleep in and miss, but all in all, I can't complain.

If I'm going to make room for someone in my life, I don't want it to be a shallow, casual affair. I'm playing for keeps. I want to go the distance with someone who actually has values that align with mine, plus a generous soul, a ready sense of humour, and some staying power. No, not that kind. Wait - yes, that kind, too. Both kinds. What?

The hardest thing for me to do right now, however, is call up Peaches and tell him the truth. My first reaction, believe it or not, was to contemplate telling him I'm a lesbian. Because, you know - it's no insult to him if I like girls. Then I thought about telling him I'm just not interested in a relationship right now. Which is mostly true, except that if the love of my life showed up tomorrow, I would be a liar.

Basically, I guess I just want to be the kind of person who can set boundaries that honour everyone involved. Which is kind of hard, because I'm still not really clear about the whole concept of "boundaries"... but anyhow...

All I know is, I'd better call him before next weekend. When I expect to have run out of peaches.

[Added later: Almost forgot. One of my favorite parts of the movie was after Tom and Summer have sex for the first time, and he line dances with people in the street. Everyone was dressed in blue. Wow, I said to my BFF. It's like "Michelle World."]

[For all of you who don't actually know me: I always wear blue.]

Monday, September 7, 2009

moar ktnz on kntrz

I came into my (freshly cleaned, may I add) kitchen this morning to find the guys again on the kitchen counter. So help me Goddess, if I ever find one of them curled up asleep in that old-fashioned wash basin that I use to hold dirty dishes, I may go mental.

Ohhh... tomatoes...


Cat ADD.



Tear is taking the high road.

You can almost see the wheels churning. "Mebbe dangurous this waye." I did see him lick the soap, though.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

ktnz on ktchn kntrz

For as long as I've had my kittens (about 2 1/2 months now), there have been horizontal surfaces that I was reasonably certain the animals could not reach, and upon which I could therefore put anything I did not want the cats to get into.

This weekend, my most crucial cat-free space - the kitchen counter - has been breached.

Here is Baby Guy on one end of the counter. Notice he can't even look me in the eye.

Stealth mission: Passing through the dish rack. Remind me never to leave anything breakable on this thing. Ever. Again.

"Houston, we have reached the sink."

Temporary descent into the sink. Oh - and if you are ever invited to be a guest in my house in the future? Be aware that I take no responsibility whatsoever for any paw-borne illnesses you may contract as a result of these guys walking all over my food preparation and clean-up area. Just saying.

Ascent from the sink.

All the interesting stuff lies ahead.

I'm not sure what's so un-cat-smelling about one of my wooden spatulas, but both cats had to rub it with the sides of their heads. "Mine."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

the first leaf

Fall is my favorite time of year. The last few days I've been salivating in anticipation - I can already feel the chill in the air in the early morning, and I love bringing out the warmer clothes and blankets. There's a smell that only fall has - maybe it's the dead leaves on the wet ground, maybe it's the colour of the sunshine against my nostrils... whatever, I especially love the colours of the leaves as they turn. Today, walking home from work, I saw this leaf. I'm pretty sure it's the first colourful leaf I've seen this season. So I took a picture of it.

scarlet runners

When I was at my parents' house last night picking some vegetables from Dad's garden, Dad asked if I wanted some beans. He grows scarlet runners in containers along the side of the garage, and the vines climb up the six-foot lengths of twine that he re-strings every year.

Dad climbed a ladder and picked the highest beans while I picked the low ones. Here's my loot, right before I topped and tailed the beans for my supper.