December 29: Demolition

1. 10am: My dad helped me demolish the kitchen.
2. 5pm: My neighbour helped me remove the rubbish.
3. 8pm: My missing burgundy Syrian scarf reappeared.

Then some Tudors...

December 28: Butterfly

The Best of Ordinary Days, Errands Edition.

1. Fixed soles on my Marc Jacobs shoes (for cheap).
2. Soon-to-be-fixed Argentine rabbit coat (for free).
3. No day of repairs, mending, etc. would be complete without an extraordinary film at an art house cinema to end the day.

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby. After suffering a massive stroke that left him paralyzed from head to toe, his mind intact (‘locked-in syndrome’), blinking his left eyelid was his only means of communication. The film is based on his best-selling memoir, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, published just days before he died.

Bonus: Time (II)

‘Life is all about timing... the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable becomes available, the unattainable... attainable. Have the patience, wait it out. It's all about timing.’ - Stacey Charter

‘Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.’ - Steve Jobs

‘If you get up one more time than you fall you will make it through.’ - Chinese Proverb

December 27: Joke

1. Winning another battle in the paper war at home!

2. ‘Stalin's ghost appears to Putin in a dream, and Putin asks for help running the country. Stalin says, ‘Round up and shoot all the democrats, and then paint the inside of the Kremlin blue.’ ‘Why blue?’ Putin asks. ‘Ha!’ says Stalin. ‘I knew you wouldn't ask me about the first part.’’

3. A real estate professional took the time - over an hour - to patiently listen, and to answer my questions. [I'm so glad he's not a lawyer.]

December 26: Chalet

1. Petras is in town from Tokyo. He and I got together for dinner to satisfy his massive craving for Swiss Chalet.

2. Then he picked up the tab. He swears Swiss Chalet would be a roaring success overseas - anyone in head office listening?

3. A good friend was online, up late at night. We had a proper chat to catch up on affairs of the mind and matters of the heart.

It seems everyone returns to Swiss Chalet for that special sauce. I return for the coleslaw.

Bonus: Time (I)

‘We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they're called memories. Some take us forward, they're called dreams.’ - Jeremy Irons

‘Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.’ - H. Jackson Brown

‘There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go.’ - Tennessee Williams

December 25: Dinner

1. Holiday downtime, at last, to start reflecting on the year.
2. Christmas dinner with friends whose families are far away.
3. Beautiful gift of letterpress typography, patterns and haiku.

‘The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.’ - Albert Einstein

December 24: Pancakes

1. No big rush hour: morning commute into downtown.
2. Bill the time anyway: work cancelled for the afternoon.
3. Kids' Christmas Eve: being served imaginary pancakes.

December 23: Tuesdays

1. Precious sleep: ‘There are twelve hours in the day, and above fifty in the night.’ - Marie de Rabutin-Chantal

2. Silver Tuesdays: All I wanted was a pair of low-rise, boot-cut jeans. Easy? Not so! After a painful hunt, it ended where it all started (thank you, Jean Machine).

3. Happy convert: $150 (plus tax) buys a 1hr facial in a fancy hotel; $50 buys that same facial - for 1.5hrs - in that same aesthetician's home.

‘If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.’ - Dale Carnegie

December 22: Dining

This was a special three-part day.

1. Matthew: My nephew and I explored Kensington Market's art galleries, butcher shops and free cheese samples.

2. Keesh: Cabs to the 'burbs and back for dinner in a place known as Ajax (and what a fabulous dinner it was).

3. Julija: Post-Eastern European pub, dining at the 24hr McDonald's (for a McSober combo, thank you very much).

December 21: Baklava

1. The bootie boots I got yesterday are pretty hottie-hot!
2. Famished, I discovered baklava in the kitchen at work.
3. Thanks to a tip from Neil, I had fun exploring Good Business Day (a ‘continuously updated source of information on holidays and observances affecting global financial markets—bank holidays, public holidays, currency non-clearing days and trading and settlement holidays affecting exchanges’).

Happy National Unity Day, Zimbabwe.

December 20: Maracatu

1. Late Night: In a quiet corner of Dundas Street West, a midnight Brazilian drumming party. Toronto's own Maracatu Nunca Antes was performing at the one and only Lula Lounge.

2. Later That Night: Met two guys at the streetcar stop, so we shared a cab to the subway. Torontonians need to do this more often: it saves money and it's social.

3. Really Late Night: Didn't need to hop in another taxi, as I saw a bus going my way. Riding Toronto buses by night puts me in touch with the city.

December 19: Escalator

1. Table, Restaurant: Looong lunch with Ms. Heather.
2. Escalator, Subway: Chris ascended as I descended.
3. Sofabed, Apartment: Late-night Ocean's Thirteen.

Bonus: Listened

Three people listened to me today:

1. My brother
2. Ms. Sharon
3. My brother (again)

December 18: Meatballs

1. Memory! Got a photo print from last week's party.
2. Hawaiian meatballs! Served warm, delicious food.
3. Blog! Lingered at my desk all night... blogging.

December 17: 3:00

1. Finished cleaning the house (3am).
2. Picked up my abandoned phone (3pm).
3. Continued cleaning the house (3am).

December 16: Juice

We were pounded by a snowstorm. That was fine. But my fridge was empty and nothing in the known universe was open. Except Blockbuster.

1. Tostitos bite-size Rounds (surprisingly natural)
2. Tostitos salsa, medium (quite healthy, actually)
3. Dole orange juice (the only juice they carried)

Foodgroups in themselves, really.

December 15: Chit

1. A day wandering Kensington Market:
Market. Touch-ing exhibit. Helvetica film documentary DVD.

2. An evening at a houseparty:
Wine. Chopping vegetables. Turquoise ski pant advice.

3. A late night journey home:
Snow. Hailing taxi. Complimentary corporate cab chit.

December 14: Lightning

First, this guy sold me his $15 ticket for $10 at the door.
Then, local band Flash Lightning rocked an incredible gig.
Then, White Cowbell Oklahoma on stage at Lee's Palace.

Bonus: VerveEarth

VerveEarth is a new way to surf the web. It's just starting up, so check it out and let them know what you think!

December 13: Duprees

The Corporate Party:

My dinner companion shared her beef with me. (I always order salmon because it's ostensibly healthier, but as soon as beef is set on the table, I am like the family puppy.) That is my 1, 2, 3-in-one.

The Creative Party:

1. On telling the organizer I was a ‘guest of a guest’ – this was true – she replied that she appreciated my honesty, let me stay and even gave me a drink ticket.

2. A storyteller named Roger met Julia and Neil, whereupon they – all three possibly Duprees – voted on naked business cards and told each other stories.

3. At the end of the night, this to me from the remaining guests: ‘Hi, we're a bunch of straight guys and we just wanted to tell you that we totally looove your shoes.’

December 12: Timeslot

1. Colourist agrees to refine her highlights in an open slot.
2. Dude at Laura Mercier examines her shades of plum lips.
3. Babe scores some fancy corporate toilet paper for herself.

Corporate TP is the most enduring and endearing. Snag a roll from work and test it at home. It lasts twice as long. I'd like to know where to buy this stuff. Toilet paper should not be soft and squeezable, of puffy air and no longevity – it ought to be a solid roll of consumer product!

PS - Just went here for a fantabulous surprise.

December 11: The FB

1. Facebook: Izzy is a real woman with a real job. Who takes my calls in the middle of the day to listen to – of all things – my aliases. All the cool names get rejected. I beg her to listen to a few more (‘is this too porny?’) – and she actually does, even though she has real work to do.

2. Non-Facebook: My first swim in a saltwater pool.

3. Facebook: Is it possible to spend two hours on the FB at work? Oh, it is possible to spend a lot more than two hours! Just a theoretical supposition.

December 10: Super

1. Superstuffed: two slices of orange carrot cake.
2. Superbad: two high school kids in a riotous flick.
3. Superbeer: two reds resting in the fridge, waiting.

December 9: Workshop

1. Free full-size milk with Starbucks ‘traveller.’
2. Free exchange of ideas in a creative workshop.
3. Free spirits, free, with the free gift of learning.

Bonus: Story

1. Character
2. Plot
3. Theme

December 8: Calories

1. Feeling the love: film directors and learning the art of.
2. Feeling the love: grandmothers and beaming smiles from.
3. Feeling the calories: Izzy and sharing free birthday cake with.

December 7: Fridge

1. Goodbye, Miss Elena (brunch titled ‘Indian’)
2. Goodbye, Miss Vivian (linner titled ‘Japanese’)
3. Hello, Miss Jennifer (email titled ‘chocolate treats for you in the fridge’)

I love Indian food, but do not recommend it for breakfast.

December 6: Sneaking

1. Two little nephews sneaking into bed early in the morning. ‘Oh! I thought you were mummy – but you're Auntie Julia!’

2. With my 4-year-old companion, sneaking pink and blue cream cheese icing and pink and blue Smarties from the carrot cake sitting atop the kitchen island.

3. In hysterics, rolling back and forth with Lukas on speckled white floor tiles after Gymboree: sneaking snow pants onto a giggly, fidgety two-year-old in a Canadian winter in a simultaneously hilarious and exhausting moment.

December 5: Frames and Pictures

1. Guest Surprise – Meeting up once again with the talented women of Frames and Pictures.
2. ‘Guest Straw’ – Sipping on Kat’s strawberry banana milkshake.
3. Guest Beds – A, Sneaking a little afternoon nap. B, Sneaking into a little sister’s crib.

December 4: Brandy

3. In a freezing cold office over a kitchen counter, leaning up against a running dishwasher for hot, steamy comfort. It almost felt as good as taking a shower.
2. In an idle morning over cream of wheat, chatting with Vivian.
1. In an unexpected moment over a pile of papers and laundry, receiving some very good news from a woman named Brandy.

Bonus: Rules

All I Ever Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten:

1. Listen
2. Participate
3. Have fun!

December 3: Doughnut

1. Honouring: attending one very inspiring awards luncheon.
2. Spacing: attending a release party for Toronto's coolest mag.
3. Attending: to the maple-glazed doughnut Kevin bought me.

‘Today is the tomorrow I was terrified of yesterday.’

December 2: Mustard

1. Trekking through freshly fallen snow with the boys early on Sunday morning in a city hugged by the white blanket of winter.

2. Journeying through carol-filled hotel foyers and salons packed with young children wired on chocolate milk and sugary sweets.

3. Laughing through lunch as Lukas repeatedly offers me a green-coloured shortbread cookie wreath, dipped in bright yellow mustard.

December 1: Ethiopian

1. Queen Street West: Doing the gallery walk, warm lights glowing from storefront galleries at twilight.

2. Queen Street West West: Gingerly picking up salad with folded bread between fingers; eating an entire meal without utensils at Addis Ababa Ethiopian restaurant. Ridiculously delicious!

3. Hollywood Boulevard: A night of raspberry sorbet and the boys of Entourage. Ouch! Hot! Jeremy Piven. Sigh...

Bonus: Lessons

As holiday party season kicks off:

1. Keep an extra plastic bag at coat check in case you are the lucky winner of the oversized centrepiece in the middle of the dinner table.

2. If you're wearing stay-up nylons, for heaven's sakes, wear stay-up panties!

3. If your company is dim enough not to provide you with a taxi home, by all means feel free to act up in any way you see fit for free cab money.

November 30: Hours

1. Nine hours of beauty sleep.
2. Two hours of office work.
3. Six hours of party time.

November 29: Yellow

1. Good: Got a lot of good work done.
2. Better: Then got even more work done.
3. Best: After the work was done, the pleasure of being sandwiched between four teenaged boys on the subway. Yes, I do mean that. It was remarkably entertaining. Every sentence started with ‘Yo’ - as in ‘Yo, check out the Yellow DJs!’

What is a Yellow DJ? Yo, that would be the construction workers in the subway tunnels.

November 28: Poppins

1. Generosity: the guy on the subway shared his newspaper.
2. Patience: the girl at the salon let me have my Mary Poppins of Pockets moment as I took forever to empty out my coat.
3. Highlight: the girl doing my hair gave me a positively brilliant idea. She is a creative, gorgeous super-babe of the universe.

‘He is a statue wrapped in a painting in a frame made of muscles.’

Bonus: TP

1. toilet paper
2. toothpaste
3. teepee

November 27: Privileged

1. to be imparted valuable perspectives from Canada's aboriginal community,
2. to hear a speech by Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa,
3. to spend an afternoon in a sauna and spa, followed by a 90-minute nap.

December 1 is World AIDS Day.

November 26: Blubber

1. Gift: Box of luxury Ukrainian chocolates.
2. T-shirt: ‘50 Ways to Leave Your Blubber’
3. Fruit: Large, ripe, green, sweet, juicy pear.

November 25: Turtles

1. Playing Animal Yoga with my nephews after lunch. ‘Be a tree!’ [Stand tall.] What else? ‘I know! Let's be turtles!’ [Get down, curl up, tuck head into shell.] ‘Let's be bacon!’ [Lie down flat on back. Sizzle as frying pan heats up.]

2. Walking with my brother in the late afternoon. Walked right into the nail salon, where my hands and feet got some much-needed tender loving maintenance.

3. Biking with my Toque eastward at sundown, facing a full moon and a warm wind. Biked right into Izzy on Bloor Street, where we got some much-needed Linner.

Weekend Bonus: Random

This week, in no particular order, three good things:

1. Booyakasha! I finally remembered the numbers on my old combination lock. They were in my memory bank all along.

2. Hip. I was told by the young'uns in the mailroom that Nike Airs circa 1995 are coming back. My cross-trainers (in white leather) have been part of my wardrobe all along.

3. Eh? I finally got my first Toque. This Canadian classic features hand-knit wool, chin strings and long ear flaps. I never did wear one, though I was Canadian all along.

November 24: Linner

1. Incredible feedback from my U of T professor and classmates.
2. Linner (lunch + dinner) with my brother and his friend David.
3. Terrific Humber performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

‘Things growing are not ripe until their season.’

November 23: Red

1. At Yoga, I had to be a Fish - and I was feeling it.
2. At work, I had to meet a deadline fast - and I did it.
3. At home, I had to unwind already - and I succeeded.

Thanks to:
1. relaxation,
2. motivation, and
3. half a bottle of red wine.

Bonus: Gobble, gobble!

Happy American Thanksgiving!

November 22: Fertile

One free poster. ‘Canada, the Most Fertile Country in the World’

Two new pairs of All Stars. It was high time, indeed – before I baked something!

Three (or four) business cards from willing retail sponsors (for an upcoming fundraiser).

November 21: Tips

1. Perfect parallel parking, courtesy of yours truly.
2. Lots of Las Vegas tips, courtesy of the boss man.
3. Help brainstorming sexy Canadian personalities, males, 40-60 years old, courtesy of my colleagues. This was a real challenge. Not because we don't have sexy Canadians, but because our celebrity culture isn't that strong. We universally agreed that Pierre Trudeau was the perfect Canadian sex symbol, alas, he is no longer with us.

Three Things: Pigeon?

I like Yoga, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot be:

1. a downward dog,
2. an upward cat, or
3. a sleeping pigeon.

I guess I don't have an inner dog whisperer.

November 20: Passcard

Random 1. It was quite warm outside, so I biked (again).
Random 2. A girl at work swiped me in with her passcard.
Random 3. Leftover mini-cheesecake, coffee bean on top.

AND my brother called me tonight. Myliu, broliuk!

Bonus: Keywords

Inspired by Greta's post, some keyword searches people have recently used to land on my blog:

1. ‘legal advice on opening smoothie bars in Spain’
2. ‘365 reasons to be thankful for a lover’ (sounds like a whole other blog)
3. ‘hot chat with sex starving nuns’

Umm, yeah... thanks for visiting!

November 19: Respite

1. Respite: running late, but meeting cancelled.
2. Vehicle: dad finally agreed to let me use his.
3. Insta-outfit: got my forgotten blazer back.

Bonus: Want

‘When you choose what you want most in life, you must not begrudge the price.’ The Good Wine, Doris McCarthy, MacFarlane, Walter & Ross, 1991

November 18: Extraas

It's an official Me Day!

1. I sleep in because I can.
2. I call NYC because I can.
3. I eat the whole tub of Haagen-Dazs Extraas Caramel Cone Explosion ice cream because I can.

November 17: Baking

1. My professor doesn't mind that my paper is late.
2. My friend doesn't mind dinner with my nephews.
3. My nephews don't mind the pungent smell of my Converse All Stars. They take turns smelling them. ‘My turn!’ ‘No, my turn!’ Matthew says, ‘Auntie, they smell like something for baking.’

November 16: Senses

Coming to mine.

1. Inside the taxi, smell of salami (nose) followed by being truly heard (ears) over a delicious cup of tea (mouth). Followed by smiles (sight) and a hug goodbye (touch).

2. On a street corner, sipping my tea (taste) and taking phone calls (hearing), someone I know steps out of his office for a smoke (smell) whereupon we catch up on outstanding business. Followed by a handshake (touch) and direct eye contact (sight).

3. Lay eyes on a head-to-toe down coat (sight) and snuggle up in it (touch). In the presence of that brand-new smell (nose), get some great outdoor gear advice (ears) before unwrapping a fresh package of spearmint gum (mouth).


On discovering my two new coats are significantly cheaper in the States (anger), call an online retailer to ship to Canada (hope). Discover that many brands cannot be shipped outside the USA (outrage). An American friend agrees to accept the coats and forward them to me (delight). Savings: $450 (glee). Canadians, revolt!

Ačiū, Ingrida.

Bonus: Twins

‘Oh, you must have your hands full!’
‘You sure must have your hands full!’
‘Wow, you must have your hands full!’

November 15: Totally!

1. Overheard.

‘I love your cane!’
‘Thanks! $23 at Shoppers Drug Mart.’
‘It is so pretty!’
‘I know. It was my lucky day!’

2. Said.

‘I'm joining a gym tomorrow!’
‘Me too!’
‘I don't know – but I will!’
‘How exciting!’
‘I know!’

3. Read.

‘Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.’ British novelist G.B. Stearn

Bonus: John F. Kennedy

‘We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.’

‘The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word crisis. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger - but recognize the opportunity.’

‘Once you say you're going to settle for second, that's what happens to you in life.’

November 14: Wedding

1. Compassion. My former boss returned my call quickly. [I am grateful.]

2. Compliment? I thought I recognized someone on the subway. I looked at him funny, then shook my head and explained that he looked familiar. He said, ‘I wish I was.’ [I am flattered.]

3a. Conversation. Email chat with a friend in Brazil, who invited me to her wedding next summer. [I am delighted.]

3b. Conversation. Email chat with an old school mate. Shoutout to Oliver: Good luck with your thesis work! [I am proud.]

And not to be unappreciated on this most mid-November of days:

4. Currency. Unlike some at work, my pay was deposited into my bank account. [I am relieved.]

Bonus: Mottos (2)

Canada's motto is A Mari usque ad Mare (From Sea to Sea). The Toronto Star asked readers for suggestions. Among them:

‘Polite neighbour of world power’
‘Politics divides us, hockey unites us’
‘Canada – Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific – Terrific!’

Bonus: Mottos (1)

Britain is seeking a new national motto. Three from a list in today’s Toronto Star:

‘Chicken tikka masala, chips and rice’
‘No, please, after you, honestly’
‘Five quid a beer? Blimey!’

November 13: Breezy

1. Surf diddly surf: window of webmail access at the office.
2. Motion and commotion: breezy biking through the mild city, with memories of last night's squeaky-clean chlorine streetscape.
3. Pickled pearl onions: surprise complimentary salad.

Three Things: Order

I have a lot of clothes, but never imagined I had six weeks’ worth of unmentionables. The order in which they disappear after the good ones are gone:

1. the ugly, stretched, oversized and rejected, then
2. the lingerie (lovely, but not always comfy), then
3. the bathing suit bottoms (really, how desperate).

November 12: Aprons

1. Aprons: with which to dry myself after getting soaked.
2. Sweaters: with which to dress myself after forgetting mine.
3. Undies: with which to postpone doing my laundry.

Bonus: Remembrance Day

‘What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?’ Gandhi

‘Only the dead have seen the end of war.’ Plato

‘One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.’ Agatha Christie

November 11: Tocar

‘Tocar’ is my favourite Spanish word. It means both ‘to touch’ and ‘to play’ (as in, an instrument). It's beautiful.

1. Small moments: Connecting with a colleague - and a free lift.
2. Happy moments: Connecting with my bro - and free movies.
3. Misty moments: An invisible connection with my friend Owl, who designed a very special xylophone bench. It sits on the Northeast corner of Liberty St. and Fraser Ave. in Liberty Village in Toronto. At 1am, it said, ‘tocarme’... so I did.

November 10: Passion

1. Smiled at an exhibit. I really liked the photograph of children playing hockey under the ‘passion’ section.

2. Cried in Parkdale. I was invited to watch some site-specific theatre. Very moving. lullaby is being staged by Dark Horse Theatre until November 18.

3. Laughed at home. I watched I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Sophomoric? Yes. Laugh out Loud? Yes!

November 9: 1983

55 mins: Super-duper fun Latin fitness dance class.

2 hrs: Unwinding with my dear friend Rita, who also hooked me up with a ride home (this is a 2-for-1).

1983 AD: I didn't ask, but was granted a new birth year by someone in power, for a youth rate on a pricey package.

November 8: Calls

1. Re-Call: After falling asleep to a meditation CD (one track was titled ‘developing a loving kindness’), vivid dreams and self-awareness.

2. Wake-up Call: J and J, two friends, meet as colleagues and call me together via speaker phone from their office.

3. Call of the Wild: Hot-diggity-dog! Partying with Americans and Japanese, including a photo shoot with all thems all.

Three Things: Fridge

1. a tub of margarine
2. a jar of Dijon mustard
3. a bottle of Stella Artois

An absent bachelorette lives here.

November 7: Nipply

1. Cleveland? Email from Daiva, wherever she is.
2. Los Angeles? Email from Michael, wherever he is.
3. Toronto? Email from David, wherever he is.

I can keep track, though, of the email I got about being nipply.

6 noviembre: Almuerzo

1. Hora del almuerzo con mis amigos latinos.
2. Paseo en la ciudad universitaria en la tarde.
3. Tiempo en la noche para acabar mi tarea.

November 5: Eggplant

1. Falafels (second for half-price) from Laila's.
2. Eggplant slice, grilled on request, while waiting.
3. Leftover Halloween candies, hunted down...

Mouth watering, 1:00 am EST, going to hunt down eggplant.

November 4: Ginger

Here is my idea of a meal that has it all:

1. Club Grilled Flatbread Panini,
2. Righteous Red Smoothie, and
3. Carrot-Apple-Ginger Juice.

I have this strategy. I always ask for extra ginger in my (small) juice. I drink the whole thing while I'm waiting for my panini to be grilled. Then I take the panini and the smoothie away. This makes me feel groovy and fantastic! It's why I hang around smoothie bars. It sometimes outshines everything else in my day.

November 3: Oil

1. Brains: My instructor stayed behind in class to answer our questions. I'm not a University of Toronto alumna (though I attended in utero), but it's got my respect for Brains. What a world-class, top-notch school.

2. Stomach: My strategy for eating pizza is to ask for the freshest slice. I don't care what variety, so long as it is fresh from the oven. When it's pepperoni, like it was this time, I am extra happy.

3. Fingers: Chili oil dripped off my pizza slice, conditioning my cuticles and moisturizing my hands, which remained exceptionally soft and smooth for the next 24 hours.

November 2: Eyeballs

(Way beefore the film. Free brownie muffins and drinks at a local bank. Could these be the city's best-kept complimentary breakfast secrets?)

A. During the film. ‘I lost my cousin to Italian Vogue.’

BEE. After the film. Making shadow puppets on the stage. ‘Look! The little dots on the movie screen make up a big speaker!’

C. Way after the film. Shop clerk to my nephew: ‘If you look too much with your fingers, you will grow eyeballs on your fingertips.’

Bonus: Acceptance

This evening, I read Stacy's post on Acceptance.

November 1: Offers

1. Spanish teacher offered my friend and me good tutoring rates.
2. Russian colleague offered me pretty European cigarette boxes.
3. Young couple on the subway offered me Truck Mart magazine.

October 31: Hysteria

1. Arthur: tried Arthur's new Acai rainforest berry smoothie.

2. Evalyn: watched a lineup of incredible performers at Hysteria, including Evalyn Parry.

3. Julija: met the beautiful, motherly Eastern European vendor at Church and Wellesley. Halloween in the streets: enjoyed sausages in boxes.

October 30: Minutes

Minutes well-spent:

1. Josh Rachlis's Terry Cloth (11 minutes)
2. Anita Renfroe's William Tell Overture for moms (3 minutes of Momsense)
3. Josh Rachlis's Marriage Proposal (3 minutes)

Bonus: Kirchner

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has won Argentina's presidential election. I have a big politician crush on her spouse. He will make a sexy First Husband!

October 29: Farmers

Oy vey, October!

I haven't fallen off the wagon. November will be a time of reflection. Didn't Ernest Hemingway say that in order to write about life, first you must live it? I've been going the way of Heming, but my blog will soon again go the way of me.

Without further ado, this mild Monday:

1. Artists: Friendly peeps, served with delicious crackers and baby carrots alongside spicy and non-spicy hummus at a kitchen roundtable.

2. Creatives: Dinner with a friendly stranger sharing his unique hyphenated name story, a free film pass and other nuggets of imagination.

3. Farmers: On the subway, conversation all the way to the west end with two sweetie-pies from St. Catherines. Who really were farmers. Who were adorable young men. Who thought I was in college. Which I'm not. Which was flattering.

Three Things: Movies

1. In the Valley of Elah by Paul Haggis
2. Eastern Promises by David Cronenberg
3. The Unforeseen by Laura Dunn

October 28: Priorities

1. Pastry. I'm at this thing. I meet this nice guy from Kent, Ohio. He'd like to share his Belgian beer; I'd like to share my gnocchi. We picnic on Greek Orthodox church-steps. He is half-Greek, half-Lithuanian. My nephews are half-Greek, half-Lithuanian. We toast from plastic cups labelled ‘Baltika’. We pour Forêt beer from its wine-shaped bottle. The foam is thick and creamy like a pastry.

I've always liked people from Ohio.

2. Film. I'm at this thing. I see this Robert Redford feature titled The Unforeseen. I learn about Barton Springs and the aquifer in Austin, Texas. Inspired by the perseverance and the conviction of its people, I decide I must make an appointment with Barton Springs for a swim. ‘If the people lead, the leaders will follow.’

I've always wanted to visit Austin.

3. Wine. I'm at this thing. I re-meet this nice guy from Toronto. We drink red wine and talk about ... well, we talk about all kinds of things. He is a writer and artist who keeps on keeping on ... and even though we should both call it a night, we don't. Priorities? These are coffee-spoon moments.

I've always liked kindred creative spirits.

October 27: Insiders

1. People in media: Sharing time with journalists.
2. People in media: Sharing time with publicists.
3. People in media: Sharing time with totally charming, intelligent and engaging adult film industry insiders!

October 26: Skip

1. Privileged: to observe a film pitch session.
2. Surprised: to meet a fellow Baltic Canadian.
3. Delighted: to skip off work and catch a film.

October 25: Parties

1. Two free drinks, one graphic designer, one reception.
2. Two colleagues, one standing bar, one new confidant.
3. Two friends, one cab, one Queen West West gallery.

Three Things: Typos

1. ‘companies listed on the Toronto Sock Exchange’
2. ‘terms and conditions as being in the pubic interest’
3. ‘acknowledgment regarding nun-exclusive relationship’

October 24: Tori!

1. The voice of darkness: gory guest list beckons.
2. The voice of improvisation: performance art calls.
3. The voice of an angel: Tori Amos touches down.

October 23: Tori

1. Online: Surprise! Tori, tomorrow night.
2. Offline: Korean green tea birthday cake.
3. In line: Encouraging coursework grades.

Bonus: Value


More on this later . . . I will leave you with that while I attempt to find a moment in which to blog.

(I have been attending lots of parties this week - it is hard work!)

Speaking of, I'd like to encourage everyone out there, as we move into party season, to ditch the black wardrobe. I propose white instead, or anything vintage and shiny.

October 22: Meeting

Yes, I've blogged backwards a couple of times. I go by email and my calendar. Today is November 27, but October 22 isn't lost. This particularly Monday, however, was a Totally Ordinary Monday.

But with Totally Special People:
1. Andy
2. Selena
3. Sandra

October 21: Recovery

Beware the after-effects of galas...

1. Hooded à la Unabomber, tracked down some Coca-Cola to begin my recovery.
2. Recovered (miraculously) in time for the closing film at ImagineNative.
3. Enjoyed, unhooded, the vivacious company of a German film producer, whose energy and effervescent charm completed my full recovery.

October 20: Gala

Joining a black-and-white fundraiser gala for free is more than enough fun. Especially when you forget your dress at home and your friend helps you coordinate an outfit (which you may or may not have successfully pulled off, seeing as jeans were a part of the ensemble). So, what to do with the spare cash? Why, throw it into charity fundraising, of course!

Our winnings included
1. Gift certificates,
2. Fancy dinners, and
3. Manicure packages.

The trip to Italy eluded us, despite everyone's best concerted efforts to concoct a win, but we got a great return on our $20 bills nonetheless... and the drinks just kept flowing.

October 19: Impromptu

1. Hanging: Another day of fun with Neil.
2. Partying: Jsho's impromptu houseparty.
3. Drinking: Jsho's heavenly homebrew.

October 18: Neil

1. Creating solutions, like how to affix stubborn lanyard clips to badges (damn it), with Neil, my Friend in Frustration and Small Pleasures.
2. Creating new friends (Hello, Ian) at a party I was lucky enough to be invited to.
3. Creating (not I): new media art on the way home at the Spin Gallery. Not spun sound; spun images!

October 17: Milka

1. Meeting up with Neil.
2. Meeting up with Daniel.
3. Meeting up with Milka!

October 16: Pickled

1. Free replacement brake pads (already worn down). I'm going to keep biking through the winter: wear them down again!

2. Runway-hair-meets-bike-courier. Getting the up and down - in a good way - on the elevator. I love arriving at work in my bike-greased khakis.

3. Complimentary pickled ginger from the local Japanese restaurant. When all else fails, I cut it up and improvise tea. I refuse to get sick.

Now I'm pickled tink! This is my 365th post.

October 15: Meeting

1. Meeting of the minds: kitchen table collaboration.
2. Meeting of acquaintances: restaurant dialogues.
3. Meeting of the hearts: old classmates catch up.

Bonus: ESL

Teaching English is the best! Direct from overseas, here are some of my favourite lines from recent kids' writings:

1. ‘Ants are so little and are firmly united with patriotic spirit.’
2. ‘In praise of David… A teacher who is the rebirth of Goliath.’
3. ‘The French people don’t use English. They have their self-respect.’

AND: ‘Nowadays I have a habit of picking my nose.’

October 14: Lessons

A bathroom renovation is a good way to learn a few lessons.

1. Inspect contractor's other finished work in advance. Check.
2. Leave town for a weekend while work is completed. Check.
3. Do not - I repeat, do not - hire the contractor if he names his two trailers ‘Betsy’ and ‘Susan’. Oops, did not check.

October 13: Lunch

No breakfast.

Lunch #1 with teacher was served with charm.
Lunch #2 with student was served with delight.
Lunch #3 with nephew was served with wonder.

No dinner.

October 12: Double

1. Early evening. Large groups of young men chased each other through the financial district, the air thick with urgency. Relief when I discovered I would not get caught in the cross-fire of a gang war. They were playing Capture the Flag.

2. Mid-evening. ‘I'm feeling great, and I have sex almost every day. Almost on Monday, almost on Tuesday, almost on Wednesday...’ - Fitness guru Jack LaLanne, who has turned 93.

3. Late evening. My folding bike supports two! Dan and I rode double, none too sober, from Union Station to Queen Street West. My legs sprawled out sideways so my wide pants wouldn't get caught in the gears; his legs pedalled with fury. We laughed all the way there - we did it!

October 11: Touching

3. News. Ontario has a new statutory holiday in February!

2. Truce. The guy at the bike shop showed me how to use a mini-pump for my tires, then slotted me in with the mechanics to examine all the bruises on my baby folding bike.

1. Touch. In a moving experience, I sat next to a woman reading Braille. Her fingers ran over a thick white cardstock book about the size of an LP. It looked like sheet music, but with imprinted notes. Imagine reading words by touch!

Bonus: Lessing

‘When you look at my life, you can go back to the late 1930s. What I saw was, first of all, Hitler, he was going to live forever. Mussolini was in for 10,000 years. You had the Soviet Union, which was, by definition, going to last forever. There was the British empire – nobody imagined it could come to an end. So why should one believe in any kind of permanence?’

Doris Lessing, 2007 Nobel Prize Winner (Literature)

October 10: Lemons

My employer blocked access to my blog and webmail. How flattering that someone is watching over me so closely.

1. Hence the opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons.

2. Lessons from a man who made lemons out of lemonade:
‘Those who talk don't know what is going on and those who know what is going on won't talk.’ - Larry Speakes

3. I once lost a lot of weight and significantly improved my health by drinking hot lemon water every day. The benefits cannot be overstated. I'm bringing back the almighty lemon!

October 9: Chili

1. Urination: I have a beautiful new bathroom!
2. Consideration: I was asked whether I had any ‘philosophical objections’ to meeting for a coffee at Starbucks.
3. Salvation: I found a can of chili in my empty kitchen.

Bonus: Seen

In a shop window in Halifax:

‘The bitterness of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.’

October 8: ‘Sole mio’

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia

A. The clock tower in the Public Gardens is chiming midnight 15 minutes early. It is beautiful, yet perplexing.

1. Feeling it as I am welcomed into several extended Korean-Portuguese families.

B. Email from old friends, wireless internet connections, chlorinated pools, hair straighteners, control top nylons, Titanic marine museums.

2. Feeling it as everyone helps me get to where I need to go in a hurry.

C. The privilege of hearing ‘Sole mio’ sung in Italian - with extraordinary feeling - from a husband to a wife (‘you are my sunshine’).

3. Feeling it as the Portuguese Adam Sandler (à la Wedding Singer) plays a Christmas carol over dinner.

Bonus: Thanksgiving

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Since this is at heart a blog of thanksgiving, I want to pay respect to this underrated holiday.

This morning, I am thankful for Canadian Maple Syrup.

Three Things: Halifax

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia

People in Toronto are nice – don't get me wrong. I certainly believe Toronto gets a bad rap in the rest of the country. Except out here, I am extra nice... all this friendliness is so unfamiliar.

1. Six universities! Intelligentia in a small town.
2. Nothing snobby about it, in it, through it or around it.
3. My server at the pub actually called me a lass!

I'm also quite weirded out (in a good way) that everyone I've met so far has perfect grammar. Make no mistake: This place packs a punch!

More bits on 1for365.

October 7: Vowels

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia

1. Fresh Haddock brunch, Warm Gingerbread dessert. Jane's on the Common: You absolutely must eat here if you're in Halifax (right next to Tony's).

2. At the YMCA, courtesy in the swimming lanes. Note to guys: you don’t have to accommodate the ladies. It's obvious we are out-swimming you.

3. Emanuel tells the story of learning Korean by watching infomercials about anti-fat potions. He wasn't watching them for his bowels; he was watching them for his vowels.

October 6: $95

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia

1. Historic? A traveller offers me $100US for $95Cdn.
2. Cuba? Outside the airport, the sweet smell of cigars.
3. Donairs? Tony's across the Common serves it oven-fresh.

October 5: Licked?

How will this adventure end? So far:

1. Strength: The contractor asks me if I'm going to ‘behave myself’ at Home Depot. God gives me strength to resist harsh retaliation (since I don't want any, either). I ask God to please send feminists into this man's life immediately.

2. Story: I buy the contractor and his son lunch. The contractor tells the tale of his brother, who would only visit when their mom baked her famous chocolate cake. He'd never call; he never knew. It just happened to be on those exact days that he'd pop in.

3. Plate: The contractor demonstrates what he used to do back in the day, way back when, who-knows-where: turn the plate over onto the placemat. Either he licked it clean or I will never have to do another dish so long as he eats at my table.

Bonus: Toronto Fog

The city was steeped in fog so thick you could scoop it up in your palm like bubbles in a bath. When it lifted, rays of sun hit the skyscrapers like daggers piercing through sheets of snow. She returned at night to tuck us back into bed.

October 4: Zen

1. The building manager gets me a contractor, pronto.
2. My dad arrives to help negotiate the bathroom job.
3. After a near heart attack over the whole affair, Zen where I least expect it. I spend a couple of hours sending faxes. Paper sliding, fax humming, low frequencies buzzing... it is unbelievably soothing.

October 3: Slammin’

My friend runs a travellers' hostel, where I met her for lunch. Hostels are where it's at.

1. Salad: Fresh vegetables from Kensington Market.
2. Speech: Fresh conversation from Spain, Japan, Israel.
3. Slammin': As in, Mmm, Fresh Slammin' Hotties!

October 2: Journey

1. Being introduced to members of a local creative organization.
2. Having conversations with them about the creative journey.
3. Taking the journey to the office, with me renewed optimism.

I want to mention it was a great hair day. I don't give it enough credit sometimes.

October 1: Six

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
loads of laundry.

Bonus: New Scotland

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia

I am blogging from Halifax this long weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving). Nova Scotia is ‘New Scotland’ and it is my new favourite place in Canada.

Just overhead at Coburg Coffee:
‘Hi, I was wondering if you have a coffee filter I could have – not buy, just have... I ran out.’
‘Oh, it's ok, I just need one.’
‘No worries!’

People here are VERY nice.

September 30: Advice

I spent the whole day with old people at the nursing home. I left with a sense of urgency: to enjoy my youth and my body now!

The elderly tell me:
1. ‘A man can be nice – but not too nice! If he's too nice, he won't be strong.’
2. ‘You can be nice to a man – but not too nice! Be nice – but never beg!’
3. ‘The most important thing in this life is to be healthy. And to be young!’

September 29: Nuit

Babe 1: The school President introduced herself to us at an alumni reception.
Babe 2: Jung took nice photos of us at Toronto's second annual Nuit Blanche.
Babe 3: Rhonda supplied two bottles of red wine, and the cups for us to sip from, for wandering through the streets and sitting in the park all night.

September 28: Colleagues

There is something really special about colleagues you can turn to. There exists quite a bond, actually. Think of all the hours spent together.

My beautiful friends at work:
1. share their meals, drinks and time with me when I'm hungry for any of them,
2. share real estate, financial and career advice from a sweet pool of knowledge, and
3. share their feedback on my love life, love letters and anything else love-related.

September 27: Hugs

1. Thanks: Dad set up the trailer from the cottage for my move.
2. Thanks: Mother Nature waited until after I moved to let it rain.
3. Thanks: Ron listened to my sob story at the local coffee shop.

Plus my two nephews, who came running into the coffee shop in their little dinosaur raincoats. Wet plastic hugs never felt so good!

September 26: Words

Drowning in boxes upon boxes today,

1. kind words from Spain,
2. kind words from Venezuela, and
3. kind words from England.

Life really does change overnight. Yesterday, here I was. Tomorrow, new circumstances, moments with my parents never to be recaptured. Four months with mom and dad. Did we find our utopia? Hell, no! Perhaps something virtuous, instead, in our time shared together.

Bonus: Toilet

‘I've learned.... That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.’ - Andy Rooney

Holy October!

Dear friends and bloggers,

I've been positively swamped! I dared to moved house again. After which I looked up to hope, stared down despair, fooled around with busy, flirted with a little chaos and engaged in a few slices of fun. So when an emergency bathroom renovation descended upon me, I didn't bat an eyelash!

I'm paper blogging right now (well, scrap-paper blogging). This is like my 40 days and 40 nights... wow, I miss this space!

Cheers! Here's to no toilet and no sink!

September 25: Moon

1. Over the moon: one beautiful letter from one beautiful boy.
2. Under the moon: rain drizzling down, smiling all the way home.
3. By the glow of the fridge light: late-night leftover lasagne.

September 24: Life

I have just learned of certain recent deaths. In honour of these souls, I'd like to share what made me smile about them today.

1. Anita Roddick, Founder, Body Shop, who believed that businesses have the power to do good. ‘The most exciting part of my life is now – I believe the older you get, the more radical you become.’

2. Luciano Pavarotti, Tenor. ‘Learning music from a score, he once said, was ‘like making love by mail.’’

3. Ken Danby, Artist. Best-known in Canada for his iconic 1972 hockey painting ‘At the Crease.’

‘We do not see with our eyes, but through them. The mind does the actual seeing, and it can only evaluate a visual experience according to its degree of visual awareness. Every person who is capable of sight deserves to have this faculty expanded, as part of the process of enlightenment, just as much as being taught to speak, hear, read or reason. Art is a necessity.’

September 23: Not Jogging

1. Recovery: A long, deep slumber in my jogging pants.
2. Sunset: Tea on the front porch in my jogging pants.
3. Catch-up: Coursework, blogging in my jogging pants.

September 22: Norwegians

I should have reflected on the good things in September instead of being sad today. It was the hardest thing in the world for me to leave the house. So the first twelve hours were awful. Then, flip it! The next twelve hours were much better.

1. Musicians: Sunset backdrop for live music in a city park.
2. Hosts: Unlimited free drinks and food at a hostel party.
3. Dancefloor: As self-appointed Official Government Party Closers, my ‘colleagues’ and I ensured that the living room dancefloor stayed rocking to a respectable 7am. We inspected the site for frauds and terrorists, and are happy to file in our reports that hostel parties should receive government funding and that Norwegians deserve tax breaks for dancing with us in Canada. We did not get paid overtime, did not take any union breaks and dutifully submitted our paperwork early.

Please support Save Our Rinks.

September 21: Selena

I want to dedicate today to Selena, someone I leaned on recently.

1. We relaxed downtown while the world went rush hour.
2. We went for a walk along Jarvis Street and talked ideas.
3. We attended a social, its joy magnified by her presence.

September 20: Vitamin D

1. J emailed me a job I might be interested in.
2. A emailed me from England, newly settled.
3. G emailed me from Madrid, newly re-settled.

And I got to read all those emails in the sunshine, in my bathing suit. Don't go, Summer!

September 19: Childhood

1. Julia and her nephew ride in the back of a convertible, holding hands and moving to the music, in beautiful sunny September.

2. Julia walks by her childhood home for the first time in years.

3. Julia walks by the old neighbours' homes and sees the young boy she used to babysit. He's not six anymore - he is a handsome young man!

Bonus: Ernest

Somebody needs to catch up on her blog!

Ernest Hemingway knew. ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’

September 18: Moments

1. Breakfast moment: Warm sunshine in the backyard.
2. Academic moment: Enrolment in my first online course.
3. Ferris Bueller moment: Scooped up from work in a fiery red Ford Mustang convertible.

September 17: Tidy

1. Time to tidy up my cluttered, chaotic space.
2. Emails from very nice people I met at TIFF.
3. A long, quiet and productive evening alone.

September 16: Mercy

Mercy #1: The guy at the submarine sandwich shop let me sit there and flatten my Coke in an attempt to feel bettter. The truck drivers know what they are taking about: Coke flattening and sipping works!

Mercy #2: Based solely on the kindness of others, I was admitted to a strictly invite-only party without my invite.

Mercy #3: An overnight lift halfway home, saving me cab fare.

September 6-15: TIFF

In what turned out to be the only exception this year: 10 days of Blog on Hiatus while I attended the Toronto International Film Festival. It was an all-consuming affair... I'm disappointed it didn't work out, but it seems it wasn't meant to. Here's to trying it again next year.

September 5: Slingbacks

I remember this day:

1. Wearing pretty multi-coloured Marc Jacobs slingbacks with my pretty multi-coloured summer dress.
2. Greeting the two very special men who have had a significantly positive influence on my life this year.
3. Meeting new and old faces as colleagues in a fun, inspiring company staff meeting environment.

September 4: Spoken

1. To relieve screaming children whilst trying to pay taxes at City Hall, enlightenment: ‘time to push chairs!’

2. ‘I had a doctor who gave me B12 shots because he thought it would make me lose weight. All it made me lose was my lunch hour.’

3. A voicemail from two friends in the States thinking about me.

Plus, cabbies, hair stylists, receptionists and strangers everywhere lent me their cell phones after mine died (again).

September 3: Family

1. Waking up to a smiling little boy's big brown eyes.
2. Enjoying prepared black English tea with breakfast.
3. Sipping German red wine from grandma's glasses.

September 2: Looking

1. A woman on the subway moved from her seat so my nephew Matthew and I could look out of the last subway car window into the tunnel.

2. Even though no children are allowed, a host at a downtown establishment let me bring Matthew in, so we could look out at the city from the 51st floor terrace.

3. A woman at a multiplex theatre let Matthew and me onto the premises, so we could go have a long look at the massive fish tank (where we found two Nemos).

September 1: ‘G’

1. The ‘G’ for ‘group’: many hands made light work.
2. A woman caught up to me crossing the street to return a piece of paper that had fallen from my pocket. ‘Gee, thanks!’
3. Gelato with R; Guinness with I.

August 31: Hearsay

Giggles, snorts, guffaws.

1. Direct Google: ‘The other day I was riding the L when I saw a woman charging her phone using an electrical outlet beneath the sea.’ Which led to my blog.

2. Direct Speech: ‘You like her folding bike, son? She uses it to travel around, going from circus to circus all summer.’ Gee, thanks.

3. Direct Hearsay: A guy my friend is meeting for a date suggests, ‘Forget the boardwalk on the waterfront. Why don't we meet at the shoe section in The Bay instead?’

August 30: 57:11

1. 57:11 - Length of conversation with T, a morning philosopher before she even gets out of bed.
2. 70.00 - Percent discount on a summer t-shirt, just for asking.
3. 99.99 - All I paid for a pair of $650 shoes!

August 29: Picnic

1. Listening to my nephews' voicemail messages to me.
2. Picnic brunch at a tucked-away lawn bowling club.
3. E, for documentation in an administrative nightmare.

August 28: Gluteus

1. Urban Beach: Chilling outdoors at hTO.
2. Gluteus maximus: It's-about-time massage!
3. Motion: While the West End slept, propelling through darkness like oxygen through blood. Late-night biking through empty streets and dark, warm, windy pockets.

August 27: Ice

1. Empathy: A friend, also hung over, listened.
2. Sunshine and Ice: Hot weather, cool pool water.
3. Silence: Peace and stillness, in contemplation.

Bonus: Things

‘The best things in life are not things.’

August 26: Audra

If I could name today, I'd call it Rejection. Among its lights:

1. Waking up to the September cover of National Geographic magazine. Look at his eyes!

2. Jung and Benson met me in Kensington Market (where the incredible Nunca Antes, Brazilian Maracatu drummers, performed).

3. My wonderful friend Audra listened to me spilling my heart out from a payphone booth, folding bike parked outside, cell phone dead.

And I kept biking and biking, all the way home...

August 25: Hearts

1. Omelettes. Pre-planned brunch with colleagues in the Annex.
2. Roast Beef (in beer). Friendly last-minute dinner in Scarborough.
3. Black hearts (in beer). Overnight conversation in Liberty Village.

‘Every kick in the ass is a step forward.’

August 24: Unknown

1. Philip, Duncan, Dave. Meeting friendly new printers.
2. Oscar. I watched a Ryan Gosling film. Mmm, watch out!
3. Unknown. Hot-t-t retail shop guy offering assistance.

August 23: Kick Your Aaa

1. A certain lifeguard at a certain hotel pool agreed to hook me up.
2. A certain Madrileña talked me through some romance issues.
3. A certain little nephew did some dancing for me (‘dance #4,’ ‘dance #79’) and, much to our shock and concern, reproduced a little hip-hop lyrical: ‘I'm gonna kick your aaa!’ He was clueless; it was hilarious. (This forever solves the to-play-or-not-to-play issue as far as I'm concerned.) We convinced the confused little guy to sing, ‘I'm gonna kiss your hand!’

August 22: Continued

I broke my rule about waiting until bedtime to look back on the day. More miscellany:

1. Discovery: secret key to a secret kitchen.

2. LOL: my friend Karolis wrote a fabulous short story that included the line, ‘we'd ... ride off to a hot clime where we could be homeless all our lives and fuck outdoors.’

3. Kosher: delicious dill pickle from my parents' fridge. Half, actually... It is the first dill pickle in my life that I have had to wrap in plastic and save because it was too big to finish.

P-Units, III: Happy Feet

Some of you know I've been staying with my parents. We're looking at 3-4 months, with possibility for early release. I wanted to get to know them as people - and now I am!

1. My dad sunbathes in a straw cowboy-like hat.
2. He also listens to Eminem when my mom isn't home.
3. My mom tap dances to Il Divo at 6:30 every morning.

August 22: Larry

Today was a miscellany of goodies. Here are just three:

1. Hand extended outside restaurant, ‘Hi, are you Walter? I'm Julia.’ ‘Hi Julia, nice to meet you, I'm Larry.’ It was hilarious.

2. Walking down Bay Street during the afternoon rush. Crawling bumper to bumper, two army boys in a Hummer, pulling up to a pretty young woman every 30 seconds, cranking up the music and belting out at the top of their lungs, ‘What is love? Baby don't hurt me no more...’

3. Reading Two Chicago Stories. If you can, take five minutes to read them. They are AMAZING. Thank you, Gretta!

Bonus: ‘le OTmail’

If your company bans Hotmail, click on the green. I hope it works for you like it did for me.

August 21: Aftermath

1. I called out in anguish on the street to no one in particular, ‘What day is it today?!’ And a nice guy replied, ‘Tuesday!’

2. After my bike ride, Paul took me into his home and offered me grapefruit juice - which happens to be my favourite.

3. In the Aftermath of Paul, I lingered ... in a good way ... and I got more free legal advice! Damn, that's the best kind.

Three Things: Quebec

Quebec is a slice of Europe in North America. Good things from la belle province:

1 Party. Legal drinking age: 18. Last call: 3am. You can also buy beer and wine at many corner stores (unlike the rest of Canada). Liberal thinking embodied in attitudes such as, ‘The world will not end if you take a two-hour lunch.’

2 Party. June 24: An extra statutory holiday, St-Jean-Baptiste Day (Fête de la Saint-Jean), presumably to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, beautiful cities and beautiful people...

2b ...and beautiful beer. Another excuse to get drunk and launch oneself into the St-Jean-Baptiste bonfire. ‘Every year, somehow, it happens. It usually makes the news.’

3 Poutine. Hand-cut potatoes, fried in pure lard, covered in thick French-Canadian gravy and fresh white cheddar-cheese curds that go ‘squick, squick’ when you bite into them. There is nothing like it anywhere else. If you’ve never indulged in this sinful stuff, drive up on your next free weekend!

Merci, Isabelle, pour votre perspective.

August 20: Bits

1. Eyes, closed. ‘Sweet dreams.’ ... ‘Hello again.’ Short, but effective, nap.
2. Toes, also closed, toddling... ‘Good job.’ ‘Raise?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Thanks!’ Short, but effective, meeting.
3. Ears, open. ‘Thanks for listening.’ ‘Anytime.’ Short, but effective, conversation.

Ah Jung, my ears and my eyes... and the wind beneath my wings. Sniff!

August 19: Silhouette

1. Arriving: to a new job, boss greeting me with a hug.
2. Sharing: men's washroom, door being guarded for me.
3. Biking: relaxed, buzzed, on a warm evening, across the city. My friend A answers her phone and invites me in when I spy her silhouette en route.

I love this dresscode: ‘Don't show your bits.’

August 18: Team

1. Before: needed to be at work at 2pm, not 9am.
2. During: won a round of Jeopardy for my team.
3. After: drank, ate with some new colleagues.

August 17: Chat

1. Matthew: called to announce that he built a yellow Mega Bloks tower for me and that I live inside at the top.
2. Mama: called to warn that the temperature outside was dropping (she and my dad were worried about me).
3. Tammy: confirmed Saturday's details and scheduling in an online conversation from our respective workspaces.

August 16: Warm

1. Warm gesture: My boss was extra nice and sent me to the sick room to lie down, which I really needed to do.

2. Warm email: I got to be happy for someone else, whose good news email was titled, ‘Greetings and sunshine!’

3. Warm paper: I hugged the fresh, hot stacks of office paper feeding out of the printer up against my chest and stomach.

‘Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.’ - Oprah Winfrey

Three Things: Bike

This week, I took my folding bike:

1. into the teller lineup at the bank;
2. into the change room at Zara; and
3. into row X at the movie theatre.

If I was Oprah, I'd buy one for everybody!

August 15: Afternoon

1. Seeing my brother made me very happy.
2. Seeing Bourne Identity for free: bonus.
3. Seeing two friends at the shopping mall.

How come Bourne always has cash at the ready?

Bonus: Live

From the theatre that is Yorkville, Hoo-ha!

Woman, bleach-white bouffant hair radiating from behind tinted windows in the distance, stops her Bentley in the middle of the road. Car parked, she emerges dressed head to toe in designer white. Quilted accessories. Gold trimmings. Ageing-Beauty-Pageant-Queen-meets-Televangelist's-Wife. Walks towards café, chubby feet stuffed into size 5 high-heels. Single-handedly creates a traffic jam two blocks long. Exits café. Saunters back to her vehicle. Slowly. Daintily. Obliviously. Her high-pitched, soft-spoken answer to the string of obscenities flying towards her: ‘What? I was here first.’

August 14: Ideas

A1. Free wireless internet in the restaurant.
B1. Over lunch: Building on ideas born of a midnight moment.

A2. People-watching on a sunny patio corner.
B2. Over coffee: Idea stories unfolding live in the flesh.

A3. Phone call from my one-and-only Ula.
B3. Over email: Even more ridiculous ideas!

C. Free legal advice!

Bonus: Jay-Z

‘You can't knock the hustle.’

Bonus: The Iz

** years ago, The World of Iz arrived.

To celebrate, I am sitting cross-legged on my favourite futon, licking an orange popsicle, humming Happy Birthday. Who knew that in the scheme of the universe, this very 2:00 a.m. moment would take place whilst Izzy slumbers not far away. Bonne anniversaire!

August 13: ¡Hola!

1. ¡Hola! Bumping into my Spanish teacher y su madre en el banco.
2. ¡Hola! My friend's brother served me a large green tea ice-cream for the price of a small.
3. ¡Hola! ‘I'm so excited to have you joining my professional world. Just let me know if I can do anything to help!’

August 12: Snip!

I spent the day sewing. I am not even done. My back is killing me. Respect to anyone who, hunched over, sews.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have a few t-shirts I'd like to modify. They are souvenirs, cut for the male chest. Basically, I want to look less like David Beckham and more like his wife.

1. In the basement, my dad found me two pairs of incredibly sharp scissors.
2. At the mall sewing centre, the saleslady offered me some great suggestions.
3. At the dining room table, my mom saved the day. She and her magic hands stepped in when I inevitably screwed up.

In related news, I lopped off another set of pant legs to achieve jean shorts. Snip, snip, snip!

August 11: Oatmeal Beer

1. Mamma's Pizza: One of the best chains in Toronto.
2. Lukas's Wine: Quick drink, perfect timing. Sunset.
3. Vera's 'hood: Where I drank a Quebec Oatmeal beer.

Vera also took care of the $5 cover charge for me. When we got checked for ID, I took that as a great compliment, even if the doorman wasn't trying to flatter us.

August 10: Ringtone

1. Diagnostic: My wireless router works just fine.
2. Skanky-pants: Snip, snip jeans into even better shorts.
3. Download: Rhythmicru now has a ringtone on Telus (check your provider). It's called ‘Turn it Up’ (not to be confused with Paris Hilton's). We downloaded it to my phone, to everyone's approval.

August 9: Candy

Office Candy could mean many things. Today it means Treats. The kind people leave on their desks in small jars.

This post is dedicated to Anonymous Provider, Co-Worker of the Year. I have never laid eyes on such decadent office confectioneries. Entering Anonymous Provider's office can make anyone feel like a kid trick-or-treating in the poshest district on Halloween.

1. Candy-licious: not your run-of-the-mill sweet and sours. Lovely lollipops, joyous jelly beans, jamborees of jube-jubes...
2. Caramel-icious: chocolate-covered and non-chocolate-covered...
3. Chocolatey-icious: rich, individually-wrapped squares, mints of every persuasion, luxurious dark chocolate enveloping soft, buttery toffee...

Thank you, Anonymous Provider!

August 8: Advice

1. Fashion advice from my (exasperated) dad.
2. Career advice from a seasoned professional.
3. Industry advice from a friend who knows:

‘Don't accept any drinks and don't buy any land! There are a lot of film people out there who'll whisper sweet life-changing promises in your ears, and then the next morning you'll be waking up next to the Pillsbury Dough Boy looking for your shorts and wondering why you have a title deed to a swamp in Florida.’

God bless you, R, G and E!

August 7: Romeo

1. ‘All the world's a stage’ – A woman was pacing through the streets calling out over and over, ‘Romeo!’ I'm not making light of it; it was beautiful.

2. ‘And all the men and women merely players’ – There really are good-looking gardeners all over suburbia.

3. ‘They have their exits and their entrances’ – I left the house late; I arrived at work early.

‘AND... man in his time plays many parts’ – Thanks to my dad, who scanned Sunday’s Letraset. I added some colour and am quite pleased. Click here to view the result.

Three Things: Spaces

Public spaces. Private spaces. Shared spaces.

Voicemail: ‘Hi Julia, please excuse the echo. I am in my bathroom, but not doing gross things... I am brushing my teeth.’

1. People I know openly admit to using laptops in toilets.
2. Recently, a friend picked up his cell phone in the shower.
3. Another friend is installing an iPod bath speaker system.

What else do Bathroom Blackberry addicts do?

Bonus: Long Weekend

Snacking on cream cheese, popsicles and gummies, my dad and I watched three classic films together this long weekend.

1. The Getaway
2. Scarface
3. Heat

‘All you are is what you're going after,’ or ‘All you are is _____________’ (37,000 Google results).

August 6: Holiday

1. First Monday in August: a holiday in most of Canada.
2. Popsicles on sale at the big grocery chain for $2 a box.
3. My nephew and I took ‘naps’ on the steps of the swimming pool and shared where we'd like to go in our dreams.

Three Things: Subway

I'm not the only one in Toronto with a folding bike. But since I'm one of the few – and no one here ever talks to strangers – here are some recent treasures that have come my way:

1. ‘Ah! You like it, Brazil? Nice sandals!’
2. ‘I like your arms. I have an arm fetish.’
3. ‘Is that a bike? It's perfect for the bush! For escaping grizzlies and polar bears. They can take your head off in two seconds flat.’

August 5: Balls

1. ‘No, Auntie Julia! I will not be an artist when I grow up... Because I'm going to be a dinosaur when I grow up.’ -My nephew Matthew

2. ‘All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don't break them for no one.’ -Tony Montana (Al Pacino) in Scarface

3. ‘Our fathers grew up thinking that brown shoes were for sportsjackets and grey flannels only; you wore brown with a navy suit and you were a parvenu. Then Italians came along, lit a cigarette, ordered an espresso and said, ‘Why are you all so uptight?’’ -Russell Smith, 2006-06-24,

August 4: Lovenotes

1. Bit here: My dad prepared dinner for two, in what appeared to be a peace offering.

2. Bit there: Grandma moments. One spoke loving nonsense; the other smiled a toothless grin. One giggled; the other burped in reply when I asked if she was full. Mmm, mushy peas.

3. Bit everywhere: Daydreams about the man on whose forearms I want to inscribe lovenotes with my fingertips. [Extra good because I later realized it was my ex's birthday and I hadn't thought once of it.]

August 3: SOS

I made a huge error in judgement and wore closed heels on a humid, sweaty summer day.

3pm - Starbucks Barista showed mercy. Provided first-aid kit bandages for my blistered heels.

4pm - Ditto for the Barista at the next Starbucks.

5pm - The drugstore cashier forgave me $0.57 on the bandages and told me I could pay her back next time.

My predicament, it turns out, was not nearly as bad as that of my colleague's. She taped her blistered toes in transluscent Scotch Tape! She went into raptures when she saw the box of bandages.

I am now wearing my new Havaianas.

August 2: Haligonian

3am. I'm going three for three with the late-night routine. I'd like to honour email again. Letters make me feel less alone in these quiet hours.

1. From one Night Owl to Another: The Snowy Owl wrote some encouraging words. Peace.

2. From a Haligonian to a Torontonian: Emanuel invited me to his wedding in Halifax this October. Oh, I am so there! Nova Scotia - ‘New Scotland’ - is FABulous. Home to some of the Friendliest Party People on Earth.

3. From a Quebecker to an Ontarian: Isabelle, merci! While in Montreal, home to some of the Sexiest Party People on Earth, she snaps a photo of a Habibi tanktop. Now I'll just have to write a post extolling the virtues of French Canada.

August 1: Lemon Pie

1. Sweet: Country lemon pie for breakfast from my parents.
2. Sweeter: Gentle slope all the way down the city, from the top to the bottom, making for an excellent high-speed bike ride down Yonge Sreet (especially on a hot, sticky day like this).
3. Sweetest: A quiet night in which to get some work done.

July 31: Greta

1. Motivation. Greta dragged my derrière out of bed.
2. Word Fun. Capricieuse. Who you callin' caprichosa?
3. Brazaletes. Beautiful wrist candy from Madrid.

¡Gracias, Greta!

Bonus: 120 Seconds

120 Seconds to Get Elected
Brilliant 2-minute film.

Watch here (be patient while it loads, it's worth it) or download it from Shorts in Motion.

July 30: Email

1. From the world of Rump: my friend writes that she is going to ‘ass around’ this week. I've never heard this before, but I think it's Wicked. Sick. Ill.
2. From the world of Film: Free tickets to an advance screening.
3. From the world of Goat: Purple Pygmy Party Pants and other goat accessories here. (Wicked? Sick? Ill?)

There was a Cheeks theme floating around today, and an honourable mention goes to Kevin for a hilarious email about crocs, but I don't want to get x-rated or mean. I'll save the style deliberations for an upcoming post.

July 29: Putty

12 hours with my habibis!

1a. Clean-Shirts Journey: Julija helped with the downtown-bound ‘Tunnel!’ ‘Train!’ ‘Station!’ adventure. Lucky for us, the seats at the back of the last subway car were available.

1b. Dirty-Shirts-Covered-in-Popsicles-and-Chocolate-Milkshake Version: My brother helped with the homeward-bound trip. Even if the seats had been taken, I'm sure they'd have freed up quickly...

2. Mothers will appreciate this one. Little Lukas fell asleep the second we entered the restaurant for lunch; he woke up the second we exited, 90 minutes later.

3. Thankfully, the swimming pool was still open when we got home. We all jumped in and washed the day away.

Free silly putty and musical keychains also went a long way. Not to mention Starbucks, which is highly reliable for diaper stops. No wonder ‘Starbucks’ is one of Lukas's first words.

Happy Birthday, Yee!

July 28: L*st

After a beautiful day,

1. Last, Kevin invited me to a party - though he didn't show up.

2. Lest I forget: Late into the evening, my dad gave me a bottle of wine to take to the party. Why?

Note to oenophiles: Canadians are govered by liquor control boards and most of us have to buy alcohol during set hours from the government. Seriously. The LCBO in the Province of Ontario is the world's single largest alcohol buyer (read more here). Upside: this is nonetheless an improvement on the days when you had to get booze by prescription.

3. Lost. Biking through a neighbourhood with the wrong address (thanks, Kevin!) and a dead cell phone, I took a moment to appreciate a hidden urban gem: a beautiful baseball diamond. Then a local kid directed me to an exact spot for an electrical outlet in which to plug my phone charger (East end of the South wall of the community centre at Dufferin and Dupont for those who need to know). I was impressed...

...but not nearly as impressed as by the cinephiles next door to our party, projecting old NFB films from reels onto a garage-mounted screen in the backyard. (Imagine a lawnchair audience of 40 in dead silence. Here they are on intermission.)

...and not nearly as impressed as by my hostesses, who sent me home with two slices of fresh vegetarian pizza.

There is my List.
Sorry, no Lust.

July 27: Happy Feet

1. Dreamy: A loooooong sleep, at long last.
2. Boon(y): Corporate discount on stationary.
3. Musical: Happy Feet, one moving movie.

Bonus: DollyMix Interview

Click here to read my first online interview.

Thank you, Keris!

July 26: Boondoggle

1. Fresh: Over lunch, a Beautiful Berliner taught me to spread the sour cream onto the fresh bread.
2. Fresher: A friend gave me two Advils for my day-after headache.
3. Freshest: My new, comfy kitten heels, laced with gimp! I have just learned that gimp is also called boondoggle.

July 25: Julija

1. A wall of mist edging onto the road off the park water sprinkler refreshed me as I rode by on my bicycle.

2. This line from The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger:
‘Would you like some cookies? I always like to eat cookies while I look around museums. It makes it more multisensory.’

3. Drinks with The One and Only Julija:
From within the water marks on the table, The One and Only Garfield (à la Itchy and Scratchy) enchanted us with an appearance. We were not hallucinating - we captured him HERE, see?

Then Julija enchanted me. ‘Would you like to share a sausage?’

Bonus: Thinking

‘If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.’
George S. Patton

July 24: More Love

Who is Justin? He is this dude. Who is probably friends with Jeremy (from a previous post). Both of whom are all about handing out the freebies. I went for an overpriced juice bar dinner, but returned with:

1. a free panini,
2. a free Cinnabon, and
3. Bola, a free Tagalog Love Word.

My also-starving colleague shared my good fortune. We were so giddy, we did the happy dance and went halves on all the good take-out (carry-out, take-away, hand-out...) we had amassed. It was a Love Feast!

July 23: ‘Love’ and Love

1. I love my shoe repair man. He let me take a can of protector today, to be paid for when I pick up my shoes later this week.

2. I love my bike shop. They returned my now-tuned-up bike and replaced the seat with something softer (i.e., a softer seat).

3. I love my oatmeal. Some call it boring. I call it sexy and exciting! Or ‘the dinner alternative’ (when your other alternative is the office vending machine).

And I love Audra! Welcome back from the Middle East, širdelė. (Speaking of the Big Breakfast Bang, while I was visiting Syria, this phenomenal woman actually found me Quaker Oats. In Damascus!)

Bonus: Imagination

‘It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.’
Henry David Thoreau

‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’

‘Live out of your imagination, not your history.’
Stephen Covey

July 22: Catching Kisses

1. Matthew blew me kisses, which I caught like volleyballs. Then we switched and he caught my kisses (‘Woah! That's a big one!’). Together, we sent our beachball-sized kisses down an imaginary bowling lane, knocking over all 10 pins.

2. Matthew filled my imaginary teacup with all things savoury: chocolate, popcorn, a teddy bear, magic markers, a little boy, a shoe (‘What kind?’ ‘A Birkenstock’) and yucky mud. Mmm!

3. Little Lukas offered me handfuls of sand, followed by a playground wood chip straight from his mouth. Nothing imaginary about it. (Except, perhaps, in all he cannot yet verbalize. What is this kid thinking?!)

‘Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!’ - Theodor Geisel

July 21: Benassi

1. On my way into the subway, fumbling for change since I had forgotten my pass at home, a tourist emerged and randomly offered me his day pass.

2. On my way to a club, the driver said, ‘You're too old to go to the Guvernment.’ After I let him have it, he explained, ‘You're not dressed like a teenager.’ I later realized it was for my own good. (Next time, I will dress like a teenager.)

3. On my way back to my younger days, I was infected by the one and only Benny Benassi, beautiful inside and out.

July 20: Beagles

1. A first: Heather was my Hooters girl this evening.
2. A second: Turning the sidewalk corner, two baby beagles. Brother and sister. I instantly fell to my knees and we all embraced each other. Soft, warm puppies. Pure love.
3. A third: Yee and I bumped into Kevin at Evil Dead. If you like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, this is the musical for you.

July 19: Avatar

1. Lovely Donna fowarded me an important email.
2. Thanks to Gretta, I created my Simpsons avatar.
3. Tommy was watching a Lance Armstrong documentary. Which reminded him of the Lance audiobook I once gave him. He texted. I called. He picked me up from work. We went for drinks. And then we discovered that we both attended the same summer day camp in 1988.

July 18: Progress

1. Conversation: Lunch with a group of endearing women, all strangers to each other, in an honest, warm discussion.

2. Discovery: Internet kiosk in a hotel business centre where one can swipe a credit card for 10 minutes of free web access.

3. Peace: I made a friend out of an enemy (so to speak). Being genuinely nice to this woman really helped us progress.

July 17: Unexpected

1. Unexpected: guided tour of local post-production house.
2. Unexpected: visiting the film set for American Pie #685.
3. Unexpected: receiving giftbags containing free swag.

Bonus: Game - Jeu - Juego

HiSpAnoBeLgAs has invited me to play secretillos, in which we reveal seven truths. It's a little game circulating between blogeros - the taggers and the tagged. Sounds fair to me, considering I don't have much of a profile. Rules:

1. Tagged individuals must write seven truths on their blog, as well as the rules of the game.
2. They must then tag seven people and list them in their blog.
3. They must leave a message on each person's blog, inviting them to visit and play.

This is my first - and maybe only - such game. I'd like to tag more of you, but I'm going with seven at random. Here goes:

1. I am a former rhythmic gymnast
2. who loves roasted garlic and hummus
3. and has been to Transylvania three times.

4. Once, I washed a scraggly bike courier's garbage bag full of laundry. He was drunk and forgot it on the bus. (How would you feel?) I had to track him down through a biker cafe. I was staying with my grandmother that week. I had a heck of a time explaining to her why I was washing a strange man's dirty clothes.

5. I used to walk into street poles while reading books.
6. I have one grandmother-approved tattoo.

7. The little girl on the blog is me. You knew that, right?

Gretta, Fancy Dress, Dan, Tracey, Evalinn, Shari, Manic Mom, come on down.

July 16: Chicon

1. To start the day, my neighbour gave me a lift to the subway (I had basically hailed his minivan in desperation).

2. To spend the day, I ate heavenly food, attended incredible seminars and met fantastic new people.

3. To finish the day, I read some comments on my blog, including an invite from HiSpAnoBeLgAs to play a little blogeros game.

While I was reading seven secretillos on HiSpAnoBeLgAs, I learned a new word: chicon. The ‘white gold’ of Belgium. An endive or witloof - are any of these English words? Anyway, I googled it and got the picture.

July 15: Stinky Cheese

1. 02:00 - Front porch, downtown houseparty. One of our sexy French Canadians (parce qu'ils sont tous sexy) brings out the stinkiest French cheese. It is wrapped in multiple layers of aluminum, so the whole house doesn't smell like soiled diapers. It is positively the most delicious Camembert I have ever tried!

2. 16:00 - Office. Grilled Salmon on a bed of rice. Pure energy!

3. 20:30 - Homeward Bound. I don't have to work as long as I had expected. Good night. Bonne soirée. To bed!

July 14: Sparrow

Bus station, 8:30 a.m.

1. As I'm eating crackers from the snack pack D prepared for me, a little sparrow hops over and says good morning. So I feel really special and share my crumbs.

2. Not a minute later, my new friend disappears, only to return with five others. They're really adorable. I keep feeding them, though I'm starting to feel like an old man on a park bench.

3. You can probably guess what happens next. They go away and come back with twenty of their best friends. I don't know how to feel, to be honest. They're crossing the line a little... but it's fun talking to them. (I hope all the people staring at me are having fun, too.)

Lo and behold, when I walk over to the bus, they all follow me.

It's awesome.

Three Things: 70s

Last night, I slept in a home that ought to be preserved as a national monument to the swinging seventies. It was soooo pimpy! I was like, Where's the orgy?

Three things I love about 1970s home decor:

1. colourful shaggy carpets
2. shiny psychedelic wallpaper
3. puffy vinyl toilet seats

July 13: Mannequin


I'd like to dedicate this post to another Julia, who lent me her eyes. Thanks, Jules!

1. James Street North Art Crawl. We meandered into galleries and studios, experiencing this type of vibe, meeting local artists like Melanie and discovering hidden spaces and treasures such as this beauty.

2. Fisherman's pier pub. Even though we decided not to stay, the waitress brought out Sour Apple shots, on the house.

3. My dream of ending a late night with live music in a Hamilton honky-tonk bar came true. Only my cowboy boots were missing.

There is no doubt about it. People in Hamilton are very nice.

The next art crawl is August 10, for all you Torontonians looking for something different.

Weekend Bonus: Hamilton

I can't wait to describe - in words and pictures - my experience last night in Hamilton, Ontario. This city, 45 minutes West of Toronto, is home to one of the best-named pubs I've ever heard of: The Pheasant Plucker. Say that 20 times.

I've got six crazy days on the go, but I'll try to post regularly. Have a great weekend!

July 12: Nice people from...

...Etobicoke. Driver stops the bus to access first-aid kit for me. Imagine, if you will, opening something that resembles an electric panel, next to the engine. After a thick layer of dust cascades onto the steps, an interior metal box squeaks open to reveal little white (well, yellowed...) boxes. The wax paper wrappers crumble open instantly: band-aids older than me!

...Toronto. Dental hygienist does me a favour by showing me the plaque she is digging out from under my gums. I am instructed to become reacquainted with my floss (the move has thrown me off this month). She also gives me free samples of Butler G.U.M. Softpicks (they're amazing). Tartar forms after only three days!

...Scarborough. Calvin, Gentleman Extraordinaire, sits next to me at a work meeting full of new faces. Well, doesn't chance have it that he will be working for me in September. Since I'm new, but he's experienced, he'll be teaching me, I'm sure.

July 11: $143

1. The seamstress gave me a good price for my mending.

I used to sew... anyone remember tapering their jeans? Actually, I'm about to start again (sewing, that is). I want to modify my shapeless souvenir t-shirts into hot little numbers. I hope it's possible, or I'll be making a big mess.

2. A saleswoman refunded me the difference on the jacket I bought 10 days ago. (I nearly had a heart attack when I saw it was marked down already.) $143 is nothing to sneeze at! She really made my day.

3. I got a pretty quick response from a woman I'd been meaning to get in touch with for a year (then finally did).

In fact, all these women made my day.

By the way, I'll probably blog my parents a little more this weekend... they really are a rich source of stories. I'll try my mighty best to bring you a venom-free, positive take on this experience. It's either that or Ativan!

Bonus: Bent

Wow! Did you see this Blog of Note? It is so beautifully Bent (and so is his really bent second blog). Kudos!

July 10: Renita

1. Lunch: Renita deserves her own post. I'm dedicating today to her. She is my Grade Two Best Friend who taught me how to crack my knuckles. The last time we saw each other was 10 years ago. The next time we saw each other was today.

2. Divo: Not only did we eat well, we had free entertainment. Our restaurant turned out to be a Divo magnet, full of guys with crisp shirts, suave shades and enough crusty hairgel to hold up Venice. Fabu-Tans. Blinding bright teeth. Plus the roses. Oh, the roses... Renita provided the running commentary. She is a wry observer.

3. Idea: We didn't talk about this, but in Grade Two (‘this one time, at band camp...’), Renita and I got into trouble for playing with household bathroom chemicals. We mixed a toxic magic potion of nail polish, solvents, witch hazel, etc. in a plastic cottage cheese tub in the schoolyard. Did we cast a spell? I can't remember. What matters is that she is as mischievous as ever. Today, she unhatched the genius idea for an unscrewpulous little plan.

July 9: Cam on

1. To commemorate my diet (effective immediately), a pedicure.

2. The three women on duty agree to teach me some Vietnamese.

3. ‘Thank you - very much - my love.’ ‘Cam on - nhieu - em yeu’ (to girl) ‘anh yeu’ (to guy). Pronounced ‘Gam œn (rhymes with jeune) nyieu (rhymes with Dieu) em ee-o / an ee-o.’

July 8: Fruits, Veggies

Eat is just one letter away from Fat.

How can I describe this? I spent almost my entire weekend in my underwear.

Tea, smoke, muffins, chocolate, candies, smoke, biscottis, ice cream, smoke, wander backyard in rain.

1. Dried fruit snacks, Perrier, email.

Big-budget Chinese film set in Tang dynasty (co-starring lots of boob), ice cream, cheese, smoke, wander around the house.

2. Fresh tomatoes, Perrier, email.

Too Legit to Quit courtesy of MC Hammer and the kids next door (followed by mild depression), ice cream, smoke, wander front yard.

3. Garlic dill pickles, Perrier, email.

My parents were in Montreal for the big Jazz Festival. You'd think I would take advantage... I don't eat dairy and I don't even smoke!

Sad? Rad. In a pathetic kind of way, I will always remember it as my own Home Alone, Generation X.

Bonus: Eat Pray Love

I chose these quotes - one from each section - as I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Or maybe they chose me.

1. ‘The Bhagavad Gita - that ancient Indian Yogic text - says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection.’

2. ‘You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.’ - Richard from Texas

3. ‘Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.’

Bonus: Little Lukas

I took exactly one break from my solitude today to go flop around in a swimming pool with my nephews. The surest way to coax little Lukas from the farthest reaches of the deck into the shallow end, jumping madly, is to make a big production of clumsily tumbling into the water. I keel over, sunglasses and all, and emerge a sputtering, giggling wethead. He goes wild with laughter and runs to Messy Auntie Julia.

Let me know if this works with your little ones.

July 7: Nourishing

I finished Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Ladies - and Gentlemen - it's a good one! It has inspired me to:

1. nourish my body;
2. nourish my soul; and
3. nourish my passport.

July 6: Transformer

1. A nice driver allowed my bike on the bus during rush hour. I was running late, and he didn't make a big stink of it.

2. A few guys in a band let me join them for dinner, post-soundcheck, pre-gig. I was the lucky observer of the pre-show dynamic.

3. I recognized an old neighbour and schoolmate late at night on Queen Street West, where we took time out to catch up.

Speaking of my folding bike, I finally learned why every guy - and maybe cop - seems to salivate over it (completely seeing through, when not scowling at, yours truly). Suddenly all my male friends are calling my bike a Transformer. Nothing to do with any current Hollywood movie releases.

Bonus: Perspective

I thought this was pretty good. Thanks to Daiva.

July 5: Eat

Some serious ‘compliments of’ today:

1. Belgian chocolate-covered caramel popcorn (resembling pretzels).
2. Cheddar biscuit ‘crisps’ (resembling shortbread cookies).
3. Leafy dark green spinach salad (resembling spinach salad).

How appropriate. I am reading Eat Pray Love. Today I'm doing the eat part.

July 4: ‘Foon’

1. Food: My sister made me an incredible scrambled eggs breakfast using cheese brought back fresh from Holland.

2. Foon: When I showed my nephew a spork (spoon+fork), he studied it carefully and logically concluded that it was a Foon.

3. Fool: I went biking in the warm, pouring rain, but it was fun. Then I had a cigarette, but I liked it. I watched my neighours; my neighbours watched me. Maybe they'll tell my parents. Maybe I'll tell my parents who here calls the cops in the middle of the night long after they are sleeping. It's a strange place, this Crescent, beneath its shiny veneer.

P-Units, II: Street Action

I am a girl who rides her bike around town in her flip flops. Innocent enough, right?

So it's beyond me why the cops felt like chasing me in the middle of the night.

Ok... I was in what are essentially my pyjamas, wearing a funny-looking backpack and trying to balance a huge garment bag containing a suit. Is that suspicious?

Sirens were approaching. They neared as I turned onto a darkened street. I sped up. They sped up! I whipped through the curves, trying not to lose my suit. They were onto me. I turned into my parents' driveway. They followed, screeching to a halt. I was caught like a deer in high-beam headlights.

They shook their heads and backed out.

Never a dull moment!

July 3: Rejection

1. Thoughtful - A guy at work got me this point it book in New York. Pictures include a grapefruit.
2. Helpful - I got the ok to arrive late for work tomorrow.
3. Surprising - A great piece of direct mail full of samples. Cream, shampoo, conditioner, gel, chewing gum, even bobbypins.

And especially this:
4. Inspiring - After a rejection of sorts, I am more inspired than ever to work hard to make my dreams come true, damn it!

Bonus: Canada Day

I've been celebrating this long weekend. July 1st was Canada's 140th birthday. Not too shabby.

I was in a bit of a funk - post-party syndrome - but Izzy gave me Def Leppard's Greatest Hits and I was ready to blog again.

Pour some ssssugar on me!

July 2: Smashing

1. My nephews attacked me with hugs. Lukas loves smashing his head into my face.
2. Izzy prepared an incredible dinner, including some smashing French red wine.
3. My friends in Cleveland were getting smashed and decided to call me up so I could be there with them.

July 1: Offer

Happy Birthday, Canada!

1. My suit was taken in more than three inches.
2. My friend Asuka joined my family for dinner.
3. My in-box contained an official job offer!

Happy Birthday to my blog, too.

Bonus: Grapefruit

I met a really interesting guy tonight who can utter the following statement in umpteen languages:

‘My grapefruit has no knees.’

June 30: Blue Moon

1. Learning: Portuguese people brought the ukelele to Hawai'i.
2. Reading: a thick, heavy memoir at the bookstore for only $2.
3. Blue Moon Beer: post-gig, a home brew ale on a back patio.

I'm told it was the second full moon this month. I'll toast to that!

June 29: Brazilian

Everything really good today happened late at night:

1. Chilling with my brother, listening to friends play in a club, eating what may possibly have been the world's greatest onion rings.
2. Checking out a lively Brazilian party at Toronto's Gladstone Hotel.
3. Arriving with Tim at a west-end Brazilian after-hours house party to the words, ‘Welcome Home!’

God Bless the Beautiful Brazilians!

June 28: Spell

1. The giggle fairy cast a spell upon me.
2. My brother helped me out in a big way.
3. There is a new, cute mailroom boy!

June 27: Confidence

1. Vote of Confidence I: Email. I received a very encouraging message from someone with my best interests in mind.

2. Vote of Confidence II: Groceries. Matthew and I pet a live lobster's ‘whiskers’ while Lukas proudly held up every fruit and vegetable: ‘Apple!’

3. Vote of Confidence III: Youth. A younger colleague invited me to join her in July at her VIP table next to a star DJ (who is ‘old, late 30s’... uh oh). I don't go clubbing, but I'm in!

June 26: Tannasaurus Rex

1. Having a nice chat with one of my dad's friends.
2. Continuing to read one of my unfinished books.
3. Enjoying even more sunshine. With only eight precious weeks of summer, I will be a Tannasaurus Rex!

June 25: Chorus

1. Tanned Canadian Bacon: Since summer officially arrived four days ago, I'm finally getting some colour on my white heiny.

2. Rustling: Midnight bike ride through the dark, windy 'burbs. All quiet but for the leaves in chorus and the quiet roar of the distant freeway (as opposed to the ocean rumbling off a Cuban beach).

3. Shalom! Voicemail from a long-lost Somebody. Or Nobody. I don't really know who he is... but everyone can have one international man of mystery to call their own, non? Oui?

June 24: In absentia

1. During our echoey conversation - spoken entirely into the swimming pool wall skimmer - my nephew told me I was pretty. (Talking into pipes, holes in walls, etc. is a variation on Darth Vader voices via the oscillating fan.)

2. I caught my wireless internet signal on the front porch. It was the perfect sunset home office setup (glass of wine included).

3. After I knocked all my red wine onto the white stone wall, Yee brainstormed with me over the phone how to tidy up the scene of the crime. We washed and sniffed that wall clean - she in absentia, I in presentia.

June 23: Gig

1. What: Successful interview with film people for a September gig.
2. Who: Starbucks guy watched my phone charge while I restroomed.
3. When: After spinning on this with my nephew, no dizzy-sickness!

June 22: Free

1. I received (yet another) free pair of heels from a company purporting to sell quality goods.

2. Jung and I abused our phone plans (she calls me for free; I receive incoming calls for free). It was a nice 75-minute chat in the hot afternoon sun.

3. A colleague did me an act of kindness, thereby freeing me to enjoy (versus suffer) my Friday evening.

June 21: Time

1. Time to enjoy Merlin's Lists of 5ives.
2. Time to post photos to 365 Degree View.
3. Time to catch up on email newsletters.

Bonus: e.e. cummings (ii)

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

June 20: Dino Dig!

Sweet things happened when I babysat two toddlers overnight and for the day:

1. 06:21 - ‘Good morning, Auntie Julia … Oh no! You had a bad dream? … Which kind was it? Dinosaurs, dragons or monsters?’

2. 08:00 - The kids wanted to watch Baby Mozart, so I got to sleep for 45 minutes.

3. 14:30 - I turned to TVO Kids, home to great Canadian children's programming, to find something interactive to do instead of watching TV. Matthew and I are huge new fans of Dino Dig!