Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekend Highlights & Winner

And speaking of surprising and unexpected, this weekend was surprisingly and unexpectedly spent sitting fairly still and ingesting copious amounts of drugs, as my shoulders went kablooey on Friday. It wasn't even because I did too much and then could sit here and alternate between laughing at myself and (hopefully) chanting 'it was worth it'. Nope, it was due to agreeing to let a resident, rather than my family doctor, practice on me. I believe in teaching the next generation of doctors, but in the future, any teaching that involves me is going to be purely verbal. However! The weekend was not without its highlights.

For a long time, going to Toronto's Pride Parade was one of my annual rituals. Not only is it a celebration of something in which I believe – equality, tolerance and all that good stuff - it's the best party of the year and it looks like this year was no different. Haven't been able to join the fun for a while, but yet another great thing about living downtown, is that elements of Pride are all around you. Like in the window of your local supermarket

Despite on-and-off rain – again! Or is that still? - part of the sitting still was done in the park, listening to a good book. On Saturday, I got distracted from the book by watching a man play with his beautiful dog and at one point, the dog came over to stand next to me with a ball in its mouth. Naturally, I thought he wanted to play and leaned out a little to pet the dog and halfway through the lean, I realized that he wasn't there to play. Nope. Standing calmly right next to my chair, chewing meditatively on his red ball, he was lifting his leg to pee on my tires. As his person came running towards us, screaming at the dog to stop so ignominiously marking me - sure buddy, good luck with that - I started laughing and couldn't stop. Apparently, this week is all about pet effluvium for me. It's been a while since I've seen someone apologize so much, but luckily, the dog’s aim was off and he hit the ground exactly between my front and rear tires. Still, the next time I see that dog, I'm running.

I want to thank everyone who entered Friday's contest for leaving terrific stories about love and kindness. They warmed my heart. And now that I’ve tortured you with delaying the announcement of the winner as long as humanly possible (I learned this technique from watching too many reality shows)...

I didn’t go high tech (too complicated), the cat was supremely uninterested, so I resorted to calling up my mother. There were thirteen comments, so I asked her to pick a number between 1 and 13. She’s brainless due to a severe cold/pneumonia and had no idea what I was talking about, so it was as random as the high tech method. Congratulations, Michelle! Pick a photo from my Flickr page and email me at landers5ATgmailDOTcom with your address.

Friday, June 27, 2008

One Contest & Another

Have you ever seen The Cooler? It's a very good movie, with wonderful performances by William H. Macy and Maria Bello and a stunning performance by Alec Baldwin. It's about a guy (Macy) who is not just a bad gambler, but is so atrocious at it that it transcends merely bad luck and becomes part of his genetic makeup. Because he is so phenomenally unlucky, he has gotten himself into a heap of debt with a casino and to pay it off, the casino boss (Baldwin) hires him as "the cooler". This means that if a customer is having a lucky streak, our hapless hero gets dispatched to go stand next to the person, which immediately causes them to start losing.

I'm kind of like that. I don't win things. To a really significant degree. My mother wins things, as does my sister and we've had great fun travelling to Las Vegas together, where both of them will win and I am relegated to hold the bucket for part of our winnings (it's like in Dirty Dancing, except instead of carrying a watermelon, I hold the bucket). At times, it has been necessary for me to physically bend over the bucket to prevent them from filching the quarters that are going to pay for the snazzy dinners we'll have if only they would continue winning. Which they usually do. Me? Not so much. Although I'm not as bad as Macy's character in that my mere presence does not seem to greatly inhibit their luck with slot machines, it's really better if I don't touch any of the one-armed bandits. Or the roulette table. Or lottery tickets. And scratch tickets are best chosen by the cashier at the grocery store, since when I choose, I win nothing and if they do, I may win the price of the ticket.

Despite this, I enthusiastically enter any and all contests offered up by Ree over at The Pioneer Woman because have you seen her prizes?? I have special enthusiasm for the contests with prizes of a $500 gift certificate for Amazon - pardon me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard - but her contests rock so much that I enter all of ‘em. And never win. Anyway, the point of this story is on its way… Ree is having a passionate love affair with her Keurig coffee maker and recently had a contest offering up three of the beasties (I can only suspect she's an enabler). I don't drink coffee, but entered anyway, thinking that my mother might like it. And whaddaya know, totally unexpected and much to my surprise, I won! And I'm quite sure that there's a lesson in here somewhere about selflessness and the universe rewarding same, while ignoring blatant avarice and I'll think about that another day. Mor loves her new coffee machine - here seen in its adopted habitat )slightly askew)(and rather fuzzy. For pretty pictures of the thing, click on the link to Pioneer Woman)

and I foresee a long happy coexistence between the two of them.

So it's occurred to me that I should pay it forward and no, that doesn't mean that I'm offering up a Keurig coffee machine. This contest is a little more modest - the prize is an 8 x 10 print of one of my photographs and I’ll be spending the weekend updating my Flickr page to give you oodles of choices. Okay, maybe not oodles, but many, anyway. To enter, simply answer the following question in the comment box:

What’s the nicest unexpected thing someone has done for you?

Contest closes 6 p.m. Sunday evening Toronto time. The winner will be chosen randomly by some fancypants high tech method. Or I might try to involve the cat again.

late addition to clarify: I did not mean to imply that I hang out over at The Pioneer Woman merely for the contests. I'm there for many reasons - Ree's funny, she takes fantastic photos, I've learned many things about Photoshop for her, I love the look into ranch life, etc., etc. I enter the contests despite my horrific track record in such things because she has kick-arse prizes and hope springs eternal within my breast.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Walking Paper

Dear Ambulatory and Ablebodied Public At Large,

Hi. Um… hello? Down here. No, not there, here in the wheelchair. Yeah, that’s it - hi there! Can I have your attention for a minute? Thanks much.

As summer arrives in Toronto, so do the tourists and after a few weeks of navigating the meandering throngs, I’ve been reminded of something I’ve wanted to do for a while, namely offer a Walking Tutorial. And those members of the general public who permanently reside in our fair city (or any other city, come to think of it) and therefore might be inclined to smugly think this lesson/lecture/rant does not apply to them can sit right back down again, because the idea for this post first sprouted in my mind during the winter. When there are no tourists. So sit. Comfy? Let’s get started.

If the door to a public building (store, office building, etc) you are approaching mysteriously opens, your instinct to assume that the gods have seen fit to remove all obstacles from your way and head straight for it is misguided. You will discover this when you collide with the business end of a wheelchair/scooter/walker. See that red button with the wheelchair symbol above it? Or the larger grey circle also with a wheelchair symbol? That means it’s an automatic door opener and that the person with the mobility device rudely blocking your way has pushed aforementioned button, because that’s the only way they can get in or out. Unlike you, who can open one of the other doors. Or, if that’s not to your liking, perhaps you can wait until the person using the mobility device has passed through the door.

And while we are on doors… If you approach a door more or less neck-and-neck with a person in a wheelchair and get to the door first, it’s a nice gesture not to let the door slam shut in their face. Instead, try holding it open. This also applies when there’s a person with a stroller, a cart, carrying something heavy or simply when you get there a bit ahead of another person. It’s called courtesy. Look it up.

This is a note to the three young studs I encountered the other day - I use the term 'studs' because I'm sure that's how you view yourself. Walking abreast, taking up the entire sidewalk and playing chicken with a woman in wheelchair, refusing to step to the side and thereby forcing her out on the uneven bricks by the curb does not prove you have cojones the size of soccer balls. It just proves you’re assholes.

If you're in a store or say, the St. Lawrence Market, and there are aisles that form intersections, don't blindly wander across without looking both ways first. I'm sure you don't drive that way - and if you do, please let me know, so I can stay off the roads - or even cross streets like that, so why on earth would you do so inside? Similarly, don't step back without checking if someone is behind you or walk backwards without taking a peek at your rearview mirrors. You don't have rearview mirrors on your head, you say? Then try turning your head, using your peripheral vision or - here's a thought - turn and walk in the forward moving manner. Revolutionary, I know, but you should try it.

Backpacks are wonderful - they can contain all kinds of things and you have your hands free. Large purses and bags to go over the shoulder are likewise amazing for their capacity to hold the junk that we all feel is necessary to carry when we leave home. I have absolutely no quibbles with you carrying large receptacles for your stuff. What does give me pause is the tendency you have to sling said receptacles over your shoulder without looking behind you. May I point out that said large, heavy receptacles filled with stuff moving at high speeds backwards and towards your shoulder/back is at the exact perfect height to smack a seated person in the face? Or a child, now that I think of it. Please look before you sling in public!

Oh, and one more thing. This isn’t specifically related to the development of ambulatory skills, but while you're meandering around on the streets accompanied by a canine individual, may I humbly suggest that you pick up after your dog! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get dog feces off your tires when you can’t reach them? Or what it does to your floor that you likewise can't clean yourself? Fuckwit.

I sincerely hope that this little talk might have the effect to increase your attention to your surroundings, which would enable me to dial my degree of vigilance from hyperextremeserious to merely intense. Now go about your day and please, remember to Pay Attention.

Thank you

Lene

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Conversation with Richard Cohen

My latest post for HealthCentral:

"Three weeks ago, I reviewed Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, A Chorus of Hope by Richard Cohen and I recently had the opportunity to speak to him about the book."

You can read the interview
here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cloud Cover

I don’t like mushrooms. Never have. A more accurate statement might be that I loathe the wee bastards. Don’t like the taste, hate the texture, can’t stand the smell when they’re cooking. And yet, in the past 3 weeks or so, I’ve craved them. Craved. The vaguest mention of the word ‘mushroom’ captures my attention, pictures of them reclining on pizzas or splashing about in soup make my mouth water. Looking at them at the market makes everything within me yearn to eat my own weight in miscellaneous fungi. I haven’t, though, because I can’t stand 'em. I asked my naturopath about it, she said vitamin D deficiency and that totally makes sense. Because after the winter from hell, there was a brief and rather excessive interlude of summer with 40C and then the damn thing came back. Winter, that is. Or at least it feels like it. Because for the past couple of weeks, it’s been raining. And cold. And cloudy. Every day. There has been no sun for weeks and on top of no sun for months, it's apparently more than my body can handle on its own.

In the beginning, I didn't care. When people around me complained, I'd grin like the Cheshire cat and say "it's not snow!" And really, that's all that mattered to me – that it wasn’t freezing and white and impassable. But as the days wore on and it increasingly felt like I was back in Denmark, where a nice warm summer day means that it's maybe 20C and only rained for a few hours, my high spirits at the lack of white stuff started to flag. And getting up day after day after day to cloudy skies and rain and more rain and yet more rain started giving me a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder normally only experienced in the deepest dark of February. There are slightly browner spaces on my feet where the straps are my sandals aren't and I'm pretty convinced that it isn't the beginnings of a tan, but rather rust developing from all the wet. I wore socks last week - socks! in the middle of June! - and it is becoming blatantly obvious that I would wither away and die and/or jump off a curb if I lived in the Pacific Northwest.

It started out on the right foot. If you can talk about feet in the context of precipitation, that is. When the heat wave broke, it did so by assistance of some pretty impressive thunderstorms. In fact, there was a period of quite a few days where intense storms moved through the province on a daily basis. There would be blue skies and sunshine - remember sunshine? - and then the light would take on that odd intensity that means if you turn around, the other half of the sky is covered in a wall cloud approaching the colour of a nice charcoal suit. Many of the storms happened after dark and gave us one hell of a show. The lightning would start, one after the other, arcing down and flaring through the high clouds again and again, continuous flashes as if the gods were paparazzi and Angelina Jolie just walked by. Accompanying the light show would be the soundtrack of rumbling that had no end and no beginning, just overlapping thunder, rolling over and over again. The storms were some of the most intense I've ever seen and I began to understand the origin of the Norse myths that had Thor riding across the skies in his carriage, thunder and lightning in his wake. I also began to understand how frightening storms like this can be to those living in tornado prone areas - the way they pull up fast, out of nowhere, leaving you hardly enough time to get inside and safe. We were lucky here in Toronto, the storms being merely a reminder that the human race can't control everything, a fantastic show to watch from the safety of your home. For a brief time, I fought the urge to go outside, on the roof of our building to take video and pictures of the tempest. Then I thought better of it. But others managed to get out there with a camera – see here for video and here for some stunning photos.

Incredible majesty of nature’s display notwithstanding, the first day of summer has passed and I fervently (ardently, desperately) hope that the weather is going to snap out of it and behave accordingly soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wall & Bike Tires


Remember my elbow? It still hasn't quite healed and is currently aggravated. Even better, my left elbow is thisclose to the same performance. I'm therefore sitting still, applying ice, taking many, many drugs and keeping away from the computer as much as possible (and twitching because of it). As a result, this week will be all about pictures while I attempt to heal. Words to follow next week.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Come Sit A Spell

One of the best places to sit and read a good book in my neighborhood.

And speaking of reading, a while ago, I got tagged by Barbara from Nova Scotia in the book challenge. I’ve been sitting on it for a while, because although I do read books, I only read audio books and it’s a bit difficult to find specific pages, paragraphs and sentences in an audio book. However, in a nice bit of synchronicity, I’m currently watching Brideshead Revisited for the first time since the early 80s – revisiting it, if you will and yes, that made me groan, too – and in the throes of cleaning up prior to moving next month, my mother found an old copy of the book, which I naturally purloined. It’s the 1952 Penguin edition, “not for sale in the USA”. It feels old, it smells old and I’m loving it. I’ll won't be able read it, but certain books are about having. As an aside, I never realized that the full title is Brideshead Revisited: the Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder. So the challenge is as follows:

Pick up the nearest book.
Open on page 123.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the next three sentences.
Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

"He did not fail in love, but lost his joy of it, for I was no longer part of the solitude. As my intimacy with his family grew I became part of the world which he sought to escape; I became one of the bonds which held him. That was a part for which his mother, in all our little talks, was seeking to fit me." Which is interesting, because that sums up everything about Charles and Sebastian's relationship.

I'm tagging the following:

Carrie, because she has exciting news and needs you to go over there and be excited for her.
AlisonH, because she needs to sit still and this is a good excuse to do that (me? Bossy? Never!).
Diane, because the first time I met her and her lovely mother, we spent a lot of time talking about books.
Lucia, because she's likely spending part of the summer by a very beautiful lake (I'm not envious at all) and needs to find good books to accompany her.
Kuka, because she'll probably post something from a yummy recipe and I need to be culinarily inspired.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Random June

To start us off in a properly reverential mood, click here for a collection of children's letters to god (found over at Willowtree's). Okay, so reverential is probably not the right word for these epistles. Adorable, funny and unbearably cute might be more apt.

The other day, one of Mojo's whiskers in its preparation to leave her face turned upwards instead of down, giving her a sort of onesided handlebar mustache and it reminded me that I've been wondering for a while what happened to moustaches. I like moustaches - well, not so much the thick, bushy ones paired with muttonchops so popular in the 70s that made men's faces look at if they'd been invaded by a colony of giant, hairy caterpillars - but a neat, well-trimmed moustache adds a lot to a man's face, gives him a sort of thatched smile that I find very charming. Come to think of it, what happened to facial hair in general? It's bad enough with the chest waxing so popular among the younger generation (and yes, I know I just made myself sound as if I'm 87), then the hairless man trend moved to shaving/waxing arms and legs, heads and now faces. Is it just me who doesn't like a Ken doll look?

Lately, I've been getting a lot of spam with the subject title "update your penis". It makes me laugh every time I see it. This is not spam that talks about specific features of the organ, nor does it promise a joyous reception on behalf of the recipient. No, it simply and very geekily suggest that you update. I have an active imagination - sometimes, too active - and the possible scenarios involved in said updating are amusing me to no end. I mean, is it done on the Microsoft site? Sold in an Apple store? Is it freeware? Etc., etc...

First there was lolcats, then loldogs and I've lately become aware of lolpolitics, but I think I've found the site to beat them all. Or rather, Shiva has. Lolthulhu. Astonishing.

The other day, I was reading an article in the paper regarding Hillary Clinton ending her campaign to become the Democratic presidential candidate. In the article, Representative Charlie Rangel is quoted regarding the calls Clinton made to discuss the decision prior to the announcement: "[s]he was just as spunky as ever". I beg your pardon? 'Spunky'?? A US Congressman calls a person seeking the nomination to be his party's presidential candidate SPUNKY? Yeah, I guess the boys’ club (and quite possibly, the country) really isn't ready for a female president. I mean, can you imagine anyone calling a male candidate spunky? The lack of respect, the condescension… I'll stop sputtering now before I give myself an aneurysm. Feel free to add your own rant in the comments.

Still somewhat political, but in a much more positive way. Amnesty International is doing a mural series to celebrate the 60th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first mural is completed and is hosted by Family Residence, a shelter for homeless families where my friend Michele works. You can see a video about the mural series here, another video of the painting of the first mural by youth at the Harbourfront Community Centre here and one of the installation at Family Residence in a few weekends ago here. It's incredibly cool and quite possibly very, very spunky.

Click at your own risk! Josh Wolk has posted what may be the stickiest song ever. If you ever want to get rid of a song that's stuck in your head, click on this link and it will be scrubbed from your brain. Unfortunately, the song - called "Losing You, Losing You" by Jan Terri - will, once it's evicted the previous song, take up permanent residence in your brain. I can't get it out of mine. Josh also post a link to a song called Chocolate Rain, of which I had been blissfully unaware and although it's pretty sticky, it can't beat "Losing You, Losing You" for the perfect storm of audio and visual specialness (I'm sure there are many other words to describe it, but I'm choosing that one).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Power Games

A late note: some of you are having problems viewing the blog in Internet Explorer, having to scroll down to see the post. After noodling around with HTML and invoking the Tech God, my best guess is that the problem should be fixed if you update to IE 7. If that doesn't help, let me know and I'll keep bashing away at it.


On Sunday, Toronto Hydro was doing something technical in my neighborhood which necessitated turning of the power for two 1-hour periods during the day. One early in the morning while I was sleeping (because I refuse to get up early on the weekends) and another one in the middle of the afternoon. I was actually looking forward to the afternoon session - no power means no computer which means lollygagging with a clear conscience.

A little before two o'clock, I turned off the computer and a few minutes later, the power disappeared as promised. Faced with an entire hour of doing exactly what I wanted, it went something like this:

I decide to watch a movie. Except the power is out, so the TV doesn't work. No problem! I'll just make a cup of t… no, I won't, because the microwave isn't working, either. Right then. I'll grab my iPod - charged the night before, because occasionally I'm pretty clever (despite current evidence to the contrary) - and go to the park! At which point I realize that no power means that my automatic door isn't going to open, so I am effectively trapped in my apartment. Probably not a horrible thing to have happen, as it’s almost 40°C with the humidex outside - for those more familiar with the Fahrenheit scale, that's really, really warm. So I decide to just sit quietly in the nice, air-conditioned… no, not that either, but not because the A/C doesn't work when the power is out. No, on the hottest day of the year, one with record-breaking temperatures, the building’s air conditioning is not working. Nevermind! I can just turn on a fan… alright, FINE!! Argh! I will sit quietly and listen to my iPod, while attempting to not melt into a puddle.

And this excursion into power and its uses reminded me of the McPhee furnace wars. Every year, I attempt to participate and every year, Stephanie tells me that as I live in an apartment, I don't qualify. I whine and wheedle, but she is intractable in claiming that being surrounded by other apartments in which the dwellers presumably turn on the heat means that they effectively heat my unit, too. The bylaw that requires landlords to provide enough heat that public areas are 21°C during the winter doesn't help either. At this point I bring out what I believe is the big guns, namely that one entire wall of my apartment faces north (the direction from which bitter winter winds come flying down from the arctic) and consists almost entirely of windows, some of which are not exactly totally tight, yet she remains unmoved and I remain frustrated when she tells me that she has turned on the heat at last and I have yet to touch my thermostat.

However, I would like to take the following to a popular vote:

A City of Toronto bylaw stipulates that landlords must provide heat between September 15 and June 1. As the machinery which provides heat in our building also provides air conditioning, it cannot provide both at the same time. As of June 1, when the A/C was turned on, there is no heat available and based not just on the lack of its presence in my building, but on the existence of the Toronto bylaw, it is reasonable to state that the heating season is therefore officially over. During the entirety of said heating season, I did not turn on my heat. Not once, relying instead on handknit socks, blankets and luring the cat onto my lap. Regardless of what that says about the amount of heat available from surrounding units and the hallway on my floor, I think living through the winter from hell without going near your thermostat is still something.

What you think – does that at least qualify me as a participant in the furnace wars?

Much as I am having a small - tiny, really - issue related to some degree of competitiveness, having lived through 8 1/2 months with no heat makes me feel a little less guiltridden about turning on the air conditioner for the four months of summer (when it is not broken, that is). I figure my carbon footprint has shrunk a fair bit this year, which is better than winning the wars and I’ll attempt to rest comfortably (and virtuously) in that knowledge when Stephanie refuses my application for the 2008/09 skirmish.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

In the Weeds

I have a pretty small purse. It’s got room for a pen, a small notebook, my Epipen, the collapsible stick I use to push elevator buttons and a few other doodads. It’s got a wallet attached at the front for bills, coins and the plethora of cards handed out everywhere (why does every store need me to have a card?). Over time, other things get added – grocery lists, receipts, restaurant mints that go linty in the bottom, lottery tickets that I mean to check but somehow never do and the general detritus of life. At some point, someone will help me put it on a couch when I visit and upon hefting my deceptively small-looking purse, ask me if I’m carrying around bricks and in the same breath inquire why I don’t get a bigger purse. To which I always reply that no, no bricks and that I don’t get a bigger one because no matter how large or small your purse is, it gets filled up.

Life’s a lot like that, too.

In the past year, after starting Humira, I've gained in strength and stamina and as I've become more able to do things, new activities and responsibilities have been added to my life. I get a lot done now and it makes me happy. I like being busy, I like accomplishing things, I like being useful. Having a disability makes everything take more time and energy and sometimes, it makes you incapable of doing anything but barely getting through the day. It's a soul killer, the not being useful. It makes you question your worth as a human being. And so, when I got stronger, I kept putting more things into my life until it was full to bursting, until all my energy was used up by the busy. And lately, my momentum shifted from a controlled, efficient path to careening wildly downhill, bits flying off as I leapt over obstacles, tripped and flipped, kicking up a cloud of dust as I barely avoided falling arse over teakettle down the hill.

In the past month, I've spent three weekends sitting very still because of illness or to avoid an injury. Or rather, I've needed to sit very still to heal, but it never quite ended up that way, because there was always something that needed to be done. I was officially in the weeds, too busy to do anything but react, too busy to think, to take a step back and get perspective.

And then one day, I whimpered my way to the park for 20 minutes of regeneration and I brought reading material (because just sitting, doing nothing would apparently be wrong). I read something about habits and addictions and it smacked me upside the head so hard I saw stars and things started rattling into place. A day or two later, when I was staying away from the computer to prevent my shoulder injury from coming back and I found myself cleaning up my horizontal filing area (a.k.a. my dining room table) because I had to, because without doing something, I was twitchy and uncomfortable, it all came together.

My momentum had become momentum for its own sake and I'd developed a habit that was as destructive to my health as an addiction. Being busy took up so much of my life that I had no time to be the kind of friend I wanted to be, hadn't stopped to be lost in the wonder of a green leaf for quite some time, my priorities were screwed up and the bank account that represents my physical and emotional health was heavily overdrawn. When something had to be taken out of my life to make room for something else, something absolutely crucial, I had taken out what sustains me. I had taken out the very things that fill up that bank account, recharge my emotional batteries and feed my soul.

You can't do it all and for a time, I’d heard that as a challenge, trying to prove that I could indeed do it all. That despite having probably a third of the energy of 'normal' people (and that on a good day), I had expected myself to perform almost like a 'normal' person. Because it fed my self-worth, it made me feel like a contributing member of society, it made me feel less unable. The seductive siren song of being busy had made me believe that all of it was essential, that I was the only one who could do it and that I didn't have time for the rest of life.

We say we don't have time and usually when we use that excuse, what falls by the wayside, what gets taken out of the purse/life, are the things that make our lives worth living. We answer work e-mail at 11 p.m., put off a phone call to a friend, get irritated at the older woman ahead of us at the checkout for delaying the clerk with a chat, fly through an intersection in the second between yellow and red because to stop and wait for a green light would bring our blood pressure beyond boiling. We cut corners, give the minimum, stop listening, stop seeing, stop feeling. And it's all bullshit, because the extra minute or two at the grocery store or the intersection might actually reduce our blood pressure, our friends feed our soul and work? Work usually doesn't pay us to write e-mail at bedtime.

It's all about priorities. For a while, my priorities have been to be ‘normal’, forgetting that I’m not. For awhile, I forgot that past a certain level of busy, I am not useful to anyone and past that level, I begin to destroy my health. I forgot to feed my soul and I became more and more empty. Because although I may have quantity of life, the quality has slowly seeped out.

I'm cleaning out both my purse and my life, getting rid of unnecessary detritus, making room for what is important. But before I do that, I'm going grocery shopping and plan to strike up a conversation with the cashier. On my way home, I'm going to find something green and look at it, really look at it until I can feel my mind go still.

Life is not about busy. Life is about living.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Strong at the Broken Places

My June post is up at HealthCentral:

"'These are faces of illness in America. Do not look away.'
- Richard Cohen, Strong at the Broken Places

My first post on HealthCentral was a rant about a poorly-worded review of Strong at the Broken Places: Five Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope by Richard Cohen. Although I felt the review was patronizing, I wanted to read the book. And I'm glad I did."

You can read the rest of the review here. And then go get it - Amazon, your local independent bookstore, the library, doesn't matter. Just get it. You won't be sorry.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Summer's Here

A surefire sign of summer having arrived is John's birthday. Happy birthday, John!

Another sign is street festivals. One of great things about living downtown in the summer is the festivals that take over your community (not including Buskerfest. I hate when Buskerfest takes over my neighbourhood). This wekend marked the first of many - Toronto's Bike Month, in which all things related to bicycling was celebrated. How is this fun for me, you ask? Well, it so happens that one of the big evens was closed streets bike races (Toronto's first in 27 years) held in my neighbourhood. There was a kids' race, an amateur race and a community parade of regular people gathering en masse on bikes


Lots and lots of bikes


And yet another reason I love Canadians is that some bikers went rogue and took over the highway. Seriosuly. About 200 of 'em on the Gardiner and no one got hurt. Four did get arrested, though.

And then there was the pro race and holy crap, did they ever move fast. So fast that this is the best picture I could get


I then remembered that my camera has a video setting (took me awhile as I've decided not to think on Fridays. Y'know, for the rest leading up to the weekend) and found a place closer to the action. Which was significant and caused a major wind thing to happen. The race was 90 mins + 3 laps - NINETY MINUTES at this speed?!?? Ouch. I recorded two videos and have chosen this one, which although is slightly less interesting technically, has a hilarious moment about halfway through (in the quiet between the leaders and the rest of the pack) when one of the spectators utters a loud exclamation in response to a friend's statement.

video