On Friday, September 30, 2005 at 9:52am, I flipped someone the finger for the very first time.

Crossing Eastern Avenue, at Trinity, I stepped off the median but noticed a car coming around the corner, so I stepped back up on the curb. The driver was nowhere close to hitting me (there was a good three seconds before he passed me) yet he honked as he drove by. I absotively posilutely HATE unnecessary honking. (Ya hear me, cabbies?)

I brought my hand up to make a "wazzamattawichu?" gesture, but somehow my middle finger popped up and that's what I gave him instead. Who cares if he saw. It didn't make me feel any badder than normal. But it sure felt odd.

"Residual guilt?" ask my colleague.

More like regret. I wish I'd thrown my shoe. OK, maybe not my shoe -- but something. Like a Rottweiler.


sometimes it helps to read slowly

The problem with taking over some of the responsibilities of departed colleagues is that you almost always find things out a little too late.

Monday, I get a call from our Tour Consultant, who has suggested that we ("we" meaning "I") submit a grant application to the Canada Arts Council Flying Squad program -- the very same program to which we'd applied in the spring -- the very same program that rejected our request. Sure we'll give it a shot. Why not? "By the way," he adds, "the deadline is October 1st."

The application guidelines specify that we are supposed to contact the Program Coordinator to describe the project for which support is being requested, before submitting anything. A message was left yesterday. No response yet. I'm down to two days before the deadline, with my regular job stuff piling up. This is my Choose-Your-Own-Adventure moment. Do I:

a) wait for her to call back; have her tell me that we don't qualify because we've already requested this fiscal year; breathe a sigh of relief; continue with all the other tasks in my Inbox.
b) wait for her to call back; scramble to throw something together when she gives me the green light.
c) go ahead and write up the application ANYWAY -- whether or not she'll get back to me/say "yes" this will be good practice anyway.

The tour consultant advised that I read the proposal written for the Ontario Arts Council Compass program, from where we did secure a sizable gift. All I had to do was perform a little copy-and-paste-and-wordsmith magic. Sounded straightforward enough.

The first letter I see in the Compass folder came with our cheque in the spring. My eyes are drawn to the final sentence of the third paragraph.
Your project report is due on September 28.

Feck. Then I tell myself "Pshaw, I'm sure they won't mind if we submit it a few days late. I'll just call them up and explain our little personnel situation." Then I get to the Project Grant Final Report form. This is what it tells me.
You must submit a report by the date identified in your grant notification letter. If a report is not received when due, OAC may require repayment of the grant and will not accept any further applications from or issue any grant payments to you until the grant is repaid or an acceptable report is submitted.

The first half of that passage reads a lot more harshly than the rest of it. But that's all that registered. I thought "Fucktacular, my only option right now is to:"

d) drop everything else; have a [non-menthol] cigarette; forget about your dentist appointment and get cracking on this final report; do not leave your desk -- do not breathe -- do not answer the phone -- do not go to the bathroom no matter how badly you need to go -- until it is done.

But when I re-read the last line, slowly, the vagueness of it -- the total lack of sternness -- revealed the emptiness of the threat. Either pay us back or keep submitting reports until we deem them acceptable. Doesn't sound so dire after all :)

Of course, I could be fooling myself by thinking that the folks at the OAC are merely pussycats or, to quote from a conversation I had today, big tubs of goo. In reality, they could be the Nazis of the arts councils. This meh attitude of mine could cost us a chunk of dough. Meh.

I re-read the notification letter, and four magical digits made the pain in my shoulders disappear.
Your project report is due on September 28, 2007.

The fun never ends. Looks like we/I'll be going with option C.

if only

I got the bestest wake-up call ever this morning.

If only I hadn't been so out of it -- after all, it was only 7:30.

If only my stupid phone hadn't started beeping for a recharge two minutes into the conversation.

If only I hadn't wet the bed.


say no more

"He says he might send a postcard. I told him he'd better. What kind of boyfriend goes away for six months and doesn't send one single postcard?"
"Do you even like your boyfriend?"


"Feeling hormonal, are we?"

TV made me weepy tonight:
1) the last five minutes of Cold Case, when a young girl is reunited with her mother, the ghost of her murdered father watches over them, as Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" takes over the audio;
2) the
Sick Kids Foundation commercial;
3) the last five minutes of
Grey's Anatomy, when Alex gives George a big hug for saving Joe's bar.
I like Sunday night TV very much.


Al's Retirement Dinner

There were so many possiblities for the title of the party, but since the company was footing the bill, I figured it would have been unwise to call it Al's "I'm-so-fucking-outta-here" Party.

There were sixteen of us gathered in the wine cellar at
Splendido on Harbord. As usual, I was tardy -- in fact, I showed up an hour late. I'd missed out on the canapés but I can't say I was bummed. Although the treats sounded amazing (mini venison burger, sour cream gnocchi, baked cheese platter, cold octopi with capers) I'm sure I would have pigged out and not left room for the meal itself.

It was interesting to be in a room with so many people who've worked over twenty years for the same company. Dad's been with Imperial Oil for over 30. I know he's done many different jobs within the corporation but I never knew what he was like at work. All I knew was the Al-at-home. When Dad gave up cigarettes, he took up candy. He even bought a candy bowl for his office. We'd teased him about it, and he assured us that it wasn't all for him, but for his co-workers -- because that way, "I'll get more visitors." It made me sad at the time, but now I realize that it was an example of his dry sense of humour which he reserved only for his fellow employees.

The letters and speeches made by his colleagues made be teary-eyed, made me proud. Some things I learned for the first time, others I just needed to be reminded of:
1) the Imperial Oil's annual report to shareholders, the quarterly reports and the Form 10-K annual report were synonymous with Dad's name;
2) the number of letters following his name exceed the total letters in his name (MBA, CMA, CPA);
3) he was the only auditor on his team whose wife packed all of his luggage;
4) he is incredibly polite and gracious, always helpful;
5) he was the most cultured guy on the floor -- ballroom dancing with the wife, opera with the daughter, fluency in four languages;
6) he was the most impeccable dresser on his floor: the suits, the ties -- everyone commented on his monogrammed shirts, which my grandmother had specially made for him in Hong Kong;
7) his deadpan delivery.

Sure sure, the cynic will say "Of course they'd shower him with praise. It's his retirement! They can only say nice things. There's probably a whole lot that's too embarrassing/negative to share." To the cynic: shut your ass. That's my Al you're talking about.

The meal was amazing -- though I kind of wish I'd ordered the sea-bream for my main. I changed my mind at the very last minute and got the lamb, asking explicitly for the cutest one with the biggest eyes and longest lashes. A food writer I am not. But here goes.

First course: Maritime Lobster Broth with Rock Shrimp and Basil Pistou
"Smells like Chinese soup!" observed
Weezerfreak. The broth was deliciously lobster-y with generous portions of shrimp, cauliflower and zucchini pellet-like floaty bits (whichever tool they'd used to make those pellets, I want one).

I pulled a trendoid move and chose the Fairview Cellars Viognier over the Shiraz. I have no idea how to use the words 'bouquet' and 'mouthfeel' in this context -- heck, in any context. But I do know that I liked its grapiness -- without the cloying sweetness of icewine. Make sense? Jon and Mel had a good laugh at my splotchiness, even though I tried hard to sip slowly. "Haha, San you look like someone's been slapping you around!" If they weren't my cousins, I probably would have told them off because it's the ridicule that keeps me from drinking before dark, in crowded places, around other people. But I couldn't. Not in front of Dad. Not in front of all his colleagues who'd just told me "Your father talks about you all the time! We're so glad to finally meet you!" Even Ted got splotchy -- of course he'd already had about three drinks by the time I arrived at the restaurant. Maybe it was the seventh drink of the evening that did it. He'd decided weeks in advance that NFW was he going to be the designated driver this time. Drinks were free and he was determined to milk it for all its worth.

Second course: Nova Scotia Lobster Cuit Sous Vide with Laurel-Scented Butter Poached Cauliflower
The lobster claw was soooo tender. I kept the last piece in my mouth, not wanting it to end. The creamy cauliflower puree could have been completely drinkable on its own.

Main course: Haldimand County Dorset Rack of Lamb with Lamb Osso Bucco and Rosemary Garlic Jus
I love lamb. Even in all of its gamey glory. Tonight's lamb was so juicy and did not contain a trace of gameyness. I am kicking myself though, as I had completely forgotten about the osso buco. I just ate the meat around the bone, and completely forgot to dig out the marrow with the little spoon they'd given me. Boo-urns.

Dessert: Tahitian Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with House Preserved Apricot Compote
It took a while for the coffee to come, which made it only slightly easier to take my time with the custard. It was divine.

Maybe it's a good thing I don't eat like that all the time. All that food made me sleep away one of the last warm Saturdays of the year. Ah, but it was worth it.


ArtsWeek Launch

As part of the ArtsWeek Launch, the Toronto professional dance companies involved in this year's Harbourfront Centre Dance season decided to share a booth at the event and spread the love for contemporary dance. From 10AM to 7PM, we sat in our tents between/near the TD Centre Courtyward and people-watched. I was surprised that in the four hours I'd spent manning the booth, I did not see a single impressive women's suit.

What a waste of a day. The powers that be decided to place our booth RIGHT on Bay Street, far from all the action and most importantly, the live entertainment. Those who did approach us did not care for our performances. They just wanted to know where they could take dance lessons.
"We don't really offer dance lessons -- though we do offer classes at the professional level."
"Oh yeh? What kind of dance?"

"Contemporary dance."
Blank stare. Followed by "What's contemporary dance?"
"Oh, you know. It's pretty much what the choreographer makes it. It's modern dance."

"So do you guys do hip hop?"

A man walks past the booth, makes eye contact with me, then comes over.
"Say, you look familiar. Do you work around here? I'm up in that tower."
"Really? Cuz I'm pretty sure I've seen you around. I must have been in your office at some point recently."
"Doing what?"
"Selling spa packages. Haven't you seen me before?"

"No. Selling spa packages must be lucrative. Rent must be phenomenal for a space in one of those towers."
"Why yes, yes it is." Then he goes into telling me about the spa he's trying to sell. And how his boss has appeared on CityLine countless times. He starts listing all the services and reaches into his jacket to pull out a pamplet.
"Whoa. Are you trying to sell me something?"
"Well yeah."
"So you don't really know me. That was just your way to get my attention?"
"Uh... heheh... why don't you take a look at this brochure? Doesn't spending a day being pampered at the spa sound enticing?"
"Not really. Besides, I'm sure it's out of my price range." That could have been his cue to leave me alone.
But instead, his eyes narrow and we go into this bizarre exchange.
"So have you heard of Bally's?" he asks.
"Sure. That used to be my gym."
"Well I'm the VP at Bally's."
I stare at him. "And you're selling me spa packages?"
"Hey, I don't really need the job. I'm just doing this in my free time because all the money will go towards the Chidren's Wish Foundation..." it all ends in mumbles and mutterings – and he storms off.
Since then, I've heard a few more examples of the sneaky spa-packages salespeople, and the ploys they'll use to lure you into their spiel. Friends, beware of anyone who stops you with what might sound like a request for directions, or tells you that you look familiar. I wish I could have given half a bonus point to this dude for effort, but his Bally's-for-the-Children story was just too weak and he gave up much too easily.


money train

The lanky old man at the end of the subway car has about twenty LCBO bags hanging neatly from his arm. He's smiling to himself as he snips away at a piece of paper, then hands it to the woman beside me. A heart with a smaller heart cut out of the middle.

"Here you are, dear. A heartless heart."

"Why THANK you" she says, with a little too much enthusiasm.

"And now, I will turn these lottery tickets into money!" Within seconds, he's cut up a small stack of scratch-n-win cards into dollar signs -- some connected, some on their own -- which he hands out to anyone sitting near him.

"There you go. A three-dollar bill. Don't go spending it all in one place!"

He has a sweet face. He doesn't smell funny. Clearly he's off medication but no one is intimidated by this man holding scissors. No one gets up to move away from him.

"God tells us not to depend on technology. I get by with these just fine." He waves the scissors then fishes through his bags for more cards to cut, making sure to collect all the clippings and keep them in their own little bag.

"My little sister. I haven't seen her in years." He hands me a piece of paper. 1965.

"God tells us not to depend on technology. I've got these. My sister, she'll be fine."



Attended the screening for Citizen Dog, a Thai film, at the stinkyzoopoo Paramount with Ted.

So I've already mentioned how much I lurve that trailer. What else about TIFF
floors me? A certain type of festivalgoer who sticks around for Q&A to subject the rest of the audience to his masturbatory -- fellatory, even -- praise of the film seen. It opens with a "good job great film!" followed by a demonstration of the speaker's knowledge of the filmmaker's work. After 5 minutes, some lame question gets tacked on, usually some variation of "wouldn't you agree?" The speaker's question isn't really a question, but a thinly-veiled attempt to impress us all. Said speaker also likes the sound of his/her voice. Much like the very kids in my film class who made me hate film students.

I wish more filmmakers would call them on it, like Todd Solondz did at last year's screening of Palindromes.

"Loved your film blahdeeblah[insert blowjob here]blahdeeblah but I've noticed so many of your films focus on pedophilia. Why is that?"

"So many? Really? I can only think of two. Obviously you know something that I don't..."


College & Shaw

Walking home from my Wednesday night screening, Twelve and Holding (interesting how the main characters of the film are twelve-year-old children, yet the adults get top billing) -- enjoying my last cigarette for the evening. Out of the corner of my eye as I'm crossing Shaw, a man turns around the corner and walks beside me. Not wanting to invite conversation from a stranger (there sure are a lot of chatty strangers on the street late at night!), I avoid eye contact. I walk a few steps ahead and hear a loud bang. On the second bang, my heart's gone up my throat but I still turn around (why? maybe I wanted to make sure there wasn't a gun aimed at my back). I see him bashing a car window -- successfully with the third strike. I keep walking, just a wee bit faster. That was it. He was gone. A thin layer of sweat had formed on my skin even though I was never in danger. I chucked my ciggy (in the trash, of course). The beating in my throat made it difficult to exhale.

Five down, three to go

Although nothing really stood out in the programme this year, I am happy that I haven't been disappointed yet.

Twelve and Holding (Cuesta)
Le temps qui reste (Ozon)
Citizen Dog (Sasanatieng)
The Last Hangman (Shergold)

This year's TIFF poster sucks -- but the trailer rates even higher on the scale of suck. Bravo, Endeavour Marketing. Oh wow. Hands touching hands. The way films are suppose to touch their audiences. To connect. *snort* I guess it makes more sense than last year's equally lame trailer showing some woman in a white dress spinning in a field. I think there was a dove in it. Or something.
Barry Avrich, President of Endeavour Marketing (and former Creative Director at Echo) claims: "If it is boring or annoying, the trailer has clearly failed." Right.

2002 poster was pretty neat, with dancers painted like clapboards. Hard to believe that same agency, Echo, was responsible for the whirly girly. This year's trailer music reminded me of a cheap knockoff of that duet from Lakmé -- you know the one, from the British Airways commercial AND if I remember correctly, from the skit from the Kids in the Hall, when Bruce shares a special moment with his dog.


my favourite season

yet the reminder that i've just wasted another summer doing nothing makes me miserable as fuck. ok, not nothing. i did manage to finish all the crosswords in my book. It's nice weather to be wallowing in self-pity... everything's dying. My boss is oblivious to the fact that he has chosen to make the next few months hell for me. Here's a tip: never work for an artist if you will be his/her support staff of one. What's that? Stop complaining and leave? Goddamn loyalty.
I'll be 29 soon. Pulling my hair out trying to figure out what have been my goddamn achievements, if any. I want out. Yes yes yes. We are responsible for our own happiness. I say that shit all the time. But I want that magic pill that will make it easier for me to breathe.



I do not ovulate regularly. I've had one period in the last year. I've gone as long as two years without one -- and would have gone on longer had I not taken the Pill. Sure it saves me from buying hundreds of dollars of feminine hygiene products a year -- but before you ladies start envying me for this so-called blessing, let me envy YOU.

The first thing every doctor/specialist assumes is that I have too much testosterone. "Do you have an abnormal amount of chest hair?" they always ask. Define "abnormal."

My doctor first told me that my system was out of whack -- I'm sure he used more scientific terminology at the time –– when I was 18. When he mentioned something about the possibility of me being infertile, I tuned the rest of his spiel out. I'd never kissed a boy, and already I knew I might never have babies. They put me on the Pill, just to regulate my period -- I grew zits, I got fat, I barely passed my first year of university. I spent the next few years feeling sorry for myself, but never admitting to it. I got tired of taking the pills, so I stopped.

Years passed and every doctor I saw recommended that I go back on the Pill -- I went on and off a few times and finally decided to quit. Although my chest hair hasn't gotten any more abnormal, I wasn't too keen on pumping more hormones into my problem-laden body. (Have I mentioned the bunions?!?)

It's been ten years since I first went to Dr. Redhill with this problem. I figured "surely, a whole lot of research has been done... maybe someone can give me some answers now." They gave me a med student a few weeks ago when I went for my physical. I told her my life story and said I didn't want to take the Pill anymore. She asked me about my chest hair. Then she suggested I go on the Pill. Short of calling her a fucking retard, I smiled and just reminded her slowly that "No, really. I would much rather explore other options."

Five blood tests (it's always fun to watch the lab technicians move the needle inside my arm as they struggle to find my elusive veins) and one ultrasound later, they tell me I've got
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. One out of ten women have it. Although it isn't a life-threatening condition, it would appear that I could very well be infertile – but if I somehow get lucky, I'd still be prone to miscarriages. Sorry Dad, even those petrie babies you'd suggested might not be a viable option -- but at least I know why my hair's thinning. I guess I was meant to be the Cat Lady after all.

I stopped by the Victoria Coffee Shop across from St. Michael's Hospital. I used to go there every morning when I worked in the area. It had been over two and a half years since I'd gone. The owners have changed, but the cooks and waitresses are still the same. Bessie smiled when she saw me. She laughed when I ordered French Toast with Soft Bacon. "That's what you used to get all the time."


I am a winner

Really. I don't mean it in a sardonic way. I hear you snickering. Go ahead.

So it's not the
Larousse Gastronomique, but hey, I just saved myself a whole whopping $10.95 + tax. I could buy three meals at Chinese Traditional Buns with that. Yay me. Mmmmm. Buns.


See you soon...

Six months won't be so long. If I'm lucky I'll be seeing you sooner... Of course, that means giving up a fabulous Ontario winter for balmy Bangkok weather... Hmmm... Snotsicles or sandals in December? Gosh. Tough call.