Sunday, August 23, 2009

dear diary

My love affair with the diary started at age seven. My first was a birthday gift – white, printed with mini hearts and stars, with pepto-pink pages, and an indestructible gold lock that had exactly two pop-tab sized keys. I hid them in the most unimaginably secret locations, checked them twice a day, and rotated them to new clandestine hiding spots at least twice a week (a girl can’t be too careful when it comes to guarding her top 5).

The diary instantly became my place to confide, confess, rant, rejoice, dream, dwell, and describe my un-poetic life without reservations, and my secret affair is as strong today as it was the moment I unwrapped my first edition. With time, I’ve graduated from my Disney-themed journals, to faux-leather-bound notebooks, to mini moleskins, that have accompanied me around the world. They’ve shared my take-offs and landings, tables for one, unpredictable bouts of insomnia, and about a thousand-and-one frothy lattes in cafes from Toronto to Tanzania.

And then I was hit with a question, one that probably strikes every closet novelist, journalist, and poet, who put their pen to the modest pages of a notebook. For whom are we writing these diaries? I ran across the idea in Orwell’s 1984, and the question bothered me enough to think over my own behaviour. Are we supposed to be writing for future generations? Or for a future self? Are we humbly hoping to inspire people to learn from our mistakes?

Or maybe we’re driven by a simpler, inglorious, selfish desire to prove that, despite the triviality of our daily routine, something happened.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

knowlege is...

Inspired by talks with a few friends about the quiet satisfaction of spending your mornings lost in a good book, I decided it was beyond time that I visited the used book market, a vintage book store wedged in between an auto parts garage and an Indian restaurant along the main road that cuts through my chunk of the Ottawa suburbs. Inside, books were piled from floor to ceiling so that there was barely any wall space left, except for a lonely patch of grey behind the dated cash register. What didn’t fit on the endless rows of towering book cases was heaped onto rickety two-storied tables, with the overflow stacked in crooked piles underneath or crammed into beat-up milk crates. It smelled odd, like dust and decay, with the faintest twinge of curry powder.

There was clearly some method to the madness, but with so many titles, categories, entire book cases lined with novels by G or A-named authors, fiction, non-fiction, decade-old best-sellers and tables marked classic literature or sci-fi, it felt best to abandon the white-haired store owner’s well-placed intentions and go on your own adventure. I tackled the bin closest to the door and spent forty-five minutes scanning the dusty, crowded shelf, and furrowing through row upon row of dog-eared paperbacks. In the end, I didn’t find what I was looking for, but did walk away with only slightly-battered copies of Nineteen eighty-four, Neuromancer, and Vonnegut’s God bless you, Mr. Rosewater, for the bargain price of $13.60. I think my grade-school English teachers would be very proud.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


The lawyer handed us the keys a week ago. It’s a 1950s row house on the outskirts of Westboro – two floors, one creepy basement staircase, and seven rooms painted in faded pastels (walls of golden sunset turned expired mustard). It’s got potential, but the extreme makeover takes a little longer when you’ve got a homeowner with high standards, who happens to share my love for extended lunches at the Vietnamese restaurant around the corner.

Did you ever notice how painting seems more fun in theory than in practice (especially when Ottawa’s finally got a heat wave and we’ve got to power through five rooms in a week). Primer, base coat, finishing coat, edging, baseboards, ceilings, closets, doors and clean-up makes for an exhausting, and toxic-smelling afternoon – and I’ve had the added pleasure of trying to Wikipedia how to remove paint that has apparently fused to the skin around my elbows. The house looks good, but the patches of rocky road and metropolis don’t really suit me, or my shoes, or my hair. Tips?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

row row row your boat...

My mum and dad are boat people. Our boat is named Kitkat. She’s the 22-foot, 5000 lb, green and white baby of family, and my dad spends more money on her than he spent on my entire college education. They relocated her from Long Island, NY last fall, and after a 10-year hiatus (two girls in university and a fixer-upper house drained the boat fund) they like to take her out at least once a week to introduce her to the flow of the Ottawa river.

Sometimes they invite me along – I’m good for throwing myself overboard to stop the boat from bumping or scratching itself on the dock.

This is where I get ready to launch myself onto the dock.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

we're not in Kansas anymore

Did you know that an average of 80 tornadoes touch down in Canada every year? I didn’t, until one just barrelled through my aunt’s neighbourhood and took out half of the street.

Move over shark week.