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7 posts from July 2010

07/31/2010

Irony may be dead, but my dad is alive. So, what the hell is my problem? Indulgence in a Blog Post.

Since the existential crisis has been co-opted by hipsters, it feels both trendy and un-ironic to have one. Or, in my case, four. If I could put it off a few years, this crisis would be totally retro. 

I think this is my fourth. The first happened at 23 or 24, just like everybody else’s. I’d been accidentally deported from New York, and my return to Toronto after 5 years of freedom felt unnecessarily cruel.  My mum, ever the optimist, tried to ease my depression with a joint audition for the Vagina Monologues (not recommended) and the adoption of a large foxhound who arrived as Miles, became known as Churchill, and ultimately was called, simply, Fuck, since that’s all you could manage when Fuck lunged at you, looking for flesh.

The second crisis followed soon after, when my dad collapsed on his way to work. He’d been sick for over a year and nobody could figure it out. Doctors told him it was the flu. He’d also shattered his pelvis. Doctors told him to walk it out.

When my dad was finally admitted into emergency and a team of residents elected to remove his gall bladder, they pumped him full of morphine, and my dad is allergic.

“Hello, Mrs. Doyle. It appears we've misplaced your husband.”

Morphine gives my dad jumpy feet. It also makes him hallucinate. On my way to work one morning, I came face to face with my wiry, spritely dad, leaping from a taxi cab, clutching the back of his hospital gown in one hand and an IV bag and pole in the other, gold toe black socks pulled straight up to the knee,  a liberated silver fox headed for his own front door.

“They’re trying to kill me, Shorts. I need new socks and a shave. “

It’s an ethical quandary when you’re faced with returning someone you love to a place that does, in fact, appear to be doing more harm than good. My dad spent one more week on a morphine-free floor, with a handler at his bedside -- some overtly religious woman who knit in plastic armchairs, while my dad cursed about how they might at least have fixed him up with someone sort of intellectual. 

The third crisis hit when my mum, the most special, most beautiful, and wisest woman I’ve known, caught a cold, or maybe the flu, and abruptly died. I’d been living in Mexico, working as a journalist and helping an aging gay Olympian paint a 16-foot rug. This crisis hit in heavy waves and, though I thought I worked through it during a stint in West Africa, I did not.

And, now the fourth. My dad has had a pre-existing heart thing for a long time, and the prospect of orphaning a daughter made him wait to have it fixed. About a year and a half ago, he agreed to an experimental procedure, and the surgeon came and told me that things had gone almost perfectly, and six months later, the surgeon told my dad that he was going to be in a medical journal. And, six months after that, the surgeon explained to us both that he’d made a mistake. By medical journal, we meant we need to operate again and that needs to happen immediately.

And thus, my dad was given two weeks to wrap up his life out of town, retire from his job, and come to Toronto for a surgery he’d dreaded for over a decade. Another one. 

Anybody who’s spent anytime in our hospitals knows intimately that the Dickensian system we call one of the best healthcare systems in the world will be considered by our children among the horrors of the dark ages. Forget the miracles of surgery, getting out is the greatest miracle of all.

But get out, he did. And then go back in, he did. And now he’s out again, and you really can’t underestimate the emotional toll surgeries take on people and, by extension, their families. And my dad is alive and well, and more and more like his old self. And he says he’s been dreaming. He’s a boy again. He’s up at 4:30 to milk the cows. He’s talking to my mum and asking her advice about what to do next. He’s starting his life again, and in so doing, it seems he’s breaking from the past by consulting with it. And, it makes sense since he came so close to joining the people he dreams about now. Maybe, after five years of mourning, he’s saying goodbye.

My dad is choosing to live, but the break has not been clean, and I’m not certain the decision has always been easy. My mum and dad had a love for one another that made life possible. I'd imagine that makes everything else feel pretty insignificant. 

I’ve spent the last few months wracked by the past as well. Could be something in the air, could be a recent wedding that felt like a high school reunion, could be the looming end of a project and the peripheral question of, you know, marketable skills.

It occurs to me that my mum was 65 when she died. In a week I turn 33. Perhaps this "crisis" is the mid-life variety. In that case, the hipsters can eat it.

 

07/24/2010

Gawd.

My generation is very into "The Universe". Ask "The Universe", and it shall provide. My friends are all Agnostics or Atheists, but they're still pretty into "The Universe". That just makes sense. 

I asked "The Universe" to send me people's stories --stories from childhood, stories about lessons learned, adventures had, love lost, family histories, your stories. Stories. Stories to illuminate the fabric of one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Stories to teach us about the rest of the world. Stories to inform our understanding of ourselves. 

I think "The Universe" is telling me to stop being so pretentious.  

On Writing.

I'm getting better at killing babies.                      Will this make me a bad mother?

07/19/2010

And, it should go without saying

that if my neighbour ever discovers my name and ends up reading this, I will probably kill myself.

proof there's still a little British among us.

I've lived in my apartment for three years now. I’ve been thinking of moving for the last two. That's neither here nor there, unless you see a posting for a place with space and a patio at an egregiously low price somewhere along Dundas, or Queen West, or College.

Point is, my apartment is actually perfect, with one critical design flaw. My bedroom windows open onto my neighbour’s escape hatch. He and the parade of women that tramp in and out of his home are required to more or less pass through my living quarters by way of a fire escape anytime they wish to get in or out, which is frequently.

(Though I admit it’s cooled since April, there was, for a time, a spectacular stream of women. Like, I thought my neighbour had a twin.)

Again, though, the point. The point is, by now, surely this man knows every intimate detail of my life. He’s heard all of the scripts for the new TV show, he’s endured about 50 episodes of Friday Night Lights, he’s probably on a first name basis with my dad. He’s heard the break up, the make-up, and the break up again. Plus, I’m pretty sure he caught glimpses of a recent period when I suspected I’d missed my calling as a Bollywood dancer. Also, my room gets messy, and I bet he judges me. I live too far below to reciprocate. This irritates me, since it feels like a class thing. All this we share and still, we’ve never said a word to one another. More importantly, we’ve never even acknowledged the other exists.

Once I caught him peering into my window while he was on the phone on his patio-- sounded like an accountant. I think we both work from home, which I find troubling. Anyway, when I turned around, he pretended to have something in his eye and rushed inside. Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and leave the blinds open while I sleep. I do not do this on weekends if I’ve stayed in. My neighbour’s a party animal and, at this particular juncture, I am not. Instead, I build a myth.

But, I get it – this silence between us. It’s the unspoken rule – the reason you avoid eye contact on streetcars or in elevators. It's the fear of commitment, the fear of entrapment, the fear that everyone you don’t know is a cold-blooded maniac.

Once, when he was moving in, my neighbour’s dad and I made accidental eye contact while he was climbing the stairs with a box of hockey equipment, and I was unsticking my window. The dad wears LL Bean. His sweater was inside out and I could read the label. I heard him gasp. Actually gasp. Probably thought I was crazy.

Which brings me, at long last, to the actual point. Because now I wonder if I should be a little offended. There are no two ways around it. This man—my neighbour – has definitely seen me naked. And, no doubt, he will see me naked again. And, I figure, based on deductive reasoning alone, this man has seen a lot of women. A. Lot. Of. Women. It is obvious to me that this gentleman likes women. A. Lot. Of. Women. So, should I be concerned that he continues to ignore me? Wouldn’t it just be proper to acknowledge me, even apologetically? Sort of a, “if we didn’t live so close I would probably hit on you too.” Or, how about a thumbs up sometime when he passes by en route to yoga? I’d settle for a nod or a smile – a fucking laugh between strangers who probably know each other better than he knows this latest lady friend.

I could really help him with his relationships. We could have a code – like Woodward and Deep Throat. I catch him wooing a woman up the stairs and the next morning he stares into my window for the summary judgment.


6.2.

Keep Looking.

 

Or

 

4.5

Stay away from that bar

 

Or

 

What do you think of this outfit?

Too revealing?

 

It is absolutely time to move.

07/15/2010

Thoughts on standing at my counter, hovering over a slow cooker, eating asparagus at 1:15 in the morning...

It's a wonder she's single.

07/14/2010

Your Short Tales for My Long Posts

This blog is a bi-annual fad for me. Every 4-6 months, I dust off the cobwebs and decide to share my blog with the world.

And then I don't. Obviously.

Because I get insecure about my writing. But here's the thing --

I've never been insecure about YOUR writing.

So, I'd like to share you with the world.

With your permission. Obviously.

Please, send me your stories -- the stories you wrote as a kid, stories from when you were a kid, stories from your kids, stories about where you've come from, where you've been, where you're going, where your family came from, stories about your granddad, tales from your nana, an experience that shaped you, things you remember, what you'll never forget, regrets, demands, victories, something that makes you laugh, moving to Canada, coming home, love, taxes, travel, dying, living... you name it.

It's a dialogue, among Torontonians, for the rest of the world. In one of the most multicultural cities on the planet, we have a unique opportunity to learn about, to understand, and to appreciate the cultures of the world. So, perhaps these stories will prompt some change. Or, maybe, they'll just entertain you. Either way, I hope you're still reading. Brevity, in my case, has never come easily. Apologies.

Send me your stories, send me your email address, and let me come to you and buy you a drink or a cupcake, and you'll tell me your story, and I'll record it -- by video, by audio, or by hand -- and then I'll upload it onto this thing, and I will learn about technology, and you will learn about other people, and hearts and minds will grow and it'll all be thanks to you and a city and a cupcake.

Come on.