bogey & ruby

bogey & ruby

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


I reached into the dregs of my closet in desperation today and pulled out an outfit (loose-fitting skirt and blouse) I wore at the beginning of my pregnancy years ago. Honestly, it made me look like somebody's aunty (minus the braided buns on either side of my head).

I never wear skirts and it was hot today so I resorted to applying some Pure Passion blissful breeze scented liquid body silk for men on my inner thighs to prevent chafing. I originally bought it for my husband's sweaty balls but he claims his don't sweat and since it's not the sort of thing I feel comfortable leaving on top of the mini fridge at work with a post-it that says "I'm all yours; please take me home.", I decided to give it a try. And hey folks, it actually works. Better than corn starch. Neater than Vaseline. Cooler than those pricey anti-chafe shorts.

Oh, and here's a fashion tip for members of the brown club. We don't do beige well, at least not on top. At best, it makes us look anemic. But mostly, it makes us look motion sick. 

Every single one of my clients reacted to my outfit today. My first client clapped her hands together (no easy feat with a broken wrist) and said, "Sharon, you look transformed!", which is a polite word for the opposite of a make-over. Another client started breathing like Darth Vader. And my last patient turned her mouth into a circle like Mr. Bill and said, "Ooh noooo ...".

Here's how you cope with a day when the only thing that fits is beige and your clients are having trouble breathing. You slather on some liquid breeze and you walk slowly and often, one foot in front of the other, heel to toe. You close your mouth and inhale for four seconds, exhale for six and hold for two seconds before taking another breath. Then, when you feel better, you look through your closet with fresh eyes and find something that isn't beige for the next day. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dealin' From The Bottom

So this happened last Friday.

My husband picked up 150 copies of his new cd, a twenty-song collection of Bob Dylan covers. Dylan is his idol and the passionate interpretations on this album (with help from his daughter Nicola on vocals and harp player Chard Chenier) do the legendary balladeer justice. At least I think so. One may accuse me of bias; after all, some of these tunes were used to woo me when we first met.

On Saturday, my son's dad picked him up midday, lingering a while to adjust Sean's bicycle seat and pump air into the tires. On an impulse, I asked my husband if I could buy my ex a cd. He agreed and I sent my son out with a copy to give to his dad. A few minutes later it was blasting from the car stereo as he and his dad shot some hoops together and Ian and I listened from inside the house. It was one of those happy "all is well in the universe" moments.

The next day, we were walking the dogs when a neighbour called us over. Apparently he'd enjoyed the music playing from our driveway Saturday, walked over to ask my ex about it, and was eager to buy a copy for himself.

Monday, my son returned from his long week-end away. As he plonked his knapsack and school bag on the dining room table, I popped my head around the corner of the kitchen doorway to say good-bye to his dad. Standing next to him was his girlfriend, Barbara. "I love Bob Dylan and I loved Ian's cd. Could I have two copies, please? One for me and one for my girlfriend who loves Bob Dylan too."

And just like that, one gifted cd resulted in three more being sold.

Honestly, I struggled to write this entry tonight. The news on the net has been pretty grim lately, to the point where I feel myself sinking into the bleakness of it all. It's not so much the horror of death and destruction that gets to me but rather the feeling of powerlessness that accompanies it, my inability to ease the pain not only on a global level but also at a local level as a public health care worker.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that these small moments of connection, of perfect alignment, of peace, are a reminder that there is a way through. To quote the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, "If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace."

And if that doesn't work for you, here's a quote from the man himself:

“Sometimes you just have to bite your upper lip and put sunglasses on.”
― Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1

Graphics by Ro Cerro; Artwork (Joker) by Mike Cochran

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Disappearing Pillow

I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and when i crawled back into bed i couldn't for the life of me find the pillow that i keep between my legs (thanks to 30 plus years of teaching other people how to avoid back injury, i hurt mine doing hills on my treadmill). I could feel it when i patted the top of my layers of blankets and sense the weight of it on my body but it had magically blended into the top sheet. Eventually, in my semi-conscious state, i realized that i had crawled under the mattress pad getting back into bed, the direct result of violent menopausal tossing and turning: turn right and toss covers off to better expose boiling head/body to ceiling fan, turn left once inevitable chill sets in and frantically grab sheets and blankets where they have been thrown, uncovering shih tzus and Ian under the avalanche of covers.
Pat Flewwelling, you were in my dreams last night, your bathroom renovation hyperboled into a world tour with nothing but silk in your backpack and travel blog entry after travel blog entry leaving me green with envy and flushed with hot flashes.

New Year's At Our House

After a wonderful time ringing in the New Year at the Mariposa Café (we didn't quite make it to midnight), Ian and I threw out our old sheets and put on some brand new bedding to go with my sacred cow throw pillow from India, one of my favourite Christmas gifts ever, from my sister-in-law.

The shih tzus are off to a sparkling start too with clean bums after an emergency visit to the groomer's today. Shit happens, folks. Sometimes it sticks, other times it hangs, and it pretty much always stinks.

As of today, we have eight weeks less a day to plan our wedding and i am hoping I can fit into something other than a table cloth by then. It's always such a challenge trying to eat every last chocolate in the house by December 31st. I keep finding more. Maybe I can finish it by December 31st, 2017.

This is the third wedding dress i've bought (only been married once though, it's a long story) and it definitely isn't white. In fact it's red, but only because I can't wear orange or lime green like some lucky people.

I brought my mother shopping with me because I am no longer agile enough to get the dresses past the first major obstacle, my head, never mind the second, my bosom. After we purchased the dress, my mother, forgetting who she was talking to, suggested I keep looking around. Um, no. Not unless it's the tableware department.

In other news, I asked Ian what he's planning to wear that day.

"I don't know. Probably black."

Now why didn't I think of that?

Peace and love, dear friends. Take care of yourselves and don't neglect your village. You never know when you might need help getting a dress over your head. <3
LC's salted caramels. It took three episodes of The Munsters to finish them.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Lessons From The Road

  1. That extra bagel they give you when you order a dozen is meant to be eaten in your car on the way home. But what does it mean when you order a dozen and you get exactly a dozen?  Is it a bad omen? Should I eat one in the car anyway?
  2. There is no way to overtake someone in a senior's residence without startling them. You may as well slow down and avoid causing a cardiac event.
  3.  It is getting more and more difficult to see over my steering wheel when driving up and down hills and turning corners. The older I get, the bigger my blind spot. On the bright side, I haven't jumped a curb in over a week.
  4. A man referred to as "The Butcher" is head chef at a local senior's residence.
  5. I can have a whole phone conversation with a client, without understanding a single word they say, then chart about it after.
  6. Being a visual person, I would suck at blindness. Being a visual person, clutter is simultaneously a source of great comfort and distress. 
  7. Whereas women under 65 apologize profusely once they realize I am not actually pregnant, women over 65 insist they know better and that I must be wrong.
  8. I need to set the coffee grinder at Akhavan to medium if I want to avoid making Turkish coffee. If I insist on drinking Turkish coffee, I must stop by my Armenian client and say, "No, thank you.", when they offer me some.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

High School

The timing was perfect : Gami shih tzu squatting by the side of the road just as the school bus, at least ten minutes behind schedule, turned the corner to pass us. First day jitters for everyone, I guess.

There was no waving or blowing of kisses at the bus as there had been the first day of kindergarten, no mad dash to the school to make sure our kids found their teachers once they got off the bus, and no first day photographs because he's too cool for school now and I didn't want to make things worse by insisting.

And earlier on, there had been no tears from my boy even though my heart was in my throat. Just a mini meltdown over shoelaces, which we had practiced last week, but that's fair-weather dyspraxia for you, nobody's friend when you're stressed. A last minute, "I'm really nervous, mom.", in his new man-child voice was the opening for a hug. "Want me to walk the dogs around the block? I won't say or do anything." "Okay.", he conceded.

And then I let him go, just like that.

If you're a parent, you know exactly what that feels like.

Taking the long way around through the park, I bumped into a woman i know casually, walking her dog. When she asked how I was, I told her I was nervous about my son's first day of high school. She nodded knowingly. "I've gone through it three times.", she said. "And my daughter is starting CEGEP this year." "So he'll be fine, right?" She said he would be even though she can't possibly know that, but blind reassurance is the only way to assuage a neurotic parent's worst fears.  

I continued walking until he was within sight. There were lots of kids at the bus stop as I watched from far away, mostly boys and one girl. A lone dad stood next to his daughter at the end of the line. I don't blame him one bit. Everyone stood apart from everyone else. There was no talking, no eye contact. High school culture.

Sean glanced up momentarily, saw me, then looked down. There was no acknowledgement as per our agreement.

After the bus passed, I lingered outside for a long time. Dogs and walks can be so therapeutic.

Then back at the house, I sat on the steps of the mud room, opened my throat wide and bawled my eyes out. A small percentage of that release was pure relief that the first day was over, at least my part in it. Most of it though was my heart breaking in two.

I've heard all sorts of platitudes from people telling me things will be fine, that I'm worrying for nothing. I really hope that's true. But I work in a job where shit happens all the time. Nobody asks for it or deserves it but it happens anyway. We cope by not entertaining the possibility that it could happen to us so when it does happen we get sideswiped, feel bewildered and come completely undone. Quite frankly, I like to come prepared for a party like that.

If it were up to my son, he'd be perfectly fine. He's a great kid, empathetic and bright, with lots of resilience and many strategies to fall back on. That's how he made it so far, along with the help of our village.

It's the system I don't trust. We've had terrible experiences in the past and I'm afraid those still haunt me. Not to mention the mean kids who make high school unnecessarily torturous for so many. The insidious bullying and exclusionary tactics that take their toll in the form of deeply wounded psyches in brains that aren't fully formed yet, or worse when we hear about kids as young as thirteen taking their own lives. This shit really happens. I know people who've lost children. I've lost people.

Ian says it's an awkward stage for all teens, an awful but necessary rite of passage that rudely spits them out into so-called adult autonomy once they've paid exorbitant fees for a really scary roller coaster ride. I can't help but feel that this generation has to deal with so much more than we did though. There simply doesn't seem to be an off switch or volume button to tone down all the pressure they're under. At least that's my take on it from where I stand next to the ripples.

By the time I finish writing this and posting it, my boy will be almost home. It's only a half day today so there will be plenty of time to debrief, decompress and eat comfort food.

Hope to see you all on the other side of things, intact, in five years time.


P.S. If you have a boy, please watch this movie available on Netflix : The Mask You Live In.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fifteen Positive Things In One Day

Fifteen Positive Things In One Day

(From an old Facebook post that popped up in today's memories. It felt good to read it.)
July 17, 2014 at 9:12pm
I was nominated by Erin Mooney to post 3 positive things for 5 days and to pick 3 people to join in the fun. I decided to disobey this directive and post 15 positive things in one day. Please forgive me. As for the people I have tagged, I have my reasons but feel free to untag yourselves if you'd rather not. And if I left anyone out who would like to participate, please join in.

1) Almost being born on an elephant has its advantages. It can be a great ice breaker for one, it provides a unique vantage point in life, and it relays the message that it's okay to be different. We all have a story to tell and mine happens to start here.

2) I had no idea my parents had a mixed-race marriage and spoke with funny accents or even that we were all immigrants, until it was pointed out to me sometime in grade school by some kids in the neighbourhood. They called my dad a Paki and said we should all go home. For a long time, I felt shame and tried to change things. I started calling them mom and dad instead of mama and papa and made my younger siblings do the same. I corrected my dad's mispronunciation of certain words. One by one, I visited all the Christian churches within walking distance of my house and asked if I could join. Essentially, I tried hard to assimilate. What's so positive about this? Well, the search for a sense of belonging and community eventually brought me back full circle, with a renewed appreciation for the courage my parents had in marrying. Not belonging to one community or another forces one to forge meaningful connections in other ways. It allows one to straddle the fence and empathize with both sides of the debate, be it cultural, religious or political. It's been a rich life so far, filled with an insight I might never have known had I not lived the immigrant experience.

3) I am not always mindful but I know how to be and when I am, the world stops spinning out of control and I am exactly where I am supposed to be in time, with no regrets, no aspirations and no illusions of grandeur. It is a gift to keep rediscovering that the present, that presence, is all that matters.

4) I can have my cake and not eat it today, or tomorrow or even the next day. It can wait. I can wait. There is no hurry.

5) I am relieved to have passions without talent. Once you come to terms with the disappointment of being mediocre, the pressure is off and you can enjoy yourself. Talentless passions have made me strive and work hard and improve by taking the slow scenic route. I am grateful to all the talented people who allowed me to ride on their coat tails over the years.

6) I love my dysfunctional family. They tell the best fart jokes at the dinner table. My parents spoil me on a regular basis, give me doggie bags weekly, and go clothes shopping on my behalf whenever I complain about my four day wardrobe-rotation. I am so lucky to still have them.

7) It is a very good thing that life didn't turn out the way I planned. It has prepared me for impermanence. I do not believe things happen for a reason. They just happen. We only get to choose what to do next for a brief period and then the plan changes again. Fighting this idea only makes it harder to cope. At least that's what I have found.

8) When I die, I want my obituary to say that I'm dead. The last thing I want people thinking is that I passed, floated or slipped away peacefully. And no bridge crossing or seeing lights either. When I go, I'm going to be royally pissed, especially if I don't have a say in the matter. I try to be authentic in life, I'd like to be in death too.

9) There is life after divorce, and love. My ex-husband saved me at a very difficult time in my life. Together, we saved several cats and dogs and made a beautiful boy. It worked for a while and when it wasn't working anymore, I realized I had to save myself. I hope he will forgive me someday. I am so happy he has found love again. I found love too, not the kind that rescues, but rather, one that nurtures.

10) I have the most amazing colleagues, mostly women, but some guys too. They make the world a better place and I get to help them. I absolutely love working with them, even though I never go to any of the lunches. I consider many of them, if not all, to be friends for life.

11) Somehow, I have managed to maintain numerous friendships without ever answering my phone, by avoiding social gatherings like the plague, and promoting my introversion whenever the opportunity arises. Don't be be fooled by my antisocial behaviour. I love you all and thank you for your understanding.

12) As a single mother, social media has allowed me to remain connected to my network and even extend it. I have met some amazing new friends as a result, not only virtually but in person too. I know there are some negative aspects to it but I am grateful to be able to keep in touch with so many people in such an efficient manner. I try not to be mundane or crass. I appreciate those who take the time to comment, like, or even lurk without leaving a trace. :)

13) The best thing that ever happened to me was getting fired by McDonalds. There, I said it. It taught me about indignity and labour rights, about the importance of work ethic and validation. Luckily, I got a much better job after that as a nurses aide. I loved the work. I leapt out of bed in the morning and looked forward to each and every shift. That job overlapped with my physiotherapy training and influenced how I practice in my chosen field. As much as I gripe some days, as sad as it can be a lot of the time, my work is extremely rewarding. These days, however, I only try to save those who want to be saved. And it's not even saving, really. More like accompanying them on their journey. Resistance is not so futile after all. If they allow it, I help steer the boat, but always into the wind. They think I'm healing them, but it's really the other way around.

14) During my pregnancy, I anticipated a blue-eyed boy who would excel at hockey and learn to play violin using the Suzuki method. Instead, I got a brown-eyed boy holding a rolled up piece of paper with Plan B written on it and nothing else. The paper is still blank so we take life slowly and deal with each challenge as it presents itself, surrounding ourselves with lots of good people. My son has taught me all about grief, from the time I thought I would never have children, to almost losing him early in the pregnancy, to right now. He doesn't know this, of course. He lives his life joyfully and works really, really hard at stuff, and loves me even when I'm being a bad mother. I often long for a break from all this single-parenting but when he's not around, I miss him terribly. He has been my greatest life lesson.

15) Love found me at age fifty and stuck around, even though I resisted at first. I don't know what he sees in me but he brings forth such good things with so much ease, I can't help but believe and love back with all my heart. I hope he stays for a long, long time.