Writing and editing
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Today I opened up the Globe and there was a big picture of a northern winter in Iqaluit complete with someone dressed up in a bunch of dead animals. That kind of winter is pretty. The crazy bleakness, the blue grey skies, the way the trees hold the snow. Pretty.

In Toronto it is pretty for a few moments. The snow falls and it looks like Gingerbread Land. This year with the ice storm, we had a few beautiful days of these exquisite tree ice sculptures. More exquisite and beautiful if you weren’t looking for a hotel to spend Christmas in, but beautiful nonetheless.

Eventually, winter gets ugly. The cars get to the snow and turn it brown and soggy. The trees shake their snow and just look like brittle arms. The sky turns the same colour as the ground – sort of yellow/white – and you start to get used to not seeing the sun peek out for days and days.

I take the subway into work, and despite the shambles that is public transportation in Toronto – I prefer it to driving in rush hour and parking on a two-storey snow bank. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement so I decided to make a little list of nice suggestions that I think could ameliorate any subway ride.

1. Toothbrushing Stations: I don’t know how this will work, but I think it is a shit hot idea. Most subway riders seem to omit this crucial morning routine. I don’t want to smell what you ate last night for dinner. All that bad breath makes people cranky and uncooperative. I think a cute little booth by the ticket agent would solve a lot of problems.

2. Listening to Someone Else’s Music: It is like a rule, unless a person is in your home (and even then), she doesn’t want to listen to your music. Even if you listen to the same music that I do, I don’t want to hear it on the subway. Maybe you need better earphones or to have your hearing checked – I’m not sure – but that could be another little service public transportation provides. The people who come on the subway without headphones and the volume turned up on their iPhones – need to return to nursery school before they can make decisions for themselves again. Even my three-year old knows I don’t want to listen to the Octonauts.

3. Stand Up! Once when I was a teenager, I was riding the subway with friends in Rome. The train was packed and we were sitting down. My friend told me not to look up because then you would have to give up your seat. Even at that point, I knew that was kind-of wrong. Later, again as a teenager, I rode a bus in New York City. When we walked in an 80-year old woman shot up and offered us her seat. The rest of the ride was like musical chairs. Every time someone would walk on the bus, the passengers would all stand up and offer their seats, my friend and I included. I always thought that New Yorkers were supposed to be pushy, driven assholes – but I learned I was wrong about New Yorkers, and the real truth is  teenagers should never be allowed to sit down because they are lazy and selfish unless a bunch of seniors teach them otherwise. So, here is my suggestion: One 80 year-old per car. Job: Offering her seat to anyone over 15 and under 30. Three weeks and the whole rude not-giving-the-seat-up thing will be a distant memory.

4. Slippers: I think the subway experience could be so much better in the winter if you weren’t schlepping through slush on the cars. I love the idea of wearing cozy slippers on the subway instead of my boots. Bonus: I wouldn’t have to bug my son not to stand on the seats. Also, less clean up! I suppose while we are making a no outdoor shoe policy on the subway, we should say no MacDonald’s either.

5. Good Subway Newspaper: Would it be so hard? I feel my IQ lowering when I read them. And I say this as someone who has been published in one. There are a million great writers out there who would work for mere ducats, the advertising dollars are clearly there with a captive audience. Those newspapers make me feel bad for the trees, and that shouldn’t be your first thought when you see a newspaper. Maybe they need more Haley-O.

6. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: For the record I think that was a sad and disappointing policy in the US military, but I think in terms of subway delays – it works. In Toronto, we have to hear about every screw that needed to be tightened therefore causing a five second delay. Learning about a delay makes everyone antsy. If I am stuck in a subway tunnel, I’m stuck in a subway tunnel. But if I hear that we are delayed until further notice because some teenager didn’t give up his seat and someone freaked out and pressed the passenger assistance alarm (true story) it is just going to panic me. Don’t tell me about it, just fix it.

Okay, your turn. Subway suggestions?

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When I was younger and pretending to be a grown up, I got stuck in an ice storm. I was living in Montreal. When the storm started I was alone and far away from my house. The sky was grey, I was confused that the subway didn’t work and I walked home.

We had no heat or electricity. We went to bars and coffee shops and felt very much a part of something. I was happy that I didn’t have to write an essay. We shopped in grocery stores lit by candlelight. It felt romantic. We were all surviving.

My friend’s mother was staying with us. She had tried to leave but her train got stuck. She had to walk through a farmer’s field to the nearest highway to hitch a ride back to our ice palace. She made tea for herself by placing a glass of water over a candle. At nights, she volunteered as a guard for a retirement home. I was glad she was there because I knew if things got any worse, whatever camping situation we had set up would fall short.

Maybe three days in, I forget now, a policewoman skated by our house and told us not to drink the water. The filtration system for the city was broken.  The candlelit grocery stores had been emptied of food, with no new stock coming in until the roads cleared. My friend’s mother went out right away and procured two large bottles of water for us. I am not sure how, we were too stricken to act.

I was tired then. Tired of sitting in bed, and living on butter. I felt sad for the trees and for myself and I wished I hadn’t been so quick to rejoice over the schoolwork that I would eventually have to do. A couple days later the heat came on.

But really the storm had been a short respite for me. I was depressed in the never-ending Montreal winter. I was almost finished a degree that I felt I had no interest or passion in whatsoever. I had the strange feeling of being and acting outside of myself most of the time.

Today, we got stuck in an ice storm. I was reminded of my experience 16 years ago and how much richer and fuller my life is now and for the most part, how I love what I do with my time.

I am still, however, capable of plodding away at projects that do not hold my interest. I am still capable of getting so sad that the person I am is no longer present.

Today, I am grateful for the particular piece of dry ground that I stand on. Grateful, knowing that it can be slippy and shifting. And thankful, remembering that when it was icy, there was always someone there who quietly recognized my unsure footing and, saying nothing, helped me steady.

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December 12th passed with a few facebook jokes, and with the 21st and apparently the end of the world fast approaching- it is Friday that we are talking about.

This morning in the Globe there was a picture of Noah Pozner’s mom at his funeral. The idea of attending your child’s funeral is such a devastating and nightmarish prospect. As parents, it can float into your consciousness daily – only to be banished out quickly. Too painful, too heartbreaking to even think about. If you stop and picture the scenario for too long, it would be impossible to function, to go to work, to practice or be anywhere except three feet away from your offspring, sobbing.

A few weeks after I had Holden, I was at a friend’s wedding shower. A mom of a (then) two-year-old asked how I was doing and I told her I was fine, but I was scared. Scared that something would happen to Holden, that his health would turn, that I (or someone else) would drop him, or he would choke. I knew life was precious before, but I didn’t realize it was also fragile and despite my best efforts I couldn’t guarantee it. She looked at me sadly and said, “That is why I want to have another one. If anything happened to my daughter, I would kill myself.” My friend is an amazing mom, and not a depressed individual. We never know how we are going to cope in the face of tragedy, but I think she was just being as honest as she could be that day.

I don’t feel the same way as my friend, but the idea of anything happening to Mercedes or Holden scares me so much. Is it wrong that I would rather the earth collapsed and everyone died than be confronted with the death of my son?

There is a certain magic to raising a kid. Two children can have the same parents and upbringing, eat the same food and turn into such completely different grown-ups. Whatever science happens to make a child there is that tiny unknown factor. The little twists and turns in the genetic code that shape how we look and who we are – and then there is something else entirely. I don’t know what that is – I call it magic, maybe it is God, I really don’t know. There is something that makes us INDIVIDUALS. Everyone in the bank line-up is an individual, but with your own kids you can see the miracle of it. Your little sleepy baby has something you didn’t give to him, foggy – but you can see if even then and it separates you from him. Having a baby and watching that magic slowly take root inside of him has absolutely been the craziest most beautiful experience of my life. i’m not necessarily a better person for it – but I think I like everyone more

Hearing about what happened on Friday is so difficult, for me because I think about what the houses of the families who lost children in Connecticut look like. In my house, Holden is really excited for Santa. We have Christmas decorations up, Holden helped decorate the tree and he asked me to tell Santa that he wanted marbles. Those kids were also probably psyched for the holidays, they probably decorated their trees or lit their menorahs and requested weird presents. The beauty and magic of their imprefect personhood is gone.

Several years ago, Mercedes’ high school went into lockdown. A man shot a teacher in the parking lot, a SWAT team came in. The man was the teacher’s estranged husband -I’m not sure if he even went into the building.  The kids at her school had prepared for a crazed gunman. They had lockdown drills (in case a “rabid dog” came into the school). She even had a lockdown drill  at the hippy alternative school we sent her to for her last couple years of high school.

I only had fire drills and once a chemical spill drill when I went to a school that was close to a plant. There are 14 years in between Mercedes and I, and somewhere in that 14 years things have changed. I’m not pretending to know why. This is just the way it is now.

I go to work everyday and drop off Holden. Sometimes when I drop him off I can’t wait to get away. Writing those words makes me feel ill now. I go to work, and other people look after him. I also complain a lot about the price of daycare, but that almost seems silly. I’m not there to protect him during the day, someone else does – I’m not sure that really has a dollar value. I’m not suggesting that everyone homeschool or that there aren’t real financial constraints to the care you get for your child. I think I am just confused about how we all got to this point.

When I drop my gorgeous, maddening blonde boy off, I accept that his teachers might give him cheese, I accept he might fall down and hurt himself, I accept he might fall ill and throw up or come down with a fever before lunch, i accept that he might feel left out or lonely. I can accept those risks, even though it breaks my heart a little.  A school massacre is, however, an unacceptable risk. It seems egregious and impossible that I, who would rather the world ended than have anything happen to my son, would accept it. And yet here I stand accepting it.

I don’t know what we should do about it. The only thing I do know is on Friday night, I felt like the luckiest motherfucker in the universe.

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I didn’t write yesterday because I had sort of planned to write about Holden’s school. But then I really didn’t like it, so I felt a bit sad and didn’t write anything. Today I thought it might be better, but it wasn’t totally and now I still feel rather conflicted. It was supposed to be so great! Everything is supposed to be just like I imagine it is supposed to be! Why doesn’t everything in the universe happen exactly the way I want it to happen?  Maybe I’ll write about how easily I get disappointed and deflated with only slightly challenging situations later, but right now that lesson feels a bit too raw.

David told me that my posts don’t have enough about yoga. Writing about yoga is, interestingly enough, not my forte, orr at the least chronicling my daily practice isn’t. If there is something to write about  then wither  something quite exciting and new happened and that feels like bragging which is silly or something not great happened and I don’t want to write about it because this is a public blog.  The other practices just seem a bit dull and forgettable. I mean, not at the time, but certainly later.

Anyway, enough jibber jabber – here goes the yoga talk:

On his way to YOGA today, David encountered a pack of crazy dogs and he had to do the invisible rock trick several times. Our friend Matt, who worked as a postie, showed us the magic invisible rock trick. It does work. But less so on Indian dogs.

Holden was doing some YOGA yesterday.

Unlike his parents, he likes to play with the poses a little. If you have very short arms and a large head, this modification might be kind of fun

Sometimes he goes into chaturanga and than slumps down on the floor and picks his nose and looks off into space. There should be something in YOGA Mala about doing that.

There you go, lots about yoga to think about. Wild dogs and nose picking. Yer welcome.

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On my birthday, David and I drove out to Kensington to eat the forearm-sized burritos mentioned below. At a stoplight we watched a man wrapped in a sleeping bag, sprawled on the sidewalk scream at no one in particular. He said, ” You are the fucking devil” or “You are fucking the devil.” I’m not sure which. Either way, he was completely furious.

I told David that you can see why people with mental health issues end up pushing everyone away – whether they want to or not. It becomes increasingly more difficult to be with them and how do you manage to hold on? How do you maintain compassion and empathy, to someone who is out of control, but who can make you angry, sad, and/or creeped out.

This week has been a small learning in this. Mostly because I am so quick to judge. If anyone makes my life more challenging, I have such a hard time letting go. Even when I know it isn’t about me, I get so defensive and hurt. Sometimes it feels easier to just write someone off.

I have lost touch with a few friends over the years who have suffered from anxiety, depression, or mental illness. At the time, I always think they behave a certain way because they don’t like me. So, one resolution for 2012 is to stop thinking everything is about me.

On a lighter note: my friend Daniel wrote this really funny glossary for the upcoming American election.

Enjoy!

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When I was young, a teacher did a little project with us about researching famous people born on the same day as you. She gave us names and we had to write a little fictional piece on the kind of people we thought they were and then we read little articles about them and wrote a piece about who wrong we were. Some kids in my class shared a birthday with Hans Solo (who is kind of a douche now but at the time he was a really big deal) or Farrah Fawcett. I shared a birthday with Millard Fillmore.

I was disappointed because the idea was we share characteristics with people born on the same day. And Milard Fillmore sounded like someone who stayed in too much and fed a lot of cats. In retrospect that isn’t suck a bad thing, but turns out he was the president of the United States. But the was back when there were only a few dozen people living there – os it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Now some time has passed, and turns out I share a birthday with Nicolas Cage. And I wonder, if I was a boy and Italian and born into the Coppola family and batshit, would I be more like Nic? I loved him in Moonstruck. Sometimes I wish actors would just stop when they do something perfect. Like, that was the best – don’t do anything else – please let me remember you as the guy in the bakery who lost his hand and loved opera.

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Ok, I lied, I also like Wild at Heart.

And Face Off.

Never mind, Nicolas Cage can keep working.

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It is quiz time!

Very Important! Look at the following pictures carefully and then answer the quiz!

Bulldog

Frenchie

Boston

We need a dog  friend who sleeps 23 hours a day. Likes slow walks with a baby. And, uh, likes babies.

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I have been following the Arab Spring and Occupy movements for a while now. It is kind of exciting. I was also really excited by the whole Battle in Seattle movement that went on a decade ago with the Black Block and all the kids would gear up to go the rock concerts protests and get tear gassed.

It does feel timely. I mean – how long are people going to pour concrete down the pipes of their repossessed homes before they start thinking about another approach. I was thinking about all this, the protests and how it relates to my practice and my politics.

I’m not trying to say that practicing yoga in my cozy Toronto studio is peaceful protest. I am aware of my incredibly good fortune to have the opportunity to practice everyday. And, I have always been quite irked when a yoga teacher will tell the class that they made the world a better place by practicing. You make the world a better place by working to make the world a better place. Maybe practice can help you in your efforts, but resting on the fact that you do yoga isn’t really enough. Actually, it is a bit like going to yoga class, rolling out your mat and not taking the class. Which leads me to what I wanted to say…

We work so hard at our edge everyday on the mat. Maybe you don’t, but I know that I confront anger, sadness, discomfort, frustration, boredom as well as elation and joy. I can’t be doing all that work on the mat just so that I can go home, do my laundry and be irritated at the fridge repairman. I mean, maybe I will be nicer to the repair guy on the phone because I practiced, which will be nice for him – but I think there is a higher purpose.

I do find the practice makes me a bit insular in other ways. I like to be home for dinner, and go to bed at a certain time. I don’t like to expend too much energy at night so that I can be well rested for the early morning. I think sometimes the regularity can make me a little too conditioned and rigid about going out of my comfort zone, because practice is so uncomfortable. And then stuff happens like OccupyTo or whatever and I just feel like curling up and watching 30 Rock.

I was listening to this thing today about sales and how you have to think about what your customer needs and wants. It is lame that it was couched in terms of how you could benefit – but I thought – what if all businesses thought a lot about what their customers needed and how to make their lives more fulfilling? What if I really thought about how to help other people achieve their dreams and goals, and in turn recognized how supportive  my friends and family are in helping me reach mine?

Maybe the ambiguous OccupyTO politics don’t sit right with you, and fair enough. I would like to go downtown and lend my support. But also, I want to renew my efforts to really listening to the interests of my community and my family.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

I always feel a little shy commenting on other blogs. I have a small window of opportunity to read them and when I do, I fret a little about saying something really witty and intelligent. Like people would read through each comment – see mine and be wowed at the my insight.

Often I write a comment, try to post and I see that the google account is signed in as dr. Then I reread the comment and realize I sound like a complete dork and the moment is gone. Mostly, I just want to write, “I don’t know you. But it sounds like you are really nice (funny/smart/thoughtful).” Less often, I want to write “Don’t worry about your practice. You are nice.”

Someone mentioned to me last night that she wanted to introduce herself before commenting in the blog, which as a reader I totally understand. As a blog writer, I was kinda like, “God, you have no idea what kind of comments come my way.” I thought I would share a few with you from the little spam robots.

There are a few categories of spam. There is the porn spam – often in Russian. Those robots like to comment on my pregnancy posts:

Free porn videosxxx. Angelina Jolie nude. Celebrity sex. xxx Lady Gaga naked.  Pregnant nude xxxx. Long porn tube.”

What is a long porn tube? Yuk.

“орошо :-) не слушайте вы этих сексуальных маньяков”

Google translation: “It is well you don’t listen to these sex maniacs.” Indeed.

Then there are the ones shilling essays, which are, ironically, so poorly written. I often have to read them a few times to grasp the meaning. Then again, I think my essays in university might have had the same problem. Here is my favourite one:

“If you try to find locality where you can buy a term paper here is very downright place for you about essays writing, which fit examples and gives an opportunity to learn how make review . But this site is more beautiful, and more improving. So don’t be lazy and buy a paper about this post.”

I don’t get it. Should I buy an essay in my “locality” or am I lazy? What a thesis!

My favourite spam comments disguise themselves as praise. Actually, the whole thing is a bit sad because initially I am so flattered that I want to approve them – until I realize it is a link to a creditor’s website. I think I might have approved this.

“Man, really want to know how can you be that smart, lol…great read, thanks.”

Hahaha!

I started this blog for my parents, so that my father could show my mother I was still alive and pregnant in India. But since I started my blog has really taken off with readers all over the world looking for remoras. David told me, “Once you start this blog, you have to continue it. It will become a commitment.” And I am committed to remora-lovers worldwide.

In other news I went to Scarborough Town Centre two days ago.

Beyond frightening! It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to get out of the parking lot.

Still wondering how I got so smart?

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Thank you for all your kind words. It was so nice to wake up this morning to so many lovely thoughts and memories of Dolly. And Phaedra, you are very wise, I promise I won’t get a new dog anytime soon!

About a year ago, we took Dolly to the vet to get a lump on her belly removed. While she was sedated, he found a huge tumour attached to her bowel.The vet called me at school and asked me if I wanted to euthanize her right away. We decided to take her home and spoil her. He gave her a few weeks to live, at the most.

Those few weeks stretched into months, and she kept going. She had surgery for her breast cancer and survived, went totally deaf and developed a heart condition. But it was hard to even think of her as sick. She was so strong and robust. I think both David and I forgot how lucky we were to get an extra year with her.

Dolly was really lucky to have my parents to look after her while we were in India. My mother noticed that she didn’t poo on Sunday or Monday but she was still eating and behaving like herself. By Tuesday night, Dolly seemed to be in distress. When my mother took her to the vet the next day, they found the tumour that was attached to her bowel had grown so large that it was shutting down her organs. Her bladder was so full, they thought it might burst and she would certainly not make it through the night.

Today and yesterday I thought about dedicating my practice to her – or maybe my trip up Chamundi Hill. But then I realized that Dolly would not be impressed with that tomfoolery. She liked eating too much, getting cozy under a blanket, and watching tv on the couch with friends and family. So, in honour of her refined and sophisticated sensibilities, David and I have eaten lots of extra snacks tonight and will stay up late watching a movie and being cozy.

I wish we could have been there with her when she died, but I know she would have felt just as comfortable and loved with my parents around. I don’t know if we ever get to say goodbye properly to the pets and people we love. It always feels like there is some unfinished business: a final hug or a few words.

Dolly didn’t really like goodbyes, anyway. She really preferred hellos. I don’t really think of myself as a religious person, but I do hope we get to say hello to each other again one day.