Category Archives: Mind and Body

Please Select That Which Best Applies

If I do not know the ordering procedure of a particular eating establishment, I will:

a) Decide to go somewhere else.

b) Eventually convince myself that I am not that hungry after all.

c) Stare on in puzzlement until it’s officially socially awkward for everyone involved.

d) Turn heel. Run home.

e) b & d

f) a & c


Your puppy:

a) Is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. Your puppy has therefore ruined my life.

b) Is the absolute best.


d) I cannot afford a puppy right now.

f) All of the above.


What That Guy Said?:

a) “Old.”

b) “Ode.”

c) “Auld.”

d) “Bald.”

e) “Sassafras gonads.”



a) .

b) !

c) : OR ;

d) c OR Both

e) c & d

f) How come no one cares about ampersand?


Discreet Flatulence:

a) Acceptable.

b) Diabolical.

c) You ruined it by calling if “flatulence.”


Book or Movie:

a) Book.

b) Movie.

c) Both is not an answer.

c) Both.


You’ll be in:

a) My heart.

b) My thoughts and/or prayers.

c) Deep shit.

d) Shallow Paraguay.


I would love to:

a) Help.

b) Be able to help.

c) Consider helping.

d) Consider being able to help.

e) b, c & d

f) Never a.


Choose Your Fighter:

a) Emperor Penguin.

b) Death Cap Mushroom.

c) Giant Spider.

d) Tiny T-Rex.

e) Haunted Waterslide.

f) Ugly American.



a) “Owning the Libs.”

b) “I can fix them.”

c) “I’m sorry if…”

d) “All lives matter.”

e) “Books are dead.”

f) All of the above (plus a few others, TBA).

g) All of the above (but e especially).


Good answer:

a) Yes.

b) No.


Best answer:

a) No.

b) GOD NO.




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Filed under Animals, Books, Communications, Dogs, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Places

Dream State

Lou got me up early and it was a relief.

“I’m tired of dreaming,” I told him. “Let’s go out.”

It was a miserable, wet day and the sun had already decided to shun the remainder. That was also fine, also a great relief. Such a pitiless contrast between the dream and waking world was exactly what I needed to ground myself in the here and now. The real world?

I suppose I could describe the dreams; these dreams I’ve been having over the past couple of days (and days). And I do remember them.

But no.

The imagery is still too sharp, the flashes of dream reality too visceral. I feel more than I remember, but that’s more than enough.

Why this? Why now? That is not for me to say.

Let me just say: the subconscious is a lewd, lewd place.

Also: I am so over cowboy hats.



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Filed under Dogs, Dreams, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Pets

Conversations About Dogs With Near Strangers

I had met Shari before, at a seminar, but we did not speak to each other, the class getting much in the way of that.

On our second meeting, waiting in the dim little hallway for the class to begin, we talked about dogs.

Hers is 8 years old, a bulldog/boxer mix with an attitude problem that she’s tried to work with him to, if not remedy (he’s too far gone for that), mitigate. I told her about Lou, our 14 year old dachshund, and even got into the specifics of his many issues and countless idiosyncrasies, and all the things we’ve done to help him along with those.

Strangers can talk to each other about their dogs for days; dogs being a “safe” topic for discussion with people you don’t really know all that well – a way to talk about yourself without having to talk about yourself.

Dogs help us open up.

A confession, then, from Shari: “I know this sounds weird, but I’m already thinking of the day I’ll have to put my dog down. I shouldn’t be, he’s old but not that old. But I can’t seem to help it.”

“I think about that too,” I replied. “It’s not so weird.”

“Well, when I have to, I’ll have to. You know?”

Dogs teach us about responsibly (to think about it, to take it seriously). They help us with our empathy. And they teach us about mortality: the impermanence of things, and what (if anything) we can do about it.

Another confession from Shari: “I’m worried about how my newborn son will get along with my dog. But we’ll just have to figure something out. I am not getting rid of the dog.”

Ah, yes. Of course.

Dogs help us prioritize.


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Filed under Animals, Death, Dogs, Mind and Body, People, Philosophy

Direct Quotes, 1

Sometimes, the only thing to do is to get it down. Save it. Relish it. Keep it pure:


Unsolicited Opinion: “Books are dead.”

Conspiracy: “The Illuminati have Tupac because his music is too good.”

Religion & Science: “Cindy, that was over 2,000 years ago. Before science. Back then that shit [immaculate conception] was possible.”

Elderly Neighbour: “Dear, what is a ‘dingleberry?'”

Anatomy: “That’s my candy gettin’ arm!”

Life Advice: “If you don’t want to have a baby, just have one!”

12-Year-Old’s Prognosis: “I like it how my knee kills me and then it just doesn’t.”

Power Couple: “Babe, what’s glands?”

Term Paper Gem: [Margaret] Mead was a woman who wore capes, was flamboyant, and although maimed at one point, had a lesbian affair with Ruth Benedict.”

Hetero Idiot: “Gay guys hit on me all the time. I’m what’s known as a ‘bear.'”

PSA: “Basement floods are on the rise.”






Filed under Body, Children, Friends, Mind and Body, People, Relationships, Science, Words

Fire, Fire!

Dreamt the other night that my plants become infested with fire ants which colonized them via spider webs my house was a warehouse but also the back of a restaurant somehow shadowy government figures were after me so I turned virtually invisible and hid out on the roof two people found me but I convinced them not to rat me out with my magical fire breath they fell hard and fast and far but my concern the entire time was for my plants my plants the ants ants poured out of them like water live lava..!

I woke up itchy, relived and also vaguely disappointed.

What dreams may come, eh? Or mayn’t they?





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Filed under Dreams, Interruptions, Mind and Body

Bong Go

There is one morning in recent memory where I caught my teenage neighbour out on his stoop with a giant, truly impressive bong (not unlike a really large test tube, or small palm tree).

He choked on it when I said “Hi” and I looked away so he could shove it behind him and pretend he didn’t have it. And so I could pretend I never saw it. So we could both pretend that it wasn’t, in actuality, right there, jammed between his body and the front door, jabbing him uncomfortably in the back like it was indignant.

(Wouldn’t you be?)

Then he smiled and said “Hi” back.

Then we talked about the weather for longer than seemed necessary, or possible. He shifted, fumbled, and the bong fell unceremoniously to its side. The noise it made as it did so was one of pure resignation.

Then he really smiled and I really smiled and we forgot about the weather and wished each other a nice day.

Because it’s not always about how the day starts, is it?

And the morning had really only just begun, hadn’t it?





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Filed under Communications, Friends, Interruptions, Mind and Body, People, Routines

Non Persona Non Grata

Happy New Year!

Have you decided what kind of person you’ll be this year?

Sometimes that is more or less out of our control, more or less a matter for Fate and the Gods to decide.

A Young Person. A Tall Person. A Short South East Asian Female Canadian Person.

A People Person.

Circumstances this week have rendered me a Non Person.

It wasn’t my idea!
It was very casual, my sudden loss of personhood.

Stephen went away for work.

And I lost my wallet.

No ID. No cash.

There. That’s it. That’s all it took.

For four days, I survived via a pile of loose change I amassed after searching the apartment. Stephen suggested going to the bank and turning that change into cash money so that I could at least avoid the shame of paying with handfuls of coins.

“You need a bank card to do that.”


Surely, I thought, things would have been better if Stephen were around: even without my driver’s license or credit card, I could at least validate my existence through him.

Get him to tell people who I am.

Get him to pick up bread and Drano®.

But I realized that even with Stephen home, my personhood was not guaranteed.
I exist in space and time. I am matter. But without anything to substantiate my identity, did I?

Legally, the answer would be: No.

Existentially, the answer is: Really?

For four days, one realm of possibility closed on me, while another (kind of) opened up. It was a realm in which I existed, but only up to a point. A limbo in which, for those four days, it would be a very inconvenient time to get killed or want to take out library books.

If a car or a plane or an assassin hit me, where would the proof of my identity be?[1] That chicken pox scar from childhood?  My memories from the Calgary Stampede (circa 1999)?  My love of smooth jazz?[2]

My fingerprints and blood, sure, but without my health card or SIN number it would take a while to establish my identity.

So that left just me.

A regular Jane Doe.
I worried a lot about someone else having my wallet.  

My boss had his identity stolen, and now he can’t get a passport. He went to the police and they did very little.  For what it’s worth, his identity is now “compromised”.

What the hell is it like to be “compromised”?

He won’t say.
People change. Every single cell in your body, so the logic goes, gets replaced every 7 years, more or less. Biologically, that makes you a more or less a new person.

Health cards in Ontario are renewed every 5 years.

Passports are renewed every 5 to 10 years.

Birth certificates can’t be renewed, but they can be replaced.

In any case, they don’t expire, unlike your cells.
My sister never got a driver’s license, so she used her passport during the 2008 election as her ID so she could vote.

Or rather, she tried to.

The man working at the polling station, officious little turd that he was, refused to accept her passport as “legitimate identification.”

She wasn’t allowed to vote. She didn’t vote.

Imagine that.  And in this day and age.
In 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada had declared that sorry no, women were not, legally, persons. The decision was challenged by five Canadian women at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for Canada at the time, in England,[3] and on October 28, 1929, the Privy Council confirmed for Canadians everywhere that, “yes, women are persons”.

Just to be clear.

In 2012, the Bank of Canada replaced the image of an Asian woman with a more “neutral” Caucasian woman on the newly redesigned $100 bill after focus groups complained about the appearance of the Asian woman on “Canadian” money. The Bank later apologized for its decision and after it was too late for it to make further changes to the bill.

“Erased” is another word for “replaced”. It’s funny.

In his book, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, Thomas King writes of Canada’s Bill C-31 and the effect of its “two-generation cut-off clause” on Status Indians.

In Canada, Status Indians are people who the federal government chooses to recognize, legally, as Indians.

However, “[m]arry out of Status for two generations, and the children of the second union are non-Status (2012: 168).”

King continues:

“Let’s think about that for a minute. Because Indians marry both Status and non-Status individuals, so long as the ‘two generation cut-off clause’ remains in place, more of our children will lose Status. If this continues, at some point…there could be no Status Indians left in Canada (2012: 169).”

King goes on:

“It’s a brilliant plan. No need to allocate money to improve living conditions on reserves. No reason to build the new health centre that’s been promised for the last thirty years. No reason to fix the water and sewer systems or to update the science equipment at the schools. Without Status Indians, the land can be recycled by the government and turned into something useful, such as estate lots and golf courses, and Ottawa, at long last, can walk away from the Indian business” (2012: 169).

So much for blood and fingerprints.
Not that I need to worry about the next election or next week or even, after a fashion, getting totally smoked by an 18-wheeler tomorrow.

For, on the fifth day, my wallet was returned to me.

I am a person again!

For what it’s worth.

Don't leave home without it.

Don’t leave home without it.


King, Thomas. (2012). The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. Anchor Canada/Random House Canada: Toronto.


[1] Assuming, of course, that there’s anything left.

[2] One of these is false.

[3] Canadians are weird.



Filed under Mind and Body, People, Philosophy

What’s Up, Doc? Doc, What’s Up?


I went to see the doctor for the same reason that I think a lot of people go to see the doctor: non-specific symptoms that are nonetheless worrying.

– lower back pain

– persistent numbness in my right hand

– slight numbness in my left hand

– stiff, sore neck

– massive headaches

– muscle cramps
I don’t have a family doctor in Toronto. So I went to that medical purgatory known as the walk-in-clinic. There are many, many walk-in-clinics in Toronto, some more derelict than others. All of them complete with that sterilized urine smell.

It’s defeat, that smell.  A kind of death-but-not-quite-if-only. It’s a smell that it would not be unreasonable to raze an entire building afterward, just to be rid of it. Just to be sure.

A lot of Canadians and a lot of non-Canadians love to talk about free health care in Canada. Americans often look upon it in envy, while Scandinavians, I’m sure, just laugh and laugh and laugh.
If I were to explain it to Aliens: Our bodies are bags of guts and muscles and bone inside skin and people? They bruise, they break, they get sick.  It happens, sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes not, always in hindsight. Good health is viewed as a right, except when its not. Illness and wellness everywhere involve a lot of magical thinking that makes more or less sense, more or less. Words like “shaman” and “breakthrough”, and “evil-eye” and “biocultural” come up. Seeking relief from illness can be an admission of mortality, or an acknowledgement of the absurdity of immortality, or the illness itself can be a signifier of broken taboo, or the result of bad genes, or a harbinger of worse to come, or karmic retribution, or evidence of evolutionary inferiority, etc., etc., etc.

On and on and on…
If I were to explain it to Strangers: Here, it’s not like on our TV shows and movies. There is a lot of process to it, going to a doctor, involving tests and follow-ups and, if needed, specialists. This process can take weeks, or months, and is characterized by waiting and uncertainty, especially for people who do not have a family doctor. Lots of people do not have family doctors, despite overwhelming demand. In the Canadian health care system, there are tiers even though we’d really rather not admit it, possibly due to a misguided and/or overblown and/or superficial and/or simply fantastic sense of patriotism. Or indifference. Some tiers are better than others. There are Canadians who can afford it who sometimes go south, to the U.S., where the system is messed up too, but where the facilities are among the very, very best.[1]
Here, preventive health care calls upon a retroactive magic, in which you should have known not to get sick in the first place and/or should have known that you needed to come in for help earlier. People who seek medical attention for Things that later turn out to be nothing or not much are troublemakers. Time wasters in an exhausted and overworked system. You can go in and come out feeling like shit on top of the shit you came in for. Shitty is the word.

Canadian Health Care. Yes. It is free. And my experience is that you get what you pay for.

And that nothing is free.

I have learned a lot about FREE CANADIAN HEALTH CARE these past few weeks. Every swipe of your health card, which you must swipe to be seen is worth anywhere from $58-$155 (the price of admission without a health card).

Wait times can range anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half to motherfucking infinity. The admin try to be as efficient as possible but of course this is a relative thing, here, deep within the cold hard bosom anus that is “first-come-first-served-unless”[2] basis especially of a walk-in-clinic waiting room.

People will get turned away, sent home or to EMERGENCY rooms.[3]

There is no follow up that approximates anything approaching sensible. You see whoever is available that day and not who you saw before. You cannot schedule an appointment with the person saw you before. In this way, and if you come in more than once, you get to watch your prognosis – the narrative of your well-being – change.

These are the doctors I saw:
1) Soft Talker Fuzz Face

Could not understand half of what this almost-bearded fellow breathed my way. He waved this hands around listlessly as he talked then pulled them back into his chest when he caught me looking. He sent me upstairs for blood tests and a neck X-ray (two more swipes of the health card), citing spinal injury, diabetes and nerve damage.
2) Kind Of Gregarious Guy

An affable if flummoxed young lad, he ordered another blood test after receiving the confusing results of my first blood test. The X-ray showed a neck spasm that he said could be treated with rest, most likely. He told me not to worry and to please have a nice day but oh, not to forget my health card when I came back for my results.
3) Big Knuckles, Sweaty Temples

With a wave of his giant paw, this doc dismissed all other explanations in favour of carpel tunnel and related back pain. He told me to “just get a brace.” His belly gut quivered as he leaned just a little closer and told me “losing some weight wouldn’t hurt.” He described complicated floor exercises for me to do at home. I felt like I should have taken notes even though that’s absurd, and it would be more absurd if I actually did take notes. I imagined him sneaking out during his break to smoke in front of the building.

The exercises didn’t help my back. They only made it look like I was having imaginary sex on my floor, and it was very underwhelming. I bought the brace.
4) Vaguely British?

If Vaguely British told me he, vaguely, was “from the colonies” I would find nothing strange about it, he being vaguely British? By the time I saw VB, I had already (on top of everything else) spent a whole day and a half with the stomach flu, putting all of my orifices to very good use.  It was…incredibly thorough.

“All the things wrong with you could mean you have a lot of things going on and not just one big thing that’s wrong with you.” He meant that to reassure, to comfort. He said he doubted it, but let’s go ahead and see if I had West Nile (for real). He ordered more tests, more X-rays.  More swipes of the card.
5) Lady Doctor

Lady Doctor is called Lady Doctor because she was the only Lady Doctor who saw me and she was the only Lady Doctor I saw working there. Lady Doctor asked me something all the other non-Lady-Doctors had not: “Have you recently had your period?”[4] Given the anomaly of my test results, this could be important. Then again, maybe not, but it was not – in my current reality of ambiguously meaningful double negatives – perhaps an unimportant question.  She ordered another test for me, her “mystery patient”. That one came out clean.
So what is wrong with me?

I don’t know.

I feel tenderized.

I took all my tests and papers and prescriptions an hour-and-a half bus ride to the West, to my family doctor.  She is baffled and is sending me to another doctor an hour-and-a-half East, here, in Toronto, after more blood tests.

During a low point in my life, a friend  once told me that, if nothing else, “at least you still have your health.”

He had a root canal recently, and it failed.

[1] The US is another tier in Canadian Health care.

[2] Unless there is a life-threatening injury or condition, TBD.

[3] There is a story in here somewhere about my mom, appendicitis and an 8-hour wait in the EMERGENCY room.  There is also a story in here about my sister, stomach pains and a 12-hour wait in the EMERGENCY room. Not to mention the one with my friend and head injury and the 7-hour wait in the EMERGENCY room. They’re all there.

[4] Yes!

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Filed under Health, Mind and Body

The Meatloaf

In my dream, I made Stephen a meatloaf.

“I am going to make Stephen a meatloaf!”

That was the thought that echoed inside my head inside the dream that I was having, and if I was struck – inside the dream, inside my head – by the banality of the situation, I didn’t mind it.

I was going to make Stephen a meatloaf!

I was in a kitchen. It was my kitchen, but it wasn’t my kitchen – far too many familiar Things slightly askew and all manner of angles and proportions totally off or absent. Yet, it was a near perfect square of a space – four walls, but only three that I could see. I never turned around, but I remember feeling the fourth wall at my back even as I looked in from above, in the dream, to see myself facing walls 1, 2 and 3.

Everything was yellow and blue, I think. The floor was blue, I’m sure of it. The oven was yellow, dated: a 1970s-ish nightmare with an opaque, greased-over-from-a-million-uses cube of a window protruding from its exact centre.

Yellow or yellowed?

Yellow or yellowed?

I watched myself toss, throw, hurl and dump all manner of ingredients into the silver mixing bowl that I bought in Chinatown and that I keep in a cupboard by the sink. Into the bowl went globs of indiscernible brown-bridge goo, torrents of indistinct liquid, clouds of indistinguishable powder.

Meatloaf into meatloaf tray –> meatloaf tray into oven –> oven turned on high-highest.

The meatloaf started to raise, immediately (I did not know they rose. That was a dream surprise for me). It soon over took the tray and threatened to very quickly overwhelm the inside of the greasy-1970s-yellow-cube-oven.

But I waited.

I waited and I waited and I waited for it to get big, big, B-I-G enough!

A stephen meatloaf had to be big, big, big B-I-G, or it couldn’t be Stephen Meatloaf!

When it was done, it too was an almost perfect cube. I pried it out of the oven with two thick black plastic spatulas.  I plopped the Thing on the table by the sliding door that, I knew, wasn’t just there before.  And then, looking down at the meatloaf, I was wreaked with a kind horrific epiphany.

Even though I knew exactly what I was doing, it came out completely wrong.

The meatloaf was too messy; stuff was mixed and blended everywhere. There was no separating them; no hope of returning to basic elements.

No going back to the time before the meatloaf. Before I made Stephen a meatloaf.

The puzzle had been pulped.


I remember gasping myself awake. Then being awake and staring at an empty ceiling in the near dark of the early morning, listening to the blood rush in my ears.

Stephen was sleeping soundly beside me, totally unaffected.

I reached over and poked and squeezed him.  He was all there, intact and snoring lightly. He was turned towards the wall with his back to me. Rather loaf-like, if I had to admit it.

Eventually, I tried to fall back asleep again, with the hope that I would not finish the possibly unfinished dream.

Still, I wonder…if I had gone just a bit further, in the dream, what could have been.

Possibly, it would have been delicious?

“Interesting” is not the word.

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Filed under Food, Mind and Body, Relationships

Actually Getting to Ride That Pony After All

I was SO MAD I gave myself a rage headache and that made me very sleepy so I feel asleep but then I woke up SO MAD again.

What to do?

Ride the pony until it dies. Stay indoors. Hydrate!

Any beating this?

Any beating this?

Is there a rainbow at the end of the pony ride? A light at the end of the pony tunnel? A sliver lining to this clip-clopping cloud?




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Filed under Animals, Emotion, Mind and Body, Philosophy