Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I saw this picture on Cute Overload, and my heart nearly exploded. If this isn't the image of pure, unconditional love, I don't know what is.

He's smiling at you. C'mon, admit it...don't you feel just a little bit happy?!

Monday, February 27, 2006

5 Things I Learned From Mom

For my mom, who I love AND respect!
1. That true beauty comes from the glow within, and not from a face full of make-up. That my worth and self-esteem come from inside of me, not from what I look like.
2. To stand in the face of adversity and fight for what I believe in, even if no one else agrees.
3. How to cultivate a sense of childlike wonder, awe and appreciation from small things.
4. How to laugh so hard that tears run down my face.
5. The power of faith and spirit.

February blahs, for real.

I don't know about you, but I'm sure glad that February is almost over. The only thing getting me through this month is espresso, and I can't drink anymore. I already have coffee running through my veins, instead of blood.

Besides which, I think that damn groundhog lied to us. Winter is nowhere close to being over. It's stretching out for blizzard upon snowstorm upon blizzard upon snowstorm as far as the eye can see.

Send help. I am starting to lose my mind.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Coffee & Smokes

Lily arrived at Starbucks before Sam. She tapped her foot impatiently, the sole of her shoe making a sharp staccato sound on the pavement. Lily craned her neck and strained her eyes left and right. A small white dog ran happily by, panting and pulling it's owner anxiously in the direction of the nearest telephone pole. Groups of people passed her, window shopping and laughing privately at a joke Lily could not hear.

After taking one last look around, Lily walked into the Starbucks and ordered 2 lattes. Sam would be there soon enough. She poured 2 packets of brown sugar into one, and 4 packets of white sugar into the other for Sam. She sprinkled a sparkly dab of cinnamon onto the top of the lattes, and watched as it seeped slowly into the foamy tops, finally dipping under, turning the white milk a creamy shade of brown. She meandered outside and chose a seat on the patio under the bright, afternoon sunshine, facing the buzz of activity on the street. While she waited for her latte to cool, Lily pulled a pack of DuMaurier Lights out of her black purse and laid them on the table with her lighter resting gently on top. She would wait for Sam to arrive before she had her first cigarette of the day. Lily leaned back in her chair and surveyed the crowds of people walking by on the busy street. Everyone seemed to be in a light and happy mood. And why not, she thought stubbornly. The sun was shining, the sky was a beautiful shade of blue, and she was hitting the club that night.

Lily picked up her latte and took a long sip. The smooth liquid slid down her throat, tickling it pleasantly with the flavours of brown sugar and cinnamon. She squinted into the bright sunshine, content, as it's rays poured over her shoulders, warm like her morning shower.

“God! Sorry, I’m late.” Sam flopped into the chair across from Lily, picked up her latte, and downed half of it in one fluid motion.

“You’re always late,” chided Lily.

Sam laughed, “Yeah, I know. Thanks for the latte. It’s good. You ready for a smoke?” she said, picking up the pack of DuMauriers on the table. Without waiting for Lily's reply, Sam pulled out a cigarette, lit it and passed it over, before lighting one for herself. Lily sighed with pleasure as she took a long drag. The combination of espresso and nicotine was giving her a nice buzz. The perfect prelude to the bigger buzz that awaited them that evening, she thought slyly.

She took another sip of her latte and contemplated the evening’s events, “So, you ready for tonight?”

“Damn right!” Sam said, slamming her hand down on the table loudly. She looked around, realizing that people were watching her, and burst into loud giggles. “Don’t I deserve a night out?” she asked the people around her. A few smiled awkwardly at her, but most just turned around, and were soon lost in their own conversations.

“Sam!” Lily shrieked, laughing. Sam was a riot. She could always be counted on to push things far past where they should go. “Let’s go. We’ve got a lot of shopping to do.” Lily stubbed out the last of her cigarette, crushing the filter, and picked up her purse. Sam followed her out onto the street and into the crush of people walking by.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


On my way to work this morning, I noticed an electric/hybrid powered Purolator truck - for a greener delivery! It looks like environmentalism is finally getting trendy, and entering the mainstream consciousness. Maybe we've reached critical mass. Who knows? Now that corporations are starting to think of greener environments in terms of potential dollars, maybe we'll start to see some real change. I certainly hope so. In the meantime, I can't wait to see the glut of cheesy slogans we'll be assailed with by high powered, high paid marketing departments.

Green car today! Blue skies tomorrow!
Gasoline is so last century!
Hybrid Cars! A Pollution Solution!
Go Hybrid! It's just eco-logical!

What's next? A Green Party run Canada?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

20 Seconds

This morning, I missed the streetcar by 10 seconds. It lumbered across the street in front of me, a red and white box crammed full of people on their way to work. I waited in the cold, shivering, the snow blowing in gusts around me, hair whipping left and right. Into my eyes, making them water.

Ten minutes later, I missed the subway by another 10 seconds.

Bing. Bing. Bing. Familiar chimes signaling the closing of the doors. I pictured hordes of people rushing through them, stuffing themselves uncomfortably next to each other, sardines in a can. I heard the low rumble of the subway powering away, mixing with the clattering of my heels into a dissonant urban melody.

That missed 20 seconds added 20 minutes to my journey. Twenty minutes spent in the waiting room of life, twiddling my thumbs.

In one of my favorite movies of all time, Run Lola Run, Lola plays the game of fate and timing. She's running, running, running, in 3 different scenarios to save her boyfriend from certain trauma. Ten seconds is the difference between disaster and redemption, drama and salvation. Ten seconds is the difference between the death of her father, and a $100,000 jackpot at the casino.

In Rouge, the third part of the Three Colors Trilogy, Irene Jacob is steps behind her soul mate. She literally misses him by seconds. He enters a coffee shop as she exits, she crosses the street as he stops to pet a dog. You get the idea. Ultimately, fate, chance, and destiny conspire to have them meet, albeit catastrophically.

All of which makes me wonder, are some events fated? Would life be different if I was just a little bit earlier or later than usual? Or are things exactly how they should be? What else am I missing in life by 20 seconds?

Sunday, February 19, 2006


This picture was taken at Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia. Every 10 minutes or so, all the birds in the area would take off together and circle the sky, as though training for a race.

This picture was taken in Vienna, Austria in November last year. We were shooting a World Congress for Junior Chamber International.

This picture was taken at Euno Market in Tokyo, Japan, November 2004.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Yoga Nazis

I was nearly trampled to death by a herd of overzealous yoga nazis last night. I barely survived. No, seriously.

I thought yoga was supposed to make you calm, serene and kind. But I was clearly mistaken. I have learned that yoga actually turns you into some strange hybrid of stretching machine and Machiavellian monster.

I will be peaceful at all costs, dammit! And don't you dare get in my way! I will walk all over you if I have to!

At least when it comes to Bikram Yoga. See, it's like this. Bikram Yoga is also known as hot yoga. Hot as in 90 minutes of sweat soaked postures in a 40 degree heated and locked room. I will admit, that at times, the class can be a bit panic inducing. It's really hot, and the postures are not easy. Add to that, the fact that you are wearing next to nothing, surrounded by mirrors, red-faced, and sweating like a pig. It's not so comfortable.

There is however, one small oasis of coolness in the room. It's right next to the outside wall by the windows. Last night, I had the great misfortune of discovering that this is the prime spot for serious yogis in training.

For once, I arrived nice and early. Yes, I took the spot by the window...but only because it was on the edge away from most of the prying eyes. I laid my mat down to mark my territory and then tried to leave the room to cool off before class started. I opened the door, and was nearly bowled over by a woman charging into the room. Even though I was standing right in front of her, I'm sure she didn't see me. Her gaze was fixed on a spot next to the windows. She had the crazed look of a bleached blonde going after the last bottle of peroxide on the shelf. Might I add, that she was still wearing her winter coat. In a 40 degree celsius room!

I managed to make my way past her, barely, but was confronted by the rest of the snorting beasts, pawing the ground and tossing their heads angrily. At least 4 more yoga nazis barreled past me in puffy jackets and Lululemon shorts, intent on their final destination by the window. I was nearly knocked unconscious by a wayward yoga mat!

I'm not embarassed to admit that their failure gave me more than a little bit of pleasure.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mike Harris Denies

Mike Harris, the former premier of Ontario denies saying, "I want the fucking Indians out of the park," at an emergency meeting hours before Dudley George was shot and killed.

In 1995, Dudley George and 30 other native protesters moved into Ipperwash Provincial Park to protest the destruction of a sacred burial ground.

Hours after Harris' emergency meeting, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) moved into the park, dressed in riot gear and backed by snipers. By the end of the struggle, Cecil George was badly beaten, 16 year old Nicholas Cottrelle was shot and Dudley George was dead.

The protesters were unarmed.

In 1997, Sargeant Kenneth Deane of the OPP was convicted of criminal negligence causing death, after a court ruled that he did not have "reasonable belief" that Dudley George was armed. The Supreme Court of Canada denied his appeal and upheld the conviction in January of 2001. Deane was sentenced to 2 years of community service and resigned from the force in 2002.

2002?! George was killed in 1997! Why wasn't he removed from service in the OPP immediately? Why was he allowed to resign?! Two years of community service?! For killing an unarmed man. That's just insane!

In 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Committee called for "a thorough public inquiry...into all aspects of this matter, including the role and responsibility of public officials."

Yet Mike Harris and his Conservative government resisted, saying it had nothing to do with police actions that day. Wake up call Mikey! The provincial government is responsible for the OPP - that's why it's called the ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE!!

If Harris and the Conservatives really were innocent, wouldn't it make sense to just have the damn inquiry. Especially in the face of public outcry and at the urging of the United Nations. I don't know about you, but if I was accused of something so terrible, I'd sure want my name cleared. Why resist unless you have something to hide?

Harris claims he isn't guilty, but sure acts like someone who is.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sex & the South Korean Woman

I spent the weekend with Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte. We got married to impotent Trey, had multiple sexual encounters a la Samantha, pushed love away like Miranda and cheated on Aidan with Big. My weekend was filled with sex, and lemme tell you, it was gooooood, even if it was vicarious!

This morning, I read that a recently released Eli Lilly study found that married South Korean women are the least happy with their sex lives. Apparently, the jolie French have the best sex of them all. They also cheat the most.

Now I'm not sure if this is true. As you can imagine, this isn't a topic I've discussed in detail with my mother. Ewwwww! I, like everyone else, was born via immaculate conception. But this does not bode well for me.

Is the sex bad because of the South Korean man? or because of the South Korean woman? I'm leaning towards it being the man's fault, for obvious reasons. To be fair, I live in Canada, so I've only met a very small subsection of men straight from Korea, and always in other countries like Japan and Austria. From what I've seen though, the situation is not good. When I picture a native Korean man, I picture a cow out at pasture, following the herd around. Sad, but true. All the ones I have met are followers. I'm guessing this doesn't translate too well in the bedroom. Especially since women are the "second sex" in Korea. We're supposed to take our lead from the men, right mom?

I'm not sure if the situation is different for second generation Koreans living in Canada, but let's hope not. Just for the sake of population growth. It doesn't matter to me anyhow. I'm not marrying a Korean man. This just gives me one more reason...and it's a damn good one.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Smoking around the World

I was looking through some old pics of my travels, and came across this ridiculous looking smoking station. I've done my fair share of smoking, but it's certainly not a habit. Let's face it. It's disgusting, unhealthy, expensive, cancer causing and makes you smell. Still, I think it's funny how different countries around the world treat smoking.

In Toronto, you can't smoke anywhere. Not in restaurants. Not in bars. Not in clubs. I'm sure it will be illegal to smoke outside buildings soon, and there will be fines for dropping cigarette butts on the street. In fact, I'm sure smoking will be completely illegal one day...just like prohibition. It sure looks like its heading that way...they're just doing it gradually.

In Vienna, you can smoke everywhere. And everyone does. They even have ashtrays in the bathroom stalls. In fact, I think the only place you can't smoke is in the subway stations, which are mostly outdoors anyways. That giant concrete cigarette was at every entrance and every exit of every subway station in Vienna. It was always surrounded by smokers, and filled with cigarette butts. It would've been totally gross, if it weren't so absurd.

You can smoke pretty much everywhere in Japan too. There are vending machines (1 per every 20 people) all over Tokyo that sell smokes. You have to be over 20 years of age to purchase them. But how the hell do you moniter age restrictions on a vending machine? Though if anyone's gonna figure it out, I'm sure it'll be the Japanese.

Smoking was very technological in Japan. The smoke station in the lobby of my hotel in Fukuoka came complete with smoke blocking walls and an automatic fan that sucked the smoke away, downwards, and out into the atmosphere. It was always entertaining to see multiple sake soaked and red faced Japanese "salarymen" crammed into that smoke station, puffing away late at night. The hilarity of this sight was only eclipsed by signs that read:

Please refrain from smorking outside the smorking area.

But not by much.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The iPod Shuffle

The iPod has been touted as many things, including "the 21st century's first consumer icon," by sociologist Michael Bull. We've heard it before. Apple's iPod is a cultural phenomenon, changing our experience of music and leaving an imprint on our urban environments. It's spawned entire industries, and even changed the way that car stereos are designed. The iPod is now a quickly growing and ever expanding $3 billion dollar industry.

I have an iPod, and I love it. Probably for all the reasons the pundits talk about. Yes, I use it as an "urban shield." I despise listening to other people's conversations at traffic lights, on streetcars, and on subways. Honestly, I don't want to hear about the 15th fight you had with your boyfriend. And it's not necessary for you to scream it on your cellphone so everyone can hear. We don't care about your life. Really, we don't.

I never listened to the radio anyhow. I couldn't stand the music selection or the voices of the DJs or the commercials. And I certainly won't be downloading anyone's podcast anytime soon. OK, I admit it. I like the control. I like being in my own little sound bubble, cocooned away from other people's thoughts, ideas and noise. And while I may have my hermit tendencies, I'm definitely not anti-social, like some critics would have you believe. Really, it's all about having the music I want, when I want it, in any environment I want it in.

Recently though, I've noticed a rather disturbing phenomenon. Last week, I saw at least 3 people, headphones on, hands waving and feet moving rhythmically in an all out dance. In the middle of the street. Just like the iPod silhouette commercials. Now I can understand a little foot tapping and head bopping. Sometimes the beats get to me too. But this is bordering on ridiculous. It's a television commercial, people! An advertisement! Not real life!

On the subway the other day, 2 men sat across from each other, iPod headphones on, staring at each other's reflections in the glass. If it's possible to do so, one started breakdancing in his seat, arms moving robotically, and head weaving from side to side. The other took this as a challenge and started his own popping and locking in his seat. Needless to say, it was very distracting, and the dancing? Well...

Not so good.

Didn't matter to them I guess, cuz when I got off the train, the silent breakdance-off was still going strong.

I hope that little show is the last I'll see of this new phenomenon. I beg all you fellow iPod users...a little decorum please. You're giving us a bad name.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


The sun drifted over the horizon and the room began to glow, the cigarette smoke adding a romantic aura to the already misty room. What time was it? 4AM? 5AM? Who knew? Who cared? It was probably somewhere around 6AM…that indefinable moment in time when the darkness of night seemed to shift and morph slowly into daylight. Lily both dreaded and looked forward to the dawn of the day. Looked forward to it because it added another element to an already interesting night. Dreaded it because it meant that the weekend was closer to being over. And that was the worst thing on earth. Lily lived for her weekends.

What time was it now? She forced herself out of her reverie, and looked at the clock. 7AM. She sighed heavily. She was already being pulled back to reality. She raised her eyebrows wordlessly at Samantha, and as if by telepathy, she reached into her pocket for the little plastic baggie of bliss. She shook the baggie and squinting her blue eyes, examined its contents carefully. Beneath the silly smiley faces on the bag were 2 pink pills. Samantha ripped open the baggie, turned it over and passed one of the pills to Lily. Gingerly, she reached for a glass of water, and after placing the pill at the back of her throat, swallowed hard. After pulling her dark brown hair into a ponytail, Samantha did the same. She leaned back, sighing contentedly. Lily understood the feeling. Even though the pill would take at least half an hour to take effect, she already felt calm. Filled with anticipation, she reached over spontaneously and gave Samantha a warm hug.

Lily felt a familiar tingle starting deep inside her stomach, like the first warm rays of sunlight peeking over a dark horizon. Unconsciously, she took a deep breath and filled her lungs with the smoke-filled air. The tingle spread into her legs and arms, and out to the tips of her toes and the tips of her fingers, until she felt as if every cell in her body was newly awakened. She felt so alive! She inhaled deeply, and as she did, she felt the ecstacy take a deeper hold on her. Her limbs began to tremble. Her internal organs started to vibrate, as if dancing to some rhythm only they could hear. She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to digest what she was feeling. When she opened them, the room seemed to be glowing. Her chairs, table, and walls were surrounded by a lovely yellow glow. She felt the music surrounding her like a vacuum. She was at the centre of a deep suction, the force of it almost too much to bear. She took another deep breath, and tried to steady her shaking fingers. Calm Lily, calm, she said to herself. She was rushing - the power of the pill inside her taking over her thoughts, movements and energy.

Lily sat up suddenly as the music lifted, as though she was being pulled upwards by its force. It was so beautiful, she thought foggily. The music was just so beautiful. Everything was just so beautiful. She felt as though the music had been written specifically for her. She looked at Sam, who had her eyes closed and seemed to be drifting off into the same blissful space. Lily knew they were feeling the same thing. She lay back again, and let the music wash over her. Someone handed her a cigarette. She took a long pull before wordlessly handing it back. She tried to smile her thanks, but her lips would only turn upwards in a strange grimace. She couldn’t talk. She couldn’t process. She couldn't move. She could only drift buoyantly atop the waves of sound.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Life vs Cigarettes

"I have a bad heart," Yassir tells me, as I leave for work this morning.

Yassir is part of the 24 hour/7 day a week security brigade inside my condo. I see him twice a day, everyday. Sometimes I bring him coffee from Tim Hortons, or heat up his dinner in my microwave. Sometimes, I bum a smoke off him.

Yassir is half Arab and half Kenyan. He sends money home to his mother every month.

He wants to complete his engineering degree in Canada.

Yassir is under 30, speaks English with an accent and has a half head of grey hair.

He smokes 1-2 packs of cigarettes a day, and has since he was 16.

On Friday, Yassir spent the night in the hospital. While at work, he felt the air leaving his lungs. He began gasping like an asthmatic in the throes of a serious attack. No puffer to the rescue though. Because he's not an asthmatic. He's a smoker. An ambulance was called. Oxygen administered. The verdict? Bronchitis lodged deep in his lungs, pneumonia quickly on its way.

Monday night. Another trip to the hospital. A 2 night stay this time. More tests. The verdict this time? A bad heart. Weak and strangled from years of inhaling acid, tar, nicotine into lungs, bloodstream, capillaries, ventricles. Cigarette breaks outside, bleak cold, wet air, pollution. Hands shaking. White puff of breath.

I'm sure Yassir doesn't have benefits.

Back at work this morning.

"I have a bad heart. Will you come to my funeral?" Black humour. Pale and laughing.

"You didn't have to go the hospital for me to know you have a bad heart," I tease, making light, "why don't you quit smoking?"

"It's hard." he says, his normally brown skin, ashen.

"It's not hard," I disagree, "just choose your life over cigarettes. It shouldn't be a tough choice."

"Yeah, I know. It's hard." he repeats wistfully, and looks sad.