Is this how it’s supposed to be?

This post from the Bloggess. It makes me cry a little bit.

I think it surprised Victor, how quickly I said “Okay. You know what? I’ll go.” He and Hailey held their breath as if I’d take it back. I hold my breath too. I wait for my body to say, “No, this was a trick. It’s not real. You don’t deserve this.” But it’s not saying that. Not yet at least. It’s saying, “I want to go. I want to live. I’ve been waiting so long.” It says “Let’s see Scotland and London and Paris. Let’s walk on distant islands and walk through mountains and see the things that I can’t quite imagine really exist because I never thought it would have been possible to see them. But maybe, a little voice inside my head whispers, maybe it’s possible.


Maybe this is real. Maybe it’s not forever but it’s for today and if it’s real today then there’s a chance that any day in the future could be like this one…full of promise and energy and an ease I feel like I’ve stolen…one that I feel jealous of even as I experience it.

via Is this how it’s supposed to be?

It makes my heart ache. Depression steals life from those afflicted with it, but also from the people that love them. It is unfair. It is a burden. It fills me with guilt. I isolate myself, because if I cannot see the colors myself, at a minimum, let me not dim the colors of those I love. They have their own crosses to bear.

Yet I want to see the colors. And I want to share in others’ colors. So badly.

Just most days, I can’t.

Depression is a bitch.



Suitcases: tricky concept

I need a vacation, yeah? And I am going on a vacation. So far so good. Packing? Not so good.

Last night I had a full blown anxiety attack when packing for my Paris/Dubai trip.

The breaking point came when I couldn’t fit my beach towel and the 7 pairs of shoes I absolutely needed. I cried a little bit. But then, I gave myself a talking to, “Vanilla, you are a competent, smart career woman. Problem-solve this! Be proactive. Google. Google will help. Google “How to pack for two different climates”, and everything will work out.” Everything did not work out. Instead, I tried on every single article of clothing from my summer wardrobe – what! At any point in time only 2/3 of my summer wardrobe fits me, and it isn’t always the same two thirds… I am female. My weight and shape changes dramatically from year to year! I haven’t worn that stuff in a year, my body has changed a LOT! Last year, I was muscular and an Amazon. This year I am #skinnybitch except I happen to be PMSing and bloating right now which means that omgomgomgnothingfitsmeIamsogross.

After 2 hours of packing, I was exhausted from the physical effort of changing in and out of outfits, and had my shampoo and flipflops packed. It was midnight.

I ended up resorting to the tried and true method of packing:

Pretty sure I have my toothbrush. I think. I have two pairs of sunglasses, so that counts for something, right?

To be or not to be a Queen B, part II

It all started with this post: To be or not to be a Queen B, although there was a hint of it in August 2016, when I wrote A Pointless Story about Coping Mechanisms, Boys in Drag and Eminem. I started getting snarkier, and it permeated my writing. The edge to my posts stayed throughout October and November. In December, my posts are very brash. Examples:

So far, in January, I’m still petty, both in my personal and professional life:

Two of my wonderful Qc cousins exclaimed in horror when I happily referred to myself during a Xmas supper as a mean bitch. They don’t see me in that light. I reassured them, no, no, Vanilla is finally in touch with her mean side. Again, they disapproved. It isn’t good for me to indulge in my mean spiteful side. If I have this “bad” side to me, I must work on it to eradicate it from my character.

It isn’t easy hearing “I do not like who you are becoming” from people you love and whose opinion you value. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking over their words. Specifically, I find it odd that my impulse is to celebrate this new aspect to my personality, whereas they condemn it. That is a disconnect in opinion worth exploring.

Life as a kid with ADD, unmedicated, a religious upbringing and a mother with very strict notions of propriety and etiquette (I read Miss Manners for fun as a result – highly recommend it. She is funny!)

Vanilla! How could you say that?! Don’t you see that you were rude/insensitive/thoughtless. You obviously didn’t take XYZ into consideration before formulating your opinion. Why are you presenting your opinion as a statement of fact: change your wording. How are you backing up your assertion? If you don’t have arguments to support your statement, that is a sign that you should stay silent. Don’t speak for the sake of speaking. Be considerate of others feelings. Your words say a lot about your character: do you want to appear vain/immodest/insensitive. Think before you speak. Speak when spoken to, and if you are going to speak up for no reason, make sure it is interesting and within the boundaries of polite discussion.

Everything I said was wrong. Even with the best of intentions, my words and my behaviour seemed to trigger bewildering reactions in others, and I would feel hurt by their condemnation of me, without understanding my good intentions. And as feelings do not depend on logical arguments to be supportable, I stopped expressing my feelings, after “losing” arguments with my mother too often to count.

Life as an ambitious, smart, driven career woman. Bite my tongue, don’t piss off colleagues or clients ever! You are too brash, Vanilla. Tone it down. Always try manage other’s feelings. Piss them off anyhow.

Learn at 30 that I have the right to speak up at work. Learn via this blog that I have a voice: my feelings and my truth matter. I don’t publish anything on this blog that I wouldn’t want the people concerned to read – they might not always like my opinions or agree with my assessments, but I always explain why I feel the way I do.

Get hired at my job because I’ll get things done and won’t let myself be bullied – disorienting to hear the aspects of my character that have always been portrayed as negatives described as valuable strengths.

Boxing taught me to acknowledge that I have a lot of anger that I’ve spent my life repressing, resulting in the deep and scary depressions, the last of which took 20 months of therapy to recover from.

I’ve no urge to ever hit my opponent first, to bend them to my will, to impose my fighting style over theirs. Those are not impulses that appeal to me either in the ring, or in the real world. I’m much more of a “live and let live” kinda person. I’d be perfectly happy if my opponent and I each took a corner of the ring and shadow boxed in silence. I’ve noticed that in the real world I do not know how to manage my anger. I’m totally comfortable feeling bitchy, annoyed, irritated and pissy. But anger? Real anger? I feel a flash of it, before dissolving into sobs, and giving way to despair and defeatism. I don’t ever fight back, because my anger has evaporated, leaving me with apathy. This is my go-to approach when an emotion is overwhelming. I fear what might happen if I did give way to my feelings: who I’d hurt, and how badly. To avoid facing that fear, I rid myself of the problematic anger entirely.

I think my problem is not that I am not a violent, angry person, but rather that I am scared of discovering just how violent I truly am. I know that I won’t be able to control my anger, so rather than learn to do so (and live with all the painful mistakes I’d make during that process), I avoid the entire issue, both in and out of the ring.

A lifetime of conditioning that what I say must be edited to be palatable to others. My need for self-expression must come second to other’s feelings. A lifetime of denying myself the right to express my emotions. A belief that negative expressions are bad. Imagine my confusion when my therapist proposed that all emotions are equal sources of information, and must be acknowledged equally.

Because such feelings are aversive, they are often called “negative” emotions, although “negative” is a misnomer. Emotions are not inherently positive or negative. They are distinguished by much more than whether they feel good or bad. Beneath the surface, every emotion orchestrates a complex suite of changes in motivation, physiology, attention, perception, beliefs, and behaviors: sweating, laughing, desiring revenge, becoming optimistic, summoning specific memories. Each component of every emotion has a critical job to do—whether it’s preparing us to move toward what we want (anger), urging us to improve our standing (envy), or allowing us to undo a social gaffe (embarrassment). – Psychology Today, Beyond Happiness: The Upside of Feeling Down

And there you have it.

I am proud of my new bitchy self because I have reached a point of strength where I can feel all of my feelings including the spiteful, mean and angry ones – emotions I was always taught to believe were “bad”. I also have accepted my right to express them, within socially acceptable boundaries. I use the word bitchy, because my whole life assertive women were called bitches, but really… I have learned to be assertive.

Assertive, bitchy, I don’t care anymore. I will speak my truth, professionally and personally. People won’t like that, bc hearing strongly worded, supported intelligent opinions isn’t friendly/charming/fun/sweet/easy. That’s ok. I rather be true than be liked.

It feels like freedom.

He said I had the tools

That is what my therapist told me. He said I had the tools now to handle life, and the nasty tricks my brain plays on me. I hope he is right, because I can tell I am headed towards a rough patch.

Funny how quickly my brain can turn on me. Just a few days ago, I was filled with joy and happiness, galivanting through France. I celebrated my birthday by feeling bone-deep gratitude for my life and my friends and family. Just 3 sleeps ago, I spent a sunny day at the pool watching a bunch of 4 year olds and their silly shenanigans (seriously? how do children do it? They found HOURS of fun running around a fountain and playing with foam toys in a foot of water!) and I thought my heart would burst with the simple sweetness of it all.

And then the reality of my life kicked in. Anxious about my performance at my job, feeling swamped like I can’t successfully tread water, always getting sucked down by deep currents of a work-flow I can’t keep up with but ought to be able to. I clench my Ritalin bottle, and pray those pills do their magic, and wonder why they don’t – maybe I am stupid, afterall. My room is a mess. My dating life is “interesting”. I feel my personal life start to slip out from under me – too many important errands that I can’t seem to get to, anxiety piling up like the piles of unfolded clothes on my bed. The aftermath of Brexit, the horrors of Trump’s utterances, Turkey. No happy puff pieces in the news – only pics of Kim Kardashian’s cleavage. I used to pride myself on appreciating the simple moments in life, like those kids playing in the pool, but its been 3 days and I can’t see any happiness anywhere. Worse, when I look at little videos of those children playing, the same videos that made me so happy a few days ago, I am filled with apprehension of how badly our planet, with its all its problems, will wreck those childrens’ lives. Talk about a flip-flop in world-view!

I recognize the signs – my is brain throwing all the colorful filters out the window, and drenching everything in shades of grey and anxiety.

So I look into my tool box:

  • Ritalin. To regulate my concentration, and impulse control. It isn’t working, or else the side-effect of increased anxiety is undoing any impact on my ADD.
  • Exercise. My therapist told me to never go more than 2 days without exercising – to view it as seriously as medication, that without it I would eventually need to medicate my brain’s inability to keep my emotions in check. Funny that when I need exercise the most, I feel like doing it the least. I get paralyzed by all that I have to do at work, and working out feels like a vanity. I blink, and 3 hours have gone by with nothing to show for it other than crippling anxiety about my unproductivity, and I stay late at the office to try make up for it, and skip my workout.
  • Diet. A well regulated diet, without too much sugar, helps keep my mood swings at bay. Like any female, anywhere, when I am emotional, I live off of bread, chocolate, and alcohol. Not because that is healthy, but because my soul demands it in exchange for not burning the world to the ground.
  • Friends. When I get into my funk, the last thing I want to do is to inflict my moodiness on any of my friends – besides, they are all so busy with their lives, they don’t have time for this.
  • Writing. I have writer’s block.
  • Sleep. Anxiety takes care of that, real good. I flip-flop between insomnia and overwhelming fatigue, and needing 12 hours a night.

My tool box looks feeble. I wish it looked like Batman’s bat cave.

So I am going to knuckle down, and make a list, and do breathing exercises to stop myself from crying at the sheer length of it. And then I am going to tackle one thing at a time. I will go exercise one hour a day, even when I don’t want to. I’ll eat a veggie or two. And I will pray that this will pass.





The Dynamo trip: bow ties and feelings

By Tuesday (Day 4) night, my insecurities had taken over. The culture shock (see Day 1 & Day 3 below) felt huge. Dynamo was very busy with wedding preparations. Out of the 300 wedding guests, I was slightly acquainted with 15 people, including Dynamo’s siblings; to my knowledge, I was the only non-Arab guest. It seemed everyone had their established tight-knit groups, and I was always tagging along, one step behind on all the inside jokes, and frequently entirely excluded from conversations, as the guests lapsed into Arabic. Good manners forced me to hide my boredom and loneliness, but boy, did I feel isolated. I considered throwing myself into sight-seeing day trips, but that involved too much rigid planning, and distancing myself from Dynamo which made me even more anxious.

On Wednesday (Day 5), I skipped out on a major sight-seeing day trip to go shopping with Dynamo for the accessories for his tux (bow-tie, shirt, cuff links and suspenders bc #baller). I’d gone suit shopping with him in Montreal, so it was only right that I accompany him on this second expedition. (Aside: shopping for men’s suits is one of my favorite things to do. I love analyzing the workmanship and skill behind the tailoring of an outfit. One seam is all it takes to make or break a suit.) Seeing Dynamo all decked out in his wedding outfit made me cry. He looked so handsome. The salesman showed me how to properly adjust Dynamo’s tie so that “on his wedding day, you will know, and you will make him look good.” The salesman’s assumption I would be awarded such a critical role (normally attributed to the mother/father/best man of the groom) made me cry. While Dynamo was distracted by his wifey, I bought the classiest pair of cuff links, pissing him off, because Dynamo loves spoiling others but hates being spoiled. I tried to explain to him how honoured I was to witness the beginning of this new chapter of his life, and how much it would mean to me if he would wear these little bits of metal as a token of my love and best wishes for him and his wife on their big day. I only managed to say 5 words before crying. Again. #turningintomymother

I was ashamed to realize that part of my tears were driven by a feeling of mourning: he was embarking on an adventure that necessarily would exclude me. I felt left behind. The creeping fears and insecurities that always hit me hard during weddings were overwhelming. Then I felt guilt, because those are pretty selfish feelings to have with regards to my best friend’s wedding. #sosososorryformyself

The supper (Day 5) that turned my trip around

That night (Day 5) there was yet another big supper, to greet a new wave of Dynamo’s guests. I felt emotionally raw, and reconciled myself to another evening of hidden boredom tempered by ridiculously yummy food. Instead, I hit it off with 6 of the guests from Dubai and Jeddah (all part of Dynamo’s elder brother’s crew). Thursday (Day 6) I hung out with these new-found friends and Dynamo’s siblings, a day of idle munching, strolling around town, and sunny terrasses. Frequently the conversation lapsed into Arabic, and just as frequently they’d catch themselves and translate immediately, bringing me into the lively dialogue. The topics were wide ranging and interesting, and we discovered shared values and common humour yet totally different life experiences (conclusion: life in Jeddah would not suit me. Did you know movie theaters are outlawed there?). Thursday afternoon, Dynamo casually mentioned that he expected me to tie his bow-tie on his wedding day- of course I would be part of the wedding pictures: I was his best friend. Thursday night the Montreal crew and the Dubai crew went out clubbing, and I had a blast. Dynamo’s sister-in-law gave me a crash course in typical Arab dance moves, practicing them with me till I could execute them smoothly. Friday (Day 7 – day of the wedding), I got ready with Dynamo’s sister and sisters-in-law. So much excited girly conversations – fake eyelashes: too much? is there such a thing as too many hair extensions? What color nail polish would best accent my eyes? Friday afternoon, I joined Dynamo and all of the men of his wedding party, for the wedding pics of the groom getting ready. I tied his bowtie, and adjusted his suspenders and did not cry – his older brother did that instead.

As I walked into the wedding reception, I felt nothing but joy. I tried locating the fears that had threatened to ruin my trip but found they were gone, replaced instead with a certainty that the friendship and love I share with Dynamo will never disappear, no matter how many different chapters or life events we experience. It will grow and change to include the new people in our lives (Hi Mrs. Dynamite!!), and that is a good thing.

I was seated at the Dubai/Jeddah crew’s table. Lots of laughter. The dance floor opened after the first dance for close family and friends to join the happy couple. I hung back, until Dynamo’s older brother impatiently waved at me to join him on the dance floor, because I belonged there. As the Arab music blasted, and everyone danced away, I remembered Dynamo’s sister-in-law’s instructions, and found myself swept away by the music and a never ending number of dance partners.

And so, I learned that being different does not imply isolation. That cultural differences are not insurmountable. That my fears and insecurities don’t stand a chance against love and happiness. What started out as a trip of self-imposed loneliness turned into a trip of new friends and shared experiences.

That Dynamo. He always brings good things into peoples lives.

Recap of all previous posts related to the Trip To See Dynamo Lawfully Wedded: Who’d Have Ever Guessed He’d Find A Woman Crazy Enough To Marry Him.

Where I rediscover that Mimi is fidèle

For some excellent reasons, things between me and Beaut have reached a bit of a hiccup. My understanding and acceptance of these reasons does not diminish my disappointment. But, such is life, and I’ll just have to suck it up, drop 10lbs, look and feel fabulous and continue blogging my trainwreck life story.

At the start of this Beaut saga, I’d carefully and kindly placed my three teddybears in my closet because it felt weird to have them on my bed when Beaut came over, and because I thought it was time to turn a chapter from girlhood to womanhood. Real women don’t sleep with teddybears, so I’ve been told. For the past few months, every time I opened my closet door, my favorite teddybear, Mimi Nafiss (yes, he has a first and last name, teddybears deserve the same privilege as humans, don’t you think?), who has been in my life since I was christened at 38 days old, would look at me from his perch on the shelf with reproachful eyes. He didn’t say anything, but he gave me that look, the look of “I see you as you really are, and you are disappointing me, and hurting my feelings. Your priorities suck.” I would quickly close the closet door, to avoid his sad eyes. I told myself: I am 31 years old. I can do this. I can not talk to my teddybears in my head. I can go through life without a daily snuggle with my teddybears. I am a grown-ass woman.

The first thing I did upon acknowledging the Beaut hiccup was drink a bottle of wine. Not true, but that sounds dramatic and typically female. What I actually did when I accepted the hiccup was to go to my closet and pull out my teddybears -the next best thing to calling up my mommy and being told soothing, reassuring lovely thoughts. My teddybears immediately brought me back to my more serene place, one where as a child I felt loved and safe.

Growing up as an only child, Mimi was my best friend. I gave him a voice and a personality, he was my partner in crime. He was my son, and his father had been my mother’s childhood teddybear, who’d died a tragic death in a dumpster. My mother would invent fantastic adventures for Mimi, impersonating his voice. She sent me report cards written by his teachers at school, emphasizing his behavioral problems: apparently, he once attempted to avoid eating his broccoli at lunch time, by hiding it in a glassful of milk. At supper time, he would ask to have some dessert too, since he was part of the family, which I would helpfully eat for him. By the time I was a teenager, my mother and I had become addicted to Mimi, and would continue embroidering his story. My family thought we were weird. We were.

As I snuggled with Mimi and his two teddybrothers, feeling blue and down, Mimi whispered, “See? That is what you get when you seek anything less than the unconditional love of a teddyson.” My negative paranoid brain (for a full introduction to this charming side of my personality, read this post) smirked at me, “Loser! Here you are, you couldn’t even get this Beaut thing off the ground, and now you are back to talking to your teddybears?! And you think you are ready to date. Right. As if any guy, who knew how crazy you actually are, would stick around. Keep talking to your teddybears, woman. That’s right. Pathetic.” I was too sad to try deal with my paranoid brain – I couldn’t exactly find any counterarguments as to how talking to my teddybears would make me attractive dating material. Which is when Mimi reared up his teddybear head, and looked at me with his indignant teddybear eyes: “Hey! You listen to me, you. Mimi is fidèle. Vanilla-mama needs to learn to never settle for anything less than a guy who comforts her as much as Mimi does. Mimi has stuck with Vanilla-mama from the beginning, and has seen everything she has lived, and Mimi knows she will be ok. Mimi is here when she is sad. Beaut isn’t. The previous boy neither. The one before that neither. If those boys can’t even match up to a teddybear, they aren’t really worth worrying about, no? Shut up, paranoid brain. Mimi is enjoying these cuddles, so leave us alone.”

Surprisingly, my paranoid brain did leave us alone.


When Google is not helpful

Guys – humans of the male gender – this post is not for you.

To make a very long story short, I got a copper IUD installed this month.


When the internet and the doctor (equally reliable sources, obvi) say that an IUD might cause “heavier flow and cramping” in the first few months, possibly forever, THEY DIDN’T WARN ME ENOUGH.

Day 12. TWELVE days of bleeding, and no sign of stopping. Bright red. Endless quantities. I didn’t know I had that much blood in my body. I will be anemic in the near future. I also understand why IUD’s have such a high rate of effectiveness: it is impossible to have sex when you are internally hemorrhaging, and your ovaries are trying to exit your body by beating their way through your pelvic wall.

Of COURSE, I did what any normal person would do, and I googled “first period after copper IUD” and now I am completely hysterical. I’m so freaked out and upset, I haven’t eaten chocolate in 48 hours. I don’t have the appetite for it.

I am never going to have sex again, because I will bleed out and die. The internet says so (no joke, one of the first hits to that google search is an article for titled “Is my IUD killing me?“), therefore it must be true. According to this thread on, I basically should just draft my will, because any day now, I will drown in a pool of my own blood.

The internet never lies.

I want to weep.

Current mood – and if you think this is too far, and too gross, SO DO I. SPEAK TO MY UTERUS.

Free Style Writing Challenge: TODAY

I was nominated by Dneika over at Grieving is Healing for a free style writing challenge. Never having done a writing exercise (I have dark memories of the drudgery of high school writing exercises), I was skeptical, but this turned out to be a quick and fun way to write a post. I always was taken aback with where my brain took me. It appears I suffer from slight inattention and anxiety at work…

Here are Rules I had to follow:

  1. Open an MS Word document
  2. Set a stop watch or your mobile to 5 minutes or 10 minutes whichever challenge you think you can beat.
  3. You topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.
  4. Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you began writing do not stop even to turn.
  5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in MS WORD (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules)
  6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and CAPITALS. However if you do, it would be best.
  7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. Of words =_____’ so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
  8. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new Topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nominations (at least 5 bloggers).

I chose the 5 minute word challenge, and the word chosen for me by Dneika was: TODAY.

Today. To do. 

SO much to do. What to do. Get out of bed. Cuddle under covers.


Be productive, I am productive. I am POSITIVE. Today. Work work work. 

Chat, smile. Make a grocery list. FOCUS. Right. Working. 

(Look at me. I am working!)

Lunch. Oye, now I really have to be productive, today. Look at what is left to do tomorrow! No wait, deal with today, and leave tomorrow’s problems until tomorrow. What is it my mother used to say? Each day is a new day. Today is a new day. Except its not because it is already 3pm and WHERE HAS THE DAY GONE.

Focus. Today is Monday, I have all week to get my to do list done. I will be FINE, even if I didn’t get everything I wanted done today. Oh wait, FOCUS.

I am focused. I just scratched 1.5 things off my to do list! I AM AWESOME. High five to me. Time for some chocolate. Chocolate is good for the brain, no really!

Oh my today is almost done! God, how many emails are in my inbox? Wait, I received HOW MANY emails today? Why am I even on this email chain? 

Today is done. Tomorrow will be better. 

Word count: 206. The alarm went off as I was midway through my last sentence: “Tomorrow will be better.” I decided to keep it in, but I suspect that a harsh application of the rules would require that I leave it out. I also found it extremely hard to stay in a state of stream of consciousness. No matter how hard I tried, I kept a slight distance from my writing, which allowed me to slightly self-edit as I wrote. Pity. I would be interested in doing more of these challenges.

My nominees are the following blogs – y’all should go check them out. All are funny, all are different:

Your word challenge is: GINGERBREAD or GINGER. (One of the bloggers found gingerbread too restrictive).

Good luck!