Beaut debrief: where I realize Coach is wise, I’m insecure and my therapist will be rich

Beaut and I: dunzo.

Like any self-respecting anxious person, I’ve worked myself up about 2 things over which I have zero control:

  • What if Beaut ruined it for me: he was by far the most beautiful guy I’ve ever been with, possibly the most attractive guy I’ve ever met. I’ve always believed I couldn’t land myself a hottie. Now that I’ve successfully done so, is this going to take my already legendary pickiness about guys to the next level? Will I always be doomed to crush on ridiculously hot guys, who usually are douchebags, and won’t look twice in my direction? Since Beaut proved to me that a hot guy can be a nice, kind, smart and funny guy, am I doomed to wish for another version of him, which just doesn’t exist? Maybe he was a freak of nature, and I should just accept that hot nice guys are a myth, and even if they do exist, they are all taken or they won’t find me attractive enough? Will I eventually settle? I don’t want to settle.
  • What if I never have great sex again?

I confessed these charming insecurities to Coach. (Aside: that is a sign that Coach is a great Coach. His boxers can tell him anything. ANYTHING. I’ve watched him manfully navigate conversations with his female boxers stressing about their PMS and the timing of their periods for weigh-in and the impact of bloating and cravings. He tries very hard to hide his deer-in-the-headlights look, and offer reassuring noises, and only occasionally does he bust out a comment, “I’m just saying, ladies, this is one of the reasons why some boxing coaches won’t coach girls. They can’t handle this kind of talk. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying I can understand why they don’t want to deal with menstrual flows.” At which point, I usually collapse into giggles, and Coach gives me the death stare.)

Coach-the-wise dismissed the great sex as a non-issue. If good sex is very important to me, which it is, it will naturally play a role in who I decide to keep seeing. Meaning, if I meet a good guy but the sex sucks, I’ll probably weed him out – it is therefore a foregone conclusion that I’ll eventually have a satisfying sex life. He also pointed out a slight double standard: any guy who admitted that he stopped seeing a girl because she sucked in the sack would be deemed a grade-A asshole. But, as SATC proved, women who stop seeing guys due to issues between the sheets are seen as empowered feminists who are confident in their sexuality. Can’t say I disagree, but really, I don’t care if I am an asshole or not: I am just relieved that apparently I will end up with a good sex life. One insecurity down, one to go!

Coach, bless him, also told me I could land any hottie I liked, if I just owned up to how attractive I am. To my insecurity that the only reason I kept Beaut interested in me for as long as I did was because of Beaut’s own considerable baggage (aka, I might have thought he was out of my league looks-wise, but he might have thought I was out of his emotional & intelligence league, so perhaps he felt I was as good as he could get?), Coach laughed. He pointed out that no-matter how fucked-up a person is, one can’t fake physical attraction. Beaut was attracted to me. From the get-go. Nothing to do with various leagues, or baggage, or anything. We can therefore conclude that I did, and can, attract hotties. So if that is my concern going forward, I should drop it: it happened once, it can happen again. If I want a hottie, I will get myself a hottie. Coach kindly refrained from calling me a superficial bimbo. Coach-the-diplomatic.

Like always, I left Coach’s office feeling comforted and way less anxious.

This morning, I was thinking over my conversation with Coach, and I had a breakthrough. I realized that I don’t actually want a hottie. What I want is to end up with a catch – a guy where I perpetually wonder “he could have had any girl he wanted at the snap of his fingers, yet he chose me.” So yes, that could be a jaw-droppingly gorgeous guy, or somebody like Coach with a magnetic personality who immediately fills the room with his presence, drawing people into his orbit just by being himself, or some successful personable businessman/artist. What I want is a modern-day Prince Charming falling in love with Cinderella. Part of me is relieved that I am not a superficial bimbo, but most of me is concerned that this is indicative of a pervasive insecurity – that in chasing guys who I inherently believe to be out of my league, I am compensating for my deeply-held belief that I am a nothing-special girl.

Once again, I’ve ensured that my therapist’s retirement fund is going to be well-padded.



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.

Dream big

I don’t know how to dream big. I barely know how to dream.

I blame depression: it robs one of the ability to dream. During my depressive episodes, my goals were limited to:

  • don’t cry in public;
  • Ok fine, I cried in public, but I won’t wipe my nose with my hand;
  • I’ll hold it together long enough to just go home, and hide and cry privately;
  • I’ve been crying in my bed and sleeping for 13 hours. I’ll take a shower;
  • Fine, I’ll take a shower tomorrow;
  • I showed up at work! I’ll eat chocolate as a reward. Who cares about my weight goals, body confidence and fitness goals – there is no point looking good, I can’t face being seen by anyone, I’ll die a cat-less cat-lady.

It is hard to dream about anything at all, when one’s overriding concern is to continue showing up at work, faking being normal, and doing a passable enough job so as to not get fired. Dreams were just reminders of how I was failing at every day life. If I didn’t have dreams, I’d have less things to feel shame about.

Until recently, I didn’t question that mental pattern. But lately, as I cautiously explore vulnerability, and vaguely remember what it is to feel alive, I am irked by my inability to dream big.

I’m surrounded by (non-accountants) individuals who have big dreams and are toiling away with various degrees of success towards their ambition.

  • Dynamo‘s older brother told me 4 years ago that he would move to Dubai, become a successful entrepreneur and marry a “girl more beautiful than a movie star”. Today, his company is booming and he is happily married to his gorgeous wife. I helped him with some of the earliest aspects of the company. 4 years have gone by and I am still living in Montréal, pursuing my career at a tranquil pace. The only news in my life is that I’ve lost some weight, temporarily beat depression and started a minor blog; in all other respects my life is the same as it was then.
  • My cousin’s husband announced one day that he was starting a company. 3 years later, he is getting nominated for all kinds of awards in his field.
  • Voilàaaa has become a succesful savate trainer in the space of 1 year, and is expanding his business into several side ventures.

I chose accounting as my career because I didn’t have any passions. Unlike some friends, I never knew I wanted to be a doctor or a teacher or a musician. I wanted nice shoes and to eat in fancy restaurants. I wanted a skill set that would always be valued in the marketplace regardless of changes in technology or health of the economy. Moreover, I wanted a career that would allow me to relocate, and have my qualifications recognized easily regardless of the jurisdiction I settled down in. Most importantly, I wanted a career with stability and salary levels that would allow me to live a comfortable lifestyle and support me and my unborn babies, the day my mythical husband decided to bail on us and upgrade for a bimbo younger woman. My CPA title meets these objectives. Yet, I have a bitter aftertaste every time I think of it. I chose this career from a place of profound negativity and cynicism. Thank goodness, by fluke, I have the brains to do this job well. But my career reminds me that for years, my biggest goal was just to guard against whatever crap the Universe threw my way.

At the gym, there are several pro-boxers, all of whom want to one day be world champions. Fight by fight, they are getting closer to their goal. One of the boxers had his chance at 2 world title belts. Yes, he lost his fights, but his dogged pursuit of a goal that big fills me with respect. It makes me uncomfortable to acknowledge that in his shoes, I would never have allowed myself to dream of being world champion – I would have viewed it as presumptious and cocky. I’d be content with just being a pro-boxer, capable of living off my boxing fights. I’d settle for mediocrity, while telling myself that modesty is a virtue.

My current dreams are tame. Mundane.

  • Own a home
  • Win a few boxing fights, preferably without any concussions
  • Get a promotion in the next 2 years
  • Find a man who loves me enough to stay true indefinitely
  • Travel to a new place 1x a year

Part of me is proud for even acknowledging that I want these things. I only did so recently, in the past 9 months, as the cloud of depression receeded. I’m 31, and my goals are the same as most 25 year-olds. Depression robbed me of 6 years of my life.

But that isn’t enough. I want to be like the boxers at my gym. Have a goal that is so big, it is almost statistically impossible. Ludicrous. Presumptious. Cocky. I want to work towards greatness, and possibly fail along the way, instead of just wallowing in mediocrity and the mundane.

Except… I do not know how to dream.

Bah humbug

Growing up, Christmas meant:

Decorating the Christmas tree while listening to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker music. When I was little, it was a family activity. My mother had a tradition: every year, she’d buy a new ornament. Decorating the tree was a trip down memory lane, as we unwrapped the ever-growing collection of ornaments and remembered the context of each one. Some ornaments had belonged to my grandmother; some were from my mother’s childhood. As I grew older, and my mother’s health failed, I would decorate by myself. The satisfaction of seeing the tree lit at night was worth it. I would lie on the rug in the living room, in the dark, and watch the ornaments glisten in the bright strings of lights and imagine fairy tales. Magic seemed possible near that tree.

Walking in on my mother, sitting in the middle of her study, surrounded by heaps of presents, attempting to organize them into bundles by recipient. She’d start shopping in July, in order to take advantage of sales. Inevitably, come December, she had too many presents, and would fret about giving the right number of presents to each family member. Books! So many books. She kept reserves of new books in the closet of her study, in case she needed a bonus present for an unexpected visitor.

Going to the Catholic church 8 minutes away from my home. Due to my mother’s health, she rarely made the trek downtown to the 2 Russian Orthodox Churches in Montreal. During my youth, my father underwent a turbulent period in his faith. Therefore, it was up to my mother to take care of my religious education. She felt that any religion was better than no religion; she encouraged my attendance at the Catholic parish nearby. I did so, weekly, from the age of 8 until I was 22. I have so many fond memories of that parish: singing in various choirs, meeting my high school best friend, my first crush, a sense of community. As a family, we would go to that parish for Christmas Eve Mass, even after I had moved out; it was important to my mother that we remember the true reason behind the holiday brouhaha. There were years where my mother was too ill to attend – my father and I would go together, and she stayed home, upset that her health wouldn’t allow her to celebrate Christmas properly.

After Mass, coming home, and finishing wrapping the endless presents, as I watched my favorite movie, White Christmas (Bing Crosby! Danny Kaye!) with my mother. We’d drink wine and eat a stupid number of Christmas cookies. All presents (even for recipients we were only planning to see after the 26th) had to be wrapped and under the tree by midnight on the 24th so that come Christmas morning, the tree would look properly decadent. A symbol of the joyful family gatherings to come. My mother would fill out the To/From gift tags with the most absurd names: Santa, the Tooth Fairy, all of my teddy bears, Elvis Presley, Queen Elizabeth II and many others.

Christmas morning, in our pajamas. Opening presents. Feeling spoiled. Laughing. Listening to Christmas carols. Brunch. Lazying about. Eventually getting ready, and going to my godmother’s for her annual Christmas feast (in our stretchy pants, to allow for adequate room for all the food).

We haven’t decorated the Christmas tree since her death 3.5 years ago. My father doesn’t want the hassle of it in the big house, now that he lives alone.

My father hates shopping; doesn’t know what to give. He prefers giving birthday presents. So I give him his presents on Christmas Eve, and I shop for my cousins and store my presents at my apartment until its time for us to visit them. There are no gift tags. I have not heard from Santa since my mother died.

My father’s faith is renewed and ever deepening. He now attends the Russian Orthodox Church on the 25th, prior to my godmother’s feast. I’ve attended with him. But it is not the same. They don’t sing Christmas carols. There is no Nativity Scene. This year, he’s opted to celebrate Christmas based on the old calendar (January 7 – same as Ukrainian Christmas); he therefore didn’t need to go to church on the 25th. When I proposed that we could go, for old time’s sake, to Christmas Eve Mass at the Catholic parish, he declined, as he now feels himself too Orthodox, and does not approve of visiting churches as a spectator.

I firmly believe in Christmas magic, and fairy tales. I always have. I’m just struggling to find any, now that my Christmas traditions have all fallen away (except for my godmother’s Christmas dinner – as important as gravity and worldpeace). It’s tempting to give into the melancholy and cynicism that so many people suffer from during the Holidays. It’s easy to feel alone.

That would be a bigger betrayal of my mother than I’ll allow.

The magic might not be as easily accessible as it used to be, but that just means I have to look harder. Take a moment to appreciate the quaintly decorated houses. Find myself Christmas concerts nearby and go by myself or drag a few friends. Go for a night-time walk and breathe in the crisp air and imagine Santa hard at work. Write a few Christmas cards. Smile at a stranger crossing the street. Tell my friends I love them. Attend Christmas Eve Mass at a beautiful church, one close to my new home. Play the Nutcracker music as loud as I can in my decorated apartment. Watch White Christmas, snuggled with my teddybears, and eat a reasonable number of chocolate cookies.

I know traditions aren’t meant to last forever, and times are a’changing… but still.

I miss my Ma. She made Christmas good.

Previous Christmas-themed posts:

Operation Drunken Donkey 

Brown Socks is getting married in 3 weeks, y’all!! Of course, there was a bachelor party, to which I got invited (contrary to Dynamo‘s claim that I invited myself. Hmph.) I did my very best to be one of the Bros throughout the bachelor weekend. Overall, I think I was aight. I learned from my mistakes from my first bachelor party, and refrained from discussing unacceptable topics such as lentil soup recipes. I was proud of my restraint, until an argument broke out between Brown Socks, his best man and one of the groomsmen concerning the merit of adding carrots to spaghetti sauce. #wastedeffort

How to pick a wedding date

Brown Socks explained the reasoning behind his wedding date of September 26th.

We had the choice between September 12 and September 26. So I looked up 8 years of meteorological data to determine which date historically had better weather.

Dynamo and I broke into uncontrollable giggling at the picture of Brown Socks, the weather groomzilla. Oblivious, Brown Socks continued his explanation:

October is historically a very dry month in Montreal, and July is usually the month with the highest amount of precipitations. Therefore, the statistical chances of rain on my wedding day decrease the further away the date is from July.

Oh, and September 26 was one of the only dates the church was available.

Brown Socks did not agree that his approach was akin to predicting lottery numbers based on the statistical frequencies of certain numbers on a given date. “Historically for the 6/49 draw, the number 5 appears 4 times on the last Tuesday of 7th month of odd-numbered years…”

How to chose a wedding song

The topic of wedding DJs came up. I commented on how the song mix of my cousin’s wedding had left me musically disoriented since it included Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman”, 50 cent’s “In Da Club” and Coolio’s “Gangsta Paradise”. Brown Socks opined that Gangsta Paradise is a great song (true), and he hoped it would play at his wedding.

(Context: This bachelor party consisted of 8 accountants and 2 engineers. Our token visible minorities consisted of 1 Asian, and 1 Arab. My vanilla people! My homies!)

Brown Socks eventually acknowledged that Gangsta Paradise was perhaps not the greatest party dance song. Which is when RM, one of the bachelor bros, chimed in, “I think that song works best as the entrance song, when you walk down the church aisle: ‘As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death/I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothin’ left'” he rapped convincingly.

Now THAT is thinking outside of the box. Well done, RM, well done.

How to earn your spot at a bachelor party

One of Brown Socks’ tasks for the weekend was to get 50 ladies to sign his shirt. Brown Socks disagreed with this plan, since he really liked the shirt he’d been given for this purpose, and wanted to wear it again. Although lots of worthy bluster was spoken, “You’re just the groom, you don’t get to make the rules!” it appeared he would get his way, as no one had thought to bring a Sharpie pen to our night out on the town. Sad face.

I listened to the groomsmen sigh dejectedly over their thwarted plans for entertainment. “It sucks, man. I can’t believe we forgot to bring a Sharpie!” I listened and listened and listened, bemused at their quandry, as we were standing in the middle of the crowded town square, at an early hour (9pm). I told them to stay put, I would take care of it. I walked into the nearest store, which happened to be a children’s clothing store, smiled at the sales clerks and begged them for a Sharpie pen. Sympathetically, they hunted through their pens, and their purses, till they found me a pen, and sent me off with wishes of a good party night. I emerged triumphantly from the store, pen in hand. The cheers from my bros were deafening. I had scored a bro-touchdown.

Brown Socks successfully got 50 ladies to sign his shirt. A few dudes signed too. Good times.

Now obviously, I can’t spill the beans about any of the specifics from this weekend, because that would be completely against the bro-code, to which I am honour-bound. But I promise you, it was a successful bachelor party, as the picture below proves:

#MorningAfter #ThisIsntEvenTheGroom




And they lived happily ever after

Once upon a time, the Queen had a doppelgänger- my grandmother, Baba. Baba had 3 children: my mother was the eldest, followed by her two brothers, named Uncle Qc and Uncle Boston.

Various fairy godmothers blessed Baba with 7 grandchildren: my mother had me, and each of her brothers had 3 children each. Behold, we so cute: 

Cue many years of teddybears and squabbles, hysterical laughter and adolescent drama, broken bones and broken hearts. Uncle Qc and Uncle Boston each had minivans into which they piled up their families and drove to Montreal for countless family dinners around Baba’s kitchen table. Baba saw that it was good, and was pleased.

Baba died in 2007. The families wobbled – the nucleus was gone, the children were all busy adolescents/ young adults, each with their own lives pulling them in different directions. My mother created a new tradition: once a year, at every Canadian Thanksgiving, we would all reunite in Montreal (if possible). Behold, we so cute:   

My mother listened as the 7 of us complained of overeating and named our food babies, and played Apples to Apples, screeching and laughing until tears ran down our faces. She saw that it was good, and was pleased.

My mother died in 2012. This time the family did not wobble. At the funeral wake, I listened as my 6 cousins discussed where and how the next Thanksgiving family reunion would take place. They had it down to each dish. So far, their plan has worked beautifully. Behold, we so cute: 


The bond I share with my Quebec cousins is particularly close: I call them my almost-sisters. I like to believe that feeling is mutual, because otherwise, why would my aunt buy us matching pyjamas?

This past weekend, Quebec cousin #2 got married.


I am having trouble reconciling the girl with frizzy hair and 35 Barbie dolls sitting in my lap in the first picture with the beautiful bride above.   

I am also having trouble reconciling the poised, elegant group of adults (with sun in our eyes) with the heaping mess of giggles from each of the Thanksgiving pictures above.

One thing I do not have trouble reconciling is how happy we were to be together and to share in Qc Cousin #2’s joy. The refrain that echoed in my heart throughout the weekend was “this is good”. The same refrain Baba and my mother had.

That refrain was strongest when observing Qc cousin #2 and her husband.   

I, and everyone else present, saw that it was good, and was pleased.

Welcome to the family, Ben! I look forward to our many future family gatherings together.


My first bachelor party

I was 20 when I moved out from my parents; I sublet a room in a 7 1/2, and lived with 2 engineering students for 8 months, before finding my own place. Those boys witnessed my flailing attempts at self-sufficiency, and taught me valuable life lessons like how doing dishes on the regular prevents bug infestations, and separating whites from colors is a worthwhile effort. They adopted me as their kid sister, and over the years we’ve remained close friends, despite taking turns dropping off the map for 2-6 months yearly.

Fast forward 10 years: Roomie1 is getting married next week, and Roomie2 has a newborn with his wife of 6 years. Despite how grown-up that sounds, when I look at them both, I still see the boys who thought this video was the funniest thing ever:

Bachelor party!

I was delighted to be invited to Roomie1’s bachelor party. Unsurprisingly, I was the only girl there, and the only non-engineer. Half of the dudes were unknown to me, and regarded my presence with suspicion. To clear any doubts, I promised them that I would act just like one of the guys, and under no circumstances would I ruin the vibe of the night by acting girly.

2 beers later, I caught one of those engineering dudes grinning as he listened to me discuss lentil soup recipes with Roomie2.

It turns out that lentil soup is not part of the list of acceptable topics for bachelor parties. Ooops?

Marriage advice at a cigar lounge

Following libations at a few pubs, the party moved to a cigar lounge, so that we could all be ballers for a couple of hours. My asthma prevented me from participating, but by sitting underneath a fan, I was able to enjoy my friends’ second-hand smoke.

My guys puffed at their cigars very earnestly, and conversation ranged from silly to serious. I was distracted by the hot guy at the next table who’d glance over at me every few minutes, and smile charmingly. Right as I was beginning to feel light-headed from all the smoke, Hottie walked up to our table, and congratulated Roomie1 on his impending nuptials, and offered him some unsolicited advice, from “one married man, to another. Remember, your woman is getting married. You aren’t. Trust me, I know.” Then he smiled at me. How flattering.

One of the guests wasn’t sure he’d heard correctly, and asked Hottie to repeat what he’d said. Hottie, spotting the band on Guest’s ring finger, shook his hand, “Your wife is married!” Guest, shook his head, perplexed, “Yes, I know: I was there”. Hottie, as though explaining something self-evident, repeated his advice, “Well remember, you aren’t married”. Guest, still confused, explained that he too had been present at his wedding, and therefore believed himself to be married. So cute!

Vanilla goes to the rippers

Inevitably, the night ended at a strip club – one of the classier ones in Mtl, mind. We got ourselves a big booth, with an excellent view of the stage. I was content to watch the dancers pull some athletic airborne moves on stage; I was almost nonchalant as the strippers performed lap dances for the guys at my booth – afterall, I had promised to act just like one of the guys!

During one particularly talented girl’s performance on stage, a guy walked in to my range of vision, blocking my view. I waited for him to walk away, but he just stood there blankly. Irritated, because I was missing some cool upside-down acrobatics, I politely yelled at him to, “please move, sir!” which so startled the stripper dancing at our booth, that she burst out laughing, and confided in me that I’d made her night, since she’d never heard a girl yell that before. I felt pretty urban and sophisticated in that moment.

Alas, my sophistication was short lived. The guys decided their evening’s entertainment wouldn’t be complete without surprising me with a lap-dance so that they could observe my awkward reaction. I did not disappoint them, achieving a Bambi-in-the-headlights look. Vanilla, for the win!

Cliffs notes

Lentils: bad. Marriage: an unclear concept for some. Cigar lounges: stinky. Lap-dances by strippers: Bambi no like. Bachelor parties: I am not one of the boys – imma stick to bachelorette parties.

Roomie1 & Roomie2: my bros. I love you both!




A phenomenal quote, by a phenomenal (and beautiful!) actress.

Reading Audrey Hepburn’s statement below, I can’t help but reflect on my decision in the past year to buy glasses with thick heavy frames (hipster glasses): every morning when I put them on, I feel as though I have put on a protective shield, one that creates distance between me and any observer. I sought that distance purposefully, as a means to diminish the vulnerability that comes from being oneself in a grownup world.

I doubt Audrey Hepburn would approve.

A Momma's View

The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. – Audrey Hepburn


View original post

My street cred: the time my bedroom radiator decided to take me down

The hazards of grown-up neatness

On Wednesday, I sprained 2 toes badly. Very badly – I initially thought I’d dislocated my little toe. Several days later, I am still limping.

When I explained to concerned friends and co-workers how I had suddenly become crippled overnight, that I had whacked my foot brutally against the radiator as I was rushing to make my bed in the morning, the overwhelmingly frequent reaction was not “Oh no, poor you!” but a puzzled “Huh? Why‘d you bother making your bed in the morning?!”

In a spirit of holiday honesty, I should clarify that I am not a neat person. My place usually looks as though a tornado hit it. My standards are summed by the simple “no bugs, no mold” motto. So I take a bit of pride in the few neat habits I have kept from my mother’s excellent but unfruitful parenting:

  • Dishes (falls under the “no bugs” part of my motto)
  • Bed making (my bedroom is the only area of my life that I keep de-cluttered and stress-free, with minimal effort, to relax in when I wake up and go to sleep)
  • Folded, organized clothes (a recent addition, as I found hunting to find a specific top in the morning robbed me of too many precious minutes of sleep)
  • Clean mirrors (I tried finding a valid excuse for this one, but really, I’m just vain).

Imagine the pivot in my worldview as I realized that out of these 4 habits, one was generally considered to be superfluous.

Silver lining – an entertaining taxi ride

Having cried for 15 minutes on my troublesome bed, clutching my maimed foot, I was late for work. I opted to take a taxi instead of the bus to get to the nearby metro station.

The taxi driver shut off the radio as it began covering a local fundraising event, since “You’d have to be living under a rock to not know about it.” Sheepishly, I told him I had no idea about it. “You just like my wife, she don’t listen to no news, ever. Man, I don’t get these people who don’t listen to the news.” I attempted to smooth his ruffled feathers, explaining that I read the news, I just don’t listen to the radio. He seemed to accept my presence in his cab a bit more:

Ok ok, reading the news, that ain’t that bad. I’m telling you, some people, they don’t listen to no news, ever! I just don’t get it: this is your planet, you should know what is happening. My wife, she don’t listen to the news, she says it makes her depressed. I tell her, yes, its bad news, but you gotta know what is going on. What happens if they need to evacuate the city? I told her, if she don’t listen to the news, she won’t know they evacuating, and what’s she gonna do then? I won’t be saving her, no way, I got my taxi, I’m outta there!

That made me chuckle. Encouraged, he elaborated on some recent events. The highlight of my trip:

Some of that stuff is scary. Like those people in Iran, ISIL or ISIS or whatever. I don’t mind religious people, I think they all kinda crazy. But these people are different. They are weird, man. How can they do that stuff! Crazy! And filming it too! Cutting off heads, that’s hard work. Even cutting off a chicken’s head or a goat, that takes effort, but a person? Man, I have trouble cutting a tomato, how can they cut off a person’s head?

I never thought a synopsis of ISIS’s propaganda would make me smile.

Somehow, we ended on the topic of Christmas:

I just love Christmas, my kids do too. I don’t believe or anything, don’t go to church. But I just love how Christmas makes everybody so happy, so kind, it’s like magic. My son always gets excited when its Christmas, he says Papa, its that nice time of the year again. And I tells him, Son, you be sure to always be nice, all year round. But he’s right: Christmas is the one time of the year where the world is just perfect.

Thank you, taxi man, for bringing a smile to my face and helping me forget my throbbing foot. I sure hope your son listens to his Papa.

A series of unexpected minor outcomes

Introducing Dynamo

Dynamo, short for dynamite. Dynamo lights up any room he walks into, bringing with him a lively energy that makes everybody smile and wake up. He has an irreverent sense of humor, and loves to gently stir up trouble, inviting everyone to enjoy the absurdity of his creation. Dynamo manages to cause earthquakes wherever he goes; somebody is always going through an emotional upheaval while he sits back, looking suspiciously angelic. He has many other virtues, but for the sake of entertainment, I will forgo listing most of them.

                                Typical Dynamo scenario

Dynamo is a talented, hard-working accountant, and does not fit the stereotype at all, other than his love of a well-cut suit. He flatters himself that I consider him to be the ideal against which I compare all men, which is not far from the truth, apart from the minor detail that he is Muslim and I am Christian, and a modern-day Romeo and Juliet we most definitely are not. Dynamo perpetually impresses me with his willingness and grace in remaining true to the behavioral constraints imposed by his faith, whilst mingling and thriving in Montreal’s predominantly secular society -something I’ve struggled with for years; and for lack of a working Christian model, Dynamo continues to inspire me and help me along my bumpy journey. Dynamo has been one of my besties since my sophomore year in university.

An unexpected charming invitation 

A few weeks ago, Dynamo called me up, inviting me to supper a few days hence. When I hesitated, he calmly stated, “No worries, I’ll just tell my mother you didn’t feel like seeing her.”

As a result of Dynamo and I both being very busy the past several months, only managing to see each other twice during the summer months, his mother had gotten tired of asking him for stories of me, and had decided to take matters into her own hands: she would invite me to supper, and Dynamo could attend if he liked.

If that isn’t charming, I do not know what is; of course I accepted.

What I’ve learned to expect at a Dynamo family supper

Over the years, Dynamo has introduced me to most of his immediate family. His Arab family suppers are so very similar to my Russian family suppers: moments of lapsing into the mother tongue, as I sit there amused, waiting for someone to notice and translate, the older generation reminiscing about Mother Land, and the younger generation soaking up stories of How Things Used To Be. (I wouldn’t normally think this worth mentioning, but given the hysterical anti-Arab/Muslim vibe that perpetually bubbles up in Quebec, and all of North-America, I thought I’d do my part to highlight our mundane similarities.)

Enter new players

When I arrived at Dynamo’s mother’s supper I was introduced to her step-son and step-daughter, both my age or older, from her husband’s first marriage. I was flattered to meet yet another facet of Dynamo’s private life. As the supper progressed, the thought crossed my mind that I quite enjoyed Dynamo’s step-bro, followed almost immediately by the dread of that being noticed by any of the family members. I could almost hear my Baba dissecting the behavior her guests after they left one of her suppers, and the lowest of comments was to consider any of them vulgar. I could imagine Dynamo’s teasing, “what, are you so desperately single now, you have to scout out your prey at family dinners?” No. That would never do. Nobody was to notice that I found Step-Bro even remotely interesting.

And so, throughout supper I played the exhausting act of the Well-Behaved Non Vulgar guest. This role did not come naturally to me, requiring all of my attention. I barely registered the part of the conversation when Dynamo’s step-father explained he had raised his children and had been himself Christian before he converted to Islam many years ago – an interesting story, nothing more.

Unexpected outcome #1

As I’d anticipated, as Dynamo was driving me home afterwards, he asked me my opinion of Step-Bro. Attempting to delay the inevitable teasing, I blandly said he’d seemed nice. Dynamo kept pressing for details. “Well, umm, he is tall, that’s something.” It’s not for nothing that I have suffered through all those Russian dinners, I have mad skillz at deflecting unwanted inquiries.

That’s when Dynamo admitted that his mother had invited me to see if there was any matchmaking potential. Suddenly the mention of Dynamo’s stepfather’s conversion from Christianity to Islam made sense, not just an interesting story, but a pertinent piece of information.

My brain could not handle the sudden change in circumstances: I managed to mutter few more times how nice Step-Bro was, before lapsing into an awkward silence, punctuated by giggles. An enthusiastic statement, if there ever was one.

Unexpected outcome #2

I later told my father this amusing story. He was shocked. “Matchmaking is weird, I have never heard of it being attempted before.” I kindly reminded him of his Russian background, and how prying into people’s private life is par for the course both at church and at our family dinners. He claimed to have never ever witnessed it. So I reminded him of the time when my mother and the wife of my father’s BFF had tried to matchmake me with the parish bachelor. My father claimed my mother had been joking, so that episode didn’t count as real matchmaking. Not willing to let my point drop, I compared this story to setting up 2 people on a blind date – not weird at all, right? Nope, my father disagreed, blind dates were definitely weird, and he’d “never heard of anyone going on a blind date except for you, but then again, you’re weird.


I did mention, n’est-ce-pas, that Dynamo tends to produce emotional upheavals wherever he goes? I rest my case.