Overheard after 6pm

Working late at the office.

The cleaning man is doing his rounds. 1-2 cubicles over from my desk, he takes a call.

Hello? Who is this? Who?! Why you keep bugging me?! Why? Imma come find you, ok? Imma come find you.

I’m torn between curiosity – what kind of life does this cleaning man live?!- and more than mild concern. I kinda wanna get on the phone and tell the person on the other line,

If I were you, I would stop bugging him. He is a rather intimidating individual, and while I am not an expert in these matters – I am an accountant, you know – I can’t help but feel he might actually come and find you, and know what to do with you once he did. I thought you should have all the facts before making any further decisions. Good night!

But I didn’t. I just kept working my Vlookup formulas like a boss. #excelisbae #microsoftofficeismylife Still. I wonder if I ask nicely in a week from now, whether the cleaning man will give me a synopsis of the situation, a high level update. #nodetailsplease

If only my peeps at my gangsta boxing gym could see me now. #ratchetwhat?



A little Russian with your chanting?

My grandmother wanted a hymn, the Song of Simeon the God-Bearer, to be sung at her burial by an all-male choir. When she told my uncle of this wish a few years back, he pointed out that in the Russian Orthodox Christian tradition, we do not sing hymns next to the casket, something my grandmother was well aware of. That ended the conversation.

Until, last week, when my uncle saw that she put the request in her will. #LOL

If that isn’t the perfect example of a pragmatic Russian Baboushka, I dunno what is.

But wait, you say. Isn’t that a rather risky request? It can’t be that easy to find an all-male choir that is available on short-notice to sing a hymn they may or may not know on a Tuesday mid-afternoon at a funeral. What about the cost? What if it just can’t be done. What a burden to impose on her children, the risk an unfulfilled request. How could she?!

Because she was Russian. Music is in our blood. All it takes at any Russian gathering is a few shots of vodka and copious amounts of wine, and heyooooo the singing starts. And that’s exactly what happened here. The night before the funeral, my father and my uncle and their cousin practiced the hymn a handful of times. No sweat.

It was a beautiful moment, the next day, at the funeral.

My father (left), my uncle (right), their cousin (middle). It’s a 4 part melody, so they adlibbed and improvised à trois. #nailedit.

My grandmother died on June 30th, 2018. She was 97.

It’s rather incredible, when you think about it. She was born 4 years after the Russian revolution, part of the massive exodus of Russians who fled and found security in France. She lived through WWII in Occupied France. She met my grandfather in Paris right after the war. The first time he saw her at a party, he told his cousin, “that’s the woman I am going to marry” and a few weeks later, he did. They had 3 boys together in 4 years, and in 1952, moved to North America, first to Long Island, NY and then after my grandfather retired, back to Ottawa, Canada.

  • She lived through the Kennedy years, and his assassination;
  • She lived through MLK; she saw the civil rights movement live;
  • She was in the USA when birth control was approved and feminism was born;
  • She lived through the Vietnam war, and the social turmoil it caused;
  • She was in the States when NASA put a man on the moon.
  • She was in Canada during the years when the first Trudeau was in power;
  • She maintained correspondence with her family in Russia throughout the Cold War;
  • She lived and visited Europe before it was the EU;
  • She lived most of her life in a world where internet did not yet exist – she wrote hand-written letters her whole life;
  • She never owned a cell-phone;
  • She never drove a car;
  • She could knit the most fantastic intricate outfits, masterpieces really;
  • Her husband was a proto-deacon, and her son, my father, became a priest, but her knowledge of liturgy and canon law was extensive without being academic;
  • She buried her brother, sister-in-law, husband and two of her daughters-in-law;
  • She met her great-grandchildren.

That’s a life.

I love this video so much. I’ve watched it possibly a hundred times. I’m so happy my uncle’s wife recognized the value of those moments and filmed them with her ipad.

Is it perfect? No.

Are they the best vocalists out there? No.

Is it sleek and professional and high def? No.

But is it it’s own form of beautiful and good? Yes. I posted it on my personal Facebook page. 89 likes. 5 shares. 1.4K views. 44 comments. People responded to this video. Friends and coworkers that are not of Russian descent, have never met my family, have no personal bias whatsoever that could cause them to react more favorably than warranted, wrote to me to say how lovely they found it.

It made me realize. Sometimes, I take certain aspects of my family and myself for granted. It is not everyone that can whip up on such short notice a nice rendition of a hymn to be performed publicly. This capacity to be the music is a talent and should be appreciated, even if the only form of expression it ever takes is in songs sung at family gatherings. It is not the size and scope of its impact that determines it’s goodness. It is that it is.

This made me question how I view myself. I often believe that because my blog has not achieved success or widespread readership, my writing is nothing special. But that is not true – I have a voice, and my voice does matter; it is better that I speak it than I remain silent. I definitely believe that because my dancing is not as good as so many others that I see around me and on the web, that it is worthless. But that is also not true. When I dance, truly, for myself, I radiate joy, and joy makes the world a happier place. It doesn’t matter that the rays of my joy only impact my partner at the moment and whoever happens to notice us on the dancefloor. What matters is that there was a moment of joy.

Joy is a form of beauty.

And beauty can save the world.

I think it is time I start searching for the little beauties in this world, in myself and those around me.

I wonder if my grandmother realized what the legacy of her will would be. #wisdom

My booté saga: a chapter at the office

Not the point of this post – part 1

Clothes. I like how they can be a form of self-expression. I also like analyzing why I put on wtv outfit I do in the morning: sometimes it reveals stuff on my mind, or a mood, that I wasn’t fully aware of. For example, last week, when discussing vanity, I put on that outfit because I felt it was a perfect mix of professional, sexy, fashionable and stylish (those are NOT the same thing!) and made my facial features pop. That was the version of myself I felt needed emphasis for a day with the auditors and a board meeting at night: during those meetings my intelligence would be on display anyhow so I wanted to highlight the other, more appealing aspects of myself to balance everything out. In contrast, earlier this week, I scheduled a meeting with CFO-boss that was likely to be very tense: I needed to communicate 1-2 messages that he wouldn’t be delighted about, and I had a vested interest in convincing him to endorse my proposed action plans. What did I wear? Something very corporate? No, my boss knows I am smart AF, that is why he hired me, no need to emphasize that. Something sexy? No, he’d find that displaced, no sense in unconsciously irritating him. Something very fashion forward? No, he is an accountant. So I wore work slacks, and a baby pink finely knit sweater – the kind that is office-appropriate but makes you wanna hug the person. Simple makeup, glasses, and an outfit to highlight that I am a cute, adorable girl. I chose to dress in such a way as to offset my strongly-worded arguments and my intense emotions, as those would be abrasive enough for my boss. It worked.

Not the point of this post – part 2

My team is young. Young enough that they are all on Facebook, and we are Facebook friends, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (We are also coworker friends, but as everybody knows, if it isn’t on Facebook, it isn’t real). As such, they sometimes read this blog. The things they know about me! Makes me blush, except it doesn’t, bc #vulnerability, y’all. Anyhow, they know both this story about my dismay about my shrinking butt, and this epic prank by Coach Dr. Booté. A good story is a good story, even if it makes me sound like a vain, superficial twit. Bc I am totally not a vain, superficial twit, no way. I am a vain, superficial, nerdy SMART twit. Obvi.

The point of this post

Yesterday at work, I was checking out my outfit in the mirrors of the ladies washroom. I had a meeting in late afternoon with a supplier, and I’d chosen an super corporate dress for that purpose: previous meetings had left me with the impression that the supplier did not respect me to the extent I desired, thinking of me more as a girly girl than as a business woman to negotiate with. I was evaluating the severity of my outfit, distracted by the excellent workmanship of the cut (discreetly flattering, of course, because #bougie), when my youngest team member walked in. She pointed to me checking out my profile and consoled me with a smirk,

Vanilla, if you are worried about your butt being flat in that dress, I promise you it’s not.

Consider this a free lesson in How to Get Your Staff to Respect You 101.

#onpoint #howwellsheknowsme #hmph #thisvainsuperficialnerdysmarttwitisalsoademandingslavedriver #iswear #irunatightship #butmyshiphasbooty #teambootyaccountants

Booté post afterword

A little video of my latest attempt at mimicking a Pussycat Doll.

My coach the puppeteer

Coach. He is the best. Not just because he is one of my favorite people on the planet, but because he is a source of endless blog material. 2 of my favorite posts featuring him: Xmas 2014 and his 2015 bday.

What I specifically like about him is how he is a walking contradiction. He is a large cuddly teddybear (nobody gives better hugs or advice than him) AND scary as fuck (when he gets pissed… Run. Hide. Do apologetic burpees.) The world always feels a little bit safer when he is around, more stable; this, even though he is a big bully AND a drama queen. He can be vulgar, generous, considerate and well-mannered: all of his moods are suitable vehicles for his unshakeable sense of humour. Even when he is mad, he is very funny (but you pity the fool that has caused his ire). He really annoys me, because he knows exactly what buttons to push to get me to do exactly what he wants. And even though I know he is mind-fucking me, I still end up playing along. Jedi-knight level manipulation. He is a puppeteer.

Interweb humiliation

After 4 months of hard work (5-6 workouts a week), a revamped notion of portion size and nutrition, and prodding/nagging/encouragement/tough love from Coach, I’ve dropped 15lbs and packed on a lot of muscle. I can’t really see the change, other than an overall improved sense of confidence and consistently attracting more male attention from both strangers and friends. I only focus on the things that need improvement: my cardio isn’t where it should be. I still hate burpees. Whenever we do reps for time in class, I always finish in the 2nd half of the group – my conditioning needs work.

A month ago, I went shopping for a dress to wear to Dynamo’s wedding in Beirut. And suddenly, I saw myself the way others must see me. It was like I had two brains. I would look at myself in the mirror, and see the Vanilla that I see everyday – the work in progress – and then I’d blink, and see the Vanilla that rocked every dress she tried on.

I decided to make a before and after pic, and that is when I finally acknowledged just how far I’d come. On the left: May 2015, 175lbs. On the right: January 2016, 160lbs. I sent it to Coach & his girlfriend, who put it up on Instagram and Facebook on the gym’s page as a success story.

Since taking the above pic, my work schedule for the winter/spring has changed: I’ll be travelling 1-2 weeks out of the country, every month from now until June, inclusively. Coach made menacing noises, “Don’t be getting all outta shape, now!” I promised him that I would train when away and that I would maintain my newfound physique.

Coach vowed that if I didn’t, he would take a picture of me all soft and chubby, and he would post THAT pic up on Facebook and Instagram, as a warning: “Behold, Vanilla used to be a hot sucess story, and now look how she let herself go. BOOOO.”

Did I say Coach was a bully? Yes.

I’m going on my first trip next week, to Baltimore. I’ve done my research, and found the best boxing gym in town, where I will train at least twice during my 5 day trip.

Did I say Coach was a puppeteer? Yes.

Giving credit where credit is due

On Monday night, after class in the locker rooms, one of the girls suddenly screeched, pointed at my torso and exclaimed, “Vanilla!! You have a four-pack!” I was swarmed by all the girls, who crowded around me, prodding my abs, and counted them, “1-2-3-4! There are 4! That’s awesome.” I had to push them out of the way, to get a clear view of myself in the mirror, and yup. I had a four-pack! A baby four-pack!

Before leaving the gym, I told Coach. He high-fived me, and then gave me an odd look. What? I asked him. “Where is the, “Thank you Coach, I love you Coach, You’re the best Coach”? I haven’t heard you say that in a while.” Laughingly, I repeated, “Thank you Coach, I love you Coach…” before he interrupted me, with a huff, “It’s not the same if I have to ask you for it. It needs to be spontaneous.”

Did I say Coach was a drama queen? Yes.

Here I am writing yet another post about how much I enjoy Coach.

Did I say Coach was a puppeteer? Yes.

Now for the spontaneous part

On Thursday, I was feeling super unwell. I texted Coach to apologize for bailing on training, left work early and went home, slipped on my pjs, crawled into bed, and began working on this post. The more I wrote, the more I thought longingly of my teammates and Coach, and I realized that really, the thing that would MOST make me feel better would be to see them, and sweat out some of the icky that was consuming my body. I majorly flip-flopped, and texted Coach I was coming to training (with a caveat that my output would suck).

I went to class. It sucked, I felt pukey, but was comforted to be with my gym-family. Mary Poppins got it all wrong: a spoonful of sugar does not make the medicine go down. Interval training, circuits, friends and Coach ARE the medicine.

“Thank you Coach, I love you Coach, You’re the best Coach.”

Women of Color in Ballet

Go Misty Go! Misty Copeland is gaining widespread cultural fame after being the fist black ballerina to be named a Principal Dancer at the ABT American Ballet Theatre – one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the USA, if not the world.

Funnily enough, I first discovered Misty Copeland after Cap, from my boxing gym, told me about her, having seen her in one of her Under Armour campaigns. He spoke enthusiastically about her powerful, athletic body, and her great attitude. Score 1 for Under Armour and Misty, that campaign was clearly a great success!

The ballet world and beyond has been dazzled by Misty Copeland’s rise to fame—from the cover of dance magazines to a giant ad in my local Dick’s Sporting Goods, her face is everywhere.

Misty Copeland in one of her ads for Under Armour---simultaneously inspiring young dancers of color and reminding us what a strenuous sport ballet truly is. Misty Copeland in one of her ads for Under Armour—simultaneously inspiring young dancers of color and reminding us what a strenuous sport ballet truly is.

I’m a former ballerina, and I was one of the only minorities in a studio that was predominantly, overwhelmingly, white. Ballet, as a cultural sphere, is particularly exclusionary in a way that is both obvious (the high price of this “hobby”) and hard to pin down. Perhaps it’s the subtle, often insidious atmosphere of a discipline that prizes certain bodies and certain aesthetics above all others. In a medium so focused on the visual body, the importance of seeing role models who look like you cannot be overstated. Small wonder, then, that…

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That time I tried to set Miss Piggy up with Alphonse

As you all know, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog announced their split a few weeks ago. Very sad. But, seeing as Miss Piggy is one fine lady, I didn’t want to wait too long before introducing her to Alphonse – no doubt she would be courted left and right, as the news of her newly single state spread throughout the world!

Crickets, you guys, crickets.

Poor Alphonse got denied. I guess his dating game is just as bad as mine.




P.S. May I strongly recommend y’all follow her on Twitter? She is a font of wisdom and delight.

Hubba Hubba


Fun fact: Urban Dictionary feels similarly to me about the term “hubba hubba”. I did not submit the definitions below, nor did I vote for them. But I do feel validated, somewhat.


I do love a good compliment, I swear. But, gentlemen, I must bring your attention to the definition of a compliment: “a polite expression of praise or admiration”. POLITE. If Google says so, it must be true.

And just in case this needs clarification, “polite” is behavior that is “respectful” or “fancy”. I am a bit of a princess, after all. I expect to be treated so.

Guys, you can thank me for breaking down social interactions later.

Note to self: sexting is a bad idea

Introducing V

Last May, I met a boy, which we’ll call V. He was from NY, visiting Montreal with some mutual friends. He was attractive, witty and attracted – close to perfect, really. Unfortunately for V, the night I met him was a mere few hours after the biggest trainwreck of my dating career, so I was very wary of anything with a penis. I acknowledged the attraction and promptly ignored it, apart from adding him on Facebook. 2 weeks later, I vacationed in NYC, and I flirted with the idea of meeting up with him. However, I was still recovering from the fall-out of Trainwreck, and V’s enthusiastic interest in me was tangible and made me nervous, so I bailed on him every single night. #dontjudgeme

The following months were uneventful. V and I would exchange the occasional flirty Fbk message and a few compliments. 

If you have an itch, don’t scratch it

2 months ago, I was in a mood. V happened to text me flirtily. That is all it took for me to have a serious lapse in judgment: I embarked in a torrid 2 day sexting fest with V. No, no, I did not send any nudie pics/videos – I am not stupid (anymore). But we most definitely gave each other a graphic laundry list of the various things we would like to do to each other should we ever be in the same room. It was fun, slightly ridiculous (as all quality sexting should be!) and lighthearted, or so I thought. He was in NY, and I was in Montreal. With a 6 hour buffer between us, clearly this exchange was to remain in the realm of wishful thinking, right? Wrong.

I didn’t get too worried when he started discussing the possibility of driving up to Montreal with friends in July for the Montreal Jazz Festival. Afterall, the Jazz Fest is Montreal’s biggest tourist attraction, and my favorite time of the year. Completely reasonable that he’d want to experience it, and reasonable that his friends would want to as well. I figured that his presence in Montreal might lead to a hookup, but maybe not – why not wait and see?

I got anxious when his rate of texting increased: good-morning texts, mid-morning “how are you” texts, afternoon “just checking to see how your day is going” texts, and good night texts. I tried subtle hints (“I am working, can’t text”) and the not-so-subtle hints (not answering for hours, and then just responding with a smiley face). I got seriously anxious when V suggested that waiting till July to see each other was too long, why not go on a weekend getaway to Albany? I seemed to have skipped over the fun flirty stage, and found myself in the long-distance relationship phase! I explained to him that I have anxiety and major commitment issues (slight exaggeration), and that while I was comfortable with the idea of hanging out with him if he happened to be in my city on holiday with friends during a major tourist season, ON THE UNDERSTANDING THAT HOWEVER MUCH I HAD SEXTED HIM I WAS UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO HOOKUP OR EVEN KISS HIM, I was not at all comfortable with dedicating an entire weekend to him in a city I had zero inclination to visit. Yes, I wrote all of that, explicitly – it was a bit too brutally assertive for my tastes, but I wanted to be fair and give him all the information required to not faceplant. 

The part where nothing I said made an impact 

V promised me he had zero expectations. I relaxed. I stopped relaxing when he asked me if there were any books he should read so that we could have something to discuss when he visited in July. When I unhelpfully told him that there were no doubt aplenty of books to be read, he explained he wanted to know my top 5 books.

That triggered a small meltdown.

He asked for my input when selecting the AirBnB apartment for his Montreal stay, to help chose the best location. Reasonable. Except it stopped being reasonable when he also asked for my feedback on which interior décor most suited my tastes. In desperation, I reminded him that I didn’t care about interior décor as it was highly unlikely that I would ever see the inside of his apartment. To be sure there could be no misunderstandings, I reminded him that I would be working during the weekdays that he was planning to be in Montreal, and that I have commitments on the weekend, so that really, there would be little opportunity to see each other. To which he responded, “But I was hoping for a Vanilla saturation.”


I didn’t write that. Instead, I reminded him once again that I had in no way committed to anything, least of all a hookup, and that I was prone to anxiety and excelled at the disappearing act. 

The Jazz Fest

V came to Montreal, as planned, last week. He asked me to please go on a date with him – one with no assumptions. Feeling trapped, since he had made it abundantly clear for over 2 months that this trip was to see me, and not to be on vacation in a beautiful city with friends, I agreed to spend Saturday evening touring the city with him. He tried to see me on Thursday, even offering to drive to my side of town, but I told him “not to bother, I want an early night, big day at work tomorrow.” Sledge-hammer techniques. Vaguely, I wondered if the only reason he wanted to see me for the date was to murder me and cut me into little pieces as payback for the months of awful, humiliating set-downs I’d been giving him. I made sure to tell Nene and my roommate my plans for the evening, and gave both of them a deadline to call the cops if they hadn’t heard back from me by a certain time. Funny? No. Morbid. But that is what 2 months of being not listened to will do to a gal.

The date itself was awkward and ok at the same time. Part of me felt slightly bad, because it was almost romantic: dinner at my favorite wine bar, walk to the Old Port to watch the International Fireworks competition, outdoor concert at the Jazz Fest with a perfect balmy starry night sky… I figured, when planning my night, that I shouldn’t miss out on the glories of the city, just because I was faced with an awkward date!

Poor V. I can see how that date confused him. Although I refrained from being flirty, I couldn’t help but enjoy parts of the conversation, and relax (wine and romantic outdoor concerts will do that to me). He must have felt my signals were mixed. And perhaps they were – had his expectations not been so palpable, I would have been inclined to hookup with him, since he was a fun dude. But that is the thing: I could feel his expectations, and that made me very resentful. Because of that, he got two kisses on the cheek (à la française), and nothing else.

My boxers’ feedback

I told this saga to Coach and Nene, and their feedback was very simple: I blew it the second I sexted V. There was nothing I could say from that point on that would ever get through to him: it would just be interpreted as playing hard to get. As for my skepticism that a guy would really drive 6 hours just for a potential hookup, neither Nene nor Coach saw anything odd about that. (I think that’s insane!!!!) Coach told me that if I wanted to avoid these situations, I shouldn’t be a tease. Valid point. He also said my sledge-hammer techniques were too cute: the only way I could have avoided this two-month long anxious saga was to have completely cut ties with V and ignored all his messages and texts. 

Y’all, I think that’s nuts. I can’t, for the life of me, believe that both Coach and Nene honestly feel that it is normal for a guy to repeatedly ignore blatant, explicit, direct statements from me stating that I am not interested in a hookup. And yet, clearly, V did that. I also can’t believe that the only options I had, after making the initial mistake of sexting V, was to either hookup with him or ignore him. Why is no one proposing a 3rd option, that V LISTEN TO WHAT I WAS SAYING AND BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAID IT?! 

Coach made an analogy. A guy and a girl drunkenly hookup, and the next day the guy tries to explain to the girl that it was a mistake, they should just be friends, and the girl refuses to accept it, causing drama – Coach says that I did the Vanilla version of that.




Let your phoenixes arise proudly

My friend Nene wrote recently about his attempt to generate additional readers for his blog, A Man Amongst Fishes, and his resulting failed Tinder hack. I suggested he do the same on Plenty of Fish, in part because of the similarity in website names and because I’d been publicizing my blog on my POF profile for months, and had generated many views thusly.

Nene rejected my proposal: “POF is filled with too many weirdos.” Including me, apparently: I inevitably gravitate towards POF rather than Tinder, as I find Tinder too tame for me, rarely generating worthwhile blog content.

The following story clearly illustrates Nene’s wisdom in staying clear of POF.

Disclaimer: This post is long (approximately 1200 words). However, over 600 of the words contained are not mine, but a necessary quote, which y’all can skip. Therefore, my post is only 600 words of value-added, which isn’t many words at all.

Possible fan mail, via POF

Saturday night, my phone beeped with a POF message. Glancing at the first 2 paragraphs, the message appeared to be about my blog.

Your blog made me a much better human being. It opened my eyes to horizons that I had never expected to exist. Thanks to you, I’m much more successful in my interpersonal relationships.

Gratifying! Slightly perplexing that my occasional comment about everyday racism, sexism or casual rudeness could make such an impact, but hey! Clearly, I’m an agent of change.

I scrolled down his message. And scrolled. And scrolled some more: it was 5 phone-screens long, with 10 numbered bullet-points. As pleased as I was at getting such detailed feedback, it was Saturday night. I left the study of this message until the morrow.

Sunday afternoon, with sunglasses on and diminished brain capacity (accountants know how to party, y’all!), I pulled out my phone and read through that long POF.

 Well, since I didn’t make it to tell you these things face-to-face: I’ve been looking into your blog for some time, I’d like to give you some feedback on it.

2. Your blog made me a much better human being. It opened my eyes to horizons that I had never expected to exist. Thanks to you, I’m much more successful in my interpersonal relationships.

3. I look at your blog and I see 2 written lines and 10 unwritten lines between them. After looking into your blog, I did not come to a conclusion with all of the complexities in your posts. I didn’t know where to begin so I took a Cheshire Cat approach.

5. I believe that each of us has a thoroughbred horse inside. Due to difficult circumstances, mine was badly wounded. A lot of people passed and kicked it. I don’t blame them. Somewhere on the path to adulthood, I learned that “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” They knew very well that if I stand up one day they won’t catch me. I’m happy that now I’m back to the race and none of them would dare to catch me anytime soon. I want to ask you also not to give in. Giving-up button is always on the table. It’s always possible to join the crowd and live the life of 99%. It’s easy to stay passive, to give up and let people treat you like a “Cat Lady”. But this is not the truth; they know that and you know better than anyone else.

6. Before my fall, I was close to the peak. It was a deep chute because I had shot for the moon. It hurt a lot, specifically, that I was lonely stuck in pretty miserable conditions. I was ripped off everything except the fact that I believed in myself. I believed that: a) I deserve the best b) I won’t give up, no matter the consequences.

7. In this process, I learned to love myself first and then love the others after. To forgive myself to forgive the others. To grieve and let the inner child take control time to time. I learned very well that crying is a very healthy thing to happen. It shows that my inner child is alive and keeping on. Crying reminds of my childhood that I had many emotions/feelings inside but no word/tool to express them. This wasn’t easy as an engineer. I trained myself to embrace my imperfection as well as the others’. But I did it and I’m glad.

8. I wish you success in your path through grief and any other conditions that might have arrived to you. Grief is a human-right. Grief is the tunnel between the two realities: the previous excruciating reality and the current reality where the two are separated with the sheer cliff of loss and sorrow. I look at your profile and I can see clearly that you can do it. This is not flattery if you knew me.

9. For a bird stuck in a net, trying to pull harder makes sense in her frame of reference but not in the bigger global observer view. The lesson here is no need to rush and to look for an outside the box solution. I suggest you find someone to listen to you empathetically and free of charge. This will light the path for you incredibly fast.

10. At the end, remember that we have several phoenixes inside us for each skill/phase. When one dies, the young one arises from his father ashes. Let your phoenixes arise proudly.

n.b.b. Shoot me a line if you need help with driving.

Upon first read, it seemed like a well-intentioned, extremely long-winded missive about blog feedback and wildlife; even though most of it was about himself, it appeared to be a misguided attempt to establish common ground between us (pity I don’t much like animals). But after re-reading several times, I allowed myself to feel offended at the multiple references that I needed help (find a free therapist/new friends, driving) or encouragement to not give up on life; offended by his granting me permission to feel what I have been feeling all along (grief, sadness, other), implying thereby that I needed permission for those feelings; and offended by the expected response from me – gratitude for having been written to condescendingly. I suspect that my irritation was aggravated by the fact that I very nearly did feel gratitude for this missive, before the multiple rereads. Close call!

The descent into farce

Of course, I did what any normal person would do in the circumstances. I rose to the bait, and I wrote to him. I thanked him for taking the time to read my blog and write to me, but explained that I was taken aback (so diplomatic!) that most of his feedback involved detailing his personal journey and telling me that I was allowed to grieve and cry, and should seek a cheap therapist or find a new friend.

Unsurprisingly, he did not react positively. Highlights from that online spat include:

  • He regrets that he’ll not be the one to help me;
  • He was being tactful in suggesting a confidante, but he does believe I’d benefit from therapy;
  • Some of my posts indicate potential for self-harm;
  • Given my ADD, my social skills are probably lacking, and therefore it is understandable that my date was rude to me.

I suppose he has a point – I wasted many minutes on that pointless interaction, exposing myself to gratuitous insults from a stranger and getting needlessly upset. Self-harm, indeed.

I’ve consulted my inner thoroughbred horse, and listened to my phoenix: I’m switching back to Tinder.