Voice in a time of noise

A LinkedIn message, from a guy I used to box with from 2015-2017:

Hi Vanilla! Can I just take a few words to say how glad I am that “Discovering Ratchet” is live again? I’m proud of you for finding your voice anew! All the best xo

I wish I could say I’ve found my voice anew. I haven’t. 

Roger Rosenblatt, author of Unless it Moves the Human Heart – the Craft and Art of Writing, shares a debate with his students concern the meaning of ‘voice’:

“What’s all this talk of ‘voice’?” asks Suzanne.

“You mean, ‘all this crap,’ don’t you?”

“If you insist. Yes. Crap. That’s all anyone talks about when they talk about writing. Voice. If, at my age, I don’t know my own voice, I’ll never know it.”

I tell her she’s right, that “voice” is merely the latest cliché to signify good writing. Its predecessor was “authority.” She is also right about linking self-knowledge to writing. “But instead of thinking of self-knowledge as idiosyncratic, try connecting it more to the task at hand. Subject matter determines voice. Voice should be selfless. Want to tell a tale in the voice of an idiot savant? Try The Sound and the Fury. Want to create an innocent learning morality? Put your glasses on Huckleberry Finn’s nose, but make sure the reader sees more of Huck’s nose than your glasses. Voice is the knowledge of what you want to say. After that, it becomes any voice that serves your purpose.”

When I started this blog in 2014, I thought it a practical way to share the funny anecdotes in my life in a time-effective manner. Rather than recount them one by one to all my friends at get-togethers or via Whatsapp groups, I could just publish them here, and direct those who had free time to follow my jokey-life online. After a brief detour into my online dating trials and tribulations, it become something more – an anthology of self-discovery, through dating misadventures certainly, but also through the complicated world of mental health struggles.

“I find I don’t know what I mean to say till I start to write,” says Robert.

“You find that you don’t know what you think until you write it, too. You’ll be going along writing sentence after sentence about some slight received by a character, then you find yourself growing angrier on his behalf. Before you realize it, you’re in a rage, and the rage is what you felt from the start, though you had no sign of it until the words unearthed it. If we have to put it in terms of ‘voice,’ voice may be the imprisoned you, waiting to be paroled.”

I stopped writing in 2019 because it became a burden. Writing about my borderline diagnosis was invaluable in helping understand the particular way this destructive disorder manifested itself in my life, however, the more I explained, the more I felt like damaged goods. Moreover, I was in the midst of a very messy dating situation: it is nearly impossible to make sense of an abusive relationship in real time. I was tired of worrying that in sharing my truth, I would jeopardize my perceived professionalism at work. Was my blog was merely an exercise in navel-gazing, proof of the immaturity I was often accused of by coworkers, family and occasionally friends?

“We write what we are,” says Nina.

“I think so. What we are, what we fear, what we love, what we believe, what we want the world to be.”

“Do you believe that?” Sven asks me. “That we write to change the world?”

“I do. If we look like we’re trying to change the world, the writing will sink from the weight of its own piety. But in the best of our work, the idealism is there, like trout below the surface of the water. Of course you want to try to change the world. You just don’t want to show your cards. But look at the world. Who would not want to change it? Books count. They disturb people. You never heard of a tyrant who wanted to burn the TV sets.”

After 3 years of convincing myself my blog did not matter, I am now of the opinion that it does. How or why, I am not yet sure, but I wouldn’t have struggled with its absence for 39 months, nor would I have been met with such positive greetings from family, acquaintances and fellow bloggers I’ve never physically met if this blog didn’t count. 

In a world that is increasingly divided, where there is no shortage of opinions without debate, of labels without understanding, it feels like an act of courage to write what I am. I believe that what ails this planet is an inability to stand the beauty and fragility of our humanity: we live in a constant state of fear, masked by anger – 2 emotions I am overfamiliar with. Perhaps my exercise of self-discovery, of claiming my own humanity, is my way of changing the world: an act of rebellion, of choosing to rise above the constant noise that drowns out all feeling, and replacing it with love. Perhaps not. Subject matter determines voice. Voice should be selfless.

I’ll figure it out eventually. I hope. Until then, thank you for joining me on this journey. 

Artsy picture that has nothing to do with the blog post.

Balancing privacy with self-expression

I’ve posting a bit less frequently lately. Not because I don’t have stories, I do. Incredible, stranger-than-fiction stories, from every facet of my life: work, dating, dance. One day, imma write my autobiography, and it will be published as fiction. No, I haven’t been posting because I’ve been struggling with finding the right balance between my stories’ characters right to privacy with my right to self-expression.

My blog is not anonymous. Vanilla is my pen-name, but that’s the only purpose it serves. I post my blog on my Fbk wall, friends, coworkers and family read it. Once I publish a story, I accept that it is part of the interweb, and is no longer my own. People will read it, react to it, use it. Therefore it is my responsibility to take reasonable care that none my content cause excessive harm to my characters. In general, I follow these principles:

  • Anything told to me in confidence? Off-limits – I will never sacrifice my justly-deserved reputation of being the loudest, most discreet, trustworthy friend and coworker in my network for the sake of my blog. Anything said in a public setting, in the presence of others? Fair game. If a story can spread verbally, through other sources than me, I am not violating the subject’s privacy by telling that story on my blog.
  • Any story that is about me? Go for it. However, I notice if there are topics that I am uncomfortable writing about, and use that as a benchmark when deciding to write about others – chances are if I wouldn’t want a story told about me, they won’t either.
  • Any story that features somebody else? Go for it as long as I am comfortable with them reading it: they don’t have to agree with my portrayal of them, but they must recognize it as factually true. I am never mean.
  • Any story that features somebody else negatively? Tread carefully. I must be comfortable with them confronting me about it. I never write when mad, and always try write from a place of kindness and empathy. I limit negative portrayals to the bare minimal context and facts necessary for my readers to understand my subsequent emotions. Afterall this blog’s purpose is to voice my life, for my own mental well-being, and because my readers enjoy relating (or not) to my (mal)adaptive thought-patterns. Will this harm their reputation? Most of the time, this question only is relevant for stories featuring “public figures” like some of the boxers I’ve known, Coach or Teacher. Most of the time, the answer is no, bc I avoid ppl who are jackasses. But in the rare times the answer is yes, that is a red flag: do I care if I hurt their reputation – is that an acceptable cost to my right to self expression? And, if yes, am I sure I cannot get sued for it? To date, I’ve only needed to carefully consider that last question once.
  • Any story that features coworkers? Off-limits. There is precedence of employers firing bloggers for blogging about work or coworkers. Yes, I have mentioned work, and have 1-2 posts that carefully mentioned coworkers, but in flattering terms, with no company-specific details, and my boss was aware of the content. However, all of my work stories are about me, really. I don’t blog about my coworkers because it violates the principle that anything I wouldn’t voice at the office because it would be deemed office gossip should not be mentioned on my blog. And as I refuse to engage in any office gossip because I think that is corrosive to a healthy work environment, and I have a responsibility as a manager to promote vibrant team work, that basically means that none of my work stories are ever shared, verbally or on my blog. Pity, because there is an endless wealth of material there. But some things take precedence over my need to have a voice. Work, and my obligations there, is one of those things.

For the first time in my blogging life, I got it wrong. This week I posted what I thought was a really interesting story, about the mind-boggling experience resulting from helping a friend – it necessarily involved some of my friend’s backstory, to explain why I was involved in such a crazy adventure. However the point of the story was my adventure, and the roller-coaster of emotions that resulted from my saga. As it had a happy ending, did not involve sharing any information that couldn’t already be gathered by any one who had stalked the shit out of my friend’s social media profile, I felt I was abiding by my above principles, balancing my friend’s right to privacy and my right to self-expression.

Apparently not.

My friend was flabbergasted to see his life described publicly. I pointed out the lack of new information – that all the “new” stuff was not about him, but the incidents that I had undergone in my chapter of this adventure. It didn’t matter. For all my logical counter-arguments to his dislike of my post, he kept repeating: “Its my life. You cannot talk about my life.” Of course, I’ve taken the post down, because no matter how much I disagree with his assessment of my post, ultimately, I do not want my blog to strain any of my friendships. But it grates. I flip-flop between thinking “He needs to suck it up, I’m within my rights” and “Just because I am within my rights, does NOT mean I AM right.”

I hate being wrong.

When my own blog causes me to have a meltdown 

I’m proud of my blog. I think everybody should read it all the time. Like a mother who secretly believes her child is cuter than any other mini-human, I not-so-secretly believe my blog is the bee’s knees. I tell everyone about my blog. You can be sure I’ve sent 100% of my Fbk friends an invite to like my blog’s page… and I notice who has accepted or not. Apparently, some of my friends have better taste than others – but I won’t name names. It’s a free world, and all that.

I’ve been friends with Hermiono (he is an OCD nerd with a stand-up character) for 8 months. I’ve mentioned my blog to him on a weekly basis. I sent him the invite to my blog’s Fbk page in 2016; he sees anything I share on my personal Fbk wall, which includes some of my blog posts, obvi. He called me up this weekend, “Vanilla! You have a blog!” Yes I do, aren’t you perceptive! “I had no idea!” I’m questioning your listening skills, bro. “It’s GOOD! You are a GOOD writer!” Yes, I know. Glad you’ve finally caught on. “I think you are totally crazy for putting yourself and your entire life out there, but hey! I love it. It’s entertaining! You’re a mess.” Fact. Now, get back to reading – you’ve some catching up to do.

I’ve consulted lawyers, to gain an understanding of what I can/cannot share, to ensure I am not at risk of any lawsuit or termination for breach of confidentiality/other reasons. I take great pains to honor my characters privacy. Beaut vetted every post while we dated because I worried our social circle would quickly figure out his identity. He insisted I write my truth – he also periodically shared my posts on his Fbk wall, at which point I deemed the burden of preserving his anonymity had been waived. The guys featured in my failed date stories? I strip of any possible identification. Overall, I work hard to balance the need to tell my truth with the respect and consideration owed to anyone featured in my stories.

I write every post with the awareness that co-workers, family & friends of various faiths/backgrounds/values will read it. My mythical future husband and in-laws might read it: the mental health struggles, the ugly insecurities, the hilarious lack of judgment. This informs who I am – exploring vulnerability and sharing these stories has changed my life. I’m told periodically that this blog makes people smile and has helped others on their own journeys of mental health and personal growth. So my future in-laws can suck it. Judgmental bastards.

My new European friends in Dubai reacted with condemnation. “A personal blog? What are you, a gossip?! Do you want a reputation as the Kizomba Bitch? Are you trying to be a Kim Kardashian? I didn’t peg you as somebody who was vulgar. You do know you don’t HAVE to overshare.” I was shocked. I wonder how many people perceive me & my blog as vulgarthe one adjective that fills me with horror. But I was equal parts irritated – none of them had read my blog: theirs was a knee-jerk reaction. See above comment about some friends having better taste than others. Hmph.

It’s hard being honest and funny when one is worried about others’ perception.

I think it’s time I stop worrying.

Once upon a time I wrote a blog post about a boy. It was sweet, a good mix of cerebral and emotional. I sent it to him, as a courtesy, letting him know that I was refraining from posting it on Fbk until he had read it.

Hours went by. Crickets.

More hours went by. Turns out he had family over. I don’t know what he was thinking, having family over when I was waiting on him to read my post, but wtv. Nobody is perfect.

MORE hours went by. I caved, and asked him whether silence implied consent. He hadn’t read it yet – family obligations and whatnot.

Hours turned into days. I drafted a step-by-step Manual For Guys That Are Featured In Heartfelt Blog Posts Written By Girls That Are Allergic To Vulnerability. Highlights include:

Drop everything you are doing and read the post immediately. Showing yourself as online, but NOT reading the messages is unacceptable and will cause part of the girl’s soul to die. Within a delay of 57 seconds, write back complimentary noises. Do NOT assume the girl is a stage 5 clinger. If you are an overachiever, read 20-30 of her posts, decide she is good people, and be cool.

Days turned into weeks. My brain decided it would be a great idea if I messaged him. Was I suave? No. Did I make the situation better? Definitely not. I accept my fate as the female version of this guy. Karma’s a bitch.

I think it’s time I stop worrying. There will be times where my intentions vs others perception of me/my blog will diverge widely; on a small scale, this is a risk that any artist/creative person must face. Humor gets lost in translation all the time. Do I stand by each of my posts? Yes. Is this blog true? Yes.

Well then. Less worrying, more trainwrecks.



Anxiety + geography fail = self-analysis

The anxiety this week, oh my! It was bad on Monday, improved on Tuesday, and then got progressively worse.

Yesterday, I was addicted to my phone, compulsively checking social media nonstop. Every 30 minutes, if not more frequently #ADDindahouse. Thanks to my recent travels and dance festivals, I’ve a boatload of new Fbk friends, artists and dancers from across the world. My Fbk feed is flooded with promotions for upcoming festivals in exotic locations, pictures of peoples’ travels to all of the places on my bucket list, or posts from their everyday lives – inherently more entertaining when located in Amsterdam/Cape Town/London. My Fbk feed is a vibrant, exciting, diverse, fantasy land, and I’m stuck in grey Montreal with 2-degree weather, reviewing the definitions of internal controls and prepping for month-end. My intense FOMO led me to designate one of the Dubai hotties as my new confidante and unleash unending verbal diarrhea at him. Highlight of that convo: mistaking Agadir for the name of an upcoming dance festival in Ireland. The dude is Moroccan. #geographyismyforte. He eventually stopped answering me. Ooopsies.

Accurate representation of my behaviour when chatting with that dude.

Today, I tried to figure out why am I so overwhelmingly anxious. As I’ve learned, it is important to nip these episodes in the bud, before they spiral outta control. I have the tools. A quick run-through:

  • Medication: my prescription ran out and I haven’t taken time off from month-end to go fill it. Solution: Tuesday morning, GO. My #dreamteam will survive without me for 4 hours.
  • Exercise: haven’t exercised once this week, as Teacher is recovering from his festival and Coach is on vacation. Clear violation of my therapist’s orders. Solution: exercise tonight, ballet on Sunday, resume normal schedule next week.
  • Diet: disaster. I ate bread for breakfast, timbits for lunch, chocolate as a snack and the only veggies I’ve consumed this week have been 2 cucumbers and some cauliflower with spinach dip. Solution: groceries tomorrow.
  • Friends: I wanna isolate myself. Solution: do NOT bail on my dates with my girlfriends today & tomorrow.
  • Writing: no writer’s block, just very busy. Solution: find the time.
  • Sleep: I flip-flop between insomnia and exhaustion. Solution: be kind to myself and listen to my body.

I felt better. Simple, easy solutions. But there remained a pit in my stomach.


Seeing BlondEyes and BossMan made me realize: I no longer feel that their ability to pursue their dreams and goals is something that does not apply to me. I (finally!) have the same thirst for life as them. My two Big Dreams (moving to Paris and one day living from my writing) are clamoring for my attention – having seen my two friends take necessary risks to build their vision of a thrilling satisfying life, my Dreams whisper, “we can do this too!”

While in Dubai, I mentioned my Paris dream to BossMan – of course, he asked me what I was waiting for? The right position, obvi. Timing too, it’s important to not jeopardize my professional career with hasty decisions. One day, when the right opportunity comes my way, I’ll be able to weld my Dream with my Career. BossMan scoffed at me: if I really wanted to move to Paris, I could apply to any job I’d like, and after 2-3 months of job hunting, I’d be a wannabe Parisienne. BossMan insisted I lookup freelance writer opportunities, in front of him, while he watched. He asked me: why not commit 5 hours a week to this dream? Calmly, between shisha puffs, he dismissed my I dunnoooooos and my maybe-one-days. Bluntly, he told me: You’re afraid, Vanilla. Are you really gonna let your fears stop you from living the life you KNOW you want?

Seriously, the Dynamite family, with their wisdom & advice that echoes in my head for weeks. EXHAUSTING.

So there you have it: my anxiety stems from the war being waged between Risk-Averse Accountant Vanilla and Vanilla with Dreams. My Dreams won’t be silenced – they’ve paid their dues, patiently navigating all those years of depression. Seeing my Facebook feed full of people living their unconventional lives their way, pursuing their goals… makes it very hard for me to pretend that I am not, as BossMan suggested, letting my fears stop me from living the life I know I want.

I don’t know yet how to reconcile these two Vanillas. But at least I understand what is going on in my brain, and acknowledge that this is something worthy of my time and consideration. Ideally, I’ll continue achieving these moments of clarity and self-awareness, without first portraying myself as an annoying platinum blond Kim K wannabe to a guy I barely know.

“Whaddya mean, ‘Agadir’ is NOT Portuguese for ‘leprechaun’ ?!”

Back to school special!

I’m a nerd. I like school. I like learning. I like showing off how much I know in exams. Hermione in Harry Potter? That’s me down to the insufferable tone – I can’t help it if I am always right!

I purposefully chose a field where there is a right and a wrong. Sure, there is a lot of professional judgment in accounting and finance, but some stances are more right than others. It isn’t a matter of feelings, or intuitions –  there is a set of rules to play by and the name of the game is who can best make those rules work. My opinions are defensible because they are based on logic and knowledge. My criticism of others’ opinions is also legit, as long as I can back it up using the same tools. If I fuck up, it is not a reflexion of who I am, but an error in application of knowledge. Accounting & finance is the playground by which I can let my intelligence shine, without being hampered by my usual insecurities of my self – because my self has nothing to do with anything.

10 years ago, my mother laughed at me when I told her I was going back to school in Accounting. She thought I was playing some twisted joke on her: I was entirely too creative to shove myself into an environment that is so rigid and standardized. She was underestimating my crippling insecurities that undermined every creative impulse in my body. I didn’t want to express my individuality – that was too painful a risk. A lot has happened since then. I’ve worked through a lot of the insecurities and broken bits in myself that fed my recurring depression and anxiety. I’ve accepted (more or less) vulnerability. This blog has been instrumental in helping me integrate the various sides to my personality, and to learn to be compassionate towards myself. Over the past 2 years, I’ve learned to enjoy writing. I need it, as much as I need to breathe.

When I first started this blog, I was petrified – I didn’t believe I had a voice worth listening to. The steady growth of followers and regular readers (both friends and strangers) has taught me that my voice resonates with others. I might not be sharing groundbreaking philosophy; I might never cause a significant cultural shift. All I do is write about my day-to-day average life with honesty – my struggles and my moments of enjoying this weird phenomenon of adulting. I’ve come to realize that my experiences are not unique – guys and girls have reached out to me to say “me too”. We all go through the same shit, with minor variations. Sure, some people go through extreme versions of life. But emotions? We all go through the same ones. By putting words to these emotions and insecurities, all I am doing is saying “It is ok to feel this way. I will not be ashamed of how I feel, because how I feel informs who I am, and I will learn to be proud of my imperfect self.” A reader of mine (a woman I’ve never met, who discovered my blog through a mutual friend) told me this past weekend that my blog “does put words on certain feelings and insecurities for women, which I believe is an important thing. Ours is a culture of body shaming and of strange competition between women; any time somebody decides to turn it into a positive sharing experience, it bring us more together and humanizes parts of ourselves we are often ashamed of.” I know I should probably be humbled by that, but I am not. I am grateful and elated. When I read those words I fist-pumped myself and uttered some bizarre guttural war-cry (in the middle of a crowded downtown Montreal street #noshame). Would that we could all find our voices, and if my journey can spur on someone else’s… Amazing.

Today, I took the next step in fulfilling my mother’s vision for me, and in developing my voice. I registered and paid for my first course in my diploma in creative writing. I’m finally doing something concrete to shift my dream of being a comedic writer into the realm of possibilities. I’m scared, because this time, there is no playground with pre-established rules. This time I am putting my self on the line. This time I am ready.


Judd Apatow is my mentor

I’m reading Sick In The Head: Conversations about Life and Comedy, a collection of interviews conducted by Judd Apatow (director of the 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, This is 40, Trainwreck) from 1983-2014 with the greatest comedians of our time (Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Ben Stiller, Stephen Colbert…). It’s a fascinating, rambling, unexpected read.

It almost seems like a cliché to say comedy comes from pain, but real comedy is connected to the deep pain and anguish we all feel. I worked with Robin Williams in an obscure film called Club Paradise. (…) Robin is one of the most deeply melancholy people you’ll ever meet. You can just see it all over him. It’s what makes him so human, and I love and respect him. Deep down, Bill (Murray) is as serious as a person can be. He’s raging, angry, and full of grief and unresolved emotions. He’s volcanic. Comedy gives them a place to work out ideas and entertain – and these guys love to entertain – but they want you to know they feel. (…) You go see Robin Williams do standup, and you can’t get more laughs than that. I’ve been onstage. I know what it feels like to have those waves of laughter. It’s like being bathed in love. Once you’ve had it, it’s like a drug. It wears off, and then you need something more. I want the audience to feel something more than that. I want them to feel my pain. – Harold Ramis (p.126)

That, ladies and gents, is why I write. To share what is painful. Sometimes – hopefully, most of the time – it is painfully funny, but sometimes it is the ugly painful. Exploring the pain is an exercise in excrutiating vulnerability; vulnerabilility, to quote Brené Brown, is “the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”

When I write, I feel alive. Writing, after all, is communication; communication involves interaction. I feel connected to all my readers, who have not yet read my thoughts, because I know I am writing about truth, which is something people will relate and respond to.

As a kid, my only dream was to be a comedian. I never thought about being a writer. Gary (Shandling) was the first person who ever sat me down and said, “Look, this is what a story is about. This is how you write in this format.” He talked a lot about how the key was to try to get to the emotional core or the truth of each character, which I had never heard before. He taught me that comedy is about truth and revealing yourself, and these are all lessons I apply in my work every day. – Judd Apatow (p.109)

I might be an accountant by trade, and a damned good one at that, but I am increasingly convinced that my true vocation is to be a comedic writer.

Robin Williams died at the start of my last depression in August 2014. His death was one of the red flags that motivated me to get help. Sure, I was aware that crying for 4-5 hours a day without cause was not normal, but I thought I could ride it out, like I always had. Sure, the intensity and the speed with which the dark cloud was asphyxiating me was unusual, but I thought it was the price I had to pay for being such a fuck-up. I was on a family vacation when the news broke of Robin Williams’ death broke. My uncle exclaimed, “But why? How could someone so successful, so funny, so blessed, want to end his life? Surely he must have been able to get the help and the support necessary to work through this?” His lack of empathy shocked me, and I embarked on an empassioned explanation of what might drive someone with depression to commit suicide. My words echoed in silence, as my uncle and aunt stared at me. “Vanilla, are you sure you are ok?”

I’d started my blog 3 weeks earlier, and was writing funny blurbs about walking into glass doors, or face-planting on flat surfaces.

Prior to going to the opera with Beaut, I specifically requested him to read the post The Accidental Chastity Belt. I wanted him to know:

  • I am vanilla: I hadn’t kissed a guy in 17 months prior to that post
  • I don’t sleep around
  • If someone treats me badly or hurts me, I will write about them.

I thought it was only fair that he know this prior to going on a date with me, so that he could make an educated decision about whether or not I was worth listening to 4 hours of opera. Not only did he accept the associated risks of hanging out with me, he poked around my blog, reading up about my depression and my thoughts about gender and racial bias. Rather than write me off as a mentally unstable pampered feminist, he continues to read my blog. It is an odd dynamic, getting to know someone to whom my writing has already revealed so much.

Beaut recently admitted that reading my blog, and seeing how much good it does me to externalize my stories, has motivated him to pursue his own writing with more conviction and discipline. That is a compliment: it means I’ve successfully achieved Judd’s definition of comedy – truth and revealing oneself – to the point of making it contagious.

I’ve started getting fan emails from strangers with regular frequency. People who were compelled to write to me, to share how one or more of my posts made them feel a strong emotion. An acquaintance at the gym told me she cheered aloud because I’d put into words her fleeting thoughts. A guy from LA, who found my blog because I comment frequently on one of his friend’s blogs, wrote to me to share his own struggles with grief. Strawberry invited me to his Christmas party; he’s become a friend.

When I started this blog, I was overwhelmed by the realisation that I have a voice. The more I write, the more I realise my voice speaks not just for me, but for others.

Judd Apatow, I owe you.

Shit just got real, blogging style

As sometimes happens, a reader of my blog will reach out to me. Some missives are impertinent (read the psychoanalysis one dude gave me here), some are short messages of sympathy/humour/encouragement, some are declarations of the heart. When I first received fan mail, I freaked out. How could my little ramblings inspire such effort on behalf of strangers? Since then, I’ve grown comfortable with receiving unsolicited messages – it is a sign that my stories, although personal, trade on emotions and insecurities that are shared by my readers. My stories are relatable.

Yesterday I went for dinner with a male reader of mine. He was a stranger – meaning he is not part of my circle of existing friends or acquaintances that follow my blog. He’d found my blog via a Google search, and struck up an email correspondence with me that was witty and amusing. Over the weeks he became a faithful reader. His insights are interesting and thought provoking; he was a fan and critic of my writing. He asked that we meet up because he wanted to share his own personal dating trainwreck story, and thought it might prove to be inspiring material for a story – if not for my blog, for a short story that we could collaborate on. He’d long been encouraging me to take my writing more seriously (according to him, I’m “wasted on numbers”), and knew that all I lack is the inspiration or material to try something more substantial than blogging. I therefore accepted to meet him – what did I stand to lose?

We met in a trendy restaurant for drinks and tapas. No more awkward than one of the many blind dates that I’ve been on.

Hi! So happy you agreed to meet up! Nice to meet you. Sorry I am two minutes late – I was printing a non-disclosure agreement.

Ummmm, what?

A non-disclosure agreement. I apologize, my printer was running out of ink, so it doesn’t look very good. There are some striations. And I didn’t have time to modify it, so I just took the standard template. It is legally binding. Would you mind signing?

You know those social situations where you are so shocked, you can’t help but laugh? Yeah, this was one of those situations. Boy, did I laugh, and laugh, and laugh. And giggle as I read carefully all two pages of the NDA.

That’s the end of my post, y’all. I’m legally bound to discretion.

P.S. I can’t help but feel that my street cred as a writer is growing every day. First Strawberry, and now this. What are the odds?!

When opera leads to supper

Oh, how my friends laughed at the Opera and (no) chill story! “Poor guy. You’re evil, Vanilla!” No, no I am not. I am sometimes trapped by my insecurities, especially when I care about the outcome.

I sent Beaut the link to that post. He loved it. And then he was silent. I was miserable: I’d put it all out there. This was completely outside of my comfort zone: asking a guy out, writing about him, acknowledging that I’d wanted more that a simple kiss on the cheek and that I needed more time before letting my guard down. If he didn’t follow up, I couldn’t possibly continue pursuing him. I was exhausted.

Luckily for me, 24 hours later Beaut invited me over for supper. Chez lui. He would cook for me. If that isn’t charming, I don’t know what is.

Yesterday was the day. I was nervous. I was extremely nervous. I hadn’t heard from him all day – why was he being quiet? Maybe Beaut had changed his mind. Maybe he was going to cancel on me. Maybe he had found somebody better. Maybe he was a player, and he’d decided I was simply too vanilla. I couldn’t concentrate. Vulnerability was overrated. Here I was, facing disappointment, an evening alone, and risking starvation. I was done. No more dating for me: I was ready to embrace my life as a cat-less cat-lady.

As I was about to take a vow of chastity, Beaut messaged me to let me know that he was about to go grocery shopping for our dinner. He was looking forward to it. He also admitted that being a total bachelor, living alone, he’d never bothered investing in a kitchen table. Solemnly, he listed our alternatives: picnic on the bed, picnic on the floor, eating at his work desk.

You guys. Cute. Inviting someone over for dinner with no table is cute. It also struck me as something only a guy would do. In his shoes, I would have never invited anyone over. Ever. I would embrace a cat-lady lifestyle rather than allow anyone to witness my unorthodox interior design.

I was doubtful as to what supper would taste like. I correlated absent kitchen furniture with absent cooking skills. Very ironic, since I have a fully stocked kitchen, and I can’t cook to save my life. Well, I’d underestimated him. Beaut had planned a 3-course meal. A healthy delicious 3-course meal. I assumed those 2 adjectives were mutually exclusive. I was amazed; he was confused about my amazement – he was just cooking normal food. Wrong, sir. Wrong.

We ate picnic-style on his living room floor. The walls were covered in hand-written notes, organized in batches. He explained that, since the age of 16, he’s enjoyed drafting outlines for novels. This was his most recent attempt, organized by character groupings: each page was a character description, below an overall summary of their character arc. There was a camera tripod; Beaut takes an interest in photography. He likes to sew. He’s pursuing a university certificate in a field dramatically different from his current career because he “needed mental stimulation”. His dream is to one day open a restaurant.

As the conversation flowed, always funny, never boring, I realized that my frequent surprise at his stories and opinions was driven from a deep-seated conviction that a beautiful man such as Beaut must be a narrow-minded douchebag. Sure, I’d always been intrigued by his reserve, but then again, I’ve always made the mistake of assuming silence means substance. I’d agreed to his supper invite expecting him to confirm my bias at some point or the other. I’d been all wrong. Thank goodness I didn’t take that vow of chastity!

After 2 hours of good food, unexpected conversation, and respectful distances, I told him that if the night ended and he hadn’t even TRIED to kiss me, I’d be pissed.

Beaut happily obliged. 🙂

Boom. Opera and no chill: it is a thing.

Happy dance


It finally happened this afternoon – 10,000 blog views, and most of those views are not caused by me refreshing my website. Not bad, considering I rarely manage to squeeze in more than 1 post a week.

Thank you, my dear readers. I have trouble believing that people, friends and strangers, find my silly stories worthy of their attention. I remember how scared I was to start this blog – scared that if no one read my stories, it would be another blow to my already fragile psyche. I feared that silence in the face of my stories would feel like the ultimate confirmation that my worldview, my life and my self were irrelevent. Little could I have imagined just how empowering the process of writing is, or how much I delight in the crafting of each post, long before I publish it. Taking hazy feelings, atmospheres, and impressions of an event and crystallizing them into words that accurately describe my reality has been a revelation. I sometimes discover new ironies or implications to events that happened to me, or renewed appreciation of the people featured in my stories. Figuring how to navigate the line of disclosure has also been a challenge – I am surprised sometimes by what I feel is important to hold back out of respect for the people in my life, and why. Most importantly, this blog has allowed me to rediscover vulnerability – a state I found unbearable just a few months ago.  I never anticipated so many benefits from blogging, nor the pride I feel in this collection of my writing. That I am also rewarded by your readership increases my glee.

Thank you for every single like, comment and follow.

Thank you for reading.