Happy Schnoo Year!

Noah Challenge

Noah says “You can do it!”. Be your best in 2013!

Happy New Year beautiful readers!

I am completely, totally, head-over-heals in love. The object of my affection has, in a most clichéd fashion, completed me. I am a calmer, more patient, more compassionate woman, and I am living in the moment in a way I had assumed was lost to me. Of course I’m talking about the love I have for my wee son Noah. What a beautiful blessing to cruise into a new year with!

I am happy to report that I’m back to normal, in all ways post-partum, and breastfeeding is a piece of cake. In fact, I love it. We do it anywhere and everywhere, and sometimes even in our sleep. My body rhythms fell into place just in time for me to return to work with Les Coquettes and get back on stage to host our New Year’s Eve show in Brantford. It was a blast. The matinee performance to a crowd of nearly 300 people with an average age of 75 was an experience I won’t soon forget.

As the holidays approached, something big happened for me. The horrific shooting in Connecticut rocked me to my core. I think it impacted me just as much as that September 11th horror from years ago. I think about those beautiful little munchkins and their families every single day. The headlines may have moved on to other subjects, but that particular event really cemented how precious life is. CNN may not be thinking about that city anymore, but I sure am. I feel like I owe it to those families and that community to really truly relish this beautiful life that I have been given. I wonder if I would have been affected the same way if I wasn’t a mom?

Last year at this time, I was resolving to take great care of my health so that I would hopefully be able to get pregnant. Then, at the end of January Noah was conceived. I love this time of the calendar because I fully subscribe to the “fresh start” mentality and I have always thought that the beginning of a new year is the very best time to enjoy the feeling of a clean slate. This year, I’m resolving to be the very best Schnoo I can be from top to bottom, to be a great mom to all three of my children. Here are some of the steps I’m taking thus far:

I’m working with my amazingly talented brother Kyle to get into hella shape this year. Both of my partners and I are on board to streamline our lifestyle in order to promote optimum health.  We’re eating low carb, low sugar, and starting to make sure we get daily exercise.

I’m organizing my home from top to bottom, and taking on household management and mothering as my new full-time job. I’m crafting and creating, and looking for fun new ways to enjoy my children, and hopefully get more involved at their school.

I invested in a session with a financial advisor as a Christmas gift to my partners, so we can make the most of our resources and work towards realizing more of our dreams of travel.

In 2013, I’m going to take the biggest bite out of life yet, and I want to share it all with you here. I’ll give you the inside scoop on my fitness routine, my dietary changes, my creative exercises, and my experiences in personal growth. What are you resolving to do this year?

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Chrysalis, Day Four (Evening)

I believe that the feeling I had earlier taken for hope was in fact something akin to the calm before the storm. I am so, so sad because this place we are moving through is so strange and scary, and there is so much pain.

I wish I could peel back my layers of flesh and finger-like ribcage so that my heart, uncovered by mortal stuff, could be seen. How I have loved and continue to love. I have so much love still to give, and I know I can be great at giving it.

The great tragedy, of course, is that I cannot give it the way it is most desired, and how I wish this were different. If I could grant happiness to everyone I loved, I would, but I am aware of my limitations and my capacity, and after thirty-four years of this heart, I understand well how it works. It is far from perfect.

So I will say it, without fear. I love you. I will continue to love you.  I have told you with my very soul how my love for you evolves, and how it can be realized.  We are family, you are in my heart, and I truly, deeply hope that you can hear me.

dive for dreams

dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at the wedding)
never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for good likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)
in spite of everything
which breathes and moves, since Doom
(with white longest hands
neating each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
-before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.

silently if, out of not knowable

silently if, out of not knowable
night’s utmost nothing,wanders a little guess
(only which is this world)more my life does
not leap than with the mystery your smile
sings or if(spiralling as luminous
they climb oblivion)voices who are dreams,
less into heaven certainly earth swims
than each my deeper death becomes your kiss
losing through you what seemed myself,i find
selves unimaginably mine;beyond
sorrow’s own joys and hoping’s very fears
yours is the light by which my spirit’s born:
yours is the darkness of my soul’s return
-you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars

– e.e. cummings

Ushering in a Pantsless Soho Nightcap

Emporio

All the babies I’ve encountered in the city are fussy today. The morning started out hot – a clear dry heat that made me think of Austin, Texas. I threw on an ankle-length gray jersey sun dress and some silvery flats with a turquoise scarf to go downstairs and get coffee with my loves. I hadn’t washed the makeup off from last night, and the effect was a smoky, sleepy, tousled “We just had a great time” kind of thing. Which was true.

Our night started with a trip to Brian’s. Brian is a fund manager, owns a sweet little bachelor pad with a skinny stainless steel fridge that only contains a Brita jug and an entire door full of joint repair protein beverages. I had asked him whether the beverage company was sponsoring him. He’s compact, in perfect shape, bright blue eyes, handsome, and was dismayed that his new cut (sort of a Jarhead meets 80’s fade) had gone awry. He wanted a faux hawk. I don’t think it will matter. I think this guy will get whatever he wants, regardless.

Brian is a nice host. He’s confident, but a little quiet. We have a little “visit” at his place, and then we hop into a cab to meet up with a dude they call Mr. Nice. Nice is a band manager who is touring with his current project. He has a knack for finding bands just poised to launch to stardom. In the squishy little cab a song comes on. I never listen to the radio, so of course I don’t know it, but Brian tells us it was absolutely everywhere in Miami. It has a driving dance beat, and lots of electro sound effects. I cringe as the lyrics begin. I hate this music. It makes me think of the guys I used to secretly lust after in high school, who would never give me the time of day. Music like this is part of my baby brother’s universe, not mine. Then I’m listening to the lyrics more closely, and the beat feels like it’s sinking into my skin. It’s an anthem. An anthem for a generation born into a world where they can have anything – and they do. They eat life in great big fistfuls of beautiful women, sexy cars, and artisan mini-burgers they call “sliders”. They are full, sensory creatures but they are afraid of emotion. They want to taste, and smell, and see, and hear, but they aren’t sure how to feel. They seem fragile to me, and beautiful. The lyrics to this anthem speak to them because they are raw, and real.

We arrive at a bar in the Lower East Side where Mr. Nice is seated on a patio with a girl from Paris. She greets me and pulls me in gently. I give her one air-cheek kiss, not two. I’ll see your charming custom, and raise you my Canadian brassiness. I’ll bet most of the people she meets her have no idea what she’s attempting with that kissy greeting, and I bet they resist her. She’s wearing what I initially thought were Crocs, so I decide she’s not THAT French.

The bar has projected surf scenes on the back wall. It’s tiny inside and packed. The left wall is papered with a giant map of an Australian beach, and the other with paintings of old beach shack signs. There are balloon clusters arranged at the front, which you can view from the street because of the garage-door-style patio opening. There are three clusters; one that says “Good Luck” with some primary colored balloons. One with a giant foil Dora The Explorer (Brian of course has no idea who that is). The other is just sparkly and colourful. They could be any occasion, for any celebration. I decide it’s a ploy to encourage people to bring their parties to the bar.

Our hostess is a pale Aussie brunette. Our waiter is the most exquisite looking Aussie aboriginal I have ever seen. He’s beautiful from every angle with a bold faux-hawk meets pompadour hairstyle streaked with a bleach blond stripe. His teeth are perfect, and he’s definitely a homo. I love him, and his accent.

Every square inch of the bar, and the entire experience is designed to feel like this famous Australian beach, and it’s perfect.

We have a drink there and decide to move on. It’s impossible to get Nice to leave. I’ve realized the man is in a beautiful bubble, and so to lure him with us, we kidnap his Parisienne and stroll down the street to another place that looks like a Paris bistro. It’s so pretty, and I don’t want to leave, but we’re starving and there’s a huge wait for seating. We head diagonally across the street to another bar that totally makes me think of the nicer pubs I’ve seen on college campuses. The kids inside all look like they could be from Burlington (Ontario, of course). It’s the first place we’ve been where I’m not delighted and amazing with the seemingly effortless way that New Yorkers throw their outfits together. The older I get, the more I really, really love fashion.

My boyfriend tells me to read Brian’s palms. I have no idea how to do this, but Brian doesn’t know, so I go through the motions that I witnessed when my boyfriend’s father read mine, and I fake it, filtering out the noise around me to just say the first things that pop into my head. I decide quickly that the way you move your hands is significant, and that each finger is tied to a different aspect of your life. The degree of resistance when I touch the fingers is indicative of your emotional relationship to those aspects. I squeeze the pads of his hands to see how firm they are. I don’t even focus on the lines and meridians, because I have no idea what’s what. I won’t tell you what I said, because I know I mostly nailed it, but I think Brian was impressed. So were my peeps.

Brian and my fella decide to order one of everything on the menu. To my absolute delight, I realize that everything is inspired by comfort food, but bigged up to meet the demands of this city’s exquisite palette. I wish my buddy Josh were here. Or my brother. Or both. I’m also slightly regretting the chocolate porter I’ve ordered. Hello carbs!

We smash through the food and it’s all delicious, but what killed me was their mac and cheese. Mac and cheese should be taken seriously, and they totally and completely understand this. It was easily the best I’ve ever had, with a hint of dried basil included in the creamy sauce. I miss pasta, so I didn’t hold back.

Once we’re full to the point where my painted-on jeans just can’t take it anymore, we decide to head. We’re not sure where we’re going next, but we hop in a cab and head back to Soho where we’re staying. Brian is working the next day, so he decides to leave us, and the three of us step into Emporio, the beautiful restaurant across the street for a dessert to share (god help me) and a bottle of sparkling Italian dessert wine.

I order the tiramisu and my love orders the pannacotta. We share it three ways and though it’s incredible, all I can think of is how tight my pants are. My girl gets sleepy, so she excuses herself to head back to the apartment to crash, and we continue on. Beautiful, emotional conversation is had, and the bottle is empty. I’m uncomfortable, and I say as much.

“Take off your pants” says my love. “I dare you to.”

I laugh. I’m wearing a killer pair of black platforms and a strapless top that could be pressed into service as an obscenely short dress. I consider this.

“C’mon” he says. “I’ve paid the bill. Go to the bathroom, take off your pants, and meet me at the door.”

“I bet nobody will notice” I say. The restaurant is half full.

I’m still skeptical. I’m not drunk enough to really engage in such antics. Then comes the straw breaks the camel’s back.

“It will make Adam’s week.” says my love.

Adam, my friend who I’ve never met, who has given us this beautiful night of good company and good food by letting us crash in his empty apartment. Adam who is managing things that no child should have to manage, far away from all of these open, entertaining people who are his boys. Adam, who I’m sure you can feel smiling all the way from Long Island.

I get up and head to the can. I pull off my jeans, take one final piss, and then fluff up my hair, put back my shoulders and open the door. Our waiter sees me first, and looks directly at the pants folded over my arm. My full tummy is free, my ivory legs are unleashed for the world to see, and my shoes are the only reason this ridiculous outfit could work. I stride through the restaurant, head held high, breeze tickling my white ass, hand my pants to my love, walk out the door and pronounce “This one’s for you, Adam.”

The Sixteen Hour Challenge

Last night was spent amid a sea of cardboard boxes in the company of a couple of close friends, drinking wine and sharing some laughs. It was a much-needed dose of social activity, and delicious with homemade pizza on the menu.

As the evening wore on, a genuine compliment from me, delivered without excessive gusto was followed with a friend telling me that I always pay the perfect compliment at the best moments. She thinks I have a real knack for telling people what they need to hear, not as a tool of manipulation, but as a sincere way of helping them feel better about themselves.

I thought this was a great compliment! This made me reflect on some truly lovely things people have told me about myself, particularly things I’ve heard in the last week. It’s amazing how much we hold on to criticism or judgment, or dwell on hurtful comments, yet the compliments roll off us like water on an oily surface.

Seriously, think about this. When you hear a sincere compliment, something that touches you, you kind of feel it in your gut. Have you received any of those this week? In the last couple weeks? What were they? Who did they come from?

My sixteen hour challenge is this: Think of at least one lovely thing you’ve heard about yourself lately. Hold on to this statement, and try with all your might to allow yourself to believe it for as long as you can within the context of a day. Keep it in the forefront of your mind for as long as you possibly can. When you feel like the usual white noise and sometimes yucky stuff in your head is squeezing it out, hold on to that compliment and remember how it made you feel. Use it like armor against the sometimes cloudy stuff that gets in the way of really feeling like you deserve to – just the way the compliment made you feel. Try to see if you can make it through a whole waking day like this. I bet it will be tricky, but it’s something I’ve done all day today, and it really, really has made me feel amazing.(Pair that with a cozy day with my best girl with some amazing conversation and connection and you can’t lose, really…)

You are awesome! You have a passion and zest for life that’s inspiring! You give strength every day to the people you love! Those jeans make your ass look delicious!

The Trouble with Hump Day

Photo by Kyle Andrew (I like to call it "Mid-Wife Crisis")

Another show is put to bed. I worry that I can’t keep everyone happy, and that the reasons I continue to do these shows with little financial return is not enough for the others. There is so much that needs to happen, so little time to focus, and so few free hands.

What happened to the days of wealthy patrons who would sponsor artists so they were free to create? How I would love a simple, casual job that was fun to do so that the rest of my working energy and efforts could be directed at this enterprise we’ve created that means the world to me.

If I can direct this company towards greater growth and opportunity, who will come along for the ride? I sense so much frustration and exhaustion sometimes, and I wonder how much of it is a result of things moving slowly here, or if it’s a product of the general frustration all artists feel in such a difficult time for performers.

Today, I will devote my time to a clear work plan. List-making has always been such an effective tool for laying out the state of things in a clear manner, and for dividing tasks in a way that makes them feel so much less overwhelming.

It’s been a long time since I’ve set personal goals too. I’ve been waiting so long to land, and for the dust to settle, and now that I feel it has (in most ways) I think it’s time to hatch a plan.

My brother completely inspired me today, and his photography is amazing. I’d link to his website, but it isn’t up to date. Here’s a link to a Facebook gallery of his photos.

I’m tempted to really just say “no” to working full-time, and just see what happens.

Universe, I’m blowing on your fuzzy dice!

Reading, Writing…

I have a couple more resolutions. I hope you will permit me this sounding board.

In 2010 I want to read more, and I want to write more, and I want to create a special place where both of those things can happen.

Right now, I’m tucked away on a vinyl couch in Starbucks, looking out on the snow falling at the corner of Church and Shuter. St. Michael’s looks particularly pretty today, and my solution to some serious restlessness was to change up my atmosphere. The music is a bit too loud, but at least it’s good. Ray LaMontagne. Perfect, actually. I love the snow, and I love winter, and I love feeling entirely alone in a room full of people. Strange, non?

The desire to write more has been here for awhile, but I’m always bogged down by the question of what to write. Snapshots of the inside of my head are interesting only for so long.

When I was in grade nine, my love of writing was kick-started by an awesome teacher named Mrs. Fabris (oohh, now Starbucks is playing Nick Drake. Purr…). One of the awesome exercises she did was make a huge pile of pictures she’d collected from old calendars, magazines, and books. We had to close our eyes and pick an image, or sometimes study them and select one, and then we had to write a short story about the picture. I’d like to start this again, somehow. It took all of the second-guessing out of the scenario. Perhaps random itunes suggestions would work too (Lucinda Williams. Seriously, I could stay here all day.) or random people who catch my eye on the streets.

Also, I’m sad to say that I barely read anymore. I miss this incredibly, but I have rarely had the time to dig my claws into a good book. I’d also like a good reading list, so please feel free to share any recommendations.

I miss my  TTC commute, which was at least thirty minutes of guaranteed reading time. Audrey Niffeneger has a new book. Perhaps I’ll ease into my reading plan with that.