Spring Break

I have nothing to do until September.

Of course, that’s not entirely true. I have no Coquettes shows to work on until September, but I have plenty to keep busy with. Namely, parenting, which is my favorite full time job in my work history. I love my kids, and with our two weeks of March Break now concluded my days are so much less full; I wasn’t really sure how to start this week.

The Noodle is eating solids now, and sitting up mostly unassisted. He’s so long that his five-month-old body is wearing nine-month-old clothes, and his only intelligible word is “Mama”. Every day I love him a little bit more.

Hannu spent most of the break with her dad and I while Mama S whisked Aylu away to Texas to visit Auntie Crystal who just had her third little boy. Hannu and I got to bond over crafts, books, and baby. It was such a delight to have some real one-on-one time with her. She’s an angel, and that’s no exaggeration. We spent a leisurely weekend at the Niagara house working on building a Gnome Home for Ayla’s seventh birthday, and even Daddy got in on the fun. I also took Hannah to Smock – this fabulous craft café on Roncesvalles. She had a blast, and we need to go back there soon. It’s such a peaceful space, and I felt inspired just being there. 2013-03-19 13.40.24

Ayla came back from her trip mid-week during the last week of the break. She was a fire ball, and I had to get used to her amazing energy all over again. What an incredible girl. I harnessed her power in a very fun game of “Let’s Do Spring Cleaning”. She took such pleasure in cleaning our home together, and I was seriously impressed at her attention to detail. We cleaned and cooked and had a big celebration for the Equinox and Navroz, which is the Muslim New Year.  Our menu included sautéed asparagus with butter and lemon pepper, this amazing soufflé recipe from Alton Brown and this yummy strawberry rhubarb crumble for dessert which I found on Epicurious. I would make the crumble the day before next time, because it was so much better for dessert. Ha!

2013-03-21 17.46.45I’ve always wanted a ‘Spring Tree’ to decorate, so Nekky hacked some low-sprouting branches from the maple tree in the back yard and we potted them. I then spent all day on Thursday creating ornaments with the girls, and then we decorated our tree. When Hannah and I were out on our Roncesvalles adventure we picked up some pale pink tulips and pussy willows to adorn our home. It’s really quite festive in here. I think it’s really important to honour the changing seasons in our home because I think it helps to keep these city kids connected to nature. It’s also really meditative for me; I find myself really noticing the subtle changes that are starting to occur in our neighbourhood gardens while I’m out strolling with Noodle, and I’m really appreciating each increased degree in temperature.

Spring is all about new beginnings, and this is a huge theme in our household. Our home business is getting tired, and we are craving change, and greater prosperity and adventure. What happens when it looks like the end of the road is in sight for one era, and a new road is opening up before you? The three of us grown ups are united in our dreams of travel with our children, and a lifestyle that affords us such opportunity, and we all want to be pro-active in creating our own dream life. I want the very best life for my children, and that life consists of huge horizons, adventure, family and friends, opportunities to do good for the world, and a thirst for knowledge and experience. 2013-03-21 12.15.30

We are talking about exciting possibilities, we are making plans together and dreaming together, and working together to make great things happen for our family, and the very best part is that we are doing this together.

Pulling the Pork in Jersey

Today is my brother’s birthday. Rather than celebrate with a bbq at my parent’s house, we’re headed to Jersey to the home of Mafia Joe, his wife Mafia Monica, and their 7-month-old Baby Joey. Jersey doesn’t get much better than this.

I get to meet more of the NYC crew. Brett is notorious for being as big as the heart inside him, and as sweet as he is outspoken. Claudio is who I’m most looking forward to. Sarah says I’ll love him. She says he’s my kind of good looking (she tends to prefer really pretty men, so I’m skeptical). Claudio shows up to get us, with Brett in the passenger seat. He’s driving a black Audi with tinted windows (of course).  We squish into the back, and we’re on our way. The city traffic is mad, it’s Saturday, and it takes us almost two hours to hit the Holland Tunnel, which is actually a five-minute drive away, sans bumper-to-bumper.

I think Sarah is right about Claudio, but I can’t tell because he’s wearing glasses. He’s kind of wiry, and well dressed in a way that indicates he wasn’t trying. I notice his watch right away. I don’t know what it is, but it’s beautiful. My boyfriend asks, and he says it’s a Roger Dubuis. He takes it off to show it to us, and the back is all exposed to show off the machinations on the inside. Claudio sells designer watches to pro athletes. His claim to fame to date is a watch that sold for two and a half million. No, that’s not a type-o.

Brett hates the traffic, and seems really squished in the front seat. He is kind of loud and brawny, but very friendly. Brett has done everything from mortgage brokering, to insurance sales. He currently buys and sells cell phone towers. He and Claudio live in the same apartment building in Brooklyn.

After fighting through traffic, we finally arrive at Mafia Joe’s. They have an adorable house in Jersey City with a really nice yard. Joe isn’t really in the Mafia, but he could be. He’s one of those solid Italian guys with very little neck, and a kind and earnest host. His wife, Monica answers the door. We hand her the bottle that we brought and wish her happy birthday (we’ve just learned from the boys that it’s her birthday). She tells us thanks, but she’s knocked up again. She says “Fuck me, it’s all I do!” and laughs warmly. I like her instantly.

The other guests consist of two brothers – Arthur and Alen, and Alen’s wife Stacy. Stacy and Alen work in the fashion industry. They have one year old twins. We introduce ourselves, and calmly answer the “So how do you know each other question” honestly, and they simply say “Oh, cool.” Conversation shifts to our children, and parenting, and Baby Joey makes an appearance after his nap. He’s a dumpling, and we love him. Even the men take turns holding him, and feeding him, and playing with him. This is one of the things I love most about this generation.

Brian shows up with a willowy girl with curly red hair. She’s very beautiful, in a really natural way, and I’m surprised because she’s my type, not what I imagine his would be. The women stay inside, except Sarah and I. We all feast (the food was great) and we listen to the boys tell stories.

Arthur just got his first DUI. He tried to make it home on a flat tire, and the cops were alerted because of the sparks flying everywhere. I imagine he must have smelled boozy, because he ended up blowing a breathalyzer and getting booked. He was handcuffed for five hours to a post in jail, kind of terrorized by all of the thugs in there. Later this week he has to attend a meeting to hear the stories of DUI accident victims’ families. He speaks of it like a life lesson, and a wake up call. This whole story is tied to a girl, a girl whose uncle is helping to get him off as lightly as possible. The girl keeps sending him photos of a carrot cake via text messages. At first, when he says “she’s making me a carrot cake” I think it’s some sort of sexual slang, involving redheads. This guy is young, charismatic, and good looking. I hope he has actually learned a life lesson here. I watch him after with the baby, and decide there may be hope yet.

Someone else describes a similar first booking in a Las Vegas jail and all of the boys groan because apparently Vegas is the worst place in the US to get arrested. This person told the cops they were suicidal to get a more isolated holding cell, after they grew weary of watching people’s faces mashed to a bloody pulp.

I’m listening to the timbre of Arthur’s voice, in fact the voices of all the people around me, and I decide that New York accents are the accent of everyone. It’s a blend of the many immigrants who have settled here, and it’s like some kind of beautiful music.

Ironically, conversation switches to a party at the Hard Rock (in Vegas maybe?) called Rehab. This is apparently a pool party with a $400 cover that is worth every penny. I listen to the boys describe the music, and the food and booze and women, and I decide ancient civilizations must have partied around the water in a same way. I think of our cottage parties, and chime in with a description, and decide that someone should open a resort for our generation in cottage country. Goodbye cottage country.

Claudio mostly listens, like me, but when he does pipe up, it’s with the driest, most nail-on-the head zingers. He describes Arthur as the “luckiest kid he knows”. His action in Vegas is described as “rolling a quarter out of your ear and right into the slot.” These boys enjoy their gambling. Arthur describes his luck as the kind that would inspire him to “marry a girl he met that night and then get stuck sharing his winnings with her”. They guffaw at this.

Arthur describes losing $1,500 at The Rio in a hotel room safe he forgot to lock, and a separate incident when someone stole his player’s card while he was winning. Don’t worry Arthur, if I read your palms, I could tell you that you are poised to have your luck turn.

The boys want to know what I do for a living. I have them all convinced (seriously) that my family are beaver farmers, and we raise them and slaughter them for their pelts. When they ask me how to murder a beaver, I tell them that each beaver is different, and thus each death must be handled differently. I’ve made this a euphemism, but nobody catches on. “The beaver will show you how it wants to die.” I say, sagely.

Then I tell them about the Coquettes, and whip out the iPhone to show pictures. Claudio has a particular eyebrow arch for Billie Black, and as the night goes on, I decide how well suited they could be. I even drunkenly text her in the wee hours of the morning to tell her as much.

There is more honesty among these men than I’m prepared for, and I don’t know what to do with it at first. For some, there is a filter missing, and in hindsight, I wish I could have just realized it for the opportunity it afforded, to hear such tales accounted with minimal censoring. It’s burned into my brain though, so I won’t ever forget how it feels to be a fly on the wall.

Brett tells us an equal parts hilarious and disturbing story about how his 15 year old brother lost his virginity to a 24 year old, in the midst of a house party. He knew his way around her anatomy, and managed to hold out for half an hour before climaxing, then running upstairs to gloat to his super hot, 40-something mom about his achievement. This woman is Brett’s stepmother. He’s clearly also conflicted about the whole thing, and the story is nothing short of hilarious. Our boy Brett is a magical story teller. He refers to the three of us as “His Canadians” and takes care to make sure Sarah and I want for nothing while we’re in their company. I’ve promised Brett that the Coquettes will meet him at the airport when he comes to visit in Toronto.

Somehow, amidst all of these stories and all of this camaraderie, one thing becomes clear. The legendary Adam is the kingpin. The mood shifts a little, as the boys reflect on how they are missing him and thinking about him. They will hands-down tell me that he’s the craziest and best of them all. They speak of him with real love and reverence, and more than a little awe. They’ve known him and his family for years, and it’s obvious that they are all devoted to the guy. I’m touched by male friendships that run so deep. They are in some ways, more simple and pure than female relationships.

The sexy Jersey parents move on to another party in town, and graciously invite us to hook up later with their other friends. We have been warmly welcomed. We stay a little longer, and Mr. Nice arrives with his French lady, who is more talkative tonight. After chatting with them a bit, we pile back into Claudio’s car and head to Brooklyn.

As we pull into Claudio’s garage, the attendant in uniform is holding someone’s toddler, a sleepy little girl, while her parents are unloading their stuff. I love that picture, and the warm smile he gives us all. Claudio leaves the man his keys, and we head up to his apartment to wait for Brett who needs to change. Claudio has been traveling for work, and he apologizes for the mess, but his apartment is actually really beautiful. There’s a real, rich sense of the person who lives there – family photos, tasteful furniture, interesting pieces of an eclectic, global nature, and my favourite – a framed, autographed Gretzky jersey from when he played with the Kings. Claudio points this out after I discover his hockey sticks.

Our evening concludes at Brooklyn Bowl. It’s a huge warehouse converted into a bar, live music venue, and bowling alley. The live music is so good that I don’t notice it is being played live until Sarah points it out to me. They are having a hip hop karaoke night, but if you’re not good enough they stop you mid stream. Our hosts are very gracious, and we really have a great time. My girlfriend proposed to me for the second time in front of the bar. Claudio fashioned us a ring out of a twist tie, which I sadly lost on the bowling alley. Sarah bowls for the three of us, because I’m no athlete, and can’t really dazzle in platform shoes. Not like that, anyway.

I think I love these boys a little. They are real, and raw, and they’ve got big hearts. Tonight we’re forming a posse to head to Long Island and show the legendary Adam, over dinner, how much he is loved. I think I’m a little bit nervous to meet the man, but I’m thrilled that it will happen this trip. Love is an important tool in times like these.

Another Chapter

Hello world. I miss you guys. Life is settling nicely now, and I’m definitely going to have more time to write, so there will be more frequent postings. I wrote this at the start of the month…

The Fortress of Solitude is no longer.

Yesterday I spent twelve hours moving, with the aid of my man. We schlepped like nobody’s business, and today I feel like I’m hung over and have fallen down a flight of stairs.

My point is not to whine (though god knows I’m good at it), but to tell you that an era has ended.

I have all the happiness I have ever wanted, and I’m so incredibly grateful.

We have amazing families, and now I can proudly say that they are all of them united in their love and support. I’m always so delighted when people surprise me, and my heart swells with pride when I reflect on the loving, caring people we have in our lives, who put our happiness first and really examine how happiness can be defined for different people.

My new love has brought a beautiful new concept into my life. This concept actually summarizes something I’ve believed since I was quite small. I love these opportunities to attach a name to a belief or a value I’ve held dear. For some of you, this term is new, and for me it is how I wish to define my life, and is the primary value I wish to instill in my children.

Pluralism is essentially the idea that our differences are what make us a vibrant society and they should be respected and celebrated. It’s kind of what comes naturally to most Canadians, but more specifically, it can even describe the idea that despite our differing customs, values, faiths, and cultures we are all connected by a single unifying thread that some people think of as Divine.

I’ve always felt this, and I’ve always believed that rather than looking like an old dude with a beard, God is in fact an intangible presence, more like a light that embodies male and female qualities or polarities. More than anything else, I’ve always felt that my relationship with God is deeply personal, so even in Schnooville, I won’t wax poetic about theology.

My point is this; my in-laws are awesome. They are warm, loving people who love their kids, and who really walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to their faith. They are enlightened and forward-thinking, and I’m really proud of all of our parents, and eager to build relationships with the ones I’ve just inherited.

This life we’ve carved out for ourselves is unlike anything I’ve been able to discover, even in the vast expanse of the Internet. Our network of support will be one of the most important things in our life together. Thanks to all of our moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and cousins who have been so accepting and so very, very cool.

We love you, and are glad to have you to share our lives with.

Moving on Up

My apologies guys and dolls for the radio silence. Life has gotten great big crazy lately, and I’m happy to report, mostly in the best of ways.

My book is half written, but is currently on an oh-so-brief hiatus as I pack up our households for our move at the end of the month to a much more suitable space. We found a lovely house with four bedrooms, fairly new renos throughout, lots of light, a huge kitchen, and a wood burning fireplace. There is a porch, back deck, balcony off the master bedroom and roof top deck. It’s seriously brilliant, and I’m so excited about what this all means.

Of course, I’m also freaking out a little bit. They say that moving is right up there with some of the top stress-causing moments in life. I seem to have developed OCD over the last year, and this compulsion for order and organization is being applied to our packing in an absurd colour-coded array of control freak frenzy. I had to take a time out the other day because someone left an un-labeled, un-coded box in the hallway. I mean, really…

The anxiety comes from the fear that what is almost certainly a great step for us may actually be a disaster. This is how I move through relationships now – hoping for the very best, trying for the very best, but secretly looking over my shoulder for devastation to catch up. How do you really enjoy anything if that is the reality? I scrawl about the bad stuff in a journal, and I celebrate the good stuff as much as I can. It’s about quelling that stupid voice that says “you can’t”. I hate that voice. I’m not sure what part of the body it’s attached to, but it should be removed like tonsils or the appendix because it’s just as useless.

It’s glorious outside today. I’m thinking about my best girl, and wishing she were home so I could look at her. I’m thinking about the food we’ll grill later, and the packing games we’ll play with the kids, and the two or three episodes from season two of The Sopranos that we’ll use to numb out our busy minds before sleeping.

I just want everything to be ok. Just like it is right now, but even slightly better, if that’s not too much to ask. I want us all to be celebrating for years to come.

The bigger space, the bigger bed, and the bigger dream is twelve sleeps around the corner. I’m ready for it, more than ever before. I think I can be good at it now, this love thing. Good in a way that has been paved by a stint in the school of hard knocks, some serious life celebration and revelation, and a determination to find love and make it last that surprises even me some days.

May first is moving day, and it’s also May Day, or Beltane. It marks the final end of the winter months, and was traditionally a celebration of fire, sexuality and fertility. Ancient Celts would frolic in the forests on Beltane Eve, free to lay with whomever they wished. In the morning, they would  wake and honour the sacred spring rites of the God and Goddess by weaving colourful ribbon around the May pole. It represents the yielding of the post-winter earth to the ripening warmth of the sun, the moment just before the fresh buds burst forth into supple blossoms, and the release from the lingering grip of winter.

Sounds like a damn fine time to build a home and a life together, dontcha think?

On Faith

Christmas day. Last year, I made a silent wish that in a year’s time I would be sharing the holidays with someone I love. That wish came true, but I find myself unable to completely immerse myself in the joy of such a thing without worrying that I won’t have this kind of happiness next year.

Yesterday I had to explain to a six-year-old why, after the cruel tutorial from a classmate, Santa does exist, and some people just chose not to believe in him. I asked her to look into her heart and decide what she believed in, and she nodded solemnly and said “I believe in Santa.” Of course her affirmation was made real by the collective efforts of family and grandparents, and the magic unfolded before us all in a way that made me believe again too.

What good is faith without people to share it with? People to add their collective hope and dreaming into the well, to fill it with possibility and imagination? I believe this collaborative effort is required to breathe anything into life. To take dreaming and hoping and make these real, you need a community of dreamers, feverish in their dedication and their faith.

Faith;

1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.

I have an abundance of faith that the path I am on is exactly where I need to be. I have faith in its possibility and ability to survive whatever the world throws at us. I have faith in the power of love. I have an “It’s A Wonderful Life” sized abundance of sweetness and real, pure love in this relationship. Enough that I brought everyone to my extended family holiday celebration, and introduced them to nearly all of my people.
This entry continues on Boxing Day morning, at my parent’s home. My family home, where I lived my entire life before venturing out on my own. We’ve crashed here, and my mother is now busy in the kitchen, putting together an epic brunch. I’m battling guilt over all of the bad-for-me things I’ve eaten in the last week, but I know the onslaught is not over yet, and so I’m steeling myself for more over-indulgence.
After my last relationship ended, I decided not to bring anyone home to my family until I knew it was the real deal. I didn’t want my poor parents to have to bond with anyone, only for it not to work out again. I realize there is no way to predict the future, but as I watch my mother, and more remarkably my father, filled with delight I feel a little knot forming in my belly, that is the product of so much hope and fear.
I want this so badly. Not just because of the love I feel, but also because if we can succeed at this, we will inspire so many people. We are like pioneers, forging our way across uncharted land, making our own rules as we meet new hurdles. To witness the love and acceptance and inclusion over the last three days has only further convinced me that this IS possible. That despite some complication and difficulty, there is a way that all of this can work, especially with a loving community to support us.
However, if we don’t believe in this ourselves, there isn’t very far to go at all.

The Most Wonderful Time

The only good thing about November is that it is immediately followed by December, which I think perhaps is one of my favourite months of the year.

I love the winter, and the snow, and the cold. It affords such quiet, introspective time, and finding interesting ways to keep your world filled with warmth and light always results in such lovely domestic moments with friends and family.

We hosted a beautiful party on Saturday night, and my favourite cook completely outdid himself. The night before was perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had shopping at an LCBO (there is only ONE wine expert in Barrie) or shopping for groceries. I credit my gorgeous shopping buddy for this. The party was a success. I was so proud. We were so organized. The house looked beautiful.

My first wish for the New Year is to organize this place together so it looks like this without having to hide stacks of boxes behind closed doors.

After such a fine, fine weekend, I’ve decided to see how long I can carry these feelings into the week ahead. The holidays should be an interesting experience in sharing and experiencing family dynamics. For the most part, I trust it will be pleasant, but I’ll admit to feeling nervous.

It’s funny how the expectations heaped on people at this time of year have really come to affect me. I’m in-between jobs, so Christmas shopping didn’t happen, and I’m feeling really strange about this. Next year, I’m giving everyone home-made gifts, and will be super organized about this. I love gift-giving. It’s a natural Leo trait, and it makes me so happy.

This morning starts with a meeting to put the finishing touches on plans for a Valentine’s Weekend blow out with the troupe. Then I come home to assist with child-care duties. I need to think up an activity that will amuse a three-year-old. Tonight will be quiet, with some baking, and a movie or two.

Looking at my life now, I think a lot about traditions and the little familiar rituals that surround these holidays. The cherished elements of my own childhood Christmas feel so far away now, but perhaps there is a way to re-visit them and re-invent them to fit within my new reality? It seems I am re-inventing everything to fit into my new reality, and I think perhaps this is the greatest thing I have ever done for myself.

As I break down everything that I was accustomed to, and everything I thought I knew, I realize I still have so much to learn, and that I’m surrounded by loving people who can only help me grow.

What are your favourite holiday traditions? Mine include:

The Charlie Brown Christmas Special
Baking
Making decorations
Christmas parties with my friends
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
White Christmas
A Christmas Story
It’s A Wonderful Life (Kleenex required, ALWAYS)
Tourtiere (French Canadian meat pie)
Bertha’s butter tarts
Opening Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve
My mother’s Christmas morning spread
Lazily watching new movies or listening to new music on Christmas day
The smell of my dad’s soap/cologne/aftershave as the house is filled with people getting ready for:
The big family Christmas Day party
Singing with my aunties
My cousins playing old Acadian folk music
Playing with my Grandmaman’s creche (My grandfather built the stable)
Drinking nog with my dad and listening to Bing Crosby
Wrapping presents
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (my mom used to read this to us every year on Christmas Eve.)

Tell me yours!

Plucky

That’s my word for the week.

I like it. I want to use it to describe myself, but I think that’s one of those words best left to others to use.

It always makes me thing of those busty, lipstick-wearing sexy chickens that used to roll with Gonzo from the Muppet Show. If I haven’t said it lately, I love Jim Henson. If I had magical powers, I would raise him from the dead to help Les Coquettes create the most ridiculous burlesque cabaret ever witnessed by people-kind.

Plucky. Like a sexy chicken.

If you haven’t seen our shows, this may sound ridiculous, but people are really moved by what we do. On the surface, it’s a cabaret packed with lots of skin, and sexy young performers, but beneath this surface, it’s a world of passion driven by intelligent, inspired women. Those are our fantasies we’re acting out, and our imagination coming alive. Women come and see us, and then email me about classes, men come and see us, and are permitted to feel sexual AND human. At this weekend’s show, two of my dear friends were there with their husbands. Both are new moms and for each of them it was their first night out in a long, long while. I didn’t even have to speak to them to know that everyone in each house was in for a big treat when they got home. I love that. I love how we grant permission. How we make it safe and fun to feel alive in such a way. How we can laugh at and celebrate sex, which is so warped in our mass media. Taken so seriously, taken for granted, taken out of context, taken away from us every single day.

It’s our life force. It drives us on a deep, primal level, and when we separate ourselves from this essence, or if we are forced to separate from it, sad things happen.

Plucky.

I’m challenging you to look at your relationship with sex. Not just the act, but the deeper sexuality that lies within. How has your own sexuality evolved? What is your relationship like with your sexuality? Do you need a long overdue date with your sexual self? Have you been honest about your feelings? Are there things you need to get out in the open?

My wish for you, this holiday season – celebrate your life force. Define what it means to you, and embrace it warmly ‘neath the mistletoe.

Deck your halls, if you will.