October 15, 2015

Au Revoir Ma Voisine.

‘She’s hot’ is what I tell people. But better to look at and not to touch. 

Black hair, slender neck, creamy skin, wide eyes, full lips and a heart-shaped face. Russian. I've seen her shopping in sweatpants, doing laundry in a bathrobe and unpacking the car in a negligee. I've minded her son, lent her money and given her Internet access. But she makes bad decisions. 

She choses cigarettes over food, Gucci scarves over peace of mind, and suitors over family. The electricity goes on and off, employment comes and goes, and boyfriends move in and out. She's 37. At any given moment she is either proud or in despair. Lessons go unlearned and that’s what's so tragic. 

On a good day she holds her shoulders back. On a bad day she strokes her hair. She talks for pity and listens like she's fulfilling community service. She's never once asked about me. Untrustworthy, and yet it's hard not to feel sorry for her. She’s disabled in the most obscure way and one gets the feeling she always will be.

Good-bye my neighbour. Good luck in that fascist country and shotgun marriage. Try not to forget the good things you had and left behind: a safe home, a faithful husband, glamorous job, and a son. Regrets are not always a bad thing. Sometimes they're the only way to grow. 

September 4, 2015


Logo image of Three day Novel Contest

After attending writing workshops, conferences, book expos and following the blogs of aspiring writers, it's occurred to me that there are far more people getting ready to write than there are actually doing it. Many writers start with enthusiasm, an idea and the imagination and overlook the equally important requirement of persistence, energy and patience. We need to be able to look at a tea-towel and articulate how it smells, feels, looks and performs in a way that is relatable yet unique, and then decide not to use it in the story. 

This weekend I'm participating the in 3-Day Novel Contest. I've done this before and I don't expect to win or write a masterpiece but, like the Paris Marathon, I do expect it to break down barriers. I expect it to remind me how frustrating writing is supposed to be, how little effort I've made recently and how much more effort I'm capable of. Writing is not meant to be something whimsical I do only when I feel inspired. And I'm not going to die writing for three days solid, although I might look like I have. And when I finish and print out the work I've created, I will either be elated by the effort, surprised by the genius or aware that I'm holding a piece of crap but also understand why it's crap and how to make it better. 

And when the next time I'm compelled to write, I will sit there for a few more hours and feel like this isn't really hard at all.

 "Where do you get the discipline to do it, day after day?" they'll ask. 

"Because I did the 3-Day Novel Contest," I'll answer.

August 27, 2015

Words Count. Use Wisely.

 Ha, Ha.

What’s so funny?



Just this.

Whatcha doing?


Reading what?

An article?

About what?


But what’s funny?

Just something he said.

Who said?

This guy.

A friend?

No, just a guy.

Ok then.

What do you have there?

My shoes.

Are you going somewhere?




‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.'

-George Bernard Shaw

August 21, 2015

A Clog Avec Cause

image of mangled shower curtain

We’re experiencing a few anger management issues with our shower curtain. For the past week our kitchen sink has been clogged and we’ve been washing our dishes in the tub. The bathroom is not down with that. Neither are my knees, my back, and my proactive disposition, which instead opts to leave dirty dishes piling up in the kitchen to remind my husband this is the room we’re supposed to be doing them in.  He’s refused to call the plumber, assured somehow that his PhD in biochemistry will lead to unclogged pipes—the same way this stature got us the apartment in the first place. But now, we’ve surpassed that assumption.

The truth is, this clog has become an exponential source of paralytic anxiety for both of us. To fix it, we must first get permission from property management and that’s a whole other level of clog that dismisses, then denies, patronizes and then blames. Tenancy laws are similar to those in Canada except in Switzerland property owners generally have an uncivil attitude towards the rules, relying steadily on the population’s proneness to be easily dispirited.

To our surprise, in a thirty second call, the regis sends a plumber right away. It is the plumber that misses the appointment, and then loses our address, but he shows up friendly and full of advice. 

“C’est profond,” he says as he attaches another strip of auger to the tubing already down the sink. If the clog had been located in the trap, we would have had to pay. But ten metres into the wall, it's clearly a clog ‘avec cause’. And it's taking a while. Me and a complete stranger with plenty of time for small talk in a language I don’t understand and an odour resembling the bowels of hell. Not awkward at all.

He sits on the floor, sullied in putrid vegetable matter and tells me he enjoys his job. He’s a family man. When he's done, he looks at my water heater and tells me if it clogs, it could explode. I thank him for his time. He is a source of kindness I did not expect and it made my week. Relief, elation, reflection and resignation. 

Now I have to do some cleaning. Move over shower curtain. I’m first in line.

August 13, 2015

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Iceland

The Strokkur
 Every 2 minutes. Need I say more?
For our 10th anniversary my husband and I took a 9- day self-driving tour through the highlands and southeast coast of Iceland.

 “Why Iceland?”

Perhaps Iceland is not the most romantic choice, but we also see our life together as a shared adventure.  What could be more apropros than a secluded island abound with earthy contrasts and stark beauty. If you’ve seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” you’ll know what I’m talking about. Iceland really does look like that. It also looks like “Oblivion".

So how do two kids make it ten years when celebrities don’t make it past seven? Let Iceland show you the way.

1. Geysir Hot Springs

2. Puffins

picture of puffins
Fidelity is a noted characteristic in Puffins

3. Sulphurous Mud Pits

picture of Námaskarò
You'll never complain about farts again

4. Geothermal Baths

picture of Jaròbödin in Iceland
Compatibility. Glacial water and hot springs produce the perfect temperature

5. Pseudocraters

image of pseudocraters in iceland
 Cool temperament. Pseudo craters occur when  hot lava spills over water. 

6. Dettifoss Gorge

picture of Dettifoss gorge
Charity. Your partner is willing to spend three hours gripping a steering wheel on teeth-chattering backroad to take you to the film set of one of your favourite movies. 

7. Basalt Columns

image of basalt church floor
Humour. The 'church floor' is made of hexagonal columns that run deep into the ground. Compressed and cracked lava.

8.  Black Sands

image of black sandy beach
Black sand, white sand. Enjoying similarities and valuing differences.

9. Random Craters

image of crater near dettifoss
Mindfulness: otherwise you could miss something big, really big. (note the hikers on the left)

10. Glaciers, Horses, Lakes and Mountains

picture of Hoffell glacier, iceland
Knowing you wouldn't want to be on this journey with anyone else.