June 21, 2016

Writer's Block

I don’t want to write. I’m avoiding it like bad news. I’ll end up writing something that disappoints, discourages and makes the whole process more difficult tomorrow. I’ll take a passage that I had some respect for and destroy it with too much, like a painter who keeps adding until everything turns brown.
Training for a marathon is very much like training for a story except you get to keep your toe nails in the end. Intrinsic motivation, commitment to dull hours, and a balance between too much and too little. Above all, there are moments where you think your not made for it, but you keep coming back to it anyway.

Today is the first day of summer. Summer is 4 months long. It takes 4 months to run a marathon. So get writing!

May 6, 2016

May 6 9:09

a vase with drooping white tulips
I bought these tulips to lift my spirits
Apparently, we suffer from the same malaise

Housebound. In hindsight it wasn’t the wisest move to use flowers to remind me of the outdoors which, until late, has been a flurry of chestnut pollen and Saharan dust (yes, the desert can reach all the way to Switzerland). I can’t breath out there. So I sit at my desk and inhale tulip pollen—revenge. But now that May is here, and I have served my time, I pick up the phone.

Ring, ring.

“Hey, do you want meet for a coffee?”

“Sure. How about next Wednesday at 3 p.m.?”

A few things about adulthood confound me. Like why I can no longer show up on Stacy’s porch and ask her if she can come out and play. Why everyone is so busy, but when you ask them what they did, they say “nothing.” Why conversation is about the boyfriend who doesn’t do enough, the co-worker who undermines, the noisy neighbour, inconsistent bowel movements, and goals permanently trapped in the conception stage. Talking it through rarely makes people feel better but it explains the three-hour time slot scheduled a week in advance.

Nowadays, relaxation is not a dance party, a pillow fight, a board game or foursquare. Relaxation is turning on the television and watching Kim Kardashian getting a massage. Kids get playgrounds and adults get the coffee shop. And at any given moment, there are six people inside it. They are sitting by themselves watching me write and talk to myself (an unfortunate side effect). Occasionally someone asks to charge their computer in the wall behind me. And so I move to a table next to the men’s bathroom and look like someone who knows the code.

I shouldn’t really complain about the fact that my friends are busy. I'm full of life and have the same problem with priorities. A month sequestering was probably a good thing. I'm learning to lead my life instead of manage it. For example, I'm going to need allergy shots or a visit to the chiropractor to prevent this from happening again next year.

How does November 23rd, 10:37 sound? 

February 16, 2016

Post-Poo Drops

A picture of Aesop Post-Poo drops
“For instances where vigorous activity has occurred in the bathroom.”

Will this make me happy?


Not quite like locking eyes with a soul mate but discovering Post-Poo Drops on Uncrate did rouse an immediately desire to have them. Or, at least, investigate.

Aesop is cosmetic company from Australia. A.P.C. is a fashion company from France. Together they created a man-made, plant-based product that could save many relationships. Not that mine is at risk but like many European homes, our toilet is located in the centre of our apartment. With paper-thin walls, the bathroom is already a place people feel compelled to sing—loudly—but absent windows or ventilation, this room is also a place where gases and mould build. Guests are forced to hold it in or leave early. On occasions where we’ve downed poorly-handled lettuce or a large pot of coffee, we’re obliged to live under an aroma that can be all consuming. An odour that, if left to linger long enough, becomes a new standard for fresh air until a FedEx courier shows up at the door with a face that says it all.

Aesop is a luxury brand. It’s located in a reputable part of the city. It’s a place where you figure anyone who can afford the products has already found a way to eliminate pooping from their lives. With minimalist labeling and the pretence of a modern apothecary, Aesop will also require you to wear spectacles or to come right out and ask for it. How do you say “Post-Poo” in a European boutique? The answer: you find a friend.

“I’m not asking.”


“No way.”

But she was curious enough to watch me do it. At least I could count on her discretion. There would be no loud, embarrassing proclamations I can picture my mother making:

“My daughter needs poo-drops. You know, for her poop. Can I get some service over here. For her POOP.”

So I asked about "a product" one could use for the toilet. I even had a civil conversation about its efficacy. In French they are called “Gouttes Anti-Odeurs de Merde.” I was told I’d only need a couple of drops after flushing. Unfortunately it was noon and I had to wait a whole day.

The verdict: AMAZING.

With the exception of a momentary citrus scent, there is no odour. Also, the label doesn’t suggest any noxious chemicals are going into the water, but it does warn not to get it on the skin. Post-Poo Drops is the most effective deodorizer I’ve ever come across and the bottle will probably last a year. Now the challenge is to get my guests to use it, to show them how to use it without, of course, suggesting that they shit at all.

January 5, 2016

Only Five Days New

picture of Iceland Blue Lagoon

Before venturing into 2016 it’s important to recognize the year behind. 2015 was good to me. I’m especially proud of hitting several milestones, goals that could not have been reached worrying over what everyone thinks.

A second epiphany came to me when my husband handed me a phone—technology that makes mine look like a walkie talkie.

“This will change my life,” I told him. “CHANGE MY LIFE.”

I will now be more productive. I will be connected to today’s youth and yesterday’s wisdom. I will respond to life’s changes faster. Opportunities like 2-for-1 hotdog deals at Ikea will not pass me by. I will be flexible. I will no longer waste an extra five minutes for the bus because I have no idea when it’s coming. Instead of spending an hour with the neighbour and her dead gerbil, I can text her my condolences and keep to a daily work routine I haven’t yet started but which is necessary to achieve my goals. 

This phone will change my life. I will drink less coffee. I will look more stylish in sweat pants. I will appear popular and competent. People will take me seriously. When I say I need to pee, they’ll know I really need to pee. I will read more and get up earlier. I will run with the blind and donate bone marrow. 

This phone will change my life. But first, I need to shop. Because a phone like mine will need a pretty new case.

December 15, 2015

The Best Kept Secret

I was born the Year of the Dog. We'll call it a Lagotto Romagnolo. Why? Truffle season has come to Europe and I’m on the scent like flies on…

picture of black truffle being washed
carefully cleaning the truffle

Occasionally referred to as diamonds of the kitchen, truffles are a symbiotic fungi that grow at the root of trees, such as Oak or Pine. It takes several years for them to mature, and when they do, they are hunted down by a special breed of canine, the Lagotto Romagnolo. Female pigs were originally used because they can detect the scent, which resembles the sex pheromone of a boar, but unfortunately pigs would also eat them. Maybe I should have been born in the Year of the Pig.

picture of thinly sliced truffles marinading in olive oil
truffle pasta sauce based in olive oil

The black truffle harvest begins mid-October and continues until February. Italy hosts a huge truffle festival, The Alba International White Truffle Fair, where one can spend enormous bucks on fungi. But we are super lucky to know the offspring of a veritable French truffle farmer who gets us freshly dug truffles, on request. We don’t actually know where ours came from. The location of truffle forests are kept secret. Think the Knight’s Templar.

picture of truffle pasta
dinner. Yum!

They start out looking like hard pieces of turd but with a little olive oil, garlic, parmesan and pasta, they taste terrific. The only problem is that ours will start to mold after 10 days. In the early 1700s truffle turkey was a big delicacy. Maybe we’ll bring that back this year.