Sunday, January 30, 2011

wants lately

- rum
- matcha powder
- guinness
- bare sidewalks
- bicycle baskets
- dark chocolate
- frilly plants

- cacoa nibs
- fennel
- plummy nail polish
- poetry books
- fountain pens
- flat shoes
- blush
- polyfill
- braces
- slipcovers
- marmalade
- overalls
- leather bags
- fabric napkins
- fresh sage and basil
- bicycle computers
- yarn
- white wine
- cut flowers
- cake pans
- grapefruit spoons
- tomatoes

Thursday, January 27, 2011

(I don't know if you're alive or dead) - Anna Akhmatova

I don't know if you're alive or dead.
Can you on earth be sought,
Or only when the sunsets fade
Be mourned serenely in my thought?

All is for you: the daily prayer,
The sleepless heat at night,
And of my verses, the white
Flock, and of my eyes, the blue fire.

No-one was more cherished, no-one tortured
Me more, not
Even the one who betrayed me to torture,
Not even the one who caressed me and forgot.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Soon I will be twenty (an unconventional update, and some goals)

When I realized two days ago that my birthday was coming up, my first thoughts were, 1) I want to have a party and make a truly spectacular torte, 2) I hope someone buys me a bag of matcha powder and a gift certificate to Sephora, and 3) I want to weigh 144 pounds by March 9.

On my twentieth birthday, I want to claim an even twenty-pound weight loss to-date.

It seems odd, perhaps, that the loss of three pounds is so significant to me? But I can explain myself. Since August I have lost 17 pounds and lowered my weight through a slow, healthy, and sustainable process. I eat lunch every day. I eat chocolate every day. Sometimes I can hardly believe it. I know that this time, everything is different.

I've been at this weight before, as a scared, miserable fifteen year-old caught in a starve-binge cycle. Historically, it's been the place to stop, the lowest I could go, before I had to start eating again. (I remember thinking that "losing weight" meant eating 750 calories a day.) In August, though, I set out to lose 30-35 pounds. And this time, I know how to do it. I can do it. I want to do it.

I am sick of being a "big girl" - awkward, unattractive, unstylish and uncomfortable. I am ready to move more easily, to hold my head up, to wear clothes that fit, to relish getting dressed in the morning, to eat in public, to wear shorts in the summer, to pull my hair off my face, to strut a little.

All this I want in my twenty-first year. I've wasted enough time as a teenager. I am ready to grow up.

And so, over the past 48 hours I've made two 5km slogs through the slush and weak sunshine. I've blended spinach in my smoothies, eaten cake for breakfast, bread and hummus for lunch and vegetables for supper, drank litres of water, applied vitamin e oil to my broken-out face, and paid attention to my posture. The goals for the rest of the working week?

- 5km walked or ran every day
- 50 flights of stairs at least once
- 10 push-ups in a row (I need to get back up to this)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

planting in January

Indeed, I am starting again.
I am practicing.
I am warming the soil.
I am washing the pots.
I am nestling the roots.
I am arranging the tendrils.
I am learning.
I am watching for signs.
I am reading up.
I am providing cool drinks.
I am adjusting the grow lights.
I am planting in January.

And I am also re-framing:

Have a good week, kiddies. A very good week, if you can.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


These past few days, my aim in life has been simply to keep my rosemary bush alive. After the pepper plant gave up the ghost, in a sudden, petulant fit of decay, it seemed more important than ever. To allow a living thing to fail is a particular and horrible brand of personal defect.

I can't stand it.

Up in the middle of the night reading about horticulture, anxiously inspecting the spreading brown patches, but the rosemary bush looks worse. All my efforts have been in vain, and I hate to see the stark evidence.

I want to know how to keep something alive, when it wants to die.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18: the postscript

There were somethings.

A change in the weather. A temperature of only -9 C. A walk home in 5km of the cool winter sunshine. A visit to Tim. A stint in a tanning bed. An errand I had been dreading accomplished. A disappointing chapter closed.

The violently satisfying work of breaking up the hardpack covering our sidewalk with an iron shovel. I took off my jacket and hat and worked in a t-shirt.

Prospects. An opportunity. Another chance to prove myself.

The ritual of running hot water, shampooing hair, shaving legs, pumicing feet, and applying lotion. For the thousandth time, I feel like a new person.

Homemade guacamole. Black beans. A red pepper. Yogurt and plume jam.

Laundry to do. A film to watch. Tea to drink.

January 18

There must be something to redeem
this dreadful Tuesday.
There must.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

a bowl of soup

which included
roasted sweet potato and red onions
yellow curry
coconut milk
gala apples
red peppers
green onions
and pepper

Is it possible that such a concentrated brew of curry and vitamins didn't seem sufficient?

I am fighting hibernation.

The snow hasn't stopped for a week, and the drifts hide the houses. Everything is impossible.

My skin is angry. I have been taking longer and longer naps. The back of my neck aches from the cold.

I am deeply resentful of the trips to and from school; they are more of an ordeal every day.

I miss the room to move. I can't acknowledge my muscles. I can hardly straighten up.

I am smothered in snow.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

On Saturday

there was a new breakfast recipe

and a pile of drafts.

Meanwhile, my hair was growing. As I heroically dug my husband and our fellow tenants out of the snow, brand new phrases announced themselves in my head.

"The fact that grammar is a discrete combinatorial system has two important consequences. The first is the sheer vastness of language . . . if you put aside the fact that the days of our age are threescore and ten, each of us is capable of uttering an infinite number of different sentences. By the same logic that shows that there are an infinite number of integers--if you ever think you have the largest integer, just add 1 to it and you will have another--there must be an infinite number of sentences." (Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct)

I took my vitamins in the morning and I made salsa fresca for an impromptu dinner party in the evening. I shunned my textbooks. I brushed my teeth. I listened to the second symphony. I did what I set out to do.

Friday, January 7, 2011

On the subject of progress: an update

I'm down to 149 pounds (a 15-pound loss since August) and have started doing a little bit of weight training. Now that Christmas is over, I plan to start posting weekly updates again, starting next Saturday. It's good to be back to a routine. The main struggles lately have been getting enough cardio (it's all -20 C, ice and blowing snow in Edmonton) and making myself come up with new healthy meals and recipes. Over the next week I would like to:

- drink unadulterated leaf tea
- haul out the dumbbells two or three times
- work on my full push-ups
- hula hoop
- continue walking home from school
- climb 50 flights of stairs two or three times
- concoct interesting food
- blog about my efforts
- take my vitamins
- try a green monster

Friday Night

I am trying something new. I am preparing for the weekend. On Friday night I am cleaning the house and doing my homework.

Yes, they've already started to heap it on. I feel like a little pack-mule.

I am taking only four classes this semester, and I still do not have a part-time job. Over the holidays it became clear that if I am going to allow myself these luxurious circumstances, I had better put them to good use. Or I'll want to shoot myself.

I want to reclaim Saturdays, when Tim is at work and I have the house to myself. Last semester I usually spent the weekends doing homework and laundry. It was not fun.

Tom-Tom #8 is long, long overdue, I know. I have about a third of the material I need for a new issue. My primary motivation for devoting the weekend to what I like to call real work is the production of enough new, good writing to publish another magazine. And I am anxious to send off a batch of submissions to some of the daunting literary journals I so want to be included in.

I am aware that I have said similar things many times over the past year and a half. It seems it's time to have something to show for my resolutions: some letters besides the letters on my transcript.