Tuesday, March 31, 2015

{face mask night}

Tuesday night is face mask night.

I put Sullivan to bed, stir together baking soda, cream, and honey, and walk around the house looking like Death or one of his pale, ghostly relatives. Sometimes I add lemon juice. Sometimes I add cocoa. Sometimes I close my eyes and grab something out of the fridge.

The Rule, which I learned after a few minutes of Pinterest-searching "best DIY face mask ever", is that you can pretty much put anything on your face and call it a face mask. Maybe not ketchup or, you know, laundry soap, but I mean, just don't be stupid. Your skin likes food, is the bottom line. (Also, your skin is kind of a like a 9 month old baby who you have to puree everything for.)

Anyway, it's one of those little things that has become a normal thing and is also a big thing - little in that it literally takes 30 seconds to mix up and smear on my face (I leave it on for a whole hour while I do my other normal Tuesday night stuff and it feels amazing the whole time). Normal in that I don't think I've missed a face mask night since I started. And big in that it's something to look forward to (is that dorky?) every week. I've found that it has a drastic effect on my overall, you know, 'psyche', to sprinkle little Things like this throughout the calendar weeks. Things to anticipate and appreciate, but which aren't bank breakers or time wasters. They're so stealthy and un-monunental that I might be the only one who even notices them, but that's part of their goodness. They're only for me anyway.

If you have a Thing that you do every week or every day or every once in a while that is fast and cheap but also pretty wonderful, you should tell me about it so I can maybe add it to the little list I have going. My Thing list. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015


It's been a month since I sat down at my computer to order books with all of my gift cards and wrote that post asking for recommendations about how to spend the last twelve dollars (here) (if you're looking for something to read you should hit that comments thread up). The problem is that I got so many good recommendations that I couldn't bring myself to narrow it down enough and suddenly I had too many books to buy and not enough gift card money. So I decided to give myself some time to think about it.

And think. And think. And think.

And it became this Thing. This capital letter Thing.

Like if I choose one book over another book I can't ever go back and buy that other book or something. Like books have very, very low self esteem and cease to exist when they feel rejected. Like this is my one and only chance in the Great Hollow Vastness of Time to ever buy anything. Like the libraries and book stores and e-readers of the world depend on this Decision. (I'm using a lot of unnecessary capitalization here; that's how you know I'm worked up.)

But this morning, I got an email about a promotion on right now with Chapters where you get a free $10 off when you check out using Paypal. And you have to do it by tomorrow to get the $10. And $10 can get you a whole book, in a lot of cases. Half a book in others. Two books, sometimes, if the sales are in your favour.

It was like a good old virtual kick-in-the-pants, and I placed my order just now.

But the point isn't that.

The point is: I was looking at this one book that had been recommended to me (We Were Liars; thanks Hannah) and for some reason it reminded me of...

Something else. Which, now that I'm trying to retrace my steps, I don't have any idea how I got thinking about Lemony Snicket.


Hannah, the same Hannah, gave me a children's book by Lemony Snicket a few years ago called 13 Words, (which you need to read if you haven't already). It was illustrated by Maira Kalman, and as quirky and delightful as the writing was, the pictures were what really grabbed me. I have some other pieces of Kalman's work now, and I love everything she does.

So, okay, it was: We Were Liars, recommended by Hannah, which made me think of Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman, which made me check to see if Maira Kalman had ever done anything for adults.

And she has! It's called The Principles of Uncertainty and it is, essentially, a 'children's book' written for adults. Instead of a children's book written for children but which adults will enjoy more than their children will (as Kalman has been criticized in the past for a sense of humour and cultural references that kids just won't understand. Not that it's 'bad', it's just, probably, over their heads).

So anyway. That ended up being one of the books I ordered, and I was so excited about it that I thought I'd let you know that it exists in case you wanted it too. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

{working out}

I work out now.

Like, I'm one of those people, the kind who gets up in the morning and does all kinds of strenuous, horrible things which technically constitute exercise. If you were sitting in the next room over, though, you'd just hear a lot of clumsy-sounding bumps and me saying, "UGGHHHH SHE HATES US ALLLLLL," and, "I HATE YOU TOOOOOOOO," a lot.

When I say 'she', I'm referring to the lady whose online workout program I'm, you know, 'doing'. I'm not here to shill for  people, but if you email me for the info I'll send you there. It's a really good one: free, less than half an hour per day, good for limited space and equipment, and kills you very dead. I feel like I may have even grown a muscle. Actually, at this moment, I feel like I am a muscle. I feel almost...invincible. Like Jillian Michaels except not anything like Jillian Michaels.

Anyway. I have a love/hate relationship with the whole thing. I hate working out, but I love having worked out, but I hate admitting to people that I work out, but I feel like I should be proud of it, too. Physical fitness is complicated.

But blogs are for complicated feelings, so here we are.


Another thing I've been working out is my radio voice. I got asked to go on CBC Radio 1's The Morning Edition last week and give a little concert review for that Dan Mangan show I went to. I even got to pick a song and intro it. (I picked Starts With Them, Ends With Us, obviously.)

I've always wanted to be a radio DJ. Did you know that about me? In a picture perfect world, I'd have a thirty minute radio show. I wouldn't say much, but I'd get to pick all of the music and I'd intro it and fade it in and out, and that would be enough for me. Like Ryan Seacrest except not anything like Ryan Seacrest.

However, since that whole radio DJ thing isn't going to happen for me (if you've heard me speak in real life you know why), I treasured my five precious minutes of air time like crazy. And a few of my friends texted to say that they heard me, and that was also cool.

So that's me lately. Living the dream for about five minutes and just sweating a lot the rest of the time. C'est la vie. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

{a dozen eyeballs on the floor}

It was mostly out of nostalgia that Barclay and I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this week. I had completely forgotten (or just never realized) how terrifying that book is. Hilarious, too, but terrifying. A quick and easy read, written for children, and quirky and interesting and fun, but terrifying. Like a horrible nightmare that makes you laugh sometimes but also has a bunch of valuable life lessons in it, like don't ever chew gum. If you haven't read it, I'd say do, but I'd also say don't. I'm not sure how a person would manage to do both, but I'd recommend trying.

In any case, you've probably seen one or both of the movies (which aren't even half as sinister as the book) and remember the Mike Teavee plot line, where Mike gets sent by television and shrunk and then Wonka puts him in a special machine he has for testing the stretchiness of chewing gum.

There's a song that accompanies this bit, sung by the Oompa-Loompas (who are also so much more creepy in the book than in the movie), which goes, in part, like this:

The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set -
Or better yet, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw a dozen eyeballs on the floor.)



I don't really care how much TV you let your kid watch, but I guess it got me thinking a very little bit about myself (oh, what's new, Suzy) and my own entertainment intake (including internet) and my own powers of thinking and how I wouldn't like them to rust and freeze. But mostly it got me thinking about how I would not like to be stretched in a machine designed to test the elasticity of chewing gum.

Anyway, so then I drew this picture of a bunch of old TVs. It was relevant and therapeutic and got my mind off of that dang book. 

Monday, March 16, 2015


I've been feeling fidgety again lately. And schmaltzy. And nostalgic and antsy and crawly. Lots of reminiscing about things that have happened and lots of wanting those kinds of things to happen some more. 

This morning I just about entered a writing contest to win a trip for two to Oslo, Norway to spend one night in a ski lift. Next Friday. The entry deadline is midnight tonight, Norway time, and I still really want to but it's a no-kids-allowed situation and as much as I want an adventure, I don't know if the first night I spend away from Sullivan should be, you know, across an ocean from him. But I even went so far as to start working out how much exactly it would cost to fly someone else along as a kind of vacation-nanny before having a rush of common sense (do not spend your grocery/mortgage money on this) and quickly x-ing out of the window. And then I felt really torn up about it, as though Oslo had been a sure thing right up until that moment. As though I'd been planning this trip for months and months. Which is ridiculous, since I probably wouldn't have won it anyway, and therefore nothing has changed, right? 

But maybe I was sad because I passed up on an opportunity before it passed on me. I don't usually do that. I always win at Life Chicken. If you know what I mean. 

Anyway. All that to say that I've been itching to be in the middle of something. To find myself somewhere strange - that is, somewhere I am usually not. It doesn't have to be a ski lift bed and breakfast in Oslo - it could be, for example, an ordinary old hotel in New York or Chicago. It could be five days in Scotland or a weekend in Montreal. A music festival in Texas or an art gallery in London or a jazz show in New Orleans. Even a project here in the city, something to take part in or get fired up about. Some good live music or something theatrical or something weird. 

For tonight though, I've got Aqualung in my headphones (turned way, way up) and I'm alternating painting and drawing and guzzling coffee and writing (which is why this is so scattered and disjointed, probably). And for tonight, this is working for me. I'll hit publish and someone (you, I guess) will read this and I'll feel like I've contributed something. 

Sometimes you need a grand experience, but sometimes all you need is to feel like you're contributing something.