lesson 1: the feeling of grass between your toes is lovely

"I'm not affected by things like calendar days," she says, posturing, leaning back in her chair. "It's all about, how old you feel, not your actual age. At least that's what I tell myself. Let me tell you what I've learned over the past 40 years, I'm a wise old girl," she laughs as she slurps her coffee, then makes a face. "Eugh. I hate those fake sugar things, but they say that white sugar has bleach in it and stuff. I know, illogical," she rolls her eyes and grins a little grin. She smooths down her hair, sits up straight and folds her hands in front of her, as if composing herself for an interview. She clears her throat and begins:

"Before the age of one, I learned that grass feels nice on your toes. My dad has a home movie, where in the spring of 1968 he took me outside for my first grass experience. My mom must have taken the camera away from him, since we have so few home movies of him. In the movie, sky is blue and we are in the backyard of the suburban bungalow my family lived in. I'm probably no more than a few months old. My dad is carrying me a bit like I could break. Gently. My older brother is hovering nearby. And then my dad leans down, and dangles my feet over the spring green grass, and I laugh one of those toothless gummy baby laughs, and he laughs too. There's about five minutes of film of this. Of him gently swaying me over the grass, and us laughing."

"Do you still have the movie?"

"Yeah. My dad still puts it on and plays inappropriate music as background. There is a really specific smell that those reel-to-reels have. Also the screen smells a certain way."

"OK. That raises a couple of questions. Inappropriate music?"

"Not like Led Zeppelin or anything, more like Beethoven's fifth, polka music or xylophone music. A bit of a dubious choice for films about a baby... It's funny. I actually love it."

"And another question. The screen smells?"

"I don't know how to describe it. It's kind of like... No, I can't describe it. But if I were to pull out our film projector and screen right now, I know exactly what it would smell like. There was always a kind of magic about home movie nights. The lights off, weird music in the background, my mom would make tea, and then those smells... of the projector, of the film itself. The light on the screen and everything else fading into the background."

"Did you watch your home movies a lot when you were a kid?"

"No. Mostly only at Christmas or right after my dad had the film developed."

"Are the films in black and white?"

"I'm not that old."

"OK. Well, this is a bit long if you are going to have an entry per year. Next time maybe we should keep it a bit shorter."

"I'll try." She has this faraway look on her face, and then she says, "I still like the feeling of grass on my feet."

lesson 2: sometimes it's about how you play the game but it has nothing to do with rules

"I'm thinking about another home movie. This one features my older brother and me, playing chess. I'm only two years old in the movie, and unless I am a former child prodigy who's lost all of her prodiginess, I'm pretty sure that I didn't understand the rules."

"But you're playing chess? Not just fiddling around with the pieces?"

"I think two things strike me about this footage. No three. (I can't help but think of the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch).

Where was I? First, my brother's patience with his little sister as I physically crawl onto the chess table to move one of his pieces every so carefully, knocking other pieces onto the ground with my knees. In the film, he looks at me really seriously but with a sweet smirk on his face. As I crawl down he hits the timer seriously and then carefully moves one of my pieces.

The second thing that strikes me is what totally copy cat I was. I sat across from my brother on a chair and I held my fist under my chin, imitating his seriousness. Somehow getting the game.

The third thing, that only just occurred to me, is that my dad filmed this so beautifully. Brought out this cheesy play in both my brother and me.

I still wonder who had the joyous absurdity to engage a two year old in chess."

"Why is this important?"

"I think that it reminds me of my brother's beautiful character. That even at the age of 11, he played so well with me by somehow understanding that he couldn't be too rigid with the rules. It reminds me of the relationship I once had with him that has changed over time.

And it reminds me that I shouldn't be critical of process and the right way of doing things in terms of a legalistic view of the world, in terms of judging things too quickly.

To just enjoy things for what they are and be present in the moment for all of its humor and all of its play."

lesson 3: be careful who you proposition-or-little birds shouldn't eat cow

She stretches and sighs, looking out the window a little listlessly. "I'm not sure what I learned when I was three. Hmm. The only thing that comes to mind is, be cautious who you proposition."

"Pardon? You were three. What are you talking about?"

"Well," she explains, blushing a little, "first it was my brother's best friend. My brother is 9 years older than me, and I told his best friend that I thought he was cute and that we should get married when we'd grown up."

"Ah. Interesting."

"Yeah. He actually blushed. He wasn't quite sure how to deal with a three year old with such long term plans." She looks kind of embarrassed. "I shouldn't have brought this up. Forget I ever said anything."

"No no. You won't get away with it that easily. I need to hear about the second time."

"Erm. Well. The second was the little boy across the street. Corky. He was over playing and we were in my closet..."

"Your closet?"

"Yeah. We were playing house."


"No! Not what you're thinking. I'm not telling you this story if you're going to make fun of me."

"Well you're setting yourself up for it missy. Come on. Give me the details."

"I just told him that we should kiss like they do in the movies. He was so horrified that he ran home and never played with me again."

"So you've learned something from this?"

She turns an even deeper shade of red and won't meet my eyes.

"Hey!" she says. "I have a better story! A little robin fell out of its nest and we fed it hamburger meat and kept in the garage under a lamp, but it died anyway. That's a better story. That's the one we should tell." She is insistent now.

"What did you learn from that?"

"Little birds shouldn't eat cow?" she attempts.

"Uh, ya. Right."

lesson 4: don't sit on balloons

"On my fourth birthday, the one where my mom made hats out of dixie cups and ribbon, I learned not to sit on balloons."

"Why not?"

"They pop."

"That's it?"

"Pretty much."

"So you're saying, don't destroy pretty fragile things. Enjoy them for what they are?"

"You're reading too much into this."

"You started it. What were you thinking anyways? Sitting on a balloon?"

"Yeah, well... I was FOUR."

"True. Did you cry?"

"I'm not talking about this any more."

lesson 5: your boots will melt out in the spring

"When I got too loud in the house, my mom would send me outside."

"Probably a good idea."

She sticks out her tongue. "Anyways, this one winter, when the snow was almost up to my armpits, I ventured into the backyard."

"How old were you, five? The snow up to armpits thing sounds impressive, but you were probably really short."

"You're missing the point, you know that," she chastises. "It was pretty cold and I was just tromping around the yard, kind of swim-walking through the snow making a maze of paths through the backyard. By the time I got back to the house, I realized I'd lost my boots somewhere."

"You lost your boots. Didn't you feel it? What, were you in bare feet?"

"Nooo," she sighs at me incredulously. "My feet were cold. I couldn't feel anything til I got to the back steps. My mom was pretty mad. But she knew we'd never find them."


"And they melted out in the spring."

"Lesson? Come on, you've got to beat the balloon popping lesson."

"Oh, ok. . . Um."

"You aren't very good at this."

"I'd tell you to shut up but that would be rude."

"Well you a..."

She cuts me off, and puts a hand on my arm, "If you love something, set it free... yada yada... Come back to you."

"You loved your boots?"

"Don't press me to be profound. You won't get any results that way."

"You give up to easily... and I don't really expect you to be profound. By the way, the snow isn't very deep in the picture you posted. Is that what you Canadians call deep snow?"

She sighs and gets up saying, "I have *real* things to do."

lesson 6: minty freshness gone to waste

"I don't have much of a sweet tooth," she says. "Maybe it has something to do with the toothpaste?"


"Yeah, my mom was way into the health food thing before it became the craze it is now. She was buying organic flour before it had that name. It was all well meaning, but torture in the era of baloney, processed cheese, white bread and Oreos. I pretty much had whole-wheat everything with a little eggplant for good measure."

"It's always the era of Oreos, but what does this have to do with toothpaste?"

"Patience grasshopper," she says twirling her rings around her fingers. "She made these cookies that had the consistency of hockey pucks. I think that they had no sugar, no white flour and by default no chocolate or anything appealing. I used to trade them at school."

"For what? For other cookies?"

She bursts out laughing, "No, no. No fear of anyone actually eating them. No the kids played with them in the school yard. A single cookie would last through half of recess. As a puck or super hard thing to throw at people."

"I'm still missing the connection to toothpaste."

She raises an eyebrow at me. "OK. The toothpaste. Well, clearly my mom did not believe in sweets so we never had any around the house. But we did have minty sweet toothpaste."

"You didn't."

"Yeah. I went through almost an entire of tube of the stuff and got violently ill. Too bad though because while I was eating it my breath was very minty fresh."

"That's pretty weird."

"I know."

"What did you learn exactly?"

"Choose your indulgences wisely. And, substitutes don't always work out the way you planned."

lesson 7: sometimes it's good to be bad

"Did you get into trouble a lot as a kid?"

"No, not a lot. 'A lot' is all relative anyways isn't it?"

"How did you get punished?"

"Other than spankings? I got sent to my room, which I didn't mind at all, or I had to write stuff."

"So that fact that you are still writing is sort of a form of masochism... a replay of childhood punishment."

"You're sick."

"What did you write?"

"My mom gave me lists of words I had to look up and then put into a story. I think I was the only seven year old who knew how to use the words 'peruse' and 'jocund'. She was worried that since English wasn't her first language that we would grow up to some disadvantage. I think she was wonderful to introduce us to so many new words and to prioritize our literacy so highly."

"So you owed your extensive childhood vocabulary to be being bad."

"Uh. I guess so."


"If you say so."

"It explains why you make up and misuse words so often. It's a form of adult rebellion."

She scowls at me and leaves the room.

...thanks mom...

lesson 8: sometimes bribery works

"I'm getting a bit disturbed by the nature of your lessons. I'm not sure how genuinely useful they are."

"Is that for you to judge?"

"Well I think so. You did put me into this situation."

"What situation?"

"Of being your fictional interviewer."

"Do you want to go? You can you know. Just go. I can make it happen."

"Nononono... I'll stay. You're scary. OK. Fine then, so you learned about bribery. Explain."

"In grade three, my teacher bribed the class into obedience."

"How so?"

"There was a prize for almost everything. Good behavior was rewarded with stuff. Never candy of course. She was too smart for that, but she had a locked closet out of which she would pull little notebooks, kites, theatrical makeup etc... in order to get us to be quiet or pay attention. I can't imagine how much of her teacher's income she must have spent on that stuff. But overall, we had a really good class. I remember everyone pulling themselves together when she'd show that week's prize. She tracked our progress using little stars. We started with 10 and she'd rip them off as we misbehaved."

"Do you think this was a good tactic?"

"Well it seemed to work. I don't know. Probably not since life doesn't quite hand out rewards for being quiet or doing your homework in the same way. And some people seem to end up with all of their gold stars even if they misbehave."

"Did you ever win anything?"

"I talked too much and you didn't get prizes for doing other people's homework."

"Shocker. Yeah. I can see how well it worked."

lesson 9: being read to is wonderful

"When we were in grade four, my teacher read us the book Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang. I loved it."

"And what did you learn from this book with the odd title."

"That stories can transport you and books bring moments of magic into normal lives, absurdity and imagination are great things, and that it is really nice to be read to."

"Good lessons."

"I agree."

An old (1976) CBC interview with Richler about the book Wait for it, he reads to you from the book--Ingrid grins wildly-- (I love how Richler is being interviewed about a children's book with his small son and the first thing he does is light up. But also, how tender he is with his son and how that's what matters... Times have changed.)

lesson 10: breasts have a mind of their own

"What are you talking about?"

"At the age of 10 they are a source of ridicule and scorn. 'Developing' early was not a positive thing in my young life. Stupid little boys used to moo at me."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"Yes, a group of girls decided to bully me into a bra, telling me that otherwise I would end up deformed."

"Did you get a bra?"

"No. I specifically didn't because I was pissed off. I didn't (or did) handle bullying very well. And I didn't invite any of them to my birthday party because they were mean. Bitches." (At this point I. fervently hopes that my readers know this is tongue in cheek.)

"Are you deformed?"

"No. In fact my doctor recently told me that I have extraordinarily symmetrical breasts."

"Ah. Thanks for sharing."

"Your welcome. I'm proud of my girls. And now they are medically endorsed."

"Yeah. That's enough."

lesson 11: try new things

"So were you popular?"


"Ah. You were probably one of those geeky kids with glasses and big teeth."

"I still have glasses and big teeth."

"Yeah. Sorry about that. Did you have friends?"


"You aren't being very helpful today. I'll be more direct. Tell me about some after school activity you did with your friends."

"Well, I remember going to my friend Dee's house. We played a kind of weird game."

"Sounds intriguing, go on."

"We'd blindfold each other... and..."

"Wait, is this safe for a general audience."

"Yeees... it's not that kind of blindfolding... And don't look so disappointed."

"Well, after yesterday's talking breast entry, I didn't know what to expect."

"Stop interrupting. OK. We used to blindfold each other and feed each other spoons of weird concoctions from her kitchen."

"Ew. Why?"

"I'm not sure why... But we'd have to try and guess what was in it."

"Do you have an example?"

"A grape covered in Tabasco sauce, or a bit of raw potato with icing, or tea leaves with Castor oil... I don't exactly remember... we'd just combine stuff on a spoon."

"Did this have the same effects as the toothpaste?"

"Yeah. But without the fresh breath."

"You were a weird kid. Did you actually learn something from this?"

"Friendship has its costs. But I was really sweet. Honestly!"

lesson 12: people sometimes surprise you with kindness

"Ohh... this sounds like a mushy one."

"Yeah. Kinda."

"So what happened."

"Through middle school, I didn't really get any cooler."

"Is this a poor me story?"

"Nope. Just to say that I wasn't uber nerdy or cool. I was in a middle ground that left me only semi-teased. I had weird clothes, the glasses, the teeth... Probably more kids were in this middle area than I know. Or at least this is what I tell myself."

"Is it?"

"Is what?"

"So, you were a semi nerd."

"Yes. Any-ways... I was getting teased on the bus (I hated the bus) about something..."

"It wasn't the boob thing again?"

"...and feeling pretty close to tears when the cool girl who was 'going steady' of one of the cool boys stopped everyone saying, 'Ingrid is my friend. I like her. Stop talking shit about her.'"

"Wow. Did they, like ostracize her and tease her about her weird choice in friends? Did you drag her down into your realm of semi-nerdiness?"

"Thanks. No. They stopped. For that day at least. It was amazing. I would love to thank her. What a great kid. And not just for defending me (for which of course I'm really grateful) but for having her own mind and caring."

"Well then..."

"Lisa, if you're out there. Thanks for making an awkward kid feel better about themselves. Thanks for standing up for me. I never forgot it. And you remind me to defend others when it is easier to go with the crowd."

"Yeah. That was mushy."

"You forgot nice."

"OK. Mushy but nice."

lesson 13: boys do weird things when they like you

"So, you're telling me you were basically this semi-nerdy kid with big glasses, big teeth, and boobs, and boys liked you."

"Yah. I had the whole secretary thing going on. Get real. I was a kid/woman. No. Well, yes. Well..."

"Give. Story."

"I was XC-skiing with my friend and..."

"For the uninitiated: define XC."


"Wow. Canada's pretty big. Impressive."

"That's not what I meant... OK. Also known as alpine skiing... Anyway, we were skiing and on the trail, we came across the exact two boys we liked."

"Oh. Those exact boys. Were they dead?"

"You've been watching to much Dexter. No they were ... skiing."

"Oh. Well that's boring."

"Well, for some reason we took off our skis, probably for a snowball fight or something, and they ran off with them, and threw them into the woods."

"And you're telling me that you think these boys liked you."

"Well yes."

"They leave you in the snowy Canadian wilderness without skis and they liked you."

"Well they didn't ... *not* like us. Obviously. We found our skis... eventually."


"It's not like Dexter."

"Whatever you say. Clearly, you're the wise one."

lesson 14: just keep playing

"Stop biting your nails. It's a bad habit."

"But I don't bite to the quick. Look!" she says as she holds her hands in front of her.

"Why do you do that? It's disgusting."

"Piano lessons."

"What does biting nails have to do with piano lessons. Oh! I know, you were taught by nuns that rapped your knuckles with rulers if your nails were too long. Oh how you suffered."

"No, but my teacher would clip my nails for me if they were. I hated that. So I used to bite them on the way to my lessons."

"Did you practice a lot?"

"Practice? Well probably not as much as I should have, but I did play around a lot. Just making up stuff."

"Did you have to do recitals and exams?"

"Oh my god yes. I hated them. I used to get sooo nervous. Before hand I would sit in the car and sob with anxiety."

"And you bit your nails?"

"No. That was only for just before piano lessons."

"Ew. I'm just picturing your spitty germy fingers all over the keys. So, when you were nervous, did you forget stuff, what you hadn't practiced."

"I didn't say that I never practiced. And no, I always did fine in the moment and got a little lost in the music. It was good. Actually, I think that I know what my lesson is..."

"Don't drag your spit covered, gnawed up finger nails all over someone else's piano keys?"

"No. It's about performance. The rule was, just keep going. Even if you make a mistake, just keep playing. Don't stop and panic and get stuck on the fact that you've just made a mistake. Make the audience fall in love with the music you love instead."

"You made lots of mistakes?"

"You know that I'm seriously considering a less belligerent fictional interviewer."

"You're very threatening."

"Don't make me delete you..."

lesson 15: spinning can be fun, just remember to dive

"You've already established that fact that you were not a cool teenager, but what was the coolest thing you ever did?"

"Well, when I was growing up, we belonged to a gliding club."

"Like, hang gliding?"

"No, glider gliding."

"And you like, watched, right?"

"When we started going to the club I was only four, so no I didn't fly then. It was an awesome place to grow up though. As kids we really had freedom there. We built big forts in the woods and swam and slid down cliffs of clay and explored. It was fabulous. It was an old army training base so there were lots of ruins in the woods too."

"OK. I admit it. That is cool."

"Yeah. There was a gang of us who really grew up together there. I also grew up flying with my dad in a two-seater, so when I was a teenager, I took lessons."

"You were probably scared."

"Nope. That is one thing I have never been, afraid of flying."

"Now you're just being smug."

"The best lessons ever was when I had to learn to recover from a full spin. It was excellent. We got towed higher than usual and then deliberately got the plane into a spin, it was the most incredible feeling... the ground coming towards you, the plane spinning. Awesome."

"You are certified. You do know that."

"The amazing thing was, is that the recovery was completely against all instinct. Opposite rudder, opposite stick to stop spinning then, go into a dive to make the wings fly again. There was no feeling like it... complete adrenalin rush. I loved it. I'd love to do it again."

"So the fact that you freakishly enjoyed putting yourself into the jaws of death... what did this teach you."

"Something about... I don't know... I could say something about sometimes your instinct will kill you, but then you'd tell me I'm being morbid. So I'll go with, you have more control than you think you do but it might feel strange to do what you have to."

"You're lesson's a bit cheesy, but it is cool that you flew gliders. Definitely cooler than chewing your finger nails."

lesson 16: sour sixteen

"Ah, more bitterness and woe."

"I'm not bitter."

"Whatever you say. OK. So tell me about your traumatic sixteen."

"No, not traumatic, just disappointing. There is all this hype around turning sixteen... As if something will suddenly change and you will somehow be transformed into a swan or your life will suddenly be better. It doesn't work that way."

"Wow. You wanted to be a large white bird?"

"Yes. Absolutely."

"No need for sarcasm."

"I beg to differ. Anyway, in my high school there was a lot of the girls had sweet sixteen parties and there was sort of a buzz around this seemingly pivotal year of your life. But since my parents hadn't grown up in a culture where there was any significance around that magic number, they didn't get it."

"Poor you. Oh poor Ingrid."

"Remember what I said about deleting?"

"I was being sincere, honestly."

"And you couldn't possibly relate since you are only a couple of weeks old."

"True. I'm just looking to survive this series."

"Good plan. So about sixteen, basically nothing happened. Just the usual gifts of socks, underwear and books."

"Books are good."

"Book are good. But I still felt disappointed. I woke up the next morning and was exactly the same as I had been. Nothing had changed but a number."

"Sweet forty, darling. There's a lesson here you know."

"You're right. Thanks."

lesson 17: value perfect days

"I missed you yesterday."

"Aw... Really. That's nice. I must admit I'm a bit surprised though."

"I guess you weren't in production mode. You only did one lesson yesterday."

"That's OK, as long as I hit the fortieth lesson by March twentieth, we're good."

"And then what."

"Then we're done."


"What's wrong?"

"Well what happens to me?"

"We'll see."

"OK. I guess... So, we're at seventeen..."

"We are. It was a good year. I had my first summer job away from home."


"Away from home? No. I was a counselor at a summer camp."

"Wow. That's scary, they let you shape young hearts and minds?"

"Yep. I loved it. I had about ten kids per week with one day off for sanity."

"Sanity? You were at summer camp."

"Have you ever been surrounded by children for weeks at a time?"

"Well, no, that isn't really possible, considering..."

"True. It is unspeakably exhausting. The thing that is sticking in my mind are the days off. At this camp, which was on Lake Ontario, there was an area called Flat Rock. It was really secluded and was the place to get away to."

"A rock."

"Well not exactly. It was beautiful. At the end of a long lane, right beside the water, the shoreline consisted of large flat slabs of rock that submerged into the water. Lying on them, they were warm with the sun, a breeze came off of the lake, and the waves broke against the rock. Fantastic swimming too... We used to go there with our books and some snacks and just sit and enjoy the silence, the sound and smell of the water and wind, the warmth of the sun. It was incredible and strangely spiritual. I really got lost in the moment there."

"Well, that was poetic. I have a hard time believing that the smell of Lake Ontario was appealing. Isn't it a cesspool?"

"Not yet, it was still pretty clean."

"Oh ya, you're old. So what did you learn from these days of revelry. That you hate kids?"

"No... and I don't. I learned ... I think I learned to just be. To just take in the perfection of a day with few expectations of it."

"Um. I think that you've forgotten this lesson. You may have to relearn. You're pretty distracted a lot of the time... and you let beautiful days pass all the time."

"You're right. I should relearn. Good reminder. Maybe I'll keep you around."

lesson 18: adults write their own notes


"At school."

"For classes? Of course you did. Who else would take notes for you."

"Um, no."

"Fooorrr... why did you write notes?"

"Uh. When I skipped school."

"You wrote your own notes?"

"Yeah. I decided that adults don't need their parents to write notes. They can do it themselves. But my notes were always honest!"

"What, you wrote, 'Ingrid didn't feel like coming to school yesterday, so she didn't."

"Pretty much. The amazing thing was, is that no one noticed for months."

"They didn't notice?"

"I don't think that they actually read them. They just had a piece of paper justifying an absence."

"What happened when they found out?"

"Oh, I went to the principal, promised I wouldn't do it any more. Pointed out that I was doing well in all of my classes so I couldn't really see what the issue was. I never felt guilty about it."

"I'm sure that went over well."

"Not particularly. Had to go to detention for a couple of months, which is pretty much as cool as I ever got. There was a weird sort of status for being seen at detention repeatedly. I didn't tell anyone why, so people imagined all kinds of great misdemeanors. Do you know what the killer of this is..."

"No, but I'm sure you're about to tell me."

"When I skipped school I used to go to the big city library and hang out in the periodicals section and read all kinds of different journals and magazines, I'd treat myself to lunch, and just walk around downtown."

"Nerd. This is one of those times that you should have made something up."

"Yeah. Probably."

lesson 19: postponing workin' for the man -or- it's hard to decide what you'll be when you grow up

"I didn't know what to take in University after I graduated from high school. I liked lots of stuff but couldn't narrow it down."

"So what did you do?"

"I decided to take some time before I started, try some different things. First, I got this retail job at a toy store."

"That seems appropriate."

"And despite the fact that I had no previous experience in retail, I became the manager after only three months."

"Woah. How did that happen?"

"Everyone who was senior to me got fired. I kind of got promoted out of default."

"So what did you have to do?"

"Oh I had to balance the cashes and reorder stock. Hire staff. The usual stuff."

"Did you like it?"

"I actually did. At least for the first half-year or so. My favorite part, though, was making displays. I remember having this idea for a Lego display which was actually really self serving."

"How so?"

" I love Lego so I made about twenty different space themed sets, which meant that I actually spent hours playing with Lego. And then I made this huge beautiful display with all of these space ships suspended with fishing wire and a black backdrop with Christmas lights poking through as stars. It was fantastic."

"Did you sell more Lego?"

"Um. I'm not sure."

"Oh. Isn't that the point? Of displays?"

"I wasn't very business minded at the time. But the display was incredible. They kept it up for about a year after I left."

"I don't know what to say to that other than it *might* have had to do with the fact that it would take days to take it apart again. When did you finally decide what you're career path would be?"

"Decide? Oh, um, well eventually I went to university for a prolonged period of time while working part time and got a bunch of credentials in different fields. Then started working full time."

"Ah, you're the driven decisive type."


"Lego, eh?"

"Yep," she grins happily to herself.

"You are a nerd."

"Hey! That was more than twenty years ago," her face falls and she fidgets in her chair.

Image by Gaetan Lee

lesson 20: delusions of thinking

"So, eventually you started University."

"Yep. And it was more than what I hoped for. I loved it."

"Did you feel... older than the other students."

"Kind of. I think that the time I spent working made me really want to work at better jobs so it made me appreciate why I was there. Of course now I know that there were some misguided notions associated with this assumption... but yes, I really loved school."

"What was your favorite class? Something artsy-fartsy I bet."

"Believe it or not, it was my first year philosophy class."

"I don't believe it."

"And, it was my one 8:30 am class."

"So what, you went half the time, and slept in the rest?"

"No, I actually went. I got kind of excited by the notions of critical thinking and it made me really reexamine a lot of my beliefs and ideas about the world."

"It got you excited? Sorry man, that's just weird."

"Not like 'turned on' excited, just ... it just made me think."

"Did you get all philosophical on everyone's ass."

"Excuse me? That sounds petty weird after the excited comment."

"Hehe, yeah. Good joke. So did you?"

"Embarrassing, I started thinking I was being profound 24/7. Which was decidedly not the case. I have some pretty... um... pretentious journals from those days. This isn't to say, don't doubt things, or don't think things through. Instead, that I should have stayed more humble in the process. I had delusions of brilliance I think."

"Not like now."

"No, definitely not like now."

"What did you learn?"

"New ideas don't necessarily mean that you are smart, just that you think you are. In some ways, I just replaced some sets of misguided ideas with others. Stay open to what other people have to say, or else you will look like an arrogant idiot instead of a brilliant thinker shining your knowledge and wisdom to a dark world."

"What-ever. You could of stopped after the first two sentences."

"Probably. You know that was intentional don't you?"

lesson 21: i'm not the center of the universe

"No kidding."

"Yeah well, it took me longer to figure this out than most."

"What happened?"

"Oh I was moaning to a friend about a heartbreak when I was in my early 20s and that is what she told me."

"That sounds pretty heartless."

"It actually wasn't. It was the best piece of advice I've ever had."

"What? Only a heartless bitch would tell you that when you're down."

"Nah. The reality of the situation is that I was being all pathetic. You know, 'poor me, wahwahwah, no one else has felt this heartbroken, wahwahwah, I'll never move on, wahwahwah."

"I can't believe I'm saying this but, I think you're being a little hard on yourself. Young love always hurts."

"No. It was painful thing told by friend who loved me. It made me grounded and examine situations in the big scheme of things. It's true. I am not the center of the universe. Constellations worth of things are happening all around me. This thought keeps me grounded."

"You? Grounded?"

lesson 22: sometimes your pain is on the wall of fame

"What, is this back to the 'poor me wahwahwah' thing?"

"Nope. It's all about Revenue Canada."


"Well, I had a job working at taxation in Revenue Canada."


"Nah, actually it was a good summer job. But we were registering Canadian companies for a new tax. So some unpleasant conversations ensued."

"I can imagine. So what did you do?"

"Outside of calling people who regarded my calls as pleasant as a dentist who pulls teeth without anesthetic?"

"Uh. Yeah. I guess so."

"I spent the morning sorting new mail from those who actually filled in the forms."

"Oh. Well that sounds boring."

"Actually, no. The Canadian feeling surrounding this particular tax was particularly grim and people got beautifully imaginative in filling in their forms. In fact, the best part of the day was reading through the the more butchered forms and voting on which was the best candidate for the wall of fame."

"The wall of fame?"

"Yeah, the truly creative forms got framed in our mail room."

"You've got to be kidding me. That seems a bit... erm... mean."

"No way, total respect to those showing the finger to the man."

"I can't believe you just said that. You sound..."

"Yeah yeah. No. We loved those mails. Not only for their guts, but also for their balls."

"Nice mental image, oh eloquent one. Wall of fame eh?"

"Yep. They got to be the center of our universe. If only for a moment."

"Nice tie in to the last post. Weird 'lesson' though: there are those who delight in your frustration."

"Thanks. It brings me comfort."

lesson 23: my love life is nobody's business

"I was just going to ask you about that."

"Don't bother."

"Aww. But I'm sure that all of your readers would enjoy the juicy details of your failed affairs of the heart."

"Oh, that motivates me. Especially your assumptions of failure."

"Yeah well, you aren't married, *and* your almost forty."

"Are you someone's mother? This is just wrong. My imaginary interviewer should definitely not resemble a mother trying to marry off her spinster daughter."

"Ah. So you think of yourself as a spinster."

"I most definitely do not. I have had many lovvahs," she says, waggling her chest as alluringly as she knows how.

"Uh. Yeah. That was convincing. But anyway, tell me about your lovers."


"Aww. You are being so disappointing."

She arcs an eyebrow and says, "That's the lesson. It's private because I want it to be. I have had the great fortune to love some extremely kind, smart and fabulous men. That's all you need to know."

"Comawn, how about the bad boys, or the ones that broke your heart, or the the ones that cheated, or lied to you. There's gotta be some dirt. You're holding out."



"It's none of your business," she winks, "and frankly, there is just too much to tell."

lesson 24: changing your major several times makes you a well-rounded person

"Well, you are well rounded."

"Thank you."

"I meant literally."

"Thanks. And I'm cute. Total bonus."

"So, how does multi-majoring and otherwise trying on lots of topics of size make you well rounded."

"Well, it means you have to read lots of text books, write lots of papers, and otherwise pursue a degree that keeps slipping through your fingers because all of your course work doesn't actually go for any specific diploma. Plus I had the benefit of lots of on-the-job training in multiple part-time jobs. See. Well rounded."

"But you did graduate."

"Eventually, in two different majors and the beginning of a third. I'm well rounded."

"Yes. You were saying."

lesson 25: sometimes you don't have to say love

"Love, love, love, love, love."

"You're just being antagonistic."

"Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love!"

"I think that you are proving my point."

"Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love!"

"Um. Can I tell my story?"

"Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love!"

"I'll just go ahead, since clearly you are preoccupied."

"Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love!"

"I had a friend whose grandmother was from a culture in which there was no word for love."

"Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love .... cough, wheeze... My mouth is dry."

"You don't have a mouth. Anyway, the idea is that you show that you love. You don't say it. That love should always accompany action."


"Yeah. But sometimes its nice to be told."



lesson 26: even basements with no natural light can be cozy

"I guess it all depends on what kind of basement, like, it could be a dank, smelly, basement with mold growing on the walls and loud drainage pipes. I'd challenge you to make that cozy."

"That really wasn't what I had in mi..."

"Or they could have large cages and skulls and stuff. That would be pretty hard to make cozy too."

"What I meant to say was..."

"Or they could have super low ceilings and sludgy water on the floor, with rats and stuff swimming around in ..."

"Excuse me!"

"Well. That was rude."

"Yes well, you were kind of evoking more extreme mental images than I had in mind."

"Well, if you don't want my input..."

"I'll ask for it. Sorry. I totally appreciate your contribution here. You are making me take myself a lot less seriously, but sometimes..."

"I take it a little too far..."


"And I interrupt."


"Go on. I'm waiting. Tell us your important life lesson."

"Now my story will sound boring."

"See, you need me."

"OK, well I'll just get this over with. For a little while I managed a university cafe. It was in the basement of a building on campus. Despite the dubious purple and yellow walled paint job, bad coffee and cheap furniture, we had a real community there. I loved my staff, we had a lot of customers, and well... it was homey. We bought a bunch of lumpy couches from the salvation army and we all kind of lived down there: studying, commiserating, laughing a lot, drinking bad coffee. It was an important place. Everyone could play their own music so it was pretty eclectic, but it was a really central place. I think for a lot of us. Plus we had the most amazing muffin guy... those muffins were really delicious."

"And this was in a damp, moldy, rat infested basement."

"Nooo... none of those things. It was just... a basement though. It was a really huge room. Not interesting in terms of the place or space itself. It was really about the community."

"So, from this I gather that you were responsible for the bad coffee and lack of atmosphere."

"Not directly."

"But you did purchase and distribute said coffee. Maybe people really came there for the muffins."

"It was about community."

"I'm just sayin'."

lesson 27: why do birds, suddenly appear, every time you are near?

"Bet you screamed."

"Maybe. A little."

"How'd they get in?"

"I had a fireplace, didn't close the closey thingy."

"Thanks for using the technical term. I do believe that is called the damper."

"You're just showing off. Plus it is pretty obvious you just looked up the answer on the internet."

"Wait a minute. I think we're changing roles here. Let's go back to me being the only antagonistic one."


"So, about the bird..."

"Yeah well, I was feeling all independent and happy about my new fantastic apartment. It was fabulous, beautiful high ceilings, not a symmetrical room in the place, plus all of the floors were slightly crooked. It was great. I loved that place..."

"Riiight. The birds?"

"Yeah I got home and there were three birds flying frantically all over the apartment, knocking things over... Pretty panicked. I just scared them more. I was so afraid that they would hurt themselves, plus they were pooping on things."

"As you do."

"Thanks. Well, after opening all of my windows and attempting to encourage them out..."

"How exactly did you do this?"

"Oh I waved a table cloth around."

"Ah, the bullfighter approach."

"Yeah well. I was actually really freaked out. The table cloth spent more time on my head to avoid getting beaned by a bird. Despite my desire to deal with the situation myself, I ended up calling my boyfriend at the time, who took care of it for me."

"I'm so disappointed in you."

"I tried!"

"You mean by freaking out and locking yourself in your bathroom with your phone."


"What, are you trying to do, hide the truth?"

"No, well, yes, well..."

"I can seen that you were really establishing your independence and strength as a woman."

"Hmph... I 'd like to see you get them out."

"I'm fic-tion-al. Remember?"

"Um. Yeah."

"What is the lesson exactly?"

"It's hard to catch birds inside your apartment."

"Thanks. Useful."

"You're welcome."

lesson 28: wallpaper isn't as harmless as you think

"Nuff said."

"Aw come on. You can't drop something like that and not explain."

"Yes, I can."

"That just isn't right. On the cusp of a juicy story and no details. You tease."

"Yep. What are you gonna do about it?"

"I'm going to keep bothering you about it is what."

"OK. I'll give you one word, and that's it. Wallpaper."

"Oh, that was helpful. What you got so drunk you started removing someone's wallpaper?"

"Nope. Not saying any more."

"How about... hey wait. You were working with an R&D department at the time, weren't you."

"Not saying any more."

"Desktop. You were the wallpaper. Someone took pictures of you drunk. Ahaaaa! I hope you were dressed."

"Yeeees! Of course. I can't believe you would even suggest that. No, it was just ... embarrassing."

"Well now you really should tell the whole story."

"Nope. Nuff said."

"Hard to imagine you doing something embarrassing. Shocker. So, what kind of picture are you going to use for this story?"

"Something tasteful. And sober."

"Ah. Maybe you are over-compensating. The picture kind of suggests that you got drunk with nuns in a monastery..."

lesson 29: fire escape picnics cure the blues

"You were sad?"

"I had just had knee surgery and couldn't really leave my apartment. I wasn't very mobile."

"That sounds boring."

"Unspeakably. For the most part I was OK since I had some good pain killers, but everything was awkward and slow. I was very bored. Very. And it was hot and I couldn't shower. And I was lonely."

"So you went on the fire escape. All smelly and bored?"

"My dear wonderful friend, JF, brought a luxurious lunch, I awkwardly dragged myself through the window and we had a picnic on the fire escape. It was fantastic. I just remember being so touched by her thoughtfulness. And so happy to sit in the sun with her."

"What's the lesson?"

"Good friends are invaluable. Being loved is such a gift. It brings beauty into your life like picnics on fire escapes on a hot summer and reminds you of what is important."

"Good lesson."

"Are you OK?"

"What do you mean?"

"You're kinda quiet and cooperative. It worries me."

"I'm OK, but these are a lot of lessons. You've got ten more to go. I'm just storing up my energy for later. Don't worry."


Photo by smcgee

lesson 30: c'mon in, the water's just fine -but- make note of the current

"My best summer holidays ever were when a group of friends and I started renting cottages for a week or two every summer."

"Oh! Marshmallows!"

"Oh yeah baby. More s'mores that you can shake a stick at."

"Why would you want to shake a stick at s'mores? Wouldn't you want to eat them? What did you do while you were there other than wave sticks at pseudo-food items?"

"The days just drifted by. It was wonderful. Everyone would wake up when they wanted... shuffle to kitchen where our favorite lad had made coffee before he went fishing... walk out to the dock and breath the morning air... fantastic."

"Ah. So you didn't sleep in like you do now when you're on holidays."


"Well you mentioned morning air..."

She rolls her eyes at me and goes back into her trace-like revelry, "My fav-o-rite part was the swimming. Jumping off the dock first thing in the morning into a clear, clean, wide fresh water river."


"Just for a moment and then 100 ways of wonderful... Greatest feeling ever. Even better, I remember one night after we'd all been sitting by the fire..."

"Roasting marshmallows?"


"And hotdogs?"

"Are you hungry?"

"No... I just have food envy."

"Sorry. Of course."

"So the fire... Wow... burning stuff... that would be good."

"Oh ya... it must have been two in the morning or something, someone had a guitar, we'd all just been hanging out, talking what felt were big important thoughts, and kind of dreading our return to reality after the days where our biggest choices were to canoe or kayak... No one wanted it to end... Anyway, I decided to go for a swim under the stars and ended up just sort of floating."

"In the dark! Weren't you afraid of huge fish with massive teeth coming and taking you under?"

"Um... no," she says laughing, "there's no such thing as killer lake trout. Anyway, I could hear everyone still talking and laughing on shore and I felt transported, floating there, looking at the stars, picking out constellations... It was peaceful. Beautiful."

"I think you're exaggerating here. Probably you can only pick out the big dipper."

"Any-way... I have no idea how long I was floating along, but I looked up and realized that the current had taken me pretty far from cottage so I had to swim back quite a ways."

"Nice one. Were you scared."

"Just a little. I suddenly felt really alone. I swam back towards the laughter, my friends, the fire, and as beautiful as those moments floating away from them were, nothing felt as good joining them again."

"So the lesson?"

"It's in the title, baby."

"I'm not your baby."

"I beg to differ."

lesson 31: assaulting old ladies during dinner sometimes pays off

"Not again!"

"Well not literally."

"Oh... I thought..."

"Yeah well. I'm going to make this one short. I'm tired."

"Boohoo to you."

"Don't be mean. I'm not in the mood to be clever. And before you say anything more I'll go on with my story."

"Fine then. I won't say anything. I'll just glare at you. Silently judging your every word."



"You said something about silent? So by the time I was in my early 30s I had gone on quite a few vacations by myself. At first, I was kind of caught up in the romance of it... traveling on your own, no agenda to follow, just doing what you wanted to do by yourself. And for the most part, I really loved it. But I was on this one autumn vacation on PEI following a breakup and it wasn't so great."

...silent judgment...

"I was fine during the day when I was busy..."

...brief suspension of silent judgment... "Busy on PEI in the fall. Doing what? Visiting the great historic monuments? Or attending those famous PEI cultural events?"

"Don't knock PEI, it's beautiful... but hardly, erm, distracting. By the third day I was so frantically lonely I ended up asking this group of old ladies if I could eat with them. They looked a little frightened, since I was probably pretty aggressive."

"I don't think that old ladies is politically correct."

"Whatever happened to the silent judgment?"

"It's done."

"I should have put money on it."

"You should have."

"The whole time we were eating together..."

"They actually let you join them."

"Actually. The whole time we were eating dinner, they kept telling me how in awe of me they were, of my ability to travel by myself and how that would have been impossible when they were young. How lucky I was to be free and on my own."

"Snort. In awe of you. Niiice ego stroke."

"And all I wanted to do was weep and tell them about my sad and lonely heart. By the way, I don't think that you are supposed to say 'snort'."

"The truth is somewhere in between."


"This wasn't that short."

lesson 32: cowboy boots on the ceiling

"I had this neighbor who used to work a night shift at a local bar."

"That's the story?"

She sighs, and raises an eyebrow. "Nooo. The thing is, he got home about 2 a.m. He lived right above me, and he used to pace when he got home. Right above my f*cking bedroom. It used to drive me crazy."

"No kidding. I'm getting that vibe from you."

"Weeks went by and I started waking up automatically around the time that he'd get home. And then I'd lie there, staring at the ceiling as he paced. In his cowboy boots. On hardwood floors."

"Well you could have asked him..."

"After weeks of brooding and getting all worked up but feeling guilty about it, I finally got so pissed off that I went upstairs at like 3 in the morning and banged on his door. I was furious. The door opened and he stood there, shaking, tears coming down his face."


"I stood there staring at him, trying to figure out what to do. So I just asked, 'Can you take off your boots when you get home?' And he just looked at me, and said, 'OK.' Confused by this woman with crazy bed hair (I think it was orange at the time) wearing a coat over her pajamas banging on his door at 3 in the morning, in the middle of his grief."

"You must have felt like a total sh..."

"I did. He was just sad. It wasn't about me."

"I thought you learned this one before?"

"Me too."'

lesson 33: sometimes whims are wise

"When I was thirty-three I had a mental image of myself, working behind a desk, seeing the same context all of the time, in the same city, following the same routines, slowly widening in my chair, entering into middle age wearing nubby polyester sweaters and becoming nondescript and completely ... bored, having never seen or done anything but what I knew, surrounded by those who thought they know me. Having never lived any where else."

"That is terrifying, so what did you do?"

"At the time, I didn't really have the money to travel as extensively as I'd like, so I knew that whatever I did I would have to work, so I drafted a list of cities around the world that I'd like to live in and started sending out resumes."

"Um, Ingrid."


"That doesn't sound very 'whimsical'. In fact, it sounds uncharacteristically purposeful and deliberate."

"It felt whimsical."


"So I got a whole bunch of replies one of which was from a company in Amsterdam, where I interviewed, accepted the job and then moved."

"Still missing the whimsy part here."

"It was the ... the speed of the move, that I left everything quickly not knowing what to expect, and just did it, on my own."

"Again, I see a little self-sufficiency, some assertiveness about what you wanted, but not really whimsy."



"I always thought of the move as whimsy."

"Maybe you are wiser than you think."

lesson 34: mother's are just girls like us

"As opposed to..."

"What are you talking about?"

"Of course mothers are girls."

"I don't mean fe-male."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, there's a lot there outside of their roles in our lives. There's the one that replaced all of my thong underwear with practical grandma underwear, who tells me that I am either to skinny or too fat every time she sees me, the one that while telling me I'm too fat/skinny proceeds to offer me potatoes/tell me I am eating too much, the one that sends me wedding shower cards so that I can throw myself a wedding shower despite the fact that I am not actually engaged..."

"I think that you are getting of track here. This is starting to sound like a rant..."

"Oh. Yeah. Anyway, that woman... that mom... She's also just a girl. She's the girl who dreamed of a certain life when she first came to Canada, who had family and societal expectations placed on her regarding what choices she could make in life and love, who draws beautifully and instinctively, who takes joy in making music, who laughs easily, delights in a warm day or a breeze or the smell of fresh baked break, who dresses beautifully and with great care when she is going out, who likes looking in shop windows fingers pressed on glass, who blushes when she is the center of attention. She's the product of a lot of experiences, impressions, interpretations and reinterpretations that I know nothing about. That are hers and hers alone. She's that girl."

"So why is this important?"

"Well, the same way I love my friends, and always try to be open to their interpretations of the the world and their life experiences, and just love them, I need to do this with my mom too. My mom, the girl in the world."

lesson 35: finding friendship in unexpected places

"You mean in dark alleys? Leather bars? or..."


"Well you said 'unexpected'."

"I meant with unexpected people."

"You mean like politicians or gangsters?"

"I meant people that you don't necessarily click with right away."

"Ooohhh... well that's much less exciting."

"One of my big fears in changing towns was that I'd be lonely. That I wouldn't meet good friends like I had left."

"Which begs the question..."

"I've already addressed that. So anyway, when I first arrived, I decided, quite consciously, that I'd be open. Open to unexpected friendships."

"And you found them?"

"I did. It was kind of strange having to start over after having been surrounded by really excellent friends to then to know no one. And I found myself going out of my comfort zone to meet new people and spend time with them. To initiate finding friends. It was like... it was like dating. 'So, do you want to meet up this week?' It felt kind of strange."

"So you only met up with men?"

"That's not what I meant. It was like, we'd go out for dinner or to a movie or art gallery and some people were an immediate click and others... not so much... I even started a book club that mostly had to do with exchanging books and drinking beer. And I am so much not a book club kinda girl."

"Ah. Beer bonding. And?"

"I found out that my instincts aren't always right. That people have various levels of reserve. Some people are crazily friendly and others are really reticent. Also, with expat communities, the intimacy can be frightening, since everyone wants to find those friends... People have left home or decided to experience something new for all kinds of reasons. And of course, there are some freaks out there. When I really found a connection, I was always tempted to say, 'Will you be my friend?' But that would be strange."

"It would. You are sometimes."

"Thanks. All of this to say, I've made some fantastic friends who are eclectic, interesting and pretty fabulous. I'm lucky and blessed."

"By the way, you shouldn't eat so much fried food."

"What are you talking about?"

"The picture. Piles of fried food."

"It's stock photography. But you must admit, the calamari looks really good."

"You're just mocking me because I can't eat."

lesson 36: you can never go home again

"I think you covered this topic in a previous blog."

"Yeah well. I'm tired. And grumpy. And I don't feel very good." She pouts and nestles into her blanket so that only the tip of her nose is poking out of the front.


"Thanks for the sympathy. I don't know if I learned anything from 36 to 40." She pulls the duvet even higher so only a few strands of hair are showing out of the top.

"Of course you did! You learned... you learned all about... how you can never go home again."

"That's what I said, you said it's covered." She moans and rolls over, pulling her pillow over her head.

"No no, it's ok."

"You're just trying to prevent your inevitable termination."

"Nooo... nononono... Go ahead. I'm listening."

"Here's the thing. You quickly find out that, well, stuff at home changes after you leave."

"And this surprised you?"

"I don't think that I really thought about it. I think I somehow pictured everything at home in stasis, while I went on with my own life. I kinda half thought everyone would stay the same... That the place would be the same. But of course this isn't the case. Everyone's lives move on. And your role in them changes."

"And how does this make you feel?"

"You aren't my therapist. I can't believe you asked that. It sucks. But it's ok. So there."

"You are grumpy."


"If you ever feel like opening up about this..."

"Huh," she rolls over and turns off the light.

lesson 37: old men that look like my dad make me all emotional

"Touching. But I don't really know if that's a lesson."

"I'll work on it."

"OK then. Tell."

"When I see older men that resemble my dad, especially if they are alone, I want to weep. I want to hold their hand and talk to them."

"Sweet... but..."

"I think, but don't know, that there is a deep sadness in my dad. A loneliness. And it cuts me to the core. I project all of this emotion and interpretation on these unwitting old men who I give a watery smile to."

"Do you even know if your dad is lonely?"

"Not really. I just feel it sometimes. When we talk on the phone... I once gave a waiter a huge tip because he reminded me of a younger version of my dad."


"I think its also my sadness... about age. His. I want to make him immortal or at the very least, make sure he stays around as long as I do. It's selfish I know."

"I just think you love him."

"I do. And I haven't accosted any old men yet, forcing my unwanted pity or hand holding on them."

"That's good. Maybe that's your lesson."

"Don't accost old men?"

"Hey, you're the one who came up with 'don't sit on balloons'. And it's senior men, not old. You should know better. Maybe you just need to smile at senior men."

"That sounds weird."

"It's senior men and senior ladies. There, that's your lesson. Sheesh."

i miss you dad.

lesson 38: you're never really stuck

"Is this another stuck in the snow story? So high it covered the house?"

"No, this is when I quit my job and went back to school."

"Aren't you a little old? And didn't you already do way too much of the education thing?"

"That's not the point. And no I'm not. I lived a little less luxuriously, but I am way more equipped for school now than I was at twenty. I loved it... and..."

"...and are you going to just say some sort of, 'it was amazing, I met fabulous people, I found myself in a whole new way, it was the best thing I ever did' kind of thing again?"

"Apparently not."

"You were! You were going to say that!"

"I would just go with, there are more options open than I thought. And life is too short to not make changes when you need to. Plus that other stuff you said."

"You're so predictable."


"That's all? By the way, I don't think they use chalk boards much any more. Are you sure you went back to school?"

lesson 39: i'm ok

"Oh you think so do you? Is this one of those drippy self-acceptance posts."

"It is. To end this pilgrimage of the last 40 years, I'd have to say that I'm still learning that I'm OK."

"Am I OK too? Oh my. I can't believe you just said that. A bit pop-psychology like isn't it? Don't you hate that stuff? Well, we're almost near the end of this so continue."

"Thanks. At the risk of complete narcissism or at the very least, self-absorption, here's the first 20 things about myself I've learned to accept." She nods and winks. "OK, here we go:
I have an eye that twitches when I'm tense or when I've been on the computer too long (not tense but mindless).

I like reading books in the bath even though sometimes they fall in and bloat to the size of phone books.

Sometimes I laugh at stupid people. Sometimes I am a stupid person, and then I don't laugh.

I have been known to eat peanut butter with a spoon.

Right now, my legs are hairy. I like the feeling of how smooth my legs are after I shave them when they were really hairy.

I worry about the day I'm no longer pretty and that the days of being coy and flirtatious are nearing the end. (Impressive statement after the hairy leg admission, no?)

I love that moment between sleep and awake when I am still in my dream but I can touch it.

I am sometimes deeply sad that I am not a mother, but when in the elevator with a screaming child I am glad.

I have been known to think "boohoo, poor you" when someone else whining. I would not appreciate someone else thinking the same thoughts about me when I am whining.

I am a silly happy scotch drunk but try not to indulge in this state of mind too often.

I love time alone. Love it.

Despite the fact that I think of myself as anti-social or hermit-like, I am always glad when I go out and spend time with friends. I love staying out until its very late.

I love to watch the sunrise but never (hardly ever) get up early enough to do so. My only hope is to stay up late.

I dream of a day that I could be a musician, an artist, or a writer, but I do not have the self-discipline or finances to follow any of them full time. I dream of having the self-discipline and finances.

I see faces in everything (see above, that's a scary sink face) and they make me laugh.

The word monkeys (in English) and classic hollywood biblical films (e.g. 10 commandments) in German make me laugh compulsively.

I do not like routine but I need it.

I hope that one day I will not be dependent on plants that can survive with minimal care. Not that I want a totally needy plant, but I would like to be an earth mother.

I like burning candles that have heads and find it quite amazing that they produce these candles: easter bunny, santa, snowman, pilgrim, turkey, teddy bear etc. It seems disrespectful to melt them which is why I like it. I have never seen a Jesus candle although I'm sure it must exist. I suspect that if I found a Jesus candle I would not be able to burn it, since I would fear the wrath of god.

My favorite smells include fresh laundry, that weird mucky spring smell that means winter is really over, cigarettes freshly lit, the smell of a candle after you blow it out, nivea cream because it reminds me of how my mom used to smell just before bed, and pine woods."
"Are you done? Nice include of the Charleton Heston pic. You just like his hot sweaty body."

"Yeah well. What are you going to do about it? I'm done for today. I'll finish up tomorrow."

"What about me?"

"You've kind of grown on me... so I just might keep you around."

"Fantastic. So you're saying I have a role as your fictional alter-ego and nemesis in future blog posts?"

"Nemesis? You might be getting ahead of yourself. Sure you're annoying, but I kind of think that a nemesis needs a bit more aggression."

"You want me to be more aggressive? I can be more aggressive."

"Nononono... Quite alright. Keep in mind that I still hold the power of your life in my keyboard."

"Fine. I'll be good."


"But I think you need me."

"I'm OK."

"As long as you think so..."