Thursday, March 31, 2016

Real Talk 5

So I find out that Andrew was an alcoholic and he once somehow fell from the top floor balcony down to the first floor. Great place to work!

The previous receptionist, too, seemed to like alcohol a little too fondly and one day, my second day on the job, if i recall, Andrew got a call from down below and then, hanging up, looked at me and told me that I was to run downstairs and fill in for the receptionist "because she just quit her job".

I was like, "What, I'm not a freaking receptionist are you crazy, you go fill the chair". And I turned back to my work, only to find out, going downstairs for lunch, that the big boss was sitting at the receptionist's desk.

Ho ho ho.

Anyways, back to the main story line, the day after I was "coerced" into calling random CEOs for soundbites that had nothing to do with our work at all, but try telling that to the boss: I was twirling away on my desk chair when I see the boss approach.

"Hey," he said, gruffly, "We're good, right?"

I responded, "What's there not to be good about?"

"Ah, great," he nodded and went his way.

After which I found out from the graphic designer who works alongside me that he was really worried about how he treated me, forcing me to make calls.

"Oh," I said, "I just pretended to be on the phone the whole day, but he doesn't need to know that."

This is Part 5 of a series of "Real Talk" pieces wherein I finally talk about my real life and share some (not so) scandalous short (and sweet!) stories. To follow from the start click on the "Real Talk" label below for all posts in this series.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Real Talk 4

With the brutal onslaught of "I want you to make 75 calls and get 55 quotes on the site today" I decided that enough was enough and I got up and walked out.

I went to McDonald's on the corner and ordered a coffee.

While I was there I saw the guy who used to have my job ordering a Happy Meal, clad in tshirt and boxers, no longer in the office attire he used to work in when he was my supervisor. But one day he just stopped coming.

So there I was grabbing a McCafe

(and coffee for the rest of the office of whom I politely asked if they wanted a coffee and instead of politely demurring as is normal they all chimed in with a resounding "YEAH!"

"Oh geez, are you all kidding me? OK, but make sure your orders are easy,  I'm not writing anything down."


"Daisy, I am pretty sure that is what comprises a latte but yes I will tell them.")

and I see this dude looking like a bum, and I could only shake my head, wondering what weird projects our boss subjected him to. Then I remembered the alcohol:

When my supervisor-for-two-days decided to stop coming to work, I was given the directive to clear out the guy's desk in order to figure out what had to be done. In the process, I discovered a couple dozen pages with our boss's "signature" copied out a few hundred million times, and then discovered a few copies of a "reference letter" that our boss "signed" declaring that Andrew (he who gave up the job), along with being bestowed with a grand intellect and cutting-edge mental faculty, was the greatest man alive (hey, why not).

Then I opened the bottom drawer of his desk and discovered a 6-pack of beer.

This is part 4 of a series of "Real Talk" pieces wherein I finally talk about my real life and share some (not so) scandalous short (and sweet!) stories. To follow from the start click on the "Real Talk" label below for all posts in this series.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tears for a Stranger

One of the things I love most about Toronto is the absolute spectrum of people, all colours, shapes, sizes, ideologies, languages and all the implicit stories that come with each and every person. Of course this could be said in varying ways about almost any place.

Thankfully, my daily schedule allows me to circumvent the actual crowded rush hour which often results in longer waiting times, rerouting buses, or, no seating on transits. This is especially appreciated in the morning commute, one of my most favourite times of my day, when I can get on the quiet, cozy and clean outer-suburbia bus and sleep the whole way until the end of the route before switching to the less cozy, less clean trademark bus of the 6ix, then finally getting onto the subway.

The subway station was nice and calm, no one rushing about, and the subway car was relatively empty. I settled down for another great nap.

I opened my eyes at the next stop though, and witnessed an elderly Chinese couple enter and take their seats: the woman sat across the aisle, directly opposite from me. The husband, after a pause, sat himself, rather stubbornly, away from her; deciding to direct his attention to some lottery tickets of which he continually kept examining the numbers, and then crumpling them into a ball and tossing down to the floor, and then after 60 seconds, bending down to retrieve them, open them out, and reexamine the numbers again--a process he repeated quite a few times, to the wife's exasperation, if her sidelong looks and quiet shakes of her head were any clue.

But while he was thus preoccupied, she had her own concerns.

She had apparently dressed herself quickly: didn't get time to zip up her little black ankle boots, which were gaping open. She kept trying to fix this by attempting to bend down to reach the zip. Heartrendingly, she was quite elderly and was not really capable of bending at all. She maneuvered a few times, scooting forward in her seat so that her leg was out at a certain angle so she could lean sideways rather than directly over her hip, and a few times she came pretty close, but remained unsuccessful.

I was listening to my music in the meantime, and my first instinct was to go help her. But the thing with people--especially older people--is that they cling to their independence with ever-increasing ferocity; to relinquish control of an ability that once was so commonplace was almost akin to giving up life entirely.

So for some time I decided to respect her independence, to let her contain her belief in her own ability.

But after half the subway line had passed, and the realization that this elderly woman would soon get off the train with her lottery-obsessed husband, she would be walking haphazardly with her shoes that could result in a horrible fall or injury.

So I raised my hand to her, to catch her attention. I put my hand to my chest and then pointed to her boot, to communicate my willingness to help her. At first she blushed, embarrassed, and put up her hands, shaking her head: no no no no. She looked away with a smile. I said, more with my eyes, but nevertheless also verbally so that she could connect with my voice and my tone, "No, please it's okay, won't take a second."

She was very embarrassed and yet, there was almost noone else on the subway car, except her husband of course.

So I got up and bent down in the aisle, while the subway continued on its perpetual journey to our respective, separate destinations whereafter we would likely never ever meet again, and quickly zipped up her boots.

I got up and smiled at her, only to discover this lovely, fragile grandmother with tears streaming down her face.

She smiled at me, and put out her hand. I took it and told her, cheerfully, not to worry. Despite whatever languages we could not share, there was a greater, more important, language that was understood.

She actually got off with her husband at the very next stop. And that is when I was able to take out a tissue from my pocket to wipe my own eyes.

Monday, March 21, 2016


This morning as I left the house in the middle of a bright, quiet, sunny morning, I emerged from a shortcut through a peripheral park path, and entered another neighborhood. There before me was a black coat squad, maybe about 10 of them, unloading from their squad church van: the omnipresent holier-than-thou Catholic (or Jehovah's Witness) door-to-door converting mob.

Their eyes lit up upon seeing me, their first hapless victim. Out came the many, many hands with their many, many pamphlets. "Good morning!" They beam at me. I do a quick internal calculation and come to a decision.

"Good morning," I smile serenely back at them.

They seem pleased.

"Have you embraced the word of the Lord, my dear?" said a man in a black trench coat, black oxfords, and holding a leather portfolio.

"May Allah save you from your sins," I smile back at them, nodding.

An awkward pause settled on the crowd. A crow squawked, as if right on cue.

A 5-foot momma decided to clarify things. "Now dear, we mean the lord Jesus, praise him, son of God, amen."

"Amen," the rest of them all chorused, sighing collectively in relief.

"Jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapeesh tihu lok ujagar" I began to chant at them a la Salman Khan in London Dreams. Unfortunately, before I could get to the really cool part where he does the rockstaresque "HANUMAN KI JAI" with an air guitar accompaniment, the crowd had dispersed, sidling away as quick as their little proper black oxfords could take them without offending the lord in all his message of tolerance.

I shrugged and kept walking in the quiet, beautiful spring morning.

A crow squawked again.

"You too, baby, you too."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Real Talk 3

This boss of mine was pretty crazy. Mercurial (huge temper), pompous (high-falutin ideas), rich (RICH).  And he was a mean ol' nasty grinchy scrooge if he felt like it. Actually, when I have the misfortune of watching Trump speak, I am totally reminded of this boss. He was like a bad combination of both Donald Trump and Nicholas Cage.

So he stood there shoving the phone in my hand every time it somehow made it's way out of my hand, telling me to google GOOGLE and call them, QUICK.

Let me just clear the air: most of the time he was actually pretty sharp and intuitive in business matters (that is, after all, how he got so rich, and also how our company was numero uno in the niche), but in this case, between you and me, I honestly don't know.

My coworkers, not having a grande huge floor of an office suite like mine, worked one floor down, so they obviously did not believe me and thought I made this up. But no.

It was sadly true.

I called up a few numbers while he stood there. I hedged around, not even sure what I was supposed to say, what excuse to give, what to ask. I mean, I was a freaking writer, not a telephone customer service rep. So he started wagging his head furiously, getting more mad each time I mumbled through a phone call. I started giving him the side-eye even as he was frothing like he had rabies. Maybe I should call 911, I thought.

For me or him, I don't know.

This is part 3 of a series of "Real Talk" pieces wherein I finally talk about my real life and share some (not so) scandalous short (and sweet!) stories. To follow from the start click on the label below for all posts in this series.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Real Talk 2

Soon after I was made the company writer at my new job (after a series of strange and fortunate incidents that accelerated the process which occurred in my very first week), I quickly adapted to my newfangled and interdisciplinary job functions and time flew.

Then one day, after a meeting in which I relayed the manner in which our company could take off really quickly through some strategically placed communications (and having ended the meeting rather tentatively as our boss was sitting as if paralyzed by my information), obviously having recovered, my boss came storming through my office.



Basically, he decided that the best way to get "quotes to place on our website" (somehow this is what my comprehensive, informative, and statistical strategy boiled down to in his head?) was to call "famous people" spontaneously and ask them a question ("anything") real quick, then write down whatever they said as evidence of their endorsement and hang up.

And he picked me for the job.

This is part 2 of a series of "Real Talk" pieces wherein I finally talk about my real life and share some (not so) scandalous short (and sweet!) stories. To follow from the start click on the label below for all posts in this series.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Real Talk

Many long years ago, after working in various retail jobs during university, and having conquered all the customer service floors with my people skills and makeup artistry skills, I decided that I wanted to work in an office.

My reasons weren't exactly ambitious. I wanted a job where I could literally just sit down behind a computer all day and get paid for it. But then again, that already sums up what pretty much all of us want at one point or other.

As unoriginal as it was, this was the epitome of my 'working girl in the world' dream. To be sure, I had--and have--much more lofty ambitions as well, i.e. to be a high-ranking enterpreneur; a hotshot boss lady; a famous celebrity (well, at least that one I can check off), but there is this quiet, introverted me that loves, and prefers, being in the background, the backstage if you will, thus this was my quiet goal.

Point to be noted: this was my goal as soon as I realized what fun it was to sit at a computer all day, a feat very much assisted by discovering MSN (remember MSN?) very late in life--and blogging.

When I got called in for an interview at my First Real Office Job Ever, the owner of the company asked me what I really wanted to do: what were my unbridled dreams? So, I decided, rather than giving the usual answer tailored to the job description or company, to give the unbridled truth.

"I want to be a writer."

He nodded. Gave me an appraising look and said, "Come back tomorrow."

This is part 1 of a series of "Real Talk" pieces wherein I finally talk about my real life and share some (not so) scandalous short (and sweet!) stories.

Friday, March 11, 2016

You Will Be Well

I actually spend some time each day going back, retracing steps, remembering old times, rereading old words. There is an empty place where that time was given to other things: to other people/someone else. It feels wrong to fill it in with anything else, but even if it were possible, trying to cram anything else in doesn't work. That hole just keeps spitting everything else out like an inverted blackhole.

Today, I went back to my old - much older - blog posts. As I've mentioned here a few times, these are hidden in my lucid iridescence blogs and some older tidbits where I used to post 'thoughts of the day' are hidden in my golden memories blogs. Each time I revisit, reread, I am so mesmerized by that person who is speaking - even though it was me.

I actually have a bad habit of never editing any of my blogs. I write whatever that comes to mind and other than the perfunctory skimming for spelling mistakes, if any, I just usually submit without further revisions.

Sometimes I feel like I would love to have an interview with myself. The younger me with this older, somewhat more cynical (though I averred I was the most cynical when younger) me. I have a lot of posts that are dedicated to love and I used to write a lot about this enigmatic prince charming/soulmate who I knew would be day. If I one day forgot this fact then maybe I would in future wonder who I was writing to, where did that person go. And the stranger thing now is that even with a flesh-and-blood model, the substantiated version of those dreams, I could almost ask the same thing. In fact, one of the problems I have with life is that I could pretty much ask this of everyone I've gotten close to. "Where did that person go?"

Maybe, just maybe, I could ask the question of that young and dreamy-eyed writer of posts. Maybe that is what I am doing when I go back and hover my cursor over the words she once wrote - sometimes with big grin, sometimes with a quiet smile, sometimes and too often, with a lot of tears. Maybe this version of me going over those words somehow, over a time-space continuum, actually makes contact with that younger girl who scribbled down words while tears coursed down her face; maybe while she was writing, she was able to compose herself and find a way to straighten her shoulders and face the world again because, if no one else did, this older me was able to peer over her shoulder, to caress her head, to tuck away a strand of hair tenderly, to kiss her tear-stained cheek and tell her, telepathically, that you will survive because you are my reason and remembrance for continuing ever more.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


There are these strange moments when I bid farewell to the last person I'm to interact with for the day, and it's almost as if I'm shutting a mental door behind them, and collapse against the door, sighing audibly, a loud "phew" if you will: finally I can stop pretending, finally I can wipe off the smile.

And it is weird, because these are the moments when I shut down the gates, lock the windows and then let myself be me. And yet, that girl out there with everyone, laughing, smiling, joking, slapping, glaring, she was me. But not really. These moments I tune into my music, and in a few hours of downtime, my focus is incomparable. I am down the warphole, and yet I am in a dangerous emotional torpedo. Sometimes, yes, I self destruct when I get too close with my solder and tweezers, trying to figure out what went wrong, without protective measures.

I harbour a lot of secrets, and I am not sure how many I keep from myself either. There was a time I felt that there was that one person that I told absolutely everything to, but one soon learns that sometimes, some things it is better to keep to oneself.

I am not sure now what I am really asking for. I know what I want more than ever, and yet I am now embarking on a ship that will literally take me away - far away - from any retribution or fulfillment of these dreams.

Maybe sometimes I shut the doors and lock the window against my own dreams. And that's okay. Maybe I will learn to survive without them.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016


"It gets easier with time," you assured me. And maybe it does. Only thing is what is this 'it'? The way you look at it is a completely different way I see it. More and more, every day that passes, I am overwhelmed with so many lessons. They say it's dangerous to keep looking back, and I see the logic in that. Only thing is, the more I look back, the more I am apart from it yet the same. I see the tiniest little moments where all that emotion hid. Where your heart was breaking and you kept quiet. When we were so in that particular moment, that we couldn't possibly comprehend the many ways that our souls were becoming latched together and how the strength of that attachment could somehow render it apart.

The more I step forward, each day, the more I embrace the many million moments with the world, the more I am overcome with the absolute realization that no one could ever be you. The infinite ways that each individual interaction would have been different if it had been you. The ways that home was and could only be completely and utterly you.

My moments are interspersed simultaneously with the infinite boundless joy of this knowledge and the abyss of destruction in its loss. A certain green will remind me of your eyes, a certain line in the clouds the snug curve of your rare smile. An abstracted feeling of exhaustion reminds me, like a phantom limb, of the strength of your arms. It is in this way that I am constantly reminded of the splinters, planks, bricks, the scaffolding and shelter that make up home.


I've become so habituated to turning to word as recourse for when emotional deluges overwhelm. It often seems as if all I am filled with is heartbreak, grief and misery, and that may be a fault of mine when it comes to writing. Though I am inclined to think otherwise (it is almost as interesting to witness the many ways audience decide to judge or assume based on what they read; how they interpret your art; the many ways it almost interprets the interpreter - but these deep thoughts are for another day alas), I do recognize that I haven't been writing when I am in love with the moment, and to that pregnant pause I assert, there have been many.

It might have been, for example, when I got onto the wrong bus somehow, by accident, last Friday. Living on the edge of a conservation park, I have to navigate a number of different regional transits, so when I hopped off one after sleeping the whole way through, I might have been still half asleep when I boarded the next bus. And instead of taking me all the way to the downtown core as it was meant to do, it started going north, and then a little more north. I, snug at my usual elevated back of the bus corner seat by the window, just kept listening to my music, letting the quiet morning sun shine beatifically on me as I shone my own beatific smile back, as I stayed on the whole route until the end terminus, whereupon I hopped onto the train to speed back downtown.

Or it might have been that evening when I trudged on my long walk through the snow, where the whole world seemed perfectly blue hued: the sky, the snow, the air itself. That moment when it isn't exactly dark yet, and yet the sun has bid adieu. Again, living where I do, I have to hike through a number of quiet suburban streets, cut through a few alleys and parks before I get home. Considering that there've been those moments when that same path holds past memories of sharp cutting minus 30 degree painful tearful heartbreaking walks, the ability to walk over that same past and rewrite it, superimpose the ghosts with new emotions is exhilarating.

It might have been that early quiet morning, when suddenly it feels like spring, when the air isn't cutting cold slaps, but a balmy, almost lazy, playful thing, when I could literally walk outside with my hair still damp and feel the thrill of having the wind's fingers intertwine with my hair and tug it gently, where walking into that mellow yellow light, the sky is filled with a long line of a hundred Canadian geese, perfectly linear and yet collectively a whole.

It might have been discovering that one song that so perfectly fills your heart with an ineffable feeling of joy, a joy that is never pure joy but brushed upon with all those gleams of silvery sorrow. And the impurity is not ugly, it almost makes the feeling greater, heightened, and you know that no one else can ever feel the greatness of this feeling. Or turning the pages of a writer you cannot believe you had to date never discovered, and absolutely ecstatic in being able to feel like the poetry itself. Or remembering that your own patience is the key to it all, and that it is OK to feel less than perfect, that it is OK to be broken, that it is OK to feel sad or unhappy, that you can be everything that you are, whatever that is and that is absolutely perfectly fine.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Hazel Motes

"... there are all kinds of truth, your truth and somebody else's, but behind all of them, there's only one truth and that is that there's no truth," he called. “No truth behind all truths is what I and this church preach! Where you come from is gone, where you are is no good unless you can get away from it. Where is there a place for you to be? No place

“Nothing outside you can give you any place,” he said. “You needn’t to look at the sky because it’s not going to open up and show no place behind it. You needn’t to search for any hole in the ground to look through into somewhere else. You can’t go neither forwards nor backwards into your daddy’s time nor your children’s if you have them. In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.”

- Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Voices from the Other Side

Sometimes at the end of the day, the most miserable thing to be is alone. Especially when it piles up: day in, day out, same grind, same routines, and a whole long collection of lonely evenings. Someone to share what your day was like with, to sit in companionable silence, even, watching television together, or not even doing the same thing together, but still being together. There is a safety and security like no other when you know that you can cast your heart to drone over the surface of the many thousand miles of the earth and it can find that other heart that beats in sync with yours.

Yet the claustrophobia of company takes away the glow. Expectations of and from other people weigh heavily on your shoulders. Even when you're focused on accomplishing one task, you feel as if there are a million eyes - even if belonging to just that one person - peering over your shoulder, not letting you be at peace. Even when you sit for a second to catch your breath, you still need to take a figurative look around, almost guiltily, because you know that this moment to yourself isn't really yours, everyone else expects it to be theirs.

And this, too, piles up. It is almost as if your own lungs cannot belong to you because every breath you take is chained to another person's demands. As if your own hands, your own feet, taking you to places and performing your tasks, can never really be your own. Even your tears, if you even allow yourself a moment to let them fall, they too are tainted; accusations abound and fingers point, prodding, taunting, persistently, irritatingly, to your apparent selfishness.

What is it worth, then, being caged in forever, if that is the cost of not being alone? Why set yourself "free" from loneliness if it only means you lose your own sense of self? Why bother to try, if when every time you moved mountains to show you care, you are left holding the mountain to perpetuity as the very action is questioned, disputed, and doubted? How many times can you be expected to jump over train tracks with the train a split second away; how many times can you lay yourself down and let others walk over your back to safety; how many times can you give away your umbrella to stand alone in the rain?

What is the point of not being lonely, if the other person doesn't know this is what you feel but can't say.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016


"She realised, with a secret thrill of horror, that the moment had at length come when she must look full in the face the lurking anguish of which none but herself knew the existence; and which, in the press of more immediate miseries, she had hitherto contrived to keep well in the background of her thoughts. Only, she had known dimly throughout, that face it she must, sooner or later; and now her hour had come.

There was some one, bound to her by every tie but the tie of words, who had let the days of her trouble go by and had made no sign; a fair-weather friend, who had fled before the storm."

The Romance of A Shop, Amy Levy