Up, Up, and Away


Things are starting to look up.

More details to come …


Little Liam


My nephew Liam. Photo courtesy of Brian Potstra, Liam's daddy!

Welcome to the world, Liam!  

To say I’m a proud auntie is an understatement.  Allow me to brag a little bit because I am head over heels.

I am so in love with this little dude and am so thrilled with the new addition to the Potstra family.  We’ve been praying for him for a really long time, and here he is!  He’s the cutest baby ever, and even my coworkers, who aren’t as biassed as I am, say he’s such a baby-baby, and doesn’t resemble a wrinkled alien thing like some newborns do.  He’s got a perfectly round head, big round cheeks, soft blonde hair and smells incredible.  He likes to be cuddled and kissed and swaddled and doesn’t like to be naked.  

I can’t think about him without getting emotional; my heart feels like it’s going to burst with the love I have for this tiny, 7 pound 8 ounce boy.  To see my brother be such a hands-on daddy, speaking softly to him when he fusses, kissing his face, swaddling him up in blankets, holding him up to the hospital window and showing him the outside world is absolutely incredible, especially knowing what a miracle Liam truly is.  

It’s astounding to see this little peanut and hold him in my arms after nine months of praying for his health and safety.  It was almost nine months ago exactly that my brother and sister-in-law announced to our entire family at Starbucks, between my cousin’s wedding ceremony and reception, that they were going to have a baby in November.  The absolute joy I felt in that moment is indescribable, and I screamed and cried and hugged my sister-in-law tight.  The nine months that followed were full of antsy (get it? aunt-sy?) anticipation, as we watched her tummy grow and followed the baby’s progress.  My brother had an app on his iPhone that compared the size of a baby with a fruit or vegetable (ie. this month, the baby is the size of an apricot) and detailed the exact ways in which the baby was growing.  The fact that they didn’t want to know the baby’s gender and didn’t tell anyone the names they picked out only increased our curiosity and anticipation.  

This whole month, I was a nervous wreck.  The baby was due on the 9th and didn’t come until the 20th; 10 days late!  I was completely overcome with anxiety last week, praying my head off for a safe delivery and for everything to go smoothly at the hospital.  Around 2 p.m., I received the call from my brother that would change my life forever.  “Congratulations,” he said as soon as I picked up, my heart pounding. “You have a nephew!”

I am beside myself with joy, finding myself drawn to Baby Gap and The Children’s Place and the baby sections of H&M and Old Navy, fawning over all the cute little boy clothes.  I’m going to spoil that kid crazy and show him just how loved he is.  

Which is so, so, so, so much!


Freaky Friday

Is there a full moon tonight?

Today there seems to be a touch of crazy to it, something driven by the moon and its waxing and waning.

To start my day, a couple of sketchbags had a tussle in the middle of the street, which was kind of amusing but also kind of sad in a way because it was between a large woman and a scrawny man.  I was wondering if I should yell something or call the police, but it was just basically sloppy wrestling with no punches being thrown, and no one else waiting for the streetcar seemed to care all that much.  Sometimes apathy is safer than concern.

Then, I was approached by a nice-enough crazy person on the streetcar, whom I made the mistake of listening to during a barely comprehensible ramble about Jesus, “fags with poodles” (his words, not mine), his “dangerous lawyer” and how he is a paralegal who graduated from UofT (sure, sure). He decided I was going to be his best buddy, leaning all over me, rubbing my shoulder, kissing my hand, and spilling hot coffee all over my shoes. It was embarrassing, mostly because the rest of the streetcar was silent and I was the only one naive and smalltownie enough to smile and nod at the crazy guy’s babbling. I told him my name was Alice when he asked, and when he asked me if I was married, I lied and hid my left hand in my coat pocket, to which he responded, “That’s a shame because you’re blond.”  

He informed me that if a guy ever tried to grope my breasts “or any other part of my anatomy,” I should use my cell phone to call the police (thanks for the advice, homie).  When he started to get ready to get off at Ossington (surprise, surprise), I pretended that my phone was ringing and “took a call” while he screamed across the whole streetcar: “Alice! Alice! Say a prayer for me, sweetheart! It was lovely meeting you, Alice! Aliiiiiiiice! Aaaaaaaaaaaalliiiiiiiiiceeeeeeee!”



I wish I wasn’t so damn approachable.  I think I have a stamp on my forehead that reads: HEY CRAZIES, PLEASE COME TALK TO ME!  I guess I have to work on my unapproachable streetwise scowl, which will be difficult coming from a place where everyone you see on the street smiles and says hello to you.

Anyway, one hyper-caffeinated mocha from Starbucks later, I started browsing through my Google Reader at work and stumbled across a couple things that can definitely fit into the Odd and Bizarre categories.  I love crazy things that aren’t in my face, kissing my hand and spilling coffee on my shoes.

First of all, this website.  Apparently, people from all across the world dream about the exact same man.  Some theorize that he’s Jesus, and anything he tells you to do in a dream, you should do (wack-o alert!)  Others believe he is an archetypal image based on Jung’s psychoanalytical theory. According to their website:

From January 2006 until today, at least 2000 people have claimed they have seen this man in their dreams, in many cities all over the world: Los Angeles, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Tehran, Beijing, Rome, Barcelona, Stockholm, Paris, New Dehli, Moskow etc. 

At the moment there is no ascertained relation or common trait among the people that have dreamed of seeing this man. Moreover, no living man has ever been recognized as resembling the man of the portrait by the people who have seen this man in their dreams. 

Reality or hoax?  In a world of grilled-cheese Jesus faces and little boys supposedly in balloons, who knows?

Speaking of Jesus, some little church in backwater North Carolina is planning a Halloween Bible burning.  I’m not lying. This stuff exists.  In 2009.  According to the church pastor, members will be burning any version of the Bible that isn’t the first King James version as well as the books of “Satanic” authors such as Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, Donald Miller, Benny Hinn, etc.

This story has been spreading like wildfire these past few days (LOL!), once again proving that the crazy Christian fundamentalists are the ones who get all the press, giving the rest of us a bad name.  And a good laugh.  Followed by tears and bashing one’s head against a brick wall.

Growing by the Day

My To-Read list is ever increasing, thanks to my editorial internship which exposes me to books and the book industry every day.  

Living in the city, I’m shocked and pleasantly surprised at how many people actually read.  On the streetcar, the train, waiting for the streetcar or train to arrive, at cafes and coffee shops, while walking … it’s encouraging and inspiring to be surrounded by a silent community of readers bound together like the pages in the volumes we are holding, clumsy shields against a world plagued by ennui, the soft battle cry of pages turning, our minds tangled in a web of words …

Yes, I am surrounded by this web of words, day in and day out (and even sometimes at night).  And no, reading and writing about reading and writing has not improved my writing and I am still given to lame, barf-inducing metaphors.

Unfortunately, I have decided to take on the whale-sized task of reading Moby Dick.  The whole thing.  Cover to cover.  Without skipping any long descriptive paragraphs about the sea.  It was mentioned relentlessly in a novel I recently inhaled (the title of which now escapes me) and I felt it to be my English-graduate duty to finally read Melville’s masterpiece and learn about the captain responsible for the name of the world’s biggest coffee franchise.  

Yes, it’s good.  Yes, there are some sentences that have jumped out at me and made me ponder their importance.  And yes, it is very long and sometimes very dry.  But I’ve committed to it, even though I am no longer a student (hooray!) forced to read every single word on each course syllabus. 

In the meantime, I’m lusting over these titles on my ever-growing To-Read list; some, because they are very hot right now in the book industry, others because I simply fell in love with the cover art (but that’s a different story!):

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic: Rock ‘N’ Roll as Literature and Literature as Rock ‘N’ Roll by Lester Bangs

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby 

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens 

–anything by Jeanette Winterson, but mostly Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 

Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Sister by Poppy Adams (gorgeous, gorgeous cover which I fell in love with at Shoppers Drug Mart)

Generation A by Douglas Coupland

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery 

February by Lisa Moore (this cover has always haunted me)

Further suggestions are welcome but not recommended until I finish the big fish I’ve set out to read.

Yes, the lousy puns and metaphors will stop for now …

Money, Money, Money

First of all, if I have to hear the word “recessionista” one more time, I think I’m going to jump into Lake Ontario and right now, that lake is cold, son! 

Secondly, I think it’s tacky to talk about your personal money habits or troubles in public, and it’s really none of anyone’s business.  But everyone and their mother is talking about their money matters during this “economic downturn,” so I thought I’d regale you with my experiences and personal insight into this North American mess.

I’ve lately come to accept the cold, hard fact that there is a recession going on, I’m graduating university, and I don’t have a job.  I’m not doing poorly by any means, and the fact that I don’t have to pay for rent or food is an added bonus.  At the same time, my student loans are breathing down my neck and my Green Shield health benefits will stop at the end of August.  That’s no good.  I need my health coverage desperately and I’ve got to do something more than popping Extra-Strength Advils like candy when it comes to my persistent, practically crippling migraines.   I need a team of chiropractors, massage therapists, and Brazilian male models armed with moist towels and green tea ginger ale handy when I’m rendered useless by a really bad one.  I don’t know why they have to be Brazilian models, but that’s where my imagination took me.  Anyway, I wish health care was completely free for everyone.   Thank God I’m not American!

On one hand, I think this recession is a wake up call for North Americans to realize how lucky and privileged we are, and to make adjustments to our superfluous lifestyles.  The Western society is by far the wealthiest in the world, and considering the devastating amount of poverty in the rest of the world (and the poverty in our own nation, in fact), we should rationally have nothing to worry about.  Not to look over all of the people who have lost their jobs in the past year, but most of us still have roofs over our head and food to eat everyday.  Our days do not consist of the battle between life and death; instead, we’re considering which luxuries we could most do without.  It’s sad.

This recession, for North America, could be a wonderful opportunity to become more selfless and actively pursue ways in which we can give out of the abundance of what we have.  Even though I’m currently not working for money and am a quote-unquote poor student in some amount of debt (the truth is that I’m not really poor at all), I’m sponsoring a little girl in the Philippines.  I wish there was more I could do.  I know there is, but I have such a firm grip on my comfortable, middle-class lifestyle and a poverty mindset.  I constantly worry about money even though I don’t have to and my “safety number” (that’s the amount of money I have to have in the bank to feel safe) is constantly rising higher and higher.  A few years ago, my “safety number” was $500.  It is significantly higher than that now.   I have friends that live pay-cheque to pay-cheque–I could never do that because more money, to me, means more security.  And that’s a little hard when you’re not getting a pay-cheque. 

On the other hand, I’m trying to make adjustments to my lifestyle to cut back on costs and hopefully save more so I can give more.  That’s the hope, anyway.  If I don’t let my fear of being poor get in the way. 

Here are some suggestions for living cheaply that I’ve come up with.  Here’s hoping I can actually follow through with them:

  • Unfortunately, it is not absolutely vital to my existence to have a fancy Starbucks beverage every day.  I’ve been living in a fog and I’ve finally realized that–while their drinks are so so delicious and you look so so cool carrying one of their cups around in a nonchalant manner–they’re really expensive.  Maybe it’s a sign from heaven that their chai lattes have been making me feel sick to my stomach lately.  Tim Hortons is a cheaper, and more Canadian alternative, although not completely necessary either.  Now that I’m not in school anymore and I don’t feel the need to wield a gigantic cup of uber-caffeinated tea around with the other bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived student population, I can take an extra couple of minutes and make my own tea at home in my gigantic reusable tumbler.  No biggie.  Cheap and environmentally friendly.  Two pats on my back!
  • Another cold hard truth: I’m not a guest on my beloved TLC’s What Not to Wear and haven’t been given $5000 USD to revitalize my wardrobe and dress for success.  Even though I take Stacy and Clinton’s message of always looking professional and presentable to heart, it isn’t realistic when you’re not their little fashion victim.  I love that show to pieces but am a bit disturbed that their wardrobe makeovers consist of grooming everyone to “Corporate Culture” perfection, when not everyone is a participant in “Corporate Culture.”  I know that you have to look polished and professional if you want to make a good impression on your superiors, but not everyone has the luxury to shop at Holt Renfrew.  I just dropped $100 buying a pair of dress pants and two dress shirts for my sweet internship as a news production assistant, but I know I can’t do that every week.  As much as I would love a limitless wardrobe and 100 pairs of shoes, the clothes horse thing has to stop somewhere.  This is really hard for me.  I love clothes and daydream of the perfectly coordinated outfits and accessories, but I can’t be splurging every time I go to a mall.  I’ve got to wear what I have, use different accessories to make outfits look fresh, and only buy stuff if I really need it or I can’t get it out of my head, which happens way too often.  I need to stay away from Toronto’s Eaton Centre.
  • Think of other things to do with friends than going out all the time.  When summer finally comes, we can do more things like hiking, biking, and having picnics.  It will take more creativity and more effort, because it’s so much easier to say, “Let’s meet for drinks somewhere” and then drop $20 in two hours.  But who knows?  Who says you can’t have library dates with your friends or bike to another city? 
  • Try to use all of my make-up and other “beauty” items until they’re absolutely done before buying new stuff.  This is going to be extremely hard for me, especially because I won a $25 gift card to Shopper’s Drug Mart yesterday in a draw!
  • Put off my plans for traveling the world until I have a steady income.  Sorry, Morocco, but you’ll have to wait.  I’ll have to stifle my traveling bug, but on the bright side, the world will still be there.  It’s not going anywhere, unless you’re expecting the Apocalypse anytime soon.  Which I’m not.

So those are my plans for saving my money, money, money.  Call me a recessionista and I will scream.