Thursday, February 10, 2011


there's something horrible about

"now if it hurts a lot, just raise your hand, okay?..."

and not five seconds later, that perfect little hand, covered in calluses and half-outgrown nail polish, and washable marker, shoots right up in the air. and her boots twitch, two feet north of the plastic boot rest on the chair. and her other hand fumbles with the ribbing on the edge of the creased upholstery. and i feel like crying.

hurt me. hurt me. take this. hurt me. not her. not her. never her. stop.

i watched my little girl get three fillings today. to say nothing of the immediate shame of blowing most of my income on 'wholesome' food and a diet that promotes familial health while ultimately yielding little perfect smiles riddled with cavities, it was with a nauseating mixture of pride and sorrow that i watched her be brave.

women are strong.

save for childbirth, they shouldn't have to be.

it's like i was explaining to a kid the other day: women shouldn't have to learn self-defense. i shouldn't have to use a bike lock. no one should have to guard against the evil of others.

but we do.

and we have to.

and there she was, not literally strapped down, but clinically subject to the application of pain by an institution widely accepted to know best and work for the good of others. she took it like a girl, a calm, wonderful, courageous, wide-eyed, brown-eyed, wonder of a girl. and she didn't cry once.

i was proud.

i was proud because she could take it; because she acted maturely, followed instructions, and shone through discomfort; she responded constructively; she looked away when necessary; she focused when it was time; she held on.

and yet, as i watched my little girl, so full of possibility and wonder and curiosity and courage, i felt a nagging sadness. in that moment, i wanted her, so much, to never take it lying down, to never go down without a raging blistering tornado of a fight. i wanted her to never twitch in pain and let it happen. i wanted her never to hurt. i wanted her to never have to be courageous.

perhaps these are terrible wants. perhaps great things only come from great courage and great pain and seeing the suffering through to the other side. perhaps there is much to be learned in the fight. i understand. and i've already asked much of her. the day she was born we rushed her to the hospital from our warm, cozy home where she came into the world, and they poked her and put tubes in her and put her in a warm plastic box and the smell of plastic and sterile was everywhere and i sobbed on the phone to my mother.

she wasn't more than two hours old, and already, she was courageous.

as she was poked and examined, she screamed with gloriously clear lungs, and she moved her fuzzy dark limbs around and made sure everyone knew that she was boss of herself, and i smiled, and she was perfect. feisty, even.

now she's a big kid with three fillings and a balding dada and a dentist who adores her and her little heart full of courage. i hope she uses it for love.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

strap your heart.

i've been searching for a strap to monitor the beating of my heart on a digital device that tells me just where on the planet i am, how fast my bike and i are moving, and how many times a minute my feet go round on the pedals, let alone the percent gradient up or down, and maybe even what street or turn is coming up.

numbers scare me.

i've been searching and researching matching rims and tubular tires and tubular tire gluing techniques and the weight specs and bearing recalls and tying and soldering methods for a wheel that will match the one i just spent a couple weeks' worth of grocery money on.

and all this, so that i can specifically go faster and know just how much faster i am going.

isn't it about the journey?

i recently made a commitment, to the people with whom i work, and to myself, to feel more. the corollary of this commitment is that i will allow myself to also show more, my feelings. i was famous for these things once. huge heart. no strap on it. no gauge. no holding back when leaving the optimal zone of feeling. pretty much zero to sixty in a second. made me a lot of enemies, bemused friends, and persuaded lovers. there must be something irresistible about someone who feels so much, so helplessly.

in hopes of survival to my next couple of decades, i gradually (by which i mean: in huge, painful drops over time and pitfalls) decreased how much i showed my feelings, and eventually, how much i felt. nearly impossible, i would assume, but all of a sudden i couldn't cry anymore. literally, but more importantly, figuratively. years would go by without a tear. and feelings took on designations - feel for that, let that slide, etc.

i've been numb for a little while.

there's a lot that gets done when numb. there is efficiency. there is productivity. there is the tightening of everything because those fragile, wet emotions aren't getting in the way with their messy crushability. things get tossed and recycled and given away. things are not bought. priorities bring about the achievement of goals. there is some laughter, but mostly, there is a stern resolve to press on. if only i had more to show for the numb years.

recently, i was reminded that i should feel more. i make good things when i feel. i take good pictures; write good words; am less stern and more convincing. i believe more, in everything, especially myself. slowly, slowly, i am coming back to this. it's pretty good. the color is returning. things are regaining vibrancy. the filters are off. and everything is a little more important.

so i'm waiting, impatiently, for everything now. i'm not holding too many things back, though it is winter in toronto and there's only so far one can go to 'live out loud'. tubular carbon wheels in the mail. earning them, gram for gram, in sweat on the trainer in a dark kitchen while the children sleep. poetry i wrote once and will find again. photographs to be made. valentine's day. looking people in the eye and having the time to be honest with them. not surrendering. not saving 'the real me' for another time more deserved of it. not holding back. not.