Sunday, December 25


And we have arrived at one of those rare moments in time when christmas and hanukah come together on the same date. Well, very close anyway, as christmas night is actually hanukah eve, but close enough -- it's the first candle tonight.

I haven't cared about such things since my daughter was small enough to be fascinated by the pretty candles, but it's nice we've got something anyway. Today they brought sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts, traditional hanukah treats) for the whole office. I ate my first one of the season, maybe the last, if I'm lucky. Last night I resorted to concocting some heavily rum-spiked eggnog in a fit of nostalgia for the old country and the illusions of merriment christmas eve always managed to evoke. (I also remember how the illusions are barely sustained by liquor throughout the following week, only to crash in the January blues, which usually drag right through to the middle of March.)

Oh that dreaded cold.

It's been almost that cold here this past weekend, with so much rain falling for the past 48 hours that several parts of my town were flooded. Not that I went out, mind you. I didn't even get dressed yesterday -- just stayed in bed reading most of the day. Reading and feeding is what I did the whole day, getting up only when ms. squarepeg wailed that she was hungry. Come evening I was a bit fed up with the storm, though. One can get a little stir crazy.

This morning I needed my Canadian winter jacket to keep warm. It's a great quilty jacket I picked up for only $20 (Canadian!) -- one of those fantastic right-place, right-time buys at Honest Ed's, 3 winters ago. Not only that, my mother-in-law bought it for me! And it's still going strong. I wonder how much longer Honest Ed's will last? While in Toronto I heard tell that once 91-year-old Ed Mirvish leaves this sphere of things, his legendary store sitting on that priceless bit of property at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst in Toronto will be razed and the location will become some kind of huge flashy development. If so, the character of that neighborhood will never be the same.

So if you're in Toronto, make sure you get yourself over there and enjoy the bargains and retro other-wordliness of Honest Ed's, perhaps soon be nothing more than a legend.

Thursday, December 22

the days get longer

Finally, with a double handful of natural pharmaceuticals, I managed to get some shuteye last night. My sleep was still fractured, i.e. I woke up (and looked at the clock) several times, but each time I was able to doze off again. After being a miserable wreck and going home several hours early yesterday, I am back to my normal grouchline today.

I love Dec. 22, when the days start getting longer again. Sundown, falling darkness, is meaningful in a Jewish country. But the buildup of tension as darkness falls earlier and earlier is a small psychological torment in a world where minor psychological torments are strewn in one's path daily. With the winter solstice now behind us, I can optimistically look forward to the days when I can drive home from work in the sunshine, when evenings out will be neither dark nor cold, and when the supermarket that closes now at 2pm on Friday (to give lots of time for workers to get home before sundown, i.e. the start of Shabat) will be open for business until 7.

Sure it's all in my head, but more light just feels like more time. And I am starved for time.

Wednesday, December 21

insomaniacal day

Here is my day so far, and it's only 10:30 am:

It started around 3am when as has become my wont in recent weeks, I woke and looked at my bedside clock. The insomnia that has plagued me lately is making me extremely grouchy, and my baseline grouch level is probably much higher than yours, so I'm pretty much unapproachable these days. The increasing doses of 5-HTP still aren't helping (I'm up to 150mg before bed).

Yes, this is my current excuse for failing to post here more often.
Bite me.

Unfortunately, on this occasion, Mr. Squarepeg was also awake, suffering from the dryness in the air, and his snuffling and movement and blanket-pulling were hampering my attempt to get back to sleep.

He got up to find a package of tissues and blow his nose. Then I got up to pee. I never used to pee in the night, but since I'm awake, why not?

He complained. I complained. He fell asleep. I brooded and tossed and turned and stretched my aching legs in our too-narrow bed. Finally, at about 4:30 I got my discman and settled into my waves-on-the-beach sounds. By 5:30 I had finally dozed off.

I woke up at 7, the time I usually get up, and felt too much physical anguish to move. I dozed again until 7:30 when Mr. Squarepeg went to wake young ms. who still hadn't stirred. She came for a cuddle, despite the late hour and my grouchiness. I really didn't want to get up, but thinking about the crap she would eat if I didn't make her a sandwich motivated me to crawl out of bed and drag myself to the kitchen. I made her instant oatmeal and a pastrami & lettuce sandwich on a whole wheat bagel.

I asked Mr. Squarepeg to transfer the laundry in the washing machine into the dryer, and while I was preparing the breakfast and lunch, shouts of "Oh NOoooo!" emanated from the laundry room. I ran to see what disaster had befallen us, praying it wasn't a flood. For some reason, the water had not emptied during the spin cycle and it poured onto the floor when my luckless husband opened the door. Standing there in the puddle, in his socks, with a full bucket of dry floor rags right behind him, he wailed, "What do I do?!" ooof.

I did not contain my impatience.

Returning to the kitchen, I dispensed with the breakfast and lunch and got Ms. Squarepeg out of there to collect herself for school. I have found her much more cooperative this week, having instituted a new system wherein she gets credits (printed on paper, like monopoly money) for just doing what she should, i.e. getting up by 7:15, not forgetting anything when she leaves, doing homework, tidying her room, etc., and can redeem them for privileges like TV, computer, or even extra money.

Somehow, she blew it completely today. Didn't get up by herself, didn't tidy the room, didn't leave on time, and then when she was already late, she told me she needed to print a homework assignment that she wanted me to proofread first -- an assignment she did a week ago, which I had already given her comments on that she'd ignored. It was ridiculous, got an argument started about her irresponsibility about the homework, and required using the printer which we were having some trouble with. On top of that, she thought the computer wasn't on, and turned it off [the wrong way] thinking she was turning it on. So then we had to wait precious minutes while it started up again. And then we fumbled around getting the printer online, but finally it worked.

And 10 minutes after she left, I saw her lunch still sitting on the kitchen table. Aaaargh.

I checked the washing machine, turned the dial till it went into spin again, emptied it, put stuff in the dryer, and optimistically put in a fresh load to wash.

Went to get ready for ##$%@$%$%work which has become more and more unbearable with its intolerable drive and long hours, and looked like shit in anything I put on. What's the use, too tired to care, even my hair sucks with exhaustion.

Drag myself to car, drive to work trying to stay in my lane and keep eyes open at 100-120 KPH. One good thing about being late for work is that the traffic is much lighter and requires less focus.

Am sitting now at desk, too tired to go to lunch or do any work. My boss was forced to bring her 4-yr-old to work for a couple of hours, so she's in Mommy Mode.

I'm on cruise control. But not in a good way.

Sunday, December 11

literature screened

Have just discovered by chance, while surfing at, that The Corrections is being made into a movie to be released in 2007, with Judi Dench already attached to the project --presumably in the key role of matriarch Edith Lambert. No other actors are announced yet, but I'll be watching that space. My interest in seeing the Lambert family of The Corrections come to life on screen is more than passing, having immersed myself in their world just a couple of months ago. It should be wonderful to see Judi Dench, an actor of depth and subtlety, embody the pivotal Edith. And the producer/director, Robert Zemeckis, is no slouch either, having been the power behind some major projects (not to mention a long list of successful drek).

The person at the top is critical, of course. They are entrusted with the millions required to actualize our fondly-held literature-based imaginings. Memoirs of a Geisha, another wonderful engrossing book of recent years, has just been released as a film, and I can't wait to see it, but critics have unfortunately found it lacking in soul, which is sad.

As Peter Howell, of the Toronto Star, puts it:
It is axiomatic in filmmaking that screen adaptations of books should never attempt to match the frame to the printed word. They are two very different media, with different dramatic requirements.

There are exceptions that prove the rule, however. And it must be said that in bringing Arthur Golden's 1997 bestseller about geisha mystique to cinematic life, director Rob Marshall (Chicago) and screenwriter Robin Swicord (Little Women) should have paid more heed to the original text. They have sanded away many of the fine lines that made the novel such an engrossing read.

Reading great books before seeing their movie versions is always dicey. I'll never forget my disappointment at the film versions of Zorba the Greek and The Color Purple, soon after reading those books. I thought those movie versions sucked majorly, though others who hadn't read the books (or not so recently, perhaps) found them quite acceptable. Let's hope Zemeckis gets it right.

Now, what I'm wondering is, who will play Chip Lambert? He's a little past his peak, both academic and rough, adventurous, impetuous, irrresponsible. I've been trying to think of hot, pushing-40ish actors with substance who aren't too pretty or sexy, and it's tough. I'm thinking Mark Ruffalo would be perfect. Any other suggestions?

Thursday, December 8

hakol beseder ... and it's Thursday!!

Two days ago (I know -- BAD blogger!!) I got in to see cardiologist Dr. B, only to be told that -- wouldn't ya know it -- his ultrasound machine was on the blink... and not in a good way. About an hour earlier it had just stopped functioning, after I'd wasted -- wasted!! -- most of the morning missing work waiting for this appointment. [ed. note: Anybody who knows this blogger even vaguely will detect the irony here: work time is wasted time; free time, never. What I actually did was drag mr. squarepeg out to the entirely-empty-at-9am grocery store and do a week's shopping. And I did laundry and puttered around the house. It was deeliteful.]

Not that I had even been to the gym in the past 10 days, having felt like shit with the longest PMS on record, but I said to him, "Don't you have something in the computer on my previous checkups, something that would remind you that my EKG is unusual, but that there's nothing wrong with me? I need that form for the gym!" So he went to the computer, did indeed find that when he last checked me, 7 years ago, my echo (ultrasound) was a bit unusual, but that it was nothing to worry about. So he pulled out the ol' stethoscope (yay, low-tech always saves the day), listened here, listened there, pointed to my belly and said I was too fat, felt up my leg for I'm not sure what (it's a nice leg) and said I was fine.

As he printed out a form for the gym I showed him my cholesterol readings from my recent blood test. Overall: a tad high at 216; HDL: okay at 49; LDL: borderline too high with 153; Triglycerides: very low at 65. He said it was not so bad, overall I was in good shape, "But lose weight." I got the distinct impression he was appraising me not totally as a doctor, but partially as a male. Was that a tiny leer I perceived in his Gallic twinkle? How egocentric am I?

As I got into the elevator, he was leaving as well, so I had the chance to ask him, sort of playfully, "So, how many? Two? Three? How many kilos?"

Pausing to give me the once-over, he said, "Four." Ouch. (Americans: multiply by 2.2 to calculate pounds.) That would make me the weight I was at age 20 (with a lot less muscle mass, I grant you). I can barely lose ONE kilo, no matter what I do. What are the odds I'll lose four?

Flippantly, I answered, "Oh, you French men, you have completely different standards." That was my parting shot, since we'd reached the ground floor and he was continuing downward to the basement parking.

I don't know if he thought I was amusing or just a weirdo, but I get to see him again in 4 weeks, for the official appointment, when the ultrasound machine will, hopefully, be working. He'll be squirting that gel all over my chest as he examines me inside and out. Four weeks.

That's one kilo a week. Damn.