On Old City Parts

I step out into the cold, feeling the damp air brush against my skin like tiny fibres, soft but firm they pass by as I wait for the cross light to change. The clouds fluff out, primped and ready to show off their pillowy form to the slow waking city. Cars rush past, tick, tick, tick I watch, hypnotized by the count down of the cross light, holding me still until the walk symbol grants me passage.

Up ahead I see the bus in the distance, mentally and instinctively I begin to pick up speed. I look back and forth, from side to side- safety first- but like a lioness, I stalk my prey with my eyes, beginning to prepare my body to catch my moving target. Once inside, I sit in the seat with the best vantage point, where the sky and streets are clear ahead and I can take in the suburban view.

I love going out into the city in the early morning during the week. Even in winter, I can walk at my leisure, not jostled by people rushing to get to their “whatever” on time. The school bell has already rung, while I, not a part of the salmon going upstream, can get lost in the old parts of the city and take the streets and city sounds all in.

Today I wandered back into the Distillery District, my last visit had been during the Christmas Market in December. This time the streets were quiet, all the affectation of the holiday long removed. The stark red brick now naked, contrasted against glass buildings and dustings of stale fallen snow. I found myself walking to my favourite little shop to grab a coffee and smoked toffee chocolate chip cookies (a mouthful of smoked heaven- I do not exaggerate) and sat on some near by green steps, wrapping my hands around the cup for warmth as I savoured the simplicity of the moment. I played back in my head a similar instance, sitting there, lights and christmas tunes over head; streets busy with children, couples, barely any wiggle room and this here and now where I could lay on the ground and maybe not a soul would bother me until closing time.

I check my watch: 10:55 am flashes at me and fades, while my mind wanders, time feels as if it stood still. I brush the crumbs from my cookie sampling off my fingers and rise, the chill finally seeping into my jeans. Up a head a man waits for someone- I assume, or he is just resting with his two dogs, trying to enjoy the view. I admit I have a bias toward the boxer breed, as I can’t seem to recall what the other dog type was, but that mug got my attention and when those boxer eyes locked with mine, we shared a moment of head scratches and cold hands. The owner graciously allowed me this little whimsy and after a while I waved goodbye to them as the creak of old wooden doors and movement signalled to me that it was nearly 11 o’clock.

I am astounded the difference that 5 minutes can make; people started to pepper in, the brief moment of solitude began to dissipate as I watched a few teens, phones raised high at the ready, trying to catch that “insta” shot. Sounds began to litter the space while I continued my walk. I thought to myself as I passed them, if they actually saw the beauty in the quiet stillness around them, but then I realized that I often suffer from that same affliction. Its become far too easy to forget to live in the moment these days and more through the filters on my phone. When I come here though, the old history and architecture captivates me and I’m more interested in taking in my surroundings, playing with a 1 year old boxer and watching the restaurants ready for the dinner crowd. I’ll admit, I can’t help myself, I see a great moment worth capturing- mostly because it’s so rare to see this place, usually busy and crowded, devoid of bustle. FullSizeRender-2

When I get home with my favourite treats from the Distillery, I look back at the photo and once again the memory rushes in. It’s now become a reminder to me when I mentally complain about the muck and the rush, the push and the shove of people as we all flood into to the city centre during the weekday. Of the hoods and scarves tucked high, everything forgotten in the drive to get inside and out of the cold that the beauty of a place remains, regardless of if it is hidden by the frost and snow blankets and to remember the wonder of all those little silences in between.


On Writing and Time

Distant screaming in my head. That’s all I can hear as I stir slowly awake from sleep to start the day. The light barely visible through my window, the screaming, I come to realize is my alarm blaring in the distance. Why did I set it to ascending? Do I really enjoy gradual yelling? I stare at the ceiling, annoyed as I reach for my phone and contemplate the possibility of abusing the snooze feature. Some days, I imagine that the only option for motion this early in the AM is an indelicate face plant on the floor. Just roll right off, the thud jarring me, I no longer have the choice to remain in bed or an excuse to sleep more. Through very little effort  I’d achieve the hardest step, though perhaps sore, I would then crawl my way through to the next proceeding ritual.


FullSizeRenderI’ve been told i’m not a morning person, I’m sure even you’ve come to that conclusion. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that without coffee, I would become a snarling beast of a half-human; the hunchback of Toronto, barely functional until that blessed cup touches my lips, dissipating the mind fog as I consume the heady brew. I’d like to believe my description is an exaggeration but I’ve come to terms- my crutch and I, we know well the roles we each play in my day.

Due to the recent demands of my day job bleeding into my evenings, the time which I designated as my writing hours evaporated, leaving me struggling to find moments to pursue my craft. I decided one day, on a particularly aggravating evening that every night I would adjust my alarm to wake a bit earlier. The goal: to find the right “magic” hour that would allow me to get some of my work done before I headed to my job. I knew the odds were against me, yet I tried and I was unsuccessful. I became frustrated with my inability to rise and my miscalculation in assuming that the dangling carrot of word progression would be enough to awaken my sleeping form. After a week of hit and misses, I decided to redefine where I could tackle my creative work and become more flexible with my time.

Although I use technology in every aspect of my life, I often forget that devices,  mobile and compact, can be a writing tool used anywhere I go. I focused the following week on making my creative space more transportable, playing music that set the tone, making sure I wasn’t in a rush and tried to create an environment in my mind that I could produce a sentence or two.  I had more success and less self-induced stress from this small change. Writing on my commute, I can’t help but have low expectations given the location I am trying to create, but the exercise in and of itself helped me to learn to be more adaptive in my writing pursuits.

As I continue to work away at my first draft and other writing projects, I recognize the struggle to find enough time between my day job, life responsibilities and the procrastinating she-devil that lurks under my desk. I think we all, at some point in our writing journey, have struggled to find ways to keep our writing on track.Sometimes distractions speak louder than inspiration. But as I write this, I feel motivation and drive become fuelled by my tiny daily efforts which I’ve come to realize and accept that they sometimes have to be enough.

On Words With Force

11 AM a bus fills with packed commuters, the bustle and hum saturates the air. Laughter, children’s voices echo in the cramped space. Moments pass like any other, then words- unfriendly, harsh, shoot out for all to hear. “Are you talking to me?” Sniper has hit its mark, someone responds to the barb. Voices die down, laughter seems to defuse, distanced by those simple sounding words. Anger, curses follow, bullets reloading a gun. Rage cuts back and forth, duelling tongues, no purpose in the litany of their rants. Commuters instinctively draw in to their seats, standing patrons lean away as if to avoid any stray words, fearful of the ricochet if any stray bile hits.

These two volcanos, who unexpectedly erupt, change the energy of this rectangular metal box. We need to get to our destination, we are unsure of where this volley of anger will go so we remain, frozen in reluctant anticipation. In a moment the place, public, dormant, becomes a minefield we must cautiously tread.

The moment passes, the snipers retreat, tension dies, a nervous laugh in the distance breaks the haze, the bus driver closes the door and drives off. I sit in my seat starring outside as we pass the gray city, moisture from the condensation outside pools in the corner, transformed to liquid, tear like as it glides down the window pane.

I am reminded that words have power good or bad. Their residue lingers long after the dust settles. Why is it that in a country laboured with reminders to be PC (politically correct) we forget that often times kindness to one another is ignored in favour of extremes: cautious politeness or pointless arguments amongst strangers. I often wonder why some people (we’ve all met them at some time or another) make the choice, in that defining moment to retaliate rather than calmly walk away. I’m not talking about aggression towards one’s body, or child or loved one, those aren’t the moments I am referring to- it’s when an ignorant or angry person, among strangers, choose to hurl words and the fact that there is someone willing to take the bait. We in kind as public commuters must endure their voices, choke on their tension, have their words stain our minds. It saddens me when the higher road is neglected, when the easy path becomes the default.

I love this city, understand what comes with riding public transit but respect amimage1ong humans is something I won’t loose faith on, even in moments such as these. In fact I demand we remember that when we hurl words that sting and cut- flesh and blood is at the end of that force.

2:50 PM I am sitting on the bus ride home, less packed with commuters.The bus driver announces “have a great day everyone.” I quietly smile, ring the bell and as I descend, wish her the same.



On the Path

The path to self discovery is paved with Dreams and Fears. They stand on opposing ends, armed to the teeth, pitted against eIMG_0418ach other, the road the dividing line. Each side has its best weapon tucked away for safe keeping. Dream tells of the ideas you have for your future, the joy of living in that space where reality meets the plans. Fear slowly unravels the memories, of that time you failed and lost the prize in school or points out that rejection letter sitting on your dining table. They often tussle, gripped by each other fiercely, one always gaining leverage and able to dominate the other. If only for a moment a winner shines through until the next bend in the road, then the battle waged in the mind starts anew.

As I lay wrapped in sheets (we do what we must to reduce that hydro bill!) I sit here writing as I think on my plans for the new year. Not one to make the resolutions that I valiantly attempt to follow, until something- anything really- detracts me from my goal I decided on a different route.
My goals usually sit there tired, forgotten and dust collected until I brush it off, flailing it around, come December getting it ready fr the following year. The internet and media remind me of this our ritual, what we do to try to change who we are- hopefully for the better- I once again feel the spark to renew the promise to begin the resolution dance. I snuff my compulsion in that moment as the clock counts down to midnight, I remind myself once again to not fall into that enticing trap.

It is often fear the puts the breaks on, that wins if you will, and I remain in the aftermath, defeated and frustrated at my lack of action; I procrastinate putting off what I see as my inevitable failure.  I have a typical 9 to 5 job but I have forever longed to embrace my creative side. I decided to finally do something drastic, taking a friend’s advice, and do the National November Writing Month challenge. After completing the Nanowrimo this year I was inspired to keep forging ahead to finish he final pages of my first novel draft.

Achieving this feat in itself has pushed the fears back, the holdings they won when I lost writing contest after contest, defeat had chipped away at my invisible armer, doubt managed to creep in through the cracks until  I took that challenge. I realized that I could do a lot more than I thought I would ever accomplish. It no longer became a game of “I will do it this year” and more of a “I’ve done it. Now what am I going to do with it?” question I am pushing myself to answer in the new year.

I’ve begun to start looking at the steps I’ve taken, along with the set backs and I smile at where I now stand. I didn’t start in the beginning I took small steps- posting poetry online, reading more bookings on writing, exposing myself to  more writing communities, listening to their struggles which slowly allowed me to eliminate the ‘I couldn’t” from the equation. I reenergized the Dream troops’ ranks so that they were armed with a bit more of an advantage against the ‘I can’ts” because I did.  I now look a the year ahead as a place for growth, discovery, challenging and answering questions and let the goals unfold as I go.

I’m slowly accepting that failure is part of the journey and I am working on not letting it hold me back. It will definitely be a game of give and take.