Archives for category: Observations from the Gallery

It is my understanding that skin is the body’s largest organ.

Skin has colour and texture and (I blush) smell and (I blush more) taste. Skin can be a canvas or protection against the world or just plain useful. It reveals something about personal care and your hormones and maybe even your diet.

I don’t think I have any “issues” with skin, I don’t actually think about skin a lot at all. I have calluses on my hands and fingers from rock climbing and I have other calluses on my fingers from playing ukulele. I notice that sometimes I have mysterious bruises that I don’t remember getting. I try to keep my skin clean and I moisturize regularly.

I notice that other people have skin and I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the skin texture (and smell and taste) of various lovers – although I never had hang ups about soft skin or not so soft skin or feet that were smooth or feet that were not so smooth (if you’ve ever had a dancer, runner or climber as a lover, you know what I mean), I loved their skin simply because it was their skin.

I don’t have issues with my skin or anyone’s skin.

Thing is though.

I think my skin has an issue with me, with my emotions.

When I’m sad or upset or stressed, my skin freaks out. It peels, it breaks out in hives, it burns and itches.

I think of my skin as a “distant early warning system”. Often, my skin knows, before I do that something is wrong. For example, it was only after two weeks of breaking out in spontaneous hives that I realized how sad and angry I was with my ex.

I woke up on Monday morning and I couldn’t fully open my left eye! It was shut from dry skin! I examined it a bit and realized – the look, the feeling of a million little needles piercing my skin and yep, you got it, eczema flare up – all around my left eye. Right eyebrow too. Totally gross.

But it wasn’t the grossness of it, it wasn’t even the pain, it was knowing that I couldn’t drive like that! I babied it all day with corticosteroids and it was pretty much settled down by about 8pm. Missed ukulele jam night and everything. Lucky for me, some make-up tricks Tuesday morning and I didn’t even look that gross when I went back to work.

Skin is a funny thing.


Ok, so second date – he contacted me Friday night, after dinner and asked if I wanted to do something on Sunday. I replied in the affirmative and, after receiving a list of suggested activities, suggested my own – checking out an exhibit at the AGO. He obviously checked it out and asked if I was talking about the Basquiat exhibit and said that he would be interested in seeing it, so we agreed on a time, he offered to drive and I took him up on that offer.

Fun times, this guy is everything that I should want. Funny, thoughtful, excellent driver (you know how some people say they are good drivers? This guy really is, so safe, so considerate that I actually even commented “You are a really good driver!” Not overly aggressive, decisive and safe.), sense of humour, intelligent, nice, good father, good storyteller etc.

I’m a worrier, so when he touched the frame of one of the pieces, I got a bit freaked out. I asked him not to touch the pieces as I didn’t want to get kicked out, he shrugged and said then we would kicked out. Only thing is, I go to the AGO a lot, I don’t want to get kicked out.

The size difference between us (him at 6’3 and me at 5’2) made for some interesting moments while we were trying to see the pieces – I also kept thinking I was going to lose him. In spite of his size, he doesn’t actually stick-out, he has an uncanny knack of blending.

He said, once again that he wanted to touch my hair. I, once again, said “Please don’t touch my hair.” And. He touched my hair. Ack!

What is going on here?

He collects fridge magnets so picked the one of the pic we both liked most, he offered to get me one, which I declined and then accepted as he seemed insistent.

We went over the Henry Moore gallery and he touched one of the plasters. I said to him “Your profile did not mention that you have a trouble making streak.” He said “Some things you have to keep a surprise.”

After the Moore gallery we ambled towards the exit, he invited me to dinner which I declined, citing a need to get ready for the week, he took it graciously. He asked to sit for a bit before we drove back.

He chose to sit at one of the stations where people can get some paper and draw something. He handed me a piece and took a piece for himself. We both started folding.

He made a paper airplane and was done before me.

Then he started to guess what I was making. “A fortune-telling device?” “A hat?” He listed all manner of things and I kept telling “I don’t know, we will see what it is when I’m done.”

He went to the washroom and I finished.

I set the origami crane up by his paper airplane.

When he came back he looked at it and said “Oh cool! I didn’t know you could do origami – your profile didn’t say you did origami!” I said “Some things you have to keep a surprise.” He said that it needed a name and I wrote “Basquiat” and the date on one of the wings and gave it to him.

He was thrilled.

We collected our coats and he wanted a pic of us. So we took one in front one of the posters for the exhibit. I’m not clear what the whole “Let’s take a pic of ourselves on a date!” thing is.  So the pic was us, the crane with Basquiat in the background. Cute pic.

We had a good talk on the drive back. He told me about raising his kids and a bit about the breakdown of his marriage (only a bit though) which was complimentary to him telling me about his work history and personal history that he shared with me on the way to the AGO.

And then he said something that threw me off. He asked about my recent relationship and said “You said it ended suddenly. Sorry, the way you said it, did he die?”


I was thrown off for a moment and said “No. But it was sudden. The relationship died. After a weekend together he stopped communicating and then texted me that it was over.”

He commented “Sounds kind of passive aggressive.”

“Completely passive aggressive.”

We chatted a bit more about it and he said that he thought it was really too bad. I said how it was so surprising and that it only showed how the guy wasn’t a good communicator and that it showed me that I was ready to be in a relationship with someone.

We agreed to keep getting to know each other and then he dropped me off at home.

I got out of the car and went into my house.

Took off my coat and boots.

Went to my room.


Really missed that guy who just broke up with me.

What kind of person I am that I want someone who hurt me so deeply, who obviously doesn’t want to be with me and isn’t available for a relationship?

It makes no sense and I’m upset about it.

I want my heart to be logical and my body to understand it should welcome touches from people who are kind and nice and gentle. They both rebel and do their own things, like they have their own opinions just to cause me confusion.

I wish I could be neater.


I don’t know that much about Basquiat but I do know that he was one of my ex’s fav artists. My ex introduced me to some of my fav artists, so when I recognize a name that he dropped I do my best to check it out. “Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time” is Canada’s first major showing of any of Basquiat’s work so had to check it out.


The works are filled with anger and passion and challenges to conventional roles and stereotypes. I loved the use of colour and primitive symbolism. I particularly liked the works that had words on them – being a reader and sometimes writer, anything with words has my attention.

I love the use of colour, although there was one piece that I found too disturbing for my mind, so moved on very quickly. It was interesting to see his works all laid on, side-by-side as it helped show recurrent themes and symbols and I found it interesting to see how symbols evolved and devolved over his use.

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit and, if you are in Toronto, then I highly suggest you check it out. You will be amazed by the graffiti style, the range of imagery and media and it will give you some insight about what it was to be a black man in the 80s in New York. Food for thought indeed.

Confession time: I’m online dating and dating in real life. The human heart is capable of many emotions at once – it is…ambivalent. So, although broken, it is open and ready to give and receive love. I recognize the juxtaposition of these conflicting states of the heart. I figure my heart and I will learn to live with the paradox.

My first phone calls (3 with the same person) with one of my “matches” went really well – he is far more laid back than his written message imply. We have a date on Friday night, dinner halfway between us at an “upscale Italian restaurant”, so I guess I have to put some effort in to looking good. Blerg.

My first meeting with another one of my “matches” went well too.

I told my brother about it last night: It was going really well, we were talking and walking and he suddenly looked at me and looked a bit stunned and he said “Oh wow, you have beautiful eyes.”

My brother said: Oh, I bet you hated that.

Me: It is the worst. I don’t have the ability to be gracious about it anymore.

My brother: Yeah, it isn’t like you haven’t heard that every day of your life.

Me: Yeah, it isn’t new or interesting. And I just kind of deflate when someone says it like it supposed to be new to me and I’m supposed to be flattered.

My brother: No, I get it, one thing you’ve every day of your life and – ]

Me: Boring. I know already. Tell me something new. A guy is like “you have beautiful eyes” or some variation and I’m like, “yes, I know, thanks for noticing”. So I said to him “Yes, I know thank you.”

My brother: Haha. Oh well, he just met you.

Same guy, as we were sitting having a cinnamon bun and a beverage, suddenly said “Oh wow, your hair is amazing, I just really want to touch it!” My response was “Please don’t touch my hair. Seriously do not touch it.”

Then he said “Oh wow, I wish I could just bundle you up and take you home with me.” I startled and he looked at me and said “Sorry that was bit creepy. I mean, you are so lovely that I’d like to spend more time with you.”

I told a friend about the “you have beautiful eyes” comment and she said “no one has ever told me that I have beautiful eyes” and I had to explain that most men who ask me out say it is because of my eyes.

And I’m not ungrateful. I am very lucky that I have eyes that see and that people find attractive enough to want to be around. I am lucky that when people ask me out that one of the things they want is my eyes on them – they want my gaze focused on them. I’m lucky that the way I look appeals to people and they find me attractive enough to want to be around and feel good to be seen with me.


Am I the only one who laments that the physical is sometimes distracting? The physical says nothing about the personality or character of a person. I get that people judge you first on how you look, but about those second and third and 48th judgments? I do the best with what I have inherited from my parents, I try to live within my body in a way that expresses my character and makes me feel secure and safe and comfortable. For me, there is always a moment of let down when I meet someone in person after emailing them or talking with them on the phone – they get distracted, suddenly they don’t want to talk about ideas, they want to talk about how I look.

They want to touch me.

I feel ungrateful.

I just.

Sometimes I want to leave my physical expression behind, I want to shed my skin, where I intersect with the world, take it off and walk away. I want to be pure energy. I will be a beam of light made up of only of my character and ideas. I will speak to people telepathically, my laughter will sound like water over pebbles. I won’t have eyes or hair or skin or lips or anything – just light.

I want someone to see me clearly. Without getting distracted by the physical me. Get to know me inside out.

This is a new thing for me, using the iPhone to post something, so please excuse my errors, they are mine alone and should not be blamed on the tech that I (mid)use.

No climbing today means a day of “catch up” and feeding the…dare I say “soul”?

Joined to 10am line to the AGO to the “The Great Upheaval” exhibit which is in it’s final two days.

This exhibit features a couple if my favourite artists so, for me, it was no to be missed.

I read an interesting article earlier this week, ok I read a few interesting articles this week…one being about how nature helps relieve various behaviours in children and another about how if we are collecting art we should focus on how we feel rather than monetary value.


For me, it is worth it, waking up early, paying an admission to stand in front of the few Chagalls and Kandinskys that were on display. (The Miro was a surprise and I enjoyed the Mondrians too. Modigliani has never let me down either…)

There is something energizing to stand in front if paintings that I love. I can feel my heart beat change and my spine straighten, I feel a gladness, a sense if joy and well-being, stimulated and thankful. It operates on my whole self – my body, intellect and emotions. It moves me.

I can’t tell if it is about colour or structure or why I respond this way to some paintings and not others and I don’t know why some artists I love more than others.

I know it is true and real.

I must be hilarious to watch in a gallery – I find the artists I live best first, visit them then experience all the other paintings, then I go back to my favourites again. Some kind of homing instincts I guess.

I’m not sure if it is possible to perform open heart surgery on yourself.

Or if it is possible to recalibrate your brain chemistry.

Or if it is possible to heal old wounds.

I don’t really know about the impact time has on these things. I don’t know how much of it is bounded by the constructs of our humanity or how free-will plays into it all.

I know that many, many years ago, when I broke with my ex, I thought I would never write again.

Then I started this blog.

I thought I would never play music again.

Or sing again.

And certainly not in front of other people.

Seven weeks ago my brother walked in to the house, handed me a ukulele and said “Learn to play this. I help host a Ukulele jam every second Monday over at The Stone Cottage. The next one is four days. Learn some chords and see you there.”


I don’t know how things work in your life, but in mine when my older brother tells me do something, I’m rather inclined to do it. He is a big influence on me, I have a great deal of respect and love for him. He has never steered me wrong. And, from conversations with friends who have less than stellar siblings, I am very, very lucky to have him in my life.

I started.

It was horrible.

My fingers hurt. I couldn’t get the fingering right. I couldn’t strum probably and when I showed up at the jam on Monday evening – I was completely lost.


I loved it.

I don’t know what it was or why it was, but I loved it.

I kept trying.

I went out and bought a tuner. And I practiced every night. I found songs I wanted to play, that were way too complicated, but I tried them anyway.

I tried singing

My voice is…rusty and not used to singing any more. I must have hurt my throat a few time struggling for notes.

The last time my brother was over, he asked me “So, I think you should do something for the Open Mike part of the jam. You should be the first.”

I laughed because at that point I knew 3 chords and I could play one consistently. (The one I could play is open strings – C6!) But I heard myself say “Sure. I’ll find something.”

So I listened and looked.

And I found something to play.

I needed to learn and do 5 chords consistently.

I needed to be able to carry a tune, without losing my way.

I needed to learn the words/lyrics.

I started.

I played every night.

I took a cheap ukulele to work so I could practice my chords on the fret board without making noise during lunch hour.

I sang my heart out.

It isn’t perfect, but sometimes you just have to say “Enough. I’m ready, even if the song isn’t.”


Last night I did it.

I got up in front of my peers, the ones who came out to the Monday Night Ukulele jam and I performed my song.



And I know it wasn’t great. After seven weeks, I’m not great, I’m still learning, but, the audience was forgiving and friendly.

And I did something that I was scared to do.

I did something that I didn’t think I would ever do again. Well, I did a few things I thought I would never do again.

And you know, the best part was looking in my brother’s eyes and seeing pride there. It was a great feeling.

It is a remarkable thing to track and observe one’s own changes.

Now that I’m learning to play music again, I’m more relaxed, my heartbeat is slower, I’m smiling more, my walk is looser and slower. My breathes are deeper, my brain is faster and can’t stop hearing music and wants to problem-solve and try, try, try.

And my heart.


My heart feels.


It is like. Is it possible for a heart to learn how to beat again? To learn how to fly again?

And what is so funny, so strange about this.  I thought my heart was just fine.

I thought I was happy.

I mean, I’m pretty happy. I smile a lot. I joke, I go out, I have friends, I have things I love to do.

But this.

Having music back. Raising my voice in song.


It is something completely.


And I love it.

I got caught up in this whole “how I learned to start worrying and hate online dating”, that I’ve neglected to say anything about all the amazing stuff that has been going on around this place.

The first part of the summer was spent working hard on a school course – trying to what? Better myself? Better my situation? Better get more designations to move up and onto other things?

After that all wrapped up, it was a lot of time out – fondue and beer nights became something of a staple with a dear friend and managed to get out with others for nights away and nights out.

Excellent times – loads of laughter and lots of getting to know new people and connect with them.

Then – a series of miracles.

I think miracles are those things that happen that seem go against the “laws of nature” or are unexplained.

In my life, miracles are when things happen just as I need them too, before I even know I need them.

A friend posted a comment on my blog and it has been about 2 years since I last saw her in person. (Are you reading this right now, do you recognize yourself in my words?) And that prompted this need to be her company again.

And you know. Her timing was perfect – I was beginning to ached from not knowing what was going with this guy and messed up about where it could possibly lead or how it could possibly end. I was mixed up and mortified that someone I hardly knew, someone I barely met, could make me feel so…tense and unsure of myself.

I made a mental to call her as soon as I was home at a reasonable time.

The next day, one of my dear friends came by my desk to drop of a Valentine. He said “I don’t know bex, I saw this and thought of you and figured Friday the 13th was the perfect day to deliver it to you.”

I read the Valentine: If you get attacked by a bear with chainsaws for hands, I hope he stays away from your face…because I think you are cute.

I laughed my brains out and pinned it to my board.

Then, while I was away from my desk, another friend took a post-it and left me a noted that said “I heart you!” – with a kiss and a hug.

Two days later, I got a LinkedIn invite from a friend I haven’t seen in 15 years. 15 years!

I accepted and we are now back in touch.

(You know who you are. Are your reading this right now?)

And you know.

As some parts of my life end, other parts begin again and flourish.

This week was totally focused on the social event of the season – The Wedding.

New dress, new shoes, went out and got my nails done (I’ve already wrecked 2!) and have a hair appointment in the morning.

Oh yes, I went down to make sure everything was all good and the manager of the department asked “So bex, you getting drunk tomorrow night?” When I demurred “Hey, we will just have to see tomorrow night.” I posed the same question and got “Of course!” as the answer.

I’m lucky.

I’m surrounded by people who understand and know me and love me and want to have fun with me.

I’m loved and kept safe by them. I get to laugh and cry with them, I get to be a part of their family and fun times and times of distress.

There is something about people coming back just in time, isn’t there? Those telepathic butterflies that those we love “M’aidez, I need your love and kindness, contact me, come back to me and lend me your strength. Carry me in your heart.”


This post could alternatively be titled “The law of declining returns”.

So here is the how it worked:

He stopped holding my hand and following my car home in his car to make sure I got safely home. When I explained that hand holding was important to me, he scoffed.

Then, he stopped asking “When can I see you again?” as we were saying good-bye and didn’t drive me to my train stop.

When I asked when iIcould see him again, he said “Things are really busy for me right now, I’m not really making plans.”

After an overnight trip together, he insulted my curls, calling them “shaggy” and requested that I wear it straight instead as it looked “more sophisticated”.

Then I didn’t hear from him for 10 days.

When I asked if he was still interested in getting to know me and in the developing the kind of relationship we discussed, he said that he was probably too “jaded” to love me like I deserved, that I had a “kind, gentle, passionate soul” and that he could see us being good friends.

So, my guess is that if I saw him again he would insult my mother, burn my house down, slander my dead dog’s rep, key my car and end up stabbing me 47 times.

So, I declined.

I did exactly what I asked him to do when he was done and said “I’m done.”

I don’t fully understand the law of declining returns. I don’t understand the whole “come on strong in the beginning and treat her worse and worse every time”. I didn’t make demands about not seeing other people, I didn’t even ask. I didn’t talk about introducing him to my friends or family – he did, in the beginning. I didn’t make assumptions about who he was or why he made the choices in his life – he made those about me and my choices, thoughts and feelings.

And what I don’t understand most is when someone offers you an easy way out, a way to be neat and elegant and avoid talking about feelings and motivations and just end it, easily – why wouldn’t someone just take it and get on with things. Why avoid it and leave someone wondering if everything is ok and if you are alive – why not just end it and get on with things.

I want people to take the hurt out of the pain. It is going to be painful, endings are always a bit uncomfortable, especially after trying to get close to someone, but don’t get messy, don’t talk about feelings you don’t have and had no intention of ever nurturing. Don’t insult the Buddhist by talking about their non-existent soul.

I don’t know about this dating thing. I’ve tried it more in the past six months of my life than I have in the past…7 and half years. And I’m not impressed. The lack of civility and decorum, the lack of decency is appalling and sad.

I’m not sure how to negotiate with people out there who are like this, who claim to be genuine and nice and in the end just…aren’t.


Well, look around me. I’m surrounded by people who have that, who love each other honestly and truly and treat each other with kindness.

And that is inspiring.


It is strange how parts of us fall to “sleep”.

How the brain forgets, how the body doesn’t remember. How we block or let go of certain memories or simply deny their existence as a part of who we are.

There are parts of me that I figured had their time and could be set aside so I could get on with my life. How strange to be proven wrong.

Parts of me are waking up. They are making demands and they are asserting their importance. And I feel it is all a little out of context, like I could have used a slower way to wake up, a gentler way to find my way back to these forgotten pieces of me.

And I know, I know, that I have this tendency to cut myself into manageable bites, easily self-digestible and neat. And it has me feeling messy, this being relocated, firmly in the body. Messy. And confusing.

And it isn’t just me, I fear I’m making a mess of someone else too.

I mean.

There is just so much I don’t understand.


Woke up yesterday with my throat aching and having gotten up during the night to change soaked sheets twice.

Sucked it up, ‘cuz Tuesday. And Tuesdays, I gotta to be at work. Too much to do and only me to do it.

Got home and barely kept my eyes open until bedtime.

Woke up a few times during the night to take meds and re-adjust so I could breathe.

This morning could barely breathe and my voice = gone.

I lost my voice!

And still very tired and congested.

Called in sick – the third time in two weeks! – drank some hot tea and went back to bed.

Slept the day away.

Hope Thursday is better…