Monday, March 23, 2015

This ain't the Rosedale library. Anymore.

Goddammit. I'm so mad my bowels are in a knot, or maybe it's the wassabe peas I had for dinner – nevermind – truth is, I am more sad than mad.

I just lost an old friend.

News yesterday of the grim reaper locking the doors of my all-time favourite bookstore made me want to puke. This Ain't the Rosedale Library was more than just a place to buy books. It was the boyfriend who opened the door, and guided you though a room with his hand on the small of your back – and not just because he was hoping to get laid.

This Ain't the Rosedale Library, when I knew it, was located deep in the "fruit belt" as they called that particular section of Church Street in Toronto. I stumbled in there one day because I loved the name, and I loved reading.

Love at first sight is the only way to explain my experience with this small, independent bookshop. The less-than-librarian-looking staff gleefully recommended one book, which started a domino effect of reading one can't-put-down book after another. I became a regular. I even had a "This Ain't the Rosedale Library" t-shirt. I recall walking in and commenting, "I just read this and loved it" and the owner, Charlie would say something like, "If you loved that, this one will blow your mind." They were always right. It was there I fell in love with travel writing, short stories, Raymond Carver, Dervla Murphy, Barbara Trapido and a myriad of broken spines that kept me going long after my lights flickered on and off, and on again.

This Aint't the Rosedale Library knew me. They got me. They liked me at a time when I didn't even like myself.

I started this blog at a time when I didn't even like myself. Business was dead bloody slow and many of my long-established clients were unable to advertise the way they used to – the way they needed to in order to keep their cash registers ringing. I naively set out to somehow help independent businesses by tying in their existence with my miserable life.

Along the way, together we won a few – and lost a few. Havenot lost one of its lovely, independent bookstores when Frog's Hollow went tits up. And Buckley's Music store died. Sadly, the list is growing. Competing with amazons like Amazon and big box stores is like pissing in the wind. At some point your spirit breaks and you succumb.

Holy crap, this is beginning to bore even me, so all I can say is: shop locally if you have a choice. Atlantic News. Sweet Janes. Woozles. Thornbloom. Jost. Blossom Shops. Juliens. The Teazer. Maritime Travel. Pete's Frootique. What would our streetscapes look like without Mills, Sock-it-to-Ya, The Armview, The Ardmore, or The Trail Shop? Go stand in front of Walmart and see how warm and fucking fuzzy you feel.

Having said that, I confess to wading into Chapters on occasion. They usually have what I want.

But they never, ever, have what I need.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Namaste, asshole.

"Mom, I don't think yoga is supposed to sound like that."

The resounding grunts emanating from the floor just outside his bedroom door, had awakened The Little Bastard, and he was messin' with my chakras.

"Fuck you," I muttered under my Ujjayi breath.

Like most people dealing with post-holiday remorse, I dove into January determined to change things up. I'd start by shutting my pie hole, then drastically reduce my bacchanal tendencies, followed by ramping up the physical activities beyond the usual hefting a blue bag full of empties to the curb every Monday morning.

I got busy – optimistically looking into potential outlets for pent-up poisons, such as: adult hockey, aqua fit, Pilates, spinning, Zumba (whatever that is), lane swimming, badminton, ladies doubles, gym memberships, and squash – all the while knowing that the moment I slapped my cash down on the counter and committed to something – I wouldn't go.

Thus forming the foundation of my first mantra: Know thyself.

Adhering to a schedule was another obstacle on the road to redemption. I already adhere to The Little Bastard's schedule, which leaves very little in the way of time, or money, for me to adhere to anything aside from living dangerously close to the poverty line.

Know thy self pity.

Then I saw the light. Yoga is like herpes in Havenot! In this city full of Buddhists and wannabe Buddhists – you can't swing a cat without hitting a yoga studio, or knocking someone's yoga mat out of their Lululemon backpack. Surely there would be an affordable "Yoga for Cynics" class nearby. Ommmm, this was it! But in the midst of that short-lived optimism, I had a flashback to an Ashtanga class full of hairy armpits, yellow toenails, inner peace, heavy breathing, and dirty looks that had me in fits of uncontrollable laughter, running for the door – never to namaste again.

Go fuck thyself, if thy can't laugh at thyself.

I had all but given up, when shortly after New Year's – with The Little Bastard happily off playing hockey in Quebec – I dashed to the store and bought a yoga DVD and the cheapest yoga mat I could find. With the house quiet and free from teenage ridicule – I began my path to enlightenment by pouring a big glass of wine, curling up on the sofa and watching the entire DVD. I sat and sipped through the 30-minute AM session, followed by the 30-minute PM session – my rationale being – how would I know what I was supposed to be doing, while I was supposed to be doing it.

Educate thyself.

The next morning – before coffee, and before opening the blinds – I rolled out my new yoga mat and hit "Play". My first deep yoga breath had me thinking I should have sprung for a higher quality yoga mat, since mine was off-gassing toxins faster than I was. I also had to contend with two dogs, who – unaccustomed to seeing me upside down on the floor – thought this was play time. I also self actualized the serious need for a pedicure – and with third eye open – spotted a sock and a ten dollar bill under the sofa.

And so, I followed along with the perky yogi, pose after pose, grunting and flailing about, focusing on breathing (when I was in fact, holding my breath), clearing the mind of all thoughts other than income tax bills, belly fat, a near-empty furnace tank, and is that a lump?, and never being able to retire, and I'd love a cinnamon bun – all the while taking extra caution not to flatten my poodle when I went – with a graceless thud – from plank to cobra.

At one point during the 30-minute AM session, the DVD yoga chick paused, hands in prayer, and asked for awareness – instructing us to focus on our intention for the day. She encouraged me to seek clarity. Guidance. Ease. Integrity. Forgiveness. And gratitude.

I just wanted to get through the day without killing someone.

When it ended with a soothing "Namaste", I was sweating like a pig, covered in dog hair and saliva, and painfully aware of body parts that should never be visable, especially hanging upside down. I was also oddly rejuvenated and proud of myself for the ability to bend and touch the floor even with a case of Cabernet Sauvignon and a few tubs of Imperial cheddar sloshing around in my abdominal region. I also perfected the 'softening of the face' and 'Savasana' (the frigid housewife pose) right off the bat.

Love, or least try to tolerate thyself.

Next Sunday, January 29th at 10am, grab your yoga mat (and your cheque book) and attend Hearts Opened for Honduras, a 1-hour yoga class that will help send the lovely and talented Meggie Reardon to Honduras for a little do-gooding with Global Brigades. Meggie is young and full of hopes and dreams that will, in all likelihood, get dashed – but before they do – let's get her to Honduras, where she will teach children without food or water to do the downward facing dog, or build mud huts or something.

Hearts Opened for Honduras will be held at Cornwallis Jr. High School, named in honour of the English colonel credited with founding Halifax, who subsequently authorized a bounty on the scalps of local Mi'kmaq men, women and children. After a bit of a hullabaloo by some First Nation folks – the school will officially be renamed after Clifford Olson, or some other notable Canadian, in due time, but not before next Sunday. But don't let that stop you.

Inner peace has always outfoxed me, but I'm 'at one' with that. My resolution for this Chinese New Year's Eve, is simply to recognize that I am, and will always be, a tempestuous Ox. According to the Chinese Zodiac, Oxen are antisocial, stubborn workaholics who rarely allow themselves time to relax. And, despite a genetic predisposition for being "big boned", Oxen (when kept away from mirrors or unflattering photographs) are quite happy in their own skin – and oddly compatible with Snakes or Roosters – both petite and easily flattened, when one sweaty palm slips on a cheap yoga mat, in the wee hours before dawn.

Which brings me back to 'know thyself'.

Watch Meggie's Honduras yoga benefit message on You Tube by clicking here.