Category Archives: Autobiographical

The Fine Art of Full Circles: The Cunt is Back

[tap-tap-tap] Is this thing on?

Oh. Hi! You’re here. Hello.

Three or so years ago, when I last wrote on this blog, I never could’ve imagined the next time I posted would be in Crete, Greece, where dogs bark and a breeze blows under a warm sun. Life’s good in the Greek Islands.

But here I am and there you are. Much has happened in that time. Hence the whole “Crete, Greece” thing.

Why did I stop writing here? Mm. Lots of reasons, I guess. Getting stereotyped, feeling done. Being spent. Working too much. And the most cardinal sin of them all, I had nothing to say. I’d become exhausted from being angry, shouting in the wind, being a rat in a cage. There’s only so long you can be angry before you realize that maybe, just maybe, the problem is you.

So, I stopped writing at The Cunt. I kept writing. But, for money. For credibility. For a whole lot of reasons, but I no longer wrote for the hell of it.

Looking back, I wonder if I was trying to outrun myself, to leave this place in the distance. Maybe if I wasn’t this, my life wouldn’t be that. I’m not sure. But I do know I ain’t outran anything. Truth is, there’s never only one reason our life isn’t what we’d hoped it would be.

And the further I’ve gotten, the prouder I am of where I was. The big pictures is easier to see when we get space between it and us.

The Clarity of Then and Now

In the hazy light of getting older, it feels like this blog and I have been through hell and back. Hyperbole? Only a little. This place and I know where we’ve been. From getting 5,000 to 10,000 visitors a day and crashing down to 50, from being interviewed on national US radio without credit through to being stalked by would-be employers, and, later, fired from jobs. From making my dating life impossible to getting judged based on what was, at times, a persona I affected… well.

Yeah, The Cunt just stopped being fun. If it ain’t fun, man, don’t do it. And sure as shit don’t do it when it’s that hard and you’re not getting paid.

It’s fitting that, on my walk through Heraklion after writing this first draft, I passed graffiti that read “Love the life you live, live the life you love.” It’s like I called 1-800-Dial-a-Graffiti to get something special for me. The graffiti you need, when you need it.

Two and a half years of travelling the world is a hell of a long ways to go to learn a very simple lesson — that I gotta go my own way. Again. Shot by me in Albania.

Love the Thing You Do

I love being a writer, but for a while, I didn’t. I didn’t want to be your guru, your voice in the storm. I didn’t want to shout about injustices anymore.

In a way, I rediscovered some of who I was in writing a piece about Jian Ghomeshi that spread like wildfire in October 2014. By then, I’d already been not writing here for a couple years. It felt good to write that article and smack that jerk down. But because I picked up that mantle and ran with it, suddenly I became that girl. That’s what people wanted my writing. Advocacy, shouting into the storm, giving a voice for the voiceless.

Whoa. No. That’s a big load for an  unpaid blogger. I advocate, but I’m not an advocate. Verb, not noun. I write about the world, not one subject, hence writing stays fresh and fun for me when it’s going well. I loathe a one-note writing life.

There were many reasons I needed a clean break from this place… to figure out who I was again, to tap into things I am and things I’d been before I became “this” – and I’d take that break again. In a heartbeat.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself wanting a place to let loose, where writing is fun. Fun for me. Maybe fun for you. But, honestly, my enjoyment is the priority. If it’s fun for me, though, I bet it’s fun for you, too. That’d be a double-win. Yay!

My Life-Long Journey: Self-Acceptance

Nearly 13 years later, deep down, I’m still that girl who giggled mischievously upon thinking of the name “Cunting Linguist.”

I’ll always have that spitfire that makes me an acquired taste and a button-pusher. Some people will just never, ever like me, and that’s okay. I’m sure it’s mutual. Fresh out of fucks to give for people who think my brand of authenticity is jarring. Do you. I got me covered. We both fit in this world.

So, beyond the taking a break thing, in case you’ve been out to lunch or totally missed it, I’m in the middle of travelling the world for five years. At the end of this month, I roll into my 20th country in 31 months. I write about that here. I’ve twice circumnavigated the globe, yada, yada. Ditched the house and the domestic dreams. The leather furniture’s gone, the years of collecting and amassing of stuff has given way to me living out of a duffle bag with raggedy clothes. Sometimes I write for people like Washington Post and Yahoo! and Canadian Traveller. My life has become a mix of crazy and amazing and so damn tiring.

One of the problems with travelling the world for five years is that I’m always making a first impression. I’m always a guest. I’m an ambassador, a diplomat, an outsider looking in.

Sooner or later, my being a tactful, diplomatic person had to reach a breaking point, and this is that.

Now I need a place to let loose, rant, fume, grumble, snipe, mock, provoke.

I need a button to push.

Then it occurred to me: I have one. I’m The Cunting Linguist, y’all.

Been A Long Time Coming

In the nearly 13 years since I first hit “publish” here, the world’s changed. They’ve finally added the word “cunting” to dictionary. Joy! The world’s changed in other ways. We’re angrier. More divided. We’re on the cusp of bad times, if we’re not there already.

The world needs people willing to wade through shit and hold reason up to the light, pointing at it, shouting, “LOOK! REASON!”

But have you heard? The blog is dead.

I stubbornly refuse to believe that. Blogging just got boring and omnipresent, but boring never lived on The Cunt when times were good.

So, what will my resurrecting this place mean? Mm, I’m not sure. But the great thing about The Cunt was that it was my catch-all. It was anything I needed it to be, because it reflected so many parts of who I am – including my antagonistic, confrontational bits that should never, ever emerge during these travels I’m on. Writing here was comfortable, easy. I usually wrote and published something in under ninety minutes because it just exploded out of me. I wrote solely when I wanted to, but then I stopped wanting to write.

I can’t find the quote now, but I remember some passing interview with a great Canadian writer like Robertson Davies or Mordecai Richler where they said, “a writer ought not write until the thought of not writing becomes unbearable.”

Tough way to get paid, Mr. Dead Writer Guy, but I see what you’re saying.

Well, I don’t know how often I’ll post here, but I know the thought of not doing it anymore has now become unbearable. I’m fit to burst. I can’t post much; I have too much work in my life, a world to visit, things to see, a book I’m writing, travels to plan, books to read.

But The Cunt is a part of me that I’ve been missing – a big part. It’s my inner-instigator, my agent provocateur. My flame-thrower and my magnifying glass. My inquisitor.

Writing for The Cunt wasn’t ever hard. I made the rules, I didn’t have to please anyone. I had no fucks to give and didn’t acquiesce no how. I plan to unleash that again, because it’s part of who I am, I guess, and denying it isn’t doing my soul much good. In the years since I started this joint, it’s become trendy to be confrontational, to throw around words like “fuck”. But I was doing it on the web long before it was commonplace.

Look, ma. I don’t make up no words. Validation, baby. Good thing I kept the URL, eh?

To Get it Together, You Gotta Come Apart

Unfortunately for me, I had a very tumultuous, scary few years where employment was forever shaky, and life got hard, hard, hard. This blog became a liability to my lifestyle. In every way.

Somewhere along the way, between 2008 and now, I started caring what people thought. Before 2008, this was one damn fun blog. After that, in those troubled times, I lost my way, both personally and existentially, and I lost my way in writing too.

Caring what people think is no way to live. For a writer, it’s death.

In some ways, I’ve found myself again. I’ve connected with this bad-ass chick travelling the world alone, who doesn’t give a shit what conformity is supposed to be, who’s making her own way on her own time. But, somehow, that travelling bad-ass version of me doesn’t feel wholly authentic, because I’m also the ambassador first-impression-maker tip-toeing through cultures in which I’m a guest. I never feel at home in the world anymore, and that, too, is sometimes no way to live.

I love being that travelling ambassador, but I also want to be the bad-ass who says what she wants when she wants to say it. I am the queen of duality and can easily straddle being the erudite, thoughtful writer of travelogues over at as well as being this, and I know now, that’s the mix I want. More importantly, it’s what I need.

The Cunt is… me. Who the hell have I been kidding?

I Had to Leave Home to Find Home

For a long time, I’ve been proud of the direction in which my writing is going. But, of late, I’m realizing I have much to be proud of where my writing’s been, too. Fuck the naysayers.

If I dig deep on this blog, I’ll realize I was a hell of a lot more brave and fearless than I give myself credit for being, and it’s time I accept that all of this – the hellion, the rebel, and the provocateur are parts of me that I don’t ever want to water down. The world needs some of us people who have no fucks to give, who speak truth to power, and who are proud to shine a light on how out of whack and weird we all are.

They say that the longer we travel, the more likely we are to come full circle, and maybe that’s what I’ve done. I may no longer have a home, but maybe this blog is my coming home in a different way.

Maybe this is all the home I’ve ever needed.

I got no promises for you, friends. There are no guarantees, no timelines, no assurances. I’m back, The Cunt is open for business, but you’ll get what you get when you get it.

But it’s something, and it’s a start. That’s the only promise I got: This is just the start.

Me and an elephant, just hanging in Thailand. Sure, he’s concrete, but he’s still got cred.

Letting Go So I Can Move On

Today is the day I allow my Victoria blog domain to die. Now it’s just another lowly site.

Writing-wise, it was like a bad pair of jeans. Sure, it gave me something to write about, but it would always feel wrong.

Despite that, Victoria has been where I’ve reconnected with writing after losing my inspiration for nearly five years. I’ve tried on many genres of writing while here — for money and otherwise.

With both paid and unpaid writing, I now feel that life is too precious to spend it earning money doing things I don’t love, and even less worth it when money ain’t involved. I haven’t figured out the secret to only getting paid to do what I love yet, but I’m getting closer. I can feel it.

Girl checks out the sunset on Victoria's Dallas Road. By me. Some rights reserved.

Girl checks out the sunset on Victoria’s Dallas Road. By me. Some rights reserved.

I was never gonna be the Victoria-it-place girl. I’m glad the one blog post on about lepers got a lot of recognition and was reprinted in the Huffington Post, but the rest of the blog, I found it hard to give a shit about it.

Learning that it’s the genre and type of writing that was bumming me out is a big thing. It’s the opposite of inspiration, that. Other people can write about food joints and place trends, but it ain’t me.

I’m now learning the writing I want to do can’t be done in one spot. It’s like an REM song — I can’t get there from here.

I can’t explain it to you, but you’ll know it when you see it.

I shot this on day five of living in Victoria. March, 2012. Sunset at Victoria's Ogden Point Breakwater. I will miss this place and its special feeling after I'm gone.

I shot this on day five of living in Victoria. March, 2012. Sunset at Victoria’s Ogden Point Breakwater. I will miss this place and its special feeling after I’m gone.

In future adventures in writing, I see more observational, contemplative work. That’s my jazz. I also want to try fiction again, which I’ve only written for classes before, but that I may have a knack for. After all, inside my brain is a dark and bizarre world at times. I’ve begun cobbling out the plot for an unreliable memoir of a serial killer, for instance.

I’m sure there are those who’ll scoff at the notion that I can know what my “missing piece” is and where I’ll find it, but there aren’t a lot of times in our lives when we have an unmistakable pull telling us where to go, what to do. For those of us lucky enough to decipher that code, there’s this weird undercurrent of certainty that battles the fear of change.

I may be terrified of my five-year world-travel plan, in some ways, but I’ve never had more certainty that a risk I was taking is the right one. Believe me, I’ve thought of all the freaky what-ifs, but the core of certainty remains.

“Certainty” is an iffy word for it, but I can’t find a better one.

It’s like that scene in Donnie Darko where Donnie sees that strange orb of pre-destiny extending from other folks’ torsos, in that split moment before they commit to a direction or action, affirming for Darko Dr. Roberta Sparrow’s theories on time travel.

The global nomad thing just feels that way for me and my writing. What I seek, it’s out there. It feels almost like I’ve accidentally mislaid a piece of my soul and need to go retrieve it.

I remember when I was younger I used to think relentless wanderers were people running away or seeking something. I know it’s more complicated now. Today, I feel like some of those wanderers are plugged into a bigger picture, they’re not running from anything — they’re embracing everything.  “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Abroad, writing will become a kind of clearinghouse for me. I will absorb, process, and relate everything I’m experiencing in the moment. Like French cinema, I may not get it when I’m in the theatre, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy the imagery and I’ll appreciate it more in the days to come.

I look forward to trying all kinds of writing exercises, seeing what fits and what doesn’t. Same with cultures, landscapes, and cuisines.

So today I allow one more thing to fall away from me, a passing of my time here in Victoria. In ways that will remain known only by me, that blog was part of how I came to realize my nebulous dream of being a global nomad was absolutely doable. It was how I learned my limits, that living on, and writing about, life on one island was not gonna be enough for me.

Milestones are cool. For me, this is a good one. There’ll always be the version of the blog anyhow.

And so the slow goodbye to Van Isle begins for me today.

L’ecole Polytechnique: 25 Years After

25 years. Wow.

I’d just turned 16. I grew up as the last generation to be bombarded with cigarette advertising everywhere, when Virginia Slims still sold us the idea that women’s liberation was Mission: Accomplished. We’d come a long way, baby.

But then December 6th came. An angry man had a murdering rampage, killing 14 sharp, ambitious, promising young women, all engineers at L’ecole Polytechnique.

It blew my mind. I was young, death didn’t have the same impact as it does now because I was still innocent and hadn’t encountered much loss. And I didn’t really get why women trying to be engineers was such a radical concept to a backwards murderer like Lepine.

What I did understand was that these women were killed because they wanted to play at the big boy’s table. I understood this was a crime motivated out of resentment, pettiness, and jealousy.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve understood that petty misogyny that drives hateful men like Lepine.

I’ve gone from not wanting to be identified as a feminist when I was young to now being of the “goddamned right I’m a feminist, and why the hell aren’t you?” persuasion.

Something Must Have Caused This

Back then, I thought this terrible rampage was a backlash from women’s lib. The old cause/effect argument. “Women are changing things, men are reacting to change.” Simple.

It seemed then there were only two ways things would go. One, awareness would increase that violence against women wasn’t some Hollywood plot point, but rather a real social ill needing remedying. Or two, we were just getting started and an era of blowback was yet to come.

I didn’t take option two that seriously. We couldn’t be just starting an era of blowback… could we?

Maybe we could. 25 years later, we’re still seeing crimes against women happening because men feel entitled to attention from women, or they feel entitled to career advancement over women, or all kinds of other situations prefaced by the phrase “men feel entitled.”

Marc Lepine killed 14 women because he felt he was entitled to attend an engineering school, and that women had no right to occupy his space in the program. He didn’t make the cut, and instead of taking it to mean he had to work harder, he chose to believe women were accepted as a quota, that they hadn’t earned their space.

He felt entitled. Angry. Bitter. Vengeful.

And He Wasn’t Alone Then — Or Now

I look on the internet today and I see a lot of angry, bitter, vengeful entitlement making the rounds. Usually middle-aged white guys who are bitter they’re not more important at their jobs, or wealthier. They see women being smart or successful as further threatening their status quo, and they hurl insults about how ugly the women are (as if women are only trophies), cut them down professionally, and lob rape threats.

God help us if these anonymous, spiteful men ever screw up the resolve to grab a gun and let their bullets do the talking.

Misogynists are everywhere. You hear them defending those accused of serial rape — like Cosby and Ghomeshi. They spew ridiculous defenses, usually about how maligned men are, and the accusations by “spiteful” women are a conspiracy to destroy lives, et cetera.

There are GamerGaters verbally attacking female journalists because they don’t like their opinion, threatening them with rape, and worse.

There’s the infamous, ongoing brogrammer culture in Silicon Valley, celebrity serial misogynists who never get reined in. We even had a mass killer in California who blamed women for not sleeping with him.

A Flickering Light in the Tunnel

Despite all these recent reminders of just how big this struggle is, there are signs, I think, of women saying “enough is enough.” They’re exposing misogyny online in Italy and France. Just this week, a pair of Indian women went viral for beating up men harassing them on a bus. Women coming forward against beloved celebrities like Ghomeshi and Cosby are actually being believed.

There are signs.

But still I sit here today, aware that a quarter of a century has passed and we have so far to go.

In 2006, the first time I blogged about this day, I wrote:

“I think there’s good to be found in remembering what was lost that day, especially in proximity to Christmas, a time of joy and rebirth. I try to remember that in the smoke of that gunfire was borne a new kind of feminism. I like to think some part of me is a product of that day.

It’s the only way any of it can ever make sense.”

And five years ago, I wrote this remembrance of L’ecole Polytechnique, about how far we still had to go with the feminist struggle.

And here we are, 25 years on, still fighting an uphill battle as a new generation vacillates between accepting gender equality and railing against it.

Let’s Hear it For the Boys

But “feminism” is still a dirty word. There are those who still deludedly think it’s a female-supremacy movement. (No, but equal pay would be nice.)

These days, the only time feminism gets good press is when a man comes out and speaks up about why feminism is important, like Terry Crews did recently, which is going viral as I write.

And yet, I saw someone snarking “Oh, [Crews is] just saying what all these smart women said before him.”

But isn’t that what we fought for? Isn’t it in the benefit of all women that guys start identifying with why feminism is important? Isn’t it a bold new day when guys like Crews are standing up to say “If you’re silent, you’re a part of the problem”?

It’s helpful to the cause when guys like Crews explain to other men that it’s not about female supremacy, but rather just leveling the playing field. If they understand that, they might be able to accept that change is needed.

Mediocrity & Misogyny

Marc Lepine didn’t get that change was a long time coming. Instead of understanding that women should be in the engineering program, he felt they were stealing his opportunity. But he just wasn’t good enough to compete in a crowded arena.

Mediocrity, perhaps, is the greatest enemy of gender advancement. Men like Lepine don’t make the cut and then, instead of thinking “Well, hey, I’ll work harder and get in next time,” they blame the bitch who stole their spot.

It’s sadly ironic, but the only way feminism wins is when more men identify themselves as supporters of the feminist cause, when more men like Crews keep saying that silence means you endorse the status quo.

When I was a kid, I thought women would be truly equal by the time I was 30. Now I’m 41 and hope an era of change is upon us and maybe I’ll see a different world for women by the time I’m 60.


Dreams of Flight and Fancy

When I was growing up, I dreamed of going to places like Italy and France. I always thought they were out of my reach, far too expensive.

Before I could become the traveller I wanted to be in my 20s, life interfered with much stupid/tragic/disruptive stuff. Travelling didn’t happen beyond my roadtripping days, where I saw half of Canada and the whole west coast of North America, from Alaska to Mexico.

In hindsight, I understand why I got so dramatically derailed. I can say truthfully now that one’s propensity for having regrets grows exponentially with age. That’s hindsight for you. With wisdom comes the acceptance that there is much we could have done better, learned faster.

Staring down age 41, I have some of that regret, these days.

Surprisingly, not as much as I would have expected, given how unhappy I was, and for how long. As “old” as I feel, I also feel far younger than I would have thought for 40. I have excitement that I can still change things. I also have a sense that everything has kind of gone just as it should.

After all, becoming a world traveller in my 40s will mean I’m old enough to understand and appreciate all the culture around me. I’m wise enough to see what contentment is, and just how little is required to attain it. I’m cynical enough to look behind the curtains and ignore the tourist veneer. I’m confident and defensive enough to stroll off the well-trod path and find the “real” people and places behind the cultures I’m visiting.

I’ve been watching all my friends travel, and none of them have done it in the way I think I will. That’s the beauty of travel. It’s a world of options for a world of people. Literally.


The Great Wandering Act of ’79

When I was soon to be six years old, we were on our first big family trip to Disneyland in ‘79. On a daytrip to Tijuana, I meandered off. I mean, not just a few feet away — I walked the hell off. I was gone for hours. My parents thought I was kidnapped. They waited to file a missing person’s report in the then-corrupt-as-hell-and-lacking-a-PR-department Mexican police station for two hours. My mother had $500 cash stolen from her IN THE POLICE STATION. This was in ‘79, man! Oh, Mexico. That’s a lot of dough.

Meanwhile, me, the absent 5-year-old, I was having a grand old time. I wandered the streets, talked to strangers. I bought a giant bag of candy and made a MILLION little Mexican friends who followed me around as I got them high on free candy.

Then I found my way into a street market and managed to barter with a vendor for a fringed leather cowgirl vest I would cherish for the next two years, followed by a Seiko watch.

I don’t remember how I reconnected with my parents, but I went back with no spending money, a candy-full tummy, a new vest, and a watch.

That afternoon, I learned about how sometimes people stole children and sold the kids to bad people. I never wandered off again. It was pretty fun while it lasted, though.

You Are What You Do

If this premise that our personalities are fully formed by age seven is true, then I guess my little wandering act says a lot about who I should be today.

It’s long overdue that I finally shift gears to be that wandering-act girl again.

When it comes to watching how all my friends are travelling, it’s helping me to decide the sort of traveller I wish to be. I don’t want to be breezing through places with only two to four weeks to see the region (or worse, less). I want to stay put, be a part of the place, become privy to the rhythm of their streets.

I see people shit on others who take trips and only see touristy things, but if I was confined to only a week or two, I would fall victim to the same dull scheme. That’s why I fancy the idea of 5 to 6 months spent per place. As a writer, I love the idea of really getting to know areas.

I’m also not deciding on a plan of attack. I want to see where the flow leads me. We live in an age where you don’t need to speak the language. Photo apps translate foreign-language signs, for crying out loud! Dictionaries and translators will speak for you at the press of a button.

Aside from medical vaccines, money, and visas, there’s no reason why one should be limited where they travel today. It’s an open-door world, thanks to gadgetry.

lone tree hill

Times Have Changed, As They Do

The world I thought was once too expensive to see has become far cheaper than where I now live. If I set the only parameter as being “must be 30% cheaper than where I live today” it seems as if more than half the world is an option for me.

It’s a strange phenomenon to go from a cheap little Canadian city to the most expensive in Canada, and top 100 in the world.

It seems an unrealistic goal, to spend my life travelling for a few years yet live for 30-40% cheaper than I presently do, but according to friends who’ve spent a year or more abroad, it’s not unrealistic at all.

It’s about choices, doing a little research, and being willing to live with less.

When you’re travelling, you don’t need entertainment. Your life is constantly new, entertaining. Stopping, pressing “pause” to spend time writing, or just wandering for photography, will become all-consuming. Writing, photography, they don’t cost money. They just take time.

Time I have too seldom of today. That’s my “pause” for this morning. Dreaming about the next phase. It’s taken some edge off some depressing world news I’d read before breakfast.

But later today I get to be a small-scale traveller as I go visit my brother in a town I’ve never seen before. Something new is always fun, even close to home.

Eat Good Food! Buy My Book!

late summer nightsHEY, MINIONS.

The day is here! I’ve released my first-ever book and it’s a cookbook. I’ve been cooking since I was 5 years old. I’ve taught cooking camps to kids from ages 8 to 17, and I’ve been paid by folks to teach them one-on-one too, so I’m not your normal “hobby” chef.

In fact, I’m really political about cooking. I believe cooking is the most valuable skill you can learn and it’s one of the biggest acts of rebellion you can make. I believe your purchasing choices for local foods, quality ingredients, and the shunning of big-food processed products is as political as you can get on a day-to-day basis. The food industry is a giant now, and the more we little people do at home with real ingredients grown or craft-made by local artisanal foods folks, the more we can shake the foundation of Big Agriculture.

My goal when I wrote this cookbook was to INSPIRE you, not just give you recipes. I want to empower you to see that recipes can be infinitely adjusted and personalized to suit your taste. I want you to see that cooking simply doesn’t mean being boring. I want you to feel like you can spend $10 to make a meal you’d bleed $40 to eat in a restaurant.

Eat Yummy Things and Live Better

Cooking isn’t about eating — it’s about having a creative outlet, taking a little time out to reflect on your day while you chop and simmer and stew. It’s about telling yourself you’re worth the time it takes to make something nice — whether you live alone or have a a slew of people in your household. It’s about feeding yourself food that’s from the land you live on and going to bed with that happy, full feeling that comes from eating well. This relates to the idea of the Qi of food — that which is grown on the land you live upon will provide you the energy you need to live and be there.

If I change a few people from being the kind of folks who think “eating well” means getting food from restaurants and instead make them into people who think they can do it better at home, then I’m gonna feel like I’ve met my goal.

All That and Just Plain Good Writin’

But in the end, all of this matters jack-shit if my writing isn’t engaging, funny, or clear. From early response, my first readers are indicating I’m meeting those standards — and more! Please check it out. Support me by spending a measly $5, and help me inspire a small-scale revolution that starts in your kitchen. With over 25 recipes and at 63 pages, I think it’s worth the price of a coffee. (You’ll receive free updates in the future, too!)

If you’d like to give it as a gift, you can do that too — just click the little “present” icon in the purchase box.


Early Readers are Raving

My friend, Steffani Cameron has just launched her new e-book. It is a cookbook. A no nonsense, everyone can do it, get your grill out and eat good food kinda book. Possibly the best $5 you will ever spend. Get one & good things will happen.” — My friend Angie Quaale, who is a celebrity chef, BBQ champion, and owner of Langley’s Well Seasoned store.

“Your humor is priceless. Enjoying the reading, as much as the recipes. Never laughed so much (in a)  long time.” — A new Twitter follower who received it as a gift, @ddsnorth


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Of Luck, Books, Loss, and Learning

Well, it’s been an interesting week. I’ve had family visit, some weird things go down, emotional highs and lows, and it’s just before 7 on a Friday night after a mentally-grueling day. Tomorrow, I finish my final edit on my first ebook and send it out into the world. My baby gets its walking papers.

Speaking of lows, Wednesday was the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death, and that oddly wasn’t a low this week. In fact, it’s the first time since she died that I didn’t think about her in a “Mom died today” kind of way on her death anniversary. Newer and stranger still is that this doesn’t make me feel guilty. After all, I’ll never forget my mom and I’ll never not be sad that she’s dead, but it’s like I said many years ago, that with each passing year that pain just becomes a little less dominant but a little more permanent, like a scar or faded tattoo, it’s a new part of me.

It’s just a thing. Death, grief, you don’t ever stop missing people you love. That’s the nature of sunset

But I guess there comes a time when we realize we are as much shaped by our losses as we are our successes, and that becomes okay. Well, if you’re like me and you’re happy with the person you’re becoming in the face of all the things you’ve been over the years, then yeah, it becomes okay to be forged through fire and come out of it as steel, whether it’s by people dying or other adversity. It’s really okay.

The older I am, the happier I am about being a strong(er) person.

Stronger, But More Grateful Too

So, it’s a crazy week, right? I’m publishing my first book and now lapsing into reflection about the many years that have passed, the hardships I’ve known, and how tonight I’m thinking about a bike ride to get some pizza, some wine, some sun. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but two years ago I would’ve killed to be able to casually plan to drop $30 on a Friday night pizza/wine combination. Money was still very tight for me 24 months ago. I was having a lot of “budget days” then. And cycling into the sunshine for it, that’s another thing I feel grateful for. Life after back injury is no small gratitude.

Many times over the last 15 years I would’ve given so much to have my “lows” this “death anniversary” week merely be insomnia and a rough day at work. I chuckle at the thought of that being the “low” this week. It’s a good thing, to move on.

I’m sure some reader, somewhere is all “Pfft, you should’ve moved on years ago,” and to them I would merely say fuck you. One doesn’t choose to move on. One can try. One can even force the issue, but the reality is, you don’t move on until you move on. I’ve tried, I’ve forced it, I’ve rammed it into myself. It didn’t take. One of those things.

Last year, I had a friend tell me her daughter’s death day, year 14, was the last time it had wracked her with grief, and year 15 was when she had finally processed it and made peace with it too.

You don’t choose catharsis, catharsis chooses you.

Of Lucky Numbers and Me

My mom sold real estate in Chinatown, probably the only fishbelly-white redheaded woman ever to do so before year 2000. She ate a lot of wontons, loved stirfry, was the token white lady on the company tour to China, and loved immersing in their culture.

She was always thrilled when she’d find or get a new listing that had three or more 8’s in the address, including postal code, because she knew it’d be popular with the very traditional Chinese customers, who were often the high-rollers. It’s an “auspicious” number, foretelling great wealth and good fortune. Abundance in life. Lemme tell ya, I’ve had auspicious abundance since last year, when I moved into my apartment that has three 8’s in its mailing address.

Well, I registered my book today. The ISBN number not only has three 8’s, it also has four 9’s. Nine, it turns out, is the auspicious Chinese number for “long-lasting” and loyalty.

I don’t see these numbers as applying to just this one ISBN, but rather to my future as a writer.

Shush! It’s my fucking superstition, I get to interpret it any way I like. I’ll be auspiciously abundant and with great longevity.

The numbers have spoken.

And now I have some numbers to translate into pizza and wine. Hello, Visa card! (It has 8s and 9s too. Huh.)