Just the right container

Oh Guatemala.

I thank you. My blog thanks you. And my readers, all 63 or 7 – depending on the day - can indulge me or click off.  

Pass me a paper bag.

Saturday I started to hyperventilate. 

I saw a front-page headline in the Globe and Mail about Laureen Harper, wife of Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

She’s no Michelle Obama – and that’s how she likes it. I doubt she said that.

A Can’t get Enough Week

I’ve told you almost nothing about Guatemala other than the volcanos didn’t blow while I was there. I’ve kept it to myself (for over a week) not ready to share.

Under the Volcano

I went to Joyce Maynard's memoir writing workshop in Guatemala carrying a lapis stone my friend Jane gave me.

“It’s the writing stone,” she said.

The last thing I did after getting dressed at 3:00 am on the morning I was leaving was to stuff it in my jeans pocket.

Sometimes dirt holds things together

I’m not going to make you sit through another fight between me and my blog although the last one was kind of satisfying and productive, and I was certain coming out of it that we were back on track.

Turns out we weren’t.

Birthing a suitcase

Just read a great blog post by first-time novelist Natalie Bakopoulos  about her rocky, self-doubting road to completion.

New Years Again or “I want to be a dentist”

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is one of my favourite xmas stories. I love Hermey the elf who wants to be a dentist. Arguably I’m a dentist who wants to be an elf. But I envy his chutzpah and spirit of adventure. He may be animated, but he’s inspirational. (I’m pretty sure he’s Jewish - that angst is so familiar. But he wasn't out.

Matchmaker, matchmaker or Cutting the (safety) rope

Fat news on the paid work front: I officially have none. Bye bye, shalom, au revoir, arrivederci, tata, sayonara, adios, ciao, so long Ontario Government.

Termites – not a metaphor

Evidence of termites was found in my basement. Yes, I freaked out and yes, I've written a poem about them. Life is full of surprises, odd pleasures and horrors.


I found only the remnants of you

the tunnels you bore

the dust you left behind

a kind of brown I might have picked


If I stood in the streets of downtown Toronto every day dressed as a glam mouse, yelling clever things, after a while someone would put my picture in the newspaper, or interview me and I’d become a phenomenon like the Naked Cowboy in Time Square who is out there performing today despite hurricane Sandy’s imminent arrival. I’m not looking for notoriety but are notoriety and fame not just flip sides of the same coin?

Me and Lena Dunham

Lena’s not my first that could have been me object but in this case the similarities hit you right in the face, don’t they? I’m sure some of you are thinking are you kidding Aviva? That’s the best you can do? Why not Nora Ephron or Fran Lebowitz since this is all in the realm of fantasy anyway? No it's not.

Duking it out with my blog

Blog: “You ingrate, how could you just leave me hanging around waiting? I thought you cared. I thought you were punctual, reliable, thoughtful.”

Aviva: “I am. I was. I am. And anyway, it’s not like you’re on a street corner somewhere, exposed to the elements.”

B: “You’re right, sitting in cyberspace, open to everyone, wearing last month’s outfit is not exposure at all.”

The pros and cons of my new girlfriend


*  She’s a whip-wielding dominatrix

*  She’s as cute as I make her

*  She meets my needs more than anyone ever has

A tipping point day

I’m having a how-do-i-manage-all-the-shit-i-have-to-manage-when-I’m-the-world’s-worst-manager moment. Every time I turn around I'm confronted with the evidence.

Seeking combobulation

I didn’t realize I’d been looking for my word but I seem to have found it.

I had a dream a few days ago, the night before picking up my younger son from camp. I was at my parents’ house looking through the fridge and found a finger standing up on the top shelf. It belonged to my older son.

“What happened?” I yelled.

Fears of a conference wallflower

Went to BlogHer12 in NYC this past weekend - me and 5,000 gals and a handful of guys who all have a blogging habit – which, I worried, would be as useless for making friends as having shared a difficulty inserting a first tampon, or a love of metaphor. It was a crazy scene and it’s possible I wasn’t dressed for it.

A not so new day

I was sitting in a café with my computer about a year and a half ago when another writer I know sat down at the table beside me. I wouldn’t have used the title another writer at the time since I wasn’t yet bold enough to call myself one.

What’s a vacation?

I’m feeling a bit lost these days. It’s not a writing block exactly, more a directional dilemma. Yes, I’ve torn down many writing paths, some simultaneously over the last 22 months, but at this moment while many are wide open, no flashing signs are pointing or pulling me in any one direction, or any five. I’m grateful that so many directions are available, they just don’t happen to be beckoning, and right now I’m in need of beckoning.

Sorry I’m late, I was busy having it all

I’d tell you this was the hardest blog post to write but the truth is I couldn’t even open a blank page. That makes it the hardest post I’ve contemplated writing. (In case you're interested, I don’t compose online, I do it in Word, then copy. I don’t trust cyberspace because I can’t throw it.)

Blogola or Buy this fab shoe

I’ve been reading about ads and product placement on mommy blogs lately, and the ongoing ethical debate about the sell-out-y-ness of them. While it’s not as bad as scientists taking research money from drug companies, I understand that the authenticity of someone’s voice might feel compromised when they are trying to shove a stroller, a onesie, or miracle stretch-mark cream down your throat.

As if running isn't enough

How complicated does a sports bra get to be? It can't be too complicated to wear or to tweet about.  "Pulls over the head. Leaves your tits two separate entities. (Or not)."


I bought the cell phone. Ya, that one. Do they even call it a cell phone anymore?

The problem with a smart phone is that if you’re dumb (technologically speaking) having a smart phone is a) no help b) likely to make you feel stupider. It’s like giving the Oxford English Dictionary with the magnifying glass to an illiterate.

Moving Earth

Aside from writing, which barely qualifies, I’m not much of a DIY (do it yourself) girl. I’m more of a GSE (get someone else) type. However, I felt the need over the past few days to move earth, (but luckily not heaven, because I wasn’t up for that). And so I did, buckets and buckets full.

At Home in My Blog

Sometimes I worry my little blog doesn’t get enough of my attention. Not that I’m feeding it less, just that it’s taking up less space in my brain.

The sardine retreat

Turns out I’m driven. Turns out my fears were unfounded. I don't need a big fat bureaucracy, or my father standing over my head with a megaphone he can do without, to impose structure and deadlines. Turns out I won’t always abandon projects I claim to hold dear leaving a wake of false starts. Turns out I can be alone. Turns out I’m a writer.

Harper's War on the Environment

If someone were proposing a toxic dump on the property next to mine, ignoring the scientific studies indicating it would poison the ground water and give me and my kids diseases (all the while telling me it was the key to prosperity and competitiveness and that I was anti-Canadian for opposing it) I'd be up in arms.

Even if it was going to employ 50 people.

The Pitch

I recently met with a columnist who’d generously agreed to let me pick her brain. I was nervous and excited and did more nattering on about what I was up to, than I did effective mining of her resources. She did say that her own tips and particular journey might not be that helpful to me. She’d taken a traditional route – journalism, internships at magazines, national newspapers. My route - decades as a bureaucrat followed by the canon ball jump into writerly waters, was another thing altogether.

Should you ever take the reader to the toilet?

I got my novel back the other day. A close friend read the first draft and while she liked many things about it, even found herself caught up in the page-turnerness of certain sections, she felt it needed a trim - a shave? a diet? The story is too fat. As someone who struggled with body image and eating disorders my whole adult life an overweight story is a scary thing.

Forgive me my trespasses

It’s bad enough to be rejected. My short story didn’t win the Toronto Star competition. I console myself with the belief it's more of a train-of-thought monologue, than a traditional story. Fair enough. But mishaps that remove you from the competition altogether are worse. In this case I had only myself to blame although I’ve spent the last two days identifying who and what else might shoulder that burden.

Friday sucked.

The comforts of complaining

My writing landscape looks different than it did a few weeks ago. I have less and more to complain about. I left for Cuba. The Huffington Post accepted a piece. The NYT Motherlode Blog exposed my nudity. Things went from there.

Who the hell did I give remote access to?

I was having problems with my Macbook Pro the other day. Painfully slow internet access, intermittent e-mail. Like millions of others, my days don't work without this technology.

Nudity, Toxic Waste, or How to Build a Career

It’s been quite a week

Huffpo – Make me or Break me

Ever since the Huffington Post invited me to spend my precious unpaid time writing for them, no guarantee of publication, my life has been thrown into a tailspin.

Hola Cuba!

I was told by a friend once, after writing a piece about Las Vegas, a place she loves and has been to many times, that it was a downer and depressing and she was sorry I had such a shit time. In fact I had a great time. It’s just Las Vegas is a tough place, a barometer for the US economy that packs so many of the excesses, realities and myths of America into a few bright, shiny, crumbling, over-hydrated miles in the desert. I guess I’m drawn to the shit. So forgive me in advance if I’m being a negative Nellie.

March Break

There have been many March breaks (won’t count them for you), but this is the first time we’re joining the queuing throngs at Pearson International Airport.

Meditating on sacred meditation

I’m not sure what possessed this Jew to take in the ½ hour lunchtime concert featuring Hymns on the Theme of Christ’s Baptism at Trinity College chapel. Perhaps it’s lifelong suggestions from friends and strangers that meditation would make me a better, calmer, more focused person.

The Queen of Second Guesses

I’m going to blog for the Huffington Post.  If you didn’t hear that, I said I’M GOING TO BLOG FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST. Important people blog for HuffPo.

Ignorance is not bliss

Someone hacked my blog yesterday. My little nothinginmoderation blog. Should I be flattered that I’m hackworthy? As important to take down as the CIBC bank or the Pentagon? Now that it’s fixed I can be glib. Last night was not so pretty.

When I got home at around 11:00 there was an e-mail from my parents saying they’d tried unsuccessfully to access it.

A fruitful journey

I’m straying from my usual writing theme but since I made the rules, I get to play with them. And anyway there must be a metaphor in here.

I arrived home from a run in Scottsdale with two grapefruit. Not from the senior’s centre where they give them away for free, but off a well-hung tree I passed on route. Lest you think I stole them, there was a bag of bags hanging from the concrete fence and a sign, Help Yourself.

Under Pressure

On a morning walk our first full day in Scottsdale my mom said I should do exactly what I wanted to do this week away, not feel pressured to write. It was, after all, a vacation. She was right, but I considered it a vacation from the obligations of home – the pick-ups and drop offs, the groceries, the homework, the dishes – an opportunity to write at a relaxed pace and get a lot done. Essentially I’d be replacing pressure, with a more desirable, less-pressured pressure.