Saturday, October 13, 2012

MySpace—a Few Years Later

Wendy is a friend I met online in 2006 when by fluke I was led to open a MySpace account—a social network that later became more than just—a social network. More on this later . . .

Tonight, I also met Earl, her husband of 30 years? He bought dinner. It turned out to be a very lovely evening. I came home—my heart spoke . . .

Wendy and Patty

'twas a rainy Saturday night
two women and a nice looking man
shared a table by the fire place
at Faloney's
Ancaster's steak and smoke house

She's my friend Wendy
she calls me Patty
the nice man is Wendy's Earl
he likes his coffee
he builds litter boxes
out of fluffy grass

two women and a man
who woulda' thought
he may even had some fun
we talked about Facebook
MySpace and even books

My grilled salmon was perfect
Wendy's grilled basa looked great
Earl's pulled chicken
dripping sauce
invading the bed of fries
would it be okay
to reach over
for the closest fry?
I wondered.

we talked
we ate
we drank
then it was late
but no, wait!
kodak moment

Earl aims and shoot
Wendy examines
No! retake
we're not done yet
out in the cold
Yes! It was perfect
made it to a FB profile page

Thank you Wendy
Thank you Earl
the dinner was lovely
the company exquisite
let's do this again
soon, and not a year later!

Saturday, October 13, 2012
Faloney's Steak and Smoke House, Ancaster

Monday, July 2, 2012

Guide to Treating Guilt

The Clinician's Guide to Treating Guilt
The Guilt Cure proposes a new theory of guilt that can be very helpful to therapists. It puts guilt in a totally different perspective that can help alleviate the pain and suffering it inflicts. Existing theories of guilt are based on the conventional idea that guilt’s primary function is in the protection and maintenance of morals. While guilt certainly contributes to the protection and maintenance of morals, most guilt, in fact, stems from thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that violate no religious, divine, or legal ordinances. Thus, guilt is far more morally neutral than we would ever suspect. Guilt’s moral neutrality stems from its more important psychological role in the creation and maintenance of consciousness and in the workings of the self-regulatory system of the psyche. It is consciousness of guilt’s significant moral neutrality that helps alleviate its pain.

This seminal body of work about the psychological implications of guilt reaches deep into humanity's collective experience of guilt and finds persuasive psychological reasons for guilt's role and purpose that go far beyond conventionally held religious explanations. The Guilt Cureexamines the many faces of guilt, including its  function in the creation and maintenance of consciousness, its place in the self-regulatory system of the psyche, its effects on our psychological development, and its impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

Order from the Publisher - Fisher King Press        Order from

Monday, March 5, 2012

"Help . . . my mother is driving me crazy!"

That was the phone call I woke up to this morning. My fifty-three year old friend Jo is a little stressed today.

She's single, lived at home her entire life until a little over a year ago. She decided it was time to unfold her wings, take 'em for a test-flight and meet life on her own—head on. She bought a two bedroom condo in November 2010. It took her all this time to realize there's a healthy amount of freedom in leaving home and being on your own. In her own place, she was finally beginning to enjoy life differently, and often she'd have friends over just to hang out, share some laughs, lovingly pick on one another, drink a little, eat a lot and sing karaoke all night. Freedom was good and she was loving every bit of life.

She barely had time to process her leave-taking when things took a sudden turn. In the fall of 2011, her mother left her matrimonial home, by choice, and moved in with Jo. She's not the only child but, the only single child. No threatening daughters and sons-in-law to rain on her mother's parade.

The first time Jo confided in me about her mother, I took her frustrations for granted. I listened, but did not hear her. "Just leave her be. She's old and doesn't have much time left in this world. You'll miss her when she's gone. Don't pay attention to her . . ." I dismissed her feelings and acted as if I knew her mother like I knew mine. Her mother is not like my mother and I did not know her like Jo did. My mother never rejected my friends nor listened in on my telephone conversation from another extension. She never cussed about my friends or meddled with how I lived my life. She didn't ask where I was going or whom I was going out with or what time will I be home. She trusted and supported my judgment and kept respectable boundaries. There was mutual respect. I miss her beautiful soul more than words can describe.

I don't know much of what goes on in Jo's household, but I know the kind of person she is, and making up stories like this is just not her style. I can't help her about the swelling family dysfunction, but can lend an ear for support and openly give my personal opinion when asked. There are seven children in the family—all married except Jo. None of the other siblings are offering their home to their mother. It's a sticky situation because the mother receives a healthy pension and is financially capable of getting a place of her own. She's eighty, and here's one sad part, "If I rent I won't have any money left for casino."

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Pink Room

It's pink! I need to repaint it before Sean moves in. That was my first thought when I saw the second smaller bedroom to an apartment we viewed back in November. Except for the white baseboards, and the trimmings that hugged the two small bedroom windows, the entire room was pink—not baby pink or cotton candy pink but a brighter rosy pink. I like pink, but this was going to be Sean's bedroom. 

Contrary to popular belief
We moved in. Sean didn't care much that the room is pink. It's his bedroom and he likes it. He is actually quite content in his bedroom—his own little pink sanctuary. His own creative oasis—to work—paint—write—sing—strum his guitar—listen to music and stream Lost videos—or just, simply be.

It took nearly three months before it got repainted—Sky Blue.

Two weeks ago, I've been itching to paint. What I had in mind was acrylic on paper. So from the black duffle bag, I pulled out a pad of paper, paint brushes and paint tubes but they just sat on my kitchen table for days. No image was coming to me—until a few days ago—the image of a small bedroom in the color of sky blue—'azzurro' in italian—a word I later learned from an italian friend. All along, my desire to paint was not of acrylic on paper but wall paint on pink walls.

Sunday afternoon the time is 5:30, I assemble my paint tools in the empty pink bedroom. I need music to do this kind of work. The headset attached to the iPod gets in the way. It has to go. On top of a wardrobe sits my laptop that plays shuffle music from Abba to U2.  It's 7:30. I feel hunger pains. I am too hungry to keep the momentum. To wash my hands, change my clothes, or check my appearance in the mirror is a drag. Keys in hand and some pocket change, I descend two flights of stairs, out the front, and enter the next door immediately to the left—into the bakery.

There is a good number of patrons enjoying their cappuccino, lattes and pastries. I suspect a few wonder what planet I come from by the way they look at me. I move forward to the counter and asks the bakery owner, Victor for 200 grams of prosciutto and two buns. He walks to the back. A few seconds later he comes back and asks if I have a good knife upstairs in the apartment. The answer is yes and the result—a two pounder prosciutto hock, absolutely free. I pay him 70 cents for two buns. It must be the drywall compound powder I was covered in, and the azzurro paint that generously smeared my hands and dotted my nose that gave me away—hard at work, and hungry! My landlord and I share a mutual regard. I fix up his place—he makes sure I'm healthy and be around to pay the following months rent.

My stomach is content and I go back to the pink room. In the background, Celine Dion is singing Halfway to Heaven. How fitting. I look around, and the pink room is now half blue—the color of sky—the color of heaven, so and I've been told as a little girl.

The bedroom is now the color of light sky-blue. But something  is wrong. The beige drapes I picked up at Walmart clearance rack has to go. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Teenage Life Crisis

If midlife crisis exist, so does teenage life crisis, at least in my world. I'm not talking about me as I didn't have much of a teenage life growing up under the influence of a father who came from a very strict Spanish blood and family upbringings. To this day, I could hear his voice echoing in some nights. "I don't believe in daughters dating or having boyfriends and long engagements! You are at once to be married as soon as I find out you have a boyfriend!" My father actually made me believe—he can tell when a girl had been kissed, a girl can get pregnant by kissing, riding a bicycle will rob you of your virginity. But this will be in another blog post.

My younger son turned eighteen last June, and in another four months he will be nineteen, the age where you can legally drink at a bar and enter a Casino here in Ontario Canada. At this point of my blog, I hope and pray to the cyber gods he and his brother will never come across this blog piece I write about them. If so, I will be confronted with . . . well, I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

My youngest son is eighteen and has no girlfriend! Not that there's anything wrong with that, but he's missing out on being goo goo eyed over a cute girl who could be a potential girlfriend he can take home to mama—someday. He's not a bad looking young man or a troubled child—he's just the complete opposite. Sean is a handsome young man with such a gentle soul and he tells me, the latter is a trait he acquired from me and it's not to his advantage when it comes to girls. I'm not sure what he was trying to tell me but I suppose in this day and age, perhaps some girls prefers the more aggressive type and it is not what he is. I want more than anything for him to have a girlfriend already! A few months ago, I was singing a different tune, but since he had his ears pierced last month, "the girls love it," he exclaims, I thought something has to change. He needs a girlfriend! Who am I to tell him what he needs? He has to figure this out on his own.

His older brother is just as handsome, but sort of—the more aggressive type. Just before Christmas in 1998, at age eleven when he was in grade six, he had his first 'love' for a girl. Her name is Josie. One early evening, he approached me in the kitchen while I was fixing dinner. This is how the conversation went:

"Mom, how much money do I have in my bank account?"
"Umm, I don't know, why?"
"Well, I'd like to buy Josie a Christmas gift."
"Who's Josie?"
"A girl from school that I really really like."
"What are you thinking of getting her for a gift?"
"A diamond ring."

I don't remember exactly what happened after that. Everything seem to be a blur. But when the clouds were lifted, I vividly recall sitting down, and  holding him by the hands, I carefully walked him through some very important facts and details about a girl and a diamond ring. In the end, he went shopping with his aunt to buy a set of silver fashion jewelries for Josie. He got over this quickly.

Around the same time the following year at age twelve, he came up to me again and . . . well, this time no diamond ring in the conversation but a different scenario with a different girl. Believe it or not, another Christmas came and same ol' story with yet another girl. Her name is Victoria of whom he still friends with to this day. Josie's mom, Lucy and I became friends and occasionally, I see Josie. It was last year when I finally had a chance to tell her about my conversation with my son, some thirteen years ago about a diamond ring. She thought it was funny and sweet and she went on to tell her friends who will tell theirs . . .

My youngest on the other hand seem to be having a hard time implementing a relationship with a girl. He seem to be attracted to girls who like someone else. Other girls like him but his feelings toward them is not the same as what they feel towards him. "I don't feel anything for her but friendship, and I don't want to lead her on," he says. A girl I will name Boots liked him at one point, but he didn't like her at first. Then he started to like her, but then she started liking someone else. This Boots girl has a friend named Di who has a boyfriend. Sean and Di are always hanging out and if I didn't know any better, I think they are an item. I didn't know any better—they're just friends. Then there's Sara who keeps Sean on the phone till wee hours, but they're "just friends." Oh, how can I forget Kaelan, Emily, Alexandria, Christina, and what's the other girl's name again? Teenage life—teenage crisis—So complicated!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Art Crawl

Art Crawl was something unfamiliar to me until a few months ago when I started hearing about it from my two sons Phil and Sean who are, in my opinion avid art crawl-ers. Sean would try and switch a day off work just to attend this every second Friday, monthly social event. Phil may have had skipped work a time or two just to be in the crowd of mostly young and a handful of not-so-young art crawler folks.

A little over two months ago, we moved into a small two bedroom apartment on the street that hosts Hamilton Art Crawl. Tonight was my first unplanned Art Crawl experience by accident when we went for dinner at Ola Bakery that became like a second home to us. Lo and behold! The place was packed with art crawlers and Friday evening regulars, and a table for one was not in sight let alone a table for three. The owner ushered us to sit with a nice looking young man—a regular and a friend of his—seated solo at a table for five, polishing off a sandwich. After a brief but not awkward moment of introduction, Alex proceeded to take smaller but still healthy bites of his sandwich while managing to fill us in on bits and pieces of his family history. He grew up in Hamilton and used to live in Stoney Creek with his mom and dad until his retired parents decided to split their time between Portugal and Canada, so he ended up moving to downtown core of Hamilton. When asked what part of Portugal he was from, he looked up at a map of Portugal that was posted on a wall next to him and conveniently got up from his seat and pointed his index finger to Aveiro.

As we visited while waiting for our BBQ chicken dinner, the front door to the bakery opened and closed while people piled in and the tray of the ever popular custard tarts was quickly thinning down. Across from our table, a group of loud regulars composed of a few men and a babe with half exposed chest, were far from having a 'nice' conversation the way they were throwing words at one another but I tell you, no eye contact was happening for the woman. Imagine this: A woman sitting among men and while she spoke with hand gestures, a group of synchronized heads bopped along. Additionally, the stronger the hand gestures, the higher the bouncing of the twin balls and the bopping heads. Thankfully, our dinner arrived and my partner was able to avert his attention from the pair of giant meatballs.

Alex finished his sandwich and got up to leave as more art crawlers came in for their evening sugar fix, and a full tray of fresh custard tarts was now placed in the showcase. Taking a break and leaving his wife and employees to manage the growing crowd, Mr. Victor came and sat with us to enjoy his chamomile tea and shared us some of his family history. Two hours later, we were on the street art crawling it too! Art stores, coffee houses, bars and more, are open to the public until midnight to fill the eyes and appetite of interested patrons. It was a beautiful crisp night and the slight pour of white flakes coming down made me imagine walking along the Central Park of New York. I could have kept walking until my ears and nose became numb and cheeks beet red but opted to walk slowly home.

September 10, 2011, a portion of James Street was closed off to accommodate Supercrawl, an annual event that celebrates the diversity of Hamilton’s James Street North district, our multi-disciplinary arts community, and the incredible spark that results with our unique mix of cultures, businesses and creative people. It's a free afternoon and evening of art, dance,  music, or anything one's little heart desire, from 1 PM till Midnight.

The Art Crawl last December that we had planned to experience didn't pan out. We were grumpy and exhausted from the move, we had fallen asleep before 7 pm—slept through the loud music that was playing downstairs at the Bakery.

January Art Crawl didn't appeal from the quiet street that appeared down below. March promises a new beginning for the Art Crawl year. We have been told today that a Columbian musician will be performing at the Bakery. I look forward to art crawling on the eve of Friday March 9. I'd like to reserve the best table on the house for this event, please!

Below is a short list of what's available on James St. N:

This Ain’t Hollywood
Artword Artbar
Blue Angel Gallery
Books & Beats
The Brain
The Factory Media Arts Centre
Hamilton HIStory + HERitage
Hamilton Artists Inc.
James North Studio
Loose Canon Gallery,
Mixed Media
Tribal Gallery
Ola Bakery