you know, some mondays…

Today I catch the streetcar and I’m standing in the back of the car looking over the seated peoples’ heads out the window. As we go underground into the dark tunnel toward Union Station I see my reflection in the window. Then I see the arms of the woman next to me. Then her neck. And her anorexic shoulders. As always I’m shocked when I see an emaciated body like hers. And my heart aches for her and other women who are somehow compelled to do this to themselves.  She looks like she belongs in a hospital bed under a doctor's care, not standing in a crowded streetcar. Looking at our reflections in the mirror, I think about my everlasting extra 10 pounds. And I think about my friends and family for whom those ten pounds mean nothing. They would love me if I carried a placard on my forehead that read: Extra Pounds and She Forgets to Call and She Should Vacuum More.

I’m filled with gratitude as I look at my cleavage and my curves in my reflection.  And I'm grateful for the kinds of men whose heads I still manage to turn now and then, and the ones I know who appreciate me and desire me, lumps and all.  I think about my relationship with food in that it sustains me, it provides nourishment to my body and well being, and it accompanies pretty much every joyful gathering in my life.  The woman walks away from me and up into the station and I wondered how those limbs can support her, I can practically hear her bones clattering.  As she wobbles off I wish her luck.  I wish all of us luck.  Someday I hope us gals will cut ourselves a break.

A fella trips onto the subway with a bike and a bag stuffed with what looks like garbage. He messes around with the bike and keeps trying to lay it down, which is awkward in the midst of all the commuters. One lady finds herself on the wrong end of the back tire so she steps away from the man and his bike, and he loses hold of it and drops it to the floor. “DON’T MOVE STUPID ASS!” he hollers at her as she moves away. Over the next two stops they steal glances at one another, she wondering if she heard what she did and he wondering what stupid ass wouldn’t stand there and let his bike tire rest against her clean work clothes. He manages to get his bike and torn bag of garbage off at St. Clair station and most of us breathe easier. The lady gets off at the same stop, still stealing glances at the person who called her a stupid ass. I hoped the incident didn’t spoil her morning, but I’m thinking it probably did.

Someone, relatively new to Canada, showed me his arm that had a welt from some sort of insect bite he got when he took his kids to the park. I ventured that it might be a spider bite, and suggested antihistamine would relieve the itching and inflammation. His eyes got a little wider and he spoke of the deadly black widow spider he heard of once, and how they can kill with their venom. I thought, “hoo boy, girl you should have kept your mouth shut.” I wondered how long the poor guy imagined he would keel over and die from a deadly Canadian Black Widow spider bite.

Song encounter #1: Out of the blue I hear one of my favourite songs, “Up on Cripple Creek.” Instantly, the morning of the food starved body, the insulting words hurled at a stranger and the irrational freakout about black widow spiders evaporate.

Tonight, out for a walk, I witness some of the barricade building in the downtown core in preparation for the G-20 Summit. I’m annoyed with the summit being held here, right in the core of the downtown. I’m annoyed with the media, which tends to ignore the hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters in favour of the more juicy window breakers. And I’m annoyed with the feds who encouraged Toronto to “show off” our city, then dropped the ball in terms of support for the losers in this event, like the business owners who have to close up shop and the homeowners who are S.O.L. if something happens to their property. And I get really annoyed by the “us and them” thinking that got us to this standoff in the first place. I remember the creepy policing during a similar event in Windsor some years ago, and I think, either I’m going to take me and my camera down into the brouhaha, or avoid it altogether. Which will be hard because guess where I live now?

Song encounter #2: I hear Coldplay’s Viva la Vida and I’m brought back to a moment a few days ago, when I’m on the shuttle bus going to work. That song comes on in the vehicle carrying the heavy, tired, morning resignation of the riders, and then someone starts to hum. Then another person does. Then I do. When I hear that song today everything about it is changed. Now, because of that moment, I love that song. I can’t hear it enough.

I catch a few minutes of this race on TV. I’d not normally stay tuned to such a race because stunt flying creeps me out. But before long I realise – hey – I know that river! Seeing the shots of this river, the riverside park I once walked every night, and those two cities fills me with pleasure and makes me a little homesick.  In a good way.



  1. Reply
    Tricia June 8, 2010

    I vote for getting your camera and checking out the summit – purely because I’d rather hear about it from you than the mainstream media.

  2. Reply
    Jennifer June 8, 2010

    Yeah, don’t even get me started about mainstream media Tricia. (Okay, maybe one day I’ll get started…). I figure embracing the event rather than succumbing to the inevitable issues in simply getting home is the only way.

  3. Reply
    Reluctant Blogger June 8, 2010

    Ah I felt like I had spent a day with you then. And it was rather good.
    Anorexia is a very cruel illness. I cannot think myself into it as like you food brings me nothing but joy.
    I saw Coldplay live in Perth last year with Sandra and whilst I am not a big fan, whenever I hear any of their tracks now it takes me straight back to those glorious sunny days when we had first got back together. Cue soppy moment . . .
    Loved this post.

  4. Reply
    Jennifer June 8, 2010

    It just goes to show the power of music as something more than entertainment or a commodity eh RB? Certain songs can trigger such emotion and memories. Sometimes I tune in to 70s music on my cable station and it brings on such a wonderful nostalgia, taking me back to moments so vividly.

  5. Reply
    willow June 8, 2010

    Wonderful thoughts on weight and self image.

  6. Reply
    willow June 8, 2010

    …and uber-cool new avatar pic! wow

  7. Reply
    Selma June 9, 2010

    I love your traveling anecdotes as you move through the city. I think they would make a great book. I saw an anorexic girl last week. She really looked as if a gust of wind would blow her away. My heart bled for her because I know what an eating disorder is like. My sister was anorexic and nearly died when she was 16. It is a terrifying illness.
    Thank God music can transport us. It has sustained me many a time!

  8. Reply
    Jennifer June 9, 2010

    One nice fallout of age is the self-acceptance that comes with it. In my case anyway – feel lucky!

  9. Reply
    Jennifer June 9, 2010

    Terrifying indeed – when you look at what it does to people on the outside – can’t imagine what’s going on inside.
    Music has sustained/enhanced/transported me too!

  10. Reply
    Mike June 9, 2010

    Jen it looks like it will be very different living in that area during the summit, be safe.
    “Toronto G20 restricted areas”
    At the summit in Pittsburgh last year was the first time a sound cannon was used for crowd control in the states.
    oh … yes … “music is the best”

  11. Reply
    Jennifer June 9, 2010

    Yes, been hearing a PLETHORA of coverage about the summit – and the sound cannon, which caused a bit of an uproar. The latest is a kafuffel about a temporary ‘fake’ lake being built for the pleasure of the attendees. The thing with news reports, they tend to focus on the violent minority of the protesters, making everyone think that the entire protest is like that. You couldn’t convince my mom otherwise that G# protests are just huge violent minefields. In my experience, that’s not the case. But then I’m not throwing rocks at anybody.

  12. Reply
    Mike June 9, 2010

    … and focusing on the violence as the main news item ignores the issues being protested.
    Of 50 news items from this archives search only 3 mention peaceful or calm in the headline:
    … and what to be vigilant of is violence being used on peaceful protesters.

  13. Reply
    Jennifer June 9, 2010

    Yep. Using news as a vehicle for PR is not new, but that doesn’t make it any less insidious. I sure wish more people looked at news with a critical perspective.

  14. Reply
    Little Hat June 11, 2010

    Jennifer, you write beautifully about yourself and your ncounters and observations. Each of them feels like a gift. You inspire me to write more simply about the simple things. Thanks. Steve

  15. Reply
    Jennifer June 11, 2010

    Aw thanks Steve! I’m honoured you should say. Hey – aren’t you in Portugal? I look forward to those stories – it’s high on my list of places to go.

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