Thursday, November 8, 2007

Detox Rocks

One Sunday, on a visit to my hometown, I went to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama give a public talk. I’m a big fan – in fact, this is my fourth time seeing him speak – and the experience was nothing short of moving and enlightening. However, on the walk to the Civic Centre, I found a bakery that sold gluten-free, sugar-free brownies.

I can’t tell you which was the more spiritual experience.

You see, I have not eaten sugar in over two months. I have also not eaten wheat in over two months. Or dairy. Or fruit, except for the occasional apple and frozen half-banana. No soy sauce, soymilk or tofu has passed my lips. I have not had honey, or maple sugar. Or Splenda. Or even organic cane sugar juice, which we have all been suckered into believing is somehow healthier and validates dropping $8.99 on a box of cake mix.

Nothing fermented, either. That means neither of my two favourite vegetables: pickles and olives. And you can forget about booze. I already have, which might account for what I am about to do.

When you can’t eat sugar, you realize that it’s actually used in just about everything. I challenge you to go to the grocery store, and buy only foods which are sugar and wheat free. You will spend most of your time picking things up off shelves, reading the packaging and then shoving them back in a huff. Even health food stores are rampant with both ingredients, albeit cleverly disguised as organic wheat and bloody organic bloody cane sugar.

You are now asking the question everyone asks.

Why on earth?

Without going into too much detail, I have something called Candida. You can read about it here, and here. I’ve had it before – in fact, I’ve probably had it for a very long time. But I’ve always been too lazy to do anything about it. And also too scared to go longer than two weeks without chardonnay.

But since starting this diet, I’ve felt like a million bucks. Don’t worry: I’m not bursting at the seams with energy, or glowing in the dark. But strange things have been happening. Things I wasn’t expecting. Things that I thought would never happen, because I’d basically gotten too old and partied too much in my youth. My mind is sharper and clearer than it’s ever been. Go ahead, make jokes, but that afternoon “fog” that so often descended upon me at lunch has lifted. I’m able to think straight, which I seemed to be having more and more trouble with. My stomach, for which I gave myself the affectionate nickname of “snake belly”, because of its protruding bulge after an even moderately sized meal, has retracted. And my PMS has all but disappeared. God knows there’s at least one person in the world – two if you count the dog – who are thanking their lucky stars for that.

I’m even happy to answer your next question:

What the hell do I actually eat?

Suffice it to say I spend a lot of time in the produce section. I also regularly frequent the spice racks, where I hover around and hem and haw over ground This and whole That. There are amazing things that can be made with brown rice, which include pasta, flour and yes, gluten-free brownies. And thanks to the wonders of modern science, I’ve got vanilla-flavoured protein shakes to get me through the morning.

I’ve got other tips and tricks, too. If you really want to know, drop me a line and ask. Because now, I am about to do something I have never done before.

I am going. To post recipes. On my blog.

Yes! The girl who once thought Montreal steak seasoning was the only spice she needed is cooking. And baking, and blending and mixing and even creating. It’s tiring, but it is also immensely rewarding. Especially when I’ve pulled off a Candida-friendly meal that’s actually – even according to the Greek – delicious.

So without further ado, I bring you:

Three Candida-Friendly Recipes I Currently Can’t Live Without.

Literally.

Desperation Salad
Amazing. Honestly. Even if you're not deprived.

You will need:

- A red onion (or half of one, at least)

- Olive oil

- dried rosemary

- A good amount of baby spinach

- Handful fresh parsley

- Sliced almonds (pre-sliced, obviously – I haven’t totally gone off the deep end.)

- Bacon (optional, and going Candida, without sugar. This is not as easy as it may sound.)

- Dried parmesan, if you’re using bacon and feeling devilish

- Goat’s Feta Cheese, if you’re not

Chop about half the onion up in big chunks. Put spinach into large salad bowl. Heat olive oil, add onions and rosemary, and fry it all up until lovely and caramelized. Dump onions and oil in with spinach. Toss. Fry bacon, adding almonds about halfway through so they get brown and crispy but don’t burn. Chop bacon, and add to salad along with parmesan. Or, crumble in feta cheese to taste. Add parsley last, toss, and serve.

Thank me later.


Existential Crisis Muffins
Enjoyable even with a cup of steaming green organic rooibos tea!

You will need:

2 cups gluten-free flour (I recommend a blend of quinoa and brown rice or amaranth flour)

2 eggs

1 cup applesauce

½ mashed banana

¼ cup oil

¼ tsp sea salt

1/3 cup (or less) apple juice

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix oil and applesauce together. Mash banana and add. Separately, sift all dry ingredients. Add them to the wet mixture. Add extra juice if needed to soften the batter. Spoon batter into a muffin tin lined with those little cupcake papers. Do not think about cupcakes. Bake for between 40 and 55 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool before removing from paper thingies.


Hummus Which Will Cause my Ancestors to Roll Over in their Graves
You will need:

- one large can hummus (rolling already)

- 1 lime

- 3 large cloves of garlic

- red chili flakes to taste

- sea salt to taste

- cayenne spices (optional) to taste

- cumin to taste

- chopped fresh coriander leaves, to taste

Crush the garlic, mix everything up, and try not to eat it all, because the longer the flavours have to mix, the better it tastes. Serve with rice crackers, Mary’s Gluten-free crackers, or fresh veggie sticks.

And if all else fails, go to the Wild Oat on Bank St. in Ottawa, and buy all the brownies they’ve got.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thursday, July 5, 2007

One Small Victory

***Update: July 5, 2007***

The trial HAS been postponed. I was informed yesterday, and told that it was "due to the absence of the witness(es)". The new hearing date has yet to be scheduled.

I don't think it's because of anything I did, but I'm considering it a victory nonetheless. We can now hope that the Greek authorities, bearing in mind the main reasons their witness(es) did not attend, will proceed differently this time.

To all friends and strangers who gave their support, thank you, thank you, thank you.




Monday, July 2, 2007

Speaking Out

Last February, I went to see a production of the Vagina Monologues at McGill University. They marked an "X" in black marker on my hand as I entered the theatre, but I noticed they were only doing this to some people.

Later, the actors assembled on stage and asked the members of the audience with an X on their hand to stand up. I, as well as about a third of the people in the auditorium, got out of our seats. We represented, they told us, the one out of every three women who has been the victim of gender-based violence. Then they asked everyone who knew someone who had been the victim of gender-based violence to stand, too.

There was nearly no one left sitting down.

I became aware of this sad statistic long ago, but there, standing amongst the others in that room, I realized I was shaking with rage. I wanted to cry, kick and scream as loudly as I was able, but when the audience - led by the actors - began to chant the V-day slogan, “Until the violence stops", I was too choked up to join in.

It was at that moment that I first considered telling this story here. But some of the most important people in my life still didn’t know, and I didn’t want them finding out through a blog. Bringing it up in casual conversation isn’t the easiest, so for the most part, I stayed silent.

Until now.

On June 28th, The Gazette printed this story, although my name wasn’t used. On June 29th, CBC Montreal and Radio-Canada ran their own reports on the 6 o’clock news, revealing my name and identity.

I’ve always struggled with speaking out. Maybe that’s why being a writer was a natural choice for me – a way, some might say, to be heard.

My story began the day after I arrived in Greece, in August, 2005. A man stopped me in the street and asked for directions. We began talking, and I eventually conceded to walking with him around the Acropolis, an area he seemed to know much about. He was friendly and told me he was a pilot for Air France, and that we might run into the stewardesses who worked with him, as they were out shopping. He liked to give tours to visitors to Athens, he said. He was proud of his heritage.

He wanted me to eat with him. Despite the fact that I was eating when we met, and I told him I wasn’t hungry, he insisted that I try tiropita, a type of Greek cheese pasty, which he went off and bought. He even shared the pastry with me, so I didn’t think I was taking a risk by eating it.

Then he took me to a bar. But by then, my grip on reality had already began to fade.

I remember the rest of the afternoon in bits and pieces. I woke up in a strange room. He dropped me off at a hostel in a taxi. I passed out in a bunk bed and woke up again, 3 hours later. That’s when I realized I had been drugged, and probably raped.

The officers at the first police station I went to that night turned me away, telling me there was nothing they could do. After explaining what happened at another station, I was taken to three hospitals, none of which would examine me. I wasn’t examined until 24 hours after the incident, which means that whatever had been put into my system was already gone.

There are no words to describe the following two days. The dream I’d always carried of traveling through Greece alone had become a waking nightmare. Once I came to terms with what might have happened during those lost hours, I had to accept that I wouldn’t know for another 3 months if I had been given an STD, or HIV.

In spite of this, I stayed in Greece. I spent a peaceful week in a mountain village with a friend from home and his relatives. I watched the sun rise on Mykonos, and set on Santorini. I saw the most magnificent thunderstorm from a remote island south of Crete, camping on a beach full of hippies, farther away from anywhere than I'd ever been. Despite how it began, the month I spent in Greece remains one of the most magical of my life.

The day I left, the friend I’d traveled with called from Canada and told me that an article had been published saying that Athens police had caught and charged a man for the drugging and raping of 4 women. Two were Australian, one was Danish, and one was Canadian.

The article was printed in The Gazette. In Montreal.

I hadn't truthfully expected the Athenian authorities to contact me, although they said they would if there was any news on the case. I was en route to London, where I planned to live for the next few months. I was stunned, but more than anything, I wanted to put it behind me. And when, that December, I was overjoyed to receive a clean bill of health, I thought I had.

Until almost 2 years later.

On May 15th, 2007, I received a phone call from the Greek Embassy in Ottawa. They had a subpoena requesting my attendance as a witness at a trial in Athens, on July 2nd, 2007.

Given the apparent lack of concern shown by the Greek law enforcement and medical system at the time of the incident, I was shocked, but glad, to discover that this trial was going ahead. When I signed for the subpoena, I asked how I should go about receiving my ticket and travel information, what the proceedings in court would entail, and how long I was being asked to stay in Athens.

They told me they didn't know. No one seemed to know, in fact, and it took several phone calls, made by my partner's father, who happens to speak fluent Greek, to find someone at the prosecutor's office in Athens who spoke English and was somewhat willing to give me the information I needed.

She told me that it was impossible to say how long the trial would last, and that they couldn’t tell me whether I would be cross-examined and blamed for the incident. I could come the day before the trial and find out, but when I pointed out that the trial began on a Monday, meaning I would have to arrive on a Friday, she told me they wouldn’t cover my hotel costs for any days preceding the trial.

In fact, I would have to purchase the plane ticket and pay for my accommodations myself. The hotel had to be 2nd class, she added, and she didn't know what that meant, but she could give me a number to call and find out. A number in Greece.

Then, I was to obtain official documents in Greek, attesting to the economy status of my plane ticket and 2nd-class hotel, and giving the official Canadian dollar-to-Euro exchange rate for the first day of the trial.

I was to present these documents, and then I would be reimbursed - but not for a minimum of 2 months.

In answer to my concerns about the trial itself, I was told that I wouldn’t be given a photo line-up to identify the man, and that the defendant was no longer in custody. I was informed that I would not, aside from a translator in the courtroom, be given any form of assistance or protection during my stay.

After that phone call, I got in touch with as many Canadian officials I could find. It’s thanks to them that I’ve been able to obtain the information I have. But as of this writing, despite a request made by the Department of Justice, the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Justice has refused to front the money for my trip.

Through the Canadian Embassy in Greece, who have been in contact with the prosecutor’s office, I’ve learned that one of the women has already gone through the proceedings. The accused was given 5 and a half years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting her. He has served 18 months, and is now out on parole. One of the other two women will not be attending the trial, and the other, last I heard, was undecided.

The conditions under which I told the Greek authorities I would participate were denied. I was not willing to travel to Athens for an undetermined length of time, only to walk blindly into a trial where I would, as the Embassy eventually revealed, be cross-examined a lawyer who is, in their words, “of the worst kind”. I was not willing to part with my own money for an open ticket and a hotel, and wait at least two months to see it again. And I would not accept their suggestion that I stay in Athens alone, without support or legal assistance of any kind, while the man who did this to me walks freely in the streets. So while the trial began today, July 2nd, 2007, in Athens, I am at home, writing this.

Since the story ran in The Gazette on Thursday, complete strangers have come forth with offers of financial and moral support. To them, I am grateful beyond words. Especially because I know that there are far, far worse horrors going on in the world.

But sometimes, we have no choice but to fight our battles. Because for every one who's fighting, there are far more who can't. This is about more than airfare and a hotel bill, and it's about more than just me.

It’s about the other 3 women who came forward in this case. And the ones who didn’t.

It’s about every woman who has traveled to another country and has had this happen to her.

Most importantly, this is about the women it hasn’t happened to.

Yet.

A serial rapist is walking the streets of Athens. The Greek government, which represents a country that is a major tourist destination and a part of the European Union, is being given the chance to show that they value and respect the rights of women.

I am doing everything in my power to try to bring this man to justice and prevent him from raping again.

They can do everything in theirs to make sure of it.

_________________________________________________________________

I have made a request to have this trial postponed in the hopes that the Greek authorities will change their stance. If you would like to voice your concern, here are links to the e-mail addresses of several Greek Embassies and Consulates in Canada:

General Consulate of Greece in Montreal
info@grconsulatemtl.net

Embassy of Greece in Ottawa
embassy@greekembassy.ca

Consulate General of Greece in Toronto
toronto.consulate@greekembassy.ca

The Consulate of Greece in Vancouver
info@vancouver.grconsulate.ca

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Closing the Book

Imagine this. You're invited to a cocktail party. A really, really big cocktail party. Almost everyone you know is there: people you went to highschool with, your nemesis from the 7th grade, your first boyfriend at university (who dumped you for his highschool sweetheart, which caused you to scrawl Tori Amos lyrics in chalk on your dorm room door.) People you work with are there too, and people you usually see on weekends. And your current boyfriend. And your brother.

And almost everyone they know.

The good news is that you're not naked, and it's not a bad dream. The bad news is that there’s no open bar. This is real.

Well, sort of. It's Facebook.

"Facebook!" say the people. "It's a great way to network!"

"Facebook!” add more. “It got me in touch with old friends I hadn't spoken to in years!"

“Facebook,” I said over the phone to a friend, “is the closest I ever hope to come to being a spy.” “A communist spy.” she added. “Because everyone on it is spying - and everyone knows it.”

For those fortunate enough not to know, Facebook is a website that, in theory, allows you to connect with others. Imagine a soirée without the awkward moments, or a high school reunion without the Botox.

Enticing?

First, fill out a profile of yourself. Where you live, your birth date, where you went to high school, and post-secondary school, what clubs were you a part of, what movies you like, your political beliefs.

You can even post a photo of yourself.

It's fun. It's like having a little presence out there in Cyberland, but which isn't a blog, ‘cause those are so 2003, or a MySpace, which has all kinds of scary flashing lights and stuff, or Friendster which sounds to me like a creepy morning show for kids.

Plus, it comes with that odd feeling of satisfaction that somehow, suddenly, you Exist.

Next, you ask someone to be your friend. It doesn’t matter how shy you are, how socially awkward, that the word “network” makes your skin crawl, or that you prefer cats to people. It didn’t matter to me that the last time I asked someone to be my friend, I was 7, she was 8, and it was it over the hedge of my backyard. I was out there on Facebook, every day, fearlessly making friends. And darned if it didn’t feel great.

Although if you want to get technical, I wasn’t so much making friends as, well, sort of retrieving them.

Friends from my old highschool, or the university I attended for two years before changing my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up. And sometimes, other people's Friends. Or their ex-boyfriends, whom I’d met twice at parties. Or bridesmaids I’d been in wedding parties with.

Each Friend you amass gets listed on your Facebook page. They're in neat rows and categories: Friends from different cities, different schools, all with their profiles and nice photos of themselves.

Once you have a friend, you can “write” on their “wall”. This means you can leave each other messages, which, in turn, anyone accepted as a respective Friend of yours or theirs can read. Sort of like an answering machine attached to a foghorn, or graffiti in a bathroom stall. Except, as I recall, people don't normally make lunch dates or ask about other people's weddings on bathroom stalls, because those sorts of things are supposed to be sort of special, or personal. Aren't they?

Don't worry! You can communicate privately on Facebook, too. You can "send a message", which means no one else can read it, except the person you sent it to.

Kind of like e-mail.

But never mind. Because once you're a Facebook member, you can search the entire Facebook network and see who else is on it. Now personally, I haven't had any official spy training. But it didn’t take too many detection skills to suss out if someone:

A) is in a relationship

B) has babies, or

C) still just likes to hang out in bars and drink their face off.

In fact, just the profile photos people choose – specifically for these purposes, I’m guessing – is usually enough to tell.

And it takes no skills at all to figure out who that person’s Friends are, because you can just click on a link and take a gander, even if you’re not one of Them. Suddenly, you’ve got more insight into the life of the girl who never spoke to you in the 10th grade than you ever did when her locker was next to yours.

According to an article in the Toronto Star, more than 430,000 people living in Toronto are members of Facebook – a number that has almost doubled in the past month. Why? Because spying on people you’ve always wondered about (but never actually liked) is incredibly addictive. Collecting friends the way you’d collect baseball cards, with the running total posted at the top of the list, is far too easy.

Don’t forget: anyone on Facebook – anyone – can ask you to be their friend.

It goes like this. You get to work in the morning, open your e-mail, and almost spit out your coffee.

"X," the e-mail reads, "has added you as a friend on Facebook. Please click on this link to confirm whether you are, in fact, friends with X."

X, naturally, will either be:

A) One of your Real Life friends, who you are in, at least, semi-regular contact with, via the phone or at the playground or even by good old-fashioned text message.

B) someone who was never all that friendly to you in person

C) someone you were never all that friendly to in person

D) someone who ruthlessly dumped you, and, after you hung out in bars and drank your face off with persons from category A, you recovered, wrote Tori Amos lyrics in chalk on your dorm room door, and years have passed, but you're still very glad they live in a different city - hopefully one you've never heard of.

Suddenly, you're face to face with this person.

No! Facebook to Facebook. Trust me – it's worse. Because now, like at the cocktail party of your nightmares, you’re forced to make a decision you wouldn’t in natural circumstances have to make.

"No," you reply, boldly and bravely, "I am not friends with X." Now X can write you off as:

A) a sociopath

B) a recluse

C) someone who hangs on to grudges for far longer than is psychologically healthy.

It’s sort of the social equivalent of taking half of an uneaten canapé and throwing it into their drink, and then walking away. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider.

"Yes," you reply, because you’re not that mean and besides, what’s the harm with being a virtual friend? "I am friends with X." Which means you:

A) are just as ambivalent about X as you have been for the past decade

B) have issues with confrontation

C) are desperate, or

D) are at a total loss as to what else to do.

The even eerier part of the whole interaction is that, generally, after Darren from home economics class or Jackie who went out with Dave during frosh week or Marge who you partied with regularly 5 years ago until her late-night phone calls about her romantic misfortunes got to be too much asks you to be their Friend, and you accept, it ends there.

It’s like you’re just standing there, holding your drinks, looking at each other but not actually talking.

I don’t know about you, but when that happens to me, I feel awkward. It seems impolite - since their profile lists that they’re about to buy a house or have given birth to twins or been married twice since you last saw them - not to mention anything. So I write on their wall.

“Hey!” I say. “Long time no see! Great to hear from you! What are you up to?” Which is probably what I’d say to them if I ran into them at the grocery store.

“Hey!” replies Darren/Jackie/Marge. “I’m great! I’m pregnant for the 8th time/running for office/running a marathon in Dublin.”

“Fantastic!” I say, and then never hear from them again.

Or maybe it’s just me?

The thing is, when you do run into someone at the grocery store or a cocktail party, unless they are still as fantastically self-involved as they used to be, they’ll probably ask you some questions back. And then you’ll go on your merry way, never hearing from each other again for, hopefully, another decade or so.

You definitely wouldn’t know if they suddenly lost a parent. But now you do. And so you should probably send your condolences.

Or at least write something on their wall.

After 3 weeks as a user of Facebook, I gathered up my courage, took a deep breath, and checked the “disable my account” box.

“Please let us know why you are deactivating,” Facebook requested politely. And, next to that, in very small, grey print, it added: (required)

It seemed a very quiet way of reminding me that the interrogation wouldn’t be over – ever - until I gave that final bit of information.

I skimmed the list of available options to check.

“I don’t understand how to use the site,” read one.

“I have another Facebook account,” offered another.

“I spend too much time using Facebook,” was listed, as well as “This is temporary. I’ll be back.”

I resisted the guilt-charged urge to click that one.

And then I saw it. There it was, staring me in the face, right at the top of the list. “Facebook,” read the answer, “is resulting in social drama for me.”

I poised my arrow over the box, and then stopped.

Hadn’t I revealed enough about myself to the world for one month?

Could I hold on to one shred of dignity?

Could I leave the room – take that final, victorious march - and carry, with me, one last secret?

I could.

So I finished my drink, and got up from the bar stool. I took one more look around the room, at all the old faces. I nodded at the bartender. And then, I vanished.

But not before clicking: “I don’t find Facebook useful.”

They’ll never know the truth.



Sunday, March 11, 2007

30

Generally speaking, I have a pretty good philosophy on birthdays.

I’ve always enjoyed sharing it with people, year after year, when they moaned about getting old.

“One day,” I’d tell them wisely, “you’re going to look back at the memory of you at this age and think,


‘God, I was so bloody young.’


So why not just think that way now?”

I felt secretly very proud of my little theory, and even considered having it made into greeting cards, or, at least, bumper stickers.

But then I realized I was about to turn 30.

I have always agreed with whoever it was who said that the 30s are the new 20s. Come to think of it, they probably are the same person who coined Thursday the new Friday and staying in the new going out, both of which I get exhausted just thinking about. But I always imagined the me in my 30s as a wildly successful type of person, hanging around on sailboats and laughing amongst carefree groups of attractive friends, drinking Carlsberg. I would still have the looks, attitude and joie de vivre of my 20s, but would not yet even have approached things like babies, $129.00 face creams and inappropriate convertibles.

Of course, that was when I was 23.

Over the past few weeks, though, I couldn’t figure out why the concept of 30 was troubling me so much. I really do believe that age is a state of mind, that it’s a marketing conspiracy to glorify youth, and that growing wiser is a great thing. Yes, my 20s were great, even the confusing parts, but I don’t expect my 30s to be a lesser decade in any way. In fact, I’m really glad to say goodbye to some notions borne of my 20s. Like the belief that Ikea is a good place to buy home furnishings.

But I was definitely bothered. I started shopping far too frequently. I caught myself staring at my reflection in the mirror and wondering why I’d ever thought that smiling was a good idea.

Then, the other day, I watched some old home videos belonging to The Greek. Very, very old home videos. Like the kind with no sound. The Greek is nearing the tail end of his thirties and has no sympathy for me whatsoever.

They were a blast. There he was, in full plaid-vest-and-matching-trouser regalia (he’s going to kill me,) holding his baby cousin (who is now a heart surgeon), running around Disneyworld hugging Mickey, throwing himself into snow banks, etc. I thought of my own home videos, where I can be seen either performing one-woman theatre acts or sulking in the background while people cooed at my little brother.

God, I was so bloody young.


And then it hit me.

It’s not losing my youth that I fear.

Okay, I don’t want wrinkles, I like being able to touch my toes, and yes, every twinge and muscle spasm sends my mind reeling with thoughts straight from the season finale of “Gray’s Anatomy”. But find me someone who actually looks forward to the slow disintegration of their body and mind and I’ll find you a hydrating anti-aging serum that actually works.

No. What I fear losing is a way of being – and maybe this is saying something already – that I don’t even know the word for.

It’s losing what, in our home video days, allowed us to ask a total stranger if they want to be our friend. And to hug someone because we like them, even if we’ve hugged them already that day. To cry during a movie when something bad happens– or something incredible. To stop and listen to a street musician playing a beautiful song, because there’s really no place we have to be that urgently.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve been reminded from time to time to do these things – but those times have become less and less frequent. Other reminders have made themselves known instead. Like that I still don’t really understand RRSPs, for example. And that I’m probably not wearing the right brand of jeans. Like how I really should own property by now, and work longer days, and do more stomach crunches and eat more salad.

Reminders that I should be quieter. I’ve been told throughout my whole life that I’m too loud, and have apologized for it for just as long. And how, when I see someone I’ve missed, I smile and say hello, rather than opening my arms to hug them, because I don’t want to risk the rejection of not being hugged back. Like that I shouldn’t cry so often about so many things – good and bad. And how I don’t really have the time to walk the dog.

The truth is, while 30 is going to happen no matter what I do, the more I spend my days living that way, the older I’ll become.

So yes: 30 is going to change me. It’s going to start slowly. Sometimes, I’m going to take a nap when there are still dishes to be washed. At some parties I’m going to hug people I like even if they don’t hug me first. When I cry at movies or at acts of human kindness, I’m going to try not going to apologize. In fact, I think I’m going to try to get far less use out of the word “sorry”, period.

Some Saturday afternoons, even when there’s no proper groceries and the bathroom’s a mess and I haven’t exfoliated since I don’t know when, I’m going to spend in bed with a good magazine. Some days, when things aren’t going very well in my life, I’m going to try – try – to say so to a friend, instead of saying “things are not too bad”.

And last week, after that huge storm, I threw myself into a snow bank. It may sound like a small act, but let me tell you, it actually felt great.

And it’s a lot cheaper than face cream.