Monthly Archives: February 2012

life is better with nail polish


Seek the strongest color effect possible.. the content is of no importance.

Henri Matisse

 hey anderson,

i know you’re a dude so nail polish isn’t really your thing, but i can tell by your wardrobe that you’re not afraid of colour, so you may still be interested in my love of all things polish.  plus, i think that ties are the male version of nail polish – they are both ways to be creative and different while still maintaining and overall professional or simple look.

when i was a teenager i loved painting my nails.  i bought polish everywhere i went.  i always had some crazy colour on my nails, sometimes a different colour for every nail.  i wore a school uniform, so painting my nails was a great way to be a creative individual without breaking any rules.  i had a real reputation for having fun nails, someone even signed my yearbook saying now that i had my braces off i should paint my teeth to match my nails.  i never did that and thank goodness now that i’ve learned about nail polish drinking addicts from tlc.  i love my lacquer, but ew.

by the time i graduated university i had a big box of all kinds of colours from several different countries.  for some reason i decided to give them all away.  not some, but all.  i took the whole box to a women’s shelter along with a bunch of makeup and old clothes.  all i can say is hope those women used and loved my polish because i miss every bottle every single day.  i often use this as an example of why hoarding is necessary.  getting rid of those polishes did me little to no good.

i got rid of my polishes about 6 years ago and for awhile i didn’t really buy any new ones.  slowly but surely though, i did start a new collection.  it was a cool colour here, a pretty bottle there.  a “necessary” staple here and a “special” colour there.  but nothing major.  it was mostly to keep my toes looking less creepy and hobbit-like.  i’d do my fingers from time to time, but nothing consistent.

fast-foward to today and i’d say the obsession is worse than it has ever been.  i think there are two reasons for this: one, i have way more disposable income and love to buy myself presents; and two, nail art is hugely popular right now. there are so many inspirational photos on the internet – i can’t help but want to join in on the fun. i’m not exactly what i would call skilled.  i lack the patience for precision and i am clearly not ambidextrous.  but that hasn’t stopped me yet!! and one of my very kind co-workers got me a nail polish clean up pen so i can get rid of the evidence of my not staying within the lines.  but whenever i feel down on myself for not being perfect – i remind myself of the matisse quote above and know the goal is colour and fun!!

so anderson, here are some samples of my nails over the past few months.  expect more letters like this because i just ordered about 10 new colours.



a morning of first world problems



i had a great start to my day today (sarcasm).  my mom was in town, staying at my place and flying home this morning.  out of the goodness of my heart and response to guilt trips i was driving her to the airport on my way to work.  to ensure i got to work on time, i had to get up about an hour earlier than normal.  not the end of the world, but not ideal.  last night, in the interest of lugging her suitcase to my car, i parked on the street in front of my building rather than in the parking lot out back.

it was about -20 degrees celsius this morning, so i used my automatic car starter before we headed out.  this thing has changed my life.  i don’t ever get to park inside, so my car is always so cold and sad.  a couple years ago i got this starter and it has made winter much more bearable. 

so, mom cleaned off the snow while i turned on the defrost in the car.  i went to put the car in drive and it turned off.  i’d forgotten to put the key in the ignition and the safety feature shuts things down without it.  this usually happens and my keys are just in my pocket.  this morning they weren’t.  nor were they in my purse.  nor were they in the backseat.  so, they had to be outside the car right?  i went to open the door to retrieve them, and all hell broke loose.  i guess another safety feature is the doors will not unlock until the key has been inserted.  totally helpful, because now we were locked in the car.  every time i tried to manually unlock and open the door, the alarm went off.

this is when the panic started.  mom wanted to call the car dealership and see if they had any suggestions.  i wanted to call 911 for the jaws of life.  i told her to call the motor association so they could come rescue us.  instead of dialing though, she started today’s meditation podcast from the chopra centre.  she suggested i listen to the soothing words and try to relax.  instead i screamed and started honking the horn.

after sending several motorists who obviously thought i was being rude and aggressive away, i finally got the attention of a girl walking down the sidewalk.  she was completely confused and definitely afraid of my hysterical screaming from inside my fogged up car.  luckily she finally understood we were locked in like a couple of crazy idiots.  she found my keys right outside my car door and unlocked us.  i’m sure the glimpse of my tear soaked face was the reason she quickly ran down the street.  when she tells the story, i’m sure it will be pretty similar to this:

peter locked in car

after calming down, i drove mom to the airport and then headed to work.  just before i got there i remembered i had some crazy pretend key in my glove compartment.  i bet this is exactly the situation it’s there for.

it’s been about 4 hours since then, 3 nerve calming pills later and i’m still on edge.  a colleague said hi to me in the kitchen and i jumped and screamed.  i am obviously not cut out for high-stakes living. i know that there are so people in the world who had way worse mornings, but in  my little bubble, i was challenged. but i’m pretty sure the ultimate moral of this story is that mom and i will never be a team on the amazing race.

i hope your day is calm and pleasant.


best of my trip to new orleans


dear anderson,

as i mentioned in my letter about the “joys” of travel, i was recently in new orleans. i went for a work conference, and decided that because it’s so far away and such a cool place, i should stay for a few extra days.  i brought my mom with me and we stayed for a week in the french quarter.  i know you’ve been there, and had planned on being there for mardi gras this year, so i’m sure nothing i tell you will be a revelation, but nevertheless i wanted to tell you about the highlights of my trip.

best food – oysters

i started eating oysters a few years ago but dipping a toe in and eating deep fried ones.  you can’t go wrong with deep fried food, so it was a nice way to introduce me to a food that previously grossed me out.  i still don’t quite get how a slimy food you don’t really even chew is such a delicacy, but it is, and i’m ok with that.  before i even knew i was going to new orleans i saw a show on the food network that talked about charbroiled oysters in new orleans – they cover them in butter, garlic and parmesan cheese and cook them on a grill.  i totally drooled just thinking about them.  so the first thing i looked up when i started planning my trip was these oysters at drago’s.  and wow, they did not disappoint. i think in total i ate about 60 oysters on this trip; some charbroiled, some raw and even deep fried with hot sauce in a po’ boy.  i would go back for the oysters alone.

best picture – st. louis cemetery #1

my mom loves a good cemetery.  i don’t think it’s because she is overly morbid or enjoys literally dancing on people’s graves, i just think she likes the symbols of remembrance.  i hope that’s the case anyay…we went to one that was just outside the french quarter, and it was a really cool place.  the tombs were mostly about 200 years old, though obviously with more recent additions to them.  the cemetery definitely was hit by hurricane katrina, so many bricks and pieces of marble had fallen off.  we ran into a tour there (pretty sure it was legit!) that was run by a group hoping to restore and preserve the tombs that no longer have living caretakers.  i love this picture; it’s just what a picture taken in a cemetery should be.

best tour – laura, a creole plantation

mom and i took a couple tours.  one was a hurricane katrina tour to help get to know more of the city than just the french quarter and to wrap our heads around what actually happened.  i have to admit that i was shocked to still see how much clean up is needed.  we saw houses and neighbourhoods that looked like the waters just receded yesterday.  the tour guide didn’t hold back at all and really gave everyone the chance to take a good hard look at insurance, government, race and capitalism. but the tour that was most refreshing was the laura plantation tour.  we actually visited two plantations that day, oak alley and laura, which was a really good idea because the two were vastly different.  oak alley was all about the lives and lifestyle of the plantation owners – the furniture, the view, the construction and the family members.  the plantation itself was beautiful; no wonder so many movies have been filmed there.  the grounds, the house and the alley of 28 oak trees were exactly how i pictured them to be – just like scarlett o’hara! but it wasn’t until we got to laura for their tour, did we notice a glaring omission.  yes, there were references to where the slave quarters would have been and where the bell was to call everyone in from the fields, but that was it. the tour at laura is build around the autobiography of one of its last slave owners who read ‘gone with the wind’ and thought it was glossing over a lot of what life on a plantation was really like.  so this tour put it all out there, at one point when we were all out on the back porch the tour guide told a passionate story about a slave who was going to be sold and separated from his family.  i have been on a lot of tours in my lifetime, and this one was really great.  full of detail and anecdotes and truth.

best southern hospitality – anne at ida manheim antiques

this one was a bit of a tossup between a fellow convention attendee who called my mom “mam” with no hint of irony and nothing but respect and anne. anne won because she was the definition of a genteel southern woman.  i’m pretty sure she was wearing a chanel suit and pearls, actually she reminded me of your mom anderson! anyway, my mom and i went into this antique shop just to see what a quality shop was like.  we inadvertently stepped into another world.  the antiques we have here are like 1920s frying pans, or if you’re lucky some depression era glass.  this place had louis xv writing desks, chinese armoires, chippendale tables and more.  it was pretty clear we were not quite in our element, but anne never once made that judgment.  she showed us all three floors and described countless items, always acting as if we were about to drop 40k on a lamp.  she did almost convince me to get a writing set with her 20% offer, then it would have only been 5,000$.  when we left mom and i said how refreshing it was to not have someone turn their nose up and not give the time of day to us in a higher end store. thanks for being such a cool lady anne.

best waiter – commander’s palace

i wanted to eat at commander’s palace because once again i saw something on the food network.  a chef who grew up in new orleans talked about her fond childhood memories of eating bread pudding there, and i just had to have some.  also, it seemed like such a refined place to go in for lunch in the garden district.  when we got there, they tried to seat us upstairs with the riff raff, but mom wasn’t having any of that and used her weak knees to their fullest to get us a table in the main room.  the meal was great, the 25 cent martinis were the perfect touch and the bread pudding was phenomenal.  but what made us patently aware that we were somewhere fancy was after we finished our appetizers and the waiter came by to give us new water glasses.  not refill them, no, he had a silver tray on which he placed our semi-used glasses and replaced them with fresh glasses.  a totally unnecessary waste, but i loved it!!

best art gallery – the shop

mom and i spent some time on royal street shopping and browsing galleries.  we saw some really great art.  there was even a gallery that had some pieces by miro and picasso.  very cool.  the one place that i felt a connection to was the shop.  it was this cool gallery with some of the neatest contemporary art i’ve ever seen.  i still can’t stop thinking about the work of fleetwood covington – drawings on scrap metal.  very powerful and different stuff.  The Shop’s website.

well anderson, i hope to get back to that city again and learn even more about it.

have a great day,


terry, mi manchi


hi anderson,

i’ve been having a really tough time the past few weeks, that’s why i haven’t written.  but now i’m coming to you, hoping i can learn from some of your wisdom.  i know you’ve suffered some real loss in your life, losing your brother and your father.  i can’t even fathom that level of loss, let alone how you’ve been able to function afterwards.  the biggest losses in my life thus far were my maternal grandparents.  i know i’ve told you about my grandpa before; they were both so very special to me.  i miss them all the time.  but i know they lived long and rich lives so for the most part i’m ok with them moving on.  i don’t feel even remotely ok with the passing of my dear friend terry.  she died suddenly on february 3rd and i’m completely grief ridden.

i met terry at boarding school.  i don’t know how familiar you are with boarding school, but something special happens there. friendships take a lot less time to become strong and lifelong.  i remember everything so clearly, even though it’s been about 14 years since i graduated (wow, almost didn’t want to admit that).  i remember my favourite meals, i remember other people’s favourite meals (terry was a vegetarian and loved the lentils).  i remember ever step of the trip from the main school building to where we had our meals.  i remember the size, shape and feel of the big round table at our favourite bar.  and most of all i remember my friends. and right now all i seem to do is remember terry.

she was hilarious.  everything excited her, made her smile and laugh.  when i first met her, i was totally overwhelmed – she was a whirlwind!  but my misanthrope self really needed a friend like her.  she was so kind to everyone.  she was like a rockstar in the town and i was just glad to call her my friend.  we would play arcade games, or sit in the sun or listen to music and everything was so great.  we made plans to drink in L.A. when we turned 26 like in that BranVan3000 song.  but that’s the problem with boarding school – everyone who goes there is from somewhere else.  so when school was done, we all went our separate ways and life got in the way.  but through the glory of email, instant messaging and facebook we still kept connected and i am so glad we did.

a person like terry who was open and honest and loving is a rare treat.  we had such great talks about our pasts and hopes for the future.  i sure didn’t have any idea about who i wanted to be when i grew up, but terry knew she wanted to be a mom.  she got that wish when she adopted two super cool kids a few years ago.  it just isn’t fair that they had such a short amount of time with her.  i know i mourn that i’d only seen her once since high school, and that i ended up cutting the visit a couple days short.  so i can’t even imagine how those kids feel.  i don’t even have words for it.

i keep thinking about all the great lines in literature about death like “nothing gold can stay” or “stop all the clocks” when “only the good die young” played on  my ipod the other day, i wept.  terry was the brightest ray of sunshine i ever saw, and now she’s just gone.  and i just can’t bear the thought that all we have left of her are memories.  at least i can be grateful for my flawless memory.

i really hope trying to put some of my feelings down will help, anderson.  i want a way to share with everyone how awesome my friend was, and maybe i can eventually make some sense of such a shitty loss.

i know these won’t mean much to you or anyone else, but here are some of my all time favourite terry moments:

-terry got a puppy and when she wasn’t looking i learned he really liked white wine.  when she finally noticed she yelled at me for so long, but all i could do was giggle.  i was such a brat.

-terry asked to ride a friend’s moped and within seconds the thing got away from her and skid down a hill without her. we laughed so hard and he was so mad!

-terry got her own apartment for a few months and the day she moved in she had the biggest and best smile ever.  i will never forget that smile.

-one of the very best nights of my life was with terry and our friend lindsey.  we were staying in a room above the school kitchen and were all alone in the building.  we got hungry, so terry snuck down to get us a snack and came back with a huge block of cheese and an even bigger knife.  we had so much fun.

i used to end all my emails to terry with ‘mi manchi’, italian for i miss you.  and i will miss her forver.