Rampant with Memory

Girl Power and the art of the pen


Floundering words, words in flight, people too distracted to slow to read them. Syllables flap while we bow our heads and tiresomely glide through the weeks, months, until we also head south.

Huh? What’s that you say? Death is what.

So before that sad moment shifts your eyes permanently away, clutch a fistful of fleeting words.

Maybe you think I’m demanding you read my words? One more flapping, tongue-wagging writer begging an audience? But no, not so, at least not entirely so. I am also an avoider but I am weary of it.

And so a few minutes ago I grabbed a pad of lined paper, two fountain pens, and a bottle of Shaeffer midnight blue ink and sped-walked to the closest café.

“I am an essayist,” I said to myself. “I am a poet.”

I fled from home to write and when not writing to read an Arden edition of Henry IV. Falstaff, born of the imagination of an early 17th century writer who still breathes for us.

The other day I was at the gym working out beside Jian Ghomeshi.

I checked it out with Cheryl, who works at the desk.

“Yep,” she said. “That’s him. He bought a pass last week.”

So there we were, Jian and I, two Torontonians with distinct pasts and recent media presence. I have bylined on death in the Globe and Mail and he has lived violence in presses across the country. Now, apparently, we quietly pump together.

He is short, sheepish, awkward; tiny and breakable and very, very sweaty. But here’s the thing: I lifted more than he did

And I’m only a girl.

A friend said: “You should have patted him on the bum and said ‘how do you like me so far?’

This needs to an essay, said another friend.

And so these few words introduce what I hope will be steadier writing up ahead. But I promise it will be less about Ghomeshi–none about Ghomeshi in fact–and  more about girls and strength. About writing and inspiration.

While being alive.

“You must change your life,” wrote Rilke.





A tree, a robin, and Shakespeare



The buds, the buds. The robin, the robin.

Both are of today and now let me elaborate.

It is mid-March, nearly the Ides of March and the day that, 24 years ago, I gave birth to my son Toto in Vancouver’s St. Paul’s hospital.

“A born philosopher,” said my friend Claire as she saw him wheeled out of the operating room after his emergence–squeezed like a tube of toothpaste–from my belly, born like the great emperor Julius Caesar.

Or like MacDuff in MacBeth who was “from his mother’s womb/untimely ripped.”

In Shakespeare, March 15 was the Ides of March. Julius Caesar was warned by a soothsayer not upon his birth but upon his death circa 44BC.


Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Beware the Ides of March.

The day was correctly predicted to be the one on which Caesar was assassinated in the streets of Rome by a group of conspirators, including Brutus and Cassius.

My son, though, was born a philosopher and I love him twenty times twenty zillion times more than I ever loved the great poet or any of his doomed men.

And the buds? And the robin?

Both stepped into the path of my morning walk along the beach. I exalted in the coming of spring and remembered that on the edges of this new season is the best kind of prophesy for the Ides: a celebration of a beloved young life–a poem to me–who was, very much indeed, of woman born.



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