Just Eat the Cookie

A chocolate chip cookie with one bite missing sits on a white tabletop scattered with cookie crumbs. Although maybe those aren't chocolate chips but raisins. This is why I have trust issues.

I’ve always thought of myself as unable to resist temptation.  As being too desperate for dopamine to not eat the cookie, not buy the gift.  I always eat the cookie. But I don’t always buy the gift.  

And I realized my problem isn’t with reward systems, it’s with gamifying food.  

Consumer capitalism has a terrible relationship with food.  It’s used as lure, camouflage, dumping ground, flag to wave, and whip to beat ourselves with.  It’s a popular brand of mayonnaise declaring over a 90s grunge pastiche soundtrack that it “will not tone it down.”  It’s a food that has never once in its existence contained fat declaring in block letters on the label that it’s “fat-free.”  It’s thinking almond milk is virtuous without considering the operations of the almond farming industry (not pretty, if you ask a bee in California.)  

Dieticians and specialists in early childhood will both tell you that using food to reward or punish children makes food a battleground and plants in them the seeds of lifelong eating disorders. So why would I do that to myself? If I eat a cookie, it’s not because I have “allowed” myself a “reward” of a “bad” food that I would ordinarily resist.  It’s because I wanted a cookie, and I happened to have some.  I might treat myself to a more expensive meal for a special occasion, but I don’t like tying food to performance benchmarks.  I’m not a seal, bopping a ball with my nose to get a fish. I’m a person with an oven and a working knowledge of baked goods, and sometimes having a cookie is the only thing that makes me want to do my job. Let snacks be snacks, I say.

Gifts, though…I resisted building a Lego set for almost a week until I’d hit a word count goal.  The unopened box sat on my desk for days, taunting me a little, but more inviting me to reach my goal.

I now have this nice reminder on my desk that I can get what I want if I stick to it.  That cookie, or cake, or 700 calorie whipped cream and coffee thing? Long gone.

But don’t let me stop or shame you.  Everyone is wired differently. I don’t want to attach moral significance to snacks.  Excuse me, I’m going to go eat a cookie. 

Line Poem 6

















I wrote this on a day when market forces want me to say “Happy Mothers Day.”  Being a contrary such and such, let me be the first to wish you a Happy Choosing-not-to-be-a-mother-if-motherhood-wasn’t-what-I-wanted Day. If you need to mother someone, it helps if you start with yourself.

16 – Tear






























This poem is part of an ongoing dialog with identity and self-knowing. I’ve been buying a lot of new Canadian poetry at independent book fairs and am struck by its precision. A descriptive poetry, emotional but not instructive the way I find a lot of modern poetry can be. The poetry I like the best says “here we are, you and I, and this is what that’s like for me.” And the “you and I” can be anyone: you and everyone, you and no one, you and the world, you and yourself.

You maybe don’t have to love yourself. You can maybe just be satisfied with yourself and that will be enough for now. You don’t have to love toast but you might happily eat it every day. The heart is a muscle and all muscles need training. Even when the heart is metaphor for the locus of all your emotions, it must still be trained. If you want to move mountains, you start with one stone.

It is possible to exercise love for all creation by annihilating the self, but the empty vessel is itself a conceit, an opportunity only afforded in a society of abundance. If we are all Buddhists, who fills our begging bowls? Most of us must wade through the muck of our attachments–to spouses, children, parents, life–but to do this well requires an open, active heart. Brave-heartedness, the will to show love despite the countless reasons not to, will be key to our survival in the coming decades. Shallow, angry thinking cannot save us from our selves. We need more and stronger love.

We need more tears.

The New Kid

Schools I have attended:

Nursery school

Montessori preschool

Komoka PS

Montessori grade school

East Elementary

St Nicholas Catholic (lies, lies, I’m not even baptised)

St Matthews Anglican (more lies, mom?  ok…)

Riverside PS

Oakridge HS

some defunct Niagara District school for the arts for a single semester that felt like an episode of Degrassi Junior High, complete with cliques, fake IDs, sororities, achingly cool transfer students, and dating a boy who was testing if he was gay (spoiler: he was)

Oakridge HS again

flunked out

Beal HS

dropped out again

That one summer school English credit I needed to finally graduate

The funny thing is…I went to my high school graduation (Oakridge #2.)  I don’t know if the system is it’s the same now, but grad was held before exams.  So it was totally possible to go to the ceremony, get your fake diploma on stage, then go to the prom (if that was your thing,) and then fail.

The funny thing is…of all my classes, I hated English the most.  Taking six weeks to read a book?  Uggggghhhhh.  “Academic” level classes were even more plodding.  As a child I was such a reader I devised a way to read while getting dressed for school that involved holding the book open with my toes.  In high school, my highest mark in English was a 72.

In a perfect world* this should have been when someone asked if I had ADHD.  But this was (oh god I’m old) 30 years ago, when it was still called ADD, and all it meant was a boy who couldn’t sit still. 

I was merely inattentive, a dreamer, not applying myself.  Unable to focus on the tasks at hand because the tasks were cripplingly dull.  So I just didn’t do them, or did them lazily at the last minute, then shrugged when the teacher asked why. 

Oh, the shrug.  The blankness.  The weaponized indifference of a clever teen with a revolutionary’s heart.  The number of times I met my mother’s concern, her anger even, with a shrug.

Dissociation’s a hell of a drug.

Like this post: I started with the list of schools but I don’t remember what I wanted to say.  Maybe nothing, other than remind myself that my path has never been smooth.  There are no straight lines in my landscape, only curves and slopes and tunnels, backways and side-ways and unexpected turns.  I’d like to end on an optimistic note, but maybe the hope is simply in knowing this, knowing that I can’t get there from here without going this way and that and a few other places.  In this game, the side-quests are mandatory.

*Assuming your perfect world includes compulsory education.  Mine includes dragons.  What, you said perfect, didn’t you?

An incidental cruelty

Hi, welcome to adult-diagnosed ADHD for women, where today you’ll learn that:

While scientific evidence is still emerging about how changing hormones can impact ADHD Janine feels the link was undeniable. Oestrogen helps to modulate the release of dopamine in the brain. When Janine’s level of oestrogen began to drop as she entered perimenopause, the ADHD symptoms she had been able to manage became much harder to deal with.

ADHD can have a significant impact on people’s lives — even when you’re an adult – ABC News

I was today years old when I learned that. You might not have been masking intentionally. Your ovaries were doing it for you. As their function declines, so does your dopamine supply. An incidental cruelty. Aging isn’t a punishment, it simply is, but that doesn’t make it easier.

Might explain why I recently got back into Drum & Bass. I’m rather a connoisseur of dopamine stimulation (within the boundaries of my enduring motion sickness and terror of deep water) and there’s something about playing a belting dj mix as I rocket around my empty kitchen at 5 am that helps the rest of my day run smoothly. I’ve already invoked some chaos, gleefully triggered some joy. It’s a smooth run from there.

Clever Soup

Alphabet pasta letters in a spoon spell out "SOS"

A holodeck and a human actor: a best-case scenario for AI filmmaking. Human actors reacting in human ways to whatever scenario the filmmaker invents, which is not much different from what goes on now.

The thing is, you can’t fake human, and maybe it’s not worth trying.  Everything else in filmmaking—sets, props, locations, eldritch horrors—can be represented artistically and therefore generated with digital imaging.  It’s the people you can’t fake.

Consider: we pay people to do nothing but be good at emoting.  Certain people emote i.e. act more skillfully than others, and we make them millionaires and give them gold statues and big parties and all our attention.  One individual, idiosyncratic human with their asymmetrical face and personality quirks and gut biome, singular among all other humans currently alive, can win the hearts of millions.  You’re telling me a calculator (which is what a computer is, writ large) is going to be able to fake that any time soon?

AI research has over the years taken up billions of dollars, and we’re still nowhere near faking people.  Maybe it can’t be done.  A computer as intricately modeled as the human brain might need to be either the size of a mountain or be an actual biological brain, grown in situ.

We are clever soup.  But we are like nothing else.  We’re cheap to make, easy to teach, endlessly inventive.  Why bother trying to mechanically replicate what’s already so abundant?


You know the feeling that someone is standing nearby watching you? What if they were doing that not to make you afraid but because they love you?

I generally like all my characters. If I’m going to spent fifty thousand words or more with someone I have to like them, right?

Then there’s a few who get inside your heart and never leave…

But that’s the thing with love: it’s not always up to us.  Sometimes love comes out of nowhere and takes over.  Makes you want to take chances.  Do things you never thought you could.

And yes, romantic love does this, but so does true friendship.  So can mentorship when given with a pure heart, in the spirit of service.  So does love for yourself.

That’s all my characters are.  Little bits of myself I set loose in worlds I created. 

That I can feel such love both for and from these unreal avatars of my unconscious is part of the mystery of the human mind.  I’ll take it, though.  Unconditional love? We should all be so lucky.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

The post nobody read

[edit] Look, I don’t mean for this to sound like a complaint, a “I did a cool thing and no one noticed, boo hoo” entitled little sulk.  I’m just baffled.  I haven’t had *crickets* in ages, maybe never.  So let’s stir the pot.  Will someone go back and read this? 

Interestingly the post had a lot of meaning for me.  The next day, I tossed together a stream of consciousness poem and posted it right away, and boom, views.  And you would not believe how common that is across the creator-sphere: the thing you pour your soul into gets barely a glance, and the piece of fluff you made for a laugh goes viral. Which is really justification for making as much art as you can.  Who knows what will get noticed?

The Post FKA: “The Ides of March? Never Met Him. What’s He Like?’

Three years ago, I self-published my first short story.

Two years ago, I had fourteen titles on sale, was writing a few novels, and felt like I was figuring things out.

Last year, I went over the edge.

Any old edge will do. How about this one? (photo by Alan Tang on Unsplash)

Up till then it had felt like I was doing everything right.  I don’t think I knew how depressed I was, which is something my mother said in reference to the same time in her life.

Taking medication was me making a sensible choice for a goddamn change. A grown up, self-disciplined decision to rein in my worrisome habits of thought and behaviour and become (what the hell was I thinking?) a productive member of society.

The results were predictably bad. You may recall that I am manifestly incapable of doing anything directly. Plans adjust themselves, reality reorganizes, and my intentions never end up aiming at my goals. I must approach all challenges and opportunities sideways: improvise, adjust, create new ways in the midst of living them. This is a very durable feature of my personality, and it affects everything I do, including taking medication to regulate my brain function. I’m sorry, but my brain function is a bratty queer with a glitter gun and the first six rows of the audience *will* *get* *wet.* Trying to rein this in leads to wildly unregulated emergent behaviour, and it was bad.

While high on legal speed, I did not buckle down and focus on my writing, which I was suddenly unable to do. Nor did I get really organized and plan my next year, down to the hour.  No, in between the bouts of tremors and sobbing into the carpet, I decided to start another blog, devoted not to writing but to (honestly, what the hell was I thinking?) historical menswear.

I swear it made sense at the time.  A distraction from the stress of a publishing career and encouragement to do more sewing, and if I was lucky, a back door into being known for anything at all, which somehow optimism and fairy dust would turn into a book career. It became one more task looming over me, one more chore to neglect. I needed to write books, not faff on about cravats on a blog no one would read without me promoting it like crazy.

I took the medication for a week. I quit when they wanted me to up the dosage.  Once I recovered from my inadvertent meth bender, I wrote a novella in which a doctor gets punched. I’ve done plenty of drugs under my own recognizance, and if I’d paid a schemy 22-year old in a nightclub bathroom for a pill that did to me, I’d hunt the little shit down and get my money back.

The blog lasted six months.

edit: This blog? This blog I do nothing to promote, that doesn’t sell my books, that does nothing for anyone? It’s coming up on two years. 152 posts. See? It’s just like I said. Sideways or not at all.

Solve for x

come! thou stalwart edge of dawn

and break this calcified intrigue

which day denies

a sightless sigh into the sweating sheets

break, o break the sky


all things you made


encase me so that I may break as well