Tag Archives: Love

Two hundred yen


On Friday night we had dinner
at our little Italian place,
the restaurant where everyone knows us.

We saw some students
on a date
so we slid quickly into our booth
keeping a low teacher-profile.

Stealthy. Like spies.

In Japan, it is common
to pay at the front counter
even in lovely restaurants
so despite our sneakiness
we found ourselves
behind those students
in line to pay.

The boy reached for his wallet
and handed some bills to the cashier.
Then he patted his pockets.

“Oh no. He doesn’t have enough money.”

“How do you know?” said Damien.

“I just know.”

The cashier looked at the wall
while the boy turned his pockets
inside out and the girl
opened her wallet.

“Can we help?,” we asked.

On Monday the girl brought me
perfect plastic bag
with two 100 Yen coins.
Two dollars.

“Thank you so much.”

That girl is going to love me forever.

Chiffon dreams

love in the rain

A serious young woman
studying literature
at university,
I was
to discover
the similarities
between love poems
regardless of
the lover
or the beloved.

Overlapping words
planes circling the same city of light
as if they’d all been written by the same poet.

This made me believe in love
not the hard, sharp thing itself
but the suggestion of love,
an idea that assembles itself
each night as a shared
chiffon dream
and we are all
the dreamers.

Japanese slang for lovey-dovey


Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 4.43.49 AM

We had lunch with a friend
who had just spent some time
with a lovely couple we know.

He is amazed by them.

Perhaps you know
{or are in}
a relationship
like this.

When they look
at each other
a shy sweetness
something golden
and fills all the spaces
between them.

Their love
does not exclude.
It’s big.
It wraps its arms around us.

Magical campfire gazing.
Shadows of purple-orange flames
transform faces
known forever
into Queens,
slayers of dragons.

It’s love-love.

They say it in Japanese too. Love-love.
{Young people mostly.}

To hear these words
pronounced in Japanese
makes my heart
as soft
as buffalo mozzarella.


The Orange Backpack


“When you talked earlier about after a few years how a couple would begin to hate each other by anticipating their reactions or getting tired of their mannerisms ~ I think it would be the opposite for me. I think I can really fall in love when I know everything about someone ~ the way he’s going to part his hair, which shirt he’s going to wear that day, knowing the exact story he’d tell in a given situation. I’m sure that’s when I know I’m really in love.”

~ Celine to Jesse, from the film Before Sunrise


The Sunday Reader: Monkeys that sneak into your circus

book {Photograph: Damien Pitter}

I’ve started this new thing. It’s a newsletter called The Sunday Reader. [Yup. I send it on Sundays. Every second week.}

Here’s an excerpt from this week’s Reader:

The Colombians I encountered in Cali were, generally speaking, very happy people. RHEs. Radical Happiness Experts. They were relaxed and welcoming and loved to sing and dance. My flatmate and I joked that two Colombians + a radio = a party. The list of things that they were NOT includes (but is not limited to) the following: organized, punctual, adept at forming lines and being silent (ever). The truly troubling thing for me was that they did not give a rat’s ass about how we do things in Canada. We’re talking about an extreme level of indifference. If not caring about efficiency methods employed by the citizens of other countries were an Olympic sport, I can tell you right now that The Colombians would win Gold. Every single year.

You would think that I would have learned my lesson quickly. Oh! I’m in South America. They do things differently here. Colombians view the world differently. Please begin adapting now.

You would think.

{I just read that last part to DP and he said perhaps that’s what they are saying over the PA system as you arrive at the Cali airport. “Please begin adapting now.” But you don’t know because it’s in Spanish.}


So far, the writing in The Reader is more personal and intimate than most of my posts. If this sounds interesting + you’d like to read the rest of this week’s Reader, subscribe at the bottom of this post or over here.



On love and the price of admission

{Photograph by the lovely Kyle Hepp}

My partner is a really lovely person. He’s intelligent, funny, and kind and he possesses many other impressive character traits such as being a good speller. We’ve been together for 17 years.

Every once in a while, however, he does something that makes me absolutely crazy. (Perhaps you can relate!)

He leaves his dirty dishes beside the sink instead of in it. He thinks that our gorgeous teak dining room table is an extension of our filing cabinet – just way easier to use.  The idea of hanging his clothes up after he’s taken them off is completely foreign to him.

Listen, there are more of these little annoyances but I’m not going to list them here because:
a) you and I don’t really know each other very well yet
b) you already get the idea and
c) because he is so lovely that anyone who actually knows us is now thinking (or shouting), “Monna… come on!”

And that (item c) is exactly the point. I’m quite confident that some of my habits and preferences drive him to a place of deep distraction. I sleep in the middle of the bed, no matter how large (or small) that bed is and, apparently, I hog the blankets. Sometimes I think I can read his mind so I’ll tell him exactly what he’s thinking… I am often wrong. I want to plan every trip months in advance even though his preference is to wait and see how he feels as that vacation approaches.

I sincerely believe that many couples let these kinds of issues – the dishes and the blanket-hogging – turn their once-lovely relationships into battlefields. When you spend your energy arguing about this stuff, it is easy to lose sight of your partner as the intelligent, funny and kind person whom you chose to love. The bickering and score keeping makes it increasingly difficult to remember who you were as a couple and you may slip into a state of relationship-amnesia.

Honestly, it occurs to me that some people have affairs for reasons that have very little to do with the age or attractiveness of their partner (or new lover), the quality of the sex or even notions of love/in love… but because they want to be intimate with someone who does not lecture them about how to put the roll of toilet paper on the dispenser.

After a while, talking about toilet paper leads to a fall from grace; it’s the kind of thing that gets you booted out of your own personal Garden of Eden. And when you are expelled from Eden, in the dim-light of relationship-purgatory, it’s impossible to recognize that the small things are small because the relationship is now filled with resentment and bitterness. The partners stops talking and laughing and remembering.

We’ve seen it happen and, since we don’t want it for our relationship, my partner and I practice what Dan Savage calls the price of admission. (Thanks to our friend Jenny for sharing this idea with us!) Savage defines the price of admission as “the personal sacrifices, large and small, that make long-term relationships possible.” (I think this idea is the best thing since nutella.)

In our interpretation of the price of admission, the principle begins with the recognition that both partners are flawed. Deeply so. Repeat after me, “We acknowledge that we are flawed creatures with more baggage than the Hilton.”

It’s not just your partner who is flawed… but also you. (Don’t worry, I also find this part difficult.)

The second understanding of the price of admission is that we are both AMAZING. Not me more than him…not him more than me. We are both talented, interesting and unique souls deserving of love and respect. Nowhere is this more true than within this relationship that we created.

The third understanding is that it is perfectly natural for humans to get on each other’s nerves, especially when they live together in a tiny apartment in Japan. (Wait… that’s just us.) Let me start again… it is perfectly natural for people who have become very familiar with one another to be annoyed by traits and habits that once charmed the pants off them.

The fourth and final understanding is that you must learn how to let most of it go. The price of admission – the price that you willingly pay to be with this lovely person who brings so much to your life, with whom you feel utterly safe and heard and at “home” – is that you do not hold on to the toxic little things that are choking the life out of your love and affection for one another.

When I see my partner’s clothes piled up on the sofa bed, I remind myself, gently, about the fact that I woke up on his side of the bed with my arm across his face. I remember that last night, it was this man who went out to get Chinese take-out even though he was tired and working on his thesis. And I recognize that this is the price of admission.

(I sort of love that this idea is both Buddhist and Capitalist.)

When I recognize a POA moment, I just let myself feel the annoyance… yup, there it is. I let it stay for as long as it wants but I try to sit silently with my annoyance. (The truth is that sometimes it is difficult not to let a little sigh slip out.) Then I take a deep breath and release the crap out of whatever had me by the throat.

Now I have a choice:
1. Hang up the clean clothes and place the clothes he has worn in the hamper. (After the ecstasy, the laundry, right?)
2. Decide that a few clothes on the sofa are actually not that big a deal and walk away
3. Acknowledge that I am not that crazy about this particular task as evidenced by the pile of my clothes on top of my own hamper. (Damn!)

Finally, I thank the universe for sending me this person with whom to share my life. Sometimes I’ll find my partner in his office and kiss him on the forehead… or I’ll turn on the lights so that it is easier for him to read and write.

Although he never mentions it (he’s so much better at taking the high road than I am), I know he’s also been paying the price of admission. The truth is that not talking about toilet paper leaves us with more time to discuss other things… like his thesis, our work, loving each other and planning our next vacation. Not fighting about the little stuff leaves lots of space for love.

*I’d like to make it clear that this price of admission approach does not apply to abusive relationships.