my night with marilyn

Last week, I said I had plans for dinner-and-a-movie for one. My film choice ended up being “My Week With Marilyn”, starring Michelle Williams. I figured it was the perfect opportunity to see it on the big screen at the Revue (one of my favorite places in all of Toronto), since Rob didn’t express much interest in seeing it. No problem. Only now, I’m disappointed. Disappointed that the film was bad and I have no one to tear it apart with. So, I’ll blog my beefs.

I’m not saying the film isn’t “good” – lots of people like it – but I thought that the character of Marilyn was annoying.

The film shows a mostly drunk, insecure, often stoned, self-absorbed Monroe in her mid-30s, with dozens of men falling at her feet because she is, after all, Marilyn. Blah, blah, blah, I learned nothing new about the iconic actress. I didn’t get the sense that I understood anymore about Marilyn – the movie star, the business woman, the depressive – than I did before. I almost left before the movie ended, but opted to stay in the hopes the plot would, somehow, redeem itself. It didn’t.

For me, the film lacked something. I certainly don’t know enough about Monroe’s life to decide whether Michelle Williams played her accurately, but I know enough about Monroe’s iconic image and infamous love affairs to know that I wanted to see this film about her. Only it wasn’t about her. It was about men falling all over her and people watching her slowly kill herself with cocktails of booze and pills and dark thoughts. Why men thought that was attractive I’ll never understand, but I can speculate that there’s something alluring about being near someone who is otherwise untouchable.That is the one take-away I can relate to, although this hardly changes my opinion of the film.

I’m no film critic and I don’t find destructive behavior “attractive” in the least, so take my review with a grain of salt. All I can offer is that, in my opinion, this film is a renter, at best.

p.s. Here is a thorough review in the Chicago Tribune from a real film critic, who sums up the disappointment with this film much better than I can.



A day in pictures. And talking ’bout romance.

This time last year…

What were you doing?
Where were you working?
Where were you living?
Who were you loving?
And how has your life changed since then

I was…preparing to move out of our loft and into Roncesvalles, where we’ve been for the last year, living, loving and, you know, doing stuff.
I was…working where I do now, as a magazine editor and teaching yoga.
I was…living 8 minutes from where I do now.
I was…loving Rob, Penelope (my cat), my friends and chocolate peanut butter.

My life is nothing like it was – well, okay, so some things haven’t changed – I still love Rob and my cat and my job and chocolate peanut butter – but my friends have changed and I’m loving less, but more intensely than ever before. I’m moving again, to a new neighborhood, again just 8 minutes from where I live now. I’m still working at the same job I had last year – editing and writing for a women’s magazine – and I’m still teaching yoga. But am thinking about my career in a whole new way. I’m thinking that doing what you love for a living is great, as long as it doesn’t become ‘work’.

The other day, someone who I know and who happens to read this little ‘ol blog asked me,“Why do you love your neighborhood so much?” I have to admit, I felt a bit…crazy and maybe neighborhood-obsessed? (passive-aggressive question there, yes). But then I said something like, “I love the vibe here and the energy, sure, but even more than that I love what’s happened to me while living in the heart of this neighborhood. I love feeling connected to a place and time that I once had no connection to, other than knowing my husband grew up here. I love walking out my front door and up the street to Cherry Bomb for my morning Americano. I love walking a little further to imagine what stories sit behind the vintage pieces at Mrs. Huizenga. I love that everyone has a dog – even though we don’t – and that those dogs all sit patiently outside The Film Buff while their owners chill out with their Cherry Bomb-brewed coffees and baby strollers and talk about the mayor or the Toronto music scene or what’s playing at the Revue.”

My live-in relationship with Roncesvalles may be coming to an end, but this is one love affair that is far from over.

These places and people and smells and sights and sounds have been a part of my every day, even if just for a little while. And, for that little while I got to be that girl – the one who thinks about what she was doing last year and, because life is too short to be the same, decides it’s time to do something a little different.

Ya, I like being that girl.

**Thank you to the fantastic Rob, who treated me to a photoshoot this holiday weekend and also says that I never credit him for taking my picture. High-five, Babe. Okay?

Join the conversation: I’d love to know, this time last year, what was your life like?


Learning to fall in love… again.

You’re going to be hearing a little bit more about our upcoming move – we have two weeks left in our beloved neighborhood. The move is the main event these days. I started thinking about our connection to our neighborhood – Roncesvalles Village – and how it’s seemed to creep into the most important nook and crannies of our life together. In fact, this blog started shortly after we moved here last year. Living here has been a big part of reinventing sandyb in so many ways. [note: for our beach wedding, we put this photo on the invites - we wanted to keep it fun and show that we try not to take ourselves too seriously.]

We took these pictures back in 2007, three months before our wedding. Back then, we used to say, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to live here one day?” And then last year, we sold everything, packed up and did. We moved here. We made that little dream our own big reality.

The vibe here is one of community and belonging. It’s a trendy neighborhood, sure, but it’s more than that if you’re willing to look beyond that – it’s a place where creativity thrives and where it’s okay to be a little different. Rob grew up in this neighborhood and so it’s held a special place in his heart his whole life. And because of that I discovered love here, too.

This is the house Rob grew up in, just behind us in this photo. It was in the house that Rob fell in love with music. He’s told me stories about his childhood here and I only wish I could have known him then. He told me how he would walk to church with his family on Sundays, where he was an alter boy. He would accompany his mom to the bakery and butcher shoppe on Saturday mornings to get the weekend’s ingredients for a big family dinner. His favorite memory is playing in the alley ways and school yard until the street lights came on, and then running home with his sisters before dark.

This old theater, now a convenience store, is where Rob used to buy handfuls of sour candy for $.25. Remember those days? Inside, you can still see where the theater seats used to be and there is a grandiose feeling when you walk in. That’s the great thing about living here – even with the arrival of trendy shops and restaurants, you can still see the imprint of the lives gone by.

Roncesvalles Avenue is lined with small fruit stands showing off the best local and organic produce. We actually did some fruit shopping for this picture, because we’ve been buying our fruits and vegetables from this very fruit stand for the last three years, even before we moved here. Our new neighborhood is an upcoming one and maybe someday there will be abundant little fruit stands lining the main street. Until then though, we’ll miss this weekend ritual…

…but we know our new neighborhood will bring a new set of streets, shoppes and hideaways to fall in love with and isn’t that the best feeling anyway – falling in love again?

Here’s to walking towards a new adventure.


[thank you to Agnes Jeglinska, who we will forever be grateful to for snapping these moments. You can visit her blog here.]


Things I learned at 29: How to be extraordinary (and shop for a coat rack.)

The extraordinary rack.

I learned something about being extraordinary and now I have to tell you. I learned it from a coat rack.

We’re moving in three weeks.

We’re leaving our quaint and trendy little neighborhood – Roncesvalles Village, home of the Cherry Bomb and Revue Theatre – to move 10 minutes away to a neighborhood we never thought we’d live in. It’s one of Toronto’s “in transition” neighborhoods, which is sort of the real estate market’s way of saying, “don’t walk there alone after dark… but good investment.”

After much deliberation, we’re okay with it. Mainly because we have to be – the house is bought and there is no sense in crying over spilled mortgage papers (if I ever write those words again, I implore you to stop reading this blog.)

In a city like Toronto, you have million-dollar neighborhoods book-ended by areas that we Torontonians affectionately refer to as “up and coming”. These “up and coming” pockets house everything from couples like us (the brunching, weekend thrifting, mid-week dinners, drunk on Sundays, random weekend trips kind) to Ladies of the Night and hobos to what we refer to ’round these parts as “crack hoes”.

Ah, the city.

I was tempted to put “Buy a house” on my List, but felt that was cheating, since I knew purchasing was inevitable this year. Wanting to buy again had less to do with turning 30 than it had to do with Rob and I not wanting to get too comfortable. So it didn’t go on the List.

And screw comfortable.

Our renting days are over and we just feel like it’s time to plant some roots again – oh, you know, paint the walls my preferred shade of not-so-white and hang vintage chandeliers in strange places – that sort of thing.

When I tell people about the “planting roots” thing, they immediately think we want kids, which we don’t. Not now anyway. “So why do you want to settle down then and buy a house?” they ask, which is valid, I guess, although I’d like to think that we’re not buying a house for any other reason than to just live a little more extraordinarily than we do right now.

But what is extraordinary?

Let’s face it, the word arrangement is all wrong for something that’s supposed to be so great: extra-ordinary. I mean, c’mon. Being just a little ordinary not enough?

Interestingly, while shopping for a table made of reclaimed church pews and then stumbling on this coat rack creation, I just sort of figured it out…

Extraordinary is like adding nice hardware to cheap Ikea kitchen cabinets or wrapping a vintage scarf around the handles of a an old handbag that you love. It’s like adding hot fudge to plain ‘ol vanilla ice cream or writing a love letter instead of an email. It’s taking something as ordinary as marriage and giving it the details of warm morning kisses, coffee made just the way you like it and wearing his shirt to bed because you couldn’t possibly fall asleep without his scent.

Extraordinary, I learned, simply means taking something ordinary and giving it that little something extra, even if it’s just a place to hang your hat and coat at the end of the day.

Make it extraordinary.


In plain sight on Saturday night.

It’s Saturday night here in Toronto.

And no, this isn’t the post I promised, but it’s a bit of what I’ve been wanting to tell you, so here goes:

We bought a house.

It happened so fast. In fact, as I was walking into the Alicia Keys concert the other night, Rob called and said, “Guess what? The house is ours…” My sister and good friend, Pari, had to give me several glasses of wine afterward to help me, you know, balance out a little bit.

I danced all night.

And then, the next day, I had some buyer’s remorse. That’s just how I roll, I guess. But I’m good now, so not to worry.

We’re excited for our new home – although we think she’s about 60 or so – and move in early April. Yes, you read that right – we have a mere four weeks left in our apartment and another chapter is about to close. It’s bitter sweet, actually, since we’re leaving our beloved Roncesvalles village for one that has yet to be named, officially. Although there’s been a community vote I hear, and it looks like our new little neck of the Toronto woods will be dubbed the “East Junction” or something along those lines within the year. Good for property value, great for community morale.

So, that’s just part of my little secret and the other part… well.. it involves a major item being crossed of the List.

To Be Continued (don’t hate me!)….


[UPDATE: I just want to say here, a special and heart felt THANK YOU to everyone who commented and emailed me about your “three things”, which I mentioned in this post here. I mean, talk about making a girl’s week! I have a couple more emails to return and will do that this weekend, you have my word. Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me in.]