Why, hello! We’re so pleased to meet you. In place of a handshake and kiss on the cheek, we offer you these bits about who we are and what we love:
Bitter en Zoet
I’m Canadian but I’ve lived abroad since I was 20 with my Flemish husband. At some point we’ve called London, New York, and Belgium home. Once I might have described myself as an aspiring entertainer who gave up the arts to become a sometimes insufferable workaholic with a big job and a gold frequent flyer card. But four years ago, I took a break to write and start a family. Since starting Mother Sugar we’ve had a little boy and my novel still waits for an agent. Right now, we live in Bahrain, a small island near Saudi Arabia. I am trying to figure out how to be a good mama and still be who I always was.
In my life, I have discovered that life will yield the most delightful surprises if you just let it. I married the love of my life at 35 and life keeps on bringing me beautiful, unexpected gifts. I revel in seeing the mountains after they’ve been hidden by the rain, doing yoga in the morning, walking in the woods, connecting with good friends, and going to sleep in fresh sheets.
I love the smell of black earth and the first shoots in my garden, waking up in a sunbeam, and warm feet. I lose hours to genealogy, daily deal sites, and recipes. I love the stillness after all of my children go to sleep and the noise of a busy classroom. I wait for any event that I can wear a costume to or that includes The Chicken Dance and The Time Warp. If you give me the chance, I will talk about why I’m a vegetarian and pedagogy and probably my kids. I rely on the first cup of coffee and my husband.
I live in the mountains of Northwest Montana, but my heart also belongs in many other places: a quiet beach in Hawai’i near my childhood home, the neighborhood tabacchi where I drank a cappuccino standing up every morning I lived in Italy, my best friend’s sunlit kitchen table in our college town, a certain corner of Central Park in the West 80s. I appreciate a well-planned party, a finely printed letterpress card, smart conversation, nails painted red, and the kind of days that involve polka-dot swimsuits, water, sunglasses, Pimm’s Cups and, depending on my mood, a good book or the latest In Style magazine. I have a husband and two dogs, all of whom, on most days, I like very much.
When I was 26 I came home after living overseas and got a summer job in the Canadian Rockies. I never left. I’m still not sure why. Every time I try to figure it out I am distracted by sunlit peaks, the smell of spruce, or the sound of snow under my feet. I grew up in the city and I now own an apartment in a small town that looks “out”. For a dozen years I’ve done communications work in one capacity or another. This is an effective distraction from being suspended between dueling loves – performing arts, music, ecology and physics among them.
And what else do I love? Living abroad, grocery shopping in foreign places, wearing nailpolish in climbing shoes, the peace of polished river stones, sand underfoot, Spanish, dancing with abandon, singing in the car, bookstores, dark chocolate, sunshine on my shoulders, haircuts, early morning swims, Sunday mornings out with coffee and the newspaper, compassion and duende, spring, silent snow, the courage and candour of children, summer road trips, being tired after a day on the trail, and the company and conversation of good friends.
A little over a year ago my world was turned upside down when I got a random email from a stranger who was living across the Atlantic. This man quite quickly became my husband. Since then, I’ve moved from New York—where I lived in the same apartment for 10 years, the city for 12—to Vienna, with a short stint in Munich. In my former life I was a modern dancer, a yoga teacher, and Canadian (I mean, I still am, but haven’t lived in Montreal for 16 years). These days, I sit too much and only use my American passport. Things I love include: the croissants at Gail’s in London; jambon-beurre sandwiches in Paris; Montreal bagels; Viennese milchcaffe; the chicken kabob platter at Zaytoon’s in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; a Hungarian coffee on Manhattan’s Morningside Heights, an aperol spritz. Other, non-food things: my very slow yoga practice; my occasional meditation practice; swimming; and my darling husband, who is very cool about being written about quite frequently.
I was born and raised on a desert island in the Middle East, a sleepy little country where you either know people, or they know of you, where your biggest ambition was to be a good student, get a steady, well-paying job, and have a family. I was the weird picky little kid with, big glasses, a big mouth, and a bigger attitude. I’m now 29 years old, wear contacts, and still think of myself as 18. Depending on who you ask, I may or may not have learned to self-edit. I love reading fiction, watching TV, and still play video games, an interest which is tolerated by my trauma surgeon husband, and I love him for that. I have a fondness for chocolate in its various forms, saltwater fish, strong-tasting cheese, pasta with pesto sauce, and designer handbags. I’m on my third genuine attempt to quit smoking: my first attempt lasted for 7 months, the second for barely 2 weeks. I have yet to decide whether or not I want to wean myself from my reality TV addiction. I’m terrified of flying and even more terrified of heights. Most of all, I hate cold weather and miss the sun and heat in my new city, Toronto.
I am a Canadian with strong European ties and a penchant for new experience. I have lived, studied and worked in rural Alberta, in Manhattan, and have settled, for now, in Vancouver. If time travel was actually possible I would go back and live in the nineteen twenties or thirties just for the fashion and style alone. I would bring my best friend, a 13 year old dog called Cricket, with me and we would live in Florence. I may still get there. I have made my living as an actor and a teacher, and presently call the pink ghetto of paper pushing my sugar daddy (aka I am a secretary).
I love: Getting up early on Sunday morning and then realizing it is Sunday and going back to bed to read for two hours – with treats. I love great, overarching, non-linear conversations that leave you with the sense that you have collectively come to some conclusion or said something that no one else has until that moment. Delusion is a wonderful thing. I love wine and perhaps because I tend to swim against the stream most of the time I particularly enjoy the sweet ones that no one is supposed to like anymore. I love baby giggles – those mad-hatter ones. I indulge in carbohydrates, marzipan and fresh juices – it’s all about balance.
When I was young I hated to read. I loved to dance, ride horses, sit cross-legged in the Queensland sun and play with dolls in the ant-ridden grass. The first book I loved was a beat-up biography my mother found in a bargain bin – the story of Anna Pavlova – and her first trip to Australia in the ’20s. She was so graceful and lithe, they named a dessert after her. Pavlova is an antipodean tradition: made of egg white and sugar, airy and sweet delectable and gone in an instant after tasting. Nearly 30 years on and that airy blonde dreamer is now a director at the world’s largest investment management firm in New York City. I work about 70-80 hours a week, live in Brooklyn with my American attorney husband of 3 years, and have no children and no real desire to have them.
But the flighty little girl is still there. I love travel and emerging myself in other cultures. I love my husband; my sister’s kids; and my Max Mara suits. I love that I am tall and still wear heels every day. I love that I’ve learned to love reading. Sometimes I feel stuck in the mud of city living, the mud of the complexity of life, and the stickiest mud of all – the guilt of being a woman and never being quite good enough at everything. Most of what I say is contradictory and flawed, but human, and struggling, and real. Sometimes I’m light or heavy and sticky and hard to get rid of. That’s Pavlova Mud for you.