New Year, New Start

Last year on a whim (by on a whim I mean after a solid year of contemplation) I decided to pursue a post-graduate diploma in Public Relations, in Toronto. I’m here now, and I start school on Monday. Yeah. Also: hmmm, *contemplative stare, *chin rub, and *nod in recognition of a solid decision.

When I graduated from university and people still used dial-up internet, I laughed at my friends who searched frantically for jobs because I already knew I was moving to the other side of the world to work and play. I loved 95% of every second of the five years I spent in Japan.  I met some amazing people who, despite the distance in time and geography, are some of the boldest, craziest, most fantastic, funniest and inspiring people I couldn’t imagine not knowing. And for that I wouldn’t change anything  except for one teeny tiny thing – I didn’t plan for was my eventual return.

I was never blessed with knowing what I wanted to do with my life from an early age. Actually, that’s a lie. Dr Grant Roberts (Danger Bay) was my childhood hero, and because of him I wanted to be a Marine Veterinarian/Biologist. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that I hated Biology until high school so that was off the table. What I do know is that I failed to capitalise on my overseas experience and use it to forge any kind of rewarding career for myself (I know those exist by the way – rewarding careers. Many of my friends have them.) Five years ago spending my time wisely meant snowboarding every day. Hindsight, and all of that. I wasn’t without work for too long, but after a while I was immensely unsatisfied with my job. While I might lament the length of time it took me to get here, certain choices along the way facilitated the realisation of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I cannot say for certain that had I planned for it, 2009 me would have chosen this path at that time because I was an idiot and ignored my true skill set. Fortunately, I’m less of an idiot now. Had I ventured off into another direction, I’m confident that hypothetical future me would have eventually veered back onto the right path. A career path – I have one of those now. It might sound silly to read, it felt silly to type, but I actually know where I want to be in a years time, five years from now, and long term. There is something immensely satisfying in seeing this all eventually be realised one way or another.

I know where my strengths and passion lay. I love to organize and manage people, and events; communicate to and advocate for my community; absorb other people’s creativity through osmosis; and teamwork. If you read between the lines what I’m saying is that I love to complain because that’s what a lot of this work involves. However, like *childbirth, when all’s said and done, you forget the pain and experience a natural high off what you’ve managed to pull off. *I don’t have any children, but if women remembered that episiotomy, I doubt the global population would be currently in excess of 7 billion people by choice.

People tell me I’m brave for going back to school now, and to them I say “Thank you, child!” in an almost Maya Angelou-esque hushed tone. It’s not brave – it’s smart. The fact that I can study from communications and public relations professionals who put theory into practice daily excites me. I’m incredibly fortunate to have been granted this opportunity. I am still naïve enough to think that I can have a fulfilling and satisfying career, and the life I want. The already incredible amount of experience I have, coupled with this course that is about to take over my life for the better part of this year will only make me a smarter, more capable, communications professional. With all of the writing assignments I will have, I’m excited to see how my writing will change, for the better, undoubtedly. My only concern, which isn’t a real concern at all, is that I’ll be on average 10 years older than most of my classmates. With that in mind, I’m ready to fill my role as class matriarch and share stories of using a rotary phone after I explain what that is, what it was like when having an email account became a thing, and how when I was in university you chose between using the phone or internet. 

I have some downtime before things get hairy in a few days so I need to use my time wisely. I’ve come to see myself as rather English and I’m appalled by the lack of tea kettle in my new temporary home, something I plan to rectify tomorrow. Also on my list: get a local number, and change the city on my online dating profiles so that I can ignore an even larger pool of men. But that’s a story for another time.

Ta for now.

Update: From Scratch

Man alive. You know …  I feel kinda bad for you that you can’t have some of the pumpkin pie I made. It’s really THAT GOODI know when I’ve earned the right to toot my own horn, and let me tell you that this is one of those times.

I’d like to say that being lactose intolerant inspired me to search for this dairy-free pumpkin pie recipe, but that’s entirely untrue. If I really let being lactose intolerant dictate my diet, I’d have to forgo my longest, most successful relationship … with cheese, and, well, La Sauvagine and brie are about the best things ever since sliced baguette. I’m pretty pleased with myself that I forgot to buy evaporated milk or buttermilk because it led me to that recipe. Coconut milk is thick and creamy, and gave the pie the thickness and heaviness it so richly deserves.

As for the seven pumpkins remaining, did you know that one SMALL pie pumpkin yields about three to four cups when puréed? I didn’t. It’s going to be pumpkin errthang for the foreseeable future.  I’ve already had some fantastic sounding dish ideas come in from friends, but I welcome more. As for now, this will be my next project.

From Scratch

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. I hate cooking, and thankfully I don’t have to this year. What I do love is baking, and I’m quite the baker. Cooking requires creativity, which I lack. Baking requires adhering to rules, which removes the guess work.  Oh the number of fights I’ve started with my mom trying to get her to quantify ingredients in recipes she keeps catalogued in her brain. For the record, my mom is an excellent cook. A baker? Not so much. My sister and I once made a song comparing my mom’s cookies to rocks.

It’s taken me a long time to find a good pie crust recipe, but I’ve found a winner with this one: Old-Fashioned Apple Pie. It’s not vegan or gluten-free, but if you’re neither of those things then give it a go.

I have this need to make things harder for myself so I’ve decided to make a pumpkin pie entirely from scratch this weekend. A local grocery story is selling pie pumpkins for a steal (I guess) – four for five dollars. I’ve now committed myself to the whole ordeal but I question why I feel the need to be able to know how to do this. Bragging rights? It’s probably bragging rights. Those eight pie pumpkins (I’m also making soup) have been sitting in the trunk of my car since last night. I have the follow through of a sloth.

I will either emerge victorious, or end up swearing a lot.

My Neck, My Back …

I’ve wanted to write about this for a while but held back to avoid coming off as a never ending broken record. I’ve now forgiven myself for thinking that because I have EVERY RIGHT to feel sorry for myself.

April. This was when the madness began. Although misdiagnosed for two months I kept on keeping on because I didn’t think the problem with my back was all that bad, nor did I feel all that bad. At the end of June, I was organiser/captain/yeller-in-chief for a Dragon Boat crew and that’s when everything went down hill. An MRI revealed a herniated disc in my lower back, L4/L5 for anyone in the know, which was happily stepping on not exactly my last nerve, but a rather large and important one. While the main issue lies in my lumbar region, it’s the sciatica down my right leg that’s made life quite hard these last few months.

Over the summer months I spent quite a bit a bit of time looking like Tetris pieces figuring out how to rest comfortably, and finding ways to sleep pain-free. I missed two weeks of work. I sought out every kind of therapist, and made several of them a bit richer. Eight be exact. On a slightly related note, if anyone wants any insight into the differences between physiotherapists, chiropractors, naturopaths, osteopaths, acupuncturists, etc., look no further. Aside from pain management, acupuncture was my saving grace. I may have cried a few time during treatment, not from being stabbed with needles, but because I had begun to realise just how overwhelming this whole ‘experience’ was. I couldn’t control how I felt physically, or just shrug  it off and say “I’ll feel better in a few days”. I needed to get out of my own head and talk to someone who reminded me that this wouldn’t be forever.

One of the worst things about being injured or sick is the inescapable feeling of desperation. I’d considered getting a cortisone shot for the pain, but for every online source touting its benefits, the next one spoke of its evils. Who knows which websites are vetted by real professionals or just someone’s opinion, man. Many ‘healthcare’ websites are the equivalent of grandparent forwarded emails about this thing they heard about this person who said that thing. The information is colloquial, and cannot be trusted or validated.

Other than the money I’d spent on treatment I was able to make some money back on tickets to events, and runs I’d signed up for. Also: a massive shout out to Netflix for helping me complete the following marathons:

  • Archer
  • *Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • *Angel
  • *Firely

*The Whedonverse is a fun place.

I’ve finally hit a turning point. Walking, while not pain free, has become more tolerable and I’ll take it. I still have a long way to go. I spend less time lamenting on what I’ve given up, and concentrate on the activities I dare dream to resume in the near future. These things feel within my grasp, although we’re still talking very long arms. I can’t wait to do the following:

  • Fail at being a runner … again
  • Bike around
  • Walk everywhere – That was the point of moving downtown – I had so many plans!!
  • Walk Boots
  • Dance
  • Clean my apartment – only miss that a smidge though.
  • Buy groceries/pretty much carry anything – I like to pretend I’m hella independent so this has really been testing my patience.
  • Baking – It’s the standing.
  • Go out with friends where 90% of the night requires moving around
  • Hike in Gatineau Park

I don’t mind not being able to stand for too long to do my dishes. I’d throw them out if money grew on trees. It may not be this calendar year, but I’m quite confident that by next spring I’ll be able to be quite a bit more active. Snowboarding, however, is off the table this year, but next year – fingers crossed.

Before I go, a few tips on how to deal with injured friends:

  • Check in on them every once in a while on the phone, or by email.
  • Don’t complain about not wanting to do something fun (not annoying – no one likes doing annoying things) because it’s too hot/cold, you’re tired, someone is annoying, or anything else rather petty – you are still physically able to do those things and you’ll be met with resentment. Don’t be an insensitive jerk.
  • Invite your friend out for dinner (if they are able to get around) or visit them at their place so they feel less like a leper.

Trust me when I say your injured friend will really appreciate it when you reach out to them, and they will remember.

That’s it for now.

p.s. there’s nothing wrong with my neck (unless you talk to that chiropractor I saw a few times) I just wanted to put that obnoxious song in your head so you can all suffer with me. Haha, suckers.

“U kinda cute for a chubby chick”

After texting my friend that I’m going to try a different online dating website.

BF: I like the enthusiasm but will you have time for all these men?

Me: I have all the time in the world to put no effort into this. 🙂

BF: That’s my girl.

… a few texts later

BF: I don’t think you need to be so strict. Sometimes other tastes can surprise you. Except Country. That shit is wack.

Me: If someone said NIKKI MINAGE (spl?) IS MY JAM, I’d stare at them like they just tore the head off some sweet woodland creature and started drinking its blood.

BF: That’s a reasonable reaction …

Three messages into this new site and I was greeted with this.

What a gem!

What a gem!

This wasn’t the kind of welcome I was going for, but it was what it was. I sent that screen shot to several friends. It’s good to know that when it comes down to it, my friends would be out for blood to avenge my honour. I even told my mom. She was actually really upset that someone felt the need to speak to her most adorable and favourite child like that (sorry you had to find out this, sis!). She conveyed her shock by repeating a word I shall not use, but I’ll give you a hint – it’s the part of your body from where you poo.

There are so many things wrong with this.

  1. You are/you’re
  2. kind of …
  3. Was he shocked? “U kinda cute for a chubby chick!”
  4. Was he upset I broke some set of arbitrary rules? “U kinda cute, for a chubby chick.”

Let’s play a game – can anyone think of anymore? If only he’d communicated more effectively, I’d know how to appropriately react this this.

I’ve heard of this school of dating before. Insult a woman, then feed her *badum tsss a compliment so that she sees that this bro can find something to like about her disgusting self, and she’d better realise her luck because not everyone would take one for the team. Oh, chivalry. Stay dead.

Appearance aside, I don’t understand why that was necessary. He attacked my appearance. Good for him. Perhaps ‘attack’ is a bit hyperbolic, but it’s still early and I’ve only had one cuppa Tetley. How dare I be chubby AND cute? That’s not what he read in his Bro-Bible. Everyone knows that chubby people are ‘totes gross’ and have no business being anything else. Had he insulted my intelligence or my values, then it would’ve really bothered me. Calling me out on my body type shows he’s more hung up on the superficial and in the words of Sweet Brown

All in all, I have two choices.

  1. Get upset, and then question why I’d open myself up to this unwelcome attention.
  2. Realize that this is the internet, where anonymity allows assholes to reign supreme, and move on.

This will be the last time this bro occupies any valuable real estate in my mind. My darling dog, who will lick her privates in mixed company, has more smarts than this dumbass.

Other than that, how are things? I don’t really know. I, like everyone else out there that decides to open themselves up to the idea of online dating, am learning on the job. Do I want to talk to this guy? Yes or no. What do I say? I don’t know. Shouldn’t there be a wiki for this? I did message someone, there was some banter but then nothing. Oh noes, my online life is beginning to mirror my real one. It’s fine though. I checked out his profile once more before moving on and noticed that he had edited his profile, and updated his ‘personality’ – ‘hippie’. Ugh. Bullet dodged. Get away from me with your auras and patchouli.

Island Living: A post about blogging. Indulge me if you will.

In a few weeks, I’ll finally have a nice place downtown to call my own. I hope to blog about the hilarity I find/make up in the mundane. I’ve decided to title every post on this subject “Island Living: something”. Unless I forget. Why Island Living? Did you know that the downtown core of Ottawa is on an island? No? Lookee here.

Island

I didn’t discover this on my own. My very smart and bendy friend over at Urban Corn/108 Photographs (I’m also linking her ‘about‘ section from 108 because I really like the inspiration behind her yoga photography project … which will soon be a book! All five of you that read my blog should check it out.) brought it up one day in conversation. I like this title for many reasons but mostly because there is nothing about this city that resembles island living (sorry Maritimes or any place that isn’t the Caribbean!) one iota.

I went shopping today. Well my intention was to shop around to get an idea of how much things cost and where to get them. The result of this trip was two oven safe dishes and a storage container, the last of which I will be returning because I’ve realised that I don’t actually need it. One of the  dishes I purchased is a Le Cruset baking dish. Considering I got it for half price, I’d say I did pretty well for myself. This thing will last forever and will follow me to every kitchen I ever call mine. I don’t really need it but in a different way, and no, it’s not going back. I’m going to be so broke before I step foot into my new place. I guess when my parents said that it was important to invest for the future, this dish is not what they had in mind.

Because of all of this, I’ve brilliantly come up with two tags/hashtags to go along with posts and tweets that are borne of my inability to say no to myself.

Budget2013: Every time I buy something I don‘t need, I’ll use this tag here, or hashtag on Twitter. My reason for the hashtag is because I am a bit of a smart ass if you hadn’t caught on by now, but with a heart of gold. When some poor schmuck in finance or economics has been tasked with the mundane role of monitoring local, domestic or international economies, there is a chance that they will stumble upon some rambling of mine. With that I’ll offer them a respite from the mundane that has been requested of them. Look at me making someone’s day. 

Scurvy2013: Back in November, Air Canada ‘accidentally’ advertised a flight to Paris for an obscenely low rate that I pounced on right away. I did this not knowing that in a few weeks I would be signing a lease and giving someone else a lot of my money on a monthly basis. Now, in order for me to afford this trip, I am going to have to save like never before. My brilliant plan? Lots and lots of mac and cheese. And I won’t be buying any high faulting butter or milk to add – pure cardboard tasting mac and cheese for five months. In this time I will probably develop scurvy but it will all be worth when I’m drinking good wine that is cheaper than water and living on a diet of cheese and baguette for a week in Paris.

FOOLPROOF!

What next?

Iiiiiiiit’s reflection time again.

How was your 2012? Mine was pretty good – can’t complain (HA! Of course I can!). There was a dash of that’s not good and a tale of woe or two but overall 2012 ended on a high note. I took more chances in previously avoided terrain and conquered a fear or two. I travelled a bit. I didn’t get eaten by alligators in South Carolina. I was not made a meal of by wild animals at the Grand Canyon, nor did my friend and I die of the elements when it began snowing quite literally out of the blue (sky – ba dum tsss) when we visited that breathtaking crater last spring. Snow in April at the Grand Canyon goes against every stereotype I’ve ever made up about desert climates and Arizona itself without ever doing any actual research. That’s not my style. I went to L.A., which I loved more than I thought I ever would. It also has one of the best gelato shops outside of Italy in the ENTIRE world. Take my word for it – I have this knack for being right. It’s just this thing I do. Maybe I should make a ‘go to Italy and every other country where gelato shops exist to try it all and become an expert in all things gelato so I can go around making grandiose statements about gelato!!’ resolution.’

Resolutions on their own are a waste of time. Why would you quit smoking January 1st when you could have quit anytime last year? Why would you resolve to exercise more in 2013 when you concocted every conceivable excuse under the sun in 2012 to avoid becoming more active? Rather than ‘resolutions’, I’ve decided that I’m just going to work on bettering all of the things I’ve already been doing! Sounds lazy but nobody ask you.

FIND A NEW JOB
I don’t believe this requires explanation. I want to thrive at work, be challenged and make more sweet, sweet cash. This endeavour will definitely be carried over in 2013. OK. This doesn’t really follow what I just said above as it sounds more like a resolution. Considering how many cover letters and resumes I sent out last year, I should be considered an expert when it comes to crafting the perfect job application I’ll eventually get the hang of it.

CONTINUE RUNNING
I hated running. But you know what’s better than hating something? Excelling at that thing which you hate! When that happens I can be all ‘I hate running but I’m so good at it that I can’t not do it.’ to no one in particular. Plus I have a lot of Paris outfits planned for my trip in May. Serious stuff.

READ MORE
I love books … owning books, it seems, more than actually reading them. I’ll be poor when I move out so time spent having an otherwise awesome social life will be spent reading.

LEARN MORE
There are so many things that I don’t know how to do. I will be useless when the zombies take over (I’d probably make really good bait). I need to learn how to sew more complicated patterns, how to do a double or triple crochet stitch to eventually finish my best friend’s blanket so that it doesn’t end up just a scarf, and generally learn how to do more stuff myself. I did learn how to make and EXCELLENT pie crust just recently and it felt awesome. More of that – feeling awesome and pie.

CARE LESS
I have a tendency to care too much about too much – time to scale back. “Care less, care smarter”. I just coined that. Right now.

DRINK MORE WINE
Support local and international vintners.

BE AWESOME
Continue that.

I got this.