Unexpected E-Mails

You know it’s the holidays when you get e-mails from people you haven’t heard from in months – perhaps even years.

I got two e-mails last Saturday.

The first was from a friend of mine who’s just gotten back from travelling around Southeast Asia for the last several months.

I used to have the hugest crush on him, and when I found out he didn’t feel the same way, it hurt. (The summer does strange things to my brain and my ego, seriously.) But it was for the best, as it always is, and I’m totally fine.

He’s in town for the next weeks until he takes off to his next destination: workin’ out west to earn some money for business school.

The other e-mail I received threw me for a bit of a loop.

In the early days of this blog, there was a dude whom I referred to only as Shakespeare. To me, he emanated weird vibes from the start.

As the story goes, the burgeoning acquaintanceship got way too weird for me, so I cut him off. I blocked him on my IM list, I didn’t e-mail him. Nothing. The last e-mail I got from him – which I responded to – was at least a year ago, I think.

Until today.

The e-mail was short and full of holiday greetings, along with the line, “I hope you still remember me.” (Unfortunately, I was thinking.)

It took a few days – plus some counsel from a friend of mine – before I brought myself to e-mail a reply, in the spirit of the season.

If I don’t sound sincere about it, it’s because part of me is extremely wary.

I mean, I pretty much eliminated contact with him for a reason.

And with everything I’m trying to straighten out career-wise and otherwise, and all the good friends I DO have – who DON’T make me feel weird – I don’t particularly feel charitable about expending time and energy on someone I found I couldn’t be myself around, who made me put my guard up because of the way he or she acted around me.   Know what I mean?

Perhaps I’m not being fair. But that’s just how I feel.

How do I know that what’s in the past, is simply that?

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Oh, Holiday Cravings …

For a number of people, the holidays are the perfect excuse to pig out on all those things one might eat and then feel immediate shame at any other time of the year (with the possible exception of one’s birthday or a vacation at an all-inclusive resort somewhere).

As your slightly jiggly, thunder-thighed author, I can attest to this.

But in the last four weeks, I’ve noticed a change in my eating. Not in the amount I’m putting away – THAT continues to be ridiculous.

But I’ve been noting how I’ve run the entire gamut of tastes my tongue could possibly experience.

I mean, I’ve chomped on chocolates and candies; snacked on salty foods (and added salt to some of my meals); munched on meaty meats and crispy bacon; guzzled grease of many kinds; and consumed hot fudge ice cream sundaes (fulfilling the cold AND “kind of dairy” departments).

But in the last three days, I’ve been overcome by a sudden craving for hot sauce.

You’re thinking, “So what?”

So … I don’t normally pepper my meals with, well, pepper, on a daily basis.

The whole thing was completely innocent. My parents and I were out several days ago, doing last-weekend-before-Christmas shopping …

And as we were exiting the mall, there was this young guy by the doors with this canvas gym bag (NOT shady – it had a food-related logo), giving away sample packets of hot sauce.

And I’m not talking any old hot sauce. This stuff, as I found out upon later inspection, contains scotchbonnet peppers – comparable to chilli peppers in their intensity. Too little gives your mouth a burning sensation; too much could make your lips fall off.

At dinner, I decided give the sauce a try. I didn’t go nuts and douse my entire dinner. But the little I took did the trick.

So much so, I had hot sauce with my dinner for another two consecutive nights. Never mind whether or not they taste good with meatballs. It was hot sauce, dammit. It makes EVERYTHING taste good.

I’ve since calmed down and have taken a one-day hiatus from my hot pepper love affair. Moderation IS key, after all. Or so I’ve heard.

Although having some with my turkey dinner tomorrow night might not be completely out of the question …

Happy holidays, y’all. May your days be spicy and bright.

D’s 2008 Holiday Tally

gingerbread-menWhile I await more inspiration – and more social opportunities – to make themselves available to me dring the holiday season …

Here’s how my journey towards Christmas this year stacks up against last year’s:

3: Cards successfully mailed

21: Cards successfully written and ready to be mailed

0: Presents completed and wrapped

2: Presents partially completed

3: Presents I still need to buy

At least 2: Number of times I’ve been to the mall to browse for gifts and end up buying something for myself

2: Attempts at baking so far this season

6: Parties I’ve been to in the past week and a half

4 1/2: Parties that were Christmas-related

1: Number of parties crashed

1: Number of times I did the Crawl of Shame from a Christmas party

2: Number of gatherings at restaurants

5: Movies I want to see this holiday season

1: Movies I’ve seen so far

$13.00: the price of admission

Ten days until Christmas and counting … eep!

On The TTC …

Seeing as I just finished a late-night subway commute home after a Friday night dinner and a movie, I thought it fitting to post the following video.

I saw it for the first time yesterday. But no doubt that – if you’re from Toronto – you may have already seen this on local TV newscasts and the like.

All I have to say is that I relate to it completely and that it’s awesome.

So for all you fellow commuters – and bloggers like The Daily Commuter, who have linked here from time to time (I see you!) – this one’s for you:

Mad props, Randal and Syrus. It’s viral-worthy. For real.

The Nuances of Party Talk

ornaments‘Tis the season …

For neuroses.

That’s right kids, it’s holiday party season. A time when folks gather with family, friends and acquaintances … meet new people … or maybe finally get closer to people we want to get to know better, all in the spirit of fun and goodwill.

It can also be this time of year when, as the party circuit gains momentum, so does the potential to say or do something that might turn an interaction awkward …

And unleash that cold, sharp sting of emotional discomfort that can be hard to shake in the days that follow. 

Making conversation with people you may or may not know is a delicate art, even at the best of times. 

But around holiday time? The art of chatting during a time of merry-making can sometimes require the skill of a ninja.

And despite the best of intentions, you sometimes step right into it, without meaning to.

A case in point:

While kindly driving me home from work earlier this evening, a co-worker of mine and I were chatting about the work potluck we both attended the night before. It was great! Lots of good food, a chance to meet people and their spouses, or their friends.

But, she said, she thought she may have accidentally offended the wife of one of our other co-workers.

“Really?” I said. “Really? How so?”

Well, they’d gotten into a conversation about politics – specifically women in politics and powerful roles. The co-worker’s wife was making the point of saying that women should get a stab at high positions of office, such as President of the United States.

Essentially my co-worker’s point of view was that it shoudn’t matter – shouldn’t it just be the best person for the job? (There was a bit of pre-amble before that, so she just stopped short of saying this.)

My co-worker surmised she may not have gotten the drift of our  co-worker’s wife, because she got a weird vibe after that. And honestly, it wasn’t her intention to offend.

We probably won’t ever know what our co-worker’s wife was thinking. But it’s sometimes just one of those things.

And then there are situations that are, from the start, just friggin’ weird.

This past Saturday night, I went downtown for two shindigs. First stop was my friend’s birthday party at a bar.

I shed my layers, and saw one of my friends from work, in conversation with a few other women she knew. I asked if it was all right to join, to which they agreed.

After about five minutes or so, I introduced myself to each one. One of them I’d been hoping to introduce myself to for a while – the wife of another friend of mine.

Short story: This friend (the one with the wife, not the birthday) and I dated YEARS ago. So briefly in fact, it’s barely a wrinkle on the pleated slacks of Time. And by the time he met his now-wife, I’m pretty confident I was completely out of the picture and things were kosher.

And yet …

Have you ever been in a situation where you think you know in your head how something is going to play out, and it ends up unfolding in a completely different way?

I turned, and was ready to extend my hand when the woman said:

“We’ve met before. I’m ______’s wife.”

Huh.

Normally this wouldn’t have caused me to flinch. Except:

1) I’m 99.9 percent sure I’ve never formally met her. EVER. The closest I got to her was last year, when she was still engaged to my friend. I spent the wedding ceremony of a mutual friend of ours looking at the back of her head from my church pew. Our tables at the reception were on opposite ends of the room. I never even talked to her there, either.

2) While I wouldn’t say she was unfriendly, I’d say she was hovering around cordial. She didn’t even say her name.

I honestly don’t even remember whether I still dribbled out, “Nice to meet you”, or modified the response.

But at that moment, my brain flashed one big, neurotic, neon “WTF?”  

To her credit, she did talk to me a little later on – for about 25 seconds –  because we have friends in common, who happened to be old classmates of mine. Although come to think of it, I found that equally as awkward. 

Not to toot my own horn, but I’d like to THINK I’m kinda likeable? 

*sigh*

So kids, whether your tongue sets you up for a fa-la-la-faux-pas, or you end up being targeted for merry mayhem, some advice.

1) Keep your tongue in check. 

2) Always keep your poker face.

 3) Know when to duck.

And please – if you have any awkward party conversation stories, feel free to share. I won’t judge.

What’s Up With December 6th?

At a dinner party a couple weeks ago, I was conversing with a friend and new acquaintance, when my friend piped up,

“WHAT is the deal with December 6th?”

She asked, because she had not one, but THREE Christmas parties to attend.

I’m actually wondering about that myself, because (tonight) I have two parties to go to. (Mind you, only one is Christmas-related, but a party is a party.) And I’ve had to turn down two gracious invitations for other events …

Which leads me to the question: just what IS the deal with December 6th? Why does it seem like everyone and their dog is holding a party of some sort on THIS particular date?

I mean, if you think about it, you really have two other weekends you could feasibly have shindigs, before other commitments and obligations take over in preparation for the holiday period.

I even did an impromptu search online, but I couldn’t find anything to support my theory.

Maybe it’s all just one big, crazy coincidence.

But if anyone knows for a fact whether December 6th declaratively marks the beginning of the Christmas party season, lemme know. I’m curious.

War Child’s New Ad

Last year, War Child Canada released a controversial ad campaign – known as “Camp Okutta”, a fictional “war camp” – designed to get people to pay attention to the plight of child soldiers. 

And boy, did it ever. The campaign disturbed some folks, and enraged and upset others.

Well, they’re back, with a powerful new ad – one that could possibly top last year’s. Below is what could be hitting airwaves very shortly.

Someone close to me worked on this project, so please take a couple of minutes to watch, if you can.

(Warning: the material may be sensitive for some of you watching it.)

For more information, you can access the War Child Web site through this link.