So, in the last little while, it’s been a bit tense around my household.

For reasons I can’t completely get into, both my mom and my aunt (who lives state-side with my cousin, in Milwaukee) have been dealing with some personal medical issues.

Needless to say, it’s dredged up the subject of thinking about one’s own mortality.

I think I’m arriving to the point in my life where it no longer makes me feel queasy to hear about it. Time flies faster during adulthood, and one day I’m going to have to deal with it.

There’s just one thing that has gotten me annoyed.

Twice, while having this conversation with my mom, she’s somehow managed to utter the following phrase (with a big sigh):

“I just want to see you settled.”

This irritates my thirtysomething brain, probably way more than it should.

The rational side of me know that, obviously, as her child, she’s just showing concern for my well-being.

But really. What does she mean by “settled” ?

“Settled”, as in, “I just want to see you get your own place (translation: move out, buy a piece of real estate and start paying a mortgage like everyone else)” ?

Or: “settled” as in “I’d like to see you move out, meet a nice young man, get married, have a child (or two)” ?

It’s the meaning that’s unclear. And that makes me UN-settled.

If I had come to my senses several years ago, I’d probably have already moved out, maybe be on my way to being married.


But then, it makes me think of my friend, Darlene.

A year and a half ago, she took a look at her life and decided what she most wanted to do – more than anything else – was move to Paris and make a go of it.

I remember going to her apartment – which she hurriedly had to vacate, since her landlord had, not-so-nicely, told her she had to move out because they had plans to renovate the house she was living in, and handing her living space over to a family member (barely within the regulation two months needed to notify a tenant).

In conversation with her mom, I had mentioned off-hand that I was still living at home, trying to save up to find a place.

I don’t remember the precise answer, but it was obvious THAT’s what Darlene’s mom wished her daughter was doing. (Which, in hindsight, wasn’t fair and embarrassing to Darlene, and uncomfortable for me.)

Needless to say, months later, moving to Paris was the best thing Darlene could’ve won. And I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that – if given the chance – she’d make the same decision.

And she’s not the only one that’s living her life, on her terms.

Just last week, my mother and I paid a visit to our accountant.

Before we got down to business, he and my mom played catch-up, and filled us in on his daughter – whom I can only guess is probably in her mid-to-late twenties – who’s currently living a quite successful life as a chartered accountant (just like her own man), but abroad in Paris as well.

But his worry? That she wasn’t married with kids. After all, 23 or 24 is about the right time for one to be thinking about marriage, so that by 30, you’ve got a couple of pre-schoolers and Grandpa is happy. Why wouldn’t she settle down?

My mom tried to counter that by telling him about a new friend she recently met on a cruise – who’s 87 years old, never-married and happy, and frankly, from what I hear about her, someone I HAVE to meet – but I don’t think it sunk in for him. Some outlooks and values are set in stone.

I get it, and yet I don’t. I understand that people’s upbringing can influence their values, which include what they think their children should strive for.

But why do they think that THIS is the storyline for everyone?

Why does being “settled” have to involve working for one employer one’s entire life, pouring one’s savings into a dwelling, to put down roots? Why is THAT the benchmark?

Why can’t it be a state of mind – of happiness, of contentedness of where one’s life is at?

It’s something I’m slowly learning. I can only hope that when I put those lessons and observations into practice, I don’t have those feelings of anxiety over whether I’m doing the right thing, or that I’m missing out on something.

The goal? Reaching a point when I have that sense of confidence about doing things on my own terms, of getting on with life, or writing my own storyline, with no regrets.

THAT’s what “settled” means to me.

A Trashy Commute

It was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill, relatively quiet commute home.

I was going to read until I drifted off to sleep, catch a 10 to 15-minute disco nap, then rouse myself and move along to the next connection.

But, nooooo.

It started out the way it was supposed to. I plopped myself down in a bucket seat and pulled out  my magazine.

Across the aisle, there was some dude, wearing a nondescript baseball cap, t-shirt and jean shorts. On the seats before him lay a huge pile of commuter papers and, from what I can remember, I think an orange.

And for roughly five-ish minutes, it was fine.

Then I heard a loud crumple, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the guy lob a crushed plastic bottle.

Uh-oh, I thought, directing my gaze elsewhere, as the train travelled over the Don Valley.

And then a couple of passengers got on at the next station – one of them, a Chinese-Canadian fellow.

Why is that even relevant, you ask? Well, because he was the unfortunate recipient of what happened next.

Whatever the guy in the ballcap was internalizing, he picked THAT moment to spew it out, like molten lava.

The Chinese guy was standing just inside the doors, because, well, there was newspaper all over the seats.

Then Ballcap Dude said rather loudly, “COME ON. SIT. SIT DOWN!” and proceeded to knock all the newspapers off the covered seats all over the ground.

He then started to gather them up, while rather loudly grumbling that no one cared about the state of the subway, that it was ’cause of IMMIGRANTS.

And that’s when it began.

He was barely 30 seconds into his rant when a guy sitting about 20 feet away started responding loudly in term – presumably to shut Ballcap Dude up for his anti-immigrant opinion.

That just set him off.

Like a rabid pitbull, he went after the guy 20 feet away, calling him every name in the book, making a point of referring to the fact the guy was fat, yelling at him to shut up, yelling that he’d come all the way from Jane Station and had been picking up EVERYONE’S discarded papers, and what a waste of paper it was.

At one point, Ballcap Dude got up as if making to march over there and punch The Other Guy in the face – assuming the “wanna go?!” stance and literally SPITTING on the floor a couple times.

The Other Guy wouldn’t go down without a (verbal) fight. He got off a stop before Ballcap Guy … but not before the latter had stomped up and got up in the guy’s grill. I seriously was considering pressing the emergency button if The Other Guy hadn’t gotten off.

Ballcap Dude got off a stop later (Woodbine, if you want to know, since he shouted it to THE ENTIRE SUBWAY CAR six stops earlier), papers in hand, seeming to seek sympathy for his ’cause from a fellow commuter just trying to make it to the escalator.

“Look at all this paper! What a waste!” he said in a slightly less deafening tone. “I picked up all this paper. I’m ONLY. ONE. PERSON …”

The thing is, BallCap Dude – despite his multiple issues – had a good point.

A large number of commuters – young, old, large, small, from all walks of life – are pigs. They treat the TTC subway cars like a garbage can, and leave their trash EVERYWHERE.

Despite the commission’s best efforts, a lot of passengers don’t feel as if it’s their job to keep their vehicles clean. (I’m sure there are some out there who think they’re keeping maintenance staff gainfully employed by leaving their crap to be cleaned up.)

Unfortunately, the man’s argument was mothered to death by the big, steaming pile of poop that was his shouty, spittle-flecked, ignorant invective.

Too bad.

The Movie Moratorium List


There’s a movie coming out that you and a bunch of your friends really, really want to see.

You talk about it, you’re all in agreement – you’re going.

It’s. Going. To. ROCK.

Then, for whatever reason – w0rk, illness, whatever – YOU can’t make it, but your friends go anyway. No worries. You’ll just have to go see it some other time.

In the days ahead, your friends are RAVING about it. Over Facebook, by text, or over drinks.

Meanwhile, you’re FINALLY available to see the movie yourself. But the immediate need to see it has passed.

So in the meantime, you try your hardest to avoid anything resembling a spoiler, until you can work a viewing into your schedule … 

Until one day, you come across a reference or two to the movie. Maybe in a newspaper. Most likely, from friends of friends of friends.

Does it stop you from seeing the movie? 

For a lot of people, this probably wouldn’t bother them. Who knows, it might even motivate them to go.

But, as you already know, I’m not like most people.

I already have a long list of movies I’ve never, ever seen, for a bunch of reasons. (Whether those reasons are valid, is subjective.)

But in the last decade or so, another list has been growing. A list of films I’ve REALLY wanted to see, but missed out on the opportunity, and then had it spoiled by people who – in their genuine enthusiasm – wanted to compare favourite moments of the movie and/or analyse the storyline … prompting me to put off seeing it until (a) people stop talking about it and (b) I no longer am thinking about it.

That, my friends, is my Movie Moratorium List.

And I may have to add another one to the list very soon – Bridesmaids.

After someone excitedly spoiling a scene/reference from the movie last week, I’m kind of annoyed. I haven’t slapped a Movie Moratorium on it yet, because I’m wondering: if I go see it, will the movie STILL be funny to me, despite what I know?

Yeah, yeah, I’m probably being weird and neurotic. Plus, you’ve probably seen all the movies on my list, and now don’t think they’re as big a deal as they were when you RACED to the theatre to go see.

But think about it: There are people who are PRECISELY LIKE ME when it comes to episodes of their favourite TV programs (or sporting events) that they haven’t yet had a chance to see.

They warn their friends, “I haven’t watched it yet! I only PVR’ed it! Don’t say anything until I watch it!”

Nobody says, “Get OVER yourself!” And most people are courteous of their friends and keep their lips zipped till said episode (or sporting event) is viewed.

So why can’t “The Episode Rule” be applied to movies (for, like, a month)?

Probably virtually impossible. But consider this:

I mean, if someone gave away a plot twist – or the ending – of a widely-anticipated book that you JUST got your hands on, would you still read it, knowing what would happen?

Or would you be able to read it, and NOT constantly wonder when you’d read said plot twist?

Just sayin’.