Whoops. Again.

So I was on a roll with on those blog posts a couple of months ago, hey?

And then – as usual – I stopped.

Sorry about that. Part of it was due to my lack of topics to blog about.

Part of it was that mid-winter lack of motivation that sets in – like clockwork.

And part of it was due to my busy schedule trying to record and edit Sip & Bitch – the podcast I do with my friends.

On top of which, I’m getting ready to take a short trip at the end of March (which I will happily blog about in April).

In the meantime, if you have a chance this weekend, feel free to have a listen to the most recent episode of Sip & Bitch, where Kath, Renée (and me, but not much) interview YA novelist Leah Bobet!

There will be a brand-new episode up on SoundCloud next Tuesday night/Wednesday morning (and on iTunes a little bit after that).

If you have a SoundCloud account, please feel free to leave comments on our recordings. And iTunes listeners, we’d love some reviews, please and thanks!

Give It. A SECOND.

Times are changing. And so, it elevatorwould seem, are people’s manners.

From sidewalks to subways, it’s as if the unsaid rules of courtesy towards strangers are evaporating.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still people out there who hold the door for others, wait for people to pass if there’s a small bottleneck on a pathway, or help people with carts or strollers off buses and up or down stairways. I have no quarrel with them.

It’s the others. Specifically, those who apparently have forgotten basic elevator etiquette. You may have encountered them yourself.

Imagine this: You’re at work, and decide to go downstairs for lunch or a snack break.

Perhaps you’re the only person in the elevator car, so you have half a moment of peace and quiet to yourself.

The elevator reaches the ground floor. As you prepare to exit and the doors open, someone waiting on the outside bursts in before you even have a chance to set foot outside. Maybe they’re paying more attention to their phone than to what’s in front of them. Or maybe they’re not.

And although they don’t say anything as you try to get around them, sometimes they just look at you – or through you – as if you’re the one who committed the faux pas.

This is something I’ve been noticing more and more.

Once in a while, it might be because I’m tucked away from the entrance and the person just doesn’t see me. But in other cases, it’s someone (in my experience, it’s usually been a man) who just charges onto the elevator.

Once, while waiting for an elevator at work, I was almost knocked over by a dude rushing out … wearing a hot dog costume. (Long story. Insert obnoxious joke here.)

Usually, by the time I want to say something, the elevator’s gone, and the moment has passed.

But since I don’t have the powers to stop or suspend time, I’ve got a little public service announcement to those repeat offenders:

Hey. YOU.

What’s goin’ on?

Someone chasin’ you?

Are you secretly a super-hero who needs to change into your costume?

Are your feet literally on fire?

No?

THEN WHY CAN’T YOU WAIT FOR PEOPLE TO VACATE ELEVATORS?

Who exactly are you?

How long do you think it takes for one or two people to exit an otherwise empty elevator? (Answer: Maybe a few seconds.)

And, question number nine: Why, when people try to get around you to leave said elevator, do you give them dirty looks?

YOU’RE THE ONE WHO’S GETTING IN THEIR WAY.

Look, I know how annoying and inconvenient it must be for you. I knooow. So here’s a couple of tips to making the experience much less so:

(1) When the elevator doors open (and it’s obvious there’s someone inside), STAND TO THE SIDE.

(2) Wait for people to leave the elevator before boarding it yourself.

(2a) GIVE IT. A SECOND.

Seem clear enough?

If not, repeat steps (1) through (2a) until it sinks in. I assure you, once it does, it will make things more pleasant and efficient for everyone involved.

 

 

D and The Bakery

Ever had an interaction with someone that left you second-guessing the message they were sending you, and wondering if you read them correctly?

Let me tell you a story.

I live ’round the corner from what’s considered a well-to-do neighbourhood in mid-town Toronto.

Every week, I walk 15 minutes to the grocery store. The street it’s on is lined with all sorts of small shops and restaurants, and just down the street from the grocery store is this one bakery.

I have a sweet tooth, and for months, I’d been tempted to go in on a number of occasions. A friend of mine had been telling me that their cookies and breads were delicious. But I never really went in there. For whatever reason, I got this impression that I wouldn’t be welcome.

Yes, I was thinking this (in 2015).

One afternoon last summer, I needed a pie or small cake to bring to a friend’s potluck. I took a chance and went to The Bakery.

I walked in, approached the glass case and scanned the various baked goods on display. About a minute later, a salesclerk – maybe in her late teens or early 20s – asked if she could help, and I explained what I was looking for.

She said she’d find out and asked me to wait. A couple of minutes later, another woman – I’m guessing she was either the owner or manager (I’ll just say manager) – emerged from the back room.

“Hi there, did you need something?” she said (or something to that effect). She was professional, but I didn’t find her overly warm. Whatever. It’s a business.

We had an exchange, and I chose a lemon-cranberry loaf. As she returned to the back room, she turned up the music and disappeared.

The gesture was pretty innocuous. But for some reason, I got a really strange vibe from that. I shook it off.

The next time I went to The Bakery, it was with the friend who’d been raving about it. We each bought two cookies, dealing only with the cashier.

The following week (now hooked on the sugary treats), I dropped in after grocery shopping, bought some chocolate chip cookies and left. Again, no problem.

A week or two later, I was back, ready to treat myself again.

I scanned the cookies behind the glass and mentioned to the salesclerk that there didn’t seem to be any chocolate chip cookies currently stocked.

While deciding on other options, the manager appeared.

(It’s been a few months, so the following conversation isn’t precise, but here’s the gist:)

“Can I help?” she said, standing just behind her cashier.

“Oh, just looking at your cookies,” I replied. “I hear you’re out of the chocolate chip ones, which are my favourite.”

“They’re pretty popular,” she said.

She waited a beat, then added, “I can give you our recipe, so you can make them whenever you want.”

Sweet. Right?

“Ummm … ” I said, just as a little bell went off in my mind. “… No, thanks, that’s okay.” I quickly selected a couple of cookies, paid for them and promptly left.

Oh, she was just trying to be nice, you’re probably thinking. You were probably overreacting.

Maybe.

But here’s what I was thought at that precise moment:

(1) This was my fourth visit to the bakery. Ever.

(2) I’d only ever seen this woman twice. Any interaction she’s had with me (including this one) has been civil and perfunctory, but not exactly cordial.

(3) I’d been buying this bakery’s baked goods because I didn’t have time to make my own.

(4) If I had time to make cookies, know what’s a great resource for finding free cookie recipes? Google.

If I’d been visiting this place regularly and had established a friendly rapport with the staff (which I’ve done elsewhere), I’d see what she did as being a nice gesture. And it’s completely possible that what she did was, in her mind, some kind of good business/customer service move.

But I know which neighbourhood this is. And I think a handful of people will understand the distinct feeling I’m describing.

Since that visit, I still walk to the grocery store, go to the bank, occasionally stop by the butcher and the Dollarama.

Just not The Bakery.

It’s entirely possible that I mis-read what happened. And if I did read the situation correctly, I could’ve kept going there and not cared.

But I’d prefer giving my business and hard-earned money to someone who actually wants it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, What Happened Was …

Heyyy …

So I realize that, with the advent of February, it was a new month … which was supposed to mean a backlog of posts from travels, etc., were supposed to be up here, for all of you to read.

And then – nothing.

There are a couple of explanations for that:

(1) Lack of motivation/laziness. Right after the alcohol-induced exhilaration that comes with ringing in the New Year – and all those lists one starts to make in one’s mind of all the things one plans to accomplish – comes cold, harsh, winter. Which, naturally, wipes out any sort of (actual) sunlight or stimulus for about eight to ten weeks.

Usually, Vitamin D helps the former. But I’ve yet to find anything that helps with boosting the will to sit on my couch and write or type, even if I don’t feel like it. I have, however, mastered the art of staring at my journal. (Because as we all know, if you stare at something long enough, it will merely levitate and go in the direction that you will it to.)

(2) Trying to do things worth writing about. I know I usually write a huge list of goals (under the guise of NOT calling them resolutions) at the start of each year. Within a few days before writing the posts, I normally have a rough idea in my mind what goals I’d like to strive for. And believe me, I had every intention of doing another one. But somehow, I just couldn’t fully formulate what I wanted to write about. And then I started telling myself it was going to be a lame list, and not worth writing. And then I just got lazy.

While that was all happening, I just started vocalizing to other people what I’d like to do. Like trying my hand at the ukelele, since I had been absolutely obsessed with it for about ten minutes. Or perhaps joining a choir, because spending my days around my apartment singing along with iTunes while cleaning wasn’t quite cutting it anymore. Or perhaps hoisting myself back up onto the exercise wagon, after so ungracefully letting myself fall off it several months before.

So, I vocalized my obsession with the ukelele on Facebook. A friend offered to lend hers to me to try it out,  since she had her hands full with her newborn son. And I DID tune it using an online Web site, and tried to find a beginner’s YouTube video. But time is a tricky bastard, so I haven’t had a chance to try it again since.

Over Christmas/Hanukkah holidays, while at a friend’s party, she mentioned I should try joining a community choir, of which she was a member. I finally attended a couple sessions, at the beginning of February. But it’s been six weeks, and work has played a major role as to why I haven’t yet returned. I even managed to attend a couple of Sunday evening sessions of my friend’s new start-up choir, when my work schedule temporarily changed. But it’s now changed back, so no more of that.

And back in February, I finally made the decision to resume exercising. I felt like I was really neglecting my health – not really being active, and eating quite terribly. Plus, I’m now 36 years old. Sure, I’m still relatively young. And my body is retaining its shape – but barely. Age is starting to take its toll.

So, with the exception of a few days here and there (due to exercise-related soreness, or schedule changes), I have been trying to exercise in some form at least two to three times per week. Which is all right.  With the opening of a new barre workout place within walking distance of my home, I’ve been attempting to do that as well, to bump up my physical activity. (As you can tell, that’s the only thing I’ve managed to stick with.)

(3) Work happened – in a good way. In January, I returned to my old job, after some discussion with my boss. It’s okay, for now. But I know I can’t allow this to become a permanent situation. So before Christmas, I started doing a bit of networking – talking to folks here and there. I continued my networking into January. And unexpectedly, it bore a bit of fruit! I just finished three weeks working in another area of the building.

Boy, was it ever different. It was challenging, a bit frustrating, a little intimidating, occasionally overwhelming, very humbling, and absolutely inspiring. Oh, and my brain hurts. I actually questioned whether I actually liked what I was doing. I had a bit of a feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if I wasn’t really measuring up to the others I was working with. But when I had a feedback session with the woman who kindly took me on, she said I did really well. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard that from someone. And that’s the kind of thing I need, to make me want to work even harder.

Will they take me on again, during the summer? Who knows? Maybe not. But maybe I’ll get another chance to work there later in the spring. That would be very nice. But if I could finagle a work situation that would allow me to try something new each month between now and, say, September – a week here, two weeks there – that would make this year much more enjoyable and would provide more incentive, rather than frustration.

So, there you have it. I’m FINALLY trying to change things for myself, instead of writing and complaining about them as I usually do.

But some other business on this blog remains unfinished. Namely, writing out those travel posts from last summer. Considering how much time has elapsed, they probably won’t be as fresh as they should be. But please forgive me for that. Hopefully I’ll be better about that this year.

Oooops.

So once again, I must apologize to the handful of people who occasionally visit my blog.

I started posting about my (now-not-so-) recent trip to Chicago …

And then promptly disappeared from the blogosphere.

I admit it: I have poor time-management skills which prevented me from getting my affairs in order and my travels written before leaving the country for most of September.

My bad.

But I’m back. I’ve almost gotten my unpredictable, often-frustrating middle-class life schedule ALMOST back to its normal rhythm (which is more like a palpitation than an actual steady rhythm, but I digress).

So posts are forthcoming. Please bear with me.

Eating My Way Down

Last weekend, my friend Dee came up from New York to visit.

It was wonderful to see her – she looked great.

I also got to see her boyfriend, another friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in months.

But his appearance shocked me.

He must’ve lost the equivalent amount of weight, to that of a small child.

I’ve known him for years, and from what I know of him, he is a BIG foodie. Burger joints, izikayas … you name it, he’s probably eaten it. Even now, I’m sure he doesn’t NOT eat at a restaurant. Which is why his super-slim figure shocked the hell out of me.

I don’t recall how – perhaps another friend of his was complimenting him on his new shape – but I caught wind of the secret to his success: apparently having a very regimented diet during the week, only allowing himself to cheat on weekends.

For all I know, maybe that’s BS, and it’s the cigarettes keeping him skinny.

But it definitely got me thinking – particularly about my OWN eating habits.

I know over the last two years, I’ve put on even more weight than usual. It’s probably not as noticeable to my friends (or if it is, they’re kind enough not to say anything).

But it’s noticeable to me, in the way my pants fit a little too snugly (or fray and rip in a matter of months), the way my lungs feel like they’re on fire after I (occasionally) go out dancing, or the comments my mom makes when I go to visit.

I sometimes look at myself in the mirror, or in pictures. And while I’m not out-and-out unhappy, I know I can do better.

I think work has played a factor, and has made me more of an emotional eater – eating when I’m bored, frustrated, angry.

Things started getting to me after I returned from Costa Rica. I just couldn’t get back into the habit of making time to cook more lunches.

I was buying more takeout from Popeye’s, eating more of those super-sweet cookies from Starbucks, buying more Fudgie-Os from the drugstore late at night – just because I could.

So in the last few weeks – especially because of the work-related fatigue I’ve been feeling – I’ve been trying to cut down on the fried foods and eat more salads with my pasta. I still can’t do without sweets as of yet, so I’m trying to shrink the amount I do eat – or find a low-fat/calorie-friendly way of satisfying the cravings.

I still haven’t gotten a leg up on the “make my own lunch” scenario, but I’m trying to make more of my own dinners again.

I know I also need to exercise, but I want to get the food thing sorted out first.

And who knows? Perhaps I can eat my way down a little in the weight department. It would be nice to lose a little extra baggage before summer officially starts.

My Brush with a Brony

Ah, freedom.

And what better way to celebrate my first weekend off work in more than two years than … moving really slowly?

Oh, I had things to do. But whether they were getting done when I decided I was going to do them was another matter.

So there I was at home, padding around, when I heard someone knocking.

I looked through the peephole. I really shouldn’t have opened the door. But I did anyway.

A young guy – maybe 15 or 16, tops – was selling a newspaper subscription as part of a program that would earn him some money to go to school. And as I listened to his spiel, really, how could I refuse.

So I gave him the subscription payment, and as he double-checked to make sure all the fields were filled out, he arrived at “method of delivery”.

As he wrote in “to door”, he mentioned that one of his previous subscribers actually requested a little rainbow symbol to be drawn on the top of his newspaper … because he was a fan of My Little Pony.

As in, the cartoon I used to watch when I was 8 years old, and one of the toys that I used to own (complete with comb to maintain its lavender mane).

As in, the cartoon that was recently rebooted in 2010 as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

As in, the cartoon that my young newspaper salesman asked if I had heard of it, to which I replied, “Yes, I used to watch it years ago”, to which he responded, “Yeah, but it’s way better now,” as his face lit up like a Noma Christmas tree.

Even as I shut the door, I could hear him talking to his little friend about how awesome My Little Pony was.

Yep. I just had my first encounter … with a Brony.

What the hell are you talking about, you ask?

I’ve only just recently heard about this myself … but apparently there is a legion of males (and females, who call themselves Pegasisters) over the age of 10 who LOVE these pretend cartoon ponies with a passion. And unlike other fanboys and girls, these folks are in a league of their own.

If you don’t believe me, read this or even this. I mean, they even have their own lingo, and their own CONVENTION. I’m not kidding.

Now, to be fair, I looked up an episode online to see what the big fuss was about. I attempted to watch … for about six minutes. But like the quinoa I tried to cook this evening, I couldn’t get into it. I had to give up.

I mean, I know why the eight-year-old me liked the show. But the 34-year-old me is slightly bemused as to why teenagers and grown adults (without children) are so fixated on the show.

Call me a parasprite, but this one (of probably many) I will never understand. Sorry.