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’.

The Search … Resumes.

I could hardly believe my eyes.

Through the window, I could see the sunlight glinting off of Lake Ontario below. A lone hot dog stand sat close to the water’s edge. Next to it, cars whizzed down Lake Shore Boulevard.

To the left of the building, cars and trucks sped along the Gardiner Expressway. Just beyond it was a smaller body of water – likely Grenadier Pond.

I was standing in a condo that was up for sale, on the 7th floor of a building that had been registered for a year.

You entered by way of key card – not a key. There were hardwood floors and double closets. The kitchen, bathroom and bedroom was a decent size for one person. It had a small balcony. Even the size of the living space wasn’t terribly tiny.

It was, quite literally, the nicest unit I’d seen so far, since resuming my real estate search a month ago.

Yep, you heard me.

That talk back in January about sucking it up and getting on with it? Well, I guess I was lying to myself. Again.

I HAD been looking at rental listings, trying to get a feel for I could expect for less than three zeroes. In fact, I still am.

But it was a phone call in March, to an agent I’d spoken to last fall, which set the wheels in motion again.

So, about the nice condo near the water: it was close, but no cigar. I did seriously consider it. But the location was the issue. If I was a driver with a car, there’d be no problem. But as a pedestrian, commuting would be a bit awkward. Plus the only thing immediately in the area was the low-rise hotel next door. And as a single woman, I had my reservations, especially travelling after dark. So my search continues.

I’ve been at this newest attempt for just over a month. I’ve seen eight units so far this time around. Not surprisingly, the prices of properties have jumped in the six months I took a break, and they continue to climb.

I fully realize what I’m getting into – a seller’s market, where people are listing and selling for as much money as they can get. So “tiny” now applies to square footage, not cost. I’m not kidding myself by any stretch of the imagination.

Do I think I’ll be successful this time? I’ve got absolutely no clue. But I’m trying to prescribe to a slightly different philosophy.

I’m trying to be more proactive in telling my agents which units I’m interested in looking at. But I’m trying to treat this as the search for my first place as an adult, rather than an investment. Perhaps that’s a foolhardy way to look at it. But that’s frankly how people are treating their houses and condos – as investment properties that are used to try and make large monetary gains.

And prices aren’t going to be like this forever – they’ll take a drop. But then again, experts of all stripes have been saying that for at least the last six years.

And frankly, I really don’t want to spend the remainder of my young adulthood, living with Mom and Dad, waiting for this to happen.

Yes, I could rent. But I’d rather give this option another spin of the wheel than putting this quest on hold.

The truth is, I’m cautiously optimistic at best, realistic/pessimistic at worst. I’m keeping my expectations very low and give this latest go-round until June or July. And then I’ll re-evaluate.

But for now, I’ll put the condo near the water out of my mind, continue to exercise some patience … and hope that when the time is right, I’ll pounce and hit my target.

“Trippin’ ” Over Plannin’

Ah, it’s that time of year at my workplace –

Summer vacation request time.

I’m always ambiguous about this.

Mainly, I hate the fact that they ask in MARCH, because:

(1) Where I work, my fellow employees are currently trying to use the vacation days they currently do have – in this case, they gotta do it in 14 days (barring special permission some of them have to get to carry them forward).

(2) I don’t friggin’ know what I’ll be doing two weeks from now! How am I supposed to know WHEN – between April and October – I want to take vacation?

(3) I personally think they shouldn’t be asking until April.

But secretly, part of me likes this because:

(1) It gets my butt in gear to start seriously thinking about I DO want to do with my vacation days.

(2) This year, I am jonesing for travel – especially since I haven’t left Canada for two years.

(3) I just got my passport renewed in February. Which means those blank, money-scented pages are begging to be broken in and stamped.

Last fall, I vowed that I was going to take a trip this coming September. I’ve already paid a visit to a tour company for a lovely, full-colour brochure. And scribbling out my hypothetical itineraries on a notepad has already gotten me kind of excited.

To further add to the mix, some friends of mine are thinking of expanding our yearly “girls’ weekend” – usually spent at a cottage – into a mini-trip, perhaps to an exotic locale.

This kind of complicates things, because I only have a set number of vacation days … which means I’d have to bank – more than several days in lieu to pull it off. Plus, we haven’t set dates yet – and I’m hoping I have enough seniority for my employer to let me move it around once those dates are decided.

But hey, the year’s still young. Anything could happen between now and July, right?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go peruse Amazon – there’s a travel book that’s calling my name.

Fool Me Twice?

Saturday morning at work, as I was getting settled in for the long day ahead, I checked my personal e-mail.

(It’s a day later, and I’m still wondering whether that was a mistake.)

In my inbox was the name of someone I was hoping not to hear from for a long time.

Over four-and-a-half-years ago, I had the (mis)fortune of meeting someone I’ve referred to on this blog as Shakespeare (because he’s a poet in real-life). Today from here on in, I’ll refer to him as “A”.

The meeting was completely random. I was leaving work; “A” was trying to find an optical for his glasses. He stopped me, and I tried to help him find his way.

And in the process, I suppose, he was trying to find something beyond my genuine attempts to be helpful.

Probably against my better judgment, I gave him my phone number when he asked. I was trying to be more open-minded towards people … ignoring the invisible red flag, furiously waving in the process.

What an awkward “relationship”, for lack of a better word. Requests for photos, multiple e-mails, instant messages, and always wanting to meet up when he was in town from Ottawa.

To me, it was never romantic. I was trying to keep it an arms-length friendship until I felt comfortable. To “A”, I suppose, he was trying to make it more than that.

He told me in his academic, flowery way that he wanted to pursue something. I didn’t get it at first. When he told me again, I said no, not really.

Our encounters were, thankfully, sparse. But I think I still had this nagging feeling whenever he wanted to meet. I even once invited a friend along to a hang-out, so I could get her read on things. Of all the times we did meet, I think only one didn’t feel so uncomfortable.

In my recollections, things came to a head when, one evening in June 2007, “A” wanted to meet for dinner after going to some literary event. Me, like the nice person (and likely sucker) I am, I agreed.

When the appointed meeting time rolled around, I called, and asked if he was running late. He was still at the event. Could we meet in about 45 minutes?

I ended up calling him again, and waited almost another hour (roughly 90 minutes in total) for him to show up.

A more sensible person would have bid him adieu after an hour. But no, I (the doormat) was a woman of my word. He wanted to meet. And I didn’t want to reschedule.

My mood was sour, and “A’s” was, I guess, somewhat jovial. When he said something that I found completely strange, I – peeved at having to wait, generally uncomfortable at this whole situation, and not really knowing how to properly handle it because I’m socially inept – blew up at him, and told him I didn’t have feelings for him, and never would. He called me conceited, and played it off like he wasn’t interested.

To this day, I don’t fully believe him.

Since then, I’d get occasional e-mails from him, but I kept my answers short.

The last time he was in town – and, coincidentally, in my place of business, maybe a year or two ago – he called me and asked if I could grab a coffee. I said I was busy.

This epic background explanation is what brings me to Saturday’s e-mail.

“We have not been in touch for a while,” it began. “Did you travel, or move up on the career ladder as you always wanted?”

He went on to ask about a friend of mine he’d once met, asked for my number, gave me his, and concluded the e-mail by writing, “My phD (sic) is about done. I think in march. Then i can take a holiday in Toronto, and we can hang out if you re free.”

And here’s where I’m divided over what to do next.

On one hand, it’s been over four-and-a-half-years. I’m older. So’s he (although he was older than me to begin with). And while it’s still hard for me to just come out and say things, I’d like to think I’d be able to handle things slightly better than I did the last time.

And perhaps, although people can become set in their ways, in some aspects, they can change. Maybe I can put what happened aside once and for all, and I can meet up with him once to see if we can finally relate to each other, as people, as is.

On the other hand, just because one forgives, doesn’t necessarily means one forgets. And I haven’t forgotten. I allowed an unsure, unclear interpersonal relationship to transpire. And it was AWKWARD. And I blame myself for that. Plus, this guy no longer has a Ph.D. in Ottawa to hold him back – or to allow me the 400-kilometre buffer to live my life here in Toronto.

What if I hang out with him, and it’s the same thing, all over again? Just the thought of that “what if” kind of infuriates me.

So, for now, that e-mail’s going to sit unanswered until I figure this out.


Who Can It Be Now?

Yesterday afternoon at work, I was in the midst of some task or another, when someone sent me a message to ask me if I could do something for them – sooner, rather than later.

I opened the note, and immediately started on that task, without answering it.

I figured I’d wait, since it would take me about 90 seconds to get it done, and then I could be one step ahead of the game when I responded. 

Then my desk phone rang.

“Hello?” I said.

An automated voice (“Emily”, or whatever Bell Canada has named “her”), cheerily piped up that I had a text-to-landline message waiting.

I’ve sent them by accident, but I’ve never gotten them before. So I pressed the suggested digit for the message.

“Go online” was the message relayed to me by the automated voice.

I got annoyed, because I thought my colleague was pressing me to respond because I hadn’t replied to her e-mail 2.5 seconds after she’d sent it. So I deleted it, stewing with annoyance, responded to her original note, and continued to deal with the task at hand, promptly forgetting about it.

And I would have thought nothing more of it – if it weren’t for this morning.

I was at work, and had just returned to my desk from buying breakfast downstairs, when I noticed the red light on my phone.

So I dialled into the mailbox.

It was the same creepy voice from yesterday, informing me I had a text-to-landline message.

The message: “Are you working?” The automated voice reading it alm0st actually made it sound like a question.

Since then, I’ve checked almost every number in my phone and nothing matches.

It’s none of the usual suspects – friends who regularly text me. But even then, they’d text my personal cell.

So right now, I honestly have no idea who it is.

Is it  a friend who’s absent-mindedly sent a text to my work number, instead of my cell?

A work colleague whose number I’ve either deleted or have yet to enter into my contacts list?

Some random from halfway around the world with a scheme and a Toronto-area number, trying to get me to call so they can scam me?

One of the dudes I met on that online dating site well over a year ago, whose numbers I’ve since thrown out?

Is this THIS guy?

Whomever it is, they know me, ’cause they know I’m working.

But, more importantly: why don’t they just call? It would probably be easier than sending three-word texts.

Seriously, though: If you’re the person sending the messages, can you make yourself known and just call, or leave a Facebook message?

I’d appreciate it. Plus, the landline-to-text messages are kind of creepy. And if I get another one, I’ll call.

And you don’t want me to call.

Nixing The Bus

Last week, when Toronto city council had toyed with the idea of a TTC fare increase, a lot of transit riders weren’t amused.

When it scrapped said proposal early last week, we breathed a sigh of relief.

Not surprisingly, that was temporary.

Currently on the table is a plan to cut back service and reduce hours on 48 TTC bus routes across the city.

The current status is that the TTC has voted to delay its decision until a meeting on Feb. 2nd (that’s right, Groundhog Day) so it can hold consultations with riders who will be affected – anyone from seniors to students to people who work late at night. The public meetings take place next week, and there are four of them, the dates and times of which you can find on the TTC’s Web site.

I’m strongly considering attending one of these meetings. But I’m torn on the issue (what else is new, right?).

On one hand is the financial issue. The TTC decided not to raise fares to deal with its financial shortfall. But the money still has to come from somewhere, right? And with routes who are carrying less than a handful of people late at night or on the weekends, what financial sense does it make to pay drivers to drive almost-empty buses till 1 a.m.? Plus, the delays have reportedly already cost the city $1 million in potential savings.

But on the other hand are other issues. Safety. A connection to amenities and communities. Convenience of being able to find a comparably shorter way of getting to work.

Some of the friends and colleagues who know me or read this blog already know ALL about me and my commuting situation. But humour me for the sake of this argument:

Where I live, there are three operating bus routes – four if you count the one that only operates in my area during rush hour.

Two of those routes are a three-minute walk from my house.

The third route – which won’t be sliced – is 700 metres (or an eight-minute walk) in the opposite direction.

The two closest routes are the ones on the chopping block.

So what, who cares? You might think. Just go to the route that’s not being cut.

Well, here’s what: I work Thursdays to Sundays, not 9-5, and my job’s downtown.

The bus ride is only one leg of a one-way, 75-to-90-minute commute.

My shifts start in the morning, and end well into the evening. If I go straight home after work, I still don’t get home until about 10 p.m. And – with the frigid winter temperatures these days – it’s nice to only have to walk 3 minutes in the dark and the cold, rather than almost 10 minutes.

Before 2008, I walked the eight minutes to the main route on Saturday mornings. Late at night, I’d have to decide whether to wait 20-30 minutes at Scarborough Town Centre for the last or second-to-last bus, or take a $20 cab.

In the last two years, it’s been a bit better. Sure, if I don’t want to pay an astronomical cab fare from downtown, then I still need to use the subway and a bus during TTC’s hours of operation. But depending on when I get to Scarborough Town Centre for the last leg of my trip, I sometimes get another option – and one that drops me close to home.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m one of the luckier ones.

There are other Torontonians out there, who may only have ONE route to get around and do important things – like get to their jobs, pick up their kids, do their groceries – in a way that doesn’t make things harder or more time-consuming, if not damn near impossible, for them.

And as a woman, the thought of travelling in the middle of the night and not having the luxury – or the pocket money – to consider taking a taxi as an option, is concerning. Yet there are women of all ages who do this all the time, sometimes risking their safety to get home, or elsewhere.

That’s my take on things.

If you’re a TTC user who rides an affected route, consider attending one of next week’s public meetings – they run from Jan. 24 – 27. Or, if you can’t make it, you can go to the TTC Web site and leave your opinions there.

After all, you’ve got nothing to lose by speaking up.

Out With The Old …

As I mentioned in last week’s post, one of my goals this year is to try and de-clutter.

It’s an ongoing thing with me, since I go through phases where I’m overcome by the need to toss and shred any unimportant pieces of paper that have been hung around for too long.

(Or, I stumble upon an episode an episode of Hoarders, and I immediately want to throw everything I own into the garbage.)

Generally, I’ve been good with sorting through recently acquired pieces of junk mail, opened envelopes and such.

But now I think I need to step it up a notch.

I have to start going through drawers and ditch things that haven’t seen the light of day.

Old and/or destroyed articles of clothing, or old bags, have got to go. (And if any of you have any environmentally-friendly suggestions for getting rid of not-so-gently-used shoes, articles of clothing or accessories, please speak up! I’m not planning on letting winter slow me down!)

And, once and for all, I have to finally deal with other miscellanous items I’ve acquired over the years, that I haven’t used. Because there’s no use in me keeping them if someone else can use them.

(Besides, when on EARTH is a pair of binoculars ever going to come in handy?)

I know I can’t do it in one go. My current strategy is to take on mini-purge projects.

Every week, I’m going to try and pick a group of drawers or a closet, or a corner of the house in which my stuff resides, and just pick away at it for an hour or two, and see where that gets me. If I get rid of a lot, I try another section. If not, I try again the following week.

My sincere hope is that, using baby steps, by the time the snow thaws and spring arrives, a lot of accumulative mess will have been shredded, tossed, ripped up, recycled or donated.

My motivation right now is high. I just hope it doesn’t fade.

Wish me luck.

* Illustration courtesy of IQ Matrix Blog.