Friday, April 2, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I don’t generally have regrets. Not big ones anyway (cue Edith Piaf), though I admit that from time to time I wonder if it’s such a good idea to buy as many tights as I do, hoarde as much cashmere yarn or eat chocolate for breakfast. (er, I don't do that. And if I do, it's dark chocolate, which is good for you, right?)
But honestly, for anything that I’ve thought in hindsight was sort of a bad idea, I can think of a dozen things that have come of it that I never would have learned or experienced otherwise and for that I’m grateful.
There are, however, a few doozies about which I can only say, “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time…”
And here are some of them:
1. The asymmetrical hair cut, ca 1984. I don’t believe that I have any photos of this disaster. (And for that reason alone, I believe in guardian angels.)
2. Layers. Too many of them, which is probably not as many as most people have ever had, but were too many for me. Ca. 1986, 1988, 1999-2000. I don’t have any photos of the first two, as they lasted only for about 24 hours before I cut all of my hair off to get rid of them. I believe that I may have a photo of the third ‘do because I got my hair cut on New Year’s Eve (!), which is proof that I have been abducted by aliens because it leads me to number three
3. Getting my hair cut in a strange city from a hairdresser that I didn’t know. On New Year’s Eve. (Wha-? See? I must have been abducted by aliens.)
4. Dropping OAC algebra. I’m not sure that I would use it all that often, but I still wish I’d kept it.
5. Highlights. March 1999. They were “blonde”, if you had to describe them, which I wish you wouldn’t - I’m trying to forget. The girl who rinsed my hair out actually said “Maybe they’ll look better when your hair’s dry…” They didn’t.
6. Buying a white bathing suit.
7. Not testing said white bathing suit in sunlight.
8. Not practicing the piano as as kid. I really can’t play. I think I’ll add “learn to play piano” to my To-Do list.
I think that part of the secret of happiness is being able to look back with satisfaction – or at least with appreciation of the experiences you've had. And I know that I have learned from all of these things. Some lessons though, it seems, take longer to learn.
To quote my dad, “It’s aaaallll water under the bridge. Of course, some water moves faster than other water…”
Though I've learned that NO water moves fast enough to grow hair. And ALL water is bad for a white bathing suit.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
So I created a “Done That” list. And I did do all of these things. I even have the t-shirt for some of them.
Since I’m not Mighty Girl, (Again, this is envy. Not jealousy. They're different. I swear.) I’ve never seen them written down in one place, so here they are, just in case I need reminding.
1. Sewn my own clothes.
2. Gone scuba diving.
3. Trekked in the Himalayas
4. Camped in the Amazon rainforest.
5. Run a 10K.
6. Stayed up all night to see the sunrise on a beach.
7. Installed a toilet. (Yes. I did.)
8. Seen a bear in the wild. Several, actually. Up close.
9. Seen a moose in the wild. Up close.
10. Sat in the cockpit of a plane landing in New York City.
11. Made strawberry jam.
12. Met Mother Theresa.
13. Learned a third language. (Enough to sound like a five-year old, anyway.)
14. Lived in a developing country.
15. Grown vegetables.
16. Been called for jury duty. (Twice.)
17. Met the Pope.
18. Jumped in a lake in Ontario in November. When it was snowing.
19. Ate grasshoppers. (Okay, I ate one.) Ate one grasshopper. It was fried. And crunchy.
What did you do?
Monday, March 8, 2010
It's Monday. Like most people, I don't love Monday. I don't dislike it per se. Monday's not that bad. I think that poor Monday is maligned because the only thing associated with it is the start of the work week and crash diets.
So, to give Monday a makeover, I'm going to create a mission statement for my week and post it on Monday.
Just three little words to guide my week.
So, what does this week bring?
Well, I know that I have a bunch of things to do at work and at home that aren't priorities, so I haven't been able to get them done. But these things are really starting to bother me: filing, mending... That kind of stuff.
What's worse is that they just keep getting transferred from one to-do list to the next. So much so that I now take them for granted.
So other possibilities would be:
-Get it done.
-Cross it off.
But there are other things that are ongoing and they won't get "done" or "crossed" off, but I'd like to pay attention to them nonetheless-like knitting, pottery, friends, cooking...
Yes. Seeing my friends is on my to-do list, as are my hobbies. Otherwise, my week fills up with work and errands and before I know it, I'm crashing in bed, lamenting the fact that I didn't have any time for recreation, relaxation, creativity or friends. I fret that I didn't practice guitar, knit even a single row, or throw any pots.
Make progress daily.
Add some fun.
Relax. There's time.
I am now agonizing over this week's mission statement, when I should be sleeping, rather than just adopting one and improving on it as I go.
So, for this week, I'm simply choosing:
Don't overthink it.
Oh, and: Get some sleep.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
As a Canadian living in the US, my friends often underscore parts of my "Canadian-ness" that I take for granted. And being friends, they do so in endearing ways that make me consider these things from a new perspective.
One of these things is my bilingualism. It's often the first thing that people ask me when they find out that I'm Canadian. "Do you speak French?"
So I was tickled when a friend recently gave me two handmade badges that she said reminded her of me. These little badges were sweet but in fact, they weren't things that I would have necessarily coveted, and they weren't particularly "me" in their colour or style. Rather, they reminded her of me because they had French words on them: "oui" and "non".
I liked that.
I pinned them to my tote bag and they made me smile every time I looked at them.
They made me smile because the French reminded me of my Canadian roots but they were also a symbol of the new life that I've made in Chicago. It's a life filled with friends, with art and with love and laughter and I have appreciated every minute.
How I came to live in Chicago is an interesting story. Sort of. (I don't want to build it up too much or anything...)
I had visited Chicago twice. Maybe three times. (Hint: if you can't remember, it was unmemorable.) And that was more than ten years ago. And while I guess I enjoyed it at the time, I never really gave the city a second thought. (Oooh, the irony!)
New York? San Francisco? Those were American cities where I wanted to live. Chicago? Yeah, I've been there.
But one morning in April 2008, I woke up from a vivid dream in which I lived in Chicago. I couldn't shake it! The whole day, I was distracted by this feeling, to the point where I was forming a plan to call contacts to ask them if they knew of any jobs there for me.
At around 3:00, I received a corporate communications message via e-mail. Normally, these contained information about things that I didn't really need to know (server upgrades, construction in our building and the like) or, because of my role in. strategy, contained substantive information about which I was already aware.
(I didn't usually open them.)
But that afternoon, I felt unusually compelled to open the message.
I couldn't believe it. The first link was a job posting for a newly-created position in Chicago. I just about fell off of my chair! A job in Chicago! (I don't think I even knew that we had an office there!)
I submitted my c.v. and the rest, as they say, is history.
Moving to Chicago has meant that I've made sacrifices, both personally and professionally. Looking back, though, I know that I made the right choice in taking the path that was laying itself before me.
I don't really tell people this story very often, because it makes me sound flaky, which I suppose I am, in some ways, though in an endearing way? I hope? Please say "yes." (One professor wrote as much on my first midterm in his class: "you always struck me as a blithe spirit-so carefree, but in a likeable way..." Translation: He thought I was a flake!)
When I did tell someone this story after living here for several months, she said simply, "well, you just have to trust the Universe."
Huh. I guess I hadn't thought of it in these terms. For the first time, I realized what that expression meant. She was right. You do have to trust the Universe.
Which brings me back to my little badges. Oui and Non. Someone asked me about them yesterday. He pointed to my bag and said, "is that French for 'no'?"
I told him that it was. I then noted that it was a gift from a new-but-dear friend, and how disappointed I was, when - after only owning them for a few days - I lost the "oui" button from the set, but that "non" has hung on. I wryly commented that I could not be a yes-girl, anymore.
That was when it dawned on me. That's the Universe talking to me again! It is reminding me that I can say "no", that I don't have to agree and that I don't need to give to everyone who asks for my time and energy. One thing that I really admire about my friends here is their ability to say (and to accept) no for an answer.
And for that, dear Chicago, I thank you.
To the person who found my 'oui' button: I hope you enjoy it and I hope that you use it well. This is its story. The Universe sent it to you so you would be open to new experiences, new friendships, new opportunities and challenges. Maybe you'll learn a new language. Don't forget to say no sometimes, too, though. It gives you more energy to say "yes".
Friday, March 5, 2010
I am sensible. Practical. Pragmatic, even. Sometimes too much for my own good.
The other night, my sister-in-law showed me the bikini that she'd just bought for her trip south. I caught a glimpse of the price tag, and I said, "Ummm, I hope you got more than this. Where's the rest of it?" But then, I don't have the sort of lifestyle -or body- in which a bathing suit can pass as "an outfit" whereas she does. Lucky duck. (I'm not jealous. This is "envy", okay? They're different.)
The next day, I was shopping and I tried on an adorable tank top. Black silk-cotton, so it had a nice muted sheen, but it also had a good body. It was a bit décontracté, with ragged silk organza trim and a slightly messy looking rosette with beading. It had 1920s-styling. It was completely impractical for my work-work-sleep-work-work-sleep existence. But it begged me to own it.
I loved it, and I could picture how stylish it would look with jeans and some black stilettoes. I might actually attain the ever-elusive "hot" in this outfit! If I ever went out, that is.
Oh! Waaaait a minute: owning this top would be a *reason* to go out. Good point, little tank top! You're coming home with me. Sold.
So when the clerk rang up my purchase, my bill was twice what I expected. (Note to self: Do not let the clerk choose articles for you, while you are in your skivvies in the changeroom, for she brings you clothes that you would never try otherwise, but which fit perfectly. And are not on sale.)
I said, "Hmmm. That's a lot more than I wanted to spend..." and, ever-practical, I assessed the other items: a suit with two (!) styles of skirt (the one I wouldn't have tried were it not for the very effective clerk) and a darling spring dresscoat with 1950s styling that I Had. To. Have.
Work clothes. Not play clothes. (See above, regarding my work-life balance. Basically, I wear suits. And pyjamas.)
So I picked up "my" tank top and said, "Could you please take this off the bill? I don't really need it."
She wailed "Noooooo! You don't want it!? But this dress looks so good on you! Did you see it in the grey? It looks so good on brunettes..."
Her wail was evidently some kind of emergency siren, because the other clerk came running.
"That's not a dress," I said.
They both protested, "Oh, yes! And it looks so good on you." In unison.
I'm not that old. (Okay, I am.) But I'm not a prude. (Um, okay. I am.) But this wisp of silk was definitely Not. A. Dress. Not a dress. Not at all. It didn't even approximate a dress. When it grew up, it *might* be a dress, but only with some serious growth hormones.
"This is not a dress," I said. "Where's the rest of it? I was planning to wear it with jeans."
They both laughed. "No! You wear it with tights...". In unison, again. Do they practice this?
"It's a dress?" Incredulous.
Well, $148 is a lot for a tank top that I would never wear. But this was a dress. It's a whole outfit!
"I'll take it."
(Like I said, I'm practical.)
p.s. If you see me wearing it, can you tell me I look hot? Thanks.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
David seemed mostly annoyed that it was more crowded than we expected so I just rolled my eyes, and told him that he was being cranky, but after trying to establish a specific meeting point with someone who was cell-less, recently, I realized that he might be right. (And I hate it when he’s right.)
I rarely set up a time and place to meet anymore! My friends and I just triangulate as we go. And this can sound a bit Kafkaesque, actually.
Friend – What’s up? Wanna get together? I’m in your ‘hood.
Me – Sure. Where are you?
Friend - Corner of North&Damen. Wanna meet? Where R U?
Me – Me too. I’m at N&D now! Er, I don’t see you. Which corner?
Friend – Not there YET. Hang on.
Of course, if I used that iPhone stalker app which tracks your friends (!) then I would have known from the GPS signal that she wasn’t there, yet.
Another friend recently told me that she thought that text messaging was sounding the death knell for dating. That the guy she was dating was substituting text messages for actual communication. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think that 145 characters is the basis for a meaningful relationship. Maybe it is. How should I know? I’m no expert. (By my reckoning, it might actually improve things for some people.)
All I know is that if this is the case, we’re going to have to stop using grown-up words, or come up with a whole new set of acronyms for use in relationship-texting: EU = emotionally unavailable, NC = non-communicative, or is that non-committal? INYIM= it’s not you, it’s me.
And really, what does a stony silence sound like on text message?
I still like the telephone. Don’t get me wrong. I love to text message and I send PINs. I e-mail and tweet, but if you said to me “Great. I’ll talk to you later,” I expect a phone call. And if you don't call, then INMIY!
Friday, February 12, 2010
Well, the other night, I got “Not Quite”, along with two other collections of six-word memoirs, and I’m a woman obsessed. So much so, that not unlike Tweeters who’ve started to think in 160 characters, I have started to think of six-word phrases that form a complete sentence to describe my life:
Talking faster than I can think.
I’m usually so happy-go-lucky.
Bad luck: I sat in paint.
And I’m getting pretty good at it. But then my friend Luci one-upped me. Today, she came into my office and said, “I was thinking that I need a mission statement. A personal mission statement. Just three words that sum it up.”
What. A. Great. Idea. She’s brilliant.
So now I’m trying to think of three words that sum up my personal mission – how I’m living. Not what I lived! As anyone who’s done any kind of strategic visioning will tell you, though, creating a mission statement is a big job. So I’m still working on it. Right now, I’ve got a few ideas, but they’re pretty rough. Ideas welcome.
Knitting more socks.
More. Cake. Please.
Like I said, they’re pretty rough.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Getting a call from the Chicago Tribune (Holy sh!t! The Chicago Tribune?) to ask me about being a Canuck was a nice change from all of my Canadian friends asking me what it’s like to live in the U.S of A. But it’s no easier to put my finger on. And I do think about this All. The. Time.
And I still had to come up with some concrete stuff for them. What could a Chicagoan do to live as a Canadian for a day? I don't know! What could a Chicagoan do to live as a Canadian for a day. Tough one! I seriously don’t know.
I mean, I don’t really think that my way of life is any different from my American friends’ lives. I put maple syrup on my bacon. I eat All-Dressed chips. I order rye-and-ginger at Schubas and then have to specify Canadian Club lest I get that "Rock-and-Rye" junk (What is that!?) And I obsess over whether or not I made the wrong impression by being impolite to a total stranger who was rude to me first. Don’t YOU?
But then I really started thinking about it. Apart from the obvious, which is the need to embrace snow sports (unless, that is, you're in Vancouver for the winter Olympics where it won't snow at all this year. Oh, the snow is a fickle friend!) and the apologies (I do hear myself saying “Sore-ee” on the El a lot more than my fellow passengers – even when they step on MY toes), there are the subtler differences. Canadians, it seems, consider most things as a shade of grey. Is this from living with February? I don’t know. But I can tell you that every time I came up with something that was “Canadian” to me, I would hear from a friend that this wasn’t true and why...
Still, I was having a really tough time referring the writer to “typically” Canadian activities or food in Chicago. Not just because Canadian companies keep selling their products to American firms (MAC, Imax, Molson) but because being Canadian is not about what you do or eat or wear.
I think that being Canadian is a state of mind. And that mind is warmed by a toque. And powered by poutine!
By the way, Trib: don’t think I didn’t notice that you swiped my logo! Yeah, that's okay, I guess. But for the record - Adam August was the designer. Thanks, Adam. “It’s beautiful. I love it!”
p.s. You forgot the U in "honour" and "neighbour"!
Friday, January 8, 2010
Sometimes we have to TiVo it and watch it on Tuesday, but that never works. Someone (okay, sometimes it’s me) always checks the blog on Tuesday morning and shares the spoilers. It's a good thing that it's recorded, too, because half the time, we're laughing in horror at/about/in spite of the train wreck unfolding before us.
And that's the worst part. We still watch.
So, here I am, telling you about The Bachelor. And actually, not even in good time. Only I’m not on ABC’s payroll, so I can be honest.
In addition to all of the bottle blonde hair and a lot of breasts on display, what was most apparent to me this week was that Monday night's "ladies" (do they call them "bachelorettes")were remarkable in their ordinariness. They were, of course, all very pretty. (Even the ones that I suspected might have been men. Don’t tell me that you didn’t think that, too.) But so few of them seemed interesting or intriguing. (And unfortunately, those that did were eliminated.)
Admittedly, Jake seems kind of boring, himself, so maybe he wants bland. But really, how did he convey that to the producers? What did that discussion look like? “Okay, here's the thing - I’m specifically looking to avoid interesting conversations and anyone with judgment, modesty or self-respect. Thanks. That’d be great.”
So, apart from the personality deficit (though a definite surplus on other assets...) what also struck me last night is the difference between the men's post-elimination self-assessment and the women's. Now, I’ve only watched half of the last “Bachelorette” season, and one episode of “The Bachelor”, so I don’t know if this is typical, but I sure hope that show has some good counsellors on staff to help these particular women! One girl, who seemed really sweet, actually uttered these words, "I wasn't good enough!" Sorry? Sweetpea, that is not an appropriate assessment of your "performance" (let's call it what it is!) during a few hours of contrived and alcohol-imbued interaction, which was also being filmed! (Now, I don’t know about you, but I have auditioned for a television reality show. OhyesIhave. Knowing that what you are saying and doing is being captured on tape for all posterity is STRESSFUL!)
Clearly, some of them never had parental guidance when they were watching TV - someone to say, "it's okay, honey; it's not real". They took the whole thing so personally, which, I suppose it is, but in addition, they took it so HARD, like it was real! And in spite of the moniker “reality television”, there’s not one part that’s rooted in reality. Well, maybe one thing: The Bachelor, Jake Pavelka, noted that he's been “unlucky” in love. That. Part. Is. Real. And I think I know why. About the women you decided to ask to stick around, Jake? They were UNreal. (Er, I have a pretty good idea why you haven't "found love" yet.)
Jake, honey, we need to talk. You seem like a nice guy. So why aren’t you looking for someone nice? Some of the women that you eliminated were cool. They seemed like the type of women that I’d want to have as friends. Some of them seemed kind. Some of them could laugh at themselves and didn’t take themselves too seriously.
In contrast - you asked trouble to stick around. Maybe you need to re-think what you're looking for. Because the way you're going... you're still lookin' for trouble. Good luck with that.
Monday, January 4, 2010
First thought: Why would I do that? It. Sounds. Like. Hell. Well, the gym part does. The rest sounds like fun. Go skiing every day? Ya-hah! (Well, yes, except I don't want snow in July. Or anytime after March. Or before January. So maybe not skiing every day.)
Still, in spite of my jokes, I am not actually lazy, though my move to Chicago has affected my activity patterns. Why is it so hard for a girl to join three Ultimate teams, here!? Or one for that matter? And does anyone know how hard it is to consult a map while biking in traffic? (Uh, Mum, I didn't really do that. And if I did, I was wearing a helmet.)
The whole idea of New Year's Resolutions is a bit foreign to me. I don't really set them because I think that January 1st is an arbitrary -and somewhat depressing day- to start something new. I suppose if I was the type of person to diet, I wouldn't wait until Monday morning "to start". That just sounds like a bad idea and it's probably one of the reasons poor Monday is so maligned. (Aww, who needs a hug?) I pretty much just make changes when I see they're needed.
Well, this is certainly a change that is needed, and besides, it means that I will talk to Pete more. So that's good.
I did, however, negotiate slightly different parameters, because I've seen enough Dr. Phil to know that a goal must be SMART! (Specific, Measurable, etc.) Then I really got to work...
I knew from the outset that my resolution also needed a branding strategy to appeal to me. Me! Me! Me! Saying I would "work out" every day conjured up images of teal stirrup tights with a belted hot pink leotard. (Oh, really? You. Will. Not.) I was condemning it to fail.
It needed to be more lifestyle-oriented. (Take note all you marketeers: this is how you sell to ME! ME! ME!) My "365 in 365" needed to improve my quality of life, decrease my stress, provide a platform to spend time with friends, increase my fitness, while allowing me to keep my dignity in tact. (Did I mention that the teal tights image included a gold headband and softbox lighting? Eesh.)
I think my resolution also needs a storyline and a soundtrack! I'm working on that, but we creative-types are notoriously bad for sticking to deadline, so suggestions are welcome. Thus far, I've got "Changes" by David Bowie or "Things Can Only Get Better" by Howard Jones. Uninspired, both. Maybe "Eye of the Tiger"?
My 365 in 365 is to just be more active. It includes yoga and running but it could also include going for a walk at lunch or - in a pinch - it could include getting off one El stop earlier and walking the extra mile home. Maybe it also includes dancing around my kitchen for an hour in my pyjamas on Sunday mornings. (Uh, okay, already do that. It won't include that.)
That can't be bad at all. I'm hoping it will help me sleep. That would be revolutionary. That would seriously improve my life! So far, I am three days in and I'm still on track! But I would also note that I am drafting this at 4 am. (Irony, you are a skank. And your shoes are not cute.)