Vacation Jitters!

Since I’m heading back to North Carolina to visit Josh in ohhhh tomorrow (!!!), maybe it’s a good time to finally post pictures from my last two visits in August and November? Oui? Oui!

Thanks to overtime during the office move last summer I had a sweet amount of lieu time to use as I saw fit, and I see very fit indeed to spend as much time as I possible with Josh. Obviously! So I scheduled two vacations close together which had the bonus of making the time between them seem nigh insignificant, but the disadvantage of making the time between a November and April visit seem to take forever.

And yet here we are! And here you go:  

(And if the formatting is all wonky, screw it. WordPress is misbehaving and I’ve no time to mess around with it!)

August
 
   

This is American for 'cheese'; the edibility of heavily processed foods being a constant point of debate between Josh and I.

Josh was very pleased when we returned to the hotel one evening to find his skull-betopped scooter bookended by a pair of badass Harleys.

A small island of Canada in a vast sea of on-sale Americana.

Something's wrong when your bestseller list includes disproportionate amounts of Glenn Beck, Nancy Grace, and Dick Armey. Oh and lets not forget the Ann Coulter. Oy vey.

Late night date night at the Wal-Mart extravaganza!

 

November

 
 
 
 

 

 

Gettin' all casual in the kitchen, by which I mean he didn't realize the camera was on secret timer ;)

 

Baking a brie! With caramelized worcestershire and red wine onions cooked right into the phyllo!

 
 

Now that's what cheese should look like!! The brie didn't make it two feet from the oven before being devoured within five minutes right at the counter. Words cannot describe the delicious.

 

Trip to the most psychedelic pizza joint ever!

Psychedlic menu! Just give pizza a try, man! Why can't all toppings just get along? :P

 

Gettin' all domestic with the washing up.

 

Gettin' more domestic! ;)

 

 

Only one more sleep until more of these!!

Shiny, Pretty Office

Yup, too busy to do much more than post pictures lately – but that’s a good thing! Having told myself to get off my ass and actually go do things instead of saying “huh, I should really check out that new underground theatre” or “maybe there is something to this whole camping business,” and “Dammit, I missed another Farmer’s Market,” I have actually (dramatic pause…) been out doing things!

Checking out that new coffee shop instead of always going to the same place??? Done! Catching that documentary on polygamist communities and their adolecent outcasts??? Done! Getting that immigration paperwork together??? Getting there! Rekindling my love of reading and soaking up some intellectually challenging non-fiction (much of which intentionally counters my opinions?) Done like dinner! Participating in protests? Voicing more opinions? Getting more involved in my local and global community? Done and done and done!  Going to that highly publicized debate between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens??? DONE!

Every winter it boggles my mind that another year has zoomed by without my consent, but this I can say has at least been a year of good, important, motivating life improvements.

One of which has been my working environment, which has changed drastically for the better, including the work that goes along within said environment. Setting up my glorious new office to my liking has been an exercise in awesomeness. Just now I arranged and rearranged my collection work-appropriate music. No soft-rock station for this chick! If I can’t listen to  new rock or even classic rock, then at least my bosses put up with my love for Andrea Bocelli, French film soundtracks, French-Brazillian contemporary fusion and my assortment of symphonies and operas. Imagine! Calmly steeping a tea and settling into my desk every morning to the sounds of Pachelbel instead of rushing through a disgusting kitchen to get on to the next annoyance amidst an endlessly ringing phone. Natural daylight, efficient layout, nice decorating, plants galore, and a marked lack of characters who used to make my skin crawl – now replaced by grateful, sane people who thank me for such pittances as delivering mail and keeping the kitchen tidy. I actually have time to blog at work again (shhhhhhh!) and yet am not so bored that I feel unproductive.

I even got an unexpected corporate letter last week saying “Hello – we’ve determined you deserve a raise. It’ll be on your next pay.”

Ahhhhh, perfect!

So yes, I do have a few things to do, but for now I feel like sipping my rooibos tea and posting a few photos.

The Grand Weekend Move In! It took forever to organize our hundreds of boxes and afterwards we replaced the carpet.

Fabulous reception avec new carpets and accessories. No more 1980's darkness with maroon couches or the jungle of fake plants in front of that mirror panelling. I shiver to remember...

The tres sexy boardroom with sunlight from the atrium and some crazy wallpaper that switches from striated rectangles to intertwined oblongs depending on the light. Escher would have a field day. Also wired for internet at every seat, say what???

Other side of sexy boardroom, including fancy new projector and HD tv! No more fuzzy videoconferences!

My favourite new thing: the cafe. New stainless steel appliances! Double decker dishwasher! New coffee machine! Fancy pants guest computer! And another flat screen tv with 24 hour news! Plus, nobody wants to dirty up a pretty new office, so the mess quotient has plummeted! What used to be the majority of my work is now a place I can actually relax!

The atrium below our offices. More plants, sunlight from the glass roof and a water fountain that you hear as you come and go through the front doors. Plus, once you get off the elevators you have to cross a bridge over the atrium to reach our suite, so you can walk the catwalk every morning!

Another boardroom. Smaller. Cozier. Mostly just less expensive - and NOT featuring faded wooden furniture from the 60's! Yay!

Guest Office, in case yours is messy and you need to pretend you’re this neat and tidy for that important one-on-one. Really though, *I’m* the one who’s that neat and tidy. ‘Cause it’s my job.
The business lounge, for those romantically lit private time with just you, the internet, and your spreadsheets.
Fancy pants elevators to parking! Which I don’t have to use, because the building connects to the subway. Sucks to be you, non-subway commuters! Your parking costs alone are more than my metropass! Bahahahaha!
My desk! My little cozy desk, all organized and be-planted. No more sharing space, no more clutter! No more dark little cave! I have a window and my own storage and my own stuff and a nice chair! And a nifty little mail chute! It’s mine, all mine!
So! That’s what I’ve been doing as of late, just in case you were wondering. If you have been wondering, I’m flattered, but I hope it hasn’t been keeping you up or anything – I’m not *that* interesting ;) 
Oh, and I also visited Josh twice this year. You know, business as usualy – pictures coming next!

Adventures in Vancouver (With a Cantankerous Grandmother who doesn’t like Vancouver.)

So I’ve got a sweet new office and junk, that I was planning on posting pictures of – but frankly I’m not even done unpacking from the move. So instead you get pictures of my recent trip to Vancouver. And by recent I mean June (have I mentioned how busy I am?) Actually recent was a rather spur of the moment trip to see Josh for some much needed time together – awesome! Photos of that soon, but first Vancouver because that’s chronological order for you.

Usually all my vacation days are saved up to visit Josh, but this was a quick five-day getaway (including a weekend, thus requiring only a whopping three days off) for a low-key family wedding and a chance to hang out with some of my hipper relatives. Plus I’d never been before. Toronto and Vancouver each like to think they’re way cooler than the other (*cough* Team Toronto! *cough*), but really they’re just different in a million little ways and your preference will depend on which vibe you like better. I’ve heard them referred to as the New York and San Fransisco of Canada, which isn’t really all that apt – but you get the idea. Either way, any Canadian worth their salt (or other seasonings?) should at least try to see as much of the country as possible – it’s rather pretty you know. So off I went.

I have to admit that the shitty weather combined with sharing a hotel suite with a cantankerous grandmother added up for a less than impressive first couple of days. But eventually I got to check out some very nifty places including the Vancouver Aquarium, Van Dusen Gardens, and Shannon Falls.  For a short trip, I managed to cram in a lot of activities.

Photies!

First up was the Vancouver Aquarium with my uncle and grandmother, a day before my aunt arrived. It was of course eighteen different flavours of awesome and fun. But we didn’t get to stay very long, because although Grandma joined us for the scenic drive up, she stubbornly refused to pay or have anyone pay for her the $17 seniors fare that she deemed absolutely outrageous, and anyways it was too much walking. So we spent two hours seeing as much as we could before feeling the pangs of elderly abandonment guilt while she perused the gift shop for over priced souvenirs for the younger cousins. To be fair, she probably had more fun there than she would have had inside, surrounded by strange looking things.

Sculpture outside the entrance. I get it Vancouver, you REALLY dig whales.

Coming to get you!

You thought of the turtle from Finding Nemo. You know you did, and you did the voice too.

Cayman are scary!

I don't know what this is, but it's exceedingly orange.

I don't know what this is either but I'm pretty sure it's flashing me.

Octopi!

Jellyfish!

Next up! Van Dusen Gardens, a completely gorgeous collection of rare and expertly cultivated plants, a shrubbery maze (a shrubbery!), ponds, ancient trees and enough oxygen and chlorophyll to leave me feeling very zen and peaceful, which by that point was very much needed.

We all went first for the wedding, you see (of which I have no photos as my camera had by then sucked through multiple pairs of batteries.) It was a very simple and elegant outdoor ceremony followed by a traditional Chinese eleven-course seafood dinner – which Grandma had initially looked forward to, being a lobster lover and all, but was then promptly disappointed because everything tasted “too Chinese.” The fact that her grandson had married a Chinese woman may or may not have dawned on her, although she adored the girl and got along fabulously with her family (small blessings, we count them.)

The next day we all decided to go back to the gardens to see the areas we had missed and linger in the foliage. Except Grandma. She didn’t want to walk that much, didn’t want us to walk slow for her because that “wouldn’t be fun for you young people,” and was absolutely offended at the idea of renting a wheelchair for when/if she got tired. This is the same lady who rides her bike for an hour every day, mind you. Besides, having traveled all the way to the west coast for a wedding (by five day train, because no way was she flying for five whole hours) there was now nothing more important than catching that second-last episode of this seasons Bachelorette. So yes, a trip to a very calming garden was very much in order.

My aunt and uncle and the awesome garden entrance.

These are Ginkgo trees, which have apparently been around since the Jurassic period and nearly went extinct before being cultivated back into widespread existence by Buddhist monks. The next pic is a closer shot.

Brachiosaurus food.

Ducklings! We spent twenty minutes watching them swim between the lily pads, climb up on them, get too close to the edge and plop back into the water.

Water lily.

Scrabble alert! Sequoia is the only seven-letter word containing all five vowels. They are also huge and very old, having been here since before the shift of the continents.

Trilliums! Go Ontario!

I forget what these are called, but they will eat monkeys.

More prehistoric ginormous plants. These have giant spikes on the underside.

My aunt loves English gardens.

Random Nuit Blanche style art installation in the middle of the gardens.

We couldn't decide if these were truly red poppies, which are apparently illegal to grow.

Norwegian poppies. Not illegal.

Lastly was a trip to Shannon Falls to see the natural glacier run off and dip our feet in freezing cold crystal clear ice water and climb over boulders and wet mossy rocks in totally-not-hiking-appropriate shoes. I still say my gold flats were perfectly fine for climbing.

That's a lot of water! Glacier runoff, actually, so it apparently slows down a bit towards the end of the summer when the melting is done.

This was insanely cold.

Climbing back up from the water.

The scenic drive back down the mountains.

Foxgloves - pretty, but deadly.

And my feet are still painfully cold.

So, guess who stayed at the hotel? Yep. That scenic drive you see there was far too nerve wracking for a little old lady who will attack home-invading wildlife with shovels, squirrels with slingshots, and will threaten tele-banking branch managers with physical violence and make waitresses cry.

Oh Grandma. We love her dearly, but wouldn’t exactly describe her as conducive to a peaceful or even remotely calm experience. Grandma’s the one to call if you want a mouthy neighbourhood brat bitched off your lawn, or a particularly profane round of Bingo, and for that and her fierce familial protection we do indeed cherish her. Just don’t try to take her anywhere else.

Except the Mandarin. She loves a Mandarin buffet like nobodies business. You see the irony, yes?

**************************************

The next day I was back on a plane and back in Toronto, and the following morning I was back in the torrential clusterfuck that is moving an office. Accomplished successfully (pics to follow, eventually), we’re still rearranging furniture and getting my work area to my liking. As stressful as the job is, it is kind of nice to have a management team that says “Your office needs more colour and artwork, we’ll get on that. And that shelf is ugly, we’ll get a better one.”

Added bonus: trying to cut back on overtime pay, they asked if I would be willing to accept time-and-a-half lieu time in exchange for coming in on moving weekend (which I had begged them to let me work through, not so much for the overtime but preferring not to deal with a ton of shit on a Monday morning.) I said I certainly would accept lieu time, and as soon as the move was done I planned a last-minute trip to visit Josh. I only had to use up four vacation days – and my quarterly bonus covered my expenses! Woot timing!

You know what that means – more pictures to post and another visit to plan very, very soon!

An Orwellian Degree

So I don’t have a lot of time to write because I’m struggling to squeeze in a few paragraphs at work in the midst of moving offices weeks earlier than anticipated. But I wanted to touch briefly on what happened in Toronto over the weekend. You know, in case you missed it, even though you only had to go so far as signing into Windows Live Messenger in order to hear the news. Normally you see your local news, but apparently my news was local for everybody, because even Josh was getting updates in North Carolina about the cop cars being set on fire just up the street from my house, and having a couple of barely concealed brain aneurysms at my proximity to it all.

We hosted the G20 summit this past weekend, a move that not a lot of people agreed with. While the opportunity to show off our fair city is always appreciated, many were concerned with how much everything would cost, as well as the consequences on our streets of an event that by its very nature sparks protests. And although I agree that if you’re going to throw one of these behemoths then security is deserving of attentive spending, I still doubted it would do much to prevent the relatively minor issues of broken windows and other surface damage – as long as nobody was able to blow anything up or kill people, I’m happy. As for spending over a million on a ‘fake lake’ to recreate the atmosphere of the Muskokas for the media/cell-phone-charging station, well that was just stupid.

But I digress.

Canada is not always the quiet humble nation we like to let the rest of the world think we are. We protest when called upon, and while I do most of my protesting with signatures or online petitions, I will on occasion make the trip to Queen’s Park to protest whatever is on my agenda on the lawn outside of the provincial legislation. I won’t be behind a loudspeaker or undermining my own cause with stereotypical garb that makes it easier for the established power to dismiss me; no, I’m the kind to craft a strongly worded email to my M.P., or to call incessantly until I make enough of a nuisance of myself to get that stop sign or whatever put up. Still, I was tempted to get out there this weekend and into the thick of it, protesting if nothing else the fact that protesting in general was kept so far removed from the site of the meetings as to have zero effect on the delegates therein.

Because Toronto, in case you hadn’t noticed, turned into a locked down fortress practically overnight, and it was the police response rather than what they were responding to that finally waffled my decision to the ‘staying indoors’ option. The legitimate protests themselves were mostly peaceful; loud, organized, and varied in cause, but for the most part non-confrontational and an honest exercise in our democratic right. And of course there were a few more vocal characters, but by and large things were amicable.

Then there was the Black Bloc, a movement of supposed anarchists, apparently mostly from out of province, who made violence and destruction their mandate. Against ‘the pigs of Capitalism’ and ‘the march of Globalization’ and all that jazz, this felt essentially like a bunch of kids who had seen Fight Club one too many times. I’m not saying they got their black t-shirts at the Gap necessarily, but they sure got them from somewhere. So yes, we spent money dislodging all the mailboxes and garbage cans which did nothing to stop them smashing any windows that weren’t boarded up, and yes the Starbucks was targeted. Did you really think you were going to stop a bunch of pissed off kids from lighting things on fire? Don’t be stupid. The fact that there are cops in riot gear just makes the whole thing way more ‘awesome’ than just complaining on the internet. If anything, the excessive force gave them more fodder against ‘the man’.

So much for fighting fire with fire. How about using something a bit colder, like a frosty Toronto scowl? I hear we’re good at that. Maybe with a ‘What the fuck? Did you just break that window? What is wrong with you? We have to pay for that, you asshole!’ It’s hip to be an anarchist, so you’re not going to win unless you stop making it cool. Dig?

But no, they didn’t dig, and so when there was literal fire they fought with mismanaged attention followed by a blitzkreig of over compensation.

On Saturday, we were told that they were not ignoring the flaming cruisers, but rather were sticking to their more important task of protecting the already heavily reinforced series of fences in front of the summit site. This despite the fact that we had literally thousands of officers from all over Toronto and the surrounding suburbs. And while the gas exploding inside the burning cars could be heard several unprotected, unpoliced, and very crowded blocks away, they were not short of hands a few intersections north at Queens Park. Teams of riot squads, sometimes three lines deep, moved through the trees to corral the sparse protesters and joggers in search of kids from the nearby University, long hidden in the sewers. They struck their shields with their batons, steady and in rhythm while they walked, looking like something right out of 1984. Hooligans are one thing, but when I got home from stepping out for a quick bite (and maybe a glance or two up the street) and saw the same marching scene on every channel, that was when I decided that perhaps it was a good idea to keep myself indoors or at least west of Spadina for the rest of the weekend. It wasn’t broken glass or the inarticulate shouts of yet another loud and angry anarchist that worried me. (Hello? Living on Queen West means you hear a loud and angry anarchist at least once a week – and they don’t frequently break windows.) No, it was fear of being arrested for standing on the wrong corner and daring to frown at the goings on.

Which is precisely what happened the next day with a sudden shift, a take-no-chances explanation for a stark increase in aggression. From the police, I mean. While officials point out that there were no major injuries or security breaches, others prefer to point out their use of excessive force, indiscriminate arrests and even tear gas – something so uncommon here that many reputable news sources incorrectly cited it as the first time ever in Toronto (it was in fact used at an anti-poverty protest when Mike Harris was premier several years ago.) Apparently even rubber bullets were used, and all this in crowds that a fair guess from my window would put at, let’s say, a healthy mix of legitimate protesters, a smattering of the curious and/or foolish, and maybe 5% hooligan? Maybe? Then later, to add to the afternoon fun, about 200 people were surrounded and held at Queen and Spadina by police without explanation for a nice four hour standoff in the pouring rain between them and anyone who was standing at that intersection for any reason at the time of their arrival. In the end we ended up with figures of over 900 people held, 600 arrested, and five courtrooms set up specifically to process all this shit over the next couple of days.

And so after all that, here we are, the Monday after, and we’ve already begun the process of returning to our unfazed selves, and picking up the glass as well as the tab.

I’m not saying we don’t need police, generally speaking. Or even particularly at these events, should poor judgement bring them upon us. I’m just suggesting that perhaps this wasn’t the brightest display of foresight from the governmental powers that be. And if we really did need to have this ginormous clusterfuck of a security breach right downtown because we couldn’t house all those people anywhere in cottage country, then we could at least have done so with a little more grace and civility.

So today I’m in support of the demonstration outside of police headquarters against their excessive use of force on civilians, because frankly that should not be left unchecked. However, while criticizing the mismanagement I will admit that this was obviously not an easy situation to, well, de-clusterfuck. So I’ll refrain from calling it ‘police brutality’ and stick with ‘an ugly lesson to be learned,’ if only to avoid being a hypocrite the next time I want someone to save my ass from someone bigger than me. And to be fair, and in the interest of demonstrating that my support lies not necessarily with either the state or the anarchists but rather the rest of us in between, it would behoove me to leave out a full expression of my disdain for the other end of the disruptive stick that gave us this weekend bashing.

That’s right Black Bloc. Your strongly worded letter is on its way.

(Except later, because right now I’m tired, and I have a job to go to tomorrow, so here are some pictures instead.)

heavy police presence in Toronto. G20

How’s About an Actual Update?

So yeah, spring hit me like a ton of flowery bricks.

After an apathetic if appreciatively warm winter, steadfast in my usual blahness and various, minor, weekly mental crises (the decision to join Twitter was a ridiculous inner battle of “the Merits of Participation in the Social Development of My Generation” versus the superficial horror of “Dear God! Am I Turning Into One of Those Obnoxious Rogers Kids???”), I suddenly find myself busy for a whole slew of far more productive reasons.

Firstly, my job is nuts. The economy has pretty much recovered by this point (at least in Canada…) but you wouldn’t know it at my office – the crunch has gotten bad enough that people are quitting left right and centre. And my office itself? It’s moving. The whole damn thing. Clients and everything, furniture, files, moving ahoy! Talk about your logistical clusterfuck. And me? They want me to move up the ladder a wee bit – not enough for a promotion that I don’t really want, but enough to make a bit more. And because I’m sickly twisted, I actually thrive under a weird amount of stress. In no way do I plan to stick around there forever, but while my alternative options are limited, I might as well be amazing at whatever it is I have to do. That and I am getting a gorgeous new office, and I would put up with a lot of crap to have a fantabulous working environment. It is, after all, where I spend most of my day, and there is a significant mental difference in spending all day in a dimly lit, poorly carpeted, disorganized, darkly painted, outdated craphole and a luscious new suite of nice furniture, plants, organization, art, vases, updated technology, windows, sunlight, etc.

I’m almost inappropriately excited. Yes, my job will still suck. But it will suck pretty.

The only other wrench in the career works is that a snazzy corporate office job is only one of my goals – and even then, only short term; blazers are cute for now, but eventually, after kids and ten years of life, they tend to morph into the dreaded pantsuit. The real goal is to work at home, in some aspect that lets me be all creative and hippy-dippie, with my yearned for lifestyle of waking up when my body feels like it, slow cooking good food, working from home, and free to step out for a yoga class or go out to the tea shop for a snack. (Side note: I’m now in love with tea shops.)

Well lo and holy shit behold, the potential for this exact  job has fallen into my lap. It’s careful and slow progression, and requires a lot of juggling to play all my careful little cards right, but if I do, I might just end up with a work-from-home gig that would call for occasional travel, involve some writing and design work, but also a lot of administrative corporate-without-the-commute type stuff. Soooo, perfect, yes? Yes, yes indeed. “But why not both?” says my ambitious and quirky brain, and so I am very, very carefully, laying out my long term plans.

Because it’s not just me. A few years ago I could and would have taken stupid risks for the kick of a sudden change in lifestyle – I only had myself to worry about. Quit my job and move to another continent? Suuuurrre! Now of course the most important of my plans involve living happily ever after with Josh (realistically speaking of course ;) neither of us are above the innate human capacity to be fantastically annoying at times, but even then we’re pretty awesome.) Obviously there’s more to it than just moving one of us a couple of miles – if it were that easy, we wouldn’t be closing in on three  years of long distance. There’s lawyers, background checks, border restrictions, job requirements, and of course the sheer cost and absolute confusion of it all. Fuck, immigration is hard – especially when you don’t even know where to start or in which direction to immigrate!

But we are getting closer. After a harrowing half year of next to no employment and all the associated discouragement, Josh has a new gig in landscaping. It doesn’t pay much but at least he’s able to stay afloat, and even managed to avoid going into debt in the interim – which is a pretty amazing feat considering neither of us were exactly making six figures even before the economy went to shit. He’s doing well too! He’s only been there a couple of months and they already want to promote him to supervisor (and already would have been, except for that pesky ‘no license’ thing still hanging around from yeeeeaaaars ago.)  Honestly, in every job I’ve seen him in, his natural desire to excel has been nothing less than impressive, so I’m confident that he’ll do well.

Ideally though, I’d like to get him up here where blue collar work pays phenomenally well in comparison. We’re still not even sure if that’s going to be possible with his lingering record, and the not-so-readily available information is conflicting and overwhelming at best. Sure I could just go hire someone, but that’s a lot of money to risk without some in-depth research – I have seen far, FAR too many example of less than trustworthy behaviour in the industry, and so I’m naturally very cautious. However, a few degrees of familial separation have recently put me in contact with an incredibly reputable lawyer who can hopefully put things in motion for us, or at the very least give us a clear picture of how we need to proceed. I don’t know much yet, but fingers crossed folks, fingers crossed.

Josh is also looking to move out of his brother and sister-in-law’s house, and stay with a friend for a while until he finds the perfect apartment. Cost and location are key, and a small town like his is not exactly swimming in occupancy. I’d say wait until you find the right place, but frankly he could move out tomorrow and it wouldn’t be soon enough. I’m not here to shit talk, but I’ve been less than impressed with my general observations of the goings-on over there, and I know he’s not happy living in a stressful household. So hopefully things will be looking up for him (and us!) very soon. Yay for independence! Plus I’m itching for another visit, and it would be nice to get some love on without worrying about who’s going to be home soon, know what I’m saying? ;)

Anytits, that’s all for now. Happy to have updated all seven people who may still be wondering why I haven’t written anything in forever – you can see I’ve been otherwise occupied! But I have noticed that what started as a bloggy attempt to track our progress in closing the physical distance between us has dissolved into one-sided time-killing bitching about the television. Not that I’ll stop any of that (indeed, our mutual criticism and discussion of media, politics, news, advertising, etc. is 1) important for any individual; 2) an integral part of daily conversation between Josh and I; and 3) I love every minute of it; 4) PS don’t even ask me what Glenn Beck is up to right now…) But I did want to get an actual update in, just in case I read back years from now and start to wonder what the hell I was doing all this time.

So, while things start to (hopefully) move more quickly, I might not get to write that often. Or, maybe things will get really exciting and I’ll be writing all the time. Either way, follow along if you wish – and if you really want the fascinating details of my every day, you can now find me on the Twitter machine.

More Problems in Advertising

I’m aware of the value of product packaging. Even with my strive to see through advertisements and their insane efforts (The latest annoyance? A stampable toilet cleaning puck that keeps your bowl clean a WHOLE WEEK!! Wow! Packaging!), I can still see why someone might want their bottle of handsoap to smell pretty and kinda match the decor. Guests and whatever.

But sometimes it goes a little far, such as with this repackaging of Scope.

Old Scope. I'm squat and ugly, please hide me in the cabinet and forget about me.

New Scope. Why yes, I do look like a decanter. Leave me out as almost-decoration on that fancy shelf you installed in the bathroom - and remember every day: Sssscope!

Clever, but unfortunately crosses the line of subtle image shifting to full out obvious gimmick, too blatantly suggesting that purchase of this product is an important stepping stone in your shift from a Just Anyone with mismatched furnishings and a regular toothbrush to a financially cozy, stylish, good looking, whiter teethed One of Them.

Feeling like this?

Buy some of this!

You'll feel like this!

Nice try Scope, but I’m sticking with that fun stuff that makes the crap in your teeth turn bright blue in the sink.

That’s ENOUGH American Apparel

I get it.

Sex sells.

But frankly, I’m not buying. I’m good, thanks. And if I were buying, I wouldn’t be buying it in the form of body suits. And for that matter, since when does convincing me to buy body suits (proudly made in America for my pale Canadian ass), involve molesting my eyes with illicit advertisements while all I’m trying to do is get my morning joy from reading about other people’s hangovers via their Texts from Last Night???

Because the "I forgot my pants"-Tank was already trademarked...

When hanging out in Creepy Uncle Sven's 70's Basement, be sure to drape oneself along the stairs in a lace catsuit - it's the surest way to avoid molestation.

You couldn't just say 'thong' somewhere on the ad? No? You really had to demonstrate quite so visually?

So over I go to check out what else they’ve got floating around their website. Sure enough, they saved the tamer stuff for other peoples ad space. Their own turf is pretty much free game.

ps this is not clothes!

Hey boys and girls, did Mom put that annoying filter on your internet that doesn’t let you get the dirty sites? Well now you can get your jollies while under the convenient guise of shopping for lace bodysuits!

I have a crotch! Wheeeee!

Yep, that's pretty much just a vagina. Thanks for that.

"Can you unzip me" isn't as classy when the zip is on the front.

Seriously now! You can pretty much just print this out and have sex with it.

Ok, you know what? I'm going home now and putting on more clothes. After a shower.

A Collection of Oddities

If I didn’t have a tendency and honest love of living in itty bitty spaces requiring hyper-organization and detachment from cluttering trinkets, I’d probably hang onto a lot more of the oddities I’ve stumbled upon in my days.

A couple of years ago I worked in a bubblegum factory. That isn’t relevant to anything, but people often find it amusing. Anyways, I was leaving the factory early one morning, a bit dreary after my twelve-hour shift under fluorescent lighting, weaving down the sidewalk towards the bus stop. I cursed this bus stop as I went. My downtown address had acclimatized me to instant transportation, and I was not at all thrilled to have to schlep my way out to bus-only land to work a night job. By the time I reached my stop though, I was glad to have been working overnight and not amongst the car pieces still scattered all over the road. The accident must have been early in the night because there was no sign of anyone, or even the car itself. No crime tape, no cruisers, no investigation, no nothing.

So I picked up a few of the remnants; a bolt here, a bulb there, a piece of taillight and scraps of acrylic whatnot. I cleaned them and kept them in a jar, thinking they might be good for an art project. A year later while in school for professional makeup, I glued them to a girls face for an edgy applique look – and promptly forgot to take pictures. It turned out pretty good, even though my instructor didn’t always approve of my tastes (he preferred ‘pretty’ looks) and assumed the weight of the objects would peel them right off her face before I could finish. Good thing for that surgical adhesive is all I can say.

Then there was that deformed single-serve creamer that fell out of the box as I refilled the tray in the kitchen a few months ago. It’s intact foil-sealed lid covered not a hollow pocket for liquid, but rather gave way to an odd corkscrew of plastic. Clearly churned out of the machine on the quality inspectors day off, this thing looked vaguely inappropriate in about six different inexplicable ways. Talea and I studied it, flipping it over on the desk and poking at the foil, not speaking our individual hypothesis as to its potential uses for fear that each of us had a far dirtier mind than the other suspected. Instead we settled for a rounding fifteen minutes of Beavis-and-Butthead style snickering.

It might still be at the bottom of one of her desk drawers somewhere, but if I had a trinket box it would definitely go in.

weird plastic deformed possible sex toy thing?

Uhh...wait, what?

Since work is where I spend most of my time these days, it would follow that most of the oddities I’ve discovered recently have been happened upon at the office. None have been so exciting as car pieces or possibly-sexy dairy products, but there’s been a few head-scratchers.

There was that blue sucker I found stuck to one of the picture frames, back when we had a rowdy group of hoodlums calling themselves clients wandering around and making a shit hole out of my kitchen. (It may be the corporation’s office, but I’m the one fist deep in their ungrateful dishes, that is MY goddamned kitchen.) I peeled it off, wiped the goo, and marveled at it for a bit before chucking it in the trash. Fascinating in its irreverence for common decency, and historical in that it’s probably the grossest and saliva-iest thing I’ve ever had to peel off anything (keep in mind I used to work in a daycare, and even those tots had more sense of where to keep body fluids), I still wouldn’t want to keep it in a trinket box.

Mmm...sticky.

(Couldn’t find a pic of blue lollipops, but found this from bakerella.com. I’m sure they’re delicious and not at all saliva-ey.)

Today’s discovery was surprisingly less gross despite it’s vast, VAST amounts of thankfully untapped gross potential. The only reason it remains lower than the lollipop on the yuck-scale is because it was found still in its original packaging. A relieving fact at first, but later leading me to hope that its intended wearer also remained in his original packaging, as well as untapped, at least while on the premises.

Yep, just casually wandered into the kitchen this morning, chatting it up with clients and coworkers, none of whom seemed to acknowledge the strangely commonplace yet clearly out of place object nonchalantly placed on the table. I likewise ignored it, and then quickly snatched it up as soon as the room was empty, lest other innocent passerby stumble upon it and be forced to play the same game of ‘I don’t see that, do you?’

So far nobody has brought it up or asked about it, and I’m pretty glad. Because I, like them, haven’t a clue as to where it came from. And really wouldn’t want to know.

Definitely not one for the trinket box.

Happy Not-So-New Year

Have you noticed winter kicks my ass much? As soon as the temperature drops, my brain seems to freeze along with the pipes, and it becomes a struggle just to roll my unmotivated and generally winter-blah’d self off the futon first thing in the morning. It’s dark when I get up, it’s dark when I get off work; it’s cold, slushy, and all around miserable. Fuck winter, man. Fuck it.

The only good thing about winter so far was that I flew south to spend Christmas with Josh. Unfortunately, that merriment ended as soon as my return flight touched down in Buffalo – in the middle of a blizzard. But wait, it gets better.

One delayed hour on the frozen tarmac later, I shoved my way past throngs of snowbirding elderly (who should NOT be allowed to travel with ‘carry-ons’ they can’t lift out of the overhead compartments without assistance), ELEVEN people blocking the aisles waiting for wheelchairs, three screaming toddlers and a fat guy with a cat. My luggage took even longer. I was also starving, having only brought ten dollars for travel-food without realizing that a 9am airport breakfast of yogurt and O.J. would cost eight bucks (you’d think I’d have this figured out by now, it being my third trip), or that all the delays would bring me well past 4pm before I could get to a bank machine. Said bank machine promptly rejected my card. Turns out the last machine I had used before my vacation was of the sketchy variety, and my card had been frozen as protection against card copying fraud. In retrospect, I’m quite grateful – but try telling that to me when I’m starving, tired, and pissed.

Good thing my mom was there to pick me up, or I might have kicked something and broken toes again. She had agreed to drive me to/from Buffalo since it’s loads cheaper to fly within the U.S. than across the Can-Am border. It’s also not that long of a drive, and we’ve got fun family along the way, so she was happy to oblige. She’s also got better luck with technology – her bank card worked just fine, so off we left with a few extra bucks and the intent of stopping for a quick bite to eat before hitting the border.

And then we got outside. Ohhhh, the outside.

I’m not going to describe the outside. But it looked something like this:

static snowstorm

got snow?

And sounded something like this:

What exit do we take? Nine, nine, the map says nine. Yeah, but where is nine? I don’t know, I can hardly see anything! Oh my god, it’s getting worse! This isn’t safe, we need to pull over! I can’t see the road! There is no over to pull to! Just watch the signs, can you see them!? I’ll lean my head out the window – ack, blargh, spit, cough! – I think that’s exit…three! Exit three! So we still have…crap, a long ass way to go. Shit, this is a total white out, I can’t even see the car in front of me! From now on trips to Buffalo are only for good weather! This is so not safe, this is SO! NOT! SAFE! I think that’s a truck up there, careful. Is that a truck? I think that’s a truck. Oh fuck, that’s a truck! It’s on it’s side, it’s flipped! Swerve, swerve!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!

Soooo, yeah. That sucked. By the time I got home and into bed I was already counting down until my next vacation.

On the plus side, Southwest Airlines gave me a spiffy credit for the whole ordeal, enough to cover a flight! Totally worth the hassle, I’d say, especially since within-US flights not around Christmas are pretty reasonably priced, so as soon as I’ve got time saved up at work again I’m getting my ass back on a plane.

In the meantime, here’s some highlights from the holidays:

kiss love woot!

Lovin' up on my man.

manly construction

Josh being manly with his tools. Haha. Tools.

dogs rage against the removal of the carpet

The dogs were less than thrilled with the decision to reno out the carpeting.

dog wood flooring

New wood floors are confusing!

rad kitchen friends

Visiting rad friends in their rad kitchen

the puppy and the boyfriend

Not our puppy :(

hockey night in...NC

My dad sent a Leafs jersey down as a Christmas gift - woot!

Scrapbook

Josh took me out to choose a scrapbook for our photos...

scrapbook

...and even helped me put it together!

cute shirts much?

I got us matching paw-holding otter shirts! (Which other than this one photo op, will not be worn simultaneously - because there's cute and then there's revolting.)

What’s the deal with the otter shirts? I saw them on icanhascheezburger as a shirt-of-the-day just before I left Toronto and HAD to have them. So I bought them on the spot and had them shipped down to us to arrive just before Christmas as a surprise! Why otters? Because Josh had sent me this video a while earlier to make me smile:

Nuit Blanche: Installment the First

It looks like I’m just going to have to get used to the fact that every once in a while my laptop will need a vacation from my apparently toxic presence.

A few weeks ago I was sure it was dead – not just “oh here we go with it’s quarterly crash, better set aside a few hours this weekend to reformat it”, but full on “holy crap, reformat isn’t even an option on the startup menu anymore – and is that the blue screen of death? OH CRAP EVEN THE BLUE SCREEN CANT LOAD!!!NOOOOO!!!STOP MAKING THAT NOISE!!!” sort of dead. So off it went to my geekiest friend for her professional opinion. It seemed a lost cause, a victim of my apparent EMP genetics as well as succumbing to hard usage – too many long,  motherboard-fryingly hot hours of webcamming and multitasking is more than this little thing was built for. The verdict? “It just sort of works when it wants to now.”

Well apparently it wants to now, having taken a few weeks off. But rest assured I will never buy a new laptop again – a year max is apparently all I can squeeze out of these things. So for now I’ll web when I can, avoid leaving it on overnight, and await the next inevitable tantrum. If I disappear again, you’ll know this machine has suffered a swift, Office Space-esque death at the hands of whatever blunt instrument is most handy.

Anyways! Here’s what I’ve been meaning to talk about all this time, but instead may as well have been hanging out in a soggy, webless cardboard box.

Nuit Blanche! Yes, it (was) that time of year again when Toronto busts out with its free, all-night, contemporary art ‘thing’. Birthed in either Paris, St. Petersburg or Berlin (apparently there’s still somewhat of a bitchfest over its origins), it has spread to the worlds cultural centres as a means of artistic expression, both individually and en masse, themed social gathering, and urban identification. In layman’s terms: look how cool we are.

Last year was an unplanned, last minute tagging along to a series of fantastic albeit sometimes inexplicable installments, with poor caffeination/sleep logistics resulting in an early night. Anytime prior to midnight is a poor showing for an event lasting until sunrise, and frankly I was annoyed at myself for lack of planning.

This year was different! I went on my own, plotted ahead and mapped my course, determined to catch everything from the Inuit film festival at the Habourfront Centre to the peep show tent in the Casa Loma stables. Unfortunately the whole shebang is now so popular that many of the exhibits had lineups over an hour long. And so, I was forced to whittle in the moment, having to quickly choose between secret waterfall gardens and giant bouncy wedding cakes, post-apocalyptic tribal installments and giant pools of vodka. In the end some choices were good, some choices were blah, but I’ll let you decide for yourselves with a look at what I saw and a list of what I missed.

Here’s the first dose, just steps away from my door and through the annex, on my way to the subway through the core. Filled with museums, institutions, and galleries, my own back yard made for an interesting start.

First up! ‘Through a Glass Darkly’ at St. Thomas Anglican Church featured an interesting co-display of religious environment and song, set to the background of Galilean artifact, intended to draw visitors into the dynamic between science and soul. Or something like that.

Next we had ‘Where Have You Been In These Shoes?’, a collaboration with Diaspora Dialogues at the Bata Shoe Museum. Basically you got to walk in, have pictures taken of your shoes, tell random passerby a story about where you’ve been in them, and have on the spot poetry created by dialogue artists to share your experiences with the crowd. The display grew as the night progressed and more participants added their shoes and stories to the collection.

‘Music Inside Out’ was a ton of fun. Crowds wandered through the ornate entrance to the Royal Conservatory of Music, down the lush gardens to the newly added Telus Centre for Performing Arts, contrasting the old world look of the original building with the modern glass structure lit up in neon for Nuit Blanche.

There were a number of installations here, but my favourite was the haunted piano. It was nothing highly advertised, no signs pointed the way, just an unobtrusive volunteer who would tug at your sleeve as  you passed an elevator, inviting you to go on up – by yourself of course – to take a look. The elevator doors opened to an empty rotunda, a dark ballroom at the end of the hall with eerie music floating quietly, and you had to walk alone through the room to see the keys operating themselves in a disjointed, arythmic song.

Next up was the Institute for Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum. The ROM recently underwent a somewhat controversial addition of a crawling, crystalline structure to the more traditional architecture of the main building. Many think it an eyesore, but I happen to like it.

The lineup, however, was not so enjoyable. At least the surroundings outside and on the way in were entertaining.

The installment here was a display of photos from the years of Vanity Fair 1913 – 2008, opened to the public with waived admission for the nights event. It was nice, but not worth the hour long lineup – I had more fun outside than inside! I didn’t personally take any pictures of the photos themselves because it seemed discouraged, but here’s a look from others’ points of view.

image from blogto.com

image from styleblog.ca

Since I spent so much time here, I decided to skip the ‘Overture to Parallel Nippon’ at the Japan Foundation across the street. Apparently it was some sort of architecture fest mixed with sound and visual, and it seemed like quite a party from across the street. But as for me, I headed down into the subway at this point, at the renovated Museum station, southbound for the downtown core.

Next up – City Hall, Yonge Street, the Financial District, and the busiest hours of the night!

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