Archive for October, 2011

Trying Times

Monday, October 31st, 2011

A few weeks ago we got some new tenants in the office.  The are a small group of long format editors and they are a youthful bunch.  (I am not sure if child labour laws are now routinely being violated but it appears that every new hire I meet is about 12).  As I am working out of the office most of the time these days I was never formally introduced.  The other day I was in and I had wandered into the back kitchen area where the kettle and microwave live.  One of the young lads came in behind me to try to locate a garbage bag.  Without turning around I rummaged around and found him something suitable, then passed it back over my shoulder.  He turned and exited,  I followed and, having never made eye contact, I said “I don’t think we have met.  I am Jane”.  He turned around to face me.  And visibly recoiled.

I am trying to comfort myself with the idea that from behind I look younger than my years.  I was dressed in jeans, a hoodie and work boots and I do try to keep myself reasonably fit so perhaps he was expecting someone that didn’t look like the Crypt Keeper to turn around to say hello.

Earlier that day I had made my way in to work from my early morning exercise group and had caught sight of my reflection in a window.  I noted that I looked a bit wan and tired.  About a year ago I attended a make up lesson at my friend’s house and the host had told me that as I have strong features all I really needed to do on a daily basis was throw on a little mascara and lip gloss.  As I rarely wear either item I had immediately tried to negotiate for alternatives (concealer and eyeliner being the two things I do manage on a regular basis) but she was adamant and asked me to at least give it a try.  Which I did. For a few months.

I have never been a great make up wearer.  I am lazy and I thought somewhat smugly that all of my partners throughout my dating history didn’t care.  Then I realized to my horror that I could not possibly know this to be a fact.  Perhaps all of them would have appreciated a little effort.  It isn’t like they were going to fess up now, were they?  I can only imagine “Honey, would I look better with some make up on?” would rank right along side the dreaded “Does this make my ass look fat?” in the extensive collection of Questions You Never Want To Answer.  And it isn’t just make up.  I very rarely dry my hair in the more temperate months.  My wardrobe has deteriorated into jeans and T shirts and sweaters that perhaps have not been dry cleaned as oft they should.  I frequently wear sneakers as I do walk everywhere but the times that a more fashionable bit of footwear (and I have plenty to choose from) make the journey in a knapsack to my final destination and never actually see the light of day is growing at an alarming rate.  And yes, I said knapsack.

I decided that I need to make a bit more effort.  Not because I think it may fetch me a fella (though I doubt it would hurt) but really more for my own sense of self.  I have loads of clothes and an embarrassment of boots. I just need to spend a bit more time putting things together.

I was comforted greatly when I mused about my findings to several friends.  While I would consider each of them to be stylish people who have always seemed well turned out, all of them shared their own tales of letting things slide.  One showed me the under-boob stain on her dress. She had inadvertently rested her chest in her dinner and failed to notice only to have the mark reveal itself like a spaghetti Shroud of Turin on a subsequent wear some time later as she had neglected to have the item cleaned.

The stories come out about the corners cut.  The drunk darned sweaters.  The holey socked.  The stains on a jacket that would not be out of place at a crime scene from Law & Order.  It is comforting to know it isn’t just me.  So I am trying.  Just a little.  During work hours.

Baby steps.  If a baby wore mascara and lip gloss.


Zombie Walk

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Yet another reason to love this town.


Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

I don’t like to exercise.  That will strike some people as odd as I do quite a bit of it.  I go to boot camp and belong to a couple of spin (stationary bike) gyms.  I participate in a variety of yoga and pilates classes.  I walk everywhere.  I can’t sit still for too long or I begin to go slightly mad.  But like it?  Not really.  I just have come to the terrifying conclusion that if I don’t “use it” I will indeed “lose it” and there is longevity in my family.  I don’t want to spend my elder years immobilized and you just have to keep moving to prevent such a thing.  But like it?  Not really.

Today for instance.  I am currently wandering about, unable to raise my arms over my head courtesy of a brutal upper body workout delivered by Melissa, the 4’10” drill master.  I feel like a marionette with cut strings and I seriously hope I am not robbed at gunpoint (ok, I hope I am not robbed at gunpoint for a number of reasons) lest I be physically incapable of fulfilling the request to “stick ’em up”.  This is the result of an upper body day.  I have done leg work outs that have me deeply regretting the purchase of a two story condo with the sole bathroom being located on the upper level.  Many the day I have trod the streets urging myself to try and “walk like a person!” as I lurch down the sidewalk like a drunken Frankenstein monster, quad muscles seized and calves that feel like they have been whipped with a switch.  And yet I continue not only to subject myself to the rigor but to actually pay a not inconsiderable amount for the privilege.

The other day I was explaining the concept of “going to failure” to a friend.  Essentially you perform repeated reps of an exercise until you simply cannot do a single one more.  It is a fairly important concept in fitness, and my friend was staring at me, nodding silently with a look that clearly implied I was due for a long vacation in a padded cell.

What do I get out of it?  I sleep better.  I feel better.  I can eat whatever I want (within reason).  I am calmer.  And I resent the hell out of every single one of those things because I just want a pill that lets me stay fit by eating bon bons and watching documentaries while reposing on the couch.

Let me know when they invent one of those.  In the meantime I will spend the rest of my life chained to an exercise commitment and the next hour trying to crawl into a sweater without using my arms.

Dammit! (An update)

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Lapse time:  0:05

“A battle lost is a battle one thinks one has lost” – Sartre


Al Gorgeous

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Last night I treated myself to a ticket to see Al Gore deliver a lecture called “Our Choice:  A Plan To Solve The Climate Crisis”.  I have seen “An Inconvenient Truth” (actually, I own a copy) and I was looking forward to seeing the man in person.

Full disclosure:  I have a little crush on the Al Man.  He seems so earnest.  As for how true his claims are that he invented the internet and how important he was to policy change I simply cannot answer, but I like the guy.

As for Clinton, I have full on lust.  Saucy little devil.

I understand that they loathed one another during Clinton’s presidency.  Can you imagine the arguments?  Two southern gentlemen, both brilliant debaters, duking it out in a war of words?  Thrilling.  I have fantasies, like I am the protagonist in some perverse role reversed Archie  comic with vixen Veronica Clinton vying for my attention over the sweet devoted Betty Gore.

That was a stunningly bad analogy for which I must apologize.  But it would be sexy, wouldn’t it?

I saw Bill speak a year or so ago and he is captivating. There is no debate that he is in charge and is gently instructing you as to the steps you need to take to join his clan.  If you can wrest your gaze from his enormous hands.  They could easily palm a basketball.  (I’ll let all of your dirty, dirty minds do the rest here)

Al is more cajoling, like the coach of a losing team who is really trying to rally you to join up.

It must be enormously difficult to present speeches like the one Gore gave.  In fact, it must be interesting to be Gore, period. Vice Presidents seem to be given the rap as the poor dumb cousin to their presidential partners (Joe Biden, Dan Quayle etc).  Even George Bush senior was oft portrayed as a turkey in the brilliant puppet satire “Spitting Images”

GHWB was no dummy.  Evil, perhaps (god only knows what he got up to as the director of the CIA) but not stupid and he did manage to shake the rep before he took over the presidential seat.  And then his dumb ass son actually DID managed to steal the election from Gore, a fact that Gore handles with humour and I continue to be confounded by.

The Gore evening was interesting and I don’t think he had an easy task at hand.  There is some pretty complex information that needs to be communicated and repeated and the audiences must be widely varied from country to country.  You have to be convincing without  condescending and be erudite without exclusion.  He did manage to achieve this, although I felt sometimes like he was appealing to a lower common denominator that he needed to.  He is funny, charming and self deprecating and I enjoyed the evening thoroughly.

I am now fighting a very strange urge to revisit my old Archie comic books.  Curious.

Who’s The Boss?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

This is my cat, Liam aka “The House Walrus”.

After I returned home from New Mexico last week I was lolling about on the couch with the kitty when I noticed a long angry raw patch on his left forearm.  I was horrified.  I immediately ran upstairs and checked the mattress for signs of bedbugs as I thought he must have been bitten by something and I feared I may have tracked them home from my travels.  I live on the 6th floor, no one has visited recently with their pet and I endeavor to keep Liam off the balcony and out of the hallway so I seriously doubted it could be fleas.  There were no signs of any infestation so I thought he may have broken into a cupboard and gotten something corrosive or sticky on his fur and had rubbed himself raw trying to remove it. I whisked him off to the vet at first light the next morning.  The doctor checked him over thoroughly and found no evidence of fleas or mites so he started asking if there had been any changes to the routine lately.  I mentioned that I had just returned from a trip but that it hardly unusual.  I have been back and forth to the US many times in the past few years and have left him with a variety of care givers.  When pressed I had to concede that this was the first time that I had not either dropped him at someone else’s house or had someone move in to watch him.  The vet harumphed and declared this as a “behavioral issue”.  He gave the cat an Elizabethan collar to wear, shot him with a long lasting antibiotic, handed me a spray pump to apply to the affected area thrice daily and instructed me to “spend more time with my cat” all the while eyeing me like I was an irresponsible parent.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t buy it.

My sister once described Liam as “the least neurotic animal” she had ever met.  He isn’t neurotic at all. What he IS is manipulative.

Liam is the boss of me and I make no mistake about it.  For instance, he has no interest in people food.  Unless it is mine.  I can leave a full meal on the floor.  Fish.  Yoghurt.  Pastry.  You name it.  He will ignore it.  But the INSTANT he sees fork travel to mouth he needs to eat whatever it is I am eating.  He is very good with his hands and can hook your morsel with astonishing agility.  (Willard has told me this is a wing chung move called “Fook Sau” which makes me wonder all the more what the little bugger gets up to when I am out)

He loves all people and is fearless of all other animals.  When Will and I brought him home at the age of five months we sequestered him from the two adult cats assuming they would try to establish dominance.  When we finally opened the door to introduce them all he walked up to the other two, hissed, swatted them both about the head and proceeded to eat all their food.  This is no shrinking violet.  Neurotic my ass.

Ironically I had spent the day just prior to discovering the wound working from home so Cat and I were in each other’s constant company for a full 48 hours.  I tried to convince the vet that perhaps Liam was trying to establish his turf and I should, in fact, give him more time on his own but the doctor would have none of it.  Point, Liam.

So now I am sequestered in a doctor prescribed cloister with a fat beastie who seems to spend the majority of his blissfully calm life sleeping, farting, demanding head rubs, breaking into my cupboards and trying to sample whatever small meal I have made for myself.  He can also wrestle off his collar at will and seems to do so only when affixing my with a stern feline glare after I have committed such atrocities as rinsing out the yoghurt tub before it has been thoroughly investigated or trying to bar him from the bathroom lest he fall into the full tub.  Again.

If you need me I shall be at home, tending to the needs of my poor beleaguered pet.  Game, set and match – Liam.


New Mexico

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

It was my friend Jen’s birthday at the end of September and she wanted to celebrate in style so she and I headed down to New Mexico for a few days.  I have been through the state a couple of times and really like it.  For one thing the whole place is pink, from the flowers to the rocks to the earth from which they make the adobe buildings.

It is also pretty much empty.  There are only about two million people in the whole state – that’s about half a million less than in Toronto alone.  About 500,000 make their home in Albuquerque and only 70,000 in Santa Fe which are the two places we spent the most time.  It is truly beautiful and quiet.  The food looks like this:

Th landscape looks like this:

and the architecture has this to offer:

No complaints here.

New Mexico is not that easy a place to get to (I guess that would be a complaint, wouldn’t it?).  We drove for two hours to the Buffalo airport then flew to Atlanta and transferred after an hour lay over to a flight to Albuquerque.  About 12 hours all told.  I think the most surprising thing for me was the Buffalo airport where it wasn’t the least bit crowded and everyone was smiling and friendly.  They seemed unaware that A) they were working in an airport and B) they were in Buffalo.

We packed a great deal in to the trip.  The first day we hiked through a couple of National parks to see the petroglyphs

We spent several hours in Old Town Albuquerque shopping and managed to squeeze in an authentic Mexican meal at the eating counter of an ancient drug store.  We rode the Sandia tram 2.7  to the top of a mountain at an elevation of more than 10,000 feet above sea level and over thousand foot deep crevasses.

We had an ever so healthy meal at a picnic table at the State Fair (admission – $3.00) that consisted of pulled pork, deep fried peanut butter cups and deep fried Cap’n Crunch.  The latter was truly repulsive but I am ashamed to admit the PB cups were pretty damn fine.  And that was day one.

Saturday took the two of us to Santa Fe which is a beautiful town if only a bit overrun with tourists.  You have to forgive it though.  All the shops and museums are filled with beautiful things and the town itself is exquisite.

That night we surprised our friend Stacey Bernstein, who was performing her one woman show at the Santa Fe Solo Performance Festival.  She was shocked and delighted that we came, the show was great and we joined Stacey and her family and friends for a fantastic dinner afterwards.

The next day was Jen’s birthday proper and we spoiled ourselves with a night at the Ojo Caliente spa.  It hosts the oldest mineral springs spa in North America and our package included massages and an hour in a private hot tub with a wood burning kiva stove.  We enjoyed the waters and the mud bath and the spectacular surroundings which included a truly charming guest cottage with its own patio, kitchen, access to a private pool and a couple of rugs I would happily have stolen for my own home.

We elected to soak in the tub after our dinner under a canopy of stars.  Utterly fantastic (although I must confess we were both lamenting our single status while bobbing about in our own private pool).

The last day we did a quick shot up to Taos, had a great lunch and then skipped back to Albuquerque for our return journey home.

Whirlwind and wonderful.  I would do it again in a minute.