Friday, May 28, 2004

I Say Umbrella, They Say Brolly

Summer is over here in Belfast. It's pissing rain.

Walking from the bus to the office this morning, I made a decision.

I have now lived in the UK - on and off - for about 17 months and I have yet to own a very important piece of equipment.

It's time to buy a "brolly".

When we left Canada, D's mom bought us these AMAZING raincoats. They were perfect for our first batch of travel around France, Spain and Portugal - especially when we found where the "rain in spain" does actually fall - not sure if it's "the plains" but when we were in Cordoba, it didn' stop. But I digress...

Living in Leeds, we were able to use the raincoats for the shower days. In an effort to save money and cut down on the number of items we were collecting, we did not buy a "brolly" because we had our lovely raincoats.

(I might add here as a side note that we were stupid enough NOT to pack them this time. I was more concerned with the number of fancy tops then I was with how to keep dry in one of the wettest parts of the world)

We did look a bit "scabby" from time to time, I think, as when you're out with people dressed up for a night out, your bright blue, vortex rain jacket just really doesn't seem to go with anything.

But for those times when the coats would be a bit too woodsy, we just did what everyone else seemed to be doing - tough it out.

Just walk in the rain because you can be sure it will only be a small shower and since when did anyone in Leeds plan their outfits around the weather? Halter tops in December no problem. But I digress...again...

This morning, however, seemed to be the last straw for me. It's not that it was any wetter or colder than anywhere else. It was just that since I can justify spending money on drinks out, I can at least justify something to keep me dry.

Perhaps I will look like a fish out of water or a sissy here in tough-wet land but I'm happy to look like a foreigner if the hair I spent 30 minutes straightening LOOKS like I did instead of a wet rats nest.

All for fashion.


A creative side note - I attended a book reading evening with a host of Belfast and Northern Irish authors last night.

What a rush. Hearing people read their own words motivated me beyond belief. I can't describe all the emotions I was going through last night. I hope to write more about it later.

In addition to my little book, I feel this will be an extremely creative weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The New Palm Top

When I got my first "real job" out of university, I decided to treat myself and bought a Palm Pilot. My funky boss - the late Thea - had gotten herself one and I was so excited about all the cool things it could do, I just HAD to have one.

And it wasn't just the calendar and the contacts and the fact that you could BRING YOU COMPUTER DETAILS WITH YOU!! It was also the writing possibilities.

I used to use the Notes feature to transfer work from my work computer to my home computer. I could just as easily emailed it to myself but really, would that have been as fun?

I had often imagined myself using it for a more creative purposes - sitting on a park bench with a strong Starbucks coffee or Second Cup coffee, strength number 4, watching the world go by and recording it all using not a pen and notebook but a stylus and a Palm screen.

It got even better when I discovered that Palm(R) made a mini keyboard that folded up to the same size of the Palm. I would have no excuse about writing now.

The novelty - as it eventually does - wore off. I never did sit in a park and do any writing. In the end, that Palm is somewhere in a box in storage.

Lately, I've been thinking about getting a tape recorder, so that when thoughts enter my mind, I could speak them directly into it.

I often find myself in a moment - and to be honest, it's usually in a bar when I'm all glassy eyed - but I think of these things, words, concepts and I want to get them down. A tape recorder would do wonders.

But the cost is just not justifiable right now. I have enough trouble with my CFO when I try to buy a face cream let alone buy an electronic device which is for me only.

So, I had doomed myself to being left without any method of expressing my creativity.

It suddenly struck me that all I needed was a little book and pen. How did Shakespeare do it? Mary Shelley? James Joyce? all the great artists and creative types certainly were able to get by without technology.

Technology had made me an idiot. How had I not thought of this and why did I think I needed to further my tedonitis by making sure I had something to type on whenever the mood struck?

On my birthday when I was wandering the stationary shop, I found it.

And there it was. This lovely little book with an orange promotional band, claiming historic users such as Van Gogh created their masterpieces in these books.

It was called the Moleskin notebook. And I wanted one. Except, not for £30. Were they serious? For a cute little book that has inspiration written all over it? Who would pay that kind of money?

Oh, but it was SO PERFECT.

But I walked out of the shop, promising myself that when I got the better writing job I would most defnitely get one.

And then it arrived.

A day after my birthday but the best late present I've ever gotten.

My little sister C bought me a Moleskin notebook.

And she attached a note that said "For those times you can't blog". How she knew that's what I was looking for I'll never know.

I had never seen this book or mentioned it until the day before I received it and somehow, she knew I would LOVE my present - she told me so in an email.

Perhaps she didn't know how much I'd love it. Now she will.

Talk about karma or connections or just plain sisterly intuition.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Beautiful Biscuits

Sitting in a meeting today, I was surprised to be interrupted by a fellow co-worker to find out "what we wanted for tea?". I can't imagine a Canadian company employee stopping a meeting for that.

Here, they take their "tea time" a bit more seriously.

First faux pas - tea time is not actually tea for many people it is actually "dinner" or "supper" or the "evening meal". If you have someone tell you they will "call round" at "tea time" this is not for a warm drink, it is for warm food.

So, they would be called "tea breaks" or at least that's what I
always hear and what will continue to call them throughout today's entry.

Tea breaks are an important part of breaking up of the day. The
morning one, affectionately referred to as "elevensies", happens
around 11 a.m. In the afternoon, it's usually around three and there doesn't seem to be a clever name for it.

In our offices, we all take turns getting each other a drink. With the machine upstairs, all it takes is a tray, some yellow sticky notes and the corresponding numbers to get everyone their drink.

Mostly it's 32s - which are teas - but you will get the odd 10 -
coffee with white power and sugar - or a 12 - coffee with white
powder and no sugar - and very rarely, a 50 - cappuccino.

It's a very soothing time of day. Everyone seems to be quite good at making sure no one does the chore too much or too little. And you get a good feeling when you know it's time. Someone will come to your desk and make sure they have your number. It's like a community drinking thing.

And, once the drinks are prepared, and brought back down from the kitchen two floors up, the most important part of the "tea break" occurs.

The circulation of "biscuits".

I would call them "cookies". So would most people in North America but over here, they are "biscuits".

And someone - usually the same someone who has gone to all the
effort to get your drink - comes around with the biscuit tin.

There's always so many different kinds. Digestives with chocolate and caramel, original chocolate chip, double chocolate with cream,
mini chocolate candy bars - which are not so much biscuits as they are chocolate but just as enjoyable - plain digestives, assorted
wafers. On a special day, if someone's been "across the sea" to
Scotland, we will have the most detectible biscuit I know - Scottish shortbread.

Today was one of those days. And as excited as I was to break off a piece and have it melt in my mouth, I was half as eager as the
ladies I was sitting in the meeting with.

It was important not only to take some of the butter saturated
irresistible shortbread but also the caramel-chocolate digestive. I was asked three times if I "was sure?" about only wanting a little shortbread piece and nothing else.

It's a good thing I finally got the gym membership. I need something to cancel out all the sugar goodies.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Flat Ballooned

I always thought the word "flat" sounded very posh. Over here, I heard it used for "apartment" all the time but it just seemed to have a much nice ring to it.

So, when we moved into our place in Belfast, I was so happy to give our address because I was able to tack "flat" at the beginning of it.

I proudly wrote it on all applications. In e-mails to friends, I made sure to write "flat", using the excuse that "that's what they call it here" when really, I was just so giddy to be using the quaint little word.

I am always getting "caught out" here for using the wrong word for the wrong thing. I've written before about the blank stare I frequently get from people. I always panic wondering if it's my accent or the actual word that people are not understanding.

I routinely get frustrated but not in an arrogant-tourist way just in a tired-I-live-here-we-speak-the-same-language-and-you-STILL-have-no-idea-what-I'm-saying way.

But "flat" has always been one of those words I was happy to adopt. It just made my little home seem all that more special.

And I was showing my pride of place when I began to give my address to the lady who stopped me on the street and asked if I'd like a catalogue.

I proudly spelled out my address to her, almost emphasizing that it was "flat" number.

She was such a friendly lady with a sweet disposition. It was the only reason I decided to get it in the first place as I figured she had a quota to fill and it was my birthday so why not give a gift back?

After she filled it out, she clarified:

"So it's an apartment then"

I looked a bit confused.

"Well I guess but..."

No no - it's a flat. It's a luxurious little cutesey posh flat!

"An apartment is in a building," she explained. "We use the word flat for.." and this is where her smile got diplomatic.

I interupted as it seemed she was trying to be nice.

"Oh, well, I'm Canadian and we don't have the word 'flat' we just use apartment for everything and..." I trailed off.

"Well, a flat is....well, an apartment is a bit upper level than a flat. Flats are more...well," with a smile "lower class."

And with a wave of her hand she smiled, proud that she had taught a foreigner the RIGHT way to describe a home. I guess I didn't look like the type to her who would live in a flat.

She wished me a happy birthday and I was on my way.

All these weeks of proudly proclaiming my residence, thinking I was decribing something fancy when it was actually the opposite.

Next time, I'll stick with what I know. Canadian.


As for a birthday update, had a wonderful long weekend, got to chat with some of my bestest buddies, in addition to my mom and my grandma, and went shopping.

Then, a romantic dinner with D. Our 8th year out and still laughing my head off.

What more can a girl ask for on her birthday?

Friday, May 21, 2004

Just Dream It

Do you notice if you wake up in the morning and then fall back asleep, you have the craziest dreams?

This morning, I was getting married. Well, I should say, I was in my wedding dress, preparing to get ready, when I realized that I had not made any preparations.

My hair was not done. I did not have a make up appointment. And I was freaking out.

My bridesmaid E was there and she was all dressed up ready to go. She was calmly explaining to me that this was not a big deal. She had been through it and it would simply work itself out.

Part of me was so excited to think that this was my big day. Part of me was upset that I had missed out on everything leading up to it. That I was just suddenly thrown the day without the highs and lows of planning. (I'm sure there's some dream analysis here, me being torn by my Gemini twins as to which type of wedding I really want - a big pouffy one or a small elope-y one - but I am much more intrigued by what happened next.)

I suddenly realized I was in a dream. I looked around and we seemed to be in this magnificent old building. It reminded me of Versailles just outside of Paris. (I'm sure this also has a deeper meaning as E and Paris have very significant connections in my head - perhaps I want to be there with her? I don't know - anyway, I digress) It was only the two of us who were there. And perhaps that's how I realized it was a dream because where are my sisters? And my brother? And parents?

And so, I decided that I would just start making things up instead of panicking. I simply thought "I have made a hair appointment. I have made a makeup appointment" and it had to be "made so" because it was my dream.

I was feeling everything so deeply as well. My emotions were so strong that it was almost as if everything happening in the dream was really happening.

It is so rare that you find yourself control of your own destiny this way. My dream was allowing me to pick and choose things and they came to be simply because I thought them to be true.

I look in the mirror at myself and I looked great. I had a better complexion then I do in real life, a fitter body and and whiter teeth. And all simply because I just thought it.

Perhaps this is a metaphor of what I need to do for my Birthday Resolutions. Just start thinking it and it will be.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Birthday Pact

At D's first job after univeristy, he worked on his birthday. He came home so depressed that he vowed he would never work on his birthday again.

He said it just felt like he was robbed of 'his day'. That after the initial Happy Birthday was over with, he still had to do all the crappy things that he did every day.

I had never thought about what your birthday means as an adult until that day.

Although it is meant to signify another year gone, a new one ahead, as we get older birthdays should also be taken as a day to do whatever you want - it's your day. The one day out of the year that the universe has dedicated to you. Well, and probably thousands of others but you usually don't know them and they don't know you so no one is the wiser.

And so, I have vowed to do the same thing.

There are so many holidays that we have for many reasons - religious, ceremonial, important people's birthdays - and we take time to celebrate them in a variety of ways.

But there should be one day, out of the whole year, that you take out to celebrate yourself. Just for you.

And it's not that I'm greedy and want lots of presents or fuss, I simply want to spend the day thinking about me, my achievements, my aspirations, my goals, even trying to overcome my fears, my anxieties, my frustrations.

I think this year I'll make birthday resolutions instead of New Year's ones which never seem to last that long anyway.

And then I'll have a whole year to achieve them. An A year.

The ladies at work were asking me about when my b-day was - they do such nice things for people in the office on their birthdays - And when I told them that I wasn't going to be working that day because after university I vowed I wasn't going to work on my birthday, they all thought it was a grand idea.

And so, next Monday, I will do just exactly that. I will have a me day.

I am so excited about it. Who knew you could enjoy getting older this much?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

What is the Point?

There was in information session this morning about a new procedure system they are putting in place here at my work and I had another one of those relfective moments.

As I sat watching the man in the front, with his tie and notes, clicking through his powerpoint slides and pointing with his red laser (which, by the way, could have only been invented by men who were little boys when Star Wars came out) I had to think, what's the point?

Not just about the new system but about the big picture. We all file into work and sit at our desks and tap away on Stuff and is it at all relevant? Or is it just made up because other offices need Stuff that we do for when they go into their offices and sit at their desks and do Stuff.

But I guess the Big Guys at the Top need the Stuff to show off to Other Big Guys at Other Tops and the more Stuff they have seems to help them climb the ladder to the top of the Big Guys with the Most Stuff.

And then there's the sharing of Stuff or Knowledge. Or making other Big Guys' companies pay for your Stuff called Expertise or Service.

But isn't all this Stuff a whole bit wide Make Work project?

Not to sound existential but really, is that why we are here? To shuffle Stuff around?

Or is the Stuff part just what has to happen in order to pay for the real Life?

Well, what sucks in that for most people the Stuff part takes up most of their Life and do they really ever stop to think WHY AM I DOING ALL THIS STUFF?

This man today seemed very passionate about this new system that was going to be put into place. He was really motivated by his Stuff.

And perhaps that's the point. It's not the Stuff at all. It's the Passion.

I gotta find some new Stuff.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Feel the Rhythm

Longtime readers will know of my recently-newfound love for step aerobics class. It's a tough cardio workout, it strengthens all your muscles and it's fun - like dancing.

So, I was happy to find out that I squeezed into the step class night at the busy gym.

The teacher was a little Spanish man who I think was very in touch with his feminine side. He was so cute and smiley. But I was sure his accent was going to throw me off. Spanish and Northern Irish? I was going to have to concentrate on what he was saying.

But, I was ready for the usual move callouts.

Basic left. Basic right. Over the top. Lunge. Hobby horse. Knee lifts. Arabesques. And so on.

"If you have taken step before you may notice that I have my own style"

Fair enough. Most people do. But the core steps are the same.

And then he started. The next 40 minutes went something like this:

*insert any aerobic 4 count music here and play in your mind throughout*

"March. Okay March and step like this".

Like this? Is that what he said? He's bellowing over the loud music.

*cue music: I'm strong enough. To live without youuuu strong enough...*

It's a basic left. Or was that a basic right? He just skipped a beat and changed his feet and now he's bellowing again.

"Okay now, we're going to do something watch my legs"

It was a leg lift. But what was he going to do next? And why was he not just shouting "leg lift" and whoops" there goes another beat..I thought this was a 1..2..3..4.. type of class....

*cue music: It's raining men....halleluiah it's raining men...*

"Okay now to a grapevine and we will go like this watch me"

Ah! Grapevine, yes, I know what that is. But what is this spin? Which beat is it on the 3 or the 4? And how does the count go? Oh wait, he's just missed a beat and is spinning oh and now we're back to the step and..

"Keep going...stay there...stay there.."

And now he's got his back to us. Good. I like to mirror the instructor. It helps.

"And now we are going to go over the step in many steps and"

What? Where did that come from? It wasn't even on any beats? Are we over now? I can't see. I'm facing the confused girl at the back who looks like she'd rather be anywhere but in the gym...

"Over again and around over"

Is he bellowing again? How many beats? I don't know...oh, now we're walking around the step. Okay 6 steps around the step. Now we're going the other way. Okay, I go 6 steps, 1.2.3..4..oh wait, now we're marching.

"Stay there!! stay there!!"

He's facing us again. He's just looking at our feet.

This is too surreal. I'm biting my tongue to stop myself from giggling in embarassment. Is he for real? I've never claimed to have the best rhythm but what is with spoken over 2 and a half beats? And now oh, what is he doing with his leg?

"Okay okay, now like this"

Are we in Fame?

*cue music: I'm going to live forever. I'm going to learn how to fly Fame!*

His leg is looking slightly like a lazy arabesque but I'm not quite sure I can copy it. I'll do an arabesque. Perhaps if he doesn't focus on you he won't realize you have abandoned his odd move. Wait. He saw you. He's copying you now. I'm self conscious. Have I become the teacher? Stay focused.

"And 3 more and then we will go like this watch me..."

Wait! WE HAVEN'T DONE THREE MORE! Oh dear, now what?

More marching. And then a grapevine-spin thing. And now a step turn thing. And more marching.

I'm mentally exhausted. Not feeling any physical pain but between concentrating on his crazy moves and not bursting into laughter, my brain is going to explode.

"Great job ladies good. now, lie on your backs on the step"

Ah, stretching. Oh wait, no sorry, some sit ups first. Oh and now the stretching.

What? What is that move? When did this turn into intense yoga class? My forehead is on the step with my right leg up in the air and my left foot bent supporting it while my arms are at the sides of the step, holding me up? Where is the relaxing stretch? Is anyone else even trying this?

Oh, I've caught another girl's eye. She giving me a raised eyebrow look and it's all over. The giggles are about to hit. Control. Think of dead people. Think of painful sores. Think of your head in a vice grip.

And it's finally over. Clapping his hands and beaming his smile.

"So this is my class and I will be here every week and every week you will learn something new and so we see you next week!"

I nod enthusiastically.

Oh dear. I'll need to work out beforehand. And find a vice grip.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Get in Gear

Get in Gear

I'm doing it again. Procrastination is getting the best of me and it is also getting me down.

I can't believe I'm going to admit this. It's almost easier to have it in my head. But I figure if I post it out then perhaps I will be further inclined to get my butt in gear.

Am I kidding myself? I don't know but here I go.....

I have not yet sent out anything to prospective employers. I have researched. I have called for email addresses. I have written and rewritten letters and resumes. I have browsed websites. I have read the magazines.

I don't know why I do this. I have been like this my entire life, I'm just not sure that I can tell you when it began. But it seems, whenever I really want something, I can always find a reason to not take the biggest step.

In fairness, I do honestly feel that I am preparing myself for the dream job. I am researching so I score in the interview.

I could not do any more prep work. I need to just send them off. Get them out. Before I get *stuck* doing something that is just *okay*. That *will do*.

That was not the point of this exercise, this quitting-okay-job-move-to-Europe to then work-at-other-*okay*-job.

I feel better having written that down. And I will send something today. I have this blog for pressure.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

A New Beginning

A New Beginning

It's almost a week until my birthday and so I decided to have a bit of a spring cleanup.

That, and Blogger posted all these new templates that I liked so that's as good a reason as any.

I have been blogging now for 2 years. It's seems like longer. But so does everything here for me lately.

While thinking on the bus...

To my Fellow Irish-people - as I do have a passport and also, I live here so I consider us to be "fellows".

When I say "Have a nice day" I really mean for you to Have a Nice Day. I am not being fake. I'm am not being "American" as you like to call it. I am simply being polite. Continuing to use the manners that I was brought up with. Wishing to pass along good thoughts and tidings to my fellow-people in the hopes that I can brighten their days.

And you can be sure, you won't get any sympathy from me if you start mocking the phrase.

When I say "Thank you very much" I really mean I do appreciate it. I do not mean for you to look at me with a blank shocked stare as though I've asked you to take your pants off. I mean "thank you very much". For taking the time to pack my grocery bag. For giving me proper directions to a place I'm looking for. For letting me walk by you in the cramped hallway. Please stop staring at me like I'm from out space

To my fellow North Americans - because even though we Canadians do our best to be different, c'mon now, there are A LOT of things we do the same.

When you say "Have a nice day" please MEAN IT. There's a whole culture over here that has the idea the whole phrase is code for "you're a big loser and i'm patronizing you".


When you say "Thank you very much" also MEAN IT. A Thank you Very Much is supposed to brighten someone's day, not as a snarky remark as though you are unsatisfied with the service.

Just a girl helping two sides communicate. Guess I've come to the right city.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Most mornings, I fill my time on the bus by reading a book. The ride tends to be between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on which bus you take and what time you leave. Usually I'm happy for the time - especially if I'm really enjoying my book. (I'm reading the Da Vinci Code at the moment and am REALLY enjoying my book)

And occasionally, as I sit, perched in my favourite bus seat, my eyes will wander out to the sidewalk, watching the people walking into the centre as I'm going out.

Today, I shared a moment with a young lady and she didn't even know it.

She was dressed in a convenience store outfit with a fleece overtop to keep her warm on her walk.

She had her brown hair tied back, with little or no make up on but a great clear complextion. Probably in her early twenties.

I'm guessing she didn't have children because she didn't have that tired, haggard look that young mom's seem to get. Her face was bright, glowing even and held up high as she strode along the sidewalk.

Her expression was indescript - just that plain, monotone look people tend to get when they are out walking in public and simply want to get to where they're going.

I remember that look from so many places. Subways. Airports. Bus queues. Museum lineups. Train platforms.

People - simply wanting to blend into the background of the urban landscape. Speaking to themselves in their minds as they sift through thoughts of the coming day.

So when this brown haired girl walked by, I wasn't really conscious of needing to look at her for more then a glance. And just as I was about to look back down to my book, it happened.

A grand grin appeared on her face. She shook her head slightly, cocked it to the side and smiled a big smile - to herself.

In that instant, I caught her thinking. About a lover? A friend? A friend she wants to be a lover? A joke her mother or father or brother told her? A moment she shared? A dream she had?

The possibilities of the thought were endless. What could it possibly be?

So many times during the day we have emotions that occur simply from thoughts that we have. No one is actually doing anything in the present to stir this emotion. It is merely our recollection of the moment that makes us feel.

And even as we try to camaflouge ourselves behind the stoic mask we wear when going from point A to point B, there is always a chance someone will get a little glimpse into more than just the indifferent face.

It doesn't take but a second to share this type of moment with someone. Because before I knew it, it was over.

The bus was off and the girl was gone, walking in the opposite direction of my destination.

I felt privelaged to have seen it. Like something lifted my head up at the exact moment from my pages to peek at someone else's life.

Perhaps a bit too deep and reflective for the bus ride in. My motivation and productivity must be back.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Fashion Ugg

Fashion Ugg

Is it just me or are fashionable clothes getting uglier?

We are going out on Saturday night for a bit of a big party and I realize that I need a good "go-to" top to wear when invited to such events. I have jeans - which are the bottom-of-choice - but it's more the upper regions that I seem to be struggling with.

D knows the people from work so I'm showing up even more blind - not quite sure what type of outfits will be about.

My problem has always been I am one of quite a conservative nature. The nicest clothes I have will be in black or blue, although my other Gemini counterpart does tend to make sure "we" buy a lot of orange as well.

And you would think, after all this time of having a minimal wardrobe that I would relish the idea of actually getting a new shirt for the occasion.

If the 5 shops I went into at lunch are any indication of what is out there, this will be as enjoyable as getting my wisdom teeth pulled.

First off, everything is pastel - I HATE pastel. Who ever thought washed out colours would be a good idea? If you're going to wear colour - make it COLOUR!! - a nice bright orange would do.

Alas, in the shops right now it is mostly pinks and pastel greens and blues. Pretty much like the baby clothes I've been shopping around for for my friend and D's sister.

To make matter worse, many shirts are striped - not vertical but horitzontal - isn't there a fat rule about that? The last thing I need is something else to make me feel self conscious about the evening.

So, the colours are like puke, the print styles are unflattering and would you believe it, the actual fit of the shirt looking.

Everything I picked up looked like it could have been made in my grade 7 home economics class.

There are no straight edges, but diagonals. All the trendy shirts will fall off at least one of your shoulders.

They have bunchy elastic around the bottom creating a puffiness around your waistline - isn't that the LAST place you want to look larger?

There's cotton tube tops, halter tops and tank tops - all being portrayed as the best night out shirt when I remember my mother wearing them for hot days in the garden.

And you can guarantee there's a fabric belt or a bow or a buckle or zipper somewhere.

It does have that 80s feel, which I heard is coming back and can I say why????? Can't we just be nostalgic about the clothes without having to recreate our youth by making them "radical" again?

The most frustrating part is that, even though I hate these outfits, there are no other options. All of the ladies will look more "put-together" then me.

And what will I be wearing? Who knows. Probably a button down collared shirt that will make me look like their mom. Great.

Thank goodness for jeans.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Pints and Passions

Pints and Passions

Your memory works in weird ways. I had a flashback today of me sitting on the patio at the Red Lion in downtown Toronto, having pints in the sun and waxxing philosophical with my university friends.

We would often go there after class, in the evenings, on the weekend, when it was sunny, if it was raining - let's be realistic - did we need any excuse?

We would sit and chat - sometimes about our lives in our hometowns or funny stories about professors who just "sucked a lot".

Most of the time, in it would end up in heated debate about politics and history. We had so many ideas. So many dreams. And we were all sure that one day, we would change the world.

Just by knowing and having the opinions we did, we figured we could do it better then it was being done at the moment.

It was the power of youth. The endless possibilities. It was those wonderful years between being a teenager and becoming an adult where you realize the freedom of being on your own but are not necessarily having to accept all the responsibility of being a grown-up.

I was always the conservative. I think, in the end, it was more because I liked to be the Devil's advocate, see people actually stand by their convictions, without getting flustered or angry, but by making coherent arguments for their side.

I always believe that if you're going to say something, make sure you have the facts - and convictions - to back it up. In later years, D would ask me why I would always get people to prove what they were saying. I guess I just never made blanket statements and expected people to take my word at face value so why should I not expect that of other people?

My friends would go on about social conscience and liberal ideals mixed with responsible government. Sometimes we would agree, most times not but in the end, we were always just trying to find a way to make it better.

For some reason, it was like we needed to debate. Not sure that there was a debating team at our school but if there was, we would be the Super Agressive Drinking Chicks team and attempt to kick ass with our "enormous" amounts of knowlege.

And then, somewhere along the way, it ended.

It started when we all started to go down different paths. We stopped trying to change the world and starting trying to get our own lives on track. Sometimes, I wonder where some of the ladies have gone. One of them has become one of my dearest friends and I hear through the grapevine about the others but it's not as though we keep in touch THAT much.

After university, I kept in touch with a couple of them. There would still be the odd debate but it wasn't the same. Now, we had jobs to worry about, car loans, student loans, rent.

There was no homework, there was overtime.

There was no skipping first class, there was the 8 a.m. meeting.

There was no flexible hours, there was 9 to 5.

There was life. Real life. Smacking us in the face.

I'm guessing the transition was hard - if I look back on it now, I would have blamed it on something else.

And today, I am happy. I like the way things have turned out.

Instead of "hacking butts" I "get huge" at the gym.

Instead of pints every night, it's a glass of red wine day.

Instead of late night escapades, it's reading in bed by 10:30.

It's different but it's nice.

I did, however, get a pang of "aaawwwww" when that memory flashed in my brain.

I want that innocence again. The belief that I can take on the world.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Two things made this a turnaround weekend.

After much debate - and some luck with a discounted special - we got a gym membership. A little less than two for the price of one but definitely what I was happy to pay for two of us to "get huge", as D says.

It was almost like a dream, throwing my workout suit on, leaving the apartment, walking down the hall, leaving out the main front door, ascending down 9 steps to the sidewalk, looking VERY carefully - both ways - before crossing the street, taking about 5 steps, opening the door to the gym and flashing my fancy gym membership card to go through the turnstile.

It's not going to get any more convenient than this. It is literally like having a gym in your building but better because it's THREE FLOORS with a swimmig pool, sauna and tanning beds.

How can I be so excited? Because I'm getting nostalgic for that amazing feeling of being strong and in shape. Of not being out of breath. Of having less hormonal waves of emotion. Of being on a more even keel.

There's a lot of pressure for the little gym across the street. Hope it's up to the challenge.

The second thing that made this weekend great was the two phone calls I got to make on my landline. There I was, sitting on my bed, chatting away to my mom - Happy Mother's Day again - and then to my pregnant friend.

I'm sure she'll forgive me for pointing out that she is with child as from the sounds of it, she is definitely showing. Wish I could see her go through this spectacular experience. But, at least I can sit on the bed with my Earl Grey Tea and chat to her about it.

The hour seemed to go by quite quickly but I need to restrain myself until I get the bill.

It was not all roses and sunshine, however.

The biggest-suck-when-she-gets-sick is feeling like a piece of crap and didn't really get a good sleep. There is a flu/cold/death going around that not only makes you feel like your throat is on fire but also intense exhaustion as if you've run a marathon.

This may also inhibit me from going to the gym.

Great - like dangling a carrot for a horse.

I guess you can't have it all.

Friday, May 07, 2004

The Road Less Treacherous

The Road Less Treacherous

Outside my office, there is a large four lane road. You must cross this road in order to get to the mall so I guess it's your penance for shopping.

I say large because in Northern Ireland, they don't really get much bigger than four lanes. The most confusing part of driving would be the roundabouts and even once you get the hang of those, you're all right.

Every morning, I must also cross this road to get to work as the bus drops me off near the mall. I feel I take my life in my hands before I've even checked my email.

I have had trouble with this since we moved to the UK - this whole other-side-of-the-road thing.

I have trained myself to "look right", under the instruction on the pavement at many of the busy streets in Leeds. These written word - in white spray paint - we obviously for us dumb tourists. The last thing they need is us wandering out on the road getting killed. Bad for business.

And so, I usually wait until there are ZERO CARS before I will begin to cross. This makes me feel safe.

And yet sometimes, when I hear cars off in the distance, I panic, look the wrong and am petrified I have been transported back to Canada, checking the wrong way and the Mac truck will roll over me in about 2.3 seconds.

I panic, jump, yelp, then scurry to the other side of the road.

They, give out a nervous giggle and shake my head at myself - almost happy to have made it across.

I must look like an absolute twit.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

My Energy Levels

My Energy Levels

All my current writing energy is being put into Mosaic Minds stories.

I have a lot of plans rolling around in my head as well that are preventing me from squeezing any more creativity that I already am out of my head.

I think I am in denial about a bit of post-travel depression. D reminded me last night that at this time last year, we were in the Greek Islands. I felt my heart sink into my stomach. I wasn't expecting that.

I need to remain focussed on the long term goal otherwise I may end up stuck and frustrated like I was 2 years ago.

It's not a place I want to be.

I know I will get out of this slump but there are so many things I want to happen LIKE NOW and have little patience.

Wish I could write something a little more upbeat but at the moment, my brain is sifting through the negativity to find the positive.

I am a motivated person. I am highly enthusiastic. I am just dreadfully afraid of falling back into old habits.

And so, my negative skeptical side must keep me in check.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

A Bit of Sarcasm to Get Me Through

A Bit of Sarcasm to Get Me Through
(concerned that the written word will not project my true feelings, please note that most of this post is pure sarcasm)

I am a neurotic wingnut.

We have met people, had a great evening, made plans for another time and since I have not heard from them, I am panicking.

I am now, automatically assuming, if I go out with people and we set a date to do things, that if they have not called, they do not like me.

I am such an annoying, pathetic, irritating person that the thought of spending one second with me must revolt them so much to the point that they are refusing to call. Ever again.

It is not that perhaps they have other life commitments. Isn't everyone like me? Not knowing many people and going out simply to find friends and hang out with them 24/7?

It is not that people, in general, always make plans and then never follow through. When I was in Toronto I NEVER called last minute on a friend because of work or tiredness or just plain forgot to call at all. No, I never did that. Really. Ask them.

It is not that people don't socialize EVERY DAY with their friends. What do you mean you don't go out with your friends EVERY night of a long weekend and then email and text them about it during the next week?

It is simply that I am a loser and after spending one evening with me, they have decided they have done a public service by humouring me and entertaining me but do not feel the need - nor have the desire - to have to subject themselves to my presence again.

I have been in Belfast FOREVER - is it only over a month? - and have not been able to pin down ANY friends to hang out with.

I have been out with different people on separate occasions and since I have not heard from one of them a second time, I am not worthy of friends.

I am truly hoping my exaggerations are correct. Otherwise, it's going to be a long couple of years. If they are correct, I'm really going to have to nip that "why wouldn't they like me?" phrase out of my vocabulary as it will crush what little self esteem I will have left.

This is not meant to be a whining email. It is meant to be a wake up call for myself.

Just because everything else has fallen into place in Belfast does not mean I am going to meet my *kindred spirit* within a month of living in a new city. Perhaps I have enough kindred spirits spread over Canada, the U.S. and England. One more and maybe my head will explode.

Thank goodness for the telephone. If I can't see my good friends in person, at least I can hear them.



Saturday, May 01, 2004

Not Much

Not Much

"It looks like an older Bob Geldof", D says as we wandered up Botanic Ave to get some chinese takeaway around midnight.

Oh wait IT IS Bob Geldof. Private concert on the big stage at city hall set up for a concert tonight. Pretty neat.

Can't believe that artists actually practice and tune up on the stage like that - we had an intimate and interactive almost with the famous Irish artist.

All we wanted to here was I Don't Like Mondays but the cold was getting to us and we figured he wouldn't give that one up for free.

So we were off, loving our little flat in the centre which allows us to stumble upon famous artists doing their thing.


Done some Mosaic Minds stuff today and I find that I'm all written out.

However, need your help for our Online Outlook section.

Who is your hero or role model? E-mail me or go to the website to find out how to submit.


More later... but perhaps not until Wednesday as I have training on Tuesday and and Monday is a holiday