Category Archives: kitchen sink

two birds

A few weeks ago Mr. asked me how my writing is going. I flashed the least bitchy ‘drop it already’ smile I could muster (although judging by his reaction it could have been less bitchy) and said, “fine.” He got the point. It recently came up again and I decided it is time to address the fact I haven’t been writing lately – with myself, that is. You are only privy to this conversation by the nature of the issue, I’m killing two birds with one self reflective blog post.

Early this year I decided to write. I don’t even know what that means, but it started off okay. I had been chronicling my online dating adventures and my early relationship with Mr., and voicing a few opinions about interesting news stories. But by the end of August it was radio silence and has been since. I don’t know what’s up with that. Yesterday I also realized I haven’t been reading. I don’t know what’s up with that either. Why have I completely abandoned these two passions? And why hadn’t I even noticed?

Theory #1: I’ve been busy.

I have been busy. Between my last post and this one I went to Burning Man, attended four weddings in five weeks, hosted my mother in Toronto, took a trip to California, changed jobs, started going to boot camp, quit going to boot camp, and organized my closet twice (okay three times). Being busy has never kept me from writing before, and honestly it isn’t the reason this time.

Theory #2: I’m working on other projects.

This one is kind of true. Writing for other people is hard sometimes, self consciousness gets in the way of saying what I want to say so I opt to say nothing at all. I’ve been writing a few things for myself, but it has felt forced and I quickly lose interest.  It’s an excuse, not a reason.

Theory #3: I’m happy.

I’m pretty sure this is it, and I’m pretty sure I don’t know what to do about it. Last week I celebrated one year with Mr, things are perfect and get better every day. I just started a new job – I went back to consulting after a year in an internal role. So far it is going well and aside from a few expected challenges of being a new manager everything has been great. Life is awesome, and I’m not writing about it. Why?

Sub-theory A: I prefer complaining to positivity.

Let’s be honest: cynicism and sarcasm are funnier than the sickeningly sweet reality I’ve been living in. No one wants to hear me wax poetic about Mr. bringing me lilies every week or cooking me dinner, or finding countless new ways to be romantic. I could talk about it all day and then some, but it would either make you nauseous or jealous and neither of those is funny. I could talk about work but it would sound like bragging (yes, it does occur to me that this is in itself bragging but I am exploring possibilities right now and therefore request a pass). I love my new job and it seems like every day is another opportunity to feel challenged and share ideas with people who want to hear them. So what else is there? The world will never be short of crazy goings-on, but I can hardly shed my rose-coloured glasses long enough to say something snarky. I find I just don’t care enough to comment.

Sub-theory B: I’m a cliche.

Cliches are true, if they weren’t they’d just be statements and entirely unremarkable. But [insert form of expression here] is therapeutic. Writing is a way to take myself out of my own head and into the world around me, and reading is a way to escape the world around me and exist inside my own head. So now that I’ve found a balance between introversion and living (like really living) in the world I don’t feel I have anything to escape from or to. History’s greatest writers, artists, musicians and the like are notoriously dark and twisted. Many creative types who happen to suffer from mental illness have been known to go off their medication because they feel uninspired. Can you think of a great artist in any medium who is/was known to be all smiles and butterflies and rainbows? I can’t.

I won’t resolve to write more often, or apologize for disappearing. Honestly, writing is selfish anyway and if you even noticed you probably either didn’t care or assumed one of the above. I will continue to enjoy my awesome life, and I will try to figure out how to write from this new vantage point. Because as I close this entry I realize that writing makes me happy, even if I am already happy.

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things you may already know (or suspect) about Canada

To compliment my Queen’s Day post about peculiar things in Holland, I hereby bring you a list of equally quirky things I’ve observed here in Canada.  But you probably already knew…canadabeaver

  • Yes, they love all things hockey and maple syrup
  • Yes, they say “eh” all the time (and they love it when you bring it up)
  • Yes, the health care is free (and also amazing)
  • Yes, it gets really $*&@ cold
  • Yes, there are Mounties – but just on special occasions
  • Yes, they really are some of the nicest people you’ll meet
  • No, I haven’t seen a moose (yet), or a beaver for that matter
  • No, I don’t plan on leaving any time soon

Canada has to be the most patriotic nation I know.  Not in a “God Bless [Canada] and screw the rest of the world” way like another nation I’ve lived in.  But in a “we’re proud of our compatriots and not afraid to show it” way.  It really is an ongoing source of entertainment – their unnatural (or is it?) expertise on all things exported.

They memorize every invention to come out of this great country and you can’t swing a gossip magazine without hitting a Canadian who will point out that Pamela Anderson is from Canada, as is Justin Bieber.

Did you hear they’re making a sequel to Sex and the City? Yes, did you know that Kim Cattrall is from Canada?

How are the Toronto Raptors doing this season? Mmmm, not so good. Did you know that Basketball was invented in Canada?

Where did Nickeback come from? Hey – that was NOT our fault.  Americans made them famous.

Is Celi… SHUT UP!

For some reason, you won’t find much love for Celine Dion, Nickelback, or Avril Lavigne.  Let’s be honest – you won’t find much love for them anywhere, but what a tragedy to be shunned by even their fellow Canadians. Many people are on the fence about Bryan Adams (no idea why they aren’t feeling the love for the creator of one of the eighties’ finest ballads: Summer of ‘69?) and Keanu Reeves (also no idea why – why they’d even consider claiming one of the worst actors in history of film.  The Replacements? Seriously?).

But who can blame them for being proud of Neil Young, Michael Bublé, John Candy,  Jim Carrey, Eric McCormack, Michael J. Fox, and Mike Myers.  Come to think of it, Canada does funny quite well.  My favourite Canadian who also happens to be my girl-crush: Rachel McAdams.

For your viewing pleasure – some famous Canadians proudly displaying their patriotism.

things you may not have known about Holland…

In observance of Queen’s Day, a list of peculiar things you may not have known about the Dutch and life in Holland. Everyone knows about the tulips, windmills, clogs, cows, drug policies, red light windows, and bicycles.  But did you know about these quirky facts?

  1. Restroom Revenue You must fork over cash if you’d like to use a restroom.  You may have just ordered an expensive meal in a fine dining establishment, but if you want to stop in the Ladies’ room on the way out the door it’s going to cost you 50 cents.  You may have a cart full of merchandise you’ve just paid for at a department store, but if you need a potty break before the trek to the car you had better have change ready.  Unless you’re at a high end place that accepts credit cards.  Yes – they exist.  Many businesses actually hire someone full time to sit in front of the restroom and collect change.  This is usually a grumpy middle aged woman (I supposed I’d be grumpy too if that were my job) who is strict about the fare.  If the toll is 25 cents and you’ve only got 20, you are simply not getting in.  Does collecting change from each patron even pay their salaries?  This from the country that places urinals in the middle of sidewalks.
  2. Bunny Bungalows Just outside of Amsterdam in an office park visible from the train window is a habitat for rabbits.  Artificial tree stumps are scattered about the courtyard and rabbits hop between them without a care in the world.  Ask a local about it and they’ll look at you like you’re crazy: where else would rabbits live? I don’t know – a park? A forest?  Seems odd that people go to the trouble of building little communities for an animal that’s not domesticated.  Perhaps this is the mammal version of a birdhouse.
  3. Cinema Customs The Dutch yell at movies.  Not at live performances, at films played in cinemas.  They scream at characters on the screens and clap as the credits roll.  They don’t do this for live performances where the actors/directors could actually hear the feedback – just at movies.  Interesting.

I suspect I’ll always miss my life as an expat, especially on days like this.

independence is a moving target

Yearning for independence is as much a part of being a teenager as confusion over changing bodies and angst over a seemingly endless series of crises. We try to hide the struggle to balance our sense of adventure with our insecurities. We define independence as the ability to do whatever we want. To stay out late, get a tattoo, pierce our nose…independence is about choice.

The lustre soon fades on freedom, once we have it we learn it’s not all we’d imagined. It’s a gradual realisation. Balancing freedom with responsibility defines our character as we approach adulthood. With each new personality we try on we gain confidence, we grow. But to adopt a new life we need the accessories – we’re certain if we lived in a high rise condo we’d be the chic and elegant woman whose heels click briskly across marble floors. If we wore a studded bracelet and dyed our hair black we’d fit in with the hipsters who frequent used record shops and reject “society’s rules.” We can decide to be whoever we want and suddenly independence is about identity.

We wait for a delayed flight with a man our age. He has a few days worth of stubble and highlights pages in a guidebook. He carries a backpack. We carry a briefcase and flip through gossip magazines. We decide we want to see the world, to gain stories of adventures to replace the mundane small talk, to connect with people. We’ve started living in the future (which is an optimistic way of saying “a fantasy world”). Independence is about getting what we want. We work hard in the present so that we can play hard in the future; somewhere along the way we narrow the fantasy down to a few realistic ideas and (if we’re brave) pursue them. Independence is about success.

If we’re lucky, we find ourselves right where we hoped we’d be: living several lives at once. We’re a professional, a music fan, an avid traveler, perhaps even a girlfriend, wife or mother. The realization that we’re craving independence sneaks up on us – we thought we’d found it but we’re back to feeling constrained.

Only now independence is the ability to have whatever we want, and not what we don’t. We have to decide what is important by asking: how do I do whatever I want, still be who I want to be, and get the things I want? Independence is not about need, it is about want; and it’s about finding happiness.

By the time we figure it all out it is often no longer independence we crave but companionship, stability, and love. As the clock ticks our desire to connect outweighs our need for autonomy. Soon we’ll find ourselves back to where we started: wanting the independence to do whatever we want.