Monday, April 30, 2012

Too tired to write my own words, so.....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Juan Valdez never had this problem!

I drive 25 kms to work each morning, five days a week.  You would think that somewhere along this route which includes city streets and highways in Canada's largest city, that I would pass by at least ONE Starbucks or ONE Second Cup (my second choice) but alas, no, I do not.  I pass by one "non-drive-thru" Tim Hortons one Timothy's (yuck).  This is a problem.

Why? Because the coffee at work sucks.  I only drink one or two cups a day and I need them to be GOOD cups, not mediocre cups, or weak-ass cups or tasteless cups - GOOD cups.  There is a Starbucks about 4 blocks from where I live, but it is in the wrong direction opposite the route I take and that would require me leaving at least 10 minutes earlier and that is entirely out of the question because I can barely get out the door in time to get to work when I have to, never mind trying to add an out of the way coffee stop onto my closely shaven morning routine.

I have to come up with a solution.  Today I actually left extra early so I could make the stop at the less than desired Timothy's along the way, and bloody hell, if there wasn't a police barricade on the block it sits.  I kid you not.  I had to detour around the road block for several blocks, now putting getting to work on time at risk and so I thought I remembered a Tim Hortons one block north of my new work that might have a drive-thru that might work but when I got there, it was backed up with at least 15 cars, so I had to skip that plan and just head to work COFFEE-LESS!

Ugh!  Left with no choice but the in-house cafe version of joe, I opted for tea.  There is caffeine in tea, right?  It would have to do.  I would need to main-line the coffee they serve there if I had any hope of even a slight jolt and even then, it was doubtful.  By now, I have started to think, I have spent way too much time and energy thinking about the much desired java I was craving and maybe it was time to just give up drinking the damn stuff anyway.

So, now I am thinking it is time to invest in one of those travel coffee thingies but I have gone down that road before and they always end up getting left somewhere, or I forget to bring it in from the car, or I buy one that is too big for my holder in the car or I end up drinking it all before I get to work and then I feel I did not really enjoy sipping it while I commenced my day in front of my computer screen, checking emails, phone messages and settling in.  You see, it is part of the settling in routine - the coffee. 

My daughter in her infinite wisdom would refer to this dilemma as a "first world" problem.  So now I feel guilty even complaining about this in the first place.  It is like people who complain when their plane takes off 15 minutes late and it will take ALL that extra time to get to Paris now, godammit.  We are soooooo spoiled.  Air travel, being relatively new in the big scheme of things, our ancestors had to sit on a ship for 2 weeks to get to Paris, how would this generation ever cope with that inconvenience. Pfffft!  Like I said, spoiled rotten - every last one of us.

Still, this coffee situation must be dealt with and dealt with soon.  Maybe I need to  map quest some different routes.  Surely one will pass by a Starbucks or Second Cup. 

Hey!  What about delivery?  Now there is a concept.  The Starbucks guy shows up at your workplace with a big tray of coffee strapped on like the dudes at baseball games who sell soft drinks and peanuts in the stands.  It costs a little extra, but the employees are so grateful to have it show up they don't mind.  No fancy coffee drinks, just basic bold grande coffees. 

Listen up Starbucks and Second Cup - it could work.  There are a lot of bad bad coffees being consumed out there at offices and workplaces all over the city.  It does not have to be this way. 

Does it?  My quest will continue.  It may be a "first world" problem, but that is my reality.

Thank goodness.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Elvis for Easter?

I was thinking of heading out for a bit of a hike, but the wind is really howling out there today and I am not in the mood to be blown about.  I am sitting here in silence just listening to the wind.  It is so strong, that it has pushed drywall dust out from under the baseboards in several spots around my condo.  It is a new building, so things are still settling, including that I guess.  Obviously the walls are not 100% sealed and the wind has found it's way in somehow.  There are whitecaps on the lake and now and again I can see the spray of water hitting the breakwall off in the distance near the Port Credit Yacht Club.

I am not a big fan of wind.  Must be my Capricorn earth sign.  It stirs up all that dirt and makes things feel out of control, like the newspaper and plastic bag that just went flying by my 16th floor window.  In any event, it is a good excuse to stay in and write instead of getting some exercise.  I can do that later when it calms down this evening, which it likely will. 

Today is a work day for many but I am off, as is my daughter and she continues to slumber late.  I will allow this, as it is back to school for her tomorrow and teenagers need more sleep so I am told. We had a good time together yesterday.  We spent the afternoon with my parents and we always enjoy our little road trips together.  She brings the music and she surprises me with a  vast range of selections.  I never know what to expect.  Yesterday we sang along to everything from AC/DC's Back in Black to the Leah Michelle version of Barbra Streisand's "My Man" to Scottish band, The Proclaimers hit (I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles! And we crank it up loud.  Really loud.  This, I believe is my middle-aged revenge toward my own parents for telling me to turn my record player down all the time when I was her age.

Besides, when the music is loud and you are singing along, it is more difficult to hear your own bad voices!  The day turned out to have a bit of musical theme actually.  The subject of Elvis came up at the dinner table and Emma shared with her grandparents that she thought had she been a teen in the 50's she would have been one of those screaming fans tossing her panties on the stage at him. 

My dad disappeared shortly after that and went to the basement.  He has never been one to sit still for long so we did not think anything of it.  He emerged from the basement with a box.  It contained a 5 disc set of the complete Elvis Presley collection from the 50's along with a nice book and assorted information - even some Elvis stickers.  It was one of those things he had ordered off the TV years ago, listened to once and shelved.  He handed it to her and said, "Here, take this, I never listen to it anymore."  Her face lit up, she jumped out of her chair and hugged him with such genuine gratitude that it surprised me.  It is not often she reacts this way.  He had found a way to impress her and please her and it's not everyday a 73 year old man can bring such joy to a 17 year old girl.  It was a lovely moment.

He is also getting more and more nostalgic as he ages.  Every time we visit, out come the photos from back in the day.  They are not in albums.  They are completely disorganized.  Hundreds of them in boxes and bags.  This time they dated back to the 70's and 80's.  We all looked so young. Emma was not even born yet.  Hell, I had not even been married yet.  Usually I recognize the photos, but yesterday there were a few I did not remember ever seeing.  One in particular of my mother.  My mother is a pretty modest buttoned-up woman.  Never one to look "sexy".  But here was a shot of her looking exactly that.  Her long hair, her low cut top, her face lightly made up.  I would go so far as to say - pretty hot. (see photo below). She was an attractive woman when she was young.  Not that she is unattractive as an older woman, but she is not turning heads any more, other than my fathers.  After 55 yrs of marriage, that is pretty good.  I think he still sees her as she was in that photo.  That is love.  He would be lost without her.  He drives her crazy.  But they keep going.

I don't know how they do it.  I have not had the stamina for it.  Their generation takes a different view of marriage.  It's forever.  Short of serious abuse, you stick it out.  I don't necessarily agree with that attitude, but it is pretty common old school thinking.  I see it all the time.  Couples who stay together more out of habit than desire.  There is no right or wrong here.  Whatever works for the individuals involved.  Truth and authenticity are not words bandied about with them.  Were I to raise those issues, they would likely look at me like I was from another planet.  Those things are not really a consideration.  If you read Elizabeth Gilbert's follow up to Eat Pray Love, a book called Commitment, there are even fewer reasons in some cultures for ending a marriage.  It is not even a concept. You marry. You stay married.  End of story.

Sometimes I wish I could stop looking.  That path is not littered with obstacles and precipices and leaps into the unknown.  It is sure and steady and accepted. 

Perhaps the reason they took that path, is so that I have a safe place to go once in a while, where I can veer off my own rocky road and rest for an afternoon.  I did that yesterday. 

It was a peaceful break.  A soft place to fall....even if it was only for a few hours.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Never Hesitate

It never fails to fascinate me how one moment in time and the decision you make in that moment can alter the course of your life.  Last spring I was at a cocktail party.   It was quite a gala affair and I was supposed to go with a colleague and at the last moment she could not go.  I was a little apprehensive about going on my own, but I knew it was going to be a great party and I figured, "What the hell?", surely there would be at least a few people I would know.

It was an industry event and the chances were good I would bump into someone I could chat with.  When I arrived at the event, the crowd was already assembled - I was fashionably late and so it was a bit difficult to see through the well-dressed bodies.  I would have to snake my way through the gathered clutches of wine-sipping revellers until I recognized someone....anyone.  There were a few local celeb designers that caught my eye but they were already engaged in conversations and besides, I did not really "know" them.  One of them was talking to a woman I knew, so I elbowed my way into their private little circle and said hello to the gal I knew.  She did not introduce me to her celeb friend, but I was just grateful at that point to have someone to talk with.  The usual small talk - Hi! How are you?  Wow - you look fabulous!  Have you lost more weight - every time I see you, there is less of  you.  Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. 

Once that was exhausted, it was time to move on and go check out what all the hoopla was about in the first place, the opening of a new section of the showroom and adjoining art gallery.  It would give me more to talk about in the next familiar encounter.  It was also a chance to top up my wine at the bar.  The music was live and actually exceptionally entertaining.  There was a band and an old school R&B singer who also had a personality and people were actually listening as well as talking.  I stood and listened myself for a time and was so impressed, I thought it would not even matter if I talked to anyone else all evening - this was really good.

As I stood there swaying a bit to the music, I glanced around me, again, wondering if there were more people I might know.  I noticed a woman who seemed to be on her own as well.  She was leaning against the arm of a modern white leather sofa.  I checked her out from top to bottom.  She was an older woman, elegant, petite, so well put together, she stood out in the crowd.  Compared to the rest of the room, she really had it going on.  She had a confident sense of style, her clothing betrayed her age, yet did not look too young for her.  She was dressed in soft hues of silver and white from her casually draped silk scarf to her strappy sandals.  She could not have weighed more than 92 lbs. soaking wet, but it suited her perfectly.  She was not tall.  About 5' 1" without her heels would have been my guess.  Her hair was short and spiky and silver as well.  The good kind of silver - not old lady silver.  Her make-up was expertly applied and her jewelry was bold and artsy.  I could not take my eyes off of her.

I kept thinking she must have been waiting for someone to join her.  I waited a few minutes, but no one approached her.  She seemed quite content to continue listening to the band.  I had this sudden overwhelming urge to go tell her how lovely she looked.  I was also curious about this woman who looked like she should be in a Vogue magazine shoot for "how to pull off 70 with style".  She truly was the best looking woman in the room.  I followed my instinct to go and tell her what I had been thinking.  I walked across the room and approached her from the side and tapped her on the shoulder, "Excuse me, (she turned to face me) I just want to say that you look amazing. You are the most stylish woman in this room."  She looked at me, a total stranger and her face lit up like a freshly struck match.  "Why, thank you so much,"  she said as she extended her hand to shake mine.  We introduced ourselves to each other and after that it was non-stop chatter for a good 20  minutes.  She too was a designer, owned her own business, loved shopping for her clients at this showroom and we talked about the trials and tribulations associated with running your own business.  We had a very pleasant conversation and she even shared some personal things about her life that endeared me to her even more.

At one point in our conversation I mentioned that I had always wondered what it might be like to work at this place.  She asked me if I would like to meet one of the managers and I said sure.  She escorted me across the room and introduced me as though she had always known me and left me to my own devices and disappeared into the crowd.  For the second time that evening, I was engaged in an interesting chat with a woman I had never met.  She asked me to send my resume to her and told me that she was always looking for talented people to join their team.  At the time, I did not feel the need to do that, but I kept her card and filed it away.  

I owe a big thank you to "Ilona" and her gracious introduction. I start my new job April 17. 

I must seek her out and tell her.

Karma at work. That's how I see it.....

.....and a bit of serendipity.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Prosecco and Crab Cakes

Yup, that is my dinner tonight.  I drove home from my last day of work at my now "old" job thinking, "Shit, I should have made a plan for tonight."  I should be celebrating the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another, but I kind of blew it.  I actually thought my last day of work was tomorrow, but the boss had given me tomorrow off on the schedule because of the Good Friday holiday at the end of the week, and so even I was surprised when I realized today was the day.

I drove home and thought, well, maybe I will take my daughter out to dinner and we can celebrate together, but I also forgot she had plans for the evening, so that was out.  I stayed in my work clothes, still unsure what I felt like doing.  It just seemed like I "should" be doing something special.  It was too late to start calling friends.  I had already texted everyone I knew proclaiming my good news.  Now what?  In the past, whenever I have left a job, there was usually some sort of going away party, or at the very least drinks at the local bar after work, but that was not the case this time.  I was leaving for the competition and although they wished me well, it was not a happy day for them.  Only for me.

Normally when I get home from work, I shed my business attire and slip into something more comfy, usually work-out gear to head to the gym, but I was not going to the gym tonight, so I did not feel like changing.  My dress said party, but my wallet said STAY home!  It was time for the "fridge stare".  Open the door.  Stand and stare.  Nope, not that. Nah, don't feel like that. Ugh, too much chopping. Too healthy.  Not healthy enough. Too many carbs. Eggs? Not breakfast for dinner again. And then I spotted it!  Hidden behind all the milk and OJ and light cream cartons, the salad dressings and condiments, a small bottle of Prosecco that had been in the  fridge since Christmas.  The perfect solution to my quandary.  And wait! It gets better!  I opened the freezer and there were 6 frozen forgotten mini crab cakes in a box that had not expired yet.  Bonus.

Mock champagne and semi-good crab cakes.  I could make it work.  I even had some creamy Renee's Dill and Cucumber dressing for dipping.  I figured I would leave my dress on as though I was really going somewhere, put some music on and short of lighting a candle, I was set to make my own private party into an event. I prepared the seafood painstakingly in the microwave, hit the "that was EASY" button and cracked open the screwcap on the "champagne".  Just as I sat on my counter stool to imbibe and nibble, and enjoy my cityscape and lake view, everyone and their brother started texting me, emailing me, calling me. 

Here I was alone, but not alone. I wanted a party, and oddly, I sort of had one. 

So, let me say thanks to everyone who called, texted and emailed.  There have been many friends and family on this journey with me and I appreciate the support and the encouragements and the congrats from the bottom of my heart.  

The next chapter begins April 17 at Elte.  Come and see me.  Bring friends. Be inspired. 

I know I will be. 


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Saying "YES" to Life

"I didn't follow the plan.  I'm happy to have so many things that I still haven't figured out."

That is a quote from Susan Sarandon in the April 2, 2012 issue of People magazine.  I knew there was a reason I have always loved her.  I can relate.  It is exactly how I feel about my own life right now.  Following the plan was killing me.  So I stopped.  She did it at an even scarier age.  Still stunning at 65, she jumped into the single life 2 years ago after splitting with hunky hubby Tim Robbins, 13 years her junior.  Screw age.  Now she is involved with a man in his thirties.  You go girl!  In the article she admits to a bit of lipo-suction under her chin and eyes and she is open to trying other procedures down the road.  Why not? 

She also says in regards to her "sex symbol" status, "'s really more of an attitude.  Sexuality means that you're saying yes to life."  As a recently more mature single woman, I could not agree more.  I don't feel my age these days.  In fact, I feel great.  I notice the looks.  When I was married, any looks I might have gotten, went unnoticed.  I was not available.  Now, I sense it.  Or maybe they sense my status change.  Not sure.  But there has been a shift.  There is no question about that. 

The other thing that shifts is friendships.  I am someone new amongst my old married friends and I also relate more now to my single friends, some of whom are new as well.  I just spent a fun weekend with two girls I work with. (see us in the photo below) A total of three decades separate us, but what I noticed was that was the only difference.  We have more in common than not.  We all long for love and success and happiness and age does not discriminate in that department.  The youngest of the three could be my daughter, the one in the middle was apparently my daughter in a previous life (I was her father) and we got along famously.  We all had something to learn from one another and that is what is so great about it.  There is a reason these women have come into my life and I into theirs and it is all part of each of our personal journeys.  We may not realize why right now, but the reasons will reveal themselves over time and that in itself is precious.

Susan Sarandon also describes her new single status as "terrifying and exhilarating" all at once and I get that too.  Their split has given both of them "a chance to live a more authentic life".

Saying yes to life has that effect.

I concur.....wholeheartedly.