The Boot Camp Diaries

In an effort to ditch the baby weight, I recently started taking boot camp classes.

The classes take place in one of those industrial, open-space gyms that I thought only existed in my nightmares, and are a mixture of crossfit and pure, unadulterated hell.

Nestled above a Chinese restaurant on one of Toronto’s busiest strips, the gym is a large, windowless box with concrete walls and little ambiance. Across the rubber-padded floor rest various, increasingly imaginative torture devices- from giant tires, to sledgehammers, to dangling gymnastic rings. A thick strip of astro turf runs inexplicably, terrifyingly, down the middle. 

The central radio unleashes a steady onslaught of adult-contemporary hits, and a single metal fan provides the only, pitiful source of ventilation. Near the front of the room is a chalkboard, listing each day’s unique menu of misery. Exercise terms like “Power Cleans” “Weighted Jacks” and“ “Inchworms”  taunt you like creatively-named death sentences, exacerbated by the insane numbers of repetitions scrawled in the margins. 

Needless to say- the combined effect is my own, personal torture chamber.

My general philosophy

Alas- this baby belly isn’t going to eradicate itself, so twice a week at 7 am, Stephen- a fiery welterweight with seemingly boundless energy- leads us through an hour of cruel and unusual punishment while I internally weep and say silent prayers to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.

A typical workout consists of three “rounds”, and although they vary each day, it’s a pretty safe bet that each will contain some combination of the following exercises:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-Ups
  • Pull-Ups
  • Lifting heavy sh*t
  • Some form of Crawling or jumping;
  • generally wanting to die; and- the WORST:
  • BURPEES.

My boyfriend and I (yes, he’s in on this too. Misery loves company, people) have been going for a few weeks now, and we’re starting to recognize a regular cast of characters. There’s the overly-opinionated middle-aged lady who unreasonably believes everyone is “stealing her free weights”, the tatted-up gay couple who are impossibly ripped (and impossibly cute), and a few former university athletes who boastingly sport the swag of their respective alma matters.

And then there’s us. While we’ve run a few 10ks and consider ourselves reasonably fit (mistaken pregnancy notwithstanding), we certainly weren’t prepared for this type of workout. After our first class, we both couldn’t move for nearly a week. (Although, I do consider the time we spent massaging one another’s calves and writhing in pain while watching Diners Drive –Ins and Dives a true bonding experience.)  

To his credit, Stephen, has been incredibly patient and encouraging with both of us; explaining each exercise and instructing on proper form. He’s also been a terrific cheerleader- especially with me.

Guys, I am not exaggerating when I say I am the WORST at boot camp. I am invariably the last one finished each round, and that’s even AFTER modifying all of the exercises. (Don’t look at me like that. I’d like to see YOUr a$$ do a real pull-up).

Given I am competitive in nature and generally think I am the best at everything, being confronted with my own inadequacy is somewhat devastating. It would be OK if I thought I was getting better, but I honestly feel like I might be regressing. Every week I seem weaker and weaker. I’m like the Benjamin Button of exercise.

The other day in class, I was sitting on a giant tire lamenting my inadequacy, when Stephen came over to me. “How you doing?” he  asked “good?”

“Yeah…” I responded quietly

“It’s ok to take breaks. Don’t worry about what they’re doing,” he said, pointing to my fellow boot camp members, “don’t compare yourself to them. Just think about you. If they’re not taking breaks, they’re not working hard enough. I think you’re doing great”. 

It felt like I had somehow been transported into a scene from a motivational sports movie. Like Mr. Miyagi to the Karate Kid- Stephen had inspired me to get up and flip that tire once more- this time with the heart of a champion.

The whole thing was sort of emotional.

Anyhow- I still suck at boot camp, but now when I want to give up, instead of doing this:

I just listen to Stephen’s voice back in my head saying:

… and if that fails, I just close my eyes and think about pizza.

Mmmm. Pizza.

Question of the Day: What is the most challenging workout you’ve ever done?

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Throwback Thursday: 10 Childhood Comfort Foods

I had a revelation the other day.

I was sitting at my desk, eating an overpriced kale salad and freshly pressed cucumber pineapple juice, when it hit me: somewhere, along the way, I became a healthy eater.

kidvegetables

 

This wasn’t always the case.  In fact, for the majority my life, my eating habits were less “disgustingly yuppie” and more “downright disgusting”. I spent my first 23 years  eating any junk I could get my hands on, and consequently, suffering the consequences. While I was never exactly “fat”, I was definitely what you’d consider “big-boned” as a kid.  There were times  I even tipped the scales towards “chubster” or “pleasantly plump”. Let’s just say I related a lot to the book Blubber by Judy Blume, and leave it at that.

In my defence, I grew up in the 1990’s – the golden age of convenience food. Back before zealots like Michael Pollan came along with their “Eat Mostly Plants” ideologies, we all remained blissfully unaware (or at least willfully blind) to the dangers of  trans fats, aspartame and preservatives. Yes, we were free to sprinkle splenda into our coffee and to squeeze packets of sugary icing onto our toasters strudels with abandon!

strudel
M-hmmmm Poppin’ Fresh!

And boy, did I ever. While I’ve cleaned up my act a lot since then (save for Nutella and Pinot Grigio, the saucy temptresses), every so often I can’t help but crave the delicious, processed goodness of my youth. Here were just a few of my favourite childhood comfort foods:

Pop Tarts 

popt

For a blissful two years in junior high, I religiously ate two S’mores flavored pop tarts and a tall glass of 2% milk every morning. That’s what they call a “balanced breakfast”, right?

Pizza Pockets

pizzapock

Canadian readers will undoubtedly remember the epic pizza pocket rivalry: Pillsbury vs. McCain’s. While there has always been room in my heart for both, supporters of each were fervent in their camps. The battle culminated in a 1990’s ad campaign where each pocket was thrown against a wall and measured for maximum splatterability.

Gross? Yes. Effective? Also yes.

Lunchables 

When I was in grade 3, I  started  taking ukulele lessons at school. The best part about it (besides getting to play the ukulele… LIKE A BOSS) was staying at school for lunch. Usually this was just PB&J; but every so often, my mom would pack a Lunchable- the perfect trifecta of cheese, crackers, and some sort of mystery meat which I now know to be disgusting, but was like crack cocaine to me at the time.

lunchables

My love affair with Lunchables lasted right up until grade 11, when during a nutrition class, a guest speaker took out a Lunchable she had kept in the trunk of her car for over 3 years, and it was still in PRISTINE condition due to all the preservatives.

I wish I could say I swore off Lunchables forever after this, but alas- I will never fully resist the pull of their sodium-nitrate laden deliciousness.

Snack Cakes

The Canadian answer to Twinkies and Little Debbies, Vachon cakes were my jam as a kid. Passion flakies, Joe Louis. May Wests- so long as it was stuffed with delicious cream filling, I was on board.


Vachon cakes
Sugary Cereals

Ah cereal- my ultimate Achilles heel. I even wrote a whole post dedicated to my love for the sugary, carby goodness.

Homies

My go-to choices as a kid were Reese Peanut Butter Puffs and Lucky Charms. Sometimes, my mom would lay the smack down and force me to eat regular (non-frosted) corn flakes – to which I would respond by pouring sugar all over them to add sweetness.

Me at breakfast

I am crying into my bowl of organic quinoa muesli as we speak.

Dunkaroos

I mean, if there is a better mid-day snack for children than sugary, Kangaroo-shaped cookies dipped into pure sugar icing, then I certainly haven’t found it.

dunkar

Gushers

Unless it’s these guys.

gusher

These hexagonal delights detonated a wonderful blast of high fructose corn syrup “fruit juice” with each bite. My only complaint? There were never enough in the package.

Hot Dogs

My love affair with hot dogs ran deep. I can’t even tell you the number of days I spent at my window, longing for the Oscar Meyer truck to make its way down my street.

weinermobile

Alas- it never found its way to small town Nova Scotia, but that didn’t prevent me from eating hot dogs  nearly every day anyway. I would literally eat them any possible way- barbequed, boiled, MICROWAVED.

I know, I’m not proud of it either.

As an aside, does anyone else remember this unfortunate, coloured ketchup incident?

Ugh.

Kraft Dinner

Perhaps the most Canadian of comfort foods, I essentially survived my first two years of undergrad on this day-glo orange pasta alone (no ketchup, of course)

 

KD

uhhh. yeah.

Fun Dips

fundip

This childhood snack was literally 100% pure sugar. Eaten with a stick made of hardened sugar. Beautiful.

Question of the Day: What were your favourite childhood comfort foods?

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Soccer Field Reveries

I felt it last night on my walk home from work- that first, crisp chill in the air that marks the inevitable transition from summer to fall.

Maybe it’s the season, or maybe it’s Phillip Roth’s American Pastoral which I’ve been reading lately, but I find myself waxing nostalgic about my days on the high school soccer field, and wishing I could be transported back there- even just for a day. 

I never felt as at home, as secure, as I did at our local soccer complex. I loved everything about it-the smell of the freshly cut grass; the crisp fall air; the gentle clouds of smoke that wafted above from neighbors burning leaves in their backyards.

My memories of this place all seem to coagulate around the fall of 2002. I was 16, “going on 25” as my mom would say (a colorful way of describing my “attitude problem”), and a starting midfielder on my high school soccer team , The Warriors. Like most high school athletes, I derived a huge part of my identity from this. Soccer- my team- was everything. I lived, breathed and slept the sport, spending countless hours at the field at games and practices. When I wasn’t playing, I was cheering on the boys’ team, snacking on watery hot chocolate and 50 cent Cheetos from the clubhouse and huddling under blankets with my teammates to stay warm.

The new soccer complex in our town had been completed the previous summer, and I couldn’t wait to get out there and tear up the freshly lain sod. My newly laundered socks were begging to be covered in grass stains, and I craved the telltale “swoosh” of the ball hitting the back of the still-taught net.

Coming into our sophomore year, my teammates and I were hungry. We had narrowly missed a provincial championship the year before (to a team who wore skirts for uniforms, no less) and vowed not to let the title escape our grasp again. On our vibrant purple and gold jerseys, we had pinned badges with the name of a fellow teammate we had lost to cancer the year before.  Her name became our pre-game rally cry, and she was forever in the back of our minds- “Forever a Warrior” as our jerseys proclaimed- motivating us even further to win each game.

As if this weren’t inspiration enough, it was also the final year we, or anyone for that matter, would wear those jerseys. The next fall, our school would be merging with two others to form a brand new “super school”.  With our futures, both in soccer and friendship, uncertain, we clung to those moments on the field like the clumps of packed mud between the spikes on our cleats.

And so we showed up for practice, every day after school- taking endless penalty shots and running drills against the backdrop of the quickly setting sun. Our coach, notoriously tough but fair, was armed with an intensity rivaling both Harbaugh brothers put together . He worked us to the bone; devoting entire practices to suicide drills, and having us lie on the darkened school library floor the night before important games, where he led us through a series of “visualization exercises”.

All of this hard work paid off though, and after an undefeated regular season, we won the right to host the regional championships at our home field. There was a giant pep rally in our school foyer, and the entire school was let out early to watch our first game. One of the girls on our team had gone to the dollar store and bought purple and gold ribbons, and we took turns braiding them through each other’s hair as we warmed up. It was a freezing October day; and despite the fact that we had sweaters layered under our jerseys, and leggings under our shorts, we couldn’t have felt more like Queens.

We won that game. And every game thereafter that weekend to take home the regional title.  

After that, my memory grows a little foggy. I remember making it to provincials, and facing off against the skirt-clad mafia once again, but I can’t, for the life of me, remember how we did. What I do remember are the bus rides spent laughing uncontrollably with my teammates; the hotel hijinks; and the fresh orange slices someone’s mom brought out at half time. More than anything though, I remember our field- the smell, the sound, the camaraderie unlike anything I’ve experienced since- and the way it all made me feel. And that, I think, is enough. 

 

Question of the Day:

(and today’s Writing101 Theme)

If you could zoom through space (and time) in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Writing 101: I Immediately Regret This Decision

In an effort to tone down the Big Brother PVR marathons and get myself writing and blogging more regularly, I signed up for  the WordPress“Writing 101″ course-  a daily challenge to help you build a writing habit and push you as a writer.  The course kicked off today with the following challenge: 

Take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

Ummm….

I’ll start by saying that the idea of this challenge makes me feel physically ill. I spend days conceptualizing, drafting and over-thinking each blog post I write, eliciting feedback from my family, friends and long-suffering boyfriend before ultimately hitting “publish”. And while I know I make it look easy (AKA: it’s not very good), each word, celebrity reference and hilarious GIF are meticulously chosen to complete the whole, random picture.

I’ve often wished I could take a more “stream of consciousness” approach to this whole blogging thing- to stop considering each of my posts as little darlings, and instead just focus on getting more out there. Often I’m paralyzed by self-doubt and insecurity, allowing completed posts to sit in my drafts folder for weeks after dubbing them not funny/interesting/well written enough to be published. I don’t really know what my problem is. It’s not like I’m trying to get shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. No one has offered to turn my blog into a best-selling short story collection (YET).

I am both in awe and admiration of bloggers who manage to post several times a week. Katie, for example is killer at that. Every time I check her blog there’s a new, charming and hilarious post. Dam*it Katie!! I would hate you if you weren’t so sweet and lovable. I tried once to post a blog every day for a month (last year, in October) and it was, as the French would say, un désastre  complet. I started out with lots of gusto, but by the end of things, I was posting random Youtube songs and long soliloquies about my favourite kind of Halloween candy .

Well- my 20 minutes is almost up (I spent 10 of it looking for that awesome Ron Burgundy GIF), so I guess the secret behind posting regular, engaging content will remain a mystery to me – much like Twitter, and how some people manage to leave part of their dessert uneaten.  

Until next time!

Question of the Day: Do you ever blog “stream of consciousness” thoughts? Or is every post meticulously planned? 

The Complete Guide To Running Into People

We’ve all been there: that awkward moment when you run into someone you know, and aren’t sure whether to stop and say hi.

Your good manners tell you to make small talk, but all you really want to do is run the other way.

This happened to me just the other day. I was walking with my friend when I spotted a guy I knew from university. He was running, presumably with his girlfriend, which I thought meant I was off the hook. I know from experience that it’s virtually impossible to carry on a conversation while running-  just ask those Amnesty International kids that try to engage my panting, tomato-face.

But man, was I mistaken. Homeboy acted like seeing me was the highlight of his freaking day (let’s be honest- it probably was). He waved enthusiastically, and attempted to engage me while jogging on the spot. I didn’t really feel like catching him up on the past 8 years of my life, but then again, I didn’t want to be rude. So I slowed down into a sort of backwards half-walk, and after about 20 seconds, gesticulated that I needed to run. I even made the universal “let’s grab a drink soon!” sign.

Like a bad date, the entire experience left me feeling overstimulated, yet also unfulfilled. It occurred to me then that what the world really needs are a set of universal guidelines for situations like these. Maybe, dare I say, a FLOWCHART?

Say no more!

flowchart

The flowchart I’ve created relies on a number of foundational principles which inform each decision to engage in conversation. These include:

  1. Sexual History (do you know this person in the biblical sense?)
  2. Closeness of Relationship (“How tight are y’all?”)
  3. Location of the Interaction (“Is there time to flee?”)
  4. The likelihood this person will tell others and make you look bad if you ignore them (“Is this person a snitch?”)

Based on your answers to these questions, there are five potential outcomes:

  1. “Don’t even stress” – go on your merry way, no need to acknowledge this person whatsoever
  2.  “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” – Make a U-turn and run the other way. NOW.
  3. “Holla At Your Girl” – engage this person in conversation unless you are a complete a$$hole.
  4. “Smile, Wave, and Keep On Walking” – nuff said.
  5. “Say hi, then make up an excuse to leave”

This last one  is the most complicated. While it may sound easy, making up an excuse on the spot can often be difficult and rife with potential awkwardness.

Never fear- there’s an app for that!

Fake Conver  is a free app that allows you to receive fake calls to your iPhone with the quick touch of a button. You can also choose from a library of excuses in advance- just answer your phone and repeat what the recording says.

Genius.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Or if avoiding people all together is more your style, there’s also Cloak, the self-described “anti-social network” that uses the GPS on your Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter feeds to show you where all your friends are on the map  so you can avoid them completely.

iPhone Screenshot 1

 

And, if all else fails, there’s always this face:

Question of the Day: What is your strategy for running into people?

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Love In The Time Of Shoe Racks

I  moved in with my boyfriend recently, and for the most part, it’s been great. Not only have the number of nights I’ve spent watching Teen Mom and crying into my Haagen Dazs drastically decreased, he’s also teaching me how to be more of a real-life adult. He cooks, he cleans, he flosses…. he even uses that fancy glass Tupperware that only grown-up people use.

I know, back off ladies.

Cohabiting in a 500 square foot space has not been, however, without its challenges. There was that time, for example, when I used the “special TV cloth” to wipe down the counters (SHAME). Or his continued refusal to accept the fact that books are like my children; they cannot simply be “given away”.

The biggest issue hands down, however, has been storage. Specifically, our shoes. As per my birthright as a female, I’ve got a lot of them. Surprisingly, he’s got even more (I try not to be too concerned about this). In an effort to get ahead of this problem and save our neighbors from experiencing the wrath of a full-on domestic, we purchased this over-the-door shoe rack from Bed Bath and Beyond.

The installation couldn’t have been easier- we hung the rack over the door, loaded all of our shoes on it, and did a little high five/victory dance.

We were feeling pretty smug- until we realized the fatal flaw in our design. The rack was not fully secured to door, which meant that every time we opened and closed it, one or more shoes would fall out onto the floor- or worse, our waiting heads. After a solid two days of being pelted by rogue Nikes, we were both beginning to see stars – Sylvester and Tweety styles.

Obviously we needed a solution.

Luckily, we discovered some tiny holes where you could insert screws to secure the rack to the door, so my boyfriend immediately ran out to the hardware store to pick some up. (He literally ran. To Canadian Tire.  Between periods of a Montreal Canadiens game. This story would only be more Canadian if he’d snowshoed there.)

He came home, sweaty but determined, only to realize the screws he had purchased were too big. Dejected, he settled in to watch Coach’s Corner, vowing to tackle the problem the next day.

Since I’m generally content to let household chores linger, I thought little of it, carefully sidestepping the pile of shoes on the ground, telling myself he would take care of it. I even used the discarded shoes as inspiration for this impromptu photo shoot of my Nikes.

photo

But then, I received this fateful e-mail:

Hey babe I’m pretty sure Canadian Tire won’t have the screws we need. Any chance you could  hit up Home Depot on the way home? It closes at 7. You know what we need – a really narrow screw that’s long enough go through the plastic space and into the door. No worries obviously if you can’t swing it.

I took a long, hard look at the the screen. A hardware store? He wanted me, to go to a hardware store? Well, I guess this is my life now, I thought. Home Depot. Shoe racks. Maybe we’ll hit up Bed Bath and Beyond this weekend.  Have a nice little Saturday.

The last time I had been in a hardware store was in grade 6, and I have been trying to repress it ever since. My parents were building a new house and insisted on dragging my ass around for every piece of the torturous process. I remember sneaking off to a quiet corner in the light fixtures department to read my book, while my mom and dad debated extensively between two identical pieces of crown moulding in the background.

Needless to say, I was less than thrilled about the idea of returning.

Since I was late leaving work, Home Depot was already closed- so I googled around and found another independent hardware store in the area that kept late hours. Let’s just call it “Studleys”.

The bell jingled as I walked in the door, and I was immediately overwhelmed by the labrynthian aisles and 10 foot high ceilings- each filled with implements I couldn’t identify if my life depended on it. I worried I’d missed a turn and somehow ended up in Diagon Alley (<— lame Harry Potter reference).I jiggled a few screwdrivers, just to make sure they weren’t trap doors.

“Can I help you?”  asked a skinny, 40-ish man with serial killer glasses and a non-ironic moustache. He wore high-waisted pants and a polo shirt; and bore a striking resemblance to Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, only slightly creepier.

“Oh, I was just looking for some screws” I replied, instantly regretting the “that’s what she said” opportunity. Kip remained unphased. “What kind of screws are we talking?” he asked.

He listened intently as I explained my problem, stroking his chin, and lisping “Yes, Yesss” at random intervals.

Hollow door. Miniscule screws. I could tell from his furrowed brow we had a real doozy on our hands here.

“Well, I do have these small screws, but you probably won’t have the right screwdriver for them.” he mused,  furrowing his brow even deeper. Actually,” he said, a proverbial light bulb going off above his head, “What about double sided tape? Have you tried that?”

“No,” I said, surprised, “You think that would work?”

“Oh sure,” he said, “That stuff is like superglue. We have some here I can sell you”

“No, that’s ok,I uh…. have some at home,” I replied,  failing to mention that it was the “Hollywood” variety, used it to guard against “wardrobe malfunctions”.

“Thanks so much!” I exclaimed “You’ve really been a big help”

“No problem,” he said, interlacing his fingers behind his head and leaning back on his heels. “I just love problem solving, you know? That’s kind of my thing. I just want to help people.” I noticed that Kip was moving precariously close to my personal space zone.

“Yeah….ok” I replied awkwardly, backing out of the store. “Well, thanks again!”

I walked home feeling satisfied with myself. Not only had I successfully entered a hardware store, I had also found a cheap and easy solution. With the exception of eavesdropping on my neighbours, never before had I invested so much energy in a domestic project.

I put my boyfriend to work as soon as he got home, double-sided taping the hell out of that thing. Kip had advised us to let the tape cure overnight, and we awoke the next morning like two kids on Christmas- anxious to check if our experiment worked. We jiggled it a little, and it seemed solid.

Cue second high-fiving sequence.

Double sided tape! It was so simple! WHY had we not thought of this before! Thank you, Kip!

Back went all of our shoes, and for a few days, everything worked fine.

………….Until it didn’t.

Slowly the  illustrious tape began to give way, releasing its tenous hold on our footwear. Soon I was seeing stars again, and found myself defeated, standing amongst a pile of discarded pumps, sandals and golf shoes.

In a curious case of life imitating art, mine was beginning to resemble a prolonged scene from the movie “GroundHog Day”.

Damn you Kip and your “problem solving!”

I began to worry that this delinquent shoe rack was some sort of cautionary metaphor for our relationship. Were we, too, destined to fail? To come unglued, to fall apart, no matter what we tried?

No, I decided. I am not going to go down that easy.

So I marched my ass back to Studley’s- this time with a purpose. I blew through the door, past the walls of unfamiliar tools, and slammed my roll of Hollywood tape down on the counter.

“This? I asked? THIS was your solution?”

“I….I don’t know what that is?” replied Kip, staring confused at the roll of pink and purple adhesive.

“Uh, double sided tape?” I spat “your big solution to my shoe rack problem? Well, it didn’t work at all, and now I’m back to square one. How you gonna solve this one, problem solver?”

Kip looked taken aback. It had probably been some time since he had seen this much female aggression inside the walls of Studley’s. A part of me felt badly; but in my mind, he and his dusty little shop of horrors had become the sole authors of my misfortune. There was no turning back now.

“Whatever, it doesn’t matter.” I continued, “Just give me those tiny screws and the screwdriver I need for them. How much is it?”

Flustered, he grabbed the necessary implement “Uh… three fifty” he said.

“Three hundred and fifty dollars?” I choked, trying not to lose my cool.

“No, three dollars and 50 cents?”  He replied, looking at me like I had three heads.

“Oh ok,” I sighed. “That I can do”.

I walked out feeling like I had won a small victory. Ordinarily, I would have given up on the whole thing; tossed the errant piece of plastic down the garbage chute and lived out the remainder of my existence in a sea of disorganized footwear. Not this time, though. The new, domesticated BreezyK was triumphant.

I took home my bounty, and together, we nailed the rack into the door until it was as secure (and by “we” and “together”, I mean I ate FroYo and provided colour commentary while he did all the work).

Although our relationship with the shoe rack is in a state of détente right now, we’re well aware that this could change at any moment. There are one or two screws struggling to come loose, and every few days we have to nail their delinquent asses back in.

If I were a contestant on The Bachelor, I would draw some sort of analogy here between our shoe rack debacle and the continued effort it takes to maintain a stable and loving relationship… But I’m not. So I won’t… but… you get the picture.

Question of the Day: Have you had any household projects from hell?

 

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When Bad Brows Happen To Good People

When it comes to eyebrows, my philosophy is “The Bigger The Better”.

Elizabeth Taylor, Cara Delevigne and Lily Collins are just a few of my big-browed Icons.

I trace this preference back to my mother, who instilled in me from a young age the importance of a strong brow. I was taught that eyebrows frame the face, and to fundamentally distrust anyone with thin, sperm-like brows.

Turns out I’m not alone. Thick eyebrows have long been thought to connote youth and status; so much so, that in 18th-century Western Europe, upper-class women stuck mouse hair above their eyes to make their brows appear fuller. A recent Financial Times article also noted that brows can reveal a surprising amount about the economic climate. In boom times, eyebrows are dense and thick (think the 1960s and 80s), and during recessions they become thin and highly arched.

Given my strong opinions about brows, it should come as no surprise that I am extremely particular about my own. I go to the same salon religiously every 3-4 weeks where a lady named Gia takes care of my every waxing need. Despite having a club foot and limited English capabilities; Gia still manages to give the best damn brow I’ve ever had. She knows exactly what I like, and always succeeds in perfecting the full but manicured look.

So this past Saturday, after realizing my brows were crossing over into Anthony Davis territory,

I decided to pay Gia a visit. Much to my dismay, however, Gia wasn’t in that day.  “Kim can do for you!” said the manager, “Kim is great!”

This was a conundrum. My instincts told me not to chance it; but I had a party to go to that night, and was really hoping to leave the furry caterpillars taking over my face at home.

“Ok,” I said reluctantly, following Kim into the back room. “But just clean them up- don’t change the shape!”

Kim nodded and smiled. I had a sneaking suspicion Kim’s English skills were even worse than Gia’s; but I had no choice but to put my faith in her.

Within seconds of the first strip, I felt scalding pain. “Ouch!” I screamed “Oh… Too hot?” she asked,

Well, this is off to a great start, I thought.

The next few strips passed without incident; until suddenly, I heard those two fateful words- the words that no girl wants to hear while in the esthetician’s chair:

“Oops. Sorry!”

A rush of panic ran through my veins. “OMG what?? what happened?” I screeched “Let me see!!”

I rushed to the mirror, and was horrified at the reflection staring back at me. Not only had the b*tch taken a full chunk out of my right eyebrow, she had also burned  the skin under my left brow so badly that it was flaming red and raw.

I immediately began to bawl like a baby.

“uhh.. wait right here” she said “I’ll get the manager”.

After what seemed like a lifetime of crying into a sheet of industrial strength paper towel and envisioning my inevitable future as a circus freak show performer, Kim finally returned with the manager, Tina.

“Why are you crying?” asked Tina, a little too harshly; “Don’t worry, we can fix for you!”

Tina took the reins; and spent the next 10 minutes tweezing my eyebrows aggressively; pausing only to snap “Please stop crying!” at random intervals. I knew I was causing a scene; that I was likely traumatizing all the poor girls out there just trying to enjoy their $35 mani/pedis in peace; but I didn’t care. If I was going down, this whole Salon was going down with me.

“There. Much more better” Said Tina. I tepidly checked my reflection once again, only to discover that her definition of “fixing” meant tweezing my brows into impossibly thin twigs.

Also, as a nice bonus, she had made my left brow approximately 2 inches higher than my right and insanely arched. Which is great, because who doesn’t want to look like the Joker at his own surprise birthday party?

Cue second crying sequence.

I literally looked like I had developed Alopecia overnight.

You know on America’s Next Top Model, when Tyra gives girls makeovers and bleaches their eyebrows to look more “Editorial” but in reality, they just look like freakshows?

Yah, That’s what I looked like.

“Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay” said Tina, accurately reading my horrified expression.

“Uh I won’t be!” I responded, gathering my things and storming out. I felt the heat of a million eyes on me (or maybe that was just the third degree burns) as I walked out of the packed salon and home to do some immediate triage.

Luckily, with the help of my Chanel Brow Kit, some trial and error, and a few prayers to Saint Jude (the Patron saint of Lost causes) I was able to make my brows look somewhat close to normal again. (Seriously ladies, if any of you are considering buying this product, do it. This puppy is worth it’s weight in gold).

My friends at the party told me I looked fine- but I’m still not convinced.

So, to recap: not only can I never show my face in my regular salon again, an extra 10-15 minutes of my morning routine must now be set aside for “eyebrow realignment”.

I spend large portions of my days now just staring at my brows in the mirror, thinking:

Thankfully, I found a sympathetic ear in Mindy, the Shoppers Drug Mart sales associate who had been through a similar brow mishap. She recommended RapidLash, an eyebrow and eyelash growth serum which I have been applying religiously every night,

She also gave me a free sample of some anti-scar cream for my viscious burns. So, if all goes well I should be looking good as new in……. 8-12 weeks!

Question of the Day: Have you had any bad salon experiences?

 

The Top 10 Books I Read in 2013

In case you missed my previous post, I read 52 books in 2013.

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I know, I’ve been trying to repress it too.

In all seriousness- setting a reading goal was actually good for me. I spent way less time watching reality TV and checking Craigslist Missed Connections. It also gave me something to talk about at cocktail parties, instead of just standing in the corner, mindlessly hoovering canapes and white wine spritzers, counting down the minutes until I could go home.

I also had the pleasure of reading a lot of really fantastic books…so many that I had a hard time narrowing it down to just a few. 

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But alas- despite being a millennial, I recognize that not everyone can win the prize.. so here they are: 

 The Top 10 Books I

Read in 2013 

1. Middlesex

by Jeffrey Eugenides

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I’m not one to make gushy statements, but this multi-generational masterpiece about a Greek-American family in Detroit may be the best book I’ve read not just this year, but EVER. (You can read my initial review here).

I will caveat my glowing recommendation with the fact that it is a bit of a saga. If you’re looking for something a little shorter/less dense, check out Jeffrey Eugenides’ other books, The Marriage Plot and The Virgin Suicides (since adapted into a film by that boyfriend-stealing b*tch Sophia Coppola).

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by Milan Kundera

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This book made me feel a lot of feelings. 

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………. Which is saying a lot, because I sort of pride myself on feeling as few feelings as possible.

A love story set in Eastern Europe during the infamous Prague Spring of 1968, this book is chock-full of romance, tragedy, metaphors and emo-goodness. It made me want to curl up with a fuzzy blanket, a glass of wine and a big-ass box of Kleenex. 

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3. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

by David Sedaris

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The latest collection of humorous essays by my hero/life model/favourite writer ever David Sedaris did not fail to disappoint. As I mentioned in my initial review,  I was lucky enough to attend a reading of his back in April when the book came out. He responded to fan questions, told funny stories and read from the book aloud.

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What a treat.

Someday I will become his straight, female counterpart…. and no that is not weird.

4. How Should A Person Be?

By Sheila Heti

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If you like artsy shizz and the HBO show Girls, then this book about a young writer struggling trying to find her way in the world is most definitely for you.

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It’s also set in Toronto, which endeared me to it further. Maybe once you read it, you will finally be able to answer the age-old question:

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5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts

By Susan Cain

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Reading this book about how introverts are undervalued in today’s society made me feel empowered and (ironically) less alone in the world.

I even stopped wearing this sweater all the time:

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If you fancy yourself an introvert- even a closet one- do yourself a favour and read this book.  

6. A Hologram For the King 

By Dave Eggers

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This book follows Alan Clay, a middle-aged divorcee who, in a last-ditch effort to turn his luck around ,goes to Saudi Arabia to sell the elusive King Abdullah a new hologram technology.

Think Tupac at Coachella
Think Tupac at Coachella

Although it’s not big on action (most of it takes place in a single room), the raw, effortless writing made it a standout for me.

Aaaand if you’re really lazy, you can always just wait for the film adaptation  starring Tom Hanks. (It’s gotta be better than Saving Mr. Banks.)

7. The Rosie Project  

By Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Project centers around Don Tillman, a 39-year-old genetics professor who is somewhere on the autism spectrum- he just doesn’t know it yet.

Citing scientific evidence that “married men are happier and live longer”, Don sets out to find the “perfect” wife by creating an extensive, detailed questionnaire. Women who do not score 100% are summarily disqualified.

This book has all the makings of a great, offbeat romantic comedy- and in fact it has already been optioned by Sony Pictures. It would make a great book club pick, or to read on the beach for all you lucky b*tches going on tropical vacations this winter.

8. The Last Girlfriend on Earth

By Simon Rich

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You can check out my initial review of Simon Rich’s hilarious short story collection here. Each piece was incredibly clever, witty and well written- like a Saturday Night Live skit playing out right in front of me on the page. Loved it.  

 9. The Sun Also Rises

By Ernest Hemingway

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I feel like sort of a hipster try-hard doofus listing this as one of my top 10, but I swear that was not my intention. In fact, I initially chose this book because it was under 200 pages.

But as I started to read it, I was captivated by the beauty in Hemingway’s prose as he described a group of artistic expats attending the Running of the Bulls in Spain.

I even found myself quoting lines to friends- before realizing how much of a pretentious dink this made me sound. So instead, I just wrote them down in my journal of lame, private thoughts that are way too embarrassing to post on my blog. You know you want to read that, don’t you? Well you can’t! So go read this book!

 10. The Interestings

By Meg Wolitzer 

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The Interestings centres around a group of 6 friends who first meet as teenagers at a camp for the arts in the 1970′s, and follows them  throughout their decades-long friendship. Lives become complicated, relationships become strained, issues of class, money and power ensue, and in the end everyone is richer for the experience. You should read this book IF:

a) You have ever dreamed of a career in writing/the arts

b) You find New York City impossibly romantic.

Question of the Day:

What was the best book you read in 2013?  

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22 Hours To Live

What would you do if you only had one day to live?

In the words of the always profound Sean “P. Diddy” Combs: That’s some deep shit right there.

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Deep shit I’d never had to consider – until a few days ago.

I was sitting in my office food court, eating an overpriced salad and reading The Sun Also Rises (basically being unattainably cool), when suddenly, I felt something sharp pierce the back of my throat. I quickly dismissed it as an unusually rough-edged goji berry; or perhaps a physical reaction evoked by Hemingway’s flawless prose (I’ve heard he has that effect on the ladies). Washing away any residual doubt with a swig of coconut water, I returned to my lunch. It was then that I noticed a piece of my plastic knife missing. A solid two centimetres – amputated right at the tip. Collateral damage, presumably, from a struggle with a particularly tenacious leaf of organic kale.

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I searched frantically through my remaining salad for the rogue piece of plastic, but uncovered nothing but quinoa, chickpeas and despair. A slow trickle of panic began to seep over me as I realized what had gone down:

I had ingested a plastic utensil.

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I felt like Homer Simpson upon discovering he had eaten a poisonous Fugu fish and had only twenty-two hours to live.

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My short life flashed before my eyes. I can’t die, I thought, I don’t even have my own reality show yet.

It occurred to me that I had better tell someone; lest I fall into a deep coma, rendering me unable to communicate my transgression to the House: MD wannabe charged with my case. I shot off a few quick texts to friends and family, informing them of my certain and untimely demise.

In an attempt to quell my now-swelling waves of panic, I took to Google. Although several message boards assured me that it would inevitably “pass”, others provided harrowing tales of objects lodged in small intestines, internal bleeding, hemorrhaging and even death.

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Since I am a pessimist with moderate to severe anxiety, I automatically feared the worst. I could die at any moment, right there in the food court. No one would even notice in the lunch hour rush. The cleaning lady would find me, hours later, slumped over my chair, book dangling limply in hand. “We don’t know much about her,” she would say, “Except that she loved salad, and contemporary classics”.

I needed to snap out of it. When Homer was given his death sentence, he didn’t despair. He quietly accepted his fate, making a list of all the things he wanted to do before he died.

I flipped to the notes section of my iPhone and titled a fresh page “Death List”.

1. Sleep In.

2. Eat Cupcakes (Why count calories when you’re a goner?)

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3. Do Yoga. (If I’m gonna die, I might as well be Zen about it.)

4. Tell my friends and family I love them

And so on.

I quickly took stock of my list. “Quit job spectacularly” seemed a bit dramatic. And finding a life-size penguin suit might prove difficult on short notice. The rest, however, I felt fairly confident I could accomplish.

I spent the rest of my day carrying out the items on my list- eating copious baked goods, clearing out my PVR, not wearing pants. Before I went to bed, I called my mom and told her I loved her. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked “Is this about that knife you swallowed at lunch time?”

Since the Larry King version was unavailable on iTunes, I instead chose to lull myself to sleep with The Word of Promise, a star-studded (and extremely misguided) audio version of the bible featuring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Gary Sinise as David and Jason Alexander as Joseph.

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Confident (and also, strangely comforted) that the last words I would ever hear would be The Loaves and the Fishes as told by George Costanza and Lieutenant Dan, I fell into a deep and final sleep.

I awoke the next morning, heart still beating; drool still warm. Despite all signs to the contrary, it seemed I would live to freak out another day. Like Homer, I promised myself that I would reform: cherish my loved ones, eat healthier, practice the golden rule. But only a few days later, here I sit, eating a cupcake, just as self-absorbed and bitchy as ever. Perhaps bitchier.

That’s not to say I’ve learned nothing from this experience. Although our motives may differ, I’ve joined David Suzuki’s tireless crusade against plastic cutlery. More importantly, I’ve ordered an eerily lifelike penguin suit from Amazon, so that the next time I unwittingly ingest a toxic substance (and sadly, there will be a next time) – I’ll be ready.

Question of the Day: What would you do if you only had 22 hours to live?

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