Real Talk Thursdays: I watch too many murder mysteries

Does anyone else watch Dateline and 48 Hours Mysteries and Criminal Minds? Does anyone out there have a backlog of 26 episodes of those shows (combined, not each….as if that’s somehow better)? No? Just me? Well, let me tell you, don’t get started. If you do, you will turn an utterly innocent event into the most terrifying moment of your life.  You will be convinced that you and your boyfriend and his parents are about to be viciously bludgeoned to death in a peaceful campground in Washington State. In fact, as the event is happening, you will hear Lester Holt narrating the tragic story of your death, his measured and slightly lilting voice commenting on the irony of such a horrific event happening in a place meant to be a relaxing respite from the daily grind. It’s not pretty and it’s not worth it.

As you can tell, I had a bit of a scare last weekend, a moment in which I experienced legitimate terror even though there was actually zero threat to our safety.  We were down at the campground enjoying the great outdoors, chilling around the propane fire pit (fire bans are in effect everywhere here). It was around 10 pm when my boyfriend’s mother decided to go to bed. My boyfriend wanted to go for a walk to see if any stars were visible since it was supposed to be epic meteor shower season, never mind that it was almost completely cloudy. At any rate, we left the fire pit behind, and his father putting away the last couple of things in the shed. All was good, one might even say idyllic.

When we returned, my boyfriend’s father was no longer outside, so we turned off all the lights around the trailer and settled inside to get ready for bed.  We’d been in bed for maybe 20 minutes or so when I heard a shuffling noise outside that got progressively louder. At first, I tried to tell myself it was just a wild animal. But then there was a very clear sound of someone pushing something heavy on the deck. I poked my boyfriend “Hey, do you hear that?”. He mumbled and then fell back asleep. Then, even in the total darkness outside, I saw a figure move past the window.

My heart jumped ten feet outside of my chest. Someone was outside. At best, he had robbery on his mind. At worst, it was murder. The possibilities escalated quickly in the dark corners of my mind.  I poked my boyfriend harder and said “there’s someone out there!!!!”  He jumped up, I turned on a light inside, he yelled “HEY!” and it sounded as though the person outside was heading away from the trailer. For a brief second I felt relief that whoever it was was fleeing on foot, but still terrified that my perfect weekend getaway destination might be a hotbed for crime.

Then things got even scarier. My boyfriend headed for the door as if he was going to go outside to check things out. I watch enough murder shows: you do not go investigate the situation. You do not poke the bear. I was in the midst of telling him that he was not going out there when I saw the door handle wiggle. Someone was trying to get in our trailer!!!!!  That was it, I was in full-blown “we are about to get murdered” mode. I held onto that door handle like there was no tomorrow…because I feared there would actually be no tomorrow.

That was the moment when my boyfriend calmly said “Is that you, dad?”

And it was. Apparently, he’d still been out in the shed and we’d turned all the lights out and locked the door on him, so he had been stumbling around in the dark trying to find his way to the door to get in.  Regardless of the situation’s innocence, or my boyfriend’s mocking (as though he hadn’t at all contemplated that it was more than a petty thief, pft!), it took me a solid half hour to calm down out my terror mode.

Only once I was calm again, and as I lay in the quiet of the night, did I firmly vow: no more murder mysteries…

…at least for a while.

Monday Musings: never say never

I’m occasionally a fan of being overly dramatic. I have a particularly high tendency to say things like “Ugh! I’ll never {insert any totally plausible action here]!”  The expression never say never is designed for people like me. More often than not, I do exactly what I say I’ll supposedly never do.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m with you on this one Bieber.

Over the last few years alone, I have a lengthy list of never-do’s that have turned into my reality:

  • I’d never be interested in golf and I’d certainly never choose a round of golf over hiking
  • I’d never date someone in the suburbs (it’s true! my entire relationship right now is based on a major oversight on my part)
  • I’d never live anywhere but in the city centre
  • I’d never move to the Okanagan
  • I’d never quit my job without something else lined up
  • I’d never buy real estate when I could just rent
  • I’d never go back to working in a traditional, corporate environment
  • I’d never be willing to do the rush hour commute from the ‘burbs

See? I told you it was a long list. This is the danger of saying never. What I’ve realized for me is that “never” really means “not right now”. I could never (see? there’s that word again!) have predicted my circumstances would shift so dramatically over the last couple of years, and how much that would impact my priorities. Everything from my relationship to my injury to my career insights to the real estate market have caused major ripple effects.  Suddenly the things that used to be never’s seem not only perfectly logical but also overwhelmingly exciting.

There’s so many other never-do’s that I still live with, yet I’m considerably more cautious with them than I used to be. I cannot predict how my priorities and goals will continue to shift. What seems like  a never-do today may once again be the most compelling of choices a year or two from now. So while I may still utter the words from time to time, I’ll do so knowing that it’s pure drama and maybe, just maybe, I’ll do just that thing when the mood strikes me.

Mid-Week Tangent: how to ruin a perfectly good morning in five easy steps

1. Spill your entire travel mug of coffee all over your cloth gym bag containing your work clothes, and all over the hallway floor while trying to leave the house as quickly as possible.

2.  Drive 15 minutes towards the office before listening to a story on the radio about texting while driving, which triggers the realization that you forgot your phone at home, which also contains your license, credit cards and the access card for your office building.

3. When trying to turn around to retrieve your phone from home, sharply cut across two lanes of traffic to make the last exit before the toll bridge and then realize this is the one exit that doesn’t just loop right back onto the highway in the opposite direction.

4. Arrive home to realize that you also forgot your house keys inside so you have to ring the doorbell and knock like a crazy person, which only makes your boyfriend less likely to come to the door because you could actually be a crazy person.

5. Miss your morning workout entirely because now it’s too late to fit it in; shower, put on makeup, do your hair and get dressed in 10 minutes so you don’t arrive at work still in your gym clothes; and then proceed to sit in rush hour traffic because you are leaving 48 minutes later than usual.

* Yes, this happened to me today and, yes, I was about as pleasant as you can imagine after starting my day off on this foot. Is it Friday yet?

Mid-Week Tangent: an open letter to my hotel ‘fitness center’

Let’s just forget that I should be posting about gelato, shall we? I didn’t have any over the last week. None. My heart hurts at the thought of wasted gelato opportunities. In the place of my usual gelato sins, I instead express my dissatisfaction with my hotel gym. With any luck, next week I will return with new gelato reviews. Until then, here we go…

Dear hotel “fitness center”,

I have intentionally put quotations around your name because you have over-promised and under-delivered. You bear only a tiny resemblance to an actual fitness center. When I think of a fitness center, I think of an inspiring health venue where I can access a wide variety of equipment that allows me to maintain my fitness. I think of a bright, open space that accommodates many guests. Since this is quite a tall hotel, I can only assume it houses many who may wish to work out.  You, my hotel gym of the week, you should call yourself what you are: a dungeon gym. It would most definitely help to manage guests’ expectations.

I know, it sounds harsh, but sometimes we have to hear the bitter truth in order to improve.  You are literally located in the basement, which is only the first of your many issues.  Because of your underground locale, you are dark and windowless and filled with stale air.  Honestly, I could get over all of that if you weren’t also smaller than my living room. I assure you, my living is not gargantuan. I live in a row townhouse. These are not known for having monstrous great rooms.  It is modest and works for what we need. Your tiny space does not work for what I need.

I imagine that there are something like 300 rooms in this hotel. Even if you are only at 50% occupancy right now, and even if only 5% of your guests actually want to work out, you cannot reasonably support that volume of activity. And we all know that your guests are working out either first thing in the morning or after whatever work day or conference they’ve attended.  You hold four people at a time, max.  And there is no way that more than one person could be doing any form of strength training at the same time, what with the six inches of free space you’ve provided around your lone bench (more on that later). In other words, your size is woefully insufficient. Bigger is not always better, except when it comes to fitness centers.

This is still not your greatest fault. No, your greatest fault is your utter lack of equipment. I get it, you focused on the basics: a couple treadmills, a couple ellipticals, a bike, one bench and some free weights.  The problem is that you overlooked some really simple, and not overly expensive additions that would go a long way.  How about some kettle bells? How about some weighted bars? How about a spin bike that actually costs less than that fancy stationary bike that doesn’t give you half the workout? How about a versatile cable motion machine instead of your random assortment of strength machines that take up more space and offer less options? Give me variety!

Sorry, hotel gym, all I’ve done here is criticize. I suppose it’s not your fault, but rather management’s fault that you are so down and out. Still, I have to be clear: I won’t be using your services on my next stay. Although I despise working out at work, my company does provide a free, and far better, fitness center for me. I will choose sweating in front of colleagues over the dungeon.

All the best.

Mid-Week Gelato Quest: Gelato Repeat Repeat

No, that is not a typo. I am outing myself, yet again, for failing to visit a new gelato destination before my weekly quest for gelato perfection post.  It is trickier now that I’m working, and was made even trickier this weekend when I decided to host my own birthday party, which essentially turned one of my free days into a full-on scramble to get food, drink and decor sorted.  I am really seeing a pattern here, and that pattern is that I am a master of excuses.

Instead of broadening my horizons like I am supposed to be doing, I visited Dolce Gelato for the third time (here’s visit 1 and visit 2 if you’re curious). I’ll spare you the lengthy intros and jump right to flavours, because at the very least I did try two brand-new-to-me flavours. Trust me, that’s harder than it sounds.

Where: Dolce Gelato, White Rock

My boyfriend would like to note what a fine hand model he makes.

The Gelato: 

My boyfriend, who always shows more restraint than I, ordered one measly flavour, Bacio. It’s chocolate hazelnut and it tasted like frozen Ferrero Rocher filling, which is pretty much as good as it gets in the chocolate hazelnut world if you ask me. It was velvety, chocolatey, hazelnutty perfection. If you’re in the mood for pure indulgence, get it.

My flavour choices were difficult. I really wanted the Cassata again, but have a tendency to stick with my favourites. Plus, I knew if I was going to pawn this gelato trip off as a new post, I better at least get different flavours.  In the end, I went with the Variegato and the Stracciatella.

The Variegato is a sour cherry gelato and packs some seriously tart kick. I am not always a fan of fruit flavours, but lately anything cherry has been a go-to for me. Aside from the foresta nera (essentially black forest) gelato that I had at Dolce last time, this is the best cherry gelato I’ve had outside of Italy. It was creamy and its sweetness was perfectly offset by sharply sour cherries.  That probably sounds offensive. Who wants sharply sour cherries? I do. They are amazing.

The Stracciatella was a strategic choice. I’m a firm believer that the simpler the gelato flavour, the more challenging it is to do it really, really well. You can’t get much simpler than vanilla with chocolate shavings.  It was very good, maybe not the best I’ve had, but very, very good. The vanilla base was top notch and ultra creamy. For me, it just needed way more chocolate. I’m also a chocoholic so perhaps take that with a grain of salt.

Overall: I don’t regret returning here. It was the only logical choice since we were golfing/Farmer’s Market-ing nearby. Any other destination would have been way too much driving given that it was my birthday and I had no desire to spend the whole day in the car. Plus, for once I actually picked complimentary flavours instead of cramming two things that should never be together into one tiny cup. That’s learning, my friends. After three visits, I still stand by my recommendation for Dolce Gelato. In a word: yum!


Monday Musings: perks of adult birthdays

I turned 38 this weekend.  It occurs to me that, over the last few months, I’ve referred to myself as 38 years old numerous times on this blog. Clearly, I already felt my age.  Birthdays are a strange experience for me. The morbid side of me is plagued by reminders of my mortality and getting ever closer to the tipping point of mid-life.  The other, and notably less melancholy, side of me revels in the celebration of birthdays; that part of me wants a whole birthday weekend, damnit, and enjoys all the simple child-like birthday pleasures like: cake, presents, parties, and the ability to repeatedly pull the “because-it’s-my-birthday” card whenever I don’t get exactly what I want.

It’s that unabashedly celebratory part of me that recognizes the perks of birthdays as an adult vs. as a child. As a child, after all, you are at the mercy of your parent’s whims.  Your party theme isn’t yours. Your outfit probably isn’t yours. You may not get to pick the cake. Even the invite list isn’t your domain.  Sure, there are more presents, but that’s really the only advantage to a child’s birthday.  As an adult, you get birthdays your own way. If you want to shut the world out and pretend your birthday doesn’t exist, you can do that too. But let me invite you to entertain just how spectacular an adult birthday can be by presenting you with:

Things you only get to do on your birthday as an adult

1. Eat cake for breakfast: In hindsight, this was actually a really bad idea. Yes, I know this from personal experience on my 38th birthday. Still, you can do it, and no one is going to call you on it. Someone (ahem, like my boyfriend) may even join you in this ill-conceived plan and also live to regret it.

2. Throw a birthday party with the nonsensical theme of “fizzy pink” and have your friends accept it without question: It’s not as crazy as it sounds. I had bubbly rose wine and wanted to build my party theme around it. Mostly it meant that people wore pink, which was fine with me. Also fine with me was that someone brought me a bottle of rose. Wine is always a winner in my book, no matter its colour. It also gave me the chance to buy/sport this amazing shirt:

Steal of a deal at $20.

3. Eat a spiralized deep fried potato on a stick as LUNCH: I have no regrets about this one. It was amazing.

4. Ask for excessive foot rubs: Because I have to wear heels to work again, so seriously, my feet need some TLC.

5. Commandeer the television to watch Dateline murder mysteries: The truth is my boyfriend enjoys them just as much as I do, even if he won’t admit it.

In other words, if you’re on the fence about your birthday, about aging, about turning another year older, simply seize the opportunity for an utterly selfish day of whatever your birthday pleasures may be. Adult birthdays can be pretty freaking fantastic.

Real-Talk Thursday: for the love of god, hoard your clothes

Almost four years ago, I started working in the tech sector. The thing about tech sector workplaces is that they tend to be super casual. You can wear jeans and t-shirts and hoodies. For the record, I didn’t wear hoodies to work. There are certain things that a 38 year-old and thoroughly un-trendy woman shouldn’t wear to work. But I could have. Because of this, I slowly and steadily got rid of every scrap of corporate clothing that I owned. It was cathartic, like slowly shedding a layer of skin that that you no longer need to live in.

Except now I need to live in it again. Ugh.

Yes, next week I return to work in a corporate environment, necessitating the very quick acquisition of a business casual wardrobe. Sometimes I get all steadfastly indignant about companies that still require people to wear business attire. Ultimately, I think it’s a completely antiquated notion, but I also recognize that I’m not going to win that battle in every organization. It’s the price to pay for certain roles, and man do you have to pay for it. Even trying to acquire a few staples to carry me through the first couple of weeks is proving costly. And don’t even get me started on the horror of trying to find clothing under pressure. I firmly believe one only finds clothes they love when they have no pressing need to find them.

Suddenly I’ve found myself wishing I hadn’t parted with all those corporate staples. Gone are my dress slacks (ugh, is there a worse name for pants?), classic sheath dresses, boring skirts, and frilly yet tame blouses. The last vestige of my former wardrobe is the pile of heels gathering dust in the back of my closet. And thank god for those because shoes are damned expensive! The long and the short of it is that I’ve just had to drop an ungodly amount of money in two days to replace a bunch of clothes that I used to have. Although, to be fair, had I kept those clothes I’m sure they would have been woefully out of style and ill-fitting. But let’s be honest, I probably would have rocked them anyway.

The moral of the story: don’t discard entire wardrobes. Forget all that crap you’re hearing these days in social media about decluttering and minimalism. Hoard your clothes, hoard them forever, or you just might regret it one day.