Mid-Week Tangent: Dangers of a New Neighborhood

I am in love with my new neighborhood and the impact it has on my commute (hello, 15 minutes!), but there is a dark side to my new neighborhood: it’s full of tempting and delicious…and expensive distractions.

We walked 10 blocks in each direction from our house and discovered all manner of ways for us to fritter away our money. There are pizza shops, and fusion restaurants galore, and dear lord there is a Dairy Queen a mere 600 metres from my doorstep. I should not be allowed to live so close to my beloved pecan mudslides. Not only are they dangerous for my health but they also put a serious ding in the pocket book, weighing in (pun intended) at a steep $7 per treat.

Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of temptations at my doorstep now.  The one benefit of the suburban life was that very few temptations were within walking distance. Ultimately, I am too lazy to get into my car to drive for treats, but I will walk to them in a heartbeat. This does not bode well for me in my new neighborhood.

Already, in the span of three days, we’ve visited a nearby bakery twice. I am not normally a fan of yeasted donuts (cake donuts for life), but this donut was the best yeasted donut I’ve ever had. And I didn’t have to pay upwards of $4 for it, nor step foot in a hipster donut haven. I wish I could share a picture with you of this dulce de leche stuffed donut coated in thick caramel frosting but I devoured it so quickly that you get only this:

If you look closely, you may be able to see remnants of its deliciousness.

At this point, I am deeply concerned about our bank balances and our waist lines. This could be a very, very dangerous five months for us.

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Monday Musings: on the return of relaxation and its enormous power

It surprised me how much weight I was carrying from this move. It wasn’t that we weren’t organized. It wasn’t that we didn’t have a lot of time to deal with it. It wasn’t that I’m not overly skilled at moving (because I am, care of 10+ moves as an adult. and that’s not even counting all the dorm moves in university). In my experience, moving is just one of those things that is all encompassing. It eats up your life for weeks on end as you fill your precious leisure time with unglamorous tasks like…

…purging junk you’ve been clinging to for a decade…

…trying to list shit to sell online to absurd bargain-hunting flakes…

…packing in waves so you aren’t living in an empty house for too long but not leaving too much til the end…

…and trying to clean years of filth from the darkest reaches of your home (hello, under the kitchen sink, I’m talking to you)…

As if I weren’t feeling enough like a shadow of my former self with the new job and the heinous commute, adding moving to the mix took my monster status to the next level.  There has been no fun, or at least no fun that hasn’t been overshadowed by nagging feeling that shit still needs to get done. Then, this weekend the clouds parted (literally and figuratively), and we were blessed with a true Sunday Funday and I had forgotten how significantly true relaxation alters one’s state of mind.

For the first time in months, we weren’t weighed down by the mental stress of feeling like we should be doing something else. We leisurely and carelessly strolled the streets of our new neighborhood without that nagging feeling that we should be packing or cleaning or organizing. It was glorious. We played at the local Pitch & Putt course, which ended up taking a full three hours thanks to many, many beginners slowing our roll (as a sidenote, never have I felt so good at golfing), and I didn’t once think “oh crap, this is taking too long and now we’re going to be f*$%ed later on.”

I cannot tell you how much lighter I felt without the stressful weight of the move. Relaxation truly is a miracle worker.  It didn’t take a major vacation or even wildly elaborate plans. We did what we always do: walked and golfed and drank some wine (not at the same time), but we did it without the burden of a million unfinished tasks. This feeling may not last long, but I’m going to enjoy the peace of relaxation while I can.

Mid-Week Tangent: realizing just how spoiled I am

We are moving this weekend…before we move again in the new year. Yes, by the time next January rolls around, I will have moved three times in one year. No, this post is not going to be one giant complaint about how much I hate moving. I could write an entire post on that, but I’ll spare you since moving is pretty universally despised.

As I was saying, we are moving this weekend.  We are going into a furnished rental for five months, which means all of our real furniture and 95% of our belongings are going into storage.  We’ve been slowing packing away the non-essentials, but as we get closer to the move, our non-essentials are becoming bigger ticket items. Like the other night we decided to wash and pack our king size bed sheets and pillows, rendering our king size bed out of commission until the new year, and sending us to our guest room’s queen sized bed.

This didn’t seem like a big deal. We’ve had a queen sized bed before. Our temporary rental will have a queen sized bed. Actually, I’m mildly terrified that the rental might actually have a double, but I cannot allow myself to contemplate that reality for too long lest I spin into a ball of panic about how I may NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.

It has been two nights back in the queen sized bed and I have had the worst two nights’ sleep in a long time. The duvet cover is too hot, which is one small part of the problem. The bigger issue is: MY GOD HOW DID WE EVER SLEEP IN A BED THIS SMALL!?!? I feel like I am on the edge of the bed with no room to move. We are hitting each other with arms and legs any time one of us moves in the night. I am waking up constantly. This morning, convinced that this was just a matter of my better half hogging the bed, I reached to the other side of him certain I would feel a foot and a half of unused mattress. No. There were only inches to spare.

This is the exact moment I realized that I have become incredibly spoiled. By a bed. More specifically, by a bed that allowed us to sleep gloriously far apart from the other person’s night habits, be they kicking, rolling, deep breathing or otherwise. And though it is a total spoiled-girl thing to complain about being relegated to a perfectly good queen-sized bed (and a fine mattress to boot!), I am doing it anyway. I miss my king-sized bed. I want it back. If I could strap it on top of my tiny, little Hyundai Accent and take it to our rental, trust me when I say I would.

Told you. Spoiled.

Monday Musings: wherever you go, there you are?

It’s true what they say. Wherever you go, there you are. I have moved to new cities a few times, five times to be exact, and each time, despite new surroundings and jobs and friends and patterns and routines and sometimes my own best efforts, I come out on the other end as more or less the same person. Yet as I sit here one week from moving into our new and temporary rental in the city, I am hoping that for once this old adage won’t ring true.

I’ve been a self-proclaimed monster for three months now.  Imagine living with a monster for three months.  My boyfriend deserves a serious reward. I get up way too early (for me), deal with a commute that fills me with so much rage, spend my work days dragging my feet and soul and brain around like dead weights, and then try to cram all of my fun life activities into the 1.5 hours of free time I get before going to bed to do it all over again. It has made me a Royally Unpleasant Person (capitalization to emphasize how very deserving I am of an official moniker). I don’t like myself much these days so I can’t imagine that others are terribly enamoured with me either.

Next week, however, I will receive the gifts of sleep and time. I move closer to work, substantially closer in fact. And it has become my light at the end of tunnel. I can sleep in a whopping one to one-and-a-half hours longer (!!!!!!). I can start work at a normal time and leave work at 5 and still be home at the same time I get home now leaving at 4 pm.  I get 2.5-3 hours of commuting time back to myself, part for sleep and part for fun. In my mind, this surely has to make me a better human again. It simply must. I imagine myself as I used to be: quite sociable when I want to, able to get through a work day without feeling as though it’s all for naught, and maybe, just maybe, being able to stay up past 9 pm on a weekday. I imagine it to be glorious, and imagine myself as a ball of bright sunshine instead of the angry, brooding dark cloud of bitterness that I am these days. Dear God, people might actually want to spend time with me again!

Here’s the thing: wherever you go, there you are. So what if my commute and lack of sleep aren’t the real issues here?  I’ve blamed my work malaise and general lack of sociability on a crippling combo of exhaustion and commuter rage. But what if it’s the other way around? What if the job and the lack of sociability are the cause of the exhaustion and commuter rage? What then? It’s been a nagging little voice in the back of my head for weeks, one that I’ve been trying to sweep under the rug with reassuring thoughts that it just has to be better. Deep down, that little voice is still there. I haven’t silenced it and I am not convinced its voice shouldn’t be heard. I’ve been holding out hope that I’ll be a brand new, shiny me next Monday morning. But what if…whatever you go, there you are?

TWIR #77: if it’s not one thing, it’s another

I can’t tell if my SI is actually better this week or if it’s just been overshadowed by a really, really annoying neck issue that cropped up after my personal training session. Either way, I’m left wondering if my body has just reached the age at which it is going to experience constant problems like this. I feel too young for that so my preference is to believe that I’ve just been cursed with a body that doesn’t want to get back into alignment this year. With that upbeat preface out of the way, let’s see what this week’s workouts had to offer.

Saturday
Activity: hike(ish)
Relevant Stats: 4.4 km return
Observations: My SI was killing me all morning and I had no idea whether a short and steep hike would help or hinder the situation. It turns out that it helped my SI, but did not help my productivity. I had been a packing machine all morning before I left, but upon returning home was able to accomplish nothing other than eating chips and watching This is Us (by the way, totally don’t get what all the fuss is about on that one…).

Sunday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Still afraid to visit my local gym, I opted for an at-home strength workout. While some may say that can’t be a good workout, I assure you it can be. I don’t even have any heavy weights at home but I find that increasing reps per set and the number of sets leads to just as effective a workout as at the gym. Bonus of at-home workouts: watching Definitely, Maybe in the background. Who doesn’t love a cheesy Ryan Reynolds movie?

Monday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: unknown time
Observations: Sometimes I think “I’ll remember how long I worked out for by the time I write my post at the end of the week”, and then I realize that I give my memory way too much credit. I do not remember. I am not even 100% sure that I was on the spin bike, but I know I didn’t run and I know I didn’t do strength training three days in a row, so by process of elimination I am left to deduce that I spun.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: This was the beginning and the end for my neck. I don’t know whether the culprit was multiple sets of negative pull ups after weeks, maybe even months, of not doing them, or whether it was the stress of trying to keep my hands and legs in sync while doing backwards bear crawls. Let’s be honest: in any given training session there are a plethora of exercises for which my feeble body might try to overcompensate with random muscles, yes even including neck muscles. The only good thing about this week’s session was that I did not have to tow any weights behind me.

Wednesday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: avoided all snow in Edmonton
Observations: I had to take a quick trip to Edmonton for work, and not packing gym gear made for my smallest carryon bag yet. Even I was impressed! But that’s not the point. The point is that it snowed on Monday and was set to snow Wednesday evening, and I somehow perfectly timed my trip between winter conditions. I actually like snow, but I stand firmly in the camp of September being TOO SOON for it.

Thursday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: This was not a good workout. My legs and lungs had nothing to give. Maybe it was the fact that I woke up at 4:41 and had trouble falling back asleep. Maybe it was the wine on Wednesday night. Maybe it was just my general state of crabbiness and malaise. Whatever the cause, I did not enjoy the experience and couldn’t wait to get off the damn bike, thus only spinning for 35 minutes. Am I great at making excuses for my lack of exercise motivation or what?

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Good God, pushing that prowler will be the death of me. I couldn’t find any 35 lb weights to put on the prowler today, so I went with the 45 lb weights. Let’s just say that trying to run with 90 lbs loaded onto a prowler is harder than I thought it would be.  These legs are gonna hurt tomorrow. All in all, though, today’s workout was an outstanding rebound from yesterday. I’m finding, once again, that my strength workouts are great lately while my cardio workouts are abysmal, which probably means I really should be focused more on rebuilding my cardio fitness. But I likely won’t, because who really likes doing what they “should” be doing.

That’s another week of workouts under my belt and a weekend of packing to look forward to. Yes, that was sarcasm. Happy weekend, and here’s hoping that I don’t somehow injure another part of my body attempting to push boxes of heavy kitchen gadgets out of the way. Seriously, I have a lot of kitchen gadgets and they are hella heavy.

Monday Musings: finding a short-term, furnished rental is worse than dating

I recently read an article about the hyper competitive rental market in Toronto, where people are apparently writing the equivalent of dating profiles for landlords just to set themselves apart.  I remember reading it and thinking how ridiculous it was to compare seeking a rental to seeking a life mate, and thinking it even more bizarre that someone would essentially write a flashy bio to try to entice landlords to select her.

Well, now that I’m in the midst of the seemingly impossible task of finding a decent, affordable, furnished, and short-term rental in the similarly expensive city of Vancouver, I totally get it. On the outside, me and my partner are a successful, quiet, dependable couple with good credit, with no pets and no kids and no desire to throw disruptive parties in a suite. We sound like dream tenants, don’t we?  The problem: there are countless other couples just like us. On paper, there is nothing that sets us apart. Suddenly, I realize we have to woo potential landlords, something that feels odd and creepy to say the least. And yet, it seems our best option for beating out the rest.

Last night, as we viewed the first listing we’ve seen that actually looked livable and had a decent price tag, I realized we were essentially on a first date with prospective landlords. I mean, we were sitting on the owner’s patio at sunset babbling on about all our best qualities for goodness’ sake. There were the words that we were saying, and then there was the undertone of “pick us! we are the best! you will not regret choosing us!” It was subtle desperation at its finest.

Even responding to rental posts has its ties to the dating process.  It had never occurred to me before I read the article about Toronto’s market, but each of my painstakingly crafted intro messages was just as awful as drafting an online dating profile. You want to be brief but informative, giving true insight into what you’d be like as a tenant, but also wanting to make yourself appear like the absolutely perfect renter. You want to be different than the rest, but not so different as to be seen as strange. You want to be interested, but not so interested as to appear desperate. It’s a fine line to walk.

At the end of the day, no matter what we do the ultimate choice is in the hands of the renter. That’s what makes this the toughest. Much like dating, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and know that sometimes, even though you’re a great catch, the other person may not want you.

…but they should, because we’re FANTASTIC tenants. So if anyone reading this has or knows someone who has a short-term, furnished rental that won’t render us bankrupt, please let me know. We’re really, really awesome tenants.

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.