Real Talk Thursday: the slow decline of a 5am day

I rarely travel for work, but when I do I like to complain about it. Because I am a hermit, and a homebody, and generally prefer to stick to my usual routines. Travel interferes with all of that. Today I had a quick, same-day trip to the big city which always entails a very early morning. In turn, the very early morning entails a slow decline to my day whereby by roughly 7pm (about as I am writing this), I have zero mental or physical energy left to give.

Also, I realize a lot of people get up earlier than 5 am every day of their lives. You are amazing to me. I require more sleep. A lot more sleep.

5 am — wake up call. I feel…tired.

5:25 am — out the door. Maybe this won’t be so bad. I feel more alert.

5:27 am — I am not alert. And my contact lenses are blurry AF because my eyes are so tired and dry.

5:35 am — coffee is heaven. I am brilliant for always remembering to set the coffee pot before an early morning.

5:57 am — made it to the airport. This day is going to be okay.

6:35 am — This airplane is fully boarded. This day is going to be fantastic because we are ahead of schedule.

6:55 am — scratch that. we are right on time

7:00 – 7:55 am — cardiologists (two of whom are sitting in front of me and talking very loudly) are clearly morning people. I hate them. It’s still going to be a good day, though.

8:00 am — on the train into the city. Public transit is magical when you get a seat. I am feeling good about today.

8:30 am — I am in Starbucks. More coffee = my day is getting better.

9:30 am — Yawns. Uh oh.

10:30 am — Is it only 10:30? The meeting I flew down for doesn’t even start til noon.

12:00 pm — I can do this. I can survive this meeting. Only five more hours to go.

2:00 pm — Wait, what did that person just say? How long have I been tuned out for?

3:30 pm — I feel like this meeting should be over. We have covered all relevant items. Why are we all still talking???

4:30 pm — I am f’ing tired. Why is this meeting still going?

5:00 pm — Ugh. Transit is so freaking crowded at this time of day. And hot. I am sweating. I want to be home.

5:30 pm — The dude next to me in the food court is playing really loud music on his phone. Really loud. I want to rip his iphone from his hands and hurl it…anywhere away from me.

6:00 pm — What is what the multiple staging lines at airport security? Just. Let. Me. Through. Damnit.

6:30 pm — Why are there no good napping spots while you wait for planes? Finally boarding. So tired. Will still be another two hours until I am home. Why do I do this to myself? I need to get back to my non-travelling, hermit ways ASAP.

As you can see, my optimism lasted roughly until 11 am. And then it was a slow decline into crankiness, whining and complaining. Just be thankful you’re not the one who has to put up with me when I get home tonight.

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Mid-Week Tangent: Air Conditioning Wars

We live in a warm climate. It’s been 30 degrees or hotter most days since the beginning of July. I’m not complaining. I’ve actually come to enjoy the heat, at least as long as I’m not sitting in the direct sunlight. When you live in a country with cold winters, it’s nice to have a couple months when you actually feel warm.

My better half does not see things the same way. He loathes the heat. And for the first time in his life, he has central air conditioning, which he is bound and determined to use (in what I consider to be excess).

My happy place inside the house (during summer) is 26 degrees celsius. It is warm without being oppressively hot, and it still feels like summer time. In our climate, air conditioning is actually required to maintain this temperature. This is my way of confirming that I’m not anti-air conditioning, per se, but to keep the house at 26 degrees we only have to run the AC for a couple of hours during peak heat of the day. Really, I’m pro-air conditioning, just in a limited and strategic capacity.

My better half would set the AC to 20 degrees if he had his own way. And I would be  there in a hooded sweatshirt and flannel pajama bottoms. In July. The long and the short of it is, clearly, we have different philosophies on when and to what extent we should use air conditioning. Commence air conditioning wars.

Our air conditioning wars are subtle. Sometimes I’ll be sitting in my office, which due to its upstairs location is one of the warmer rooms in the house, and I’ll suddenly feel a shift in the air, a faint but notable freshness. And I instantly know:  the AC is on.

Sometimes I’ll come home from the gym and notice that all the windows are closed and I’ll know: the AC is on.

Sometimes I’ll come home from the gym and the coolness of the air when I walk through the door will punch me in the face. You guessed it: the AC is on.

Sometimes he’ll tell me how hot he is for like an hour straight, and I know that the second I leave the house, the AC will be turned on. And, sure enough, when I get home the AC is, in fact, on.

Sometimes I’ll just see him walk down the hallway and seconds later the familiar hum of the AC unit will rise from our basement. I’ll look at the panel and see the AC set to 22 or 23 degrees. He thinks that’s compromise. I think it’s insanity. We go back and forth moving the temperature back up and then moving it down, trying not to let the other see that we’ve adjusted it. For the record, I always notice when it’s been set to a cooler temperature, and he does not always notice when I’ve set it to a higher temperature. Ergo, the house is too cool at 22 or 23 degrees.

I’m sure you’re dying to know who’s won this war, but sadly, the battle still wages on, day in and day out. The only end in sight is when summer temperatures fade, but even then we’ll only end up fighting about the heat. Sigh.

Mid-Week Tangent: the rise and (rapid) fall of my Masters dream

For the last couple of years, I’ve dutifully sent in my request for Masters Championship tickets. And I’ve been scorned. Until this year.

I got the email and got so distracted by the word “congratulations” that I immediately started planning my Masters Championship getaway without actually, you know, reading the entire email. I was so enthralled at the thought of driving down the historic magnolia lane to Augusta National that I lost all sense of reason and dove head first into planning mode.

We imagined a week in Augusta to take full advantage of the experience, and so I got to researching what it might cost:

  • Flights were going to cost around $1500
  • Accommodation appeared to be the biggest pain in the ass. Did you know that hotels book up years in advance around the Masters tournament? I didn’t. There were precious few rooms available, and all at ungodly rates. I’m talking close to $400 US/night for a Super 8 in which I am certain we would be murdered. There were similarly slim pickings in the rental housing and condo markets. By my accounts, it would cost us close to $2000 for the week. $2000! To stay in rural Georgia! Ultimately, the best deal I found was alllll the way in Columbia, SC, a mere 1 hour and 10 minutes drive away, and also where I went to grad school. I assure you that I have never had the desire to go back.
  • $500 (US) car rental
  • Actual tickets to the event would set us back around $1500 US
  • Food and entertainment while there would likely be around $1000

Are you doing the math? Because I was, and the math was astounding. This Masters Tournament week was likely to set us back around $6000. Suddenly my dreams of France 2019 (aka what I had actually planned to spend my hard-earned money on before all this Masters talk) were disappearing before my very eyes. But if you’re thinking that the financial implications were the cause of my Masters’ dreams crumbling, you are wrong. The cost was staggeringly large, yes, but we kept saying to ourselves: it’s the Masters.

The real killer of my Masters dreams was my own lack of attention to detail. You see, I did all of this planning and research (which, granted, only took about a half hour) before I actually read the email from the Masters tournament.  When I actually clicked on the link for tickets, it turns out we had only been awarded tickets for Sunday.  I had completely forgotten that you can request tickets for every practice round and championship round, but that you may not be awarded tickets for everything you request. And I sure wasn’t. My allotment: no practice days, and only one out of four tournament days. The Masters dream was suddenly on shaky ground.

Sure, you can argue that Sunday is the best day (and it is), but the cost to benefit ratio for one day of championship play is more than my brain can wrap itself around. We briefly contemplated whether we should just go and hope to score reseller tickets for the rest of the days. They’re out there every year, but you never know what the cost will be, nor if they are legit.  I couldn’t quite get behind dropping thousands on a crap shoot, particularly when it might get in the way of my back up plan (France 2019).

And so, this is how my dreams of attending the famed Masters Championships rose and fell, all in the span of a couple hours.  Let this also be a lesson to you: always read the email carefully first before diving into planning mode. Rookie mistake.

Mid-Week Tangent: the bar snack you (maybe) didn’t know you need in your life

If you are a health junky, opposed to the occasional deep fried goodness, this post is not for you. Today, I am sharing a love letter to one of my all-time favourite bar snacks: the deep fried pickle.

If you haven’t tried deep fried pickles, you are missing out on one of life’s great pleasures, and you know this claim is legit because, truth be told, I don’t even really like pickles. I never eat pickles on their own. In fact, relish on a hot dog is about as close as I get to pickles other than in deep fried form.

Here’s the catch: all deep fried pickles are not created equal.  I’ve done some extensive deep fried pickle comparisons in my day, and I can safely say that Tap & Barrel has the best deep fried pickles by a long shot. My love for them knows no bounds. I have ordered them every time I’ve gone there, which is a lot, never get sick of them, and only the fear of my own deep shame suppresses my urge to get my own, personal order instead of sharing. One day I will get my own order, though, and I am convinced that day will be my greatest day.

Behold. Greatness.

What makes them so great? The pickle is everything. I have been in establishments that have the audacity to use pickle rounds (ugh), which as far as I’m concerned are an abomination of deep fried pickles. More often, they are pickle wedges, but pickle wedges that lack a satisfying crispness. There is nothing worse than biting into a deep fried pickle to find a soggy, slimy, almost oozing pickle centre. That is not what a deep fried pickle is meant to be. Tap & Barrel’s deep fried pickles always have a satisfying snap to them. They don’t need to rely solely on the coating for crunch; the pickle itself retains its firmness and crispness. Pickle perfection.

The coating is also key. Some places use a batter-type coating, almost like a fish and chip coating. Why would you use a batter so prone to quick soggy-ness? It’s completely illogical and clearly reflects a cook with no love for his or her deep fried pickles. You don’t want that pickle. No, you must use some form of breading, and yet you can’t even rely on any old breading to save the day.  So many places use breading, but go with a fine breading that struggles to fry to a can-cut-the-tender-flesh-on-the-roof-of-your-mouth crunchiness (and yes, that’s a good thing–if you bite with caution). Tap & Barrel goes with a breading that’s almost on the verge of being panko, though I don’t believe it is. Whatever they use, it is the crunchiest and most satisfying coating I’ve ever had on a deep fried pickle. The combination of crisp pickles and ultra crunchy coating is beyond winning.

Then we have the dip. Look, I get wanting to put your own creative stamp on a dip. I’ve seen everything from chipotle to wasabi to cheese. While none are inedible, they don’t really add to the deep fried pickle experience. Most often, they are just a distraction.  Tap & Barrel keeps it simple with a thick, cool and creamy dill dip. Dill on dill may sound repetitive, but its perfectly simple and complimentary.

In other words, this is the deep fried pickle of your dreams and you need to drop everything to try them. Of course, if you don’t live in Vancouver, that’s probably not going to happen. I feel sad for you if that’s the case, but also encourage you to seek out deep fried pickle perfection in your own ‘hood (and then tell me about them so I can try them if I happen to visit your ‘hood).  For now, I will just dream of the next occasion for which I might be in Vancouver and be able to reunite myself with these deep fried beauties. Sigh.

 

*This is not a sponsored post. I have no affiliation with Tap & Barrel whatsoever. However,  Tap & Barrel, if you do happen to stumble onto this post, I would gladly accept a lifetime of free deep fried pickles in exchange for promoting them here. 

Monday Musings: when you accidentally give up twitter

In my last job I was so incredibly bored and so remarkably un-busy that I often checked Twitter hourly. Okay, if I’m being really honest, sometimes it was every 15 minutes. So basically I checked Twitter way too often. But then I got busy in my new job, so busy in fact that I cold-turkey stopped checking Twitter almost two months ago.  It’s been an enlightening experience to let go of something that used dominate a fair bit of my time and mental energy, and today I share that enlightenment with you.

For the most part, I followed a pretty light crowd, a pop culture hodge-podge of musicians, movie stars and athletes. Still, there’s enough going on in the world today that it was easy to fall down the Twitter rabbit hole of infuriating tweets and retweets and sub-threads. Often, I’d walk away from my brief but frequent forays into the Twitter-scape with feelings running the gamut from mildly irritated to disgusted with the state of the world. In other words, Twitter was bad news for my emotional well-being.

At first it was difficult to let go.  Sure, I was busy, but I wondered what  Chrissie Teigen was cooking that day or whether Ryan Adams was hanging out with his cats.  I felt disconnected from the world at large.  But then when I realized I also wasn’t reading Donald Trump retweets or endless and increasingly illogical arguments between the anti-NRA and the pro-NRA, suddenly I realized that my mental energy was staying more balanced. I was getting less worked up. The world was looking brighter. Twitter was in grave danger of being forgotten.

But the best part of this whole unintended Twitter breakup was that Twitter knew it was on the verge of being ghosted. They clearly have a game plan in place for when frequent users experience a drastic drop off. It started with the daily emails, that ones that kindly informed me that I had 29 updates from a handful of whatever Twitter’s algorithm had determined were my favourite celebrities du jour. I could live with that. I liked to know Twitter was still thinking about me.

But then they added a second daily email, these ones a little more focused on just one celebrity. They were putting all their eggs in one basket.  They were willing to bet that if I knew Ryan Adams tweet was featured in the news, I’d have to get back into that app. I mean, I might be missing kitten pictures. I was sort of impressed with this strategy. I am a highly curious person. I did want to look, but my new job has kept me so much busier that I often simply forgot.

Never ones to accept defeat, Twitter then unleashed its unleashed the ultimate FOMO-inducing strategy. Feast your eyes on this one:

It’s so supremely mysterious, so very deliciously vague. I mean, what is this one message that is waiting just for me??? I actually give Twitter a huge kudos for this one. It’s one thing to tell me that someone I follow has just tweeted, or to let me know that his or her tweet has somehow gone viral, but it’s a whole different ballgame to create the illusion of personally curated tweets that only my eyes might see.

It’s a total lie, of course, but for just one brief moment I imagined a world in which Twitter might somehow know that what I needed that very moment was a picture of Ryan Adam’s cats and not the inane political ramblings of a bunch of total strangers. But although it was a nice dream, it was also a flawed one, and so I ignored even this most coy of click bait and continued without Twitter. On the other side of two months Twitter-free, I can honestly say that almost nothing could tempt me to come back.*  I might finally have cracked the code on my own sense of FOMO. Thanks, Twitter, I’ve been working on that one for a while.

 

*It also helps that I finally unsubscribed from all their “you’re missing out” emails. 

Monday Musings: 4 weeks to go

Ever since we bought our place in Vernon, it’s seemed like something so incredibly distant.  We bought back in July knowing that our place wouldn’t be ready until January at the earliest.  That seemed a lifetime away. Even as we sold our old place and moved into a rental in October, January still seemed like a million years away. Then our possession date got pushed back to March and I really started to feel like we were never going to make our move. Long story long, it’s never felt like our move was coming any time soon.

Now we suddenly find ourselves just four weeks away from a scheduled possession date. That’s four weeks to get our place packed and reorganized, get everything organized to move into our new home and, most importantly, to say goodbye to the people and place that have been our network and home for the vast majority of our adult lives. As we start to make lists of things to do and people to see, and slot those people in to dates, it’s clear that there’s really not much time left at all.

I’m generally pretty pragmatic about such things in life. I’ve moved a lot, left people behind a lot, managed the logistics of big moves more times than I want to remember. There’s steps to be taken and things to be done.  In some ways it’s old hat to me, but what never gets familiar is that sinking feeling when you realize: right…things are actually going to change in a really big way. 

A move to a new city shakes up all the comfortable, routine patterns of your life. It’s little things, like your local grocery store, the place you go to get a bottle of wine when you realize you’re out of wine, where you find the best coffee, who makes the best donuts, or where you go when you want an ultra satisfying dinner out.  But it’s also the big things, like being able to call up a friend and see her at the drop of a hat, like realizing the Sunday family dinners (which, ironically, were mostly hosted on Saturdays) that you used to have monthly are at risk of never happening again or at very least will require some serious logistical masterminding, like realizing we’ll have no family closer than a four hour drive away from us, like absolutely everything being new and different, even if only a little bit.

Don’t mistake this as second-guessing our decision to move. I couldn’t be more excited to go. I’m excited for the potential positive impacts to our lifestyle and to our careers, and incredibly excited to be so dangerously close to all of the wine. But one can be excited for the future while still experiencing a feeling of heavy loss for all the good I’ll leave behind, of which there is a lot.  Amidst the excitement of leaving, and all the waiting and having it feel like it took forever to get to moving day, I carry a bit of that heaviness and grief with me every single day. And I know that feeling of loss will continue to grow over the coming weeks as I start to realize that every time I see friends or places I love, it’s one visit closer to not seeing them in person as often.

In some sense, it is beautiful, this conflict between excitement and sadness. It tells me that this place and its people matter to me and that I need to make sure that I stay connected even if at a distance. It tells me that, even though I am leaving, there is a lot of potential to expand the people and places I love once we (finally!) get to Vernon.

Mid-Week Tangent: when you make the mistake of Googling “best new valentine’s chocolates 2018”

I should know better. I should know that the world is full of products that I will never be able to fully wrap my head around.  But sometimes I just can’t resist the temptation of typing a stream of words into Google, clicking search and falling down the rabbit hole.

This all started when I realized that it is only one week until Valentine’s day and I have yet to check out, purchase or consume any of the plethora of Valentine’s day confections out there in supermarkets these days. Alas, that had to change. I mean, what new confections might I be missing out on because I’d been too lazy to do my homework?

This is how I ended up Googling “best new Valentine’s chocolates 2018”, and that is how I came to view the entire 19 pages of Valentine’s Candy & Treats on Target’s website (sidenote: kudos to Target for so conveniently creating a sub-page exclusively for  Valentine’s treats).  I know, I know, this is mainstream grocery store chocolate, but that’s precisely what I was looking for. I want to know what Reese’s, what Dove, what M&Ms are doing to make Valentine’s special, not what some boutique chocolatier in idyllic New Hampshire countryside has churned out for the ungodly price of $75 per box.

Lucky for you, I’m about to share the most perplexing and odd of the Valentine’s candy assortment in a feature I’d like to call:

Why does this exist? 

First up, we have hot and spicy cinnamon Oreos, which I’ve pre-emptively (i.e. without having tried them) deemed repulsive based on the following:
–Cinnamon hearts are an abomination
–Flavoured Oreos never taste remotely like the flavour they presume to be
–Cinnamon hearts are an abomination (this is not a copy and paste error, it simply bears repeating)
I think we can all also agree (again, without having tried these) that there is no way in hell that they are actually hot and spicy. Moving on.

Not everything should taste like red velvet. In fact, in my opinion nothing should taste like red velvet because red velvet tastes like food coloring and, unless you’re five, that shouldn’t be appealing to you.  The flavour aside, I’m struggling to understand the tie in between kittens, Valentine’s Day, and red velvet. Kit Kat fail.

The only thing worse than cotton candy at an amusement park is cotton candy that has been trapped in a tub on store shelves likely for years because no one buys cotton candy at the grocery store.  Much like the kittens with the Kit Kat, I also don’t understand the connection between cotton candy, unicorns and Valentine’s Day, but my bigger beef is the gall of claiming it’s blue raspberry flavour. We all know that cotton candy has only one flavour: sugar. However, I do applaud the ‘wild about u’ for being gutsy enough to not even spell out the word ‘you’.

I have so many questions about this one. Are these gumballs the size of actual tennis balls? If so, are they appropriately labelled as a choking hazard? When you pop the cap open, will the canister smell like real tennis balls? Would the gumballs taste like that smell? Aside from being a game with two players, and a game which includes the scoring term ‘love’, is there anything else inherently romantic about tennis? What would the person you love think if you brought home “Love, Love Tennis Gumballs” as a representation of your undying commitment to him or her? Sadly, I will never learn the answers to these questions.


Is the Valentine’s Day chocolate equivalent to the singing Bass? I appreciate the “you’re a keeper” pun immensely, but I am not entirely sure what it says to give the one you love a chocolate fish, especially when we all know that fish is made of some seriously sub-par, off-brand chocolate. Please, I beg of you, do not give your loved one a chocolate fish even if you love puns (I’m including this last note in case my boyfriend actually reads this because he loves puns and I’d be liable to end up with one of these bad boys).

This is either chewbacca or Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. Wearing a bowtie/shirt collar combo that has no shirt attached. With a rose in his teeth. And a furry exterior. Ready to bear his soul and offer you…original beef jerky. I honestly can’t say which of these disparate facts I love the most. Unlike the pseudo-chocolate fish above, I think I’d actually like to receive this for Valentine’s Day, though I surely wouldn’t touch the beef jerky inside it with a ten foot pole. I would, however, keep the box for posterity, proudly displayed in a high traffic area of my home as a surefire conversation starter.

Did you have any clue that such wondrous Valentine’s confections were at your fingertips?  I feel as though I’ve just added so much to your lives. Now get out there, because you only have 7 days to stock up on these goodies before they’re replaced by all that Easter’s candies have to offer.