Is it worth it, let me work it

I have worked a number of crazy jobs in my relatively short time here on planet earth.

Like many other young ladies, I started out as a babysitter, but quickly learned that it wasn’t really my jam. I never cared for the portion of the evening that included the kids being, well, conscious, and it was pretty devastating to learn that most of the families that I worked for had mediocre pantries at best.

If I was going to give up my Friday night, I figured I might as well get a week’s worth of junk food stuffed in my face – AM I RITE OR WHAT LADEEZ?

Anyways, after my failed and relatively short-lived foray into the world of child monitoring, things took a turn for the serious, and I was hired on as a Safeway cashier in the summer after grade ten.

For my then teenage self this was HUGE. I was making eight dollars an hour and I got to nonchalantly creep on all the weirdos who came into the store.

(And by creep I mean epically judge them based on the goods they were purchasing.)

This job was nuts for many reasons, the first being I had the absolute WORST assistant manager of life.

Sanjay* was a young, cocky, sexist jerk who was constantly on one giant power trip. The guy wouldn’t allow me to wear sweaters (so instead I would just wear the massive winter coats that were reserved for the dudes who collected the shopping carts at night) and he once made me cry in the upstairs back room by telling me I had failed a secret shop, despite having no material evidence to back up his claim.

According to him, I hadn’t thanked the secret shopper by their name on the store receipt. For my “punishment” he made me read aloud the names printed on about two hundred receipts, just so he could be sure that, and I quote: “I could, in fact, read.”

I pretty much sobbed through the entire thing, choking out the names, my cheeks burning with shame and embarrassment. Every so often I would squeak out, “This…this isn’t right…”

You can imagine how, for anyone, let alone a fifteen year old girl, this kind of thing can be pretty darn traumatizing.

I ended up filing an informal complaint against him (and by informal I mean I stuttered out my frustration to the actual store manager, letting him know how I thought it was unfair that Sanjay would let other girls wear sweaters but not me, and about how he told me I had a failed a test when I clearly hadn’t.)

And that yes, I could read, thank you very much.

I never expected anything to come from my actions, but amazingly from that day forward Sanjay never spoke to me again. He wouldn’t even make eye contact with me when he would come around to give me more change/bills for my till.

Just remembering those tense, awkward exchanges gives me the heebie jeebies.

Other than that, Safeway was pretty par for the course in terms of high school jobs. Working crappy shifts, bonding with my co-workers, having a laugh when my friends come through my line.

Also, I am strangely proud of how Speedy Gonzalez I was on the till. I had those PLU codes DOWN (I will never forget bananas – 4011), and would often make it a contest to see how quickly I could clear my register.

Sometimes customers would even be nice enough to compliment me on my mad skills.

(Or maybe this was just because I looked a bit like a rapper in my massive, massive winter coat.)

Anyways, my tenure at ye olde Way of Safe came to an end when I received a job a small café the summer after grade twelve.

I literally left a letter in the upstairs office that read: Please accept my resignation effective today.

Looking back, it probably wasn’t my finest hour, both in terms of politeness and leaving on a positive note, but by then I was so worn down by the store’s rampant culture of apathy and soul-sucking awfulness, that I really didn’t care.

After the café (which ended after that summer) I worked a number of jobs throughout my time as a university student, including stints at an international newspaper and magazine store (which also rented international movies and had a massive pornography section).

In the two years I worked there only two dudes came in to rent from the latter category.

I just figured they must be crazy traditionalists.

This job was great because I got to keep a ton of the magazines, which meant my collection of international fashion, nature, political, and photography periodicals grew like (paper) weeds.

I also watched a lot of great foreign flicks.

After that, I was hired as a temp at a chocolate store to help them in their lead up to the Easter rush, worked as a receptionist at a physiotherapy clinic, and then as a barista at a coffee shop down at Granville Island (MY FAVOURITE JOB OF LIFE).

After my stint with BIG ORGANIC FAIRTRADE COFFEE, I tutored and then took on a two-year stint with immigration with the government of Canada.

And now? Well, a girl has to have some secrets, doesn’t she?

Looking back, I wouldn’t trade in any of these jobs.

They introduced me to lifelong friends and provided me with experiences (both good and bad) that have helped shape who am I.

Which is of course, a rapper in a giant winter coat.

AM I RITE LADEEZ?

*Name has been changed, despite rampant douchbaggery

Some food for thought

Once upon a time I was scared of food.

Not all food, but most kinds.

Anything that I did eat had to be rationalized and picked apart, and most often times, thrown up.

Food was stressful.

Food was guilt.

Food was not fun.

These days, food is (for the most part) none of these things.

Food is a friend, not a foe. It is a tool that helps me lead a healthy, happy life – one that allows me to run like the wind, and tell funny jokes, and make mad-cap films with my map-cap husband.

And not those kind of films, you dirty jerks.

But the busier my life gets, the harder it can be to keep a level head (let alone any semblance of a regular eating schedule) so it’s imperative that I remain extra vigilant, lest I find myself (inadvertently) slipping into oh-so destructive, and oh-so familiar eating habits.

Of late I have had to really catch myself, and take a step back (or ten) just to make sure that I take better care of my health.

So this is why, I present to you the following photos, which I will title – FOOD I HAVE EATEN – as a reminder of why I need to continue to focus on this part of my life, and the brilliance and joy it has, and will continue to bring me.

Veggie burger.

I made this last Wednesday evening. I had just arrived home from work, rain-soaked, and wind-swept, shivering, and starving.

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Everything in my being was telling me to flop down on the couch with a box of wheat thins and a giant mug of hot chocolate and just call it an evening.

Instead, I took a long, hot shower (the kind that sufficiently fogs up the entire top floor of our place), and crawled into my pajamas, before setting up shop in the kitchen.

With my favourite radio program playing in the background (As it Happens), I chopped onions, and fried mushrooms, sliced cheese, and grilled a patty.

I even roasted some yam fries.

M was working late so I turned on the fireplace, curled up on the couch with little miss Nymeria, and watched some Portlandia, while chomping down on this delicious piece of soy heaven.

I posted this photo, because in the past, I would never have taken the time to make myself something, let alone a meal that was both nutritious and delicious. Plus, sometimes putting something together – even as simple as a burger, makes me feel like a four Michelin star chef.

Or Ratatouille.

Brunch it.

My brilliant and beautiful friend Emily of the fabulous Well Fed, Flat Broke, invited me over to her house last Saturday for a “reunion” brunch of sorts.

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Myself and all her guests went through UBC’s undergraduate Creative Writing program (nearly five years ago!!!) and it was so lovely to have the chance to catch-up and find out what has been going on in everybody’s lives since our last seminar together.

As we chatted, we munched on all the mouthwatering dishes Emily had prepared (truth be told, there was less chatting the more we munched) including a caramelized onion torte, tandoori cauliflower (my two favourites), roasted squash, and potato salad. Not to mention homemade kiwi sorbet.

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In truth, it was a perfectly decadent and divine way to start a weekend (and laid back, thank goodness, as I had been out until 1:30am after my stand-up gig the night before.)

I posted this photo because for many years eating in front of others gave me tremendous anxiety. Everything was calculated, down to the very smallest bite. I wanted to cultivate an image of myself as “a skinny girl” who still “ate a lot”. Now, I can interact with all the smart, sweet people in my life, and still enjoy their exquisite food. I am able to let what I am eating take a back seat to what’s really important – spending time with these wonderful friends.

Birthday cupcake.

My sister in-law’s fiancée’s daughter recently turned six. Being the utterly incredible soon-to-be step mum that she is, V took it upon herself to not only make pretty much the most amazing birthday cake I have ever seen, but also a batch of outrageously delicious cupcakes.

Hanging out with them last weekend, I was lucky enough to sample some of these wares.

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Believe me when I say it was a dessert experience and a half.

(Seriously, V should think about moonlighting as a baker. I WOULD BE HER #1 PATRON.)

I posted this photo because just eating a cupcake and not letting it tear me apart is not yet something I take for granted. I used to drive myself crazy rationalizing desserts (all food really, but sweets were the worst.)

Did I exercise that day? How much else had I eaten? Could I throw it up if needed?

The fact that I can eat a cupcake and be at peace with this fact, may sound silly, but it means more to me than I can really say.

So that’s it. Food I have eaten.

A series I hope will continue to run, for much time yet.

These beautiful words

I am beginning to think that I am the only one alive who still writes in cursive.

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Talk about your dying art.

And it makes me sad.

You can wax poetic about the information age all you want, but the fact of the matter is so many individuals (of all ages) just cannot hand-write – either for the life of them, or, well, because they just don’t know how.

(I won’t even get into what this means for spelling and grammar because that is a chestnut for another fire, er – time.)

I can remember being a little girl and wanting so badly to learn how to write in cursive.

As a kid, I was always on the move, and when I wasn’t practicing my times tables in the car on the way to piano – no joke, I can remember reciting my sevens over and over again while trying to memorize all of my scales and arpeggios – I was badgering my mother to teach me how to make my g’s look just like hers.

(My mom makes great, GREAT g’s.)

I finally wore her down and she bought me a booklet that taught me the letters, and gave me the means to practice them over, and over, and over again.

I pretty sure I finished all the worksheets in the space of a week, because once I began to get a feel for the English cursive alphabet, I was hooked.

It was like graphology crack, only for an eight year old.

(Graphology Flintstones crack?)

I loved the beautiful lines, and the dramatic loops; the way my letters ran together, and how the ink didn’t.

Because I was also a dancer, I imagined my words to be a series of steps, intricate and dazzling, but outwardly effortless.

Hand writing always made me feel so very posh. Like I somehow wrote myself into a royal lineage every time I signed my name, or marked down the date at the top of my in-class quizzes and essays.

As I grew up, I could never understand how my classmates steadfastly clung to their printing, unwilling to hand-write at any cost.

It seemed archaic.

And wrong.

I was astounded to find out at university that fellow students would actually print during midterms and finals.

Didn’t that take forever? Wouldn’t that cramp your hand twice as fast?

Why oh why would anyone forsake the promised script? Who were these non-disciples of the cursive way?

The job I had whilst in grad school required me to write a final exam (very top secret stuff here folks) and afterwards my examiner approached me to tell me that out of all forty candidates, I had been the only one to hand-write my answers.

I remain to this day, shocked, appalled, and just a little bit smug.

(Just kidding. I remain only two of those things.)

In terms of my relationship with writing these days, well, my favourite letters remain ‘r’ and ‘m’ – I like the way they feel in my hand and the way they glide away from my pen.

I love writing cards for loved ones, signing my name in wedding guest books, and filling out comment cards at conferences.

I like to think that I leave a little piece of myself every time I write, whenever I write.

And I look forward to being an old woman, sitting at her desk.

Smiling, I will put pen to paper.

And I will remember.

A day for the ducks

This weekend Mr. M and I trekked out to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, for an afternoon of water fowl and barnyard owls.

A swimming hole.

(Unfortunately, sightings of our flexible-necked friends were few and far between.)

We did however, espy a few swallows, a couple of herons, many, MANY ducks (mallards and otherwise), and a crap load of other birds I don’t know the names of, because who the heck do I look like people?

Ranger Rick?

Yeesh.

(I kid, I kid. Except not at all about knowing anything about the different species of birds I encountered. About that I seriously do know squat.)

A little guy.

It was a truly gorgeous afternoon – blue skies, brilliant sunshine – although the wind was a little snappish; I could feel each gust of cold sea air nibbling at my ear lobes, nose, my fingertips, and toes.

I was super thankful for my last minute decision to bring my winter coat, but even with the extra layer, I walked around with my arms speckled with gooseflesh (how appropriate for the venue, no?) for the majority of the time we were there.

However, when you’re strolling around a nature reserve, surrounded by hilarious, chirping, feathered creatures, your “problems” are put into perspective pretty darn quickly.

I sometimes have a really hard time visiting places like this because I get so over wrought with need to SAVE ALL THE BIRDS the world over.

A little gal.

(This reaction is much the same to the one I wrote about last week. See: Ethel v. SPCA adoption website.)

It’s also intrinsically tied to the paralysis I undergo every time I take out my recycling and see, once again, that the tone deaf dirt bags that live in my complex have once again placed their recyclables in the bin, in a bloody plastic bag.

For serious, one day someone is going to find my body, dead, splayed about on the ground in front of the blue boxes, empty cans in hand. I will have passed over to the other side from a complete and utter rage out (combined with a complete lack of understanding) over why someone would do this.

I mean – HOW LAZY CAN YOU POSSIBLY BE THAT YOU CANNOT JUST EMPTY THE CANS OR BOTTLES FROM THE PLASTIC BAG INTO THE BLUE BOX?

Good grief.

Yesterday Mr. M found a broken toaster in the recycle bin.

A TOASTER! AND IT WAS IN A PLASTIC BAG!

Okay, I need to take it easy. My heart probably shouldn’t be pumping this fast.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Seriously though, what the heck is the point of “recycling” if you’re not going to do it right? Wouldn’t it actually be better if they just threw everything into the trash, because at least that way they wouldn’t be buggering it up for the rest of us that actually, you know, care?

I thought about these indolent bastards as I walked about the park (but just for a little while – I didn’t want to give them too much airtime, or the satisfaction of ruining my entire afternoon.)

But then I started to think about how if the people who already inhabit the earth don’t care, what kind of destruction will the planet oversee when we have an even greater population of (I’m afraid to even imagine) people who care even less?

And then I thought about how many species of birds will be around for my children? Or their children?

Will this amazing bird sanctuary be a moot point because we’ve annihilated everything that would be targeted to live and thrive within the reserve itself?

My heart grew heavier and heavier just thinking about it all.

But then M took my hand, and we say on a bench and ate some grapes, and I slowly started to feel better.

Heron.

This heaviness I felt was gradually offset by a new set of competing factors and thoughts – indeed it became harder and harder to imagine such a dark world, because everything and everyone I was encountering at the park was the complete antithesis of that humanity and ecological peril I was fearing.

There were so many families out together – parents, children, grandparents, babies – teaching, watching, talking, learning about the different plant life, the insects, and course all the birds – calling out to the chickadees, and marveling at the swooping, circling falcons, feeding the ducks, and laughing at the geese.

There were exchange students with guide books, young couples on early spring dates, long-time husband and wife duos, and bird watching aces with camera lenses the width of my living room.

A married duck duo.

There were so many people, out enjoying the sun, basking in the beauty of the day, the park, the birds – the earth.

That it gave me hope.

And continues to give me hope.

It gives me hope that the Reifel sanctuary will be here for years to come.

Dance!

And that out there people actually know how to properly dispose of toasters.