I’m perfectly calm dude

Today is my birthday.

According to http://www.thisdayinmusic.com the #1 song on my day of birth was “I wanna know what love is” by Foreigner.


This year the theme for the day is “no muss, no fuss.” For the last four years I’ve partaken in some pretty wild festivities, so I’m a little relieved that this year’s agenda is defined by two words:

Low key.

Tomorrow M and I are heading up to the cabin for a couple of days – we’ll run, read, rest and relax. (Probably catch some Superbowl action too.)

Two years ago, to celebrate the fact that I’d spent a quarter of a century alive and kicking on this big old ball of green and blue, M and I hosted a James Bond dress-up soirée. We instructed our guests to come costumed as their favourite bond villain, bond girl, or well, you know, bond bond, and then proceeded to get smashed on martinis (shaken, etc., etc.,) play poker and black-jack, and engage is some high-profile, high-hilarity espionage.

I think I ate more olives that night then I could have if I lived an entire year on the island of Crete. (And believe you me, that place is chock-a-block FULL of olives. I spend the majority of my time there marveling at how anyone could ever fathom picking them all – much to M’s equal parts amusement and chagrin.)

What was so great about the evening was how everyone really went whole hog when it came to their preparations for the night. We had many Bonds, a couple of Qs and one Rosa Klebb who completely stole the show.

I dressed as Vesper Lynd, while M decided on Gobinda, the evil henchman from Octopussy. (FULL DISCLOSURE: M is half-Indian so don’t start getting any crazy ideas here).

He looked so fabulous it was unreal. Plus he carried around a set of dice and kept pretending to crush them in his death grip – bloody hilarious and seriously flash. For more info please see:

The party took place just as I was beginning to buckle down and write my graduate thesis, and I told myself that after the night’s shenanigans were through, I wasn’t going to have any fun until after I rocked out on my defence, and finished my master’s.

It was a tremendous “last big bash” – a good lead in to three months of thirteen hour days in self-imposed isolation, spent hunched at my computer, writing about immigration policy and refugee integration schemes.

I’m happy to say that I was successful in both of the before mentioned endeavours, although in hindsight I am pretty sure that those months of suffering would have passed in a much less painful manner had I actually engaged in some light-hearted social fare every now and then.

But alas, as they say, live and learn.

Birthdays are a great opportunity to sit and (subjectively) contemplate where you are in life, where you’ve come from, and where you would like to go.

This week I’ve reflected quite a bit along these lines – trying to figure out the things I am happy with, the things I still have to work on, and the things I have overcome in the past year.

People keep asking me if I am alright, or if something is wrong, particularly when I tell them that this year I’m not interested in doing anything big for my birthday.

While I may not be contemplating my life in this exact spot (I wish!), I am contemplating nevertheless.

I’m guessing that this muted (and therefore I’m apt to guess out of character) demeanour of mine  has led many to believe that I’m either down in the dumps (I get this quite a bit when I’m not my normally boisterous, extroverted self), or sweating over the fact somehow, despite my best efforts, I have managed to age yet another year.

This is not the case.

In fact, I’m having a hard time convincing people that I am downright a-okay. I’m just meditating on the past, and mulling over my future.

Which, at least to me, is a positive endeavor.

One thing I am working on is giving myself credit for the things that, well, deserve credit.

Seriously, it’s a chronic behavioural problem of mine. I am almost pathologically incapable of giving myself a pat on the back.

And although this problem used to be much worse than it currently is, the fact of the matter remains: I have tremendous difficulty truly taking pride in my triumphs, for fear that in doing so, I will come off as a big-headed, conceited jerk.

I’ve learned that the easier way to to combat this fright (and avoid that outcome) is to to ignore my successes, and instead immediately soldier on to my next goal, or activity, without so much as a second glance back.

I’ve been wondering about this quite a bit, and asking myself why I, like so many young people I know, are quick to downplay their accomplishments, almost to the point of parody?

Why do we squirm at the idea of complimenting ourselves, or accepting recognition from others?

Growing up I had a very real, very tangible belief that if I ever dwelled on that which I did well, people would right me off as self-righteous and self-involved. Being labelled “stuck-up” was second only to “slut” when it came to my biggest fears in terms of my (real or perceived) social identity (that second moniker is fodder for another topic, on another day.)

So I never took the time to congratulate myself, or accept the compliments of others (and if I did, it was always handled with a heavy dose of self-deprecation, or an attempt downplay what it was I had achieved), and I pushed to take on more activities, which in turn saw me place endless pressure on myself to excel– only to once again, ignore my successes.

This created an incredibly negative feed-back loop, defined by stress, insecurity, fear, and pressure. That my mental and physical health deteriorated because of this problem is an understatement – this warped, chronic need to over-achieve (but never acknowledge it) took over my life, manifesting itself in eating disorders, compulsive exercising, and long stretches of insomnia.

While I would like to say that I am completely over this affliction, I would be lying if I did. I can say however, that the  place I am today, is almost completely unrecognizable from where I was ten years ago.

I am no longer sick, I am much less stressed out, and I am always working on putting less pressure on myself.

I am still committing myself to numerous engagements, because they make me happy, while at the same time trying to make sure that I can self-validate through this process.

I am learning how to say “good job”, and “thank-you” (with no self-deprecating follow-up).

So while this year, I may not be throwing a grand bash to celebrate my birth, rest assured that I am celebrating.

Early birthday card, delicious birthday cookie.

I’m just doing it a little quieter, that’s all.

And that is definitely a-okay.

She works hard for the money

On days like today, when the weather gods and goddesses are smiling down on the fair (or otherwise) inhabitants of Southwest BC, there is a tree visible from my office window.

Standing alone, its branches spindly and ramrod, reaching for the heavens, it glows golden, as though kissed by a rogue ray of sunshine – it has been set aflame.

Glow little tree, glow with all your might!

It’s a spectacular sight to behold, and one I so often miss on days dominated by cloud cover and rain.

In an attempt to jazz up my work days, I have been making an attempt to incorporate more pretty things (most of which are predominately dresses) into my weekly wardrobe.

Another factor playing into this decision was my (still current) self-imposed restriction on purchasing new goods – this ban has been making it harder and harder to recycle my most tried and true outfits. For real, there is a limited number of times I can wear my pink cable-knit sweater before my skin will end up permanently dyed rose, and my skin tattooed with that unmistakable braid pattern.


Plus, I have a pretty solid collection of frocks that don’t see much action outside of weddings and fancy events, which unfortunately can be few and far between in the winter months. Just seeing them in my closet makes my heart skip a beat – I’m not one to purchase things willy-nilly. If I buy it, it means that I like it. 

I like it a lot. 

A closet dominated by “work” clothes. Don’t worry, I’m a champ with the iron.

I am also not ashamed to admit that during the long stretches of time where I don’t have a chance to wear these beautiful outfits, sometimes it can be pretty fun to play dress up or have an impromptu fashion show, trying out different shoe-dress combinations – whether I’m on my own, or I’ve gotten M to act as my audience or critic.

(Mostly audience, sometimes critic.)

Yet, to be honest, getting into this new work-fashion grove was a little harder than I thought.

I was really nervous to even try it out.

Why, exactly was this, might you ask? I asked myself the same question.

It has been pretty darn interesting to sift through the many reasons that I found this decision to be much more of a challenge than I’d originally imagined it to be, particularly when it came down its execution.

It was not just a simple change of clothing to me.

I should stress that it wasn’t the opinion of colleagues or random passersbys that played into this aversion (in fact, I receive wonderful, reassuring, reactions, not to mention blush-inducing compliments every time I have donned a new outfit) – at the root of it, it was me.

Mostly I was afraid of looking like I had mistakenly showed up to a corporate workplace, instead of my intended destination (high tea with the Queen of England – aka Helen Mirren) after having taken that wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Or you know – that I was ten years old.

But mostly, and here I am a bit ashamed to even type out the words, I think I was afraid that the more feminine I dressed, the less likely I would be taken seriously – at the different lunches I go to, presentations I give, meetings I attend, interviews I conduct.

I am much younger than many of my colleagues, and I find that I often make myself hyper aware of this fact.

I put myself on edge, feeling as though I have to prove that, despite my age, I am a bloody rock-star at my job.

As such, if I dress too “womanly,” (combined with my obvious youth) I might command less respect, whereas when I dress “manly”, I have already knocked down one barrier (whether it be real or not – at least in my current position.)

Now, I understand that in reality, in my current situation, this hypothesis is most likely total crap. Assigning a gender to my clothing choices, and then evaluating my job performance (or at least how others may perceive, and therefore assess my performance) is pretty ridiculous.

However on a macro level (and micro for many, many others), both age and sex are two huge factors that negatively impact an individual’s professional success.

(I am also aware that the age factor is also a problem as you reach the other end of the scale.)

So it’s interesting to note, that while I am not in a position myself to be harmed by these attitudes, I have already internalized them, rendering an outsider’s imposition of them onto me a moot action.

In one word this is completely crazy.

One of the dresses I was originally too afraid to wear to work.

I’ve worked with enough people to understand that confidence in your abilities, coupled with a stellar work-ethic and solid output outweighs whatever outfit you may or may not be wearing on any given day – particularly if you present yourself as a professional, put-together individual.

And yet I stress over whether or not a beautiful, semi-formal dress, coupled with a cardigan/suit jacket and flats would somehow strip me of my professional legitimacy.

Thinking about this has really tripped me up, and opened up many other questions.

For instance:

When I wear a suit to work (specifically if I wear it with a tie, as I often do) and I doing so because I like the aesthetic of the outfit, or am I subconsciously trying to fit a preferred mould (aka presenting myself as a “male” somehow legitimizes my position?)

Or, am I able to just write it off to nothing more than the fact that I have always been attracted to men’s clothing, and because I am tall and lanky, this style of wardrobe works particularly well with by body type?

Or, at an even simpler level, am I just nervous of overdressing at work? As much as people may dislike the chronically underdressed, those who show up daily, ready for a black-tie formal, rarely escape criticism either.

At the root of it, I know this:

I first and foremost pride myself on presenting myself as a professional.

I just need to remember that first and foremost I am a professional.

A golden oldie, for a golden oldie

Well, friends, it’s finally happened.

Yesterday, at approximately 1:30 pm, January 10, 2012, I officially became AN OLD.

Red wine is totes an old people drink, right?

And just what exactly is AN OLD, you may ask?

AN OLD is basically the personification of the following situation:

[scene: Old codger (of indeterminate sex) stands on a creaky, wooden porch. They raise their cane and shake their fists.


Fade to black.]

And how exactly have I reached this conclusion, you, dear reader, might deign to ask?

Well, it was a three pronged process.

Yesterday on my lunch break, I took a long walk around the downtown core in an attempt to stretch my legs (and breathe life into my computer-screened eyeballs and mousy wrists), but more importantly to procure a birthday present for a fellow OLD.

(Although, it should be clarified that at the time that I set out, I did not realize that we were fellow OLDs (or peers if you will) as this connection had not yet been cemented by the following three events.)

Now, for the sake of full disclosure, I’m not one to really begrudge the aging process – at least not anymore. (I had my first age related panic attack on the eve of my eighteenth birthday when I realized that unlike Mary Shelley I would not be publishing my first book before exiting high school.)

But now I’ve pretty much chilled the crap out about those kinds of things. Plus, I’m also happy to report that also unlike Mary Shelley I didn’t turn into some crazy sexual deviant who hangs out with Byron-esque characters and does a ton of hallucinogenic drugs.

(At least not yet.)


Anywho, as I was saying, the first event that solidified my transition from HIP CAT to OLD (now, it seems I will need to start worrying about my hips) was when I was paying for said before mentioned birthday gift. As I gazed at the young woman who was ringing me up, I actually remarked on the following (albeit in my mind, thank goodness):


Umm, Mom? Is that you?

Holy crap.

The second event took place as I was browsing through another store. The music pumping its way through the shop’s stereo system was, to put it mildly, utter shite. I actually thought to myself:

This isn’t music! This is just noise!


(This one actually cracks me the heck up, because I can actually hear it so clearly in my mom’s voice that I actually heard it as such when it played out in my head. Seriously hilarious. Also, I actually get a kick out of the LMFAO song, but it makes M’s hairs stand on edge.)

Finally, as I was walking back to work, I paused and stared a large window display, and asked myself (again, with my inside, mother voice):

Who the flipping heck would wear THAT? For serious!?

And BAM! It hit me – Oldsville, BC – Population 1. ME.

So bring on the miserhood! I have ordered pants that go up to my collarbone, orthotics, dentures and bifocals.

The thing that bugs me the most about all of this is that should I actually procure all that clothing, I’ll just end up looking like another idiot hipster, whom, it should be noted, are the usual recipients of my get of my lawns ire.

I’ll work on it.

But speaking of hipsterdom, I returned today to the store of said before mentioned horror-show window display, in hopes of conducting a very important sociological (or, you know, plain old fashioned-based) experiment.

I sought out three mannequins and then proceeded to try on the outfits showcased by each model, in hopes of validating my previous claim that no one should be wearing these clothes, lest they wish to be labelled unhinged, or you know, batshit insane.

Onwards to outfit #1!

You have to pay more for the bedpan purse and ice chips.

This can be summed up in three simple words: HOSPITAL. GOWN. CHIC.

SEXY PATIENT! and frog.


Outfit #2 is a bit tricky – due to my craptastic camera it’s a little hard to discern what the fresh hell is going on here. I am wearing some pretty snazzy corduroy shorts, made to look like a skirt, but with a neat pleat right up the middle. The shirt itself isn’t half bad, but the cardigan is STRAIGHT OUT OF DYNASTY.

Blanche called. She wants her sweater back.

Shoulder pads? DO NOT WANT.


Outfit #3 is probably my favourite because it made me feel like one of those really amped up shopping channel hosts, or you know, the guy who used to yell “COME ON DOWN!” on The Price is Right.

The hills are alive! With the sound of Plinko!

The jacket reminds me of something that Maria Rainer would put together if she was interviewing for a job at a Palm Springs retirement resort and not au pair to the von Trapps.

All in all, pretty weird stuff, and definitely not something an OLD should by sporting on a regular basis. Plus, I’m one to readily admit that I always give myself the creeps, skulking around change rooms and taking photos of myself (in outfits I know I will never purchase no less).

But don’t take that as an admission that I’m about to stop anytime soon.

It’s just that as I mature, I have to become more aware of my surroundings.

How else will I know if someone’s fooling around on my lawn?

A new order

Heading into the start of this week I’m definitely feeling a little better, a little brighter and little less like Phil from the warehouse with the pains in his head.

Don’t know Phil? Let me introduce you:


All in all, while I may not be in tip-top condition (or Phil’s for that matter), I’m not about to keel over either.

Side note: M really doesn’t know what to do with Kids in the Hall (whereas they sit firmly in my list of top comedy geniuses of all time.) He told me yesterday that he has a hard time taking anything produced in the 80’s seriously, particularly stuff made in Canada (re: by the CBC). This is both hilarious and devastating to me, especially because I’ve just discovered that old school episodes of Degrassi are now available on Netflix. For me, that stuff is 24 karat gold nostalgia – what memory lane is paved out of! (You know, that and The Goonies.)

One point of note (or perhaps, one two-pointer point of note) regarding this recent spat of illness is 1.) this is the first time, in a long time (almost two years), that I had been sick for more than two consecutive days, and 2.) despite this fact (or perhaps because of it), I have not pushed my body into working out, or going for a run whilst still in the clutches of this congestion, fever and fatigue.

This may not seem like that big of a deal, but for me, the more I think about it, the more aware I become of the positive implications I can derive from this decision.

See – I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have gone to the gym in the past, plagued by aching bones, clogged sinuses, and high temperatures just because I couldn’t handle the way my skin felt due to the length of time it had been since my last workout.

Going more than a few days, particularly while sick, without physical activity was an excruciating, live-action nightmare.

Now, I understand that I haven’t written extensively on my past struggles with food and exercise, but suffice to say that they were long-endured, damaging and incredibly complex.

And exercising (whilst ill) was just one symptom of my disease.

It is only now that I am into a period of recovery (I actually like to think of myself as living “clean”, in so far as I cannot view my eating disorders as anything other than what they were – addictions) that I actually can even step back and objectively look at my behaviour both then (disordered) and now (healthy) and feel okay about both.

Where exercise was once an agent of my disorder, it is now an antidote.

Edit: When I say that I am “okay” about my past behaviour, I am in no way condoning those choices or behaviours. What I am trying to communicate is that I am able to reflect on that destructive period my life, and not beat myself up over decisions made, or, more dangerously, fall back into old patterns.

I am okay with looking back; I am okay with moving forward.

I am okay with making, and keeping myself okay.

Yesterday M and I ventured outside of our little house, in an attempt to stave off cabin fever and to procure new passport photos.

Whilst at the mall I came across the following window display outside of The Gap:

I. don't. understand.


What the FRESH HELL is a “sexy boyfriend” look?

What does that even mean?

YO AD EXECS! Can’t we leave gender alone for like, two minutes? It’s confusing me! And good ol’ J. Butler never accepts my collect calls anymore.

Also, something tells me that the marketing team over at Gap Inc. sure as sunshine won’t be releasing a “SEXY GIRLFRIEND” look for their men’s department any time soon.

Oh! You mean, the "SEXY BOYFRIEND look". I though you meant the "LOOK SEXY FOR YOUR BOYFRIEND" look. I mean, that's the only reason to wear clothes, right?

Because, jeeze, what self-respecting guy would ever want to dress like a girl?


I mean, what about ladies that don’t have boyfriends? What about ladies that have girlfriends? What about ladies with un-sexy boyfriends?

I may be kidding here folks, but seriously NOT THAT MUCH.

Why can’t girls wear just pants and sweaters without it being about BOYS AND SEX AND FEMININITY AND MASCULINITY ALL THE GOSH DARNED TIME?

And seriously, when the frick were pants re-appropriated by the male sex?  And the SEXY contingent of the male sex at that?

(I’m so sorry to inform all the fugly gentlemen out there, but it seems that you are no longer allowed pants within the confines of your wardrobe. Unless, of course, you want to be accused of co-opting the style of your sexy peers, then by all means, go for it. You’ll be in good company.)

Sometimes I feel as though I am living in a bizarro world.

At least I now understand what that lady was talking about each time she told me to “mind the gap”.

And I’m telling you, sexy boyfriend-less legs and I?

We mind.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Do you ever get the feeling that, no matter what, you’re just going to have a good day? And while you cannot quite put your finger on it (whatever it may be), somehow you know that everything is going to work out in your favor?

This happens to me.

At least sometimes.


You see, I have many small idiosyncrasies and quirks (to be fair, I have many BIG idiosyncrasies and quirks, but let’s leave a thorough exploration of those for another day, shall we?) that have a peculiar way of letting me know (or at least, making me think I know) what the morning, noon and night has in store for me.

It's a new day! It's a new life! SING IT BUBLÉ.

Seriously, these strange twists of character probably aren’t the best barometer for the day’s happening (aka I give them WAY too much credit), but no matter how hard I try, I cannot rid myself of them.

For real, it’s mostly just me believing I have an uncanny affinity for zeroing in on my rather random or mundane early-morning events, and then ascribing to them crazy superstitious qualities, or even worse, horoscope-like powers.

In short, I’ll pick up on little things that happen once or twice, and then before I know it, I’ll have weaved them into own personal mythology as stand-ins for whether or not I think the day will bode well in my favor, or (more pessimistically) come to the realization that because these events have occurred, the whole world is doomed.


Luckily I haven’t had any nuclear fallout premonitions as of yet.  But I’ll keep you posted.

I do, however, experience this phenomenon on a much smaller scale, and weirdly enough, almost daily at that.  For instance, today on my way to work I finished two Metro Newspaper crosswords in the time it took me to travel from New West station to Metrotown.

Now, this in itself isn’t some awe-inspiring feat.


I mean, it’s the Metro News.


Also, if you do enough of them (as I have), you come to pretty much memorize the rotation of clues, so it’s more of an exercise in filling in the blanks AS FAST AS YOU CAN, and not, you know, actually working out the appropriate number-of-letters synonym.

BUT! Today, I took it as a sign.

You see, I have come to assume, that anytime I manage to complete multiple crosswords on my way to my job that whatever the day holds for me, the scales are sure to come out weighted in my favour by day end.

And annoyingly enough, I actually had a darn good day.  I was super productive at work, met up with a lovely friend for lunch, had a terrific work out at the gym, and ate a hearty, healthy dinner.

Bliss my friends. BLISS!

Now, while some of you may think that this is actually a healthy process, in so far as I am easily, albeit, inadvertently, setting myself up for a day of magic, because I have unconsciously ensured a day-long good mood, I cannot help but give myself some major side eye.

Sure no one likes to laugh at the crazy superstitions of anyone (take professional athletes for instance) especially because most people brush them off, thinking what harm can these little beliefs do, especially if they seem to work for the people involved?

Yet for me, more and more, these little oddities of mine are making me feel less Sidney Crosby, and more Sidney Crosby’s mustache.

(I cannot make fun of the lad too much though because 1.) his brain might be broken and 2.) because of said broken brain, may have to work the rest of his life at SportsChek.)

Take, for instance, my behavior during the two-week long process of applying for my (now) job: on my first day of interviews I walked by a neighborhood park that was COMPLETELY overrun my ducks.

Now, as many of you know, I am a deranged waterfowl fiend, so I somehow got it stuck in my head that as long as the ducks were in the park every morning, the job for sure would be mine.


You should have seen the sweat I broke out on the morning of my final interview when I arrived at the park that day and there wasn’t one little mallard to be found.

I was sure that I was hooped, and the new suit I had purchased would be all for naught.

(Least of all because I certainly did not have the sweet cash dollars to pay for the blasted suit in the first place. Though to be fair, it’s probably one of the hottest outfits I have ever owned.)

I mean, starting your day off on the right foot because you managed to complete a crossword is all well and good, but when you’ve freaked yourself out about your employment prospects and gotten yourself into a worrisome mindset, isn’t doing you any favors.

Least of all because actually thinking that a park’s lack of ducks would be the cause of my not getting a job is COMPLETELY BATSHIT CRAZY.

That’s right folks. I, like our one dollar coin, and a complete loonie.

Although I can’t help but wonder, dear friends, what I am to do with this information?

I mean, I’m definitely working on it. And I’ll keep you abreast of my progress.

But in the meantime, if someone would just pass me a bag full of stale bread, there’s a park close by that probably holds the answer.