Roll the clip

Alright folks, let’s get a few things straight.

Today is September 20, 2014.

We are approximately three days away from the beginning of the Autumnal season.

I am twenty-nine years of age.

You are whatever age you currently are.

This is where I am sitting:

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Everything is both beautiful and terrible. Everything is both unadulterated brilliance and unmitigated bonkerness.

Everything just is.

Sometimes, whenever I start to get really down by all of the fuckery that seems to dominate our world’s discourse (not to mention actions!), I just really try and focus on all the amazing, beautiful, and breathtaking things and events of which I am privileged enough to both behold and partake.

And sometimes, I just think about the quiet world of my early morning, pre-work runs.

When the sky is a mottled blend of purples, pinks, greens, and blues.

When the sky is the most beautiful bruise.

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I run down along the boardwalk with my heart in my throat, and my tears in my eyes. My legs feel as though they are six miles long, and my arms pump, just like my blood pumps, and everything feels right and strong.

And I know that I am flying.

Sometimes I feel silly and trite writing again and again what it feels like to run. How propelling myself forward as hard and as fast as I possibly can brings on such infinite joy.

But I can’t.

Just like running itself, I cannot stop.

I cannot swallow these words.

They are a compulsion.

They are a joy

Work has been a little batty of late (50+ hour weeks), spent zipping about like zipping things (zippers!!).

However, seeing as though my fellow colleagues are gentlewomen and squires of the highest order, I cannot bring myself to complain.

The fact that I am passionate beyond a thought about my job and the work that I do is, of course, another boon.

However, this is not to say that we can’t have a great laugh at our own expense, especially in the lead-up to a very large event, of which we have been working on since March.

March!

Case in point:

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I, like we all, have the capacity to be a grumpy cat.

Hence, I am actually grumpy cat.

Remember movies?

I do, but barely.

And this leaves me feeling a little melancholy.

Because movies used to mean so much. They used to mean so much to me.

I recall the first movie that I ever saw in a theatre.

Beauty and the Beast was everything a movie should be (in my very discerning six year old mind). It was funny and scary. There was a beautiful, brilliant, strong female lead who loved to read and who wouldn’t take crap from all the ridiculous idiots who populated her “provincial town.” She, rightly, loathed Gaston, and held her own when it came to The Beast’s infantile temper tantrums.

In truth, it’s probably the only Disney princess flick I’ll ever be okay showing my future kidlets (but that’s another post for another time.)

I am fairly certain it was my nanny Suzanne who took me to the movie, and it was her gift to me on my sixth birthday. We went to the old (and now sadly demolished) Capital Six, back when Granville Street was in its full grunge-tastic glory.

Memories!

The first “grown-up” movie I ever watched in theatres was when Shona Langmuir, Patricia Beckerman (aka “The Girls”), and I went and saw The First Wives Club when we were in grade five.

Note: please let me emphasize the term “theatres” in the above sentence. My family were rather lax when it came to flicks seen by us kids, and we were viewing adult movies at a very, very early age. I remember watching the Fugitive on Easter Monday in grade two.

Nothing like collecting a bunch of chocolate eggs and then sitting down as a family to watch Harrison Ford clear his name!

Good grief.

But I digress. Holy damn did I ever dig The First Wives Club. Sure I didn’t get a lot of the jokes, and the scene where Brenda eats dinner by herself absolutely destroyed me. But it didn’t matter. It was three women who loved each other, out in the world, kicking ass and taking names.

Too this day I re-watch it at least once a year.

You don’t own me!

Looking at both this film and Beauty and the Beast would you say that there seems to be a pattern emerging as to the type of movie that really resonated with my younger self?

Oh to be that wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, newly emerging feminist!

There are so many more movies that, collectively, with the thousands of books, songs, and other miscellaneous artistic detritus that I’ve encountered and loved along the way, have helped inform who I am as a young woman today.

For instance: I LOVE Forrest Gump.

Next time you see me, ask me to quote the entire movie. I will do this for you.

I also love Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and A Fish Called Wanda, and I will always adore Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

I saw Amelie in grade eleven with my first boyfriend and spent the entire summer pretending to be her.

I adore Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy. My favourite of the three films being the darkest and most brilliant black comedy of all time, “Blanc.”

I will go to my death extolling the cinematic virtues of The Big Lebowski. For me, nothing will ever be funnier than this brilliant pieces of the Coen Brothers subconscious. I quote it all of the time and there are total parts of my and Marc’s vernacular made up solely by movie lines. I can also never look at a bowling alley the same way again.

It’s weird.

I love dramatic films as much as I do comedy, however I just am never one to really revisit these masterpieces, and as such they don’t influence my life to the degree as my favourite comedies.

And it’s not as though these two genres cannot exist simultaneously. In no uncertain terms are they are not mutually exclusive concepts.

It just takes one hell of a filmmaker to pull this off.

(Like the Coen Brothers.)

But isn’t movie watching also so much about the experience? The memory of that time spent in the theater? Where you were? Who you were with? Where you were in your life?

Probably one of my most cherished movie related memories is from the first few months of Marc’s and my courtship. Only four months into what is now an eleven year love affair, the two of us went to see Love Actually on a dark, went and very cold Vancouver November afternoon.

I had spent the night at his place and, because I was in my weird “only skirts, no pants” phase, I was wearing a pair of his cords because I didn’t have a clean pair of tights. They were absolutely huge, and I looked a bit of a sight. We had spent the morning at a community theatre on the Westside where I auditioned for a part in an upcoming play (spoiler: I didn’t get the part!), and then had bussed downtown. Arriving at the theatre (also the Capital Six!), we ran up the escalator so we wouldn’t be late for the previews.

I so wish I could properly communicate how much I felt watching that movie, sitting next to the man (the boy!) for whom I felt so, so, so strongly.

My body completely electric as I held his hand, I laughed at Bill Nighy’s amazing portrayal of Billy Mac and felt my heart break and break and break for Emma Thompson.

I just loved it.

I hate that I am even typing this, but for me, at that moment in my life, love truly was all around.

(I’m sorry!)

But it’s true.

And that’s why movies matter.

And why, despite the fact that I never go to the theatre anymore, and I only use my Netflix to watch old episodes of QI and MI5, I’ll never let them go.

I couldn’t even if I tried.

I think I am going to be sick

So.

Do you guys ever come home thinking that you’ll work out right away but then you realize that you’re actually starving so you eat all of the wheat thins and chocolate milk but then work out anyways and spend the whole time trying not to ralph?

Yes?

I really feel like this happens to me too much for my own good.

It’s strange.

I never really feel the full extent of my hunger pains until I walk through my front door and start getting my stuff (shorts/sports bra/socks/etc.) together and start thinking about where I am going to go for a run or what I am going to do for my workout.

I know a lot of this has to do with the fact that I often don’t eat enough food at lunch – either because I arrived for the day inadequately prepared, or maybe I just worked straight through my break, or maybe I did eat, but all I had was a bag of unsalted roasted almonds, and dried cranberries (which, just for the record, is the most delicious combination of life.)

Either way, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Because there really is nothing worse than working out and no knowing whether or not you’re going to barf – right?

(Okay, there may be one or two worse things in the world, but for the sake of hyperbole, let’s say that there isn’t.)

And I don’t know exactly why, but somehow this still keeps happening to me.

This is my blessing.

This is my curse.

I think what it boils down to is, when I get hungry – like, really, gut-wrenchingly hungry, the kind of hunger that sneaks up on you from behind and then knocks you senseless with one strong punch to the back of the head – I have little (to no) self-control over what it is that I eat, and then I carry on as if nothing has happened, having convinced myself that I need not alter my behaviour to accommodate for the 1000 milligrams of sodium I may have just ingested.

(I mean, at the very least I should drink a boatload of water to help flush that crap out.)

For instance, I once went for a six kilometer run after eating an entire bag of smokey bbq kettle chips as if it was AIN’T NO THANG.

And it wasn’t.

Until, of course, I had to make a b-line for the Queen’s Park port-a-potty approximately four and a half kilometers into my route and spent the next hour and a bit suffering from the cold-sweats, wrapped in a wool blanket, sipping peppermint tea.

(That was a pretty dark day for me.)

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Not this specific incident, but another pretty crazy workout – caught in a rainstorm mid-run!

This cavalier attitude is also unhelpful, because I’m really trying to push my boundaries when it comes to strength training and nothing, NOTHING says disaster, both in terms of strength gains and general gastronomic distress, then improper nutritional choices.

Speaking of which, (and I know this may seem inconsequential for all you health nuts out there), but for the past three days I haven’t eaten sweets after my dinner.

Now, this is HUGE because 1.) I actually ATE a proper dinner (huzzah!) and 2.) I normally always eat dessert after EVERY meal (seriously, sometimes I eat multiple desserts, or just have dessert for dinner).

For me, taking a bit of a break from my usual après-meal status quo is pretty darn sweet.

NO PUN INTENDED.

So in the end, maybe this crazy stuff finds a way of evening itself out?

I mean, I’m certainly going to keep striving to improve my health, make better choices, and DEFINITELY eat lunch every day – no matter what.

I just also have to recognize that, like me, these choices of mine are never going to be truly perfect.

A tale to give you the jitters

Three days in a row last week I woke up at 4:30am.

This is never fun.

You see, I arrived back home from Halifax on Tuesday night, and after cramming my face full of delicious artisan cheese bread, lemon squares, pink lady apples, and coconut water, I fell into a sleep coma around 9:00pm.

Canada is known for many great things – healthcare, maple syrup, Rick Moranis – but ease of cross-country travel is definitely not one.

5000 km in a day will really leave you knackered.

It’s enough to make one dream of moving to Lichtenstein.

Anyway, back to that first night, despite heavy night sweats brought on by the whack-load of food I ate before bed (which normally tucker me out like crazy and bring on the second (sleep) wind like nothing else), I couldn’t get my snooze back on.

So as the clock quietly blinked four, I slipped out of bed, put on my sweat pants and a thick wool sweater, grabbed my water cup and tiptoed out of bed.

The kitten, unused to such early-morning activity, poked her little head out from behind her chair of rest and looked at my quizzically, as if to ask, “What’s up mum?”

I sat down in the darkened living room and watched a couple of episodes of 30Rock, sipping on a piping hot cup of coffee, as the kitten purred in my lap.

Then I did the exact same thing the next day.

And the next.

Jetlag is never fun, and after three days of interrupted sleep and early mornings, I crashed hard on Friday and slept straight for eleven hours.

Eleven hours!

And after a solid eight and a half last night, I finally feel as though I am back on an even keel, sleep-wise.

YAY!

Now, as mentioned in my previous post, there are a few things in my life I very much love, that maybe previously I definitely…didn’t love.

So, on the subject of jetlag, early mornings, and terrible sleeps, let us move onto thing #2 that I used to hate, but now adore – COFFEE.

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I remember so perfectly the first time I ever tried a cup of joe.

I was eleven and it was at the TD Bank on 10th and Alma in Vancouver. (That branch eventually moved to 10th and Sasamat a couple of years later.)

I was there to open my first bank account because I had won $50 dollars for taking home the aggregate title in a highland dancing competition the week before.

Talk about a lucrative day of hoping about in a kilt, over swords and other Scottish battle detritus. Especially for the 12 and under set!

I was super stoked to be taking part in something so unbelievably grown-up (bank accounts were such a huge deal! I mean, you got debit card and everything!), that I figured what better way to celebrate my new found adulthood than by drinking my first cup of java?

So with little fanfare (but with many, many little butterflies flitting about in my stomach) I picked up one of those small, white Styrofoam cups and filled it full of steaming coffee.  Then I dropped in a few sugar cubes, and added enough Coffeemate to make the colour of the liquid change to a milky, chocolate brown.

I thought it would taste like magic.

NOT LIKE THE BITTER ACID OF DEATH.

All I could think of is, “WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER DRINK THIS POISON?”

Seriously, this experience was enough to turn me off coffee for the next fourteen years.

Talk about trauma.

In high school, or university if I was ever with friends and they grabbed cappuccinos, I would drink hot chocolate or chai lattes.

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Definitely hot chocolate!

All throughout grad school I drank nothing but tea (heaps, and heaps of tea) to stay awake during my mad hours of studying, researching, and writing.

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Camping tea!
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BEST.

I even worked at two different coffee shops making AMAZING espresso drinks for two years, and yet never once managed to sample my wares.

(Well, that’s not entirely true – on my last day of work at Petit Ami Coffee, I tried a tiny sip of a mocha and then basically passed out from an overwhelming mouth sadness.)

It wasn’t until my first “office job” post grad-school that I started my long march down the dark, beautiful, and addictive bean juice path.

On my first day of work I was SUPER early and very nervous, so I figured I would stop at the Second Cup at the bottom of my office building and get something to drink.

I was just about to order a hot chocolate when my eye caught sight of a “vanilla bean latte” and I thought, “eh? Why not? Vanilla bean sounds like it might be alright.”

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VANILLA BEAN!

So I threw my inhibitions to the wind, ordered it up, and took a sip.

And you know what?

I still didn’t like it all that much.

But for some reason, I went back the next day and ordered the same thing.

And then the next.

I just kept doing it.

I know. WHAT A WEIRDO, right?

But, slowly and surely I started to like the stuff.

I started to look forward to my morning vanilla bean.

Nearly every day, for almost two and a half years, I bought that drink and on the weekends I made surgery, sweet café-au-laits.

And while I don’t work that job anymore, I still enjoy waking up every day knowing that before I start anything (big or small) I will get to warm myself over a milky, sweet cup of coffee.

Especially on mornings when I’m up at 4am.

And I have a kitten in my lap.

Trust in the unknown

This past Monday I began a new adventure, at a new place of work.

As it is anytime you start a fresh assignment in life, the transition has been exciting, and a little nerve wracking, overwhelming, and just downright fun.

I am someone who never really likes to do anything without being, well, incredibly versed in whatever it is that I am doing (aka I am a foolhardy perfectionist), so starting out as the new gal is always a bit of a learning curve for me.

It never really does get easier, but my belief in myself and my abilities has grown as I have also grown (older), and so I do have an easier time coping with the pressure that I put on myself.

But I have a confession to make.

Perhaps not exactly a confession, but an addendum (or perhaps the opposite of an addendum?) to this tale –

I quit my old job before I had secured my current position.

I’m not sure if any of you remember, but about five thousand years ago I wrote about the fact that I had “a secret” – something that I desperately wanted to share with all of you, but couldn’t for reasons (annoyingly) that I couldn’t divulge.

My plan had been to put in my notice with my old employer, take the summer to both spend time with Marc, and finally take a moment to think about what it was I wanted to do in the next phase of my career.

I had tentatively been putting together a project plan around starting a non-profit focused on providing writing and theatre opportunities for young women here in New Westminster, and had also planned on doing public speaking for Big Sisters through the United Way in the fall.

However, nothing had actually been set in stone.

I would be throwing caution to the wind, jumping into the void, and using all the other available clichés I could think of, to take the biggest (professional) risk of my relatively young career.

Many people sought to tell me that handing in my notice with no concrete job prospects, or guarantee of income was more than a little scary.

But despite this, I knew that leaving my old position was the best thing I could do for myself.

Sure, what they were telling me was, for all intents and purposes, correct. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I had some trepidation thinking about the unknown – but I also received an incredible amount of energy, excitement, and giddiness thinking about it.

In the end I trusted my abilities to succeed far more than I did my occasional stomach twinges of anxiety.

I knew that something would come up.

And in the end something did.

Just five days after handing in my letter of resignation, my current job was posted.

Nine days later the position was mine.

I am still incredulous at the serendipitous nature of the whole process – but hey, in the end you’ve got to just trust your instincts, right?

Because in the end, you are the only one who knows what will make you the happiest – whether that means staying until you find your next step, or jumping out of that plane knowing for certain that the parachute will unfold – it’s best to follow your head, heart, and gut.

(But just check to see if the parachute is indeed there. That might be good too.)

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Contemplating jumping off a cliff. JUST KIDDING! (Hiking in Oregon – more on that this Friday!)

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