Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It has been decided. Tonight, instead of making progress with work or researching what to do with RRSPs, I am going to sit in bed and watch Project Runway until I pass out.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Instructions Not Included
Every now and then I like to try something new in my life just because I get antsy for a change, sometimes it can make me feel grown up, and sometimes it's just fun to switch things up. Plus, it feels good to be able to say, "Oh yeah, I've tried that before and it SO DOES NOT WORK FOR ME."
Last August, when I was living back in the Loo for a few weeks for work training, my relatives from Boston came to visit (my parents' place). I wasn't around to host, hang out or even receive a little gift they usually bring with them. My aunt, of course, does all the shopping and in the past she'd buy me these awful outfits I'd only wear as pjs to bed, or tacky pj sets that I swore I'd never wear period. Now that I'm a bit older, she seems to have either wisened up or is trying all sorts of random things until she strikes gold. Enter the gift of August 2009: the electric toothbrush.
I, at 24 years old, have never used an electric toothbrush. To me, they were "fancy" aka "expensive" and growing up, I never had anything much more than simply what I needed. So, when all this elaborate dental care stuff came out I didn't bother with any of it (I still only sort of know what a water pick is) thinking that I would do just fine with my old school ways. But I wasn't adverse to trying something new and different, and I have to admit that I was pretty excited to have an electric toothbrush because sometimes I'm just too much of a scrooge to go out and buy something like that for myself. So, there I am, on that fateful day that it is time to replace my ratty, manual toothbrush and I happily cut through the plastic packaging that held the future to my improved oral hygiene.
To start, I had trouble opening the package. It was that hard plastic that usually comes with electronic goods and requires garden shears to cut through. That stuff can break skin if you're not careful. You all know the kind I'm talking about. When I finally got the brush out, I couldn't really figure out how to turn it on. I pressed around for a second or two and behold! it buzzes! So on goes the dab of toothpaste and in my mouth goes the dual-action spinning head and zzzZZZZzzZZZzzzZZ goes my teeth. And my gums. And lips. And the rest of my face until I realized, "Holy crap, this thing is INTENSE!" I tried to hold on for the required two minutes, but it got to the point where my hand was getting uncomfortable from the buzzing, my mouth was going numb and I could swear I was getting a headache from all the vibrating.
And here arose a problem: I couldn't figure out how to turn the damn thing off. There wasn't a switch of any sort and I tried pressing the button-type nub that turned it on in the first place, but that didn't work. I fumbled in the shards of plastic packaging in search of a mini-instruction manual. I read the piece of cardboard that came with it. Nothing. I squeezed, I twisted, and all the while the head is still doing its dual-action thing and foamy toothpaste is just spraying everywhere. After struggling with the damn brush for what seemed like way-too-long-to-turn-off-a-toothbrush, I finally press in the right spot and it stops. THANK GOD. Honestly, who needs to hide buttons underneath so much padding?
Paired with an old experience with a fuel cap lid* and a recent experience at a new gas station** this does not bode well for me trying to buy an RSP before the end of the week. I need to research and start a Retirement Savings Plan? Excuse me, didn't I just tell you that I needed instructions on 1. how to open my fuel cap lid 2. how to turn on a gas pump and 3. how to turn off a TOOTHBRUSH? ...Plan for my RETIREMENT? As if.
* I went to get gas with #2 of my 3 rental cars during my recruitment position with my alma mater and sat at the pump for 20 minutes trying to figure out how to pop open the lid so I could open the fuel cap to put gas in it. There was no lever under the driver's seat, there was no button anywhere, there was not even a little space for you to put your finger to manually open the lid. I even tried prying my nails in between the lid and the body of the car to wrench it open. No luck (and ouch). All my searching was futile until I grabbed the owner's manual and sat down to read the damn thing. I found the section on gas. Want to open the fuel lid? You press on the left side of the lid and the right side will pop open. It's that simple. No lever nor button inside, you press on the left side. Took me 20 minutes, folks.
**I'm driving home after a night out in the Loo, which is at least an hour and fifteen minutes away from home, if I speed. I was low on gas leaving the city, but I figured that maybe I could stretch it and make it home anyway. I couldn't. So I had to pull off the highway into suburbia somewhere and find a gas station, preferably the one I normally use so I can collect Air Miles. I didn't want to stray too far away from my route, so I stop at the first one I see, an old-school Canadian Tire. I get out of the car and do the gas pumping thing, only to realize that squeezing the handle did not produce any gas. I kept squeezing. I took out the pump and repositioned it. Nothing. Oh god - don't tell me I pulled up to a closed gas station (it was early Sunday morning and no one was around), but nope. The little booth definitely had a gas station guy inside who I'm sure was watching me with much curiosity at this point. I checked for buttons. The thing didn't even have a credit card swipe, so what were the chances of it having fancy buttons? Finally, I sucked up my pride and went into the attendant's booth. A less than chipper, angsty-looking teenager looked at me from behind the small counter. He looked like the type to readily defend his booth in the case of a hold-up.
"Uh - morning. I'm having a little trouble out there. I can't seem to... to get the gas pumping. Am I doing something wrong? Like, is there an ON button or something?" His brow wrinkled ever so slightly. "You're kidding me, right?" I realized what I must have looked like: it was super early Sunday morning and here I was, still dolled up up from the night before in my red coat and pointy-toed, lace-up hooker-witch boots. My hair and make up was that kind that says, This looked good about twelve hours ago before I passed out from overindulging in alcohol and tex-mex. I smiled meekly. "Uh, unfortunately, I'm actually not... not kidding."
"Really, seriously, I can't turn on the pump. I'm squeezing the handle and nothing is coming out and I'm sorry, but I'm used to going to Shell stations because I collect Air Miles and I've never been to a Canadian Tire station before..." The ranting, pleading look in my eyes must have been pathetic, but at least it was enough to induce some form of mild pity. "There's a lever beside the pump, not a button. To turn it on, you push the lever down."
"Oh. Okay. T-thanks." I turned on my hooker heels and bolted out of there. He was right. Right beside the place where I grabbed the pump from in the first place was a big lever that had a giant arrow pointing in the ON direction. I'm such an idiot.
Suffice to say, I have never pumped gas so quickly in my life and when I had to go back inside to pay, I endured his chuckles with whatever grace I had left and flew out of there like a bat outta hell.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Wonders Of Another World -OR- More Proof That I'm A Giant Snob
I have just had the luxury of a long weekend, wherein I did little other than eat and do hot yoga, and STILL, I am not ready to go back to work tomorrow. I think this says something about the amount of love I have for my job. Or maybe I just like food and stretching in hot rooms A LOT.
A big part of my job one month ago was recruitment, which has now become screening applications, reading resumes and interviewing. Every other night I come home with a stack of papers about how wonderful John is or how experienced Kate is (can you tell I was grading applications in front of the tv tonight?) and why I should hire them. Overall, it has been an interesting exercise for me because I'm learning what makes a good cover letter, what makes a great one, and how obvious it is to an employer when it's pulled from an online template. Same goes for resumes. And it's very apparent that people, namely those fresh in university, have no idea what they're doing when it comes to resumes (i.e.: SIX pages is entirely UNNECESSARY). I have been blessed with two years' work experience at my university Career Services centre and gladly, feel very comfortable with mine (though, as with everything else in life - and to keep myself as humble as possible - I'm sure it could use some polishing).
My co-coordinator aka partner in crime and I said that we should have made a Quote Wall with all the ridiculous and unbelievable things that we've read so far, but we're too nice (and busy) to do that. Instead, I will gently mock anonymous applicants here on my personal blog and hopefully offer some advice in the process.
The last question on our application asks applicants where they would travel to if they could go anywhere in the world (overdone, I know), and it seems that there's quite a number of people who seem to want to go to well, utopia, i.e.: a place that doesn't exist at all.
[Let me explain.
I studied Classical History and Latin all throughout high school and, as evidenced here, I came out of my teens with a list of Favourite Derivatives - not colours, stores, or bands, but DERIVATIVES - I blame my love for language and etymology. One of my favourites is the word "utopia" which derives from two Greek words: ou, which is a negation or means "no" and topos, meaning "place" - which ultimately gives "utopia" the meaning of "no place" or "nowhere" and that's really kind of neat, don't you think?
And speaking of places that are nowhere at all...]
Anyone ever heard of Stone Hedge? Perhaps a very important historical rock garden I'm not aware of? A famous site from another era of prehistory? What about the Sixteenth Chapel? Are there fifteen other ones that I've missed during my travels? Michelangelo nearly went blind from painting that ceiling and I can only imagine him rolling over in his grave when he hears that this generation of youth doesn't even know the proper name of one of the most widely-known and holiest sites of the Catholic world. I can't even fathom the other places in the world that I will discover solely by reading these applications....
Then there's one guy who talks of climbing the heights to see Macchu Picchu, which was built by The Aztecs. NOTE: The Aztecs, though an amazing civilization, did not build Macchu Picchu. The Incas did. Wrong country, buddy.
I don't mean to be mean, but this stuff is just too precious. And really, these things were just the punchline to otherwise well written pieces of rhetoric on why these people are just so cultured and interested in travelling and learning the history of the world... apparently, there is much to be learned.
Other things to note:
- If you do not know what a word means on an application, LOOK IT UP. Do not assume you know what "bondable" means when you clearly don't, because haphazardly checking the NO box automatically tells us that you have committed a criminal offence and WE WILL NOT HIRE YOU.
- "Detriment" is an adjective that describes a disadvantage, NOT something that describes why your responsibility and punctuality should make you a good tour leader.
- You "incur" something undesirable like debt, not leadership experience.
- Honestly, people (especially potential employers) notice typos, okay? There may not be an Appropriate Use of Vocabulary function nor a Grammar Guide that comes with your word processing software, but for the love of- use your spell-checker, please! There's nothing like a solid typo that makes us want to DQ a potentially good application.
Like previously mentioned: I am such a snob. I need help.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Get A Heart On
Happy Valentine's Day everyone. You'll be glad to know that I'm not celebrating the occasion by hanging myself from the shower rod.
Though, Savage Garden's Truly Madly Deeply just came on the radio (dedicated to Andrew from Michelle because SHE LOVES HIM and off they go to Cuba for a week) and I became distinctly aware of the fact that I WILL NEVER FIND SOMEONE. Salt in my wound: the DJ just informed us all that K-Ci & JoJo's classic love song is coming up because they just HAVE TO play it on a day like this. Gag me. Or maybe just gag all those people who can't seem to stop spreading their sap-crap feelings. And there I was, telling my friends that I was going to be decidedly less bitter and stabby this Valentine's Day.... The disturbing thing is that I think I actually think I AM toning it down this year.
Oddly enough, I've got plans tonight - double the plans, too, with double the boys. A double date(!) if you will. Drinks and apps with Rich, the Friend from The Outing With A Friend aka Friend-Date Turned Date-Date? - let's hope it's less awkward this time around. And then I'm off to the symphony (Radu Lupu is playing Beethoven!) with Pratik! Upon returning home, there is the possibility of a Skype-date with my ex-lovah, just because we can.
I leave you with this little gem: A Screaming Banshee Goes On A Date, courtesy of our favourite holiday-maker, Hallmark.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I Wish Someone Had Written This About Me
From One Sentence:
From the moment her arms wrapped around my chest and her head found its place against my shoulder, I knew beyond a doubt that I would never think of five feet as too short ever again.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Or: "There's Gnome Place Like Home" (the title to a story we made up one night before we fell asleep)
Not unlike what others do in awkward situations, we found ourselves talking about the weather. "I remember last spring being very cold," he said. "That's funny," I said. "I remember last spring being very warm."
When I woke on Tuesday morning I carried on in the apartment like I had so many times before. Despite my absence and the passing of so many months, I still found my things scattered about like I belonged there. My glasses were on the window sill by his keys, my hat and mitts there too. My bag sat where the hallway met the living room, my phone on the table, my clothes in a pile on the floor. I saw evidence of my previous presence: the Dali postcard I got him still stuck to coffee table, the empty Christening wine bottle by the sink, and I wondered if the pocket watch I gave him still hung from his bed post. Even when I arrived, I immediately went to sit on the rug and not the couch, and knew to let it mellow in the toilet. When he gathered his things in the morning and mumbled aloud, "Now where is my wallet?" I told him it was on the side table beside the hookah, just because I knew.
I remember the first time I saw the place. As we walked towards it, I kept guessing whether it was this, that, or the other house over there and when we finally approached it, I remember thinking that it was better than any of the houses that I had guessed en route. He was so excited. And I shared his infectious joy as I breathed in the long hallway, full of light. I swooned over the big window and the size of the rooms. I smiled in the tiny kitchen. We made plans in the living room; where the couch would go, how the rug could lie in the corner with cushions, how there'd be no t.v. to contend with. We talked about paint colours. The apartment was in no way mine, but I felt like I became a part of it that very first day. We thought about christening it right then and there, but we decided against it (only to do it a week after, accompanied by a bottle of cheap wine). After he finished struggling to lock the door, we hopped off the steps and began the first of many, many walks that were to follow. Walks that would take us to our respective work places and various cafes for breakfasts. Our walks took us to the bus station, to the market, to the park. We discovered the streets and the cute houses that lined it, especially the one with the music stand in the kitchen. We discovered a magical front lawn with turrets and towers and dragons. We discovered neighbours who let us borrow a microwave one spring day. Sometimes we walked in silence and often we shared stories, but always, we walked... side by side... And there's something in me that has attached a lot of meaning to not only those morning walks (and sometimes, afternoons and evenings too), but to the corner where his place sat, the way it felt when we first stepped outside, me breathing in the sound of him locking the door behind us.
When we left on Tuesday morning, I briefly noted that locking the front door no longer took as much time as it used to. And I didn't note until later that when I went down those steps that it would be the last time I'd do it. But when we hit the sidewalk I had to stop myself from turning around and saying goodbye to a place that was never mine, yet felt like it had become a part of me.
It's funny, how your memory works. Mine, I've often thought, is photographic, for lack of a better term. Without as much as closing my eyes, I can not only see the whole space before me, but I can feel it. How do I share the memories that those deep ochre yellow walls hold? What joys the kitchen shared, what secrets the bedroom knows... Can you hear the music we heard? How do I describe the scent of a space that instantly put me at ease, that I breathed in at nights feeling like I belonged? How do I tell him that a whole Spring of joy was spent in there, that I associate a season of sighs of relief and breaths of fresh air with that space, and him, the man that occupied it? And how I ache now that he has moved on and out, that it is gone from his life, and symbolically with it, me too. The last night that I spent there was the only night I ever slept truly alone - and there is probably more significance to that than I care to acknowledge.
It was a particularly warm day, that Tuesday morning, and I couldn't help but feel like it was spring while we walked. The rising sun in the distance caught me in the middle of a sentence and my train of thought became a wreck. It was gold and orange over the rooftops and the birds were chirping. I stood still for a second and let the scene wash over me. There it was, in an instant, the whole of what it felt like to be with him: fresh, crisp morning air, the warming glow of the sun, the faint chirp of birds in the distance. It was Spring again, the season of our births; it was Renewal on the corner of Lancaster and Mansion.