The Cannonball

I’ve been in my job a year, it feels like it’s been 5. Work is good and I’ve managed to avoid the 15% per month work travel that was part of my contract. I didn’t think I’d get so excited about not traveling, but I managed to find things to do, like see my family more often, join a dojang and a running group and become addicted to all three.

I built a routine. Something I hadn’t done ever and you know what, those feel-good books are right. Routine is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and oddly grounding :-P. It’s a breakthrough perhaps only for me and +30 years late but there is no time like today.

So I escaped work travel and I was sad about that, but now that 15% travel in my contract is coming at me full force, “You missed a whole year of work travel so we are bumping your travel up to 90% for this year. How d’ya like us now!”

Ok so they didn’t really say that to me and it’s not 90% but for now there is a “plan” where I’ll have to be packed for 5 weeks straight.

That concerns me slightly – WHAT DO I PACK!

A uniform, I’ve decided. Black dress pants and fitted dress shirts. Boring and functional.

And that is how I ended up on Queen Street East.

After a futile shopping experience where the kids in the Retail shops ignored me and what I did try on just didn’t fit, I resorted to the Internet.

Tailored clothes!

Ok so it feels a little like I am back in the 30’s but I’ve also done my research and the price difference that I am paying between something off the rack that sags in the wrong spots, that will to rub to shiny within months and something that is fitted to me and will last year’s, is minimal.

What has The Cannonball Coffee and Bar have to do with Tailored pants?

Nothing really except it is a Toronto GEM and happens to be just down the street from the Tailor. It has great music, the yummiest breakfast bagels (served after 5pm even!!) I have ever tried, plus their coffee is pretty good.

And the only reason I am here is because work asked me to travel, I need pants, I found a tailor and am enjoying an impromptu evening at one of my favourite coffee house’s in the city.

The Book Club

Where do I start. At the end perhaps.

I was walking quickly towards my car. Down the one way street.

The man standing on the patio, smoking his cigarette called out to me, “You look cold.”

“Yes, I am but I suppose it’s winter!”

“True,” he responded and I kept on marching.

I was shivering, I was cold even though my feet continued to sweat from being in my boots and indoors for two hours, having participated in a book club.

I can’t quite say I actively participated. I participated to the point of laughing when things were funny, shared small talk with the person on my right and on my left, when appropriate (only pre-book club, during break and post-book club) and typed tidbits on my iPad.

I was the only one typing and I am sure that was obvious. I noticed other people jotting things down in their note pads, but no typing. Just me. Typing, smiling, laughing, sometimes looking serious (or at least in my head I was serious) and enjoying my time in a circle full of strangers.

Strange. I know.

The discussion around the book was lively with many different ideas and insights shared. I particularly enjoyed the diversity of the group. This is not a “group think” club. At times it was so academically informed that I was having difficulty keeping up with the concepts that, thankfully, were then followed by light-hearted jokes.

And real funny jokes. I always got the jokes!

I arrived a few minutes early. There was a small group of people waiting outside of the auditorium. The librarian was rustling with the keys, finding the one that fit the lock to open the door. Inside the room I sat down on a chair in the circle and willed myself NOT to pull out my phone. The point of a book club is to be social, no place for my phone. It felt awkward (really, I know) so I rationalized with myself that my iPad would be acceptable – I needed access to Google Books in any event!

The man two seats away leaned over towards me.

“DId you read the book?”

“Part of it,” I replied

“It didn’t like the book. I don’t know who picked this book. Look how big it is,” and he pointed to another book club member who had brought along a library copy.

I nodded towards him not sure what to say to keep the conversation going, but no worry, he continued, “They could have at least picked a book about relationships and marriage. EVERYONE likes reading about THAT,” he emphasized.

I didn’t know how to respond. I clammed up. Of course everyone likes talking about relationships and I imagined in my head what the next bits of conversation would be like and I shyly turned away to my open iPad. All of a sudden I couldn’t bring myself to be social.

Shortly after a second gentleman arrived and sat between us. It didn’t take long before the two strangers were talking up a storm.

“There is a woman I know,” the first man was saying, “She met a Canadian man and moved to Canada. She’s a widow now.”

“Oh yes,” replied the second gentleman

“I can, you know, set up a date for you but she’s older,” and then he stated her age.

The second gentleman nodded and I didn’t catch his reply but I’d like to think he said yes to a set-up to the man who likes talking about relationships and marriage!

🙂

Favourite lines of the night:

  1. “Life is random.”
  2. “We tend to blow things out of proportion.”
  3. “If you want to be happy, join a book club don’t buy a fancy car.”

I enjoyed my night and recommend joining a book club even if only to be a smiling typist.

In The Eyes

I joined a MeetUp Group this past December. This is the 3rd or 4th MeetUp Group I’ve joined but only the 2nd one where I am likely to show up to one of their outings. I admit the groups I’ve joined tend to be a little nerdy and one in particular had some full-on nerd humour in the comments section about the planned events.

“I am busy but I totally want to be there, can you move the event to another evening.” Followed by a reply “If you know how to program, create a clone object of yourself.” Doubting, “Will the object inherit the knowledge?” Reassurance, “Of course if you make an exact copy and you can merge the two so you can consolidate learning from both sources.”

Funny? Eye-roll. It’s funny.

And if I had of been able to make the event, I would have been the creep at the back of a room of 200 people, grinning broadly, being amused to exhaustion.

I missed the event, sadly, but this next event I am going to make. It’s not about data or programming and from the comments section, its going to be much more serious.

This time it’s a book club. Not a “regular” book club. Like the one’s where people show up to a house, 7, 8 people trickle in with food in their hands, no books in sight. This is a bona-fide book club. They have rules. Rules on how long you are able to verbally express your thoughts regarding the book along with other general behaviour do’s and don’ts.

I can do this and the book is intriguing, interesting even.

The book, “Thinking Fast and Slow” discuses how our brains use two distinct functions to process tasks. Fast processes and slow processes, just as the title suggests.

What I have learned up to chapter two is that tasks that require slow thinking are “pupil dilating” and they take more effort to perform. Tasks so demanding that “In the first 5 seconds, the pupil dilates by about 50% of its original area and heart rate increases by about 7 beats per minute. This is as hard as people can work—they give up if more is asked of them.”

Seriously.

So when that person, with whom you are interacting, pupils dilate to 50% of their original size and their heart-rate increases during a slow thinking task, requiring effort, they are on the verge of having given up.

I’ve about given up on this blog post.

The Emergency


My day started out pretty great. After 9 hours of needed sleep, I woke up mostly refreshed. Whatever that thing that was subconsciously stressing me seemed only to be a memory.

Cracking my hands, stopping off at my coffee shop on time, weaving my way through morning traffic, I was at my desk a good 30 minutes early. I had this! I’d breeze through the looming documentation even though I’d be making an effort to concentrate.

I popped open my iPad. I was going to need that playlist to get me through the next few hours. Thank you Chloé.

All settled, earbuds in, playlist on when I noticed out of the corner of my eye a pop-up notification on my iPad.

Hmmm…a family group update. And like the distracted person I can sometimes be I reached over to see what the latest update was all about.

And what was it all about!

It was about my nephew sporting a newly, shaved to the skin, Aang-The-Airbender look! What! So cute. But why.

“Oh dear …. we found lice this am!”

This wouldn’t normally get any thoughts racing through my mind. He lives pretty far away, BUT we did spend the holidays together ….. and there is that possibility a little undetected nymph hopped from his head to ….. all of our heads ….

Now I have a very informed sister who lives close to me. She is informed about most topics. Not just slightly informed, she is FULLY informed. If ever I need to be informed she’s the person I call. I don’t Google, I call her. I love her for that (and other reasons too) but she is super good at calming me down, giving me tips and tricks and basically calling me off from the ledge. I won’t lie, sometimes she will inform me when I am nowhere near the ledge and then I walk over to it and peer over – just to make sure I don’t want to fall over the ledge – basically she keeps me in line.

So I call her. No answer on her cell phone. No answer on her home phone

Argh. She’s probably dealing with this potential lice situation with her girls. I better do the same thing!

I quickly Google “Lice Removal”. I scan the listings and find one with a positive review and call their office. I need someone quickly. The office who can see me ASAP is close to my house. I pick their first available time, 1 hour from the time I’d called, I didn’t have much time so I composed a note to my absent boss and project manager.

“Dear Boss, I have an emergency appointment and will be leaving the office for the day. I expect to be back online by 1pm. This will not hinder our deadline for next week as I will be sure to make up the time. Best Regards”

I pack up my things and tear out of the office, scratching my head, feeling my hair moving on it’s own. I can hardly hold the steering wheel for fear that I have bugs crawling all over my head!

10 minutes away from my appointment, my sister calls me back.

“Sorry don, I didn’t hear your call. I was busy putting away laundry.”

“Just putting away laundry?” I ask, probing, isn’t she worried about a potential lice infestation in her children’s beautiful long hair?!

“What are you up to,” she asks calmly, nothing doing!

What! What am I doing?! I am doing what she is doing?! No? I panic slightly and reply as calmly as I can muster, “I am going to a clinic to have my head checked for lice.”

“Huh, now?” She responds all blasé.

I feel my blood pressure rising, “Ya, aren’t YOU worried about lice?”

“Um, not really, our nephew would likely have only had eggs in his hair when we saw him, so that would have taken time for them to hatch…,” and she continued on her explanation of the life cycle of Louse, including how they lay their eggs, how long they live, how many eggs they lay a day..on and on..and my head feels like it’s going to explode.

She finishes her explanation and reiterates her baiting question, “So you are going to a clinic now to get your head checked for lice?”

“Yes,” I state matter-of-fact and rather proud of my brave decision, “I want to know if I have lice, can you imagine if I have them and I spread them to the dojang,” I gasp the last part. The dojang, I wouldn’t want to be the reason it has a lice infestation, never mind my house, my friends!

She continues her questions wanting to get to the bottom of my decision to be checked immediately, “Did you just up and leave the office?”

Still not understanding what she is getting at I enthusiastically reply, “Yes, I up and left – but not before I sent a note to my boss to let him know I had an emergency appointment.”

“WHAT,” she replies incredulously, “EMERGENCY, you said EMERGENCY!!” And with that she is laughing so hard she can’t breathe!!! “It’s just lice don, it won’t kill you, EMERGENCY,” she continues, “Imagine if my husband up and left his job for a lice EMERGENCY! How many eggs do you think would have hatched between 10am and 5pm!?”

I shiver at the thought but with the visual I burst out laughing and realize my emergency isn’t so much of an emergency but rather a “peace-of-mind” appointment.

For the record I DO NOT have lice, nymphs, nits etc. I did however get a nice hours worth of combing…front to back, the “Donald Trump” followed by the back to front.

I can recommend NitWorks Lice Removal for a relaxing, however intense hair combing. For expert advice, I can recommend my sister 🙂

Handled

Originally, this last blog of 2015 was long winded about why as a child I was relegated to dishwasher duty. I am messy in the kitchen. Also there had been a paragraph or two about the number of people packed into my parents 4 bedroom bungalow for a week. It’s squishy and a little like camping only with a functioning kitchen and bathrooms. If camping were only this organized, warm and dry!

But none of those stories are as funny as the stories I am collecting from spending 7 days hanging out, in some form, with my nieces and nephews.

We just celebrated my birthday. It’s fun celebrating surrounded by kids who love any excuse to be celebrating. I baked a cake for the event and decided it would be fun to have my nieces and nephews ice it.

I had this handled.

This was my idea and as I began setting up to make the icing, oddly everyone above the age of 10 disappeared from the vacinity of the kitchen.

I had this handled.

Standing in the kitchen with my 5 little helpers all vying for attention, all wanting to be part of mixing the icing, two were arguing, two were pushing their chairs around the kitchen, colliding with each other and the 5th was cutely grunting something I couldn’t understand.

I had this handled.

Arranging the two fellas colliding was easy, next was refereeing the argument.

“So tell me what’s happening.”

“Well…”, said in a high pitched voice…

“Without the drama, just tell me the story calmly.”

“Well, she kept telling me the same thing over and over again,” her voice slightly rising, “and I already knew what she was telling me.”

“Ok, so you wanted her to cut to the chase?”

“Yes”

“Alright,” turning to the second little lady, “Your turn”

“Well, I was going to say all that, what she just said, but I was going to add one thing.”

“Ok, what’s that.”

Silence. Arms crossed.

Behind me the two little boys were getting restless. Dancing on their chairs, poking the bag of icing sugar.

“Auntie-dee-dee, how do we make icing?”

Not 5 minutes into our baking adventure and I was already not sure we’d all make it through unscathed.

New found respect for parents everywhere, how do they do this 24/7?!

The icing did get made, the cake did get iced however, before all that happened and 10 minutes into my adventure my sister stepped into the kitchen to give some tips on hardening up the icing.  I handed her my mixing bowl, relieved her of my niece in her arms and scooted out of the kitchen.

Handled 🙂

Car Service…wait, what, date proposal?

A few weeks ago, while out painting the town with my friend and her husband, we took a car service home from the restaurant. Our driver was concerned about UberX and the upcoming launch of UberHop in the city. But he had a plan for the day he’d no longer be driving as a car service.

He was 60-ish year’s old, his son was on the verge of being married. He’d been driving since arriving in Canada some 10 years earlier.

A while back he’d bought himself a classic car that needed some fixing up and in his spare time, fixing it up became his hobby.

As we drove along the Highway towards home, he pulled out of the drivers door side-pocket a dark blue a hard covered binder and handed it to my friends husband seated in the passenger seat.

“That’s the car I am fixing up,” he indicated as my friends husband opened up the binder revealing a number of 8×11, printer quality, colour-photos of his project all neatly tucked into their individual protective plastic sleeves.

He continued his verbal show-and-tell as my friends husband flipped through the pages.

He was finishing up his story as we pulled up in front of my condo building. My friends husband handed back the blue hard covered binder which disappeared back into the car door side-pocket.

He put the car in park and as we all clambered out the driver continued explaining his life plans, “When I no longer have a job as a driver because of UberX and UberHop, I am going to rent my classic car out along with my driving services for special occasions, like weddings”

With a glint in her eyes and a smile on her face my friend quipped, “DF when you get married, you can hire him!”

Without skipping a beat the driver turned to face us and belted out across the roof of the car, “I AM SINGLE!” and he reached into the car door side-pocket, pulled out a business card and handed it to me.

Crazy-bat Ladies

“DF, can you help me.”

I was distracted, over tired, I had just fumbled through an interview with a man that my friend would spend the rest of the evening teasing me about. I looked over and she was sitting on the bench, her shoes in her hands.

“I can’t tie them up, can you help me put them on.”

I squatted down, helped her get her foot in her ‘manly’ shoes and tied them up.

“Do you want your pants rolled up too,” I asked and without waiting for a reply, rolled up both her pant legs.

I imagine we looked like two 90 year old women, helping each other out, laughing at the randomness of not being able to tie our own shoes. But here we were, less than halfway to 90, not being able to tie our own shoes! 🙂

Laughing, chatting, almost falling over myself I noticed him quietly sitting in the lobby waiting and in the process of his waiting, being entertained (badly perhaps) by our laughing and non-linear conversation about nothing.

“She’s my best friend, from Sweden,” I explained.

“Well I am Canadian,” she clarified.

“Yes she is Canadian but she’s originally Panamanian,” I cut-in

“Oh,” he said, looking at us with a sideways look that I interpreted as ‘These girls are crazy-bats!!’

“Her husband stole her to Sweden,” I complained.

“He’s not Swedish, he’s really British, but he was born in Sweden,” she added, as though that would make it better that she now lives in Sweden and not Canada!

It doesn’t make it better and this morning after dropping them at the airport, I felt a tinge of sadness when I unlocked my apartment door. Yes, I got my bed back – but I am also the winner of an empty house where the joking and the sometimes serious conversation is left hanging in the air like a dream.

To wonderful friendships that hurt a little when we have to say goodbye but make up for it the days we get to spend together.

…What’s The Problem

Last night I dragged myself to the dojang.

I wanted to be there, I wanted to go, but at the same time my bed was tempting me. Wouldn’t it be fun, after working from home all day, to just put on my PJ’s, climb into bed, snuggle with my comforter and binge watch something on Netflix?

My brain was feeling numb and I almost gave in.

I did everything possible to make myself late for my class. I cooked a batch of pancakes, I took my time gearing up, I did some dusting, I read some articles online, I may have even hung off the side of my bed – upside down…and the list goes on….

I figured if I was late leaving my place and it took too long to pass Yonge street, I’d just turn around come home and go with Plan B – Pj’s+Bed+Netflix.

Surprisingly, traffic was a dream and I arrived at the dojang a good 30 minutes before class start time.

Wow.

I walked into the ladies change room. There were a few kids getting ready to leave the dojang after their class and sitting in the middle of the floor was a little boy about 4 years old. He face earnest while he struggled putting on his socks.

I couldn’t help myself and observed outloud, “There is a boy in the ladies change room!”

He looked up, looked me in the eyes and deadpaned, “And what’s the problem?” and turned his attention back to putting on his socks.

A Famished Runner

Besides motivating me to get out and run, one thing I like about my running group is they are committed to their coffee.

Who wouldn’t want to join a group of solid runners committed to their coffee and on some runs, brunch.

Today’s run started and ended at the coffee shop.

It is a coffee shop.

It has the basics of a coffee shop. Coffee, a small selection of muffins, sandwiches and cookies. However, it is also an eco-friendly coffee shop and they sell local organic diary products like milk and eggs.

One of the runners arrived back from the run famished.

He waited in line at the cash for his turn, twisting and turning. When it was his turn he leaned in and asked the barista, “Do you have any eggs?”

The barista innocently replied, “I can sell you a dozen eggs if you’d like.”

I almost died laughing, imagining this famished runner, sipping his coffee with a bucket of a dozen raw eggs sitting in front of him.

His hunger neglected.

He passed on the dozen raw eggs.

Serious About Running

Twelve years ago I decided to get serious about running. I don’t know if I was spurred on by my then “love interest” or if having a running buddy is what kicked it off, but whatever it was, I was getting serious about running.

In a matter of three years time I managed a few 5, 8 and 10 km races, finshed a 1/2 marathon and participated in a 100 km relay race through the British Columbia Mountains. I liked to think I was serious, I had serious running shoes and serious running apparel.

My eating habits went a little like this: Daily Ice Cream, more Ice Cream, latte’s from Second Cup, more Ice Cream, eggs (the only REAL food in my diet) and more latte’s from Second Cup.

Only my running gear was serious about running. But I finished those races and I managed decent enough times to imagine myself as serious about running.

Then I stopped. I lost interest in my “love interest”, my running buddy moved away and I decided running was making me fat.

Nine years later I really am getting serious about running. I’ve joined a running group and this time I started out with not-so-serious running gear. My apparel was whatever I could dig out of my dresser, my shoes were inexpensive, didn’t support my foot to the point my ankles felt as though they were about to disintegrate if I tried one more kilometre.

And so I gave in and put down what I needed for a new pair of serious running shoes and proper running apparel.

Much and yet little has changed since I was serious about buying serious running gear twelve years ago. Mizuno’s are still my shoe of choice but those Nike pants don’t fit the way they used to and Lululemon (who may or may not have been around twelve years ago) just felt as though they belonged in a yoga studio and not outside. I turned to Under Armour and found new serious running gear that fit, and stayed where it was meant to stay.

This morning I was late arriving for my running group’s 9 am start. Late enough that I spent the first kilometre and a half at an increased pace to catch my group.

Normally I am not busy trying to out-run my typical pace, but this morning I was and as I continued to increase my pace, my pants increasingly felt as though they were sliding down my legs and getting dangerously low on my waist.

What was wrong? Was running making me fat?!!

I choose to ignore the nagging feeling of my pants falling down and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Finishing the run, I congratulated myself on my pace and my time – as good or better than my 20’s – granted in my 20’s I was high on ice cream and latte’s! But no matter – I still had it.

I walked over to a rock to stretch out my calves. That’s when I noticed. My pants were inside out. The nice warm fuzz that was supposed to be keeping my legs warm was on the outside, enjoying the cool breeze. The shiny protective layer was on the inside rubbing up against my skin, pulling my pants down with each stride.

I love my running pants – when they are right side in and running is not making me fat!

🙂