Off-Off-Broadway

Work travel is exciting the first few times but when it becomes a habit, to the point you are spending more nights in hotels than your own bed, it changes. It stops becoming exciting and instead you are faced with the prospect of finding ways to create habits that would mimic being a resident of the cities to which you travel.

The city where I have been spending an unusual amount of time is New York City.

Sexy, Exciting, Cool, right?

More like sweltering, interesting and packed. Those aren’t negative’s, simply reality.

So what to do to escape the heat and the tourist crowds?

Off-Broadway/Off-Off-Broadway Theatre, baby! New Yorkers take their Off-Broadway seriously.

I arrived in plenty of time to collect my will-call ticket at the 59E59 Theatres for my Off-Off-Broadway show. I made my way up to the second level and settled myself on one of the hard wooden benches while I waited for the theatre to open. The closer to the shows start the more the small lobby filled with people. Women, chatting in groups of two’s, cleverly studying their fellow theatre goers; Men, mostly on their own, fidgeting with their paper stubs.

7:00pm sharp the doors opened and I made my way in. The usher greeted me and pointed to the first row of seats in the theatre.

I looked down at my stub “AA6”, easy enough and counted 5 seats on the left and 5 seats on the right of the aisle. Perplexed. Which direction to start counting?

“Sir, can you help me with which seat is AA6,” I asked quietly.

“Hmm,” he replied and then started counting in what seemed a random pattern followed by, “this one, this is yours.”

I turned to thank the usher but was interrupted by a gentleman briskly brushing between us.

As he stormed by he said to the usher, “I don’t need your help, I know exactly where my seat is.”

And with that I settled in for the performance to begin.

My Nieces and I

Spending time with my nieces and nephews is always an adventure, from hearing about my car being too small, letting me in on their “family secrets” (dad farts…) and explaining their “big” complaint about life not being fair (…not always getting their way…).

Today was spent ferrying around two of my nieces, 11 and 9.

We were discussing something super important, I don’t remember the topic! The littlest, in the back seat being obtuse and making broad snappy sweeping statements directed at her older sister.

And then my eldest niece said something so unexpected.

Growing up she loved listening to adults share stories. I’ve told my fair share of stories. One story in particular has evidently made its mark. The story involved an old boss of mine and the go-to-question he’d ask us when challenging the statements we’d make when we wanted his support.

So as we were travelling along the highway at break-neck speed (faster than walking), the littlest niece was goading her older sister into an argument.

That is when my eldest niece quietly pulled out my old bosses favourite challenging question and asked her little sister, “Would you bet your future house on that statement?”

BOOM!!

(Artwork from when they were “kids”, before they started saying adult-like statements, can we stop them from growing up!!)

On Packing

 
 It’s almost time. I’ve begun digging through my closet, making myself a list to pack the perfect away-bag.

I didn’t call the tailor to follow-up on the pants. I haven’t even picked out fabric! Way behind and I am resigned to piecing together a work appropriate wardrobe with what I own.

I like dressing up.

What I don’t enjoy is hauling around 10 pairs of shoes to fit 10 different outfits. I exaggerate however when attempting to pack for in-cabin luggage, space becomes a premium. Shoes become the first thing to get cut from the bag and hence my burning desire for well tailored pants that keep their shape and only require one pair of shoes.

My room becomes a war zone of shoes, boots and clothes strewn about.

In between trying things on, humming and hawing I distract myself with reading the news. Then I decide to dig up my small bills of foreign currency. You know, 1’s, 2’s and 5’s for tipping and paying road tolls.

Ah, my passport. Let me have a look at all the entry stamps I’ve received so far…Munich, Barbados…the list goes on and I smile at the memories. Maybe I’ll do a day trip to Salzburg, a jaunt down memory lane.

Then I flip to the picture page.

Oh, ha, I had a cold, my nose is red, my hair messy. Bah.

Then I look at the issue date….then the expiry date….

Suddenly my anxiety over my wardrobe, the lack of fancy tailored pants is replaced by sheer panic…it expires in less than 25 days!

I check this website, that website, I fill out my replacement passport form.

I convince myself I am going to be ok.

And I will be ok the moment I am holding my new passport, where as a reminder of my neglect I’ll continue to be sporting messy albeit unwashed hair for 10 years.

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.

Sunday Procrastination

image

Packing is boring.  I used to be a great, light packer until I met my travel buddy.  She introduced me to the idea that one should never give up on the luxuries of home just because you are traveling.   And so, I have become a compact but complex packer – see further, random details here.

All day I’ve mentally been going through a list of things that I need to pack for my upcoming trip.  It is almost obsessive.  At one point over Sunday morning coffee, off in day dream land, I caught myself murmuring “that’s funny” to my coffee companion.  Have I learned nothing.  She didn’t seem to notice or maybe it was the language barrier but when our 1 hour coffee turned into 4 hours, she evidently, graciously, ignored my senseless comment.

The clock is ticking.  It’s getting close to bed time.

I dig my suitcase out from the bottom of my closet.  It is sitting, open mouthed, in the middle of the living room floor.  Clothes started to pile up in the middle as I tossed them in.

Now is time to roll, purge and close my case.

The front pocket feels heavy?   I dig my hand into the case and pull out piles of paper, maps, receipts and now I know I’ll be up until midnight!

My last trip.  Neatly preserved in my suitcase.  A treasure!

I want to go back.  I can feel it in my bones.

#københaven #goteborg #egeskov #helsingør #kronborg #helsingborg #vadstena #stockholm #uppsala #gamla #løvestad #malmö

The In-between

The office is chilly even with the powerful electric heater on full blast.

Her feet are cold. The coolness radiating from the cement floor bypasses her wool socks.

She is waiting for a call.  The call that will either set her free from this cool office or glue her with continued vigour to the cold floor.

She needs to warm up.

The privacy of the restrooms will warm her up.  With 12 foot ceiling’s, solid wood doors that touch the ceiling and floor, the 5′ x 3′ restroom stalls keep the coolness at bay.  She covers the toilet seat with toilet paper.   She plans to be here until her legs go numb.

The call still doesn’t come, not even with the inconvenience of the restroom. Who would answer a call while sitting on the jon?  Isn’t this what happens in the movies?  The protagonist inserts themselves in the most inconvenient situation and that thing they were begging to happen, finally happens.  At the most inconvenient time.

Nothing happens.

Her legs go numb.

She stands up, leaning against the wall.  The toilet automatically flushes behind her.  She pulls her pants up, leaves the stall.

Off to the cafeteria,  another inconvenient location to take an important call.

My Parking Garage Neighbour

I live in a rather reclusive building. When I first moved in over three years ago I hardly knew I had neighbours at all. I rode up and down the elevator, walked up and down the hallways and didn’t meet a soul.

It was after seven months of living in my condo that I met someone.

My parking garage neighbour.

At the time he was driving a 2002 Silver Volvo S60. Seriously, I know this is ridiculous of me, but cars really are my thing. I noticed there were always loads of things in his backseat all covered in blankets and I got to wondering what possibly could be lurking under the blankets.

Perhaps it was all this wondering that got my introduction but I believe it was more likely all the random cars he saw parked beside his that had him calculating exactly when I would be home so he could confront me.

And confront me he did.

I don’t recall how the conversation started but I do recall being grilled on what I did for work and the conversation ended with him asking for my help on his next car. As a side, I did attempt to help him however he ended up buying something completely off his original list – I am not offended just sad he choose a weaker competitor, but alas he couldn’t be helped 🙂

Since that day we met, every few weeks we make it an unplanned point of meeting in the elevator, the garage, the parking lot and once in a while, the local grocery store.

He is what you would envision as a true sales guy. Rushing around with his goods packed into his vehicle, a fast talker with the ability of getting a clear and comprehensive full month of verbal catch-up done in literally 2 minutes. It puts alot of pressure on me to par down on my verbal updates to him, you know, give him the basic facts and let him fill in the rest!

I know when I’ve gone over my 2 minute limit because he starts shifting from foot to foot and fiddling with his hands. I almost want to keep the conversation going just to see if he would implode/explode if I added more filler to my stories :).

Today I didn’t quite get the memo and left my unit 30 seconds later than I should have. When I arrived in the basement to get into my car, he was already in his, car running, ready to go.

This meant our 4 minute conversation (2 for him, 2 for me) would have to be much shorter.

As I walked up to the driver side of my vehicle (He likes driving into his spot, I prefer backing into mine, so our driver doors are friends), he waited for me to walk around the back of his vehicle and rolled down his window to say,

“I really like your new car, when did you get it?”

“I picked it up Wednesday, it has turned out to be way more fun than I initially thought it would be! A friend helped me with a good deal on a well equipped car otherwise I don’t know what I would have done!”

“Well I love it, it suits your personality,” and then squinting slightly and scrunching lower into the seat of his SUV as though he was experiencing some major abdominal pain, he ended, “it’s sexy, sporty just like you!” and as he grimaced some more he completed a full hand finger wave, rolled up the window and off he went….

Our 1 minute was up. I stood there and laughed.

The Village People

For the last 9 months I have been working a part-time job. It is at this job I’ve practised and conquered the new and obscure Olympic “Chair Lift” sport.

Besides the “Chair Lift” being a somewhat physically demanding sport, there are other tasks that require equally demanding physical prowess.

So a few days ago when I was helping the helpful truck driver unload new wares for the store, I was a little taken a-back when unprovoked he blurted out the following question,

“Are you from a Village?”

“A Village?”, I asked incredulously.

Awkward pause.

“Yes, like there are villages around”, he clarified.

Hmmmmmmm….

“You don’t think I am originally from Toronto?”

“No, you can’t be from Toronto, you are much to strong for a girl.”

Laughing I said, “Well if you consider London a Village, then I guess I come from a Village!”

*Note: since we are all girls working at the store and we are all equally strong it would be safe to say we are all Village people 🙂

Once Upon a Day…

…and a far off memory.

I found this email from a friend from a few years ago and decided I would share it only because I feel that we all may be able to read this story of a time, a place and a Monday and understand the feeling. Don’t tell anyone, but I edited the original email to give it some life, I am playing editor haha!

It may be a little depressing (I’ve warned you!!) but I feel that we’d be lying to ourselves if we always feel happy and excited about the jobs we do in order to live.

There is no express point to this post except that I really wanted to share this story because it made me feel something and I quite like feeling 🙂

I just got out of my Monday morning department meeting – that was fun – now I am going to get some breakfast and heat up a tea that I have at my desk.

Sometimes when I think about working I want to hide under a rock.

There are so many system problems. It makes the job tough and tiring because I always have to be thinking about what might go wrong if I push this or that button on my keyboard. And there never seems to be an answer, so we push the button hold our breath and wait for something to break.

Usually 9 times out of 10 something breaks.

Then we have to find a fix and finding fixes isn’t very quick. Usually because nobody really knows how all the systems and code interacts with each other.

This creates angst because unfortunately time is money and deadlines that are outside our immediate control must be met.

So today is one of those days where I just feel like holding my breath all day – hoping that I am still alive at 5pm when I will allow myself to breathe again.

I know there are all kinds of problems and things on the verge of breaking. Some things are already broken and I just don’t know it yet, but I will find out about them in a day, a week or even a month or two from now.

Someone will come along and be disappointed and upset about a problem that we never knew existed.

They will demand an explanation and a fix.

The explanation will take about 2 days to put together. First I’ll have to realize the problem buried deep inside the code that another department likely changed and is now affecting our program. Then another day to find out how to fix the problem and 8 times out of 10 there will be no easy, zero cost solution.

This will create angry looks and finger pointing because there is no budget to fix it but it must get fixed so the show can go on. I’ll try to stay confident and defend my staff and uphold the integrity of the department.

It feels like an old decaying cloth that is fraying and we are grasping at all the peices flying away in the wind with every forceful gust.

I’ll feel like crying, but I wont – I will work on being persuasive and finding a solution.

It will make me really exhausted – all the energy gone, for one more penny, one more dollar and one more day.

I am so tired from thinking.

Bananas

Bananas

On my way home tonight I was having a conversation with one of my coworkers about Banana’s. How they must be the correct ripeness for eating and that if one was to eat it outside of the optimum ripeness the preference we agreed would be to be under-ripe versus over-ripe.

Working so close to a grocery store has its benefits when it comes to picky banana eating. Instead of buying a bunch of 6 or 7 banana’s I can pick up one, two or three bananas at a time and they will last one or two days, staying in perfect eating condition.

I found this handy website that tells me all the nutritional facts on bananas. Size is VERY important for bananas when it comes to nutrition :D. For example an extra-small banana only has 72 calories where as an extra-large banana has 135 calories. Check out the nutrition website here – I cannot validate it’s validity but its fun that there is a webpage dedicated to Banana nutrition!

For all you folks who must rely on buying bunches of banana’s all at one time, I am happy to report that there is still a way to enjoy those over-ripe bananas.

I agree, it’s pretty good news.

There is this recipe that is called Best Ever Banana Muffins and you guessed it, I am going to share this best ever recipe. Just so there is no confusion before I share the recipe my sister introduced to me, I must first tell you a little story that will solidify the claim that this is the best ever recipe.

So over a year ago I went to visit her and her new family. I am still sad they live so far away but it is fun visiting (thank goodness I like visiting places or else this would be a huge drag). So I was visiting and along with me being a visitor (sort of visitor because family doesn’t always get classified as true visitors since sometimes family visitors hold that ho hum of “the relatives are coming again and they did bring their kitchen sink this time! I wish they’d leave it at home.”), there were also real visitor’s at the same time, meaning there was no blood relation.

My brother in-law being a thoughtful shopper purchased lots and lots of bananas that were on the verge of being over-ripe. You can guess why he did this? He really likes the Best Ever Banana Muffins and my sister being a great hostess and also really liking the recipe baked not one but TWO batches of the recipe.

So getting to my story of why they are the best, I know, you are all sitting on the edge of your seats. The visitor’s put shame aside and asked for a doggy bag for their drive home so they could continue enjoying the Best Ever Banana Muffins for the next day or two!

That’s right; these banana muffins will do that.

They’ll wash away any manners that your mom drilled into you as a child. They are THE best and they will make you lose your manners 🙂

BEST EVER BANANA MUFFINS

3 Large Banana’s (see handy website for nutrition value, way over-ripe bananas are the best!)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (the original recipe leaves this delicious addition out, probably because they aren’t so great nutritionally but they are much better with chocolate chips.)

Mash bananas. Add sugar and slightly beaten egg. Add melted butter. Add dry ingredients. Put into muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

Take them out and eat them warm.